APOLLO SMILE INTERVIEW
Interview was taken at Coast-Con XXII, March 1999
- WHAT SORT OF CONTRIBUTION DO YOU HOPE TO MAKE TO THE AMERICAN ANIME INDUSTRY?
I'd like to answer this question in two ways, if I may: Firstly...as an entertainer & performer & entreprenuer, my goal is to contribute a positive NRG into the genre and because I'm a huge fan of Japanese Anime, my dream is to be able to expose the joy of American Anime fandom to others across the globe. Secondly... as a voice actress Japanese Anime, I've always been driven to get involved n' help the English dubbing, cuz for me, it's always (for the most part) really sucked! Alot of newbies get turned onto anime for the first time by watching dubbed anime, as did I and I've always felt that English voices and/or the direction was so inferior to the brilliant artwork n' storylines. I felt that we Americans weren't living up to the quality n' care of what the Japanese had originally done. So far, my humble contributions as a VA haven't been numerous, but I love doing it n' hope that I can continue to do more anime in the future. In esence...I hope I don't suck!! (hahaha)
- WHAT IS ONE OF THE BEST THINGS ABOUT BEING A LIVE-ACTION ANIME GIRL?
Single best thing?? There isn't one. Everything is the best thing!! I get to live out my dream of singing songs that I write which are inspired by anime, and then performing my live shows which I choreograph in all the forms of dance and martial arts that I'm studying which of course is all hugely anime-inspired training!! But I'd have to say that the *very best* thing about being the live-action anime girl is that I get to travel n' meet the grooviest cross-media entertainment fans on the planet!! Yep, dat's the #1 best thing for sure!!
- HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT ALL THE ANIME AND MANGA THAT HAVE BECOME AVAILABLE IN THE U.S. OVER THE LAST YEAR?
I feel totally happy about it of course!!! More manga for American to read and appreciate n' more anime to watch n' groove to!! I love it!! I think that the more available anime n' manga is here in the U.S. the more enriched our own culture will be.
- WHAT DO YOU MISS MOST ABOUT BEING A MAINSTREAM RECORDING ARTIST?
Hmmm...let's see. Where do I begin?...I guess what I miss most is having a really BIG BUDGET to record my albums with. Yeah, that's the most missed thing. I also miss going into totally phat recording studios n' being able to hire groovy musicians n' working with great co-producers who are in tune with my vision. But wait..there's more. I miss having both domestic n' foreign distribution, going on radio tours, having budgets to shoot music videos with and going out on the road in a tourbus gigging from city to city. Yep, those are def the things I miss most about being a mainstream recording artist with a big record deal. Now if you were to ask me the things I don't miss, well the list would read a little sutun' like this: I def don't miss dealing with idiots (uh, I mean people) who think they know what's best for ya and just how your songs should sound, tellin' ya how to look on your album cover and basically lie alot to ya while trying to control your life. Then cast ya overboard when doesn't blow the rood of the radio in just two short weeks! Huh? Bitter? Nah, not me. Actually, in all honesty I'm truly happy to be an independent recording artist because I'm in control of every single bit of my musical n' promotional career n' baby, I'm da one driving my own deals. Nothing could be more sweeter n' satisfying than 'dat.
- I UNDERSTAND YOU'RE WORKING ON A NEW ALBUM. HOW IS THIS ONE DIFFERENT FROM THE PREVIOUS ONES?
Yeah, I'm in the recording studio right now recording new n' groovy tracks for a second indepedent LP. It's going great and I and I'll be performing some of the new tracks live at upcoming shows. I think this new album differs from the other two in a way that the songs that I've written so far have a harder edge to 'em. It's kinda hard to describe exactly...you'll just have to hear it for yourself. But as for the vibe of sci-fi n' anime groove that influneces everything I create-especially my music.
- HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT SONGWRITING?
