Our Russian journalist Oleg talked with Japanese city pop project - 𝐂𝐫𝐲𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐥 𝐂𝐨𝐥𝐚
Hi, Crystal Cola! Thanks for agreeing to speak with us about your music and other stuff! Tell us, when was your project created?
I started this project back in late 2015 just for fun. I wasn't planning to release anything at that time and just wanted to challenge myself to create music influenced by my favorite artists and video games. After I recorded a few songs, I thought to release it for feedback and people seemed to like it, so I decided to take it further and eventually made my first album, Ocean Breeze.
When someone’s talking about original city pop music, it’s mainly about Japan during the economic bubble of the second half of the 1980s and j-pop artists of that time. In your opinion, does the modern city pop have these elements which were in the 1980`s music? Can modern city pop be regarded as a sort of vaporwave music?
If there was any influence economically on the music from the bubble era, I don’t think the economy of today is the same as it was back then since we are in more of a recession now. I think it could be that we are looking back at a time of great prosperity and want to re-create the feeling of that era by making music that sounds like the kind from that time. I suppose you can say it’s got elements of the vaporwave pastiche, but that also feels like it takes away from some of the excellent efforts of musicians making new city pop.
What is the source of your creativity? In your opinion, where’s the source of 80s Japanese pop uniqueness, and why is it an important source for future funk remixes?
I think like most of my peers; we like this style of music because it was popular when we were young and listening to it and writing music like this feels very nostalgic. In Japan, there was city pop, but in the west, there was similar music like yacht rock, jazz fusion and even music in anime, which was becoming popular and mainstream in the west, so we were all exposed to this style in one way or another. Future funk uses these songs as a source because they have this nostalgic quality and much city pop is disco-influenced, which lends itself to be remixed easily because of the 4/4 time signature.
Tell us your secret: how do you manage to achieve such atmospheric sounds like from 80`s retro anime or TV shows? What is the world you created in your music?
The best way to achieve the sounds from the 80s is to use technology from that period. Synthesizers and VST’s based on synthesizers from that time are what I use. The Korg M1 is used a lot in my songs, along with the D50 and DX7. I spent a while researching equipment setups by city pop musicians. I also watched a lot of youtube videos of them playing live to see playing techniques and instrument rigs. Analyzing songs was very helpful to me when it came to constructing my music. I grew up with retro anime, so it remains a significant influence on my music and some of that songwriting comes naturally.
If talking about something intimately connected with Japan, it's impossible not to talk about anime. Do you think classic anime is better than modern? Name us your three most beloved titles!
A lot of my favorite anime is older, but there is a lot of great new anime's now! One Punch Man, Mob Psycho 100 are excellent new anime, and my friend introduced me to an anime called Overlord which I really like. My top 3 anime however are Kimagure Orange Road, Ranma 1/2, and FLCL. I've heard great things about Heart Cocktail and I want to watch that next!
Imagine that you got in 1986 in Tokyo's center, say, through time travel. Your next steps?
Hmm, after a period of panic, probably I'd try to figure out how to get to the Air Records HQ and try to work with my favorite artists from the time, as unlikely as that would be, haha.
Have you ever performed anywhere with your music? If not, do you have any plans to do so? What would you prefer: to play on 100% Electronicon fest or some small concert area somewhere in Japan?
I have not performed live yet, though I am not opposed to it. I would have to work out the logistics of performing it live; I'm not sure how I'd do that. I think I'd instead start with a small concert area before moving on to a bigger festival event.
I noticed that on Bandcamp fan page, you have many chillwave releases and not a single one city pop album. Do you have plans to close your project in the future and move to chillwave?
A lot of my friends in the online music scene are in the chillwave genre. I was introduced to them after meeting my friend A.L.I.S.O.N. We both enjoyed each other’s music and began working together on some things. That led us to other artists who we all talk with on the chill synth community discord group. While I am a part of this group, I wouldn’t describe my style as chillwave. I’ve tried making music in this style, such as the song Zenith from my EP Orion, but I didn’t feel it was very successful, my style is too city pop at heart, haha. No, I don’t think I will stop my city pop style. In fact, my next album is looking to be even more city pop than my previous releases.
So the last question is: Your project is anonymous and you asked me not to talk about your identity and geographic location. Do you think the anonymity of an artist is an essential part of the music aesthetics, or it's something else?
I don't think it's crucial to the aesthetic as there have been many artists who are not anonymous and do quite well with fans. For me, I like having my music as the center of attention rather than myself, so I try to maintain a distance from it if I can.
Thanks a lot for this talk! I hope this meeting is not the last one. Arigato!
Thank you for the questions and thank you for your love and support! I appreciate everyone who listens to my music! You are all the reason why I continue to release music! どうもありがとうございました！