Koutarou Nishiyama (Voice Animage Vol. 45 2020)


Koutarou Nishiyama-san’s artist debut has been decided! We asked Nishiyama-san, who will release his debut mini-album “CITY” this fall, about his thoughts leading up to his debut, and about the recording and jacket shooting of the lead song “Mahiru doki no Stella”.

Congrats on your debut as an artist. How did you feel when your debut was decided? Nishiyama: I was surprised. In my mind, I had the image that an artist debut – something heavy. It simply increases the amount of work, and I will also be involved in future voice acting activities. Also, when it comes to singing, I feel nervous, and even when I’ve been singing live for the work, there were moments when I panicked, and my head went blank. That’s why, even though I admired it, I thought it would be fine if someone who was good at it did it.

What made you want to try it anyway? Nishiyama: My staff said, “Why don’t you do something interesting?” It just happened that I had more opportunities to sing character songs and perform live, and I had this feeling inside of me that said, “I want to enjoy music more!”

When did you start talking about your debut? Nishiyama: The first time I was approached was probably around the beginning of 2019, and that that it was talked about several times, and I think it was around August that I received an official offer. From there until I decided, I had music activities in my head all the time. But while I was thinking about it, I thought I’d like to see myself doing music activities. So, it was around October that I finally answered, “I will do it.”

What kind of changes have you seen since you started working as an artist? Nishiyama: The amount of time I spend facing music has increased overwhelmingly. For this debut, I have recorded so much that I would not normally think of it. I had plenty of time before the recording, so I was able to see a lot of things, like, “Once I can do this, I want to be able to do this next.” And thankfully, we were given the chance to do a temporary recording called pre-production before the actual recording. In the pre-production, I tried many times to sing and listen to various approaches to create a singing style and atmosphere that I had never done before. Thank to that, I was able to have a clearer image of “Let’s try this more in the actual production.”

Was it difficult for you to express yourself through music, not as a character? Nishiyama: Rather, I feel that the feeling that it was okay to be myself was more important. In the case of character songs, there is a character’s life and subjectivity, so I have a strong desire to express it in my voice after thinking about it. If it’s even a little lacking, the characters and everyone who listens will feel sad. But this time I can sing as myself, so there are less restrictions.

How did you find your own expression? Nishiyama: Not only the way I sing, but also the position of the mic, the clothes I wear that day… I’ve come to think about every one of those things. Even the slightest change in my mood, and the spread of the song also changes. Also, singing while dancing, while holding a ballpoint pen like singing with a handheld microphone, singing with the feeling of singing on a live stage (laughs). I sang while imagining various scenes. It was interesting that just by doing that, the way each verse was sung was completely different.

What was your impression when you first listened to the lead song “Mahiru Toki no Stella” that gave you the courage to be yourself? Nishiyama: I was attracted to it because it was so fashionable and catchy! As an artist, my first condition was that my musicality should be city pop. There were many candidate songs, but the one that stuck in my ears the most was “Mahiru no Stella.” Before I went to bed and when I woke up in the morning, it suddenly flowed in my head, so I decided with intuition, “I definitely like this song!”

The sparkly energy and the softness of Nishiyama-san’s personality are really conveyed. Nishiyama: When I heard the completed song, I thought, “This is my song.” I can’t imagine anyone else singing it. I was happy that I was able to make such a song. I feel uneasy because I can’t see the future, but the lyrics have the momentum of “Let’s go!” It’s a powerful lyric, but why does the lyricist Pon-san (ORESAMA) know my personality? I was surprised. That’s how much the lyrics express my current state of mind. I believe that I’m invincible because I can do whatever I want, no matter what time it is. I don’t know what the future will hold, but if you keep moving forward with a positive feeling that you can do it, the world will surely expand. That’s why this song gives me the courage to be who I am.

Could you tell us about the visual concept? Nishiyama: My debut mini album was based on the concept of expressing “one day”, so we filmed in three situations: morning, noon, and night. The morning scene has a bruise and a sleeping habit. The designer also said, “Sleep like this. There is no one who looks good on you!” (laughs) It was a very sunny day, so I was able to shoot a pleasant morning scene. The daytime scene has a pop and bright atmosphere. I love the rainbow-coloured shoelace sneakers! For the night scene, I think it would be nice if I could create a cool atmosphere with the costume that matches the patterned shirt with the 80’s style setup.

How was the shooting of the music video? Nishiyama: I was worried at first because I didn’t know how I would be reflected. However, when I was having fun with the music, the staff complimented me with “I like it!” “This timing was good!”

Thinking ahead of the last year of your 20’s, is there anything you would like to do as an artist in the future? Nishiyama: The beginning of this project was not “Would you like to do music?” but “Why don’t you do something interesting?” It can be dance, it can be art. I hope I can do something interesting through music.

It seems the mini-album will also include songs written by Nishiyama-san. Nishiyama: I’m happy to think that what I felt in 2020 will remain in the form of a song. Around the time of my debut, I will be celebrating my 30th birthday, and I think, “This timing was good.” If I was younger, there would have been many things I couldn’t have done. I am very honoured to have been given a place where I can put my excess physical strength into my last year in my twenties. I think it would be nice if everyone’s energy could be preserved in a proper form.


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