Well...the method to my madness as a songwriter can vary depending on the song. But usually I get a phrase or a line in my head that sounds kewl and has got a tricky goove to it. Then I get a feeling about the subject n' start to get a vibe on a storyline that fits the meaning of the phrase. The phrase usually ends up the chorus as long as it's got a good hook. Then I sing a melody using the hookline and start to hear the groove, beat, tempo n' instruments. I can write a song as long as I have a strong chorus to build it on. It's like constructing a house. First ya gotta lay the foundation, which for me is the chorus n' hook. Then ya build the walls, which is the music n' instrumentation. Next comes the roof, which are the other sections of the song like the verses, pre-chorus', breakdown, turnarounds, bridge, etc... And finally ya box the house all in with sheetrock, stones, brick, play-do or whatever, and that's when I go into my song n' write all the rest of my lyrics to complete the story. N' lastly comes the painting n' decoration of the house, which for me is the background vocals and oohhs n' aahhs n' stuff like dat. Y'know the colorful ear-candy stuff that makes ya feel all gooey inside when ya hear it? The emotional trip-wire mechanism that glues ya' to a song n' makes ya feel attached? Well, that's one way I go about songwriting, but other times a song can come from a dream, something a friend of mine tells me, or even sometimes a song can hit me while I'm cruising down the streets of Manhatten eating a really yummy falafel with lots o' hots sauce on my way to class...n' BOOM, baby!!! A song strikes. That's how 'Love Slave' (one of my latest songs) hit me. True story too.
- HOW DO YOU PREPARE YOURSELF FOR WHEN YOU HAVE TO PERFORM LIVE?
Sugar up!!! No, just kidding. After I've soundchecked for the gig, then I go somewhere quiet with Douglas n' get ready for the live show. I do alot of stretching and warming up n' then I go over my set sorta 1/4 NRG level like a run-thru. I drink lots of water so I don't get dehydrated on stage and finally I get my chi going. In my mind I visualize all the positive NRG flowing into me and thru my lungs and out thru my vocal chords. I visualize all the groovy fans in the audience having fun n' feeling groovy n' getting high on my show. I see a rainbow reaching out to each n' everyone of the fans lifting their spirits up and for the time I'm onstage performing for them, all their problems disappear and they feel nothing but blissful goove and leave feeling totally entertained!! Then I crew-up with Team Smile and power-chi-walk to the stage. My team is the BEST and between Douglas, Peter n' Paulie, I feel all their strength, devotion, and love surrounding me and that's the final NRG spoke that sends me into Super-Saiyan mode!! Now I'm ready to take the stage n' rock da' house baby!!
- YOUR MANGA HAS BEEN ON HIATUS NOW FOR A WHILE NOW. WHEN WILL IT GO BACK INTO PRODUCTION? WILL IT BE A NEW COMIC WITH A NEW STORYLINE OR WILL IT CONTIUNE WHERE THE ORIGINAL LEFT OFF?
Hiatus? Heh, that's putting it lightly. Issue #2 came out in Sept. of '98 and me and the Team were all set to release ish #3 in Nov. when our ex-publisher Eagle Wing Press notified us that they no longer had the big-daddy-greens to continue putting out our series. It really sucked for us cuz we'd waited a long time to strike a deal with a publisher and leave the realm of the undergound self-publishing to branch out into the mainstream. But, because the Asian economy at that time was brutal for many Japanese companies here and on the Pacific rim, EWP fell into the pit and so, discontinued our publishing relationship with them. Therefore, these past 7 months Team Smile has been regrouping, preparing ourselves for yet another self-publishing venture...Y'see, we loved doing our own manga series, but quickly realized that the actual comic book size was so small and we were increasing our content to include more pics of us with fans on tour and at the shows, fan letters, and a side story ot the Apollo saga, we began to feel frustrated with the lack of space. By the time we came out with ish. #2, we realized we couldn't cram any more into that little book if we tried! And even turned down advertisers and ad swaps just so we'd have more room for art, pics, n' groovey stuff!! The need to grow into a larger format was becoming more obvious and necessary, so we decided to take it to the next level and produce our very own full color fanclub magazine!! Yep, dat's right!! We're calling it APOLLO SMILE: GROOVE CITY, and it will be stuffed with everything our fans want n' more!!! We're gonnas release the mag seasonally, and hope to debut ish #1 in late summer of early fall '99. We will continue to publish our manga series within the pages of GROOVE CITY, but have not yet decided on whether we're going to start off where we left off with APOLLO SMILE: the color manga, or maybe continue where it left off.
