Essa Xu is a chinese model, actress, singer and tv host born in Xi’an, Shannxi, China. One quarter Russian, she grew up in a family of entertainers and musicians. Her grandmother was a music teacher and her mother played the cello. In kindergarten she took up gymnastics and ballet, and at 14 she started singing European pop songs, going on to form a successful all-girl pop group.
“Perhaps, because I’m mixed and have features that are appreciated by both Westerners and Asians, I am accepted by more people” – Essa Xu (from China Daily)
Essa has a singing voice that has been compared with superstar Britney Spears, while her slim but curvy figure and sweet looks have made her a sought after model and all-round entertainer. She has been modeled for many major clients like Japan’s Matsushita Group, and has appeared on CCTV in various major national TV programs. She sang the romantic theme song Don’t Say You Love Me for the popular stage play I Don’t Want To Sing Alone.
Essa, it is a pleasure to meet you. Thank you for doing this interview with us. I want to ask you about your childhood in Xi’an. What kind of things did you enjoy doing when you were a child? I understand, at one time, you wanted to be an astronaut. When I was a little girl I loved to read various books such as: astrology books, historical books , art books, metaphysical books, etc. I really enjoyed reading them alone and the feeling that they filled my spiritaul mind. I also loved all those boy games like watching the X games, (even though I didn’t play them). Since my father loves chinese ink painting I started drawing when I was 9 years old. I really enjoy painting and the time I spent with my father. To be honest, I really enjoyed everything related to art when I was child. both girl things and boy’s things. Since I was learning dancing like ballet and chinese traditonal dancing I had lots of performances, I enjoyed my time on the stage with those lil mates. Due to my pareants love of the outdoors, I used to climb mountains, go to forest and visited some historical places with them. You have gotten the nickname, “The Mixed Race Doll”. What features do you think make you unique? Compared with others I do more than one thing at any one time. I’m singing, a TV host, model , actress and I know English and Chinese. My friends tell me I am able to comprehend a lot. I am also a person who really enjoys being a human haha. I think I’m a person who is very passionate about life and being on stage. I have a mixed appearance which makes me looks like a doll. I have a lot of friends who say they like how I look and they say that my personality is more like a boys and I am very easy get along and talk to….so that I can easily get along with Western and Asian people. Also I think mixed people are smarter and get good genetics from both cultures.
You were a member of a famous group, O.O.B. which had a huge hit with the song, “Earth Mom”. Can you tell us about the group and what it was like to perform with them? We formed our group when I was 13. We were in the same school which is very famous for its programs to learn singing, dancing and acting. We were the first girl group that was singing pop songs with western lyrics and we were the first group that sang a environmental protection song in China. In 2001 we got 3rd place in an Asian singing group competition. We also performed on CCTV and on manyother famous Chinese TV stations. We also had cooperation with Panasonic Corporation to sing their new production advertisement song “You Are The One”. It was very good memory for me/ I had two good partners and we are still in contact with each other. You went on to sing many different projects including on Yunnan TV’s “Music Assembly”, Hubei TV’s, China International Conference and sang “I Don’t Want To Sing Alone”, the theme song drama for the CCTV8 2010 prime-time hit TV series “Never Look Back”. How would you best describe your sound? I always feel there is an angel inside of my heart, and i think when Im singing , it naturally came to my performance no matter what kind of genre music I sing for.
What are some of the musical artists you admire or have influenced your work? I start to listening classical music since I was 5 or 6, I was extremely in love with Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake. I used to sing along with Swan Lake every time I played it on my CD, I’ve always been touched by his music. It is full of love and passion and makes me wanted to sing with it. Since then I feel like being an musician or singer can really inspire people. When I was 12 years old I heard the Carpenters album on the radio. I suddenly found myself addicted to her voice and I started to learn to sing English songs. Three or four years later I heard Christina Aguilera’s album. She became my idol since then. She really touched my heart and soul when with every single word that came from her mouth. You studied business management in Singapore but also took acting and singing classes at Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts. Do you think your business management classes will help you with your career in the future? haha definitely yes, in this commercial world everything is related to commerce. Knowledge of management will help me to have a better sense to develop my career in a commercial world.
You are also a successful model and have appeared in many print and television advertisements. Can you tell us about a few of your favorite projects? One of my favorite project is a pet food advertisement. I had a lot of fun with my partner, Mr dog, who is a 3 yrs old handsome doggy. The picture we took was awesome. That was my first time shooting with a German Doberman 。 in a few months a famous illustrator wanted to do some paintings using this photo. He made me look like a goddness floating out from an Aladdin’s lamp. It was published in China Daily with a huge spread.
Another creative shooting was with my friend in Japan for a shampoo advertisement. The make up artist and the photographor made me look like a fairy tale princess, haha. I did really enjoy the time I spent working with them.
Most of my friends know that I love online games and I had a chance to do a advertisment for a game that I used to play called DNF. I was a fighter who wore golden armor with some magic used to fight devils. You could imaging how interesting it is to shoot photos for the character you play in game!
What do you like about modeling? Being a model its just like being an actress. I can transfer myself into another different person by make up and what outfits I wear. Different photographers inspire me in different ways so that I can easily get inspiration to express myself. I am addicted to exploring myself in addition to creating something cool and innovative!
A striking image of you drawn by artist Brian Gibbs, modeling a catsuit from Catfish Latex, has been making the rounds of the internet. Can you tell us about this image and about your experience modeling for Catfish Latex? Do you like the feel and look of latex clothing? Brian Gibbs is a talented Illustrator, I feel very honored that he chose my photo to paint. He made it look in a brand new way~! One day I saw Katy Perry and Rihanna on MTV. They were wearing some special clothes which were sexy, special, and futuristic , I called my good friend, who is a talented stylist, and asked about what I saw on TV. I found out that Catfish Latex was looking for an mixed artist to collaborate with and they found me through my stylist friend. I would say that was fate, hehe. The feeling of wearing latex makes me feel fashionable and unique and makes me feel more like Essa~ its very rare in China and so far no artist is wearing latex for photo shoots or performances except me! I love to be an innovator.
