I LIVE IN JAPAN / Diana Garnet

SEPTEMBER 2021 (VOL.167)

Diana Garnet

Washington D.C. USA


Why did you want to be a Japanese anime song – anisong – singer?

I sing and voice act mainly for anime and games here in Japan.  I’m probably best known for Naruto: Shippuden’s “Spinning World,” as well as several songs and voice over for Neko Neko Nihonshi (Meow Meow Japanese History.)
I sing primarily in Japanese, and voice act bilingually.
A typical anime fan growing up, I was heavily influenced by 90’s greats.  Legendary vocalists like Tamura Naomi, Hirose Kohmi, and Okui Masami along with iconic voice actresses like Hayashibara Megumi.  A major catalyst in shaping my dream was Tamura Naomi’s “Yuzurenai Negai” from Magic Knights Rayearth.
I was about 7 and my tiny world was shaken.  It was the first time I heard a high “cutesy” voice like my own (which I had a bit of a complex about) displaying such amazing technique and power.  Within the lyrics was a strong message of dreams, hope, and togetherness.  It’s that kind of invigorating, positive music that j-pop – anisong in particular – does best and is what I hope to share with others worldwide.

What’s your favorite Japanese anime?

That’s difficult.  I’ll give you a top five!  Natsume Yuujincho, Ookiku Furikabutte, Trigun, Vinland Saga, and Mushishi.

Do you find it difficult to emote when singing in Japanese?

I’d say not in particular.  Whether in Japanese, English, or even a completely made-up Dragon language (which you can hear in Switch game Dragon Marked for Death) it’s mostly about the singer’s emotional connection to the song and the story being told.
Every artist has their own unique perspective and makes stylistic decisions based on personal experiences, an arsenal of techniques, and the narrative they’re trying to convey.  That being said, understanding each word is pretty important when deciding how to approach a song and in choosing what techniques to employ to most effectively get your message across.
While music definitely transcends language – anyone can resonate with the music of any origin – on a professional performance level, it’s important to have a deep understanding of every word, its impact on the story, and any cultural context.  No matter the language; It’s not just about delivering the correct syllables in order. A connection is key.  I tackle every song in any language the same way.  Phrase by phrase, word by word, conscious of context and narrative.  It’s the same with voice acting.
As for singing style, I’ve personally never had to change or translate my style since J-pop / anisong has always been my base.  I got into it young and it’s all I’ve ever really sung.

Can you talk about your dream?

I’d ultimately like to become somewhat of a beacon in the anime and entertainment industries.  To provide light in the form of inspiration, motivation, and hope to anyone, regardless of who they might be or where they’re from.  Like a lighthouse.  Anyone who has a dream and is brave enough to throw themselves into the turbulent sea that is art or media of any form; Whether it be writing, animation, production, music, film, fashion, dance, cosplay, acting, voice-over, photography – anything.
Personally, I feel that I need to continue to improve my own craft in order to achieve proper lighthouse status, so I’ll keep honing my craft and continuing to try and reach new shores.

Which places in Japan do you recommend foreigners see?

Kobe, or Hyogo prefecture in general.  It’s an interesting melting pot of eras and cultures and home to both the Hanshin Tigers (the most awesome baseball team) and Takarazuka theater.  Also my favorite castle, Himeji.

What parts of Japanese culture do you recommend foreign people try to experience?

It would really depend on the person, but personally, Takarazuka theater is fantastic.  It’s referenced surprisingly often in anime and is my favorite form of theater.

What are your favorite Japanese foods?

Hitsumabushi.  It’s a glazed, grilled-eel dish that transforms throughout your meal through self-customization.

Were you hesitant to relocate to Japan?

Not at all.  I decided when I was like 15 and I tend to stick to my decisions.  I mean, I still play Pokémon Go.