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TOKYO CUTTING EDGE CREATORS by Julie Watai #11 featuring Frenesi: The Singer-Songwriting-Animator

『TOKYO CUTTING-EDGE CREATORS by Julie Watai』#11:シンガーソングライティングアニメーター フレネシ
TOKYO CUTTING EDGE CREATORS by Julie Watai #11 featuring Frenesi: The Singer-Songwriting-Animator

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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. We have interviewed Ai☆MadonnaJunya Suzuki from chloma, Etsuko IchiharaTORIENA, and Tadashi ShimayaNukeme, and Keisuke Nagami from HATRA, and Novmichi Tosa from Maywa Denki, and Tomofumi Yoshida from Techno-Shugei Club and Masaaki Enami from EDITMODE.

For the 11th installment, we’ll be interviewing Frenesi, the singer-songwriting-animator .


Julie: It’s been four years since xxx of WONDER, since we’ve last worked in the media together, hasn’t it? Since I see you around on SNS, it doesn’t feel like it’s been that long. Are you working again now?

Frenesi: I’m still taking a break from music. Even if I started working again, it would only be a half-hearted effort.

Julie: I see. I recently saw an interview you did and incorrectly assumed.

The interview was conducted via Skype. / 対談はSkypeで行われました

The interview was conducted via Skype. / 対談はSkypeで行われました

Frenesi: Since parenting has taken up so much of my interest, I’d like to enjoy this period for a little longer. Which interview was it?

Julie: I’m sure you’ve been creative when it comes to parenting. It was an article where you interviewed the music artist Lamp.

Frenesi: Oh! That was the one where I was the interviewer.
Parenting has been pretty normal. Then again, my kid is a bit on the weird side, so maybe it hasn’t been so normal after all.

Julie: The interview was really interesting and easy to read.

Frenesi: Thanks. Lamp’s a band I’m a fan of, so I was glad to be able to meet them.

Photo, Model : Julie Watai, / 撮影、モデル : Julie Watai

Photo, Model : Julie Watai, Styling:Hirokoten(Meruheso)/ 撮影、モデル : Julie Watai、スタイリング : ヒロこてん(メルヘソ)

Julie: On that note, let’s get down to it. I first found out about you when Tower Records in Shibuya was doing a lot of PR for your album “Meruhen”, which I then bought there. The illustration on the jacket was distinctive and caught my eye, and the CD’s catchphrase was also great. It made me wonder… “What kind of music will it have?”

Frenesi: I appreciate that. “Meruhen” was my second album, which was eight years ago.

Julie: Right, you released it back in 2010. After giving it a listen, I thought it perfectly matched the image of the girl’s meaningful expression in the illustration as well as the catchphrase, and considered how unusual it was for a work to be so unified. I got more and more interested about you, and after looking you up online, I found out that you also worked on the illustration yourself.

julie_watai_Frenesi_004

Illustrations: Frenesi / Illustrations: フレネシ

Illustrations: Frenesi / Illustrations: フレネシ

Frenesi: That’s right. It was professionally colored, but the original image was a poorly drawn doodle I did myself.

Julie: It’s a really nice drawing. It’s stylish like retro shoujo manga art. But also there’s a certain darkness to it.

Frenesi: (is surprised)

Julie: (laughs)

Frenesi: I’ve always liked drawing, and influence by my older sister, I started drawing when I was about three.

Julie: So were you absorbed in drawing before music?

Frenesi: I was. I started learning how to play instruments when I was five, and before that I was really into drawing. When I’d play, I’d draw on the ground outside and on paper inside. I was fascinated with older things as a child, and because I never updated the way I designed characters, that might be why it appears to have a retro feel.

Illustrations: Frenesi / Illustrations: フレネシ

Illustrations: Frenesi / Illustrations: フレネシ

Illustrations: Frenesi / Illustrations: フレネシ

Illustrations: Frenesi / Illustrations: フレネシ

Julie: So you found a way to express yourself as a young child. The world you create is full of originality and time and time again I find myself surprised by its depth and variety.
People often say you’re mysterious, perhaps because you never reveal your face, but in my opinion your world is the most mysterious thing about you.
Artists that are able to express themselves in multiple ways have a central activity that leaves an impression on their other work to a certain degree, and I think for you, music serves as your central point while your illustrations, videos, and writings are also at a high level. I’m very interested to know how your childhood served as the basis for how colorful of an artist you’ve become.
Are there any places or subjects at school you liked?

