We arrived at Slim’s San Francisco shortly before 6 pm. Many May’n fans were already lining up in front of the venue, and loud music could be heard clearly outside. May’n, the J-Pop singer internationally famous for her role as the singing voice of Sheryl Nome on animation series Macross Frontier, was rehearsing inside for her concert later that night. She’s so famous in the anime community that fans would recognize her singing voice right away.
On that Sunday, July 28, 2014, May’n was set to perform a full concert as part of her Dots and Lines Tour: May’n Road to 10th Anniversary 2014 – 2015. No doubt we’ll be hearing songs from her 4th album “New World”, which was released on January, as well as Macross Frontier songs and her older hits. The Slim’s staff let us in just as her rehearsal ended around 6:10pm. As we went in, we caught a glance of her on stage before she made her way backstage. I started to become nervous…we are about to do a May’n interview!
6:35 pm came too fast and her manager Yatabe-san informed me I had 15 minutes to do the interview. There was no photography allowed during the interview, but we’d be able to take pictures during her performance at (and only at) the press section. Mentally, I started to weed out some questions and just went with my gut feeling. She’s very sweet, down-to-earth, and very gracious. We talked about her musical style and preference, fashion for her Dots and Lines concert, and advice for budding singers! This is how the interview went.
Fafafoom: First of all, thank you for taking some time to talk to us! May’n, when did you decide you want to be a singer?
May’n: Ah! 3 years old.
Fafafoom: The story behind your name “May’n”…you want to sing songs that become “everybody’s main theme”. Why do you decide to come up with such objective?
May’n: In this world, there are various kinds of people who see many things, feel different things…so I think it’d be nice to sing lots of different kind of songs for them, regardless of the musical genre. For me, it’s about the the feeling each songs evoke.
Fafafoom: How do you define your musical style? What do you think is your strength (that makes you stand out)?
May’n: Hmm, I want to sing all music genre (rock, R&B, hip-hop, etc) and sing them well. Some audience members told me that my concert stage is like a musical because I sing songs from various music genres. I also like that all animations have different characters. I really like them and I always want to convey the feelings of those characters.
Fafafoom: Would you share the highlight of experience of being Sheryl Nome in Macross Frontier?
May’n: 10 years ago when I debuted, my style is more R&B. After three years, my relationship with animation songs started with Macross. That’s my first experience learning to sing rock music. Moreover, in Macross Frontier, the music producer Yoko Kanno wanted my higher pitch sounds. It’s very difficult in the beginning, I couldn’t do it. But I practiced over and over to be able to do it well. Now I have a lot of higher pitch sound in my music, thanks to Yoko Kanno.
Fafafoom: How long did it take you to train in order to reach that high pitch sound?
May’n: Hmm, I don’t know. (smiles) I never really keep track…But I do know that sometimes we have to do 30 takes in order to hit it correctly once!
Fafafoom: You sing various music genres. Do you have any genre preference (favorite)? Perhaps…do you prefer R&B or rock music?
May’n: I really have no preference. I like to listen to R&B songs very much, but when I’m on stage and the show starts, I want to sing rock ‘n roll songs. That being said, I don’t want to limit myself to certain musical genres. Dance music, rock music, I want to do them all.
Fafafoom: As a singer, is fashion important for you?
May’n: Yes. When planning a concert, I decide the musical style first, then I choose the concert outfits.
Fafafoom: How do you decide outfits for your Dots and Lines concert tonight?
May’n: The theme is my 10th anniversary tour…64 performances total. I don’t want to do the big colorful sets, just basic colors of black and white. More casual.
Fafafoom: Do you have different approaches performing differently in bigger venues versus smaller venues like Slim’s?
May’n: Naturally, the mood is different depending on the venue’s sizes. For example, for bigger stage, there can be more dancers. However, even though what we can or cannot do varies from venue to venue, the performance itself doesn’t change.
Fafafoom: If you have to choose between big numbers and ballads, which one do you like to sing more of?
May’n: (looks surprised) Eehhh, I cannot choose! I like them both!
Fafafoom: This is your 10th year anniversary as a singer. Can you tell us highlights of your experience for the past 10 years?
May’n: Animation music (community) is so big; it’s really great that I am able to find the songs I want to sing. I’m really happy to do it all the time so I can become better at it! Also, I realize that I want not to be a studio singer, but a live singer doing more live concerts.
Fafafoom: Have you ever felt like you wake up in the morning and you don’t want to sing. But you have a concert that day, so you have to. How do you keep yourself going?
May’n: Ah, that never happen to me. I always want to sing!
(her manager Yatabe-san nodded enthusiastically in approval)
But the hard thing for me is to take care of my voice. I love spicy food and ice creams, and sometimes it’s hard to control myself not to eat them too much. (laughs)
Fafafoom: How do you plan on getting more fans in the US?
May’n: First of all, personally every time I go to San Francisco and Los Angeles, I feel happy. San Francisco is special because it’s one of the settings for Macross Frontier (the cable car, etc).
Tom-san, the translator, seemed surprised. Chris nodded at her response, telling Tom-san Macross Frontier is set in Tokyo and San Francisco. I told May’n that Chris is a fan :)
(smiles broadly) Ah, thank you very much! (went back to answering the question) Therefore, I just want to make more people in the US know and love Macross Frontier more.