- WHAT PLANS DO YOU HAVE FOR AN ACTION-FIGURE? WILL IT BE A REGULAR ACTION-FIGURE OR MORE LIKE A JENNY DOLL?
We're presently in discussion with Susumu Sugita to be the sculptor on my first action figure project. We'd like to do a 6-inch doll first. More info will be released in GROOVE-CITY as development of the project is further underway.
- YOU'RE CURRENTLY WORKING ON A NEW DUBBING PROJECT FOR CENTRAL PARK MEDIA CALLED 'WILD CARDS'. WHAT'S THE ANIME ABOUT AND WHAT IS YOUR CHARACTER LIKE?
The original Japanese title is JAJA UMA QUARTETTE and I dubbed two episodes approx. 30 min. in length. Yeah, WILD CARDS, is kinda cute. Okay, but not great, and in it I play one of the leads of the 'Crown Knights' named Coco. Here what she says in her intro: ('The Knight of Hearts-the Trickster. Youngest of the four but the quite the master of psycho-magic!! Coco Hearts-the eighteenth heart gyros forward!!!') There ya have it! She pilots her own helicopter and and throws heart cards as weapons. The anime is scheduled to be release this winter.
- WHAT FUTURE PROJECTS DO YOU HAVE IN THE WAY OF VOICE ACTING?
None presently for anime, but I a TV commercial running on The Movie Channel which features me being a spaz on a heavy bag, punching, kicking, jumping off a mini-tramp and swinging on a rope. Hahaha. It's all a big promotional for TMC's Action Movie Marathon this summer! After we shot the commercial, I went in to voice-over some off-camera dialog. Look for it if you have The Movie Channel. *shameless plug* (sorry-hahaha). But in more interesting news, me and 'da boys are working on the treatment for pitching a live-action television series based on the Apollo Smile character!! The treatment is almost complete and our agent will be taking it around to different TV networks to shop a deal for a series!! It's all very exciting for us and for me it'd be a real dream come true!!! So everyone, keep your fingers crossed!!! I can't devulge any more info on this untill something goes through. But we'll never know if we don't try!
- WHAT ANIME THAT HAS YET TO BE RELEASED IN THE U.S. WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE FEATURED IN?
- WOULD YOU LIKE TO VOICE-OVER WORK FOR VIDEO GAMES AS WELL, LIKE RUBY WEST (MINMEI) DID FOR GRANSTREAM SAGA?
Hell yes!!! I love video games and would freak to voice for any of them!!
- WHAT RECENTLY RELEASED ANIME DO YOU HAVE A FLAVOR FOR?
Right now, I'm actually watching mostly fan-subbed anime. I recently picked up some phat fansubs at a con and I'm really diggin' Trigun, Blue Submarine No. 6, Berserk, Grandoll, Photon, more Jo-Jo's Bizarre Adventure, and Cowboy BeBop. And of course I love to watch Pokemon! I just can't stand the Team Rocket self-proclaimed speech! I mute it everytime. Hahaha! But, I love Pikachu!!
- I HEAR YOU'RE A BIG VIDEO GAME FAN. WHAT GAMES ARE YOU INTO RIGHT NOW?
Yep, you heard right! I love to vid, especially with my Team! Right now, we're playing: Star Wars-Episode 1 Racer, Evil Zone, Need For Speed-Hot Pursuit, Resident Evil 2, Silent Hill(naturally), Goldeneye, Bust-A Groove, House Of The Dead arcade game(can't wait for the Dreamcast version), Turok, Tekken 3, Time Crisis arcade, and Mario Party.
- WHAT IS YOUR REACTION TO OTAKUS WHO GET SURPRISED YOU'RE REALLY A FAN JUST LIKE THEM?
I'm surprised that they're surprised!! Before anything else, I'm a fan!!
