Luxpia [December 2013]

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This magazine was one of the earliest things I ever purchased, and translating the relevant content feels like I’m tying up some loose ends after a long time. Said content is a BUTAOTOME interview, focused on SOUND VOLTEX things, and an exclusive illustration by Ane.

You can buy a digital copy on Melonbooks.

BUTAOTOME
BUTAOTOME’s Touhou arrangements have been included in SOUND VOLTEX ever since its early days. All the members except for the vocalist are animals, making it a peculiar doujin circle. Although it’s easy to get confused, the circle’s name is BUTAOTOME.
Featured songs: dilemma/Gensou no Satellite/Machibito wa Kozu.

For those who don’t know the members of BUTAOTOME, please introduce yourself.
Comp: I’m Comp, a friendly polar bear who does composing, arranging, and plays all the instruments besides piano.
Paprika: Uh, I’m Paprika, a cat who plays the piano and arranges music.
Ranko no Ane: I handle illustrations, design, and videos. I’m Ranko no Ane, a rabbit.
Ranko: I’m Ranko, the vocalist and lyricist. I’m human.

Your music was initially included in the game upon KONAMI’s request. I guess you never expected to hear it in an arcade.
Comp: That’s right. When we got the request of making a song, we thought it would have been Touhou-related, since we hadn’t released any original CDs as BUTAOTOME at that time. So, we were grateful for the sudden request for original music. We didn’t know what kind of game it was, so I had to think about what kind of music to create. I wrote the song in a bit of a rush, but seeing the promotional video with BUTAOTOME’s name and hearing “KONAMI!” at the end was really exciting (laughs).
Ranko: That was really exciting.
Ranko no Ane: It wasn’t until the song was included that we realized it was real.

You were also requested to make a jacket illustration.
Ranko no Ane: Yes. I thought it would be displayed smaller, so I was shocked that it apperared quite large. I wish I had drawn it in more detail (laughs).
Ranko: Was Machibito wa Kozu. already included then?

It’s been there since the early days of SOUND VOLTEX II.
Ranko: Oh, I haven’t been able to play it yet.
Comp: I haven’t played it either, but when I saw the gameplay on YouTube, I noticed they kept the bass solo part.
Ranko no Ane: I played Gensou no Satellite on the easiest difficulty. I’ve heard that it has really hard charts.

It has one of the hardest level 14 charts.
Ranko: It feels like I could play it because I know the song, but I can’t at all.
Paprika: I can’t either. Even though I always play the piano (laughs).
Ranko: It would be great if the panel was a piano. Seeing everyone say “This isn’t a level 14!” or “It’s so hard” made me feel a bit proud, hehehe (laughs).
Comp: Everyone wants high-difficulty charts, after all.
Ranko no Ane: The more people say it’s difficult and play it, the more they listen to it, which is great for us.
Comp: dilemma was often said to be for beginners.

Even now It’s considered an introductory level 10 song.
Ranko: “dilemma” was made quite a while ago. There was a long time between recording it and hearing it in the game. The game launched in January 2012, and we recorded it the previous summer.
Comp: I don’t remember what I was doing at that time at all (laughs).

What did you think of the effects in the game?
Comp: It was surprising. I knew about the knobs, but I didn’t know they added effects. I’m not talking about whether or not I knew that (laughs). Most rhythm games don’t produce sound unless you press a button, but Sound Voltex is quite innovative and doesn’t do that.
Ranko no Ane: You add sounds as you go.
Ranko: The music continues without pressing, so it’s less stressful and looks cool.

Do you have any opposition to having sounds added to your songs?
Comp: Not at all. If someone else mastered our music and added effects, I’d be like, “Hey, hey, hey, wait!” (laughs). But it’s something KONAMI has been doing for years, and they think about what makes it fun, so we find it interesting and are happy about it.
Ranko no Ane: By the way, who came up with “BUTAOTOME by dilemma”? It’s already become quite established… “BUTAOTOME by Gensou no Satellite” too (laughs).
Ranko: Another BUTAOTOME song? This is the third one (laughs).

It was popular on Twitter.
Ranko no Ane: The text on the jacket was the same size, so people who didn’t know BUTAOTOME thought the artist was dilemma. It feels odd for a song to be called BUTAOTOME (laughs).
Comp: The song does say “dilemma” (laughs).

Comp writes the music, Ranko sings, Paprika plays the piano, and Ranko no Ane does the illustrations. What is the creative process like?
Comp: For Touhou music, I try not to decide anything myself to avoid bias. For example, the sisters might decide that the next album should be fairies-related; then they will ask me to use this original theme, and I will create a piece based on that, so there will be parts that are not original.
Ranko no Ane: I start with a visual image and ask if it’s okay. We discuss it, and I show progress, so by the time the songs are done, I’m also in the final stages (laughs).
Comp: For original works, we follow a series-like style, while for Touhou, we base it on the visual image, aligning with Ranko no Ane’s vision. Perhaps you would like to hear what Paprika and Ranko think.

Please share your thoughts (laughs).
Paprika: It’s difficult to answer… really. Uh, what should I say?
Ranko: You covered your face! (laughs).
Paprika: I haven’t thought about it much. Comp’s songs are in genres I don’t delve into, so it’s fun to try new things (laughs). It’s fresh and challenging.
Ranko no Ane: Recently, you’ve been recording the piano together.
Paprika: Yes, I used to get the song and I’d interpret it on my own at home, but now we work together in the studio, discussing details, which results in better work.

Any rejections on the spot?
Comp: It’s not about rejecting. While working alone allows for more detailed refinements, working together lets us align our visions immediately. It requires finding an end point, but it’s more efficient, asking Paprika “Is this okay?” and confirming it together.
Ranko no Ane: We work brightly. The two of them are stoic, but sometimes they can’t stop laughing about silly things.
Comp: Different visions can lead to tension, but we work harmoniously unless Paprika has… of course (laughs).
Paprika: None, none (laughs).
Ranko no Ane: There’s rarely anything good from being brutal.
Comp: We try to enjoy the tough times. Even when it’s exhausting, we aim to have fun.
Ranko no Ane: We just want to get into bed quickly.
Paprika: Definitely.
Comp: Sometimes we work non-stop for 11 hours.
Ranko: I can’t stop laughing (laughs).
Comp: And in the end Paprika plays in topless (laughs).
Paprika: That’s not true.
Comp: Well, I mean, we are working with enough tension that it is okay to say such things.

Do you have any behind-the-scenes stories from your activities?
Comp: I lost 4 kg during the tour. I got a fever, and since the tour was mostly in rural areas, we had live performances on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. For about three days, I could barely eat. Also, our live performances make us sweat a lot, and we travel by car, so I was continuously unwell… I had a fever for about two weeks because of this cold, with temperatures up to 39°C. Even though I couldn’t eat, I still performed live. I think it’s legendary, but there are stories of people performing live with broken bones. Actually, that’s totally doable, physically. What amazes me about live performances is that, despite the tiring driving, once the live show starts, performing in front of the audience itself gives you positive energy.
Paprika: I was infected with campylobacter (laughs). Towards the end of the tour, when we went to Utsunomiya, my stomach hurt, and I wondered why. It turned out to be campylobacter. I didn’t go to the hospital and returned home the same day, only to be hit by severe pain, diarrhea, and vomiting (laughs). I felt like I was going to die, and when I looked it up online, I found out I was infected.
Ranko no Ane: We had many health issues because the tour was long.
Ranko: My sister developed asthma (laughs).

Live performances really require physical endurance, don’t they… Is it all “because it’s fun” that drives you to be able to move and create, no matter how hard it is?
Comp: Yes, I think what people find fun varies from person to person, to be honest. As I mentioned earlier, it depends on whether you can enjoy it or not, even if it involves eating something disgusting.
Paprika: Is that your example? (laughs).
Comp: Even if you stay up all night to do something, it’s not because that itself is fun. But to be able to stay up all night and work hard, I think our bodies subconsciously control us to find the task enjoyable. Even in what we call tough situations, I want to be someone who can enjoy them, so I try to enjoy them. If you have to do it anyway, you have to change your mindset to enjoy it.

Finally, a message for the readers.
Ranko: I can only say living alone is fun (laughs). Live performances are the most fun, so I’d be happy if you come to a live show when you feel like it.
Paprika: I really want people to watch our live performances. Even though I’m a cat, BUTAOTOME should be seen live.
Ranko no Ane: I have daily nightmares of being told my sketches are terrible. I’m also scared people think my website coding is dirty.
Comp: I want to enjoy both fun and tough things and challenge various activities. Of course, I’m happy when people say we have good songs or that the live show was fun, but it makes me especially happy when they say we are a great circle. I want to continue our activities in a way that makes people think that.

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