You also recently entered the web contest, Rock the Web” and took second place. I understand you went to Las Vegas and had the opportunity to work with a famous vocal coach there. What was it like? It was just like a dream come true. I never thought I could meet with those awesome teachers. I’m very appreciative for having the chance to learn singing with Michael Jackson’s vocal coach Mr Seth Riggs , The Manhattan Transfer’s Alan Paul , Janis Seigel, and recording lessons with Avril Lavign’s Producer Mr Scott Spock. They are awesome and taught me a lot of valuable lessons about music, especially Mr Seth. Everyday when I saw Mr. Seth I felt like I was seeing Santa Claus! His lessons were full of love and he was very patient with me. After I told him that I had the same birthday as Michael Jackson he’s started telling me some interesting stories about Michael Jackson. You know its not easy for an 82 year old man to speak nonstop for hours .. so I really did feel touched by his teaching attitude.
You also teamed up with producer and DJ Edmund to perform vocals on a number of electronic and dance music tracks. How did you come to meet him? How did you collaborate at such a long distance? What was the process like? Edmund is pretty well known and did a lot big fashion shows and parties. We met at a fashion show after party. He is a great producer and has strong feelings and knowledge about music. He produces his tracks and sends me his version with his vocals and asks if I can sing. Most of the time I can and sometimes I will sing my own melody into his song too. Before he was in Beijing most of the time, so it was really easy to record together but recently he has stayed longer in Sanya to work as music director for MGM so we use email to transfer. There are 2 songs I would like to share with you one is “Tonight”, its a soulful house, this song made by the two of us. We sang our own melody in one song, I was in charge of the second verse and chorus. Another one is named “Love Control” which is big room vocal house, its very passionate and rhythmic.
Love Control http://www.tudou.com/v/8fqMEUh8LqA/&resourceId=0_04_05_99/v.swf What is the music industry like in China? It’s growing and there are many talented singers, bands and musicians. Many of them dont make a living by making music, but they are still working on thier dreams. Right now the media is still focused on cerain type of genres, but music like Sadingding’s, and some underground electronic artist are making their own works In addition to your modeling and singing you are also an actress and are presently appearing in a drama made by SoHu. Can you tell us more about this project and what your character is like? This drama is a Comedy Series. I play a smart and hot girl who wanted to seduce a stupid guy. The rest of the story is secret hahahah. You will have to see when it is released. As an actress do you find it easy or does it take a lot of effort and practice for you to get into the different characters you play? As a new actress I dont have much experience with many characters, but so far I feel it is easy to get into characters in every situation, becasue in daily life I am a very emotional, careful and sensitive person, I like to observe life and observe other people so I usually put my observations into my performances.
What are your dreams for the future? I hope that I can make an album to inspire people in the world by my voice and my songs and I hope at the same time to be a successful actress. When I achieve these, at some point, I wish that I could have my own perfume label. I also wish I could be do more things that could help this earth and this world to make it full of love and peace. I understand you have read Graham Hancock’s “The Fingerprints of the Gods”. What do you think about his theories? I had read some other types of human/fate of the planet, catastrophe types of books but only ” The Fingerprints of the Gods” impressed me. Most of the theories match with mine and also I agree with his other new theories. His books provide new and bold perspectives to backtrack the history of human civilization, thorough investigation and informative to crack the Fingerprints of the Gods … I unknowingly followed him in traveling around the kingdom and relics and prehistoric civilizations with his thinking to explore past, present and future of mankind. This book taught me human mythology, civilization, history, geography, architecture, mathematics, astronomy, science, technology and creative exploration. It is an ancient civilization mystery adventure masterpiece and I have watched many of his interviews on YouTube. They are really inspiring to me . What do you enjoy doing when you are not working? I’m interested in so many different things! Most of the time I enjoy travelling and going out with friends. I especially love to go to the beach and enjoy the sunshine and the waves of the sea, it really helps me purify my frequency. I also love to spend my time reading some interesting spiritual books and movies and doing some meditation.
Where can we find out more about you?
DONT SAY YOU LOVE ME AUDIO
DONT SAY YOU LOVE ME
(walk me home) http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XNDIxNTA4ODU2.html 美国拉斯维加斯palm studio 由艾薇儿制作人 scott spock 监棚录制
拉斯维加斯培训营 与Michael Jackson 的声乐老师 Seth Riggs 以及 艾薇儿制作人 scott先生录音课，美国曼哈顿行者乐团表演课。http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XNDQxMDg2Mzky.html
嘉宾主持 搜狐 《大鹏嘚吧嘚》 http://tv.sohu.com/20111020/n322781887.shtml
搜狐 《New Face》http://tv.sohu.com/20111019/n322629415.shtml 娱乐节目完整 歌曲（do something）
旅游卫视《美丽俏佳人》 14:45左右开始 内衣外穿教学，以及我的洗脸小秘诀。
旅游卫视 《第一时尚》外景 从01：19开始就由我带大家体验红酒SPA http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XMTQ3MjQyODUy.html
Abi☆Pop is a Cosplayer, Performer (J-pop/Anime Dancer) and cupcake addict. She is eternally 17 years old and from a little town in the United Kingdom. She is very hyper, friendly and loves to make people smile and have fun by spreading magical moe kawaii-ness to the world! She started out on youtube and NicoNicoDouga (a popular Japanese website) by uploading her own dance covers of popular j-pop/anime dances. She entered the world of cosplay in 2010 and attends cons around the UK where she cosplays and performs with her viewers. After a little while she found out about idols/net idols and maid café’s. This made her little heart skip a beat! from then on she has been working extra hard to make her videos fun to watch and even came up with a catch phrase “KissKiss CHU~”. Her favourite colours are baby pink, baby blue and baby purple. She Loves strawberry cupcakes and cupcakes in general and can’t stop baking and decorating them! You will never see Abi Pop not wearing somthing super cute like a pair of white cat ears or a sailor fuku! She hopes one day to be able to be a maid in a maid café or even an idol who performs on the stages of Akihabara; Otaku central in Japan. Voice acting is another thing she would love to do due to her love for “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” and the amazing “Tara Strong” who has inspired her. She is currently working on lots of new Cosplays for the future one of them being “Rin Kokonoe” from “kodomo No Jikan”. As she loves performing and Cosplaying so much, a dream of her’s is to work at Disneyland Being either Alice in Wonderland, Tinkerbell or Rapunzel! Drawing is one of her favourite hobbies to do along side with dancing and practicing to sing and she hopes to get some Japanese and singing lessons to be able to apply to perform places.
