In 2010, at the largest annual Japanese pop culture themed event in South East Asia held in Singapore, “Anime Festival Asia (AFA)”, Valerie was scouted as a result of her overwhelming presence at the maid cafe held within the event. In 2011, She debuted as part of Sea*A, an anisong idol group with a a great passion for Japanese pop culture revolving around anime, anisong, cosplay, idols and figures etc.
Sea*A was selected to provide the theme songs for anime such as “Cardfight! Vanguard”, “Toriko”,”Arashi no yoru ni: Himitsu no Tomodachi”and “Cardfight! Vanguard: Asian Circuit-hen”.
In 2013, as a result of new direction for each member in the group, Sea*A was disbanded. Valerie continues as an solo act as part of the Asian Pop Collective, based in Singapore. Currently, she is the regular emcee for the AFA official YouTube channel’s program “WOW JAPAN”, winning people over with her comforting smile, 2D moe voice as well as an never-ending passion. She is a Asian Pop Idol, aiming to spread her unique viewpoint on Japanese Pop Culture related to Anime, Anisong, Cosplay, Idols and figures etc.
So we managed to get a chance to speak with Valerie on her new solo career and some of the challenges she faces.
POPCulture Online: Tell us a little about yourself, what got you started in music?
Valerie: I am an avid anime fan, otaku to be exact. Since a young age I have been fascinated by Japanese animation, few of my favourites during my childhood would be Sailormoon, Pokemon & Chibi Maruko. I liked to sing along and I was always very attracted to the Japanese language.
Even when I didn’t understand it, I felt like I wanted to learn it and understand it somehow. I also listened to a lot of JPOP when I was in my teens as well due to the some of the opening and ending theme songs in animes. My first Japanese song that I tried to learn and sing was “Every Heart” by BoA, which was the ending theme song from Inuyahsa.
I sang along a lot. Fast forward to 2010, I joined the Maid Café, Moe Moe Kyun during the annual Anime Festival Asia. It opened up my eyes to a whole new world. From there I was given a chance to sing Japanese songs which I covered a few songs like “Renai Circulation”. That was how it started this amazing journey.
POPCulture Online: Who are your inspirations / idols in the music industry and why?
Valerie: One of my inspirations in the music industry is Kana Hanazawa and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. I really admire her skills at voice acting and she sings very cute songs! Kyary Pamyu Pamyu has many upbeat and trendy songs which really captured many people’s hearts. Both of them have very cute music styles which I am very inspired by. I hope to be able to spread the kawaii culture through my music!
POPCulture Online: What’s it like being a Singaporean in a Japanese music industry?
Valerie: I guess the hardest part would be not being able to understand Japanese fluently enough. I would like to be able to host in Japanese in the near future and I will work hard towards that! My biggest goal is to be able to do voice acting for a Japanese anime someday. I will keep practicing!
POPCulture Online: You were part ofand now you’re a solo artiste. How big a difference is it?
Valerie: The biggest difference about being a solo artiste is the loneliness. But it made me grow and I learnt to be more focused on what I am doing. I am able to feel proud of myself when I have accomplished a job because I gave my best effort with a lot of focus and hard work to back it up. It has made me a more hardworking person.
POPCulture Online: Tell us a bit about your EP. What was the inspiration behind it?
Valerie: The songs in my debut single “Origami” is inspired by traditional Japanese music. But it is made into a light hearted upbeat electronic dance track. It is a song that I wish for people to dance along together with me! I am really honoured as well to have “Origami” as AFA 2013’s official theme song.
POPCulture Online: What are your plans for 2014?
Valerie: I am looking forward to more hosting activities this year. My first trip for 2014 will be Animax Musix Taiwan 2014!! I am really excited because this is my second year back at this event and it is such a joy to have this honour once again. I hope to have more opportunities for hosting and I also hope to be able have more of my own songs! My goal is to have a solo album for this year! I will work really really hard!
Origami is now available at HMV Singapore
Images courtesy of Sony Music SIngapore
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