TENDERLAMP just released its first single last week and we were able to talk to AMI (former Chelsy member) about this new project of hers.
In the heart of Tokyo, in the Roppongi area, we met up with AMI last month for an exclusive interview at her label’s headquarters (BEING / Honey Bee Records). Here’s our chat with a sweet and talented artist, full of energy!
Zero Yen (ZY): Hello AMI! Nice to have you with us again today. Before we start talking about TENDERLAMP, can you share your feelings about the separation of Chelsy?
AMI: It’s been 7 years since we started Chelsy and I learned a lot being a member of the band. I wanted to use this knowledge to go forward with my next project.
ZY: Is there anything you think you will miss about being part of a band?
AMI: As Chelsy, we always gave 100% at the performances on stage for our fans. I think that music can make people happy and can spread joy to more people. I will be alone on this project but I want to keep doing that. My feelings towards the fans will not be different being TENDERLAMP.
ZY: Now, about TENDERLAMP, that’s an exciting new project for you! How did it start?
AMI: Since I was a little girl, I’ve always loved writing music. This is why I became a member of Chelsy. I want to do more with the music I created so right now, I’m remembering all the songs I’ve made before. I’m also currently writing new songs. The TENDERLAMP project started around November/December of last year (2017).
ZY: How did you find the name? What does it mean?
AMI: The word Tender means soft or kind. Lamp is for the light. So I wanted to be the light of people who are are soft or weak and help them in a way.
ZY: Oh! That’s very clever, I had no idea!
ZY: How did you prepare going from being a drummer & singing background vocals to being a solo artist and main singer?
AMI: It’s the first time for me being the main vocalist so I’m nervous about certain things. But, like I said before, my feelings towards the fans will stay the same. Right now, to become a true singer, I’m currently taking vocal and dancing lessons.
ZY: Are you finding this training difficult?
AMI: Yes because I was always sitting when I was a drummer! (laughs) Now I need to stand up and sing in front of many people. It makes me very nervous!
ZY: I saw you wrote the lyrics for your debut songs Anatairo (あなたいろ) and Betelgeuse no Namida (ベテルギウスのなみだ). What inspires you when you are creating new songs? Can you tell us what the songs are about please?
AMI: About Anatairo, my grandmother passed away a few years ago and the place she used to live in is a very green area. So even after her passing, whenever I go to this place, I can still feel she lives within my heart. She’s the reason I became the person I am today. That’s why I want to sing about the love she gave me. Anatairo means « your color ». So my grandmother’s color still exists in that place and inside my heart.
In the constellation of Orion, Betelgeuse is the star that’s also part of the Winter Triangle. So both constellations have this star in common. Some people do so many things everyday that they become tired. The tears that one person sheds are tears of hard work and people around this person look up to her/him. Those tears are never tears of weakness but tears of courage. So if you imagine Betelgeuse as a human being, it being a common star between 2 constellations, it would be like a very busy person with several jobs. (note: Betelgeuse no namida means « the tears of Betelgeuse« ).
ZY: I noticed your voice sounds deeper on the songs than your real voice. What kind of voice training did you do?
AMI: Since I was a little girl, every time I was going to sing, my voice really changed! (laughs) More seriously, I’m learning about vocal techniques but also about the things I need to be able to perform on stage as a solo artist.
ZY: Speaking of voice, you dubbed a character in the latest animated movie The Smurfs for the Japanese version. Did you enjoy this experience? What did you learn from it?
AMI: It was a lot of fun! I learned that being a voice actress (seiyu in Japanese) is a very interesting job. I hope I can do it again so I can get better at it!
ZY: Did the other voice actors have any advice for you?
AMI: It was my first time doing it so they gave me many advice. It will help me focus on how to act in the future. I also did some acting in theater in a play. But voice acting was really different, I had to learn things like how to read the script for example.
ZY: You also have other projects like being an ambassador for the Tado Green Farm or doing some acting in theater (which you just mentioned). How do you choose your projects? Is it difficult to manage all the projects at the same time?
AMI: Every time I am given projects, I focus all my energy on each project. I learned a lot from each of them. These things I’ve learned before (like acting on stage for a play), I want to put them all in TENDERLAMP.