How did you first become interested in cosplaying and what was the first one you did? My brother used to go to America a lot when I was very young around 8 or 9 and he went to a Comic Con and showed me all the photos! We then made a KeyBlade (from kingdom hearts 2) out of cardboard and wrapper paper rolls and from then on I had always wanted to cosplay Kairi from KH2~! In the year of 2010 I met a girl called Emily who went to the MCM London expo the year before and asked if I wanted to come along in 2010! ^-^ I was so so excited because I had no idea they had conventions in the UK so I went along cosplaying Kairi from kingdom hearts 2. What is your favorite part of cosplaying? Is it the process of creating the costume, the dressing up and pretending? I adore the whole process so much! getting all the parts for a cosplay is really exciting for me because you get so see it all come together and when you finish a cosplay, you just feel so good because you did all of that! when the day of the convention comes around I always get up at a ridiculous time to get ready. Not all Cosplayers get into character but I love to act like my character for the day! So I make sure i pick characters from Anime’s and shows I have watched and can relate to! Can you tell us a little about where you are located and how you came up with your name, Abi Pop? I live on the South East coast of the UK in a little town called Eastbourne. There’s really not much to do here~! but there is a DDR machine on the pier where I go every time I go shopping xD Abi pop was a nickname I used to get call when I was in school because my friends said I was like bubbles from The Powerpuff Girls and I was always happy and bubbly xD which then became “pop” which is the sound of bubbles popping! Do female cosplayers generally cosplay both male and female characters? I think it really depends on what characters you like! because most cosplayer’s like to cosplay characters they can relate to. for example I really love Honey Senpai from Ouran High School Host Club who has a very similar personality to me! so I would cosplay him if I were the right shape. ^-^
Were you a fan of anime and manga before you started cosplaying? What were some of your favorites? Yes I was~! I grew up watching anime. My favourite’s have to be Ouran High School Host Club and Kodomo No Jikan and of course studio ghibli movies & Animal crossing movie! When you make your costumes how long does it take? If I buy the base of the cosplay then a month or so, or make it from scratch maybe a couple of months because school, college , youtube and dancing takes up a lot of my time. T____T What events or conventions have you attended? I have attended Hyper Japan in London, MCM London Expo in London, Brighton asahi anime festival and a few cosplay picnics! I hope to be able to attend lots lots more! Have you ever competed or have you done a group cosplay? I plan to enter Kawaii Star of the year at Hyper japan in November and the Masquerade in October MCM Expo London! ^-^ I can’t wait to enter them! i’ve never really entered contests like that before. ^-^ I always go to conventions in a group of friends but never have done a group cosplay! This is something I would love to do!
What has been your most difficult costume to make? What made it so difficult? Probably my latest one “Cure Melody” because the top half of the cosplay had to hug my body and stay in a V shape. also the shoe’s were a annoying because I couldn’t find any that matched the colours of my cosplay! xD it’s always the starting of the cosplay that takes the longest but after you get that all together everything else falls into place! How important is photography to the cosplay industry? What tips or advice would you give to new cosplayers who are still learning to pose or perform in front of the camera? When you complete a cosplay, I think it’s great to have photo’s of it posted either on facebook or a cosplay forum or somthing like that! When I pose for the camera I pose like the character would! Don’t stand there looking like a model from a magazine! xD have fun with it! maybe you want to jump on a box and jump off it for a mid air shot or even have “Nyan” hands going on ^^ photo’s always look the best when you play the character~! http://www.youtube.com/user/xabiipopx Facebook page (xabiipopx): https://www.facebook.com/xabiipopx Cosplay page: https://www.facebook.com/Abipopcosplay Tumblr: http://abi-pop.tumblr.com Twitter: http://twitter.com/crazytabbix Japanese blog: http://ameblo.jp/xabiipopx/
My goal: Create, Inspire, and Learn. Wei He is many things. A fashion and costume designer, seamstress and model. Wei taught herself to sew and has become well-known for her craftmanship and attention to detail. Always willing to learn new skills she also does woodworking, crochet, and soon videography.
I support every type of Artist! I want to learn and create everything I can from my knowledge. I love to travel and show what the midwest has to offer! ♥
Originally from Saint Louis, MO she is currently a local designer in Kansas City, MO. Wei has been competing in costume/cosplay runways since 2007 and started judging runways in 2009. She has won numerous awards such as: Otaku House Finalist, Otaku House Top 40 out of 1600 2011 Best of Novice Class- Skit, Archon 35 Collinsville, IL Oct 2011 Best of Master Class, NatsuCon 11 Collinsville, IL Aug 2011 Judge’s Choice - Swimsuit, NatsuCon 11 Collinsville, IL Aug 11 2nd Most Promising Seamstress, ACen 11 Rosemont, IL May 2011 Best of Masters Class, Anime STL 11 Saint Louis, MO Apr 2011 Best Overall Workmanship, Kawa Kon 11 Saint Louis, MO Mar 2011 and others.
In 2010, Wei spent a year judging runways for workmanship, stage presence, and skit presentations including: Naka Kon ‘12, Judged Hall Runway Virtual Con 1, Costume Guest of Honor and Costume Judge Nebraskon ‘11, Judged Hall & Main & Swimsuit Runway Naka Kon’11, Judged Hall Runway Nebraskon ’10, Judged Hall & Main & Swimsuit Runway Motaku ’10, Judged Hall & Main Runway Wei has also been in the fashion industry as a model since March 2011 and a designer since September 2011. Wei is a master of many crafts and supports the art and fellow artists in her community. She also gives back to the community by giving her time to many charitable organizations in the area. Known for her unending energy, her outgoing and friendly personality and her sense of humor, Wei He will be one to watch in the coming years.
