NAQT VANE (Hiroyuki SAWANO & Harukaze) Talk Searching for Freedom on New Single ‘Break Free’

Hiroyuki SAWANO, a composer of music for various video productions, continues to be the center of attention due to his “SawanoHiroyuki[nZk]” project, which focuses on vocal music. Harukaze is an up-and-coming singer that Hiroyuki has nothing but praise for, calling her “constantly captivating.”

Today we take a look at NAQT VANE, the new music project that brings together these two exceptional talents.

What led you to meet each other?

Hiroyuki SAWANO: I talked to a producer from Avex that I met when I was producing music for Do As Infinity. I said I wanted to create a new music project and they helped me and that’s how I discovered Harukaze. Harukaze had uploaded cover versions of Western songs on Instagram. Her voice was enchanting and when I spoke to her I found that she spoke English like a native. I had wanted to use a lot of English in my new project, so she was a perfect fit.

What was your impression of Hiroyuki before you actually met him?

Harukaze: I had heard a lot of the random music he had made for anime, so I had this really strong image of him as someone who makes music that turns you on. I knew how impressive it was when his music matched what was on screen, so it was a huge honor to be chosen by him as a vocalist for a new project. But he’s really fast and he’s a perfectionist, so I thought I’d have to work hard to match his level.

Hiroyuki SAWANO: And for my part, I was captivated by her singing voice. When we did the first voice check, I realized that we could go with this kind of emotional approach, so I was like, “Yes!” The more I listened to her song, the more it moved me and the more I discovered a new appeal. I find her to be a vocalist who is constantly captivating.

Now you two have formed a new project, NAQT VANE. What kind of music do you want to create, Hiroyuki?

Hiroyuki SAWANO: I want NAQT VANE to reach out to people in new ways using Harukaze’s singing voice and our strength as a team. This is what makes NAQT VANE stand out. I want us to share our joy like a band does, like “we took that opportunity and ran with it!” or “we succeeded together!” I want to have fun creating things guided by that spirit of working as a team, and I want listeners to enjoy the same feeling.

The lyrics to your first streaming single, “Break Free,” include the phrase “searching for freedom.” It feels like you are making a statement about the world where it has become so difficult to express yourself freely.

Harukaze: I’ve always wanted to walk a different path than other people, but I’ve felt what it’s like to be hit by society, to be unable to be true to my own feelings, to lose my freedom. But now, with what we’re doing with NAQT VANE, I’ve had more friends come up to me and say “You’ve made me want to blaze my own trail too,” or “You’re trying so hard, so I want to too try hard.” If my own decisions have had that kind of impact, even just a little bit, then I believe that if we took an even bigger approach through NAQT VANE, we could have a positive impact on countless people who feel trapped. There are many ways in which my own experiences and ideas overlap with “Break Free”, so I will pour my heart into singing it and sharing its message.

“Break Free” is NAQT VANE’s starting point. What kind of people do you think it will resonate with?

Harukaze: We’re not targeting any specific kind of fans. We want everyone to listen to it. In fact, we don’t even use the word “fans”. If anyone likes a NAQT VANE song, they are NAQT VANE. If someone likes our music – if it resonates with them – then they are part of the NAQT VANE team. So we don’t have a concrete picture of who will respond to our music, but we want NAQT VANE to grow.

You also want to expand NAQT VANE abroad, right?

Hiroyuki SAWANO: People all over the world – not only Japan, but also abroad – listen to streaming music. I am also influenced by foreign music, so I hope our music reaches people in many different countries. I want to make music that people think is cool. I don’t want there to be any kind of weird “…because they’re a Japanese artist” thing attached. I want to get rid of that and make people in different countries find our music cool just like music.

NAQT VANE has a lot of foreign influence, so I wonder how it will be received abroad.

Hiroyuki SAWANO: I feel like abroad, people are always looking for cool music. That goes for soundtracks, and that goes for songs. I wonder what they will think of NAQT VANE’s music that was influenced by it. We also did a full English version of “Break Free”, so I hope they enjoy it and I hope they enjoy Harukaze’s approach.

Finally, does NAQT VANE have any dreams it wants to see come true?

Harukaze: I want to go on a world tour and pack stadiums. I don’t just want to play big venues, I want to see stadiums full of people who created the NAQT VANE with us. I want to expand our team so that it is big enough to make that and our world tour a reality. Since I was a small child, my dream has been to become one of the world’s best entertainers. (laughter)

If you achieve your dreams of a world tour and packed stadiums, I think you are qualified to be called one of the world’s best entertainers.

Harukaze: At my elementary school graduation, when I said “I want to be one of the world’s best entertainers,” the parents in the audience burst out laughing, perhaps because what I said was so unexpected. But if I really did stadium shows, the people laughing that day could say, “She really made her dream come true! I have to see this!” So I won’t let go of my dreams. I have to keep working to make them come true.

Hiroyuki SAWANO: For me too, what I’m most looking forward to is seeing how big we can make this project. It is my dream. The more experienced you become and the older you get, the more grounded and realistic you become. I want to just reset my mentality and really dream big, with the kind of dream that makes people think, “What’s wrong with that guy, is he an idiot?” That’s why if we go on a world tour, I don’t want to play small venues, but big stages. I think dreaming big like that gives you more energy to achieve those dreams. We will keep writing great music so that NAQT VANE resonates with more and more people!

This interview by Tetsuo Hiraga first appeared on Billboard Japan.

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