Interview by David Cirone
January 28, 2019
Anisong hitmaker TRUE opens up about her transition from behind-the-scenes songwriter to on-stage performer, with a five-year career that has already yielded memorable themes to popular series such as That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, Sound! Euphonium, Violet Evergarden, and Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans.
Songwriters like Prince or Shiina Ringo have commented that they sometimes start out to write a song for themselves, but then they realize they want a different artist to perform it. Have you ever experienced that type of creative switch in your songwriting?
TRUE: That does happen sometimes. I’ll start creating the lyrics for my own voice, but then once it develops, there are occasions where I’ll start to feel that there’s a specific person who can perform that song better than I can.
Writers are always afraid of having an idea and not writing it down. Can you give us an example of a time when you got an idea for a lyric or melody and had to rush to record it? How do you keep track of all the little bits and pieces of songs that haven’t been developed yet?
TRUE: I always keep my iPhone voice recorder nearby, and I’ll make notes and memos for myself. I’ll keep notes on my PC, too, and sometimes if I’m concentrating on a really strong emotion, I might add a photo or illustration that captures that essence for me.
What song has changed the most from the time you wrote the first draft to the way you perform it now on stage?
TRUE: That happens to me all the time – I can think of so many examples. When the song goes from words on paper to recording to final completion, and then it goes live in front of the audience, there is so much growth involved. The song that comes to my mind now is “DREAM SOLISTER” from Hibike! Euphonium. The main character of the anime is a 10th grader, and it’s really difficult for an adult to accurately convey the thoughts of a child – it was a challenge to make myself feel the way she would and go back to my own experiences at that age. When you’re experiencing puberty, it feels like it goes on forever, but when you go into your 20s or 30s, you realize that it’s a unique time of your life. During the songwriting process, that wasn’t something I could capture completely right away. The song changed at each step of the process, and it made me realize that I’m still moving forward toward my dreams, that we actually had a lot more in common than I originally thought. Once I understood that, I was able to truly make this my own song.
There are a lot of Gundam fans here at Anime NYC. Your theme song “STEEL -Tekketsu no Kizuna-” from Iron-Blooded Orphans has powerful lyrics about following your passion and not giving up. What personal experiences did you connect to when you were writing this song?
TRUE: I’ve been holding a microphone for more than 15 years, and the one thing I’ve never given up on is singing. But to tell the truth, I didn’t start off in such a great situation – I had to find my own musicians, my own rehearsal space, and I feel like it’s a miracle that I was able to achieve the career I have now. But I realized the most important thing is to not give up, and the lyrics of this song are also a personal message to myself. They’re a reflection of my journey in the music world.
What’s your advice for a young person who might want to follow in your footsteps and become an anisong writer and singer?
TRUE: If you keep trying and persevere, there will always be someone who’s going to notice it, so just keep going and surround yourself with the right friends. And maybe in a couple of years, I’d like to begin producing music for the people who have that spirit. Don’t give up!
Anisong World Matsuri Official Website: http://anisongworldmatsuri.com/
Anisong World Matsuri at Anime NYC Event Information: http://animenyc.com/anisongworld2018/
TRUE Official Website: http://true-singer.com/
TRUE Twitter: https://twitter.com/miho_karasawa
TRUE Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/miho_karasawa/
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