TOKYO -- The Japanese artist known as Hyadain is in demand. Popular idols commission songs from him and, now at the height of his popularity, he is frequently asked to appear on TV variety programs. His success is typical of the times -- he popularized his music via video-sharing websites.
Hyadain, whose real name is Kenichi Maeyamada, has created pieces for such J-pop idols as Momo iro Clover Z, AKB48 and Shiritsu Ebisu Chugaku, in addition to many songs for anime.
A native of Osaka Prefecture born on July 4, 1980, Hyadain began playing the piano at age 3. After graduating from Kyoto University, he launched his music career in 2007.
He posted his pieces mainly on NicoNico and other video-sharing sites under the name Hyadain. His unique lyrics, catchy melodies and unusual singing featuring both male- and female-sounding voices attracted many fans. He has been dubbed "a mysterious artist."
In 2009, two of his songs released under the name Kenichi Maeyamada each ranked first back-to-back on Oricon music charts.
In a recent interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun, Hyadain spoke about where he finds musical inspiration, his ambitions, and the secret to successfully singing female parts.
Q: When did you start creating music and what was it like?
A: I was 6. I called it "A song of breaking wind." Its lyrics were something like, "Family members get along well, but break wind, poot, poot, poot."
Q: Why do you use "Hyadain" as your stage name?
A: "Hyadain" is a magic word used in the third and fourth versions of the video game Dragon Quest. I was sympathetic to the word because it quickly fell out of use.
Q: When were you sure you could become a professional musician?
A: It was when my song "Share The World" for Tohoshinki in 2009 became a hit. I thought I could make a living even if I quit my part-time work.
Q: Is there any musician you admire?
A: I admire Mr. Yasuharu Ko nishi. He generally creates mainstream music, but he can also create other types of songs, such as "Shingo Mama no Oha Rokku." He's truly entertaining.
Q: Where do you create music?
A: In my studio, a six-tatami-mat room, in my house.
Q: When do you get creative inspiration?
A: Usually when I hang around my neighborhood on my bicycle, or when I'm moved by the beauty of nature.
Q: What do you think is your masterpiece?
A: I personally like "Tan Tan Taan!," a theme song for the anime "Kirarin Revolution," broadcast on TV Tokyo. It's sung by MilkyWay, comprising Miss Koharu Kusumi, a former member of AKB48, and others. It was the first song for idol singers I did entirely -- I was the songwriter, composer and arranger. I needed to revise it about 100 times. It was hard, but it helped form who I am now.
Q: Who do you want to create music for?
A: Ms. Maasa Takahashi, a former Fuji TV announcer. I'm a great fan of hers. Her choice of music, outfits and dance -- everything is excellent.
Q: How many song orders do you have right now [mid-April]?
A: Thirteen or so. I just submitted one this morning.
Q: Can you recognize which songs will be a hit?
A: No. But I'm always making efforts to make entertaining music to meet people's expectations.
Q: What do you think makes good music?
A: It depends on the individual. Personally, I like music that's happy and invigorating. I think there's good music that will be forgotten after 10 or 20 years, though.
Q: What are you careful of when you appear on TV programs?
A: People who appear on TV programs are all professionals and follow unwritten rules during shooting. So I try not to "barge into their space in dirty shoes."
Q: You created music for NHK's "Rekishi ni Dokiri" history program. How do you feel about Mr. Shido Nakamura, a Kabuki actor who appears on the program?
A: I was nervous with him at first. But after talking with him, I found him a very gentle and considerate person.
Q: You appear in "Kubo Hyada Kojirase Night" on Fuji TV, which has become very popular. Its third version was broadcast in early June. How do you feel about manga creator Mitsuro Kubo, who appears with you?
A: He's shy and interesting. He has a large vocabulary and always enjoys flights of fancy.
Q: How long do you need to create a piece of music?
A: It depends. Sometimes a whole month. The shortest was about an hour after receiving the lyrics. It's an about 90-second piece for Mr. Baka rhythm's live performance.
I'd say I have a "zone," when I concentrate really hard. I've made 30 pieces in a day, although the lengths of songs vary and I can't compare easily.
Q: What do you pay attention to when you make songs for idols?
A: I try to have them highlight the singers' characteristics. Also, I make them sound exciting when they're sung at concerts. For example, in "Hokago Getabako Rock'n'roll MX" for Shiritsu Ebisu Chugaku, I designed it so that the singers jump with their hands crossed above their heads.
Q: Who was the most impressive person you've worked with so far?
A: I have to say Yuzu. I created "Reason" with them. Their requests for changes were spot on and made the piece better and better. It was a refreshing experience.
Q: What is your new piece, "Warai no Kamisama ga Orite kita!," like?
A: We all pretend to be cool in matters of love and at work. But this song suggests we all act naturally. One part of the song is like a musical. It also has violin sounds. It includes everything I'm currently interested in.
Q: What do you want to do from now on?
A: I want to make music for children. We say, "As with the boy, so with the man." I want to create pieces that can be one of the first happy moments for children, to help them become bright adults.
Q: You sing female parts under the name "Hyadaruko." What's the key to singing female parts?
A: The key is to forget myself. When I'm Hyadaruko, nobody should look at me.
Q: Please speak about NicoNico.
A: It's trained me. I'm very grateful to it. I even created a tribute song for NicoNico.
Q: What is music for you?
A: It's always with me naturally. It's the most important thing for me, the only thing that hasn't bored me.