Interview with Selia

interview - 29.05.2008 22:00

An interview with counter-tenor Selia, in which we took the opportunity to ask about the classical and electronic parts of his music and career, and much more.

The counter-tenor Selia is overseas perhaps most known for his participation in events with Tokyo Decadance, a well-known party in the Tokyo club scene which has also expanded their activities overseas.

In March, the vocalist was scheduled to come with The Candy Spooky Theater to Europe for a short tour, but due to some inconvenience, he was not able to come. However, JaME still took the opportunity to hold an interview with him in order to get to know this interesting person better.

You've been to Europe before as a part of Tokyo Decadance. What was that like, what kind of impressions has it left on you?

Selia: Last spring, I went to France for the first time. I was very busy with performing and there was not much time to look around the town, which saddened me a little. However, Europe is very artistic and the townscape looked wonderful. I felt art in every place!

Is there anything in Europe you dislike or can't get used to?

Selia: Uhm, I think the reason is because I'm used to Japanese life, but shopping was maybe a little inconvenient. In Japan, there are many stores that are open 24 hours so we don't need to worry about how late it is. However, the last time I was in France, I stayed in a suburban area for a little while and the shops closed early.

When did you know that you wanted to start a professional music career?

Selia: I think it was when I was around 12 or 13 years old. Of course, before that I also loved music, but it was around that time that I decided on starting a professional music career. And then I started to study music very hard.

Why have you chosen to use the name Selia, what is the meaning behind it?

Selia: "Selia" is based on the word "Selena", which means "moon" in Greek. The moon has a bright part that is illuminated by the sun, but it also has a dark part. My style as an artist is this image that possesses both "light" and "darkness". Because not only humans, but also everything else in this world, possesses "light" and "darkness" within. Even the people that are always showing their bright character to others definitely have a dark side but they don't show it as well. On the other hand, even really scary and cold people have a gentle part that they don't show others. I thought that I wanted to express with music that dual nature of "light" and "darkness" of all things. And it's a bit philosophical at the same time, but I also wanted to dispel the notion that "light" always equals "good" and "darkness" always equals "bad".

How did you become interested in classical music?

Selia: My parents are Christians and when I was little, they often took me with them to church. At the church, the singing of hymns and the sound of the organ really touched me and naturally I started to hear classical music by choice.

Why did you choose to become a counter-tenor (a classical style of singing in which a male sings in a mezzo-soprano or soprano range, which is usually only done by female voices) instead of any other vocal style?

Selia: (laughs) That's actually a funny story. Before puberty I used to sing with an even higher voice than now. My voice pitch was from the middle piano C' to the C'''' three octaves higher. Anyway, I liked to sing in a higher voice but when I was facing puberty my voice got lower. At that time I thought "this low voice is horrible!" and I kept straining myself to sing in falsetto. Before I noticed, I had already gotten the habit of singing in falsetto. At the same time in Japan, there was a counter-tenor who just became really popular and when I heard his voice on the television I thought, "Ah, singing this way is also good!" and from there I started to sing as a counter-tenor.

How long have you been taking vocal training and was it hard for you to learn to sing in this way?

Selia: Uhm, it will have been almost 10 years. I'm still studying! I had many hardships to get where I am now but there are still plenty of things I want to improve after this so I must keep working more.

As for the two songs composed by Barbara Strozzi on your MySpace profile, you have mastered the pronunciation of the Italian lyrics very well. How did you learn it?

Selia: When I was at the College of Music for four years I studied this Italian song so I learned it during that time.

Which other classical composers are your favorites to sing?

Selia: There are so many, it's impossible to name them all. But as for Italian composers: C.Monteverdi, G.Frescobaldi, G.Caccini, F.Cavarri, A.Cesti, G.Kapsberger, G.Sances, G.F.Handel and for English composers: H.Purcell, J.Downland, J.Blow, G.B.Draghi and so on.

You play the harp; what made you decide to learn how to play this instrument?

Selia: A weak point of a singer is not being able to sing without accompaniment. So I thought, "why not learn an instrument so I can accompany myself?" So I started to self-study the instrument. But I'm not very good at it so I can’t let others hear it yet.

Other than the harp, do you play any other musical instruments?

Selia: I can play electric bass and drums. Actually, I have longer experience as a percussionist because I’ve been playing it for over ten years.

How did you first get introduced to the Japanese gothic scene?

Selia: I've always loved the gothic atmosphere so I used to go to events and such, but I only had the chance to sing on a stage when I met DJ SiSeN. SiSeN went to one of my concerts casually and after hearing me sing he really wanted me to appear in one of his events. He told me that and then I sang at one of the events he organized, called Majou no Hanazono, for the first time.

