Vocalo Producers with VOCALOID – r-906 – Wanting to get closer to VOCALOID and becoming a Vocalo producer with just a smartphone

VOCALOID, which uses synthetic singing voice technology developed by Yamaha, has continued to advance since it was first released in 2003. The latest version is VOCALOID6, which features VOCALOID:AI. Other companies also sell voicebanks for VOCALOID. A genre has been established for music sung by virtual singers created using singing voice synthesis technologies. Called “Vocalo” in Japanese, numerous tracks of this now beloved genre are uploaded every day. “Vocalo Producers with VOCALOID” is a series of special interviews that delves into how the producers who sustain Vocalo culture first encountered the VOCALOID singing voice synthesis technology developed by Yamaha and what their relationships with it are now.

This time we spoke with r-906 (pronounced “arukuremu”) who specializes in music based on drum’n’bass and other dance genres.

Profile of r-906

Vocalo producer
Specializes in producing music that gets bodies moving.
Notable works include Panopticon, Mikazuki Step, Manimani and Nounai Disco.
r-906 is involved in a wide range of activities, including writing official demo songs and movie theme songs, providing music for singers and live DJ performances.

Mikazuki Step 2023

A feeling of transgression from Vocaloid songs

Y: Please start by telling us about how you discovered VOCALOID.

r: Actually, I discovered VOCALOID twice.

The first time was when I was in junior high school. I heard one of my classmates sing Vocaloid songs at karaoke. My friend sang songs like “Kagerou Days,” for example.* At that time, I did not have chances to access the Internet, so I was aware of them as “surprising songs that I heard a lot at karaoke.”

It was my friend, but the lyrics of the song were unique and the composition was different from ordinary J-POP, so I began to have an awareness that a genre of “Vocaloid songs” existed.

*Kagerou days : This was released in 2011 as the third song by Jin (Shizen no Teki-P). In 2013, it reached 3 million views.

I got a smartphone when I entered high school and started having access to the Internet. That is when I discovered it a second time, listening to “Life Reset Button“ on Niconico.* Next, I heard “Moonwalk Fever” by Hinata Electric Works and was completely sucked into the VOCALOID world.**

*Life Reset Button : This debut VOCALOID work by kemu was posted in 2011. In 2012, it reached a million views.

**Moonwalk Fever : The eighth track by Hinata denko (Hinata Electric Works) was posted in 2016. In 2023, it reached a million views.

Y: What was your impression of the first time you heard a VOCALOID song?

r: “What the heck is this?” Actually, I did not really like it. With rapid-fire lyrics that did not make sense, I even had an impression like it was some underground world that should be avoided.

Because of that impact, though, when I started listening to VOCALOID songs after I started high school, I had a feeling like they were transgressive. I was touching something that I thought I should not touch, and I had a strange sense of excitement that I had grown up a little and was able to act freely. It was like I became able to see something that had been previously kept secret… and it still continues, and that sense of transgression is one of the joys of production now.

Y: What do you think that inspiration to touch something that you thought you should not touch was?

r: Daily stress, frustration (laughs). Every day nothing goes well, just studying is boring, and so on. Thinking I wanted to get rid of stress, by boldly trying something dangerous, I was instantly hooked on a marvelous world.

The one I liked the most was Hinata denko(Hinata Electric Works). Others were NayutalieN, Kairiki bear… sometimes I was instantly hooked. I listened to a variety of VOCALOID songs as I liked.

Currently owned instruments.
From the front, a guitar, a bass and a DJ mixer

Does Hatsune Miku get better at singing? Becoming a Vocalo producer to get closer to VOCALOID.

Y: Please tell us what inspired you to go from being a listener to a Vocalo producer.

r: There were also two of these… A technical inspiration and a mental inspiration.

In fact, I was a member of the pop music club in high school. My father played guitar, so I had seen him doing this since I was a child. Also, I saw live video of the English band Coldplay and thought that the bass was cool. So, in high school I wanted to try playing bass! Thinking that, I joined the pop music club, but the songs that were popular among the members were completely different from what I liked (laughs). After all, it ended without much satisfaction.

When I was thinking that it was not enough, I became aware of the existence of the GarageBand app on the iPhone and the Mobile VOCALOID Editor smartphone app that allows VOCALOID input. With these two, couldn’t I make songs myself? That was the technical inspiration to begin making songs.

iPhone used at the time when making songs in GarageBand

At the time, I read an interview with the developer of Mobile VOCALOID Editor. They had a comment about it. “I would be delighted if new people spread their wings as Vocalo producers using this app.” I began to think that I should become one of those people.

Y: Please also tell us the mental inspiration.

r: I had been a listener of Vocaloid songs, but it gradually became insufficient.

I like VOCALOID voices, particularly Hatsune Miku, but I also like the characters… just listening, I could not get as close as possible to them, and I started to have the idea that I wanted to get closer.

I think that VOCALOID characters, like anime, are two dimensional, but anime characters exist within the worlds built up by their creators and are a kind of one-way thing. But you create with VOCALOIDS, so you can interact with the characters. I thought, isn’t this a culture where you can build relationships that are a step deeper with characters, and isn’t that enviable? That is the mental inspiration.

One time, I bought earphones at a consumer electronics shop, and in the bag was a flyer about a collaboration between the police and Hatsune Miku. That flyer was the final push that made me fall for Hatsune Miku (laughs). So, the timing of the technical inspiration and the mental inspiration overlapped, and I started making songs.

Y: Are there any songs that you made with just Mobile VOCALOID Editor?

r: The first song that I made was “Muyubyo Dancer,” which I posted to Niconico on April 27, 2018. From that song to my 9th, which was “Yoru ga Hiite Iku,” I made songs with just an iPhone, GarageBand and Mobile VOCALOID Editor. “Only an iPhone?!?”People are often surprised, but “Panopticon” was also completed on a smartphone.

The Panopticon project is still saved in GarageBand

Y: I also love the song Panopticon and am shocked to learn that you produced those sounds on a smartphone!

r: I tended to get motion sickness on trains, so it was tough, but I also produced on the train to college. My motivation to create songs was high, and I was totally focused on making them.

Yoru ga Hiite Iku

Y: I feel that a lot of your songs are based on drum’n’bass and house, but you mentioned before that you started out in a pop music club. Is there are reason that your sound is a club music style?

r: My favorite band is sakanaction and their stance is to fuse rock and dance music. Since hearing sakanaction, I have been exploring dance music elements a little at a time. Now, even while I am creating songs, as I listen, my body starts to move naturally, and I am conscious of rhythms that make me want to dance as I produce.

Y: I see, sakanaction is an influence. I get it. What is your favorite song by sakanaction?

r: From the perspective of making a recommendation to people, it is “Eureka.” Because I think that song most distills the essence of sakanaction.

sakanaction “Eureka” (music video)
With growing appreciation of sakanaction, r-906 acquired the same DJ effect device used by vocalist Ichiro Yamaguchi

Y: Do you remember the moment after becoming a Vocolo producer when you started receiving a lot of attention?

r: It was definitely Panopticon, my eighth song. At that time, I would get 7000 plays at most when I posted something. I started thinking, even if I make songs, maybe people will not listen to them much. Thinking I would quit if the next one did not have any impact, I put out Panopticon and started getting more attention.

Y: What do you think the reason is that Panopticon drew interest?

r: I thought this is the last one, so I should make it how I like, without boundaries. I would make the thing that I believed sounded the best, the thing that surprised me the most. Anyway, it is a song in which I did what I liked freely. Maybe that feeling has reached the listeners. This experience showed me that forgetting everything and shouting out all my thoughts would convey my passion.

Y: Please tell us about something that has inspired you since becoming involved in VOCALOID culture.

r: It’s that Hatsune Miku gets better at singing, she matures!

Sometimes Hatsune Miku suddenly gets better at singing. I think it is that my own skills have improved, but it feels like Miku has matured. At the same time that I am getting closer from my side I feel that the VOCALOID is also coming closer to me. I sense that we are nearing each other.

r-906’s current production environment

The idea of “Hatsune Miku” and the future of VOCALOID culture

Y: Please tell us if there is anything that you are particular about in Vocaloid song production.

r: Make the pronunciation of consonants sound human and long tones sound mechanical, for example. It is like the merging of the strengths of both human and VOCALOID. I am seeking that place where it is both like a person and like a machine.

Y: Please tell us your favorite voice bank and a key point about it.

r: Not surprisingly, my favorite is Hatsune Miku. What I like is… both the visual and the voice, but is it the idea and culture of “Hatsune Miku”?

Since I am a new participant when it comes to VOCALOID, from that perspective the thing called Hatsune Miku is a massive and universal culture that is already complete. Even people starting new, though, are able to take hold of this great power so it builds a strange relationship. That is a point that I like. I hope that Miku continues to exist forever, and I want us Vocalo producers to also keep endeavoring without dying out.

DJ set up at Niconico Chokaigi 2023. The DJ mixer in front belongs to r-906

Y: Finally, please give some advice to people who want to become Vocalo producers or try creating songs using VOCALOID.

r: I guess it is to clearly grasp what you like. I was this way, but early on I think sometimes you can gradually stop understanding what you want to do. Do you want a lot of people to hear your work? Do you want to do what you like? Do you just want to make songs? Do you want to become popular? What do you like? What is it that you like in making songs? I think it is good to have a single core like this to focus on.

Y: Speaking with you, I once again felt the broad spirit of VOCALOID culture and how the feeling of distance with the characters is interesting. Now I am looking forward to your next creation even more. Thank you very much for your time today.

r: Thank you too!

Article : SoundWorksK Marketing LLC.