One of the most amusing and intriguing parts of the growing phenomenon of Vocaloid culture originating from Nico Nico Douga is the fact that the songs are all composed by the users of the software, regarded as “VocaP” (Vocaloid Producer). There are so many great, talented VocaP’s, each of them having their own way of using the famous voice synthesizer to produce masterpieces that captivated millions of people in Japan, and even around the world. In this post, I’m going to talk about one of my top four favorite Voca-Ps—besides supercell, DECO*27, and 40mP—all of which have influenced my music preference and my passion to be a musician myself until now: kz, or as most of us refer more often as “band” or “group”, livetune.
Livetune started out as a doujin ongaku (Japanese term for “indie music”) group founded by kz and KajukiP, both of which has already released their own works before. Their first album, “Re:package”, became really popular and was sold out in a flash. This development led to the major debut of livetune in 2008.
And… Yep, 2008 is also the year I discovered livetune’s music. At that time, Vocaloid fandom was just starting to grow—and I was not really familiar with all these things about a software that sings and the concept of self-produced work. That was until I came across this song.
“Packaged” was one of the first songs that brought me to become a fan of livetune’s works. The melody was distinct, the arrangement was really dynamic, and everything about the song was so freshly packaged; even now, I still think that the song successfully went out of its way to be recognized as one of the signature pieces for the first generation of Vocaloid music; and I am happy to say, that was not the end of the story.
After their successful first album, the second was released not long after in 2009. Entitled “Re:Mikus”, the album was comprised of remixes from Re:package, as well as four additional songs. The album also did great in terms of popularity and sales—albeit not as exceptional as the way Re:package managed to claim the 5th place on Oricon’s weekly albums chart—and livetune’s name started to escalate even more. Even so, the release of the album was also followed by the resignation of KajukiP because of a job offer, leaving kz alone as the sole member of livetune. That news, however, didn’t stop kz for creating more awesome works.
For his next album, kz collaborated with Yuuki Masami, a mangaka. The album—named “Crosslight”—is actually a concept album revolving around a single story; this also marked the first time livetune, or rather kz, used GUMI for his songs besides Miku. The album showed once more how broad and colorful kz’s arrangement is. “COSMiCA” and the titular “Crosslight”—both sung by GUMI—highlighted this fact prominently.
Besides Crosslight, kz also released another collaboration album under the name “livetune loves ココ” (livetune loves coco) called “Snow Dance” at Comiket 76, in which remixes by other composers including supercell’s ryo are included.
A month after the release, kz created his own YouTube channel. There, he started uploading some of the remixes he created for many popular songs. My own personal favorite, if you want to know, is this one here. It is a remix of a popular song from Macross Frontier—so if you are one of those Macross fans, you should be able to recognize this song.
By the way, besides being a composer, kz is also a DJ with the alias “RE:NDZ”. This is one of the examples of the works he created under that name: a remix of the Japanese version of “Country Road”; you know, the one used in a certain movie by Ghibli.
In April 2010, kz composed a song titled “Drop” for an utaite (a term derived from Nico Nico Douga used to call people who cover songs, usually Vocaloid songs, and then upload them to the website) duo called “Alice☆Clara”; he later composed “Kimi no Yume wo Miyou” to be sung by them too. Finally, Alice☆Clara went major and debuted with “Irony”, the theme song for the infamously-long-titled-anime-we-all-know—also composed by kz. And that was when the duo, now renamed “ClariS”, started gaining more and more popularity until now. He later composed another song for ClariS: “Nexus“.
Later in 2010, livetune participated in a collaboration album project titled “TamStar Records Collection Vol. 0”, which was released at Comiket 79; in the album, he created songs for doujin artists Yanagi Nagi (“empty”) and Yun*chi (“Believe”). Not to mention, he also worked together with Twill for the theme song of Digimon Xros Wars second season and third season, titled “New World” and “Stand Up” respectively.
Aside from collaborating with singers, kz also collaborated with another VocaP. He, together with ryo, released the split single “Kocchi Muite Baby / Yellow” for the theme song of Project DIVA 2nd. Kz’s A-side track, “Yellow”, proved to be a powerhouse and was even featured in Hatsune Miku’s live concert in Sapporo by the next year.
2012 is probably the golden year for livetune. Everything started when Google Chrome Japan posted commercials for Google Chrome on their YouTube channel. One of them featured Miku and kz’s latest single: “Tell Your World”. The duration of the video was only 1:01—but the impact was so great, that it outclassed other Google Chrome commercials aimed for Japanese audience. The reason was probably the fact that many views came from all around the world, as opposed to the other videos that received most of the views from Japan. This caused a massive hype on the internet, as the deep message conveyed the song and the video managed to touch the hearts of many. If you haven’t watched the video, here it is.
Just a month later, another new work of livetune was released—this time collaborating with Nakajima Megumi —famous for her role as Ranka Lee in Macross Frontier and also the provider for GUMI’s soundbank voice sample—and Yun*chi, who has ever collaborated with kz before. Both songs, “Transfer” and “Sign”, perfectly matched each of the respective singers’ voice character, and quickly gained great responses from fans. Later, kz also composed another song for Yun*chi’s major debut: “Reverb*“.
As for now, I’m waiting for the full version of the new Macross game, “Macross 30″‘s theme song which is composed by kz. I’ve been following kz’s—livetune’s music for four years now; and indeed, it has been quite a long journey. In this period of time, I noticed kz’s works getting even better than before—and one thing that never changes: the sense of “radiance” that is always present in all of his works, which is the thing that I like about livetune’s songs.
I guess that’s all for the talk; if you are interested in livetune’s music now, feel free to contact me and we can talk more about it! Well then, see you later!