Wei, it is a pleasure to meet you. Can you tell us a little about where you were born and when you were a child? I was born in the suburbs of Saint Louis, MO. I was never a creative child, but I always worked hard on learning the skills to become what I am today! I am always giving thanks to the amazing friends and family for supporting me, I have achieved many goals. Were you always interested in the arts? Yes! Art inspire me to be creative, and it is a passion. I am impressed by many artists that draws or paints, because that is a skill I have not acquired. Are there other artists in your family? I have a lovely sister in Saint Louis, MO that recently received her BA in Graphic Design from Webster University. I love all her work, and I know she will go far! She helped inspired me!
When did you first take an interest in fashion and costuming? In 2005, I learn that people dressed as their favorite animated or video game character; also called cosplay. I feel in love then and there, but was not brave enough to sew a costume until late 2006. Did cosplaying play a big part in your wanting to learn to sew? Yes! It was great being a fan of many anime and video games. I wanted to create and make a drawing come to life. Now, I have my own goals of making my fashion designs come to life! I understand you got to such a high level of expertise that you were asked to teach a high school sewing class. How did that come about? In high school, one bright student was recognized for being Department of Honor for each subject. Out of hundreds of students, I earned the title “Department of Honors in FACS”. [Family and Consumer Science] I was proud, and well known for skipping sewing classes into independent sewing, in which I made a wedding dress for my final project. At my high school, with my retired teacher as my guardian, I taught a simple Sewing I course for young high school students. I loved everything about it!
I love your Lili (Tekken 6) and Medusa costumes. How long did it take you to make them? Lili is my most known costume. It took 50+ hours to make, due to drafting skintight, chaps and corset combination using non-stretch fabric. The costume is lined, 400+ garments hammered, hand sewn lace.
Medusa was actually my first costume. Late 2006, I chose my first recreational costume to sew. After 3 months, 200+ hours of hand sewing 10,000 pearls, drafting, lining and making the dress, I entered my first cosplay masquerade as a beginner. To my surprise, I won Best of Show, surpassing the workmanship of beginner, intermediate, and master class. Since that runway/masquerade, I was inspired to continue my creations! What is more important when making a costume. Accuracy or creativity? Both! I want to portray my character and her costumes, but I enjoy creativity! I am picky on my costumes and always wanting to learn new techniques! Being accurate and making it as professional as possible is important, and the creativity it takes to make an animated character come to life is an amazing feeling. What is the cosplay scene like in the Midwest now? Good! Since I started judging, I have met many cosplayers that improved over the years. I watched them start at beginner and now in the same class as I am! There are many potential cosplayers here! You were also a judge at many events. How hard was it for you to make decisions on others work? Yes! There are many amazing and impressive costumes. The community is always growing, and judging can be stressful having to calculate and choose winners. You had some pieces in the Restyle Runway Charity Event ~”Forever Altered”. Can you tell us about this event and the pieces you had in it? Restyle was organized by Friends of JCDS, and organization for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Designer put together a collection, using some of the JCDS members as models and local models. All the collections were sold for JCDS. “Forver Altered” was my first fashion collection. It was a 5 piece bridal collection. I felt that weddings are beautiful, like all people! When people stand at the altar for make their vows, their life is changed. Any money or time spent helping others will result in altering someone’s life for good!
What do you like about modeling? I get the chance to meet amazing photographers and beautiful, sweet models! Cosplaying, I show off my own costumes. Modeling allows me to model for other designers. Designing, lets me view my creations on a runway! What have been some of the runway shows/fashion events you have modeled in? Creative Infusions [60s & 70s Throw Back] ~ Pinkie Couture Kansas City, MO March 2012 Kimby’s Collection ~JCCC Overland Park, KS March 2012 InkStudio [Girl With Dragon Tattoo Series] ~Photoshoot Raytown, MO Jan 2012 Raw Emotion [MISS SEPTEMBER] ~Photoshoots Lee Summit, MO Sept 2011 Enchanted Affairs [4 Different Collections] ~Xpressions Kansas City, MO July 2011 May-Hem [Anastasia’s Collection] ~Crossroads Kansas City, MO May 2011 Rock N Fashion [Envolve and Hemline Collections] ~Crosstown Kansas City, MO April 2011
I understand you also help promote artists and will be working in video in the future. Tell us more about this. I am in the process of buying equipment! I see all steadicams at Anime Conventions, and unbelievable videos of costume. It’s an experience! Besides costume photos, seeing a full 360 of a gorgeous cosplay on your scene is magical! People portraying their characters are breathtaking! Any up coming projects you can share with us? 2013, I will be pairing up with cosplayers in midwest also the coast in cosplaying! I am currently drafting my Fall Collection! Where can we find out more about you and your work? My website is not up yet, but here are a few links: OneWeiCafe.Com Onewei.deviantart.com Or UserName: OneWei For all Cosplay related sites!
Leyna grew up in an average family. Her father was a public servant and her mother was a housewife in Yokohama, Japan. She started learning classical ballet when she was 2 years old, piano at 4 and acting at 14.
“I was quite an independent child and always knew what I wanted to do.”
I seemed to grew up fast mentally, I had a trouble with communicating with classmates because they were too immature for me. I preferred talking with adults in order to learn things, and was always interested in making myself grow up. I was determined at the age of 8 (or around then) that I would be willing to get through any difficulties for that. However, I really hated myself at the same time. Because you’ve got to betray, profane and disgrace yourself in order to live through this “vulgar world”. Why do human beings kill each other? Destroy forests? Tell lies? Steal? Murder someone for money? It was really hard for me to live and I always wanted to give up, but it was not allowed. So I made up my mind. I’ve had to change this world for the better! I was inspired to become an actress when I was 8 years old. Although my parents opposed, I never gave up my dream. Because I wanted to see the world, I went to language school to learn English when I was 16. At the same time I started to do acting in English. I performed in England and the US when I was 18 then moved to London where I learned acting and also performed. Then moved to New York. I came back to Japan once and did TV dramas, some films and short films. Then I moved to Berlin where I did some acting and singing jobs. My life in Berlin gave me a second opportunity to reconstruct myself, (that made me become vegetarian as well!)
