Nante Japan Interviews Virtual Singer and Pioneer, KAF!

A founding member of Virtual Witch Phenomenon and virtual singer from KAMITSUBAKI Studio, the v-singer KAF can be considered one of the first VTubers to debut, starting her activities in October of 2018.

Please find our wonderful interview with the star below!

To start with, would you mind introducing yourself to our non-Vsinger audience?

Hello! My name is KAF, and I post videos on platforms like YouTube, as well as perform live. I also love to sing. It’s nice to meet you!

You debuted at the age of 14 in 2018 as a virtual singer. At the time, it was a rather unusual path to take. What made you choose to become a VTuber?

To start with, I began by uploading songs on a karaoke smartphone application. Originally, I wanted to participate in an audition within the app, but made a mistake that prevented me from participating. However the judge for the audition took an interest in my work and ended up contacting me. Following our initial conversation I had brought my mother to learn more about potentially debuting as a singer. While my mother was supportive, she wanted me to find a way to debut without revealing my face as I was still a student, and that was when the idea of debuting as a VTuber was proposed.

Given the timing for your debut, especially being so early in the VTuber space, what was it like being a pioneer in the field?

When I first debuted, I didn’t really know much about VTubers or the entire industry, so I started off diving in headfirst. But as time progressed I found myself getting more and more invested in the space while I was continuing my activities at the same time. Even though I debuted quite early, I don’t particularly consider myself a pioneer within the space — knowing that I can simply work and continue my activities within the virtual world makes me happy; I really love this virtual realm.

There is a consistent theme of deep emotionalness that weaves itself through your music, and part of that is your working relationship with composer Iori Kanzaki. 

My producer had actually brought up the conversation with Iori Kanzaki. That meeting led to us starting to work together, and lasted across three albums. Back when I was first making my debut, I was a nervous wreck in the recording studio, and really just went with the flow and poured everything in my being into the music. As time went on and I was able to progress with my second and third albums, I started to develop a much more clear mentality towards what I personally wanted out of my singing, and that was something Kanzaki was able to help me express throughout our time together.

And why do you think your producer introduced you to Kanzaki?

Both Kanzaki and I have something in common, apparently, though its truly difficult to put into words exactly what that “something” is. Our producer was able to sense that “something”, though, and brought us together as if it were fate. It played such a pivotal role in my career.

One of the songs that particularly moved me was the song, “Chance Meeting”, from your latest album. Would you mind giving us more of your own thoughts about that particular piece and the album overall?

I love all the songs on Kyoso, but the song Chance Meeting holds a special place in my heart. The song was written for me by Kanzaki right ahead of his graduation from KAMITSUBAKI. Music has played a pivotal role in my journey as KAF, and Kanzaki had always been a significant presence throughout. His graduation left me with a genuine feeling of loneliness, but the title of this song felt like a message [to me] that deeply inspired me to move forward. This song was filled with my love for singing, my gratitude towards my fans, and a deep appreciation for Kanzaki Iori. Whenever I sing it, it’s often the one song that brings me to the point of tears.

You have this major project that you are currently working on called “Suite” (Kumi-kyoku) where you collaborate with a whole range of new artists. Would you mind talking about your feelings on the first of the series, “Mirror, mirror on the wall”?

This song was written for me by the rock band Glim Spanky – they wrote me such a cool song. For someone like me who performs and exists within a virtual space, this song felt like I didn’t have to feel constrained by the “virtual” or the “real”, I could be a KAF that exists at the eclipse of both.

There’s a particular lyric in the song where it goes “Don’t assume the answer” – and after hearing this, I truly felt like it was a song meant just for me. I wanted to match the intense rock vibes of the song with my vocals, so I really let my emotions explode during the chorus. I especially like the part of the music video where I smash the mirror.

Throughout the project, it definitely feels like a number of the pieces are both made with you, but also are about you as well. Is that something that you similarly felt? How is it like to show yourself off in all these ways?

Yes! During this Suite project I’ve had the chance to work alongside numerous artists I’ve long since admired. Since the beginning I’ve been consistently surprised that these artists, who I had been listening to for so long, also knew about me as well in-depth. Because in a sense the real me and KAF are somewhat separate entities, it’s always interesting to see the interpretations of KAF in people’s creations. In this virtual world, collaborating artists, as well as fans, view me from various angles almost branching out and creating new versions of me. That’s one of the most entertaining parts of this virtual world to me.