Fafafoom: For somebody who’s an aspiring singer and they want to be as successful as you are, what advice can you give to them for them to get there?
May’n: (surprised, slightly embarrassed) Eehhh, no way! I feel that I definitely still need to work harder all the time. That being said, when you’re in doubt about your performance or feel like you cannot do it, do your best on the stage. Do your best on your performance, don’t be shy. That’s all you have to do: do your best, all the time in order to reach your goal.
And with that, our time was up! Tom-san did a good job as my translator even though he was also busy running around helping the production crew. And May’n…I have personally witnessed why her fans love her so much: she’s such a sweetheart. She clearly does not take her success for granted and never stops pushing herself. Those qualities of hers shone clearly throughout the 15 minutes we spent face-to-face with her. We had a great time during our May’n interview!
As I said previously, no photography was allowed during the interview, so we took a lot of them during the concert! Only press/media was allowed to take pictures during her performance from a designated spot (and nowhere else). With only 5 official photographers taking pictures of her performance, we couldn’t help feeling lucky. When we were waiting for the concert to start, we saw the doors opened at 7:10pm. People immediately started making their way to purchase May’n Dots and Lines goodies, which included T-shirts, fans, bags, and the cutest of them all, May’n Nendoroid. Within minutes, May’n loyal fans made sure they had prime spots on the very front row before taking out their glow sticks. Some even brought a sleeping bag of some sort…these guys are true fans! Or maybe they’re just cold and want to warm themselves.
At 8 pm, the opening act DJ Amiga took the stage and delighted the fans by giving them the opportunity to warm up, dancing to her mix of J-Pop music and testing out their glow sticks. I have to say, DJ Amiga is the best-looking DJ I’ve ever seen in my life. She’s so beautiful! She also has a subtly mischievous smile, which is really cute.
At 8:45 pm, May’n emerged to the stage, addressing the crowd in English, The screaming fans (mostly guys) were obviously very excited to see their idol. Her simple black top with silver fringes on the sides were both cool and effective. Displaying the amplified quality of attack and edge she teasingly displayed at Union Square the night prior, she was captivating in her mastery of dynamics and emotions. Furthermose, she did not neglect to offer a gesture of gratitude for audience participation while she’s singing. May’n is the real deal.
May’n performed songs after songs like they’re nothing. “Brain Diver” was out of this world at the beginning of the set, and then there’s her introduction to “Watashi no Shirushi”.
Before singing that song, she said, “When I become a singer, I thought I can sing as much as I want. But in reality, I want to sing more. Watashi no Shirushi is about that.” Ah, no wonder she never NOT want to sing! This girl’s a machine.
The last song she did before leaving the stage to change her outfit is “Re: REMEMBER.” After she left, her dancers Yuu and Momi got the audience pumped up by having them say “DOTS!” and “LINES!” as enthusiastically as possible, like their lives depended on how energetic they could deliver those lines (no pun intended). May’n re-emerged (or should I say Re: REEMERGED? sorry, bad joke) from backstage, wearing a cute white sleeveless dress with macrame knot details.
After singing a few songs, she took some time to talk with the audience. It’s her 2nd time in San Francisco and she got to go to Fisherman’s Wharf.
“I ate too many mussels,” she said, “maybe…30?”
It’s also her first time trying chocolate-covered apple on a stick. Did she like it?
“It’s too big, too sweet!”
From the look of her face, I don’t think she’ll go for those apples ever again.
But she loves Whole Foods, “It’s like an amusement park! I buy lots of pancake mix! They’re so different from the ones in Japan and I like them very much!”
She also added that San Francisco is her precious city thanks to Macross Frontier, so she wanted to learn how to say “San Francisco” properly.
“Do I say ‘San Fran’? ‘Frisco’? Or ‘San Francisco’?”
She told us she used to say ‘San Fran’, but got laughed at by her teacher, who told her to say ‘Frisco’ instead. Oh dear.
Well, the crowd was there to set it straight. ‘SF’ was the most recommended choice, and from that time onward, May’n nailed it flawlessly.
The anticipated Macross Frontier medley and “Diamond Crevasse” were as good, if not better sung live as they were on the studio recording, and she followed it up with high-energy “Moon Walker”. By the time she launched her ‘last song’ “Kyo ni Koi Iro”, I was amazed at her stamina. Song after song after song with so little breaks in between!
But! Her fans knew better it’s not really the last song. Shouts for an encore went steadily until she showed up once again, outfitted in Dots and Lines T-Shirt, jacket tied around her waist, and a towel on her hand. She performed 4 songs for the encore, all without dropping any shred of energy. When she asked the crowd, “Can you sweat more?”, a fellow press photographer nearby was tiredly shaking his head. This is the longest encore I’ve ever experienced, he said. Did I say May’n is a machine?
when the 4th encore song was done, May’n took time to make eye contact and say “Thank you!” to as many audience members as possible. The concert was finally over when she, along with Yuu and Momi gave the crowd the final bow. The VIPs were not going home yet, as they had their Meet and Greet session with May’n. What time was it? 11 pm.
It was such a great, rare experience to be able to interview May’n and see her in action like that. We were exhausted just from watching her perform, but there’s no doubt in my mind that she will have a long and more successful career ahead of her. My thanks once again to May’n, Yatabe-san, and Tom-san for having us, and tahnk you Slim’s staff, especially Derek and Adam!
Thank you for reading, until next time,