“I decided to come back to Japan, gave up my career as an actress and started to sing.”
Now I’m doing Electro Gothic Metal project as “der Rosenengel”. I write lyrics, music and do arrangements as well. I released the first mini album “Earth Angel” on 22 August 2012. There is a meaning to release this album in this era. To achieve my mission which I set up when I was only 8 !
Leyna, it is a pleasure to meet you. I want to start off asking you about something you wrote. You said, “It was really hard for me to live and I always wanted to give up, but it was not allowed.” How and what issues were you struggling with at the time? What do you mean by saying you always wanted to give up? You must have been pure and innocent when you were born, but as you grow up, you need to learn how to get along with other people. Sometimes you need to act like someone else in order to satisfy someone else’s expectation and learn how to compromise. I was thinking that getting through all these means disgracing and insulting myself as a child. Moreover, people often misunderstood about me because I was too shy to express myself. Furthermore, I couldn’t even get along with my family. I was thinking that I’m not loved by anyone. (oh, I was such a desperate child XD) I was always thinking about how I end my life and escape from home. However, as I was using my imagination, I came up with an idea that leaving the parents is sinful. So I didn’t give up my life and found the reason to live. That was the acting at that time. (Thank God, now I know what love is!) Obviously you made up your mind and you were strong enough to get through this period of your life. I imagine it took a lot of determination. How did it lead to acting? What inspired you to become an actress? One day, I was watching a TV drama starred by young girl about my age. As I watched her acting, I just thought, “I can do this!” and it seemed fun. I regarded myself that I was born under unhappy star then. Maybe I wanted to live different lives and I could only express myself when I’ve got the script. You traveled quite a bit before coming back to Japan. How did you like living in the US and the UK? Were the different cultures hard to adapt to? Actually, it’s my special ability to adapt to new land quite fast. After several days of stay, people would think that I’d been living that place for several years. I’ve been to 20 countries and everybody said the same thing even if it was just a short trip. You could go to Japanese supermarket and watch Japanese TV shows in the US and UK, but I was not interested in having the same life in other countries. I enjoyed eating and having fun as locals. I enjoyed living in both US and UK. Every country has good part and bad part. I love to learn different cultures.
You also were singing too. What style of music did you sing? When I was in Berlin, I wrote lyrics and sang for German Electro DJ’s project. And I was also singing in musicals. When returning to Japan what made you give up acting? I loved acting. But actor’s job is to express the world that playwrights’ and directors want to. I’ve got something I wanted to tell with my own words. That was very important for me. Music is efficient and there is no border. You can tell your message only in 3 or 4 minutes! But it was no doubt a good experience! I’m making the best use of the acting for performing on the stage as a singer. Especially the “Shakespeare Study” was quite useful. When did you form your group, der Rosenengel? How did you find the other members and can you tell us about them? Actually it’s my solo project. I used to sing as Leyna Toga, but I started the Electro Gothic Metal project as der Rosenengel from this February, 2012. I was performing alone for first 6 month, but recently I’ve got supportive members from KALEIDOSTYLE. They are my good friends and the guitarist plays 3 songs in “Earth Angel”. Can you describe your style of music? “Electro Gothic Metal”, dark, symphonic, mystic, corrupt, melancholic and sentimental atmosphere. “Electro” takes the part of dance music beats, “Gothic” means the strings, pipe organ, harp and harpsichord part that creates the Middle Ages’ atmosphere, and “Metal” takes the part of heavy guitar riffs. To tell you the truth, I wanted to do punk or grange music at first. But my voice doesn’t fit and I couldn’t write that kind of songs because I can’t play the guitar. You cannot express something you don’t have, you know? Electro Gothic Metal is a complex of what I like and I make good use of my experience.
How did you come up with the name and what does it mean? It means “ROSE ANGEL” in German. Just because I love roses and angels:) I came up with this name while I was in Germany. Did everyone share your goals and viewpoint towards music and the message of your lyrics? I write lyrics with messages most of the time, but how you take my message is up to you. I try to write lyrics abstractly so that you can broaden your imagination and feel sympathy out of your experience. My music is not only mine but everybody’s once it comes out of me. You don’t need an ego to do music. I would rather like to be an entertainer than a singer. I hope everyone enjoy watching my performance. You write your own music and lyrics. Can you tell us a little about your creative process? Where your inspiration comes from? I write songs when I got messages in my dreams or for someone so far. I write songs differently every time. Sometimes write from lyrics, drums, melodies, or the whole song just starts to sound inside of my head! The process is a mess, but when I finish it, I have no idea how I did it! And the music and lyrics just come down from somewhere in the Universe as I start writing. Because I don’t think about obeying the rules and theory, sometimes it gets too progressive. (so that the producer had to change some chords and phrases in the songs! Hey, what about Mozart? He was too progressive in 18th century. Maybe my songs would be accepted after 100 years!?) http://lyranmusik.com/ [ROSENGARTEN] Leyna’s Gothic event website: http://lyranmusik.com/rosengarten [Lyranmusik] YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/lyranmusik [LeynaToga] Twitter: https://twitter.com/LeynaToga
Momo is a Japanese fetish model, and aspiring author living in Yokohama. Since her late teen, she developed a fascination with all things fetishist. Combining the mediums of rope binding, fetish fashion and literature, Momo creates a beautifully dark world where her fantasies can become an indulgent reality.
Momo, its a pleasure to meet you! Could you tell us a little about your past and where you grew up? You’re welcome. Yes of course, I was born in Yokohama, But I actually grew up in Fukuoka, Hyogo, and then moved back to Yokohama. My parents and grand parents grew up and lived in Nagasaki. Were you always interested in expressing yourself through fashion? Yes, I think so, that’s correct. To me fashion is absolute freedom and it doesn’t have any rules. When was the first time you experimented in fetish modeling? My very first time engaging as a fetish model was maybe around three years ago, when I was 19 years old. But I didn’t know at the time, that it was a self experiment as a fetish model. It was very similar to Cosplay at that time.