ZY: Speaking of theater and music, is there any musical you like?
AMI: I like Wicked! I hope I can go to Broadway in the near future to see it!
ZY: Do you have plans to sing live outside of Japan? Maybe in France or Europe? We would love to see you in France ;)
AMI: I think it’s a generation right now with the Internet, YouTube and social media where it’s easy for an artist to spread the music to many people in other countries. I will do my best to share my music around the world! If you take Kyary Pamyu Pamyu or Babymetal for example, they have fans overseas who express freely their (good) feelings about their songs. I hope I can do the same and receive the same kind of messages from abroad.
ZY: Maybe do some Instagram live? In English?! (laughs)
AMI: (laughs) Practice! (in English)
ZY: Is there anything you like about France?
AMI: I went to the Mont St Michel using Google Earth! (laughs) I’m addicted right now with visiting places around the world on Google Earth! I’ve also been to the Eiffel Tower! (laughs)
ZY: You know we’re from the south of France near Marseille. Did you take a look there?
AMI: Oh, I haven’t yet! Please send me recommendations! (laughs)
ZY: Any other places you want to see? (in France or Europe)
AMI: I would like to visit historic places in Europe. Outside of Europe, I would like to see the Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia or the Taj Mahal in India. I’ve also seen pictures in the travel guides at the bookstore of places in the countryside I’d like to see. The way the cities and countryside looks are really different abroad compared to Japan. I’m also curious about outside markets where I would like to feel the warmth of the people.
ZY: Oh, we have many markets like this in Provence! They are outside and you can buy clothes, food and talk to people. You don’t have these in Japan, do you?
AMI: In Japan, we have something similar when there are outdoor festivals (matsuri in Japanese). My hometown is a little bit countryside and some people sell vegetables around town.
ZY: Now, let’s go back to music. Who are your favorite artists? What are you listening to right now?
AMI: My favorite artists in Japan are Shiina Ringo, Utada Hikaru and YUKI. I like female voices.
ZY: Me too! (laughs)
ZY: I actually saw Utada Hikaru in London about 8 years ago. It was a really small venue in London, around 300 people maybe.
AMI: Ah! This is impossible in Japan for her! (laughs)
ZY: Do you also like any international artists?
AMI: Hmmm, I listen to several different genres: The Weeknd and Daft Punk for example.
ZY: Oh I love Daft Punk too! They’ve been singing for more than 20 years now!
AMI: I saw a documentary once about Daft Punk and why they hide their faces. Their thoughts and feelings towards the music were really cool because they are so focused on every song they make. I also listen to Enya.
ZY: Is there any song or artist you would recommend (Japanese or international)?
AMI: Is Utada Hikaru famous in France?
ZY: Errr, for the people who listen to Japanese music, yes! And maybe people who played the Kingdom Hearts games.
AMI: I really love her music. It’s the roots of my music right now so I would like to recommend her to everyone!
ZY: Really good choice! But I’m biased! (laughs)
ZY: Since you write lyrics, do you have any favorite words or expressions in Japanese? Or in another language?
AMI: I’ve just started writing lyrics so I’m not sure I have a favorite expression just yet. But I’m hoping to become the person I’ve always wanted to be.
ZY: Maybe an expression you say often then or like in everyday life?
AMI: Dekiru! (it’s a verb in Japanese that means « I can do it »)
ZY: Last question: do you have a message for our readers?
AMI: I’m so excited I get to start my solo project this month. On the Internet, I get to see so many great artists around the world. I want to be a person in the near future who sends out good things through my music. If I can go to France someday, please come and meet me! (laughs)
ZY: Do you know anything in French maybe?
AMI: Bonjour (hello) and… Un, deux, trois (one, two, three). That’s it! (laughs) I think French is very hard to pronounce.
ZY: Japanese is the same for us! So I understand! (laughs)
ZY: Thank you very much and good luck! We hope to see you in France someday!
AMI: Thank you!
TENDERLAMP / AMI online
Thank you to AMI for being such a lovely person. Thanks to her management and label for making this interview possible. All the TENDERLAMP promotional photos have been provided by BEING / Honey Bee Records.