How did you get the idea to mix classical music with electronic music?

Selia: I've always liked techno and electronic music so I thought about using them with classical music. Then I came to the conclusion that "I should do both at once!" and started to try it. SiSeN also liked classical and electronic music so we both understood each other. We got so into it that we made a musical unit.

Do you compose music yourself and if so, do you compose music from a classical point of view or more an electronic/industrial kind of view?

Selia: In the past I created it in various ways but now I usually make the melody of the song. My classical point of view is much stronger when I compose. So if I have a blank score and a pencil I can compose plenty already (laughs).

Next to performing at gothic events, you also perform a classical concert once in a while. These concerts have a completely different audience; How do you feel your music is received by these audiences, do you find the reactions of the audiences differ much from each other?

Selia: The people that are used to seeing me don't act like this, but it seems that those who see me for the first time get really surprised. In a classical concert you have to be more moderate in clothes and make-up but even so it looks like the audience gets really shocked by me. There are many that say it's wonderful but there also those in the middle that say that they can't understand my music. There are differences between the audiences but I think I can feel new things with each one. Whereas at gothic events the audience is surprised by my voice, at classical concerts it seems the audience is surprised by my appearance.

Do you have any plans to release CDs in the near future?

Selia: Yes, this summer I'll announce my classical style CD, although it's an independent production. I also want to make a CD for my electro project at the same time.

In private, what kinds of music do you listen to?

Selia: There's nothing special in particular. I listen to everything I think is good regardless of the genre. Maybe recently I've been listening to a lot of classical music and industrial.

Could you tell us something about Seirenes, your unit with DJ SiSeN and what your plans are with it?

Selia: Seirenes changed names and became Selia + SiSeN now. From now on, from May until June we'll be doing concerts as part of the Tokyo Decadance Europe Tour. After we return to Japan, we plan to actively do performances at important events in Tokyo. The preparations for the songs are progressing steadily so don't miss it!

You sang on two songs of BUCK-TICK's newest album (Tenshi no Revolver). How did you get this opportunity and what was it like to collaborate with BUCK-TICK?

Selia: I'm also the support vocalist for a band called AUTO-MOD and the main vocalist, Genet, is a friend of BUCK-TICK's drummer, Yagami Toll. Because of that he often went to our events and he heard my singing there. He enjoyed it and then asked me to do a collaboration. I was a bit nervous at the recording but I was able to have a lot of fun recording! When I heard the finished work, the most surprised one was me. I didn't think they would use my voice so clearly like that, so when I heard the CD I was very happy. If there’s another chance I definitely would like to do another collaboration.

You've done many projects and collaborated with various artists. Is there any other project that you would like to do?

Selia: The projects that are active now are my solo works, AUTO-MOD, the unit with SiSeN, Selia + SiSen and the unit Mad Moon with the young DJ HOOLIGAN from Texas. Furthermore, there's another project in the plans that is advancing! Although it's still a secret, soon I plan to announce a collaboration with another person. In relation to the content of this project, I plan to make an attempt doing an acrobatic stage act even greater than I've done before. Please look forward to this too!

What importance does your appearance on stage have to you, and do you design your outfits yourself?

Selia: Clothes have the same importance as water and air! There are many outfits that my friend has made for me. I tell him about the image I have in mind and he designs it. I decide the image based on where I'll perform and then I choose the costume.

What are your plans for the near future, can we expect you to come to Europe (again) or the USA?

Selia: I definitely want to go back to Europe! Soon I'll be going to a lot of places with the Tokyo Decadance Tour but I would like to go back as a solo act too! And then the USA! I also definitely want to go there! If there's an opportunity I would like to go there immediately! It would be good if there's a chance for me to go to the USA.

How do you see yourself in ten years?

Selia: I haven't really thought about that (laughs). I want to do more activities globally now. It would be good if I could get the chance to perform on stage in a lot of places, in a lot of countries. Also, since the classical songs I sing are from renaissance and baroque music, I think there are a lot of people that don't know them yet. So I would like to let many people know about those good songs. At the same time I want everyone to get even more infused with the pleasure of participating in an event or club, and together with lots of people I want to enjoy life and music.

Please give a message to your fans.

Selia: To all who've been consistently supporting me, thank you very much! My meeting with you all is my treasure! From now on I want to go on giving performances with many different expressions so please support me!! Also, please look forward to the CD set to be announced this summer! If you happen to come across me while I'm touring in a foreign country, feel free to talk to me! I'll be very glad!

Thank you very much for this interview!

Many thanks to Rik and Suu for the translations.
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