In your fetish photographs, I feel a sense of intimacy, how do you feel when you are modeling? What are you thinking at that moment in time? It is difficult to answer that question. I feel I can’t express the way I feel in words. Fetishism is not only communicated through Eros, It is an Art. You also enjoy being tied by rope, what attracts you to using rope? Again, It is difficult to express, I feel happiness.
You also love to write. Is there a link or relationship between your writing and your fetish modeling? Yes, that’s correct. I’m writing now, its about my fetish life. And I’m also lesbian, so I’m also writing about my love for a girl. What are your plans for the future? Are there any other areas that you want to explore in fashion or the arts? I cant visualize my future clearly, but I want to form a relationship between my fetishism, my novels, art and so on.
Kate Asakura is a Japanese shemale singer and songwriter. Many of the songs she composes relate to issues she has encountered when dealing with her own sexuality and gender issues. A devout Buddhist, some of the songs she sings deal with life and her view of the world. Kate believes that there should be no borders between people in the world and that applies to music as well. Kate’s dream is to increase her exposure and to spread her music and message throughout the world. She would also like to publish a book about her experiences to help people to understand and show compassion to people who are suffering with gender issues.
“As human beings, we are all the same, there is no need to build some kind of artificial barrier between us.”
Kate, it is a pleasure to meet you. Can you tell us a little about yourself and your childhood? At the age 8, when I was hanging out with some friends of mine at the elementary school, I got laughed at for saying “my sweetheart is a boy”. They told me I was “strange”. I also wanted to put on skirts and wear red ribbons but my parents and teachers scolded me. Then I thought that I might really be strange. You were born a boy. At what point did you decide to live your life as a girl? I used to live with hiding the fact that I felt female inside. In 2002 I made my debut as a male singer. In 2007 I sang a song with a message of, “Expose yourself. Live as you are” on a TV show. The song had a geat public response and impressed people. Then I felt guilty for living with my secret. So I had come out, I thought “I feel female inside myself, I’d like to live as a woman”. What were some of the difficulties you encountered? What were the reactions from your family and friends? My parents didn’t want to accept it, I think, they pretended not to care about it. Almost all of my friends were highly pleased and supportive of me. How comfortable are you with the decision you made now? Extremely happy! It was not wrong that I had a bit of courage for this decision.
InJapan, you have a great reputation as a singer/songwriter. Can you tell us if you were interested in music as a child? Were any of your family singers or musicians? No musicians in my family. I got interested in music when I saw Michael Jackson with Thriller at age 3. How would you best describe your music? My music is mainly based on my feelings and experiences with the world around me. Your music has a message. It is to help those who may have issues about their gender. What do you hope to accomplish with your songs? May happiness come on all people.
かわいそうに - I feel sorry for you
ほっぺを赤く染めながら - with cheeks in red
みんなの前で - in front of everyone
あなたは勇気ふりしぼるの - you try to show your courage
かわいそうに - I feel sorry for you
くちびる割れて震える声 - trembling voice through cracked lips
あといくつ - how many more times
それに答えればいい？- Do I need to answer it?
知らなければ - if I don’t know it
お前たちのように - like you all
笑っていられたのか? - Was I able to laugh?
自分の正体を眠らせたまま - with hiding what I really am
籠の中で - in a cage
ねえ神様 - Oh my Lord
私をなぜに選んだの？- Why did you choose me?
なれやしない - I never can not be a woman that you love
鏡の前で - looking in the mirror
ほっぺを赤く染めながら - with cheeks in red
何時間も - for long hours
見つめあっていたの - stared at myself
知らなければ - if I don’t know it
お前たちのように - like you all
笑っていられたのか？ - Was I able to laugh?
愛の闇を泳ぐ - swimming in the darkness of love
人魚になって- I would be a mermaid
今日もチークを - rouge on cheeks
おとぎ話のような麻酔で ねぇ - give me a drug like a fairy tale
私を抱いて - hold on me
RED CHEEK - Red cheeks
What are some of the places you have performed and what would you say are some of your accomplishments you are most proud of? I won the best new comer at the 6th Shanghai Asia Music Festival in the category of new singer representing Japan. I understand you are in the process of writing a book which is to be published in October. Can you tell us a little about it? It’s my life experience stories from my childhood, growing up, about my experiences in show biz, to today. It includes my overcoming difficulties with a positive attitude and my future goals. The title is “Gojurokuokushichisenman”. (5,670,000,000). It’s a Buddhism term. When I am publishing this book, in order for more people to know about it, lots of expenses are necessary for sales promotion. I’m really glad if you could cooperate for me. Thank you. How would you say shemales (or newhalfs, as they are sometimes known as) are treated inJapan? Recently appearances of shemale talents on TV have increased. I think the public is more understanding and accepting today. As a woman who takes pride in her appearance, how important is fashion and makeup to you? How do you feel about cosmetic surgery to enhance a person’s feminine beauty? It is fashion, make up, and beauty for me. Not only them but also to make an effort to live with confidence is very important. I believe in reincarnation so I think the body is a vehicle for this life. You need to do maintenance on the vehicle to be more comfortable and live a happy life. If it requires cosmetic surgery, it’s good thing in my opinion.
What do you enjoy doing when you are not performing or recording? Reading, watching movies, and having “Joshi-kai party” with some friends of mine. (“Joshi” means girls. “Kai” means a meeting or a party. So “Joshi-kai” is a party for only women. Recently in Japan, Joshi-kai is really popular. Women often have it.) What are some of your goals in the future? I’d like to be the salvation of all the people. I believe that it is possible to get along and coexist with all inhabitants of the earth. A single flower is beautiful, but a bouquet is more so. My policy: “If no precedent, create it.” Where can we go to find out more about you? official site: http://keitareya369.icts.jp/ mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
TRANSLATION BY: Takuya Hashimoto
Tomoko Nagao is a Japanese artist presently living in Italy. Much of her work is centered around her view and interpretation of contemporary Japanese society. Born in Nagoya, Japan in the mid-70’s she is heavily influenced by consumer icons and mass produced characters such as Hello Kitty. She is a graduate of the Chelsea College Art & Design in London.
