Today I'm going to talk about the Japanese singer KOKIA and all the adventures that happened since I met her.
I wanted to make this entry since a long time, especially since I'm going to flail about it next March where I'll go to the European Tour, so the release of her new, terrific, and beautifully awesome single (I'm lacking of words here, still listening to it right now) just made me do it now.
KOKIA might be already known among the Japanese music fans in France and Spain.
I discovered her totally by accident in 2005, I was a the time, mainly listening to Ayumi Hamasaki songs, and lots and lots of BGM compositions, mainly by Yoko Kanno and Yuki Kajiura. I was browsing a French website specialised in Japanese Music critics, and I saw the review of KOKIA's album "Remember me", with the note of 10/10.
This website is kinda the elitist type, so I was really surprised to see such a perfect note, because this hardly happens. So I gave it a try.. and was blown away!
I cannot really classify KOKIA's music, she's between ballads, tribal and ethnic sounds, more acoustic sounds, depends of the song really. But the most noticeable is HER VOICE! She has a TERRIFIC voice, I don't know how she achieves what she does with it.
Her new single "Follow the Nightingale", which is the OP of Tales of Innocence (and pwns seriously, I nearly cried because it was so beautiful and powerful).
Download the single (credit windJP)
And this live of my favorite song EVER from her, "Chouwa oto ~with reflexion~", live from her last concert in Paris, 2007.
Download (ripped by me)
(for those watching this and who understand Japanese, if you're wondering, yes, the refrain is sung kana backwards, while "Follow the Nightingale" is sung Romaji backwards)
Anyway, at that time, as she's quite the independent artist, not really what you can call famous in Japan, there was no way I could ever see her, I wasn't even thinking about it.
Until the day where it was announced she was giving a concert in Paris in Januray 2006.
KOKIA IS COMING TO FRANCE? HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE??? She's hardly known in Japan and there she comes to France????
It was a really small venue, for 400 people, but all the seats were sold out in 2 weeks! In an interview she gave later, she said they were all already surprised they actually sold tickets, and even more when they sold ALL the tickets.
So while with my friends we were queuing in front of the entrance, one of my friend and I knew KOKIA was coming two days later for a private concert to the Midem of Cannes (which is like the Festival of Cannes, but for Music), there's a thing called "Japan Night" every year, and she was going to perform there, but it was only VIP access, for the press and the guests. We tried to get tickets before, as we live in the South of France not so far from Cannes, but couldn't.
So While queuing, we met some Japanese fans who made the trip from Japan just to see her, and at one point some staff people came out of the building, and one of those fans (who were following her practically everywhere it seems, they even had many pictures with her) told us who her manager was, so we hurried to talk to her, I even have her autograph on my poster XDDD And in the end, with most forcing of my friend, and patience, some guy from the staff came out later, walked right staight to us and gave us two VIP access for the Midem \^0^y
*haven't seen the concert yet but is already dead happy*
Then the concert was dead awesome (I cried during "I Believe" performance, like everyone in the room (even the guys XD)), all acoustic so it was a pleasure for the ears. And we were on the front raw, and as we had a little uchiwa (which nobody had because KOKIA concert is not the kind where you bring uchiwa XDDD) we were immediately noticed X3333
So then two days later, while coming back from Paris, sleeping 15 hours straight, then taking the train for Cannes, I was dead tired, but still in Heaven, because I was going to see KOKIA again, just two days after the concert, and for a private show! The venue was in a big palace, so I felt really out of place, but there were all kind of people here, lots of Japanese managers, guys from international press (I was so happy, because I spent 40 whole minutes talking with two British journalists, and at the time, it was my first real English conversation X3), and some guy like him XD (yep it's me on the right):
We actually could see her getting ready while waiting to go inside, she even saw us, recognized us, and came to say "thank you for coming" *dies*
She was only performing 3 songs this day, there were two other artists, Rin' (who totally pws!) and Rie Fu. KOKIA was the second artist to perform. It was weird because as it was only for the press, everybody was talking, walking in the room, there were cameramans everywhere, and there were corners to eat Sushi and drink sake too XD So we stayed in the front middle the whole time, with the uchiwa, and when it was KOKIA turns, it felt like she was nearly singing for us only, as we were the only two fans in the room (there were only like 100 people). It's such an awesome feeling *dies again*
Then after the concert, she saluted and thanked us again.