What makes the “Suite” project even more fascinating is that at the same time, we have the “I SCREAM LIVE” cover project series. If “Suite” collaborations allow the “KAF” that others see turn into life through your music, in a way, “I SCREAM LIVE” feels like the inverse. It is the KAF view of all these other amazing songs and turning them into your own. How did you choose which songs to cover, and which songs did you enjoy covering the most?

Generally, when it comes to cover songs I tend to gravitate towards my own favorites, but sometimes I’ll incorporate recommendations from producers and friends. As I mentioned, the way each person views KAF during a collaboration differs, but when I’m doing a cover song it tends to bring my innermost emotions and personal taste to the forefront. For example, sometimes I’ll begin feeling like there’s a certain type of song that I’ve not had the chance to try singing, so this could be my platform to do so in my own way.

Looking at my most recent cover album, I SCREAM LIVE 2, I especially remember covering Konyawa Boogie Back (Nice Vocal) with Shunbi. I’ve had the chance to work with my fellow members of KAMITSUBAKI in the past, but being able to do so on a song of my choice with something like a cover was a first, and I couldn’t help but be excited. Even when listening back to the recording at a later date, we both felt like this was something fresh and exciting.

So when you ask Western fans about our perspective from across the globe, we tend to view both you and Kizuna AI as two pioneers of VTubing. The two of you actually collaborated on a couple of songs – what was the process like when working with her?

My first conversation with Kizuna AI was when I appeared on her YouTube show in 2019. It was after that appearance that we first actually discussed collaborating. Kizuna AI‘s singing is so pure and transparent, so I was excited about how our voices would blend. We ended up producing two songs together, LOVESHII and Transient.

At the time I still felt new to this virtual world, so collaborating with a true pioneer like Kizuna AI was such an honor. She was the original VTuber, and to me, she almost had somewhat of a mother-like air to her as a result of that status. Even now I still listen to those songs we made together, and I can’t help but feel the desire to keep working hard each time I do. Though she isn’t active anymore, I truly believe she’ll always be influential in the VTuber community.

So we’ve talked about KAF as a recording artist, but we haven’t had a chance yet to discuss your live performances which reached a new height after your performance at Budokan last year. What was it like to be able to see and interact with your fans in an environment like that?

When I first got the offer for Budokan I was in a complete state of shock. To me, it was a world changing moment: I was going to be able to stand atop a stage that so many in Japan aspire to perform on. I completely lost track of time.

The concert was back in August of last year, and when it was finally the day of the performance, I remember walking around the venue and seeing the lines of fans hoping to buy goods, and the tweets going up online, and that’s when I think it all hit me. Being able to perform on a stage like Budokan was all thanks to the support from my fans.

At the Budokan concert, I debuted my song My Dear, which was a song that, for the first time, I wrote and composed – a song I dedicated to my fans. This song was created with my listeners in mind, and it felt truly complete after performing it in front of them for the first time. I always cherish the messages and warmth I receive from my fans, who I call my “Observers”. Being able to put truth behind the lyrics in places like “Thank you” and “I love you” throughout the song and enjoying it with my Observers truly felt special. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that experience.

On that note, there’s so much to look forward to in these coming months. For us Observers, could we get a look at what’s coming up in the world of KAF?

On January 13 and 14 next year I’ll be hosting a two-day event at the Yoyogi National Stadium. The first day will be a performance from V.W.P, a group consisting of myself and my KAMITSUBAKI peers. On the second day, it will be my fourth solo concert. For me, these two days are what I consider my next big stage. For my solo concert, the event will be titled Kaika; to me, this name has a special meaning, and I believe it will be the signifying point for various new changes and evolutions. I hope you can all look forward to it!

Lastly, is there anything you’d like to say to your international fans?

Within this vast ocean that is the internet, I’d like to thank you for finding me. For climbing over the wall that is language differences, for listening to my music, for taking notice of me, it makes me so, so happy. I’m going to keep singing, and I hope someday I’m able to even sing an original song in English, so for that I’ll do my best to keep studying more and more English. So you can keep hearing my voice, and so someday, somehow, we may meet, I’ll keep doing my best in my activities. I hope you’ll continue to support me. Thank you all!

Find KAF on YouTube and all her links here!


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