Frenesi: Thank you. It wasn’t such a big deal, but at the elementary school the next school district over from mine, there was an animal cemetery monument. It had a design like a three-eyed monster. When I went back home and went to go see it, it was still there, and I felt very moved.

Julie: An elementary school student focusing her attention on a strange cemetery monument… (The mystery deepens…)

Illustrations: Frenesi / Illustrations: フレネシ

Illustrations: Frenesi / Illustrations: フレネシ

Illustrations: Frenesi / Illustrations: フレネシ

Illustrations: Frenesi / Illustrations: フレネシ

Frenesi: I liked every subject besides P.E. I especially liked science, music, art, and Japanese. My eyesight was really bad so I couldn’t see the blackboard at all, so I would randomly summarize whatever the teacher said in a notebook. When I felt bored, I’d doodle along the edges of the notebook but only to the extent that I wouldn’t get caught.

Julie: I guess you could say all of your favorite subjects are connected to your work now.
Something that I’m also curious about, why did you choose not to reveal your face in the media?

Frenesi: Mr. Someya from Lamp asked me the same thing, and I feel like I wanted to put myself beyond appearances.

Julie: I see. I think female artists with intentions like that are quite cool.

Frenesi: I love beautiful people and beautiful girls, but I’ve been considering whether there’s a choice or not of being “neither”.

Julie: It’s a means of expression in itself.

Frenesi: Exactly.

xxx of WONDER CD jacket / xxx of WONDER CDジャケット

xxx of WONDER CD jacket / xxx of WONDER CDジャケット

xxx of WONDER CD jacket illustrarion by Mel Kishida / xxx of WONDER CDジャケット illustrarion by 岸田メル

xxx of WONDER CD jacket illustrarion by Mel Kishida / xxx of WONDER CDジャケット illustrarion by 岸田メル

Julie: I was glad to work with you as a member of the creative unit xxx of WONDER!

Frenesi: Me, too! I fell in love with your handsome style of work during the photo shoot.

Julie: Really?! It’s an honor to hear that coming from a creator behind such faithful creations like yourself.
Come to think of it, talking with Shiho Nanba about good luck charms in the dressing room left quite the impression on me.

Frenesi: Did we talk about that?

Julie: We did! I was also into good luck charms and the like way back when. I was overcome with nostalgia. But as you become an adult you forget. We talked about the good luck charm magazine “My Birthday” in the dressing room. I imagined that might have been something that shaped your music that unique girls’ culture that is normally forgotten.

Photo, Model : Julie Watai, / 撮影、モデル : Julie Watai

Photo, Model : Julie Watai, / 撮影、モデル : Julie Watai

Frenesi: There’s no magazine like it anymore. When I was an elementary school, I enthusiastically read the magazine “MU” (an occult/mystery magazine) and I remember I was happy when my submission was included.

Julie: I remember it used to be popular among elementary school students. The content of the magazine was also cute. What kind of things did you submit to “MU”?

Frenesi: “MU” was something my dad would buy. The content would have features like, “A moon was born from the giant, red spot on Jupiter!” and I would be like, “OMG, really?” and excitedly read all about it.
I sent a submission to the dream analysis corner, and my submission was printed twice. The first time I accidentally included my real name, which was embarrassing, so the second time I used a pen name.
I dreamed about a rainbow that stretched vertically and a bunch of perfect, circular rainbows came out of it, which made me scared.

Julie: I remember the dream analysis corner. Your dream seems like a beautiful yet mysterious one.

Frenesi: I remember the analysis result they published was something about “sexual awakening” or something fitting like that.

Illustrations: Frenesi / Illustrations: フレネシ

Illustrations: Frenesi / Illustrations: フレネシ

Illustrations: Frenesi / Illustrations: フレネシ

Illustrations: Frenesi / Illustrations: フレネシ

Julie: Your son, Neshio, sometimes appears at your instagram. He’s three now, isn’t he?