Then one year later, she came back in France for her concert in Paris in Januray 2007. During this year, many things had changed for KOKIA, and in France.
First KOKIA became independent.
Second, her new album had been released in France under the newly created French label for Japanese music Wasabi Records (to this day, I think there are 3 labels for J-Music in France), it also had been released in Spain.
Third, ParisVisualProd, who first made Kokia come to France and organized her concerts, made other Japanese artists come too (the most important might have been Arai Akino with her European Tour, including Paris and Berlin).
This time, the concert was for 1200 person, at "Le Bataclan", which is a freaking famous Parisian concert room. It was fully crowded again. The day before the venue, she even did a private showcase at La Fnac (kinda like HMV/Virgin kind of shop), which I couldn't attend since the beginning because it was said too late and I already bought my train tickets T0T But I was in time for the signatures, so I queued with my friends, and when it was the time for the friend with whom I went to Cannes and me, she looked startled and said "Hey! I remember you!" *dies again* Then she signed my poster I was in heaven again XD
The day after, the day of the venue, we were queuing and we saw those Japanese fans, the same from the year before, this time they had special access for KOKIA, they took the plane with ther, and spend all her travel in Paris and all with her *so lucky *0* And so we decided to write a letter, so they could give it to her backstage. And when we found our seats, they weren't that far from us and they showed us a pic of KOKIA with THE letter *dies again*
And the concert was terrific and oh so great, and she's coming back for an European Tour in March, including two dates in Paris and one in Brussels (Belgium) and I'm going to the 3 so it's going to be totally awesome (thus my upcoming flailing next March XDDDDD)
BTW! If there's any of you guys (most likely French people) who are attending one of those concerts, I'll be happy to hang out with you. I've already got some friends whith whom I'm going, they're Arashi fans too anyway so it's going to be lots of fun (and I'm definitely stalking all the JE mags in Junku again T0T So if you want to lose your money with me, yoroshiku XD)
So sometimes, I'm wondering if I'm bothering some with my constant "Please Arashi, come over here, please please", but it's because I really believe in it. What you read above is a proof of it. I thought she would never come and she came.
Of course, Arashi and KOKIA are NOT to be compared. KOKIA is independent and does high quality music (not to say that Arashi is not doing HQ music (Carry on <33333333333333333), but you get what I mean, KOKIA has an audience 50/50 male female, and of a 25~35 average age) and Arashi belongs to evil JE, which will hardly let go of his boys if he doesn't see any profit!
But then I see things like this in famous French Japanese specialized mags:
You saw it coming too right? The drama communty has been growing so much bigger since the past two years. I'm reading those kind of mags from time to time and two years ago, they were only talking about Anime and Manga (Drama? What's that???). Now it's 50% anime/Manga and 50% J-Music/Asian Movies/Dramas.
If it keeps growing (which I'm sure it will), I won't be surprised if dramas gets some space in Japan Expo (which is the main expo in France about Japan, this year, we had OLIVIA in concert, last year it was Anna Tsuchiya, both has been licensed in France under the Wasabi Records label again (well, only their singles for NANA, but it's a start nevertheless), and the guy from XJapan came, for their big comeback etc, etc...)
And if to begin with, they make some famous drama related actors/singers come, like Oguri Shun (I'm daydreaming, well Rain (famous Korean singer and actor) DID came to Paris (and I didn't know T0T *sob*) edit: eeeeh, hermiana just told me DBSK came to Paris??? ZLOLOLOL @ "Aux Champs Elysées" and trying to say "bonjour" the French way XDDDD) or things like that, to promote drama, then Arashi, in the end, might come too (at least MatsuJun).
And since Arashi is aware of us (don't need to tell you again all those stuff, and since Nino said in in this interview "[about having a concert in France but as a small venu ndlr] Size doesn't matter to us. I would even prefer singing in a concert room for only 500 people! In Japan, I don't know if the five of us has the power to reach the farest people, in those huge concert places. As for experience, we would really like to start with a small venue. Once again, size doesn't matter."), more and more with time, this doesn't sound impossible.
That's how I see things anyway