Tomoko, it is a pleasure to meet you. I am a big fan of your work and it is an honor to be able to have to opportunity to learn more about you and your work. Can you tell us about growing up in Nagoya and when you first became interested in art? I started in art quite early, when I was only 15 and I did my first exhibition in 1997 in Tokyo. It was an exhibition of artwork and performance. Then I won the Canon prize in 1999. I went to London to study English and went to Chelsea College of Art and graduated with a masters degree in 2003. I then started to become conscious of my reputation as an international artist.
You use many characters and icons in your work taken from comics, animation, videogames and consumer goods. Are you making a negative statement about consumerism in Japan? Has the idea of “kawaii” in advertising been taken too far? How does the public react to your work? I use the symbols in contemporary society- capitalism, mass production, consuming society, fast society (fast foods, fast fashion, fast transfer, fast entertainment…); Trademarks such as Coca cola, McDonalds, Kikkoman-soy sauce in Japan, Barilla-pasta, Nutella-chocolate cream, Zara-fashion, Easy Jet- Plane, Google-Internet explorer, Apple Computer, plastic bags of Esselunga-supermarket in Italia, Hello Kitty- in Japan…etc. They surround us in the daily life. Since I was born in Japan in 1976, I have never seen anyplace in the world without Coca cola, McDonalds, Kitty, plastic bags of super market. They are reality of life for me. I feel a kind of poetry with them. So, I am not using the image of consumer goods as negative, but it is not positive, too. Everyone knows them and everyone can have them. So it is useful global language for me. They are a type of international, global language all over the world now because if you say “McDonalds” everyone can understand what it is, everywhere in the world. The public reacts very well to me and my work. Vogue in Italy spoke about ecology in reference to my work “Hokusai- Great Wave of Kanagawa with Mc, Cupnoodle, Kikkoman, Cocacola and Kitty”, and REPUBBLICA and Corriere della Sera (large italian newspapers) spoke of consumer society in regard to my art, Christian Gancitano- art critic and CURATOR- speaks about Japanese pop culture and organized many shows titled “MICROPOP”. Nipposuggestioni.blogspot.it I am happy to see so many people speaking about my art in different ways. You have said you use a style called “JapaPop”. How does this differ from the “Kawaii” or cute style? “JapaPop” I wanted to make a distinction between “American pop art” and “Japanese pop art”. I consider parts of my art to be similar to Pop art, like Andy Warhol, as it speaks about consumerism or pop culture. But now the consumer society is more complicated than before. It is much bigger, globalized and includes the issues of ecology. “Kawaii” is the one kind of beauty or style, I use technically “kawaii” style to emphasize the concept. it is used, primarily, in Japanese society now.
A frequent character in your art is Hello Kitty. Little known, perhaps just outside of Japan, is the story of Yuko Shimizu the creator of Hello Kitty who was a designer at Sanrio in the 1970’s. The year before Hello Kitty was created Sanrio’s profits were $1.05 million. Now well more than half of Sanrio’s more than $1 billion in profits come from the more than 20 thousand Kitty products sold today. Yuko Shimizu made no money from her creation and remains virtually unknown. Did you know her story and is it one of the reasons you use her character so much in your work? Yes, off course, I know her story. I am interested in it in the same as I am with the stories of McDonald’s or Cocacola or Kikkoman….etc. I use Hello Kitty as an icon or symbol of consumer society because, kitty is a Japanese Princess in this consumer society. In my art work “tree princess” I put 17 century of Spanish princess “Margarita Teresa”, painted by Velázquez, “Coca-cola” princess of fast and mass foods in America and Japanese princess “hello kitty”. They are princesswho come from 3 different strong countries in different periods of time. I like to use Kitty very much because she makes artwork much more contemporary and global.
You also re-interpret famous art icons and incorporate contemporary items in it like your work, Hokusai-The Great Wave of Kanagawa with cup o noodle, kewpie, kikkoman and kitty. Can you tell us the story behind this piece? This artwork is special meaning for me. I put many messages in it. In the beginning I was scared of someone Japanese would be offended because the idea comes from the earthquake in Japan “Tohokuchihou taiheiyouoki” in 2011. I saw many videos in Youtube, I was so shocked and sad. This artwork speaks about this sadness. I would not want to make artwork with individual emotions and opinions about the tragedy because I do not like use the tragedy of someone else for the subject of my art but I wanted to do something in this time.
Another of your works is “Botticelli-The Birth of Venus with Baci, Esselunga, Barilla, PSP and Easyjet. ” How did you get the concept for this piece and what does it mean to you to blend art and brands? I was interested in blending the paintings before capitalism was started and the symbols of contemporary, consumer and global society. I use Jesus, Venus, Bacchus, Princess Margarita, David, Goliath, from the classic paintings in Europe, such as, Caravaggio, Tiziano Vecellio, Diego Velázquez…etc. They are art from the age before capitalistic society was started. I believe that everything is flattening in our society now. It is difficult to see the differences in everything. Everyone can drink the same Coca-cola, eat Mc-donalds, Barilla, Nutella, explore with google, make friends on Facebook, wear Zara, fly with easy-jet… etc it is opening the door for everyone. And also, if you want to see historical paintings, you can see in the Internet and download and print it out and take for yourself. Art is open for everyone, too. Everyone can enjoy art. It is not like the period of Caravaggio, Tiziano Vecellio, and Diego Velázquez where only people who had power and money could enjoy or buy. The piece “Botticelli-The Birth of Venus with Baci, Esselunga, Barilla, PSP and Easyjet.” , it is one of the most important artwork in Italia. She is goddess of love. So I put things in contemporary Italian society.
Aside from how the female form is presented in the iconic characters of today what is your personal idea of female beauty? Female beauty is able to transform everything, it has no fixed form. Often, female beauty changes depending on how society sees it at the time. The iconic characters of today are far from reality, no details. They symbolize what society is like today.
Every artist has a personal favorite piece that may be much different than what the public may like. Do you have a favorite and what is it? “Pieta of Kitty” oil painting on canvas is my favorite. What other artists do you admire and who inspires you? Yoshitomo Nara, Yumiko Oshima. What materials and mediums do you prefer to work in and what is the creative process you go through to create your work? I use computer for taking notes, thinking, preparing and deciding. Then I do drawings with pen and pencil, paintings with oil, water color and ink. I like all.