Frenesia: That’s right.

Julie: Time really flies! All the members of xxx of WONDER got along well and everyone went out to eat, and your stomach was so big at the time. I remember it like it was yesterday.

Frenesi: There were moments like that! It’s a nice memory from before.

Julie: Now that you’ve been parenting for three years, do you feel like anything has changed from before? I would think your living environment has changed quite a bit.

Frensei: Hmm, well, how can I say it… Before I hadn’t really noticed, but I realized there are a surprising amount of children in my town.

Julie: Oh, for sure. I recently gave birth (earlier this March), and I’ve become more aware of the presence of children and babies than I ever had before. It’s like my view of the world has gotten bigger.

Photo, Model : Julie Watai, / 撮影、モデル : Julie Watai

Photo, Model : Julie Watai, / 撮影、モデル : Julie Watai

Frenesi: That’s right. Other children are cute, but I’ve come to realize how unconditionally cute I find my own kid.
And although I’ve seen a lot of things about the risks and negative aspects of parenting on the internet, I’ve been more into it and had more fun with it than I’d imagined, and I’d like to emphasize that part of it more.

Julie: What kind of lullabies do you sing to Neshio?

Frenesi: He likes numbers and the alphabet, and loves songs that have letters in them. Even now he asks me to sing English songs and the like.

Julie: He really comes across as your typical boy. Surely he’s receiving a gifted education from you.

Photo, Model : Julie Watai, / 撮影、モデル : Julie Watai

Photo, Model : Julie Watai, / 撮影、モデル : Julie Watai

Julie: There are a lot of creators who are continuing to expand their work through childbirth and parenting, but I’m interested in what kind of work you’ll do in the future.

Frenesi: I appreciate your interest. I’m also looking forward to your work as well.

Julie: I’m grateful to hear that! Please tell me about any activity or desires your have in the future.

Frenesi: Because there’s no lack of episodes with how funny Neshio is, I’d like to illustrate a manga of them someday.
I’d also like to produce a theme song, which I had wanted to do before giving birth, and I’m thinking about starting that soon.

Illustrations: Frenesi / Illustrations: フレネシ

Illustrations: Frenesi / Illustrations: フレネシ

Illustrations: Frenesi / Illustrations: フレネシ

Illustrations: Frenesi / Illustrations: フレネシ

Julie: I’d definitely like to read a manga about Neshio. I’m sure his episodes would be funny and I’m interested in seeing what you’re like as a mother, since I can’t really come up with a mental image. I’m sure there would be a ton of people that would be interested, too! There are a lot of people waiting for you to make music, too.
If you have any announcements to make, please feel free.

Frenesi: I don’t have anything in particular to announce at the moment. But please read the interview I did with Lamp.

Julie: Thank you for giving me so much of your time today.

Frenesi: Thank you as well! I had a good time.

Photo, Model : Julie Watai, / 撮影、モデル : Julie Watai

Photo, Model : Julie Watai, / 撮影、モデル : Julie Watai


After the interview
対談を終えて

Frenesi strikes me as an artist with a unique vision.
As a creator, the existence of those that release one original work after another strikes fear into you, like being swallowed up by an infinite abyss. I believe that those that can’t be readily understood or grasped, that make you think, “What’s going on inside that person’s head?” can be viewed as capturing an existence that extends beyond mere categories of humanity. It makes their work all the more attractive.

Personally I find Frenesi just as positively engaging as the mysteries of the universe. However, she’s an artist with a drifting enigma of mystery that can’t be captured.
This time, during our interview, I felt like could finally understand her a little, only to feel like the mystery around her had only grown deeper and deeper.


Related Links

Frenesi Official site: http://www.otomesha.com/frenesi/
Frenesi Official Twitter: https://twitter.com/frenesifrenesi
Frenesi Official Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/frenesifrenesi/

Julie Watai Official site: http://juliewatai.jp/
Julie Watai Official Twitter: https://twitter.com/juliewatai

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Author
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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