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J-Pop Exchange Exclusive Interview with Chii Sakurabi

Chii Sakurabi J-Pop Exchange Radio Show Exclusive Interview Transcript


SeanBird (J-Pop Exchange): Hi Ms. Sakurabi, thank you for taking the time to speak with us…

Chii Sakurabi: It's my pleasure!  Thanks for having me!


SeanBird: What are your impressions of the United States?

Chii Sakurabi: There's many people from different countries that live in the US and that's really interesting. I can learn something new all the time! In Japan, only Japanese live there, traditionally. It has been changing a little recently,  but still, most of them are Japanese. So, what I like about this country is its diversity!

SeanBird: Interesting!  Do you feel that living in the United States has influenced you as a musician?

Chii Sakurabi: Since I live in the US, I have more chance to perform at different regions in the US and meet a variety of different artists. It's also given me the opportunity to perform in other countries like France, Canada, New Zealand, and Mexico!  This would have been difficult if I were still living in Japan.  I went to Mexico many times, and I've never studied Spanish before, but I'm starting to learn a little just from my experiences there.  I even put some Spanish lyrics in one of my new songs! So, I think living in the U.S. has made me become more international!


SeanBird: Would you mind sharing with us what it was like growing up in Japan?

Chii Sakurabi: I spent most of my time playing outdoors and just enjoying nature. Japan has lovely landscapes and has very distinct seasons.  I often thought there was a kind of magic in nature, such as with the falling cherry blossom petals and moss-covered grounds.  It helped me open my imagination and be creative, thinking about fantastical worlds.    

SeanBird: And, did your interest in music begin in your childhood?  How did you become interested in music?

Chii Sakurabi: I've enjoyed singing all my life. When I was a child I listen to many J-POP artists and tried to sing along with them. Also my late grandmother used to be an Enka teacher and since we lived together, I would hear her singing all the time. She was a big influence on me wanting to be a singer.


SeanBird: That's wonderful!  And what led you to want to pursue a career in music?  How did it begin?

Chii Sakurabi: When I was in college I met a famous bassist in Tokyo.  He was always very serious when he talked about music and dedicated to creating the perfect sound. In the process of making an album, he wouldn't sleep for like a week! By hearing him talk about his efforts for his music career, I was inspired to take my singing more seriously as well.  I knew then that I wanted to sing in front of people to make them happy and give them a dream!

That's how it all started. 


SeanBird: Fascinating!  Can you give us some insight into your songwriting process?

Chii Sakurabi: My songs are mainly written by my sound producer, Nucky. He lives in Japan and we work together on the production of each song through Skype. I have written a few songs myself, as well. When I write a song, I always go into the fantasy world inside me and listen to the story, then the music and lyrics just tend to flow out. 


SeanBird: Intriguing!  What a great way to utilize Skype!  Who are your musical influences?

Chii Sakurabi: I'm a big fan of T.M. Revolution, and I have been for a long time.  He is really a great singer and has so much passion.  So, usually before my shows, I like to watch videos of his live performances to help motivate me!

SeanBird: Interesting, I agree with you; we'll play a song by him in your honor later tonight ... what music do you like to listen to?

Chii Sakurabi: Well, I'm a J-POP artist, so I like J-POP.  I like lots of different groups, like T.M.R, May'n, Nana Mizuki, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, Perfume and so on!

SeanBird: Please tell us about your song Kaguya … your ideas and inspirations behind it. 

Chii Sakurabi: Kaguya comes from one of the oldest Japanese fairy tales, called "The tale of the Bamboo Cutter" and Kaguya is the name of the moon princess from that story. I wanted to share this beautiful story with the world, so I decided to create my version of Kaguya through this song.

SeanBird: Fascinating!  And, please tell us about your latest album Moon Princess, how it came about, -- your inspirations and ideas behind the album.

SeanBird: My next album, Moon Princess, is nearly complete and I am very excited about it.  It's our best work yet!

Chii Sakurabi: This album is a kind of story that symbolically reflects the events that take place in "The tale of the Bamboo Cutter".  Of course, they all have my unique spin on them. I want everyone to read the story and listen to the songs, so that they can feel a connection with the moon princess and her world!

SeanBird: How can fans contact you to learn more about your music?

Chii Sakurabi: My CDs and merchandise are sold on my website chiisakurabi.com and also you can get them on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify and so on!  So please check them out, and also connect with me through Twitter and Facebook to get all the latest information on what I'm doing!

SeanBird: In conclusion, is there anything else you’d like to mention that we haven’t discussed thus far?

Chii Sakurabi: I will move to LA this coming March! So, I am looking forward to my new adventure! I hope I can meet many more people there and share my music even further!

SeanBird: Thank you again for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak with us.

Chii Sakurabi: You are welcome! Thank you very much for having me here! Bye-nyan!