- WHAT ANIME VOICE-ACTORS(U.S. OR JAPANESE) DO YOU REALLY ADMIRE?
I don't tend to focus on individual voice-actors as much as the characters they play. There are many great voice-actors to me and as the voice really fits the character and I believe it, then that's all I really care about.
- WHAT MUSIC(ASIDE FROM J-POP OF COURSE) ARE YOU INTO? WHAT KIND OF AFFECT DOES IT HAVE ON THE WAY YOUR OWN SONGS TURN OUT?
I listen to everything from pop, rock, groove, drum & bass, electronica, funk, hip-hop, dance, disco, plus: video game, anime & movie soundtracks. Everything can have an effect on my songwriting, and usually does!
- ARE YOU TRYING TO LEARN NEW KINDS OF MARTIAL ARTS WHILE STILL TRYING TO ADVANCE YOUR OWN SKILLS?
My martial arts training focus right now is Kali, Kickboxing, American boxing, and Kung-Fu. My schedule is very hectic, especially right now because I'm in the recording studio working on my second independant CD, and me and Team Smile are also full-speed ahead into our convention tour while striving to get ish #1 of GROOVE CITY out! So, free-time for me doesn't really exist, but I do hope that in the near future I can study more martial arts forms.
- WHAT COMIC BOOK HERO(AMERICAN OR MANGA) WOULD YOU LIKE TO TEAM-UP WITH AND WHAT BAD GUY WOULD YOU LIKE TO TAKE ON?
As for manga...I'd love to team-up with Rally and Minnie-May of Gunsmith Cats!! Those chicks would be a blast to hang-out with and I'd totally dig cruising 'round in Rally's fly hotwheels fighting crime!! It's be fun...we could compare ordinace. Hahaha! I'd also love to team-up with Alita from Battle Angel. Maybe she could even teach me to fight in her Panzer Kunst cyborg fighting technique! For American comic book heroes-I'd def choose the X-Men! I love the team element they have and sometime I feel like a mutant too! ^wink^ As for villians: I'll take on anything that's evil! Whoo-haw!!
- WHAT KIND OF WORK HAVE YOU DONE WITH JAPANESE T.V.?
I was most recenly featured in a special presentation for TV Tokyo called GET EX!!-JAPANESE ANIMATION TAKING OVER THE WORLD. TV Tokyo chose representatives from 2 countries to interview in their program focusing on how Japanese Animation influences other countries. It was a blast and it aired in Japan in March. I was also a cast member in an education comedy for Fuji TV called NYGO!(translation: New York Language). We filmed the episode in New York and it aired on Fuji TV every week. The scripts were written in Japanese with funny New York City spoken in English of which the episodes were built around! The intention of the show was to teach Japanese viewers specific American speech used in everyday NYC and loaded with double-meaning and the viewer had to learn how to decifer the true meaning in the given context and situation. It was a funny show to work on and I loves working with all the directors, cast members, and crew. I've also done some cameo appearances for Asahi Broadcating Co. too.
- DO YOU THINK YOU MIGHT DO A REAL TOUR SOMETIME?
Uh...excuse me? Real tour? As if you're implying that I'm doing is a fake?? Hmmm..Oh, maybe what you mean to say is...'Do I think that I might do a record tour someday like bands do when they pack all their gear into a beat-up old van and hit the club-circuit going from city-to-city? Been there-done that!! No thank you, sir. But my dream-tour is to travel all over the globe with Team Smile doing live concerts with a small entourage of performers helping me bring my music and stage show to life! But I cannot make that happen yet...and I believe it is possbile if we keep working hard, following our hearts, and making our dreams come true!!
- HAVE YOU GONE INTO ANY SPASMS FROM WATCHING POKEMON?
Darn it, no! I keep watching and hoping though.
- WHICH DO YOU THINK IS BETTER, THE FICTIONAL WORLD OF ANIME OR REAL LIFE?
Well, I try to take elements of the fictional world of anime and apply them to my real life, so that way the two world can become one. Why not have the best of both, ne? At least for me...one will always influence the other, anyway.