Inoue Azumi & Yuyu Interview @ J-POP Summit 2017
Fans of Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli movies were in for a treat at this year’s J-Pop Summit held in San Francisco. Azumi Inoue, best known for her singing in movies such as Laputa: Castle In The Sky, My Neighbor Totoro, and Kiki’s Delivery Service, performed on stage alongside her daughter, Yuyu. We caught up with the mother-daughter duo to learn more about their musical influences.
T-ONO: Is this your first time in America?
Azumi: This is my first time for work, but I have been to Los Angeles and Las Vegas before.
Yuyu: But that’s only you, right?
Azumi: Yes, it’s your first time in the US.
T-ONO: Have you had the chance to sightsee and tour around San Francisco?
Azumi: We did! We went to the Walt Disney Family Museum.
Yuyu: We also went to Fisherman’s Wharf.
T-ONO: Fisherman’s Wharf has a lot of delicious food. Did you grab yourself something to eat?
Azumi: Yuyu ordered a clam chowder, and I got the grilled crab. The food was very delicious, and I was also able to try California wine!
T-ONO: You made your debut performance in America yesterday when you sang “Ponyo” together. Have you two ever sang as a duet before?
Azumi: Yes, our family always sings as duets during family concerts.
T-ONO: How were the American fans? Were they any different from your Japanese fans?
Azumi: There were many fans who knew about Totoro and about Laputa. I saw many Ghibli fans, and it was very surprising. Some even had Totoro backpacks and dolls.
T-ONO: Was there anything about the fans that stood out to you?
Azumi: There were many elderly people! *laughs*
Yuyu: I saw a lot of people with very big cameras, and I was surprised how big the cameras were.
Azumi: I also sang Totoro’s song last and requested that the crowd sing with me. I was glad to see that many people sang along. Totoro is a very easy name to pronounce and is easy to sing along to, so it’s nice to see that fans can sing along.
I have performed at family events in Italy. It makes me really happy when fans sing along. It was a really amazing sight when everyone was singing along at J-POP Summit!
T-ONO: Azumi-san, you’ve sung many songs for the Ghibli films such as Totoro, Laputa, and Kiki’s Delivery Service. Which of the films was the most inspirational to you?
Azumi: Laputa: Castle in the Sky was the first film where I was able to meet Hayao Miyazaki. So this song brings back a lot of feelings to when I first started singing whenever I perform it.
T-ONO: Yuyu-san, have you seen any of the Ghibli movies? If so, which one(s) are your favorite(s)?
Yuyu: I have. I really like Kiki’s Delivery Service and Totoro! I think I’ve watched Kiki’s Delivery Service more than any of the other films.
T-ONO: How do you feel as a mother that your daughter is working in the same field as you?
Azumi: Yuyu debuted at the age of seven. Since she is now 12 years old, this would be her fifth year as a singer. As a musician at the age of 12, she is now able to travel around the world, and I am very jealous of her.
Not as a mother, and it’s not envy, but more of a feeling that she’s been a lot more successful than I was at her age. I’m hoping that she can create her own music and be able to go around the world under her own power in the future.
T-ONO: Do you have any advice for her and any tips for her future?
Azumi: Yesterday, she had a chance to play the guitar on stage and sang her own original song. I heard a lot of compliments on her skills which was very surprising.
Yuyu: I messed up a lot on the strings.
T-ONO: Let’s just keep it in between us then.
Azumi: It would be nice if she keeps practicing her instruments and become more talented in different ways. I had her learn piano and violin as well, which I personally don’t know how to play, so I wish she continues with that.
Yuyu: It’s very hard to learn how to play instruments. I actually said I wanted to try the violin, and it’s been fun in my first year.
Azumi: Violins are actually very hard to learn because you have to tune them yourself, and the instruments grow alongside you. So unlike the piano where you just get one, the price of the violins tends to add up since you have to continue to buy new sizes as you grow bigger.
T-ONO: Do you have any messages for your fans around the world, not just from America, who weren’t able to make it?
Azumi: We would like to perform in front of even more fans around the world. While this is our first time in America, we wish to be able to come back and sing here again.
There is an album that will be coming out in October celebrating 100 years of anime, and there will be about 23 groups participating in it. I will also be participating in that, so please check that out!