TOKYO CUTTING EDGE CREATORS by Julie Watai #4 : The New Generation’s Chiptune Artist “TORIENA”

『TOKYO CUTTING-EDGE CREATORS by Julie Watai』#4 : 新世代チップチューンアーティスト "TORIENA"
TOKYO CUTTING EDGE CREATORS by Julie Watai #4 : The New Generation’s Chiptune Artist “TORIENA”

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TOKYO CUTTING-EDGE CREATORS by Julie Watai is column series, which covers Tokyo’s latest cutting-edge culture! In this series she’ll be interviewing creators that have caught her interest, in order to discover the latest cutting-edge culture in Tokyo. For our first installment, we interviewed artist Ai☆Madonna, for the second time welcoming Junya Suzuki, who has been working for fashion label “chloma”, and for the third time we had discussion with Etsuko Ichihara, an artist/ director of wild ideas. For this time we will be interviewing TORIENA, who has been working as a chiptune girl.

Julie: TORIENA-chan, long time no see! Thank you for meeting with me today.

TORIENA: I’d like to thank you, too!

Julie: To start things off, please introduce yourself for people who may be reading about you for the first time!

TORIENA: I’m TORIENA (toe-ree-eh-nah).


I was born in 1993, and I’m a chiptune girl ♀. I’m chairwoman of the Japanese chiptune music label, MADMILKY RECORDS. I make do all of the sound work (lyrics, compositions, arrangements, and vocals) and art (illustrations and designs) by myself. I’m good ad using the GAMEBOY device and LSDj (Little Sound DJ) to make hard, pop-sounding music, with wild-like characteristics. I’ve performed at Square Sounds Melbourne 2015 (Australia) and Lucca comics & game 2015 (Italy). I’ve also contributed songs and the like to music games by Konami and Capcom.

Recently I changed my desktop music and I’ve been working on music!


This interview was conducted via Skype./対談はSkypeチャットを通じて行われました。

Julie: I first got to know you through Hally (the first so-called chiptune musician in Japan, who Julie used to perform with as part of a vocal/chiptune unit, called JulieHally), and at the time you were just a university student, which made me wonder how someone so young knew about chiptune.

The chiptune genre, in a loose sense, was derived from techno, but mainly refers to music that was made from internal sound source chips in game devices from the 1980s. There are fundamentalists, or maniacs, perhaps, that say chiptune only includes original game chip music. It’s a genre with a lot of middle-aged male fans, reminiscing about playing the Famicon (NES) when they were kids. But the music itself is really cool, and became more and more popular!

TOREINA: That makes me really happy!

Julie: At the time there weren’t any younger people into chiptune, and we kept talking about how to get more people into the genre. I feel like that’s where you came in and breathed new life into the chiptune genre.

TORIENA: Yeah, as for there not being many younger artists in the genre, when I first started out I used to think about how there weren’t many other people my age and it was a little sad.

Julie: About when did you start doing concerts? I feel like back then most people in the audience were in their late thirties.

TORIENA: My first one was on February 26, 2012!

Julie: Four years ago then, yeah? Seeing you featured in so much media, I figured it’d been much longer.

TORIENA: I felt encouraged to make something myself, and a strong urge to get started on putting something out there quickly, and then as a result I started working more and more. (laugh)

Julie: Somewhat unrelated, but I feel like all of your work ties into your own unique world. By the way, how did it feel when you did your first concert?

TORIENA: I packed about 30 minutes worth of music datea into a single LSDij and just danced around on stage while the music played in the background.

Julie: LSDj are professional sound cartridges for GAMEBOY used to make music, right? Which means for your first concert you used music straight from your GAMEBOY! I’m in awe of how retro-cool that is! (laugh)

TORIENA: About the LSDj, I had an older classmate in university who said, “Hey TORIENA, let’s make some chiptune together!” I went with him to Kyoto to the holy land (?) of chiptune, Café la siesta, and when we told the master there that we wanted to make some chiptune, he gave us a cassette and that’s how I got my my first LSDj.

Julie: Wow, he sounds like an amazing guy! I went to siesta way back when, too. I’m from the Kansai area, and I have good memories of pulling all-nighters doing chiptune events there. I think it’s pretty hard to compose music on an LSDj and arrange it with the hardware; even for professional musicians it seems like the hurdle is set pretty high. And to think that a cute, female university student was doing it would just dazzle and captivate people.

Photo : Julie Watai Model : PINO 2011年撮影、地元大阪にて。8bitとコスプレ、ファッションフォトの表現を模索していた時期に撮った一枚。

Photo : Julie Watai Model : PINO 2011年撮影、地元大阪にて。8bitとコスプレ、ファッションフォトの表現を模索していた時期に撮った一枚。

Julie: By the way, what was the first game you ever played?

TORIENA: It was Pokemon Gold and Silver! I still love it.

Julie: That makes sense, since you’re part of the Pokemon generation. Are there any games that have heavily influenced your work? Or what about other influences besides games? Not just when it comes to music, but your unique vision.

TORIENA: I wasn’t a big gamer, so when it comes to my vision I’d have to say the influences of (manga artists) Junko Mizuno and Lun Lun Yamamoto, and Super Milk-chan, are stronger. I also like pop and moe anime from the 00s, like DiGiCharat, which might also have slightly influenced my work.

Julie: Oh, I see. So most of your influences come from illustrations. Were there any musical artists you were into?

TORIENA: I was really more of a passive music listener, but I do think there were quite a few artists who influenced me.

Julie: So you listened to regular j-pop and the like? I want to know what the first CD you ever bought was!

TORIENA: As far as j-pop goes, I liked Judy & Mary, Sheena Ringo, and POLYSICS. The first CD I ever asked my parents to buy was Akiko Yano’s Piyano Akiko and the first CD I ever bought with my own money was Hilary Duff’s Metamorphosis.

Julie: I can totally see that! I think all of these artists are definitely tied in to your imagery.


Julie: (moe)

TORIENA: Really? (laugh) That’s funny.

Photo : Julie Watai Model : Komayu Location : Game Bar CONTINUE 2013撮影 大阪、心斎橋のゲームバーにて。この頃は「セクシーな女性とギーク」な組み合わせのグラビアスナップをメインに撮影していた。

Photo : Julie Watai Model : Komayu Location : Game Bar CONTINUE 2013撮影 大阪、心斎橋のゲームバーにて。この頃は「セクシーな女性とギーク」な組み合わせのグラビアスナップをメインに撮影していた。

Julie: Yeah, I feel like you have a really girly image about you. So from the time you were listening to pop like that until the time you debuted as a chiptune artist, what did you initially find appealing about chiptune?

…Learn more about chiptune culture through TORIENA's eyes

Read more articles TOKYO CUTTING-EDGE CREATORS by Julie Watai
#3 : Think About Where Humanity Meets Technology with Etsuko Ichihara

#2 : The Future of Fashion with Junya Suzuki from “chloma”

#1 : #1 : Past and Present of Akihabara with Ai☆Madonna

Related links
TORIENA official site :
Julie Watai official site :

Translated by Jamie Koide

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Julie Watai
Julie Watai

After working at an idol in Japan, Julie Watai moved by herself to Italy, publishing SAMURAI GIRL in 2006 while working as a photographer for Italian publishing company DRAGO&ARTS. She quickly became an international Japanese pop culture figure, gaining a large following. After returning to Japan, she continued her work as a photographer, along with developing electronics as a hobby and iPhone apps, and has been remarkably successful as part of the Akiba-style geek culture, too.

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