You have appeared in group and solo exhibitions in many places. What have been some of your most memorable showings? One memorable show was an installation Fuwari in Palazzo reale Milano- royal palace of Milan 2009. It was a 3 m tall balloon sculpture exhibited inside a major exhibition of samurai helmets. What would you like to be doing with your career in the future? I would like to work with many different kind of people.
You also have a new exhibit coming up soon. Can you tell us about it? Yes, it is titled “SUPERFLAT EXPERIENCE” di Tomoko Nagao” and will be held at the Famiglia Margini Art Gallery from October 5th thru the 20th. Information can be found here. Where can we go to find out more about you and your work? tomokonagao.info/ nipposuggestioni.blogspot.it www.asxpo.it/
Tomoko’s portrait of Miss Salopette, her friend and fellow artist who is also featured here.
Juri Hirose is a japanese model and host.
Can you tell us a little about where you grew up and what you were like as a child? I was born in Tokyo. When I was young I was very quiet and enjoyed reading and drawing comics. Was modeling something you always wanted to do when you were younger? No, I wanted to write comics. I never considered modeling until I was much older.
How did you get your first modeling assignment? What was it like? Were you nervous? My friend recommend me for my first job. I enjoyed and had lots of fun!! I was not nervous at all! What types of modeling styles do you enjoy doing the most?The most favorite type of modeling is for fashion shows but I like doing cool style photo shoots too!
Are there any models, photographers that you admire.or inspire you? Of course, but I have to take good care of own personality and sensibility. I need to be myself but I often learn from them and get inspired by their work.
What is it you enjoy about modeling? All work is fun!! Fashion show in particular. Have there been any shoots that have been difficult? What accomplishments are you proudest of? The only time it is difficult is when I can’t pose because I have limited movement. And…I’m not good at talking.
How closely do you work with the photographers, MUA and stylists? I usually have a meeting with the MUA, photographers and stylists before I shoot so I understand what they are looking for. During the shoot it is important that I express myself and give the clients what they are looking for. What do you think is your best asset and your worst? I guess my best asset is posing (poses)and various facialial expressions. My body is small (169cm about…5,7 inch?) but I am strong and have unyielding patience. My worstassett is that I sometimes think too much and I’m not good at talking.
Is there anything that you haven’t accomplished that you would like to? Yes, It would be a dream come true if in the future I could get bigger jobs in Japan and have new opportunities in foreign countries. You also MC. Are you working on any projects that you can tell us about? I sometimes host flower, beauty and fashion shows and have worked at a few car shows as well. (Audi and Citroën and more…)
What are the things you love to do when you’re not “at work”? I love read books, fashion magazines and comics. I love to go to the gym to training and watching and play basketball. I also like hot rock stone spas and Onsen. Oh, and I love to watch movies. What would you be if you could pick a new career? I want to appear in fashion shows around the world! ^^
Any advice for “New Faces”? If you want your dream to come true you have to keeping working hard. Never give up! Where can we find out more about you? The most you can see me in Japan and on Facebook and ny blog. If you call me at the work as a model, I would meet in your country.haha^^
Macotic is an artist living in Osaka, Japan
“I just want to be Kawaii! For myself and for my darlings.”
Her subject matter consists primarily of drawing cute girls and kawaii accessories like Ice Cream, High Heels, Lipstick and candy. Macotic mainly works with acrylic paints. Her girls are sexy and independent but still retain the cuteness of a child. They feature long eyelashes which stretch to the heavens and eyes with a hint of sex appeal. Her girls are full of love and always sweet. They feature 60’s style hair full of height and volume tied up in a big, bold ribbon and clothing with colorful dots and stripes. They are reminiscent of the pin-up girls of the 50’s! She began drawing in 2000 and held a private exhibition of her work recently called the “Girls of Temptation” which was a great success. Around 2009 while showing her work in various group exhibitions she met her muse “Betico” and established her present style. Her goals are to collaborate with clothing designers and exhibit her work in galleries overseas. For me art is as important as eating or sleeping. I get inspiration for my art from everyday life. From food and drink and, of course, from Betico.
I want girls of the world to get inspiration from me and I want them to “want to be a darned cute girl! “
Macotic, it is a pleasure to meet you. When you were a child what did you like doing creatively? I enjoyed playing with dolls and playing dress-up. I enjoyed making things and decorating my room. You draw young women in stylistically unique way. What characters do you think influenced your style? My influences include the girls frequently found in anime and comics like “Girl Ranma’ of “RANMA 2/1” and Jessica Rabbit from the movie, “Who framed Roger Rabbit”.
What kind of girl is a kawaii girl for you? The feeling a girl has when she thinks she will be lovely forever and the girl who does not forget the desire to be lovely. Also the girl who had the innocence and sense of fun like a child but also the sexiness of an adult. Would kind of feelings do you hope people get from seeing your paintings? I want to blur a persons view of the world between reality and a fancy. I would like girls who see my work to say, “I would also like to become such a girl!! ’ I am always happy to hear when people feel that way.
You have a muse. Can you tell us about her? Betico is my muse. She always inspires me. You can read about her here! How did you meet to Betico? I saw photos of Betico posted on a website and I immediately had the feeling, ”She is my muse!” and contacted her. Since I met her my range of artwork has gotten much broader. Her life experience and energy stimulates me and I have a much better attitude and focus in regard to my art.
Can you tell us a little about your collaboration with Bellino? I designed t-shirts for Bellino. I wanted to express and share my art outside of the canvas. It was a very satisfying experience and I hope to do more work with fashion and clothing designers in the future. How would you like to become in the future? How is there any plan like? Please tell me your dream. I would like to be able to show more of my original artwork both in Japan and overseas. I would also like to expand and collaborate in many other areas including fashion and cosmetics.
Where can we go to find out more about you and your work? Facebook art page… http://www.facebook.com/pages/Macotic/388728217931 tumblr… http://macoticgirrrl.tumblr.com/ twitter… https://twitter.com/macotic13 (Japanese only) blog… http://blog.zaq.ne.jp/macotic/ (Japanese only)