Interview with Band-Maid’s Miku Kobato: Thoughts on Her Solo Project cluppo and Her New Track ‘with You’

21.July.2022 | ANIME&GAME / MUSIC

The rock band BAND-MAID has attracted legions of fans both in Japan and around the world for their powerful performances while clad in maid outfits. The group calls their loyal fans ‘masters and princesses,’ and the number of these devoted listeners continues to grow year after year.

 

The band will be the opening act for the Japanese version of the world-famous British rock event DOWNLOAD FESTIVAL. The event, DOWNLOAD JAPAN 2022, will be held at Makuhari Messe in Chiba on August 14, 2022. In October, BAND-MAID will embark on their largest-ever U.S. tour, playing 13 shows. 10 of these shows are already sold out, showing the incredible impact the group has had abroad. 

 

Miko Kobato, the guitarist, vocalist, and founder of BAND-MAID, has been attracting attention with her solo project cluppo. Following her first EP hatofull in March, her newest song With you was released on July 7. The track is being used as the ending theme for the anime series Smile of the Arsnotoria

 

With you – cluppo

 

We recently had the opportunity to sit down with cluppo to chat about her new single, her songwriting process, and more. It’s clear that her music has been having a profound impact on her fans, and her many musical talents are shining through more than ever. 

 

—Your new song, With you, is the ending theme for Smile of the Arsnotoria. What was your inspiration for the track?

 

cluppo: Actually, I was personally asked to write the ending theme for the Smile of the Arsnotoria anime adaptation. After I got the invitation, I had a ton of online meetings with the animation team to discuss what kind of atmosphere and tone the track should have. 

 

They really wanted me to create a song with a unique atmosphere, totally different than my usual intense and super energetic sound. It was clear that they wanted a song with more of a gentle and cute sound and one that seemed to tell a story. I talked to Crow (cluppo’s music production team) and I decided on a cool premise–I’m a pigeon and cluppo’s theme is ‘world peace,’ so the track was inspired by the idea of a pigeon getting along with the crows. 

 

The anime was inspired by a mobile game, so I decided to try that out before writing any lyrics. It had a really awesome story, so I took a lot of inspiration from that. Once I had a general image in mind, I made the decision to incorporate common words from the game into the track, knowing that people who had played it would instantly recognize that. 

 

—After meeting with the anime team, were you able to pin down a concept for the song?

 

cluppo: The team was really particular about the music from the very beginning of the project. I’d send demos, they’d send them back, and that happened quite a few times. The atmosphere of the track changed a lot over time. It’s completely different from my original idea. 

 

—What’s the message behind the lyrics? 

 

cluppo: I think the most important point comes right at the end of the song–“love is unbeatable.” That actually comes from the show’s key visual, which said that “magic (cuteness) is unbeatable.” At first, I started imagining that the series would have a really super-cute vibe, but once I started playing the game, I realized that there was some darkness mixed in too. Maybe we were meant to be the cute ones. I figured out that ‘cute’ was also being used to describe strong people with the urge to move forward. In Japanese, the word ai means love, but when pronounced in English, it can refer to the self, as in ‘I.’ So when I wrote the lyrics, I wrote it so it could be read either way–either “love is unbeatable” or “I am unbeatable.” Using that word was really important to me. 

 

—What was it like working on the music and arrangement with Crow? We’re curious to know how you expanded on your earlier ideas.

 

cluppo: Rather than just relying on my own brain to come up with ideas and pushing my own personal image to the forefront, I had a lot of back-and-forth with the animation staff this time around. I’d ask if I could change the lyrics in a certain part or if I could alter the sound in certain parts, but other than little things like that, I left the overall vibe up to Crow this time. 

 

—It was a real collaboration!

 

cluppo: Totally! They really understand my tastes and my image after everything I’ve released so far, including hatofull. It was like they were focusing more on the cluppo vibe than I was, so I felt completely comfortable leaving it up to them. 

 

—Do you have any particular beliefs or principles that you keep in mind while you’re writing lyrics? 

 

cluppo: The main goal of cluppo is to bring world peace. That’s something that I always keep in mind while writing my lyrics–I really want to capture that wish as best I can. 

 

—Where do you get most of your ideas?

 

cluppo: I find inspiration in all kinds of places, but the thing that inspires me the most is a good night’s sleep! (laugh) 

 

—What’s your first step in creating lyrics? How do you start the process?

 

cluppo: I always write the music before the lyrics. I end up listening to a ton of songs everywhere I go and before I go to bed. I imagine the atmosphere that the song will have and how it will fit into someone’s daily life, which leads me to come up with the melody. That’s when I start thinking about lyrics–if you don’t have the melody in mind, it’s much harder to know which words will sound good and which won’t. 

 

—When you listen to a song, do you ever suddenly feel overcome with emotion?

 

cluppo: Oh, for sure, all the time. Like, “Oh, this lyrics popped into my head while I was playing that scene in a game,” or something like that.

 

—Tell us about your dreams for the cluppo project. Its theme is ‘world peace,’ right?

 

cluppo: Right. Honestly, cluppo began as an April Fool’s Day project, so I never expected it to last this long. I was even more surprised to be asked to write an ending theme song for an anime series! With world peace as a theme, though, I know that there are so many more things that I can do. I honestly hope that I can do things with cluppo that I could never do with BAND-MAID. 

 

—As a member of BAND-MAID, you’re about to tour the U.S. this October, with over 20,000 fans coming to watch you perform. Do you have any plans to take cluppo abroad?

 

cluppo: I haven’t thought about it! (laugh) 

I’ve heard from overseas fans that they were sad that cluppo didn’t perform, and while that does make me really happy, playing at a BAND-MAID concert would be odd since we have such different sounds. But I do really want to perform abroad someday!

 

—Finally, could you say something to the fans reading this interview on MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON?

 

cluppo: Of course! MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON has worked with BAND-MAID for a long time, so it’s such an honor to be featured here as cluppo. I’d wanted that for a long time…oh, I guess that sounds odd. (laugh) I want many more people abroad to get to know my solo project since cluppo is a little different than BAND-MAID–we’re both cute, but in different ways. I’d love to spread my wings overseas someday, so I’ll keep doing my best! Please support me! 

With a nostalgic feel and Kobato’s warm vocals, cluppo’s new track With you is sure to wrap you up in good emotions. Written as the ending theme for Smile of the Arsnotoria, the song was made to inspire listeners and give courage to those about to take the first step towards meeting their goals and chasing their dreams.

 

The music video seems to show cluppo flapping her wings and taking flight as she conveys a powerful message to fans: “love is unbeatable.” 

 

Be sure to give cluppo’s music a listen, and be sure to support BAND-MAID as well! We can’t wait to see what Kobato does next.

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