Those familiar with the VOCALOID SONiKA are aware that she is not the easiest VOCALOID to use. From noise that affects her raw vocals to pronunciation issues, she has issues that make her much more difficult to use than many other English VOCALOIDs. Yet some producers can get her to sound absolutely incredible.
So I thought I would ask one of the more experienced SONiKA users, AdyS, for his thoughts on the matter.
Who Is AdyS?
Monds: How did you discover VOCALOID?
AdyS: Hmm, it was a long time ago around 2008-2009 when I first discovered Vocaloid thanks to, well, “the one and only” Hatsune Miku. I didn’t know much about her or Vocaloid in general. I just saw her videos and images pop up on the internet. I was just curious to know who she was. I thought she was just a character in an anime or something. But I did know she had some cool songs like the classic “last night good night” (which is also one of my favorites). In general, though, I did not really care much about Vocaloid so it took me a while to figure out that she was actually a voice synthesizer and not a character in an anime. lol
Monds: I think a lot of us started off thinking that VOCALOID was an anime. haha
AdyS: It was not until late 2010, where I started to have an interest in Vocaloid, which was also around the time I bought FL Studio. I really wanted to make my own songs and all that [but] I still had zero interest [in making] a Vocaloid song back then. I just wanted to make music, mostly trance and hands-up (and sometimes hip hop, I was really inconsistent back then). I went [by] different artist names, too (which I don’t really remember lol).
Oh. And the reason why I was interested in Vocaloid even though I didn’t intend to make a Vocaloid song was because I wanted to have some kind of vocals on my track. I just thought it would be cool. I didn’t really know how to write lyrics back then, though, but it didn’t matter since I just wanted to use Vocaloid as an instrument anyway, not really a “singