This year Hyper Japan spoiled us with celebrities. Amongst the several artists present at the event, one that I was particularly excited to see was May J. As you may remember, earlier last year I was practicing singing Frozen’s Let It Go in Japanese (all in the name of learning and improving my Japanese of course). Well, who knew I would actually have the chance to see the singer of the Japanese version at Hyper Japan! May J is a young Japanese solo artist. She’s sung the Japanese version of Let It Go, but she of course has her own repertoire.
Born to a Japanese father and an Iranian mother, May J is fluent in Japanese, English, Spanish and Persian. She released her first 2 albums in 2006 and 2009, and currently hosts the NHK World’s all-English Japanese music show “J-MELO”. J-MELO is the only Japanese music show in English, so for those of you looking to hear the latest Japanese hits, look no further. You can watch it from the NHK website or download the free NHK app on your phone and watch it on the go.
At Hyper Japan fans were able to see May J perform, as well as ask her a few questions.
I also asked May J a few questions of my own about herself and J-MELO:
1. When was the moment you decided you were going to be a singer, and who were your biggest influences?
I’ve always loved Disney movies and enjoyed singing Disney songs. As a child, my favourites were ‘A Whole New World’ from Aladdin, and Christina Aguilera’s ‘Reflection’ from Mulan. Inspired by these influences, by the age of three, I’d already made the decision to become a singer.
2. How do you feel your cultural heritage has helped shape who you are today and your career?
I was born and raised in Japan, but I attended both Japanese and American schools so I have a lot of friends from different countries and I’ve encountered many different cultures. I’d like to think that this helps me to write and sing songs that communicate with people around the world.
3. After the success of Frozen in English, how did you feel when you were asked to sing the Japanese version?
Singing a Disney theme song was one of my biggest dreams so I was very excited to be given the opportunity.
4. Who is your favourite Disney Princess and why?
Princess Jasmine – because we are both Persian!
5. You’ve been hosting NHK TV show J-Melo since 2008. How would you describe the show and what it aims to do?
J-Melo is the only English-language music program in Japan, and it’s broadcast worldwide. We showcase all kinds of artists, from a diverse range of genres. We get thousands of emails and photos from viewers all round the world, and we do our best to respond to their requests, inviting the artists they want to see onto the show!
6. J-Melo introduces Japanese music and artists to the world. In your opinion where does Japanese music stand today?
Every time I travel beyond Japan with the programme, we meet people who are big fans of Japanese music. It’s always very interesting to learn how they first got into Japanese music, but something we hear frequently is that they found beauty in the Japanese lyrics.
7. Where do you see Japanese music in the future?
I hope that Japanese music will become a popular genre around the world – a type of music that everyone’s familiar with and listens to!
8. What’s been your favourite episode of the show so far and why?
We’ve filmed so many unforgettable episodes, but my favourite moment was when I had the chance to collaborate with famous guitar player Kazumi Watanabe! He is a legend and a very kind person, and I had a great time singing with him!
9. Who would you recommend the show to?
Everyone of course!! Anybody who’s into music! And loves Japan!
10. What more can we look forward to discovering on J-Melo and your personal career?
We’re looking forward to introducing more great artists, and meeting fans all over the world, because we can’t make our show without our viewers! I’d personally love to travel around the world and do a world tour!!
Thank you May J for answering all my questions!! (^-^)v
Now of course I couldn’t finish off this post without letting you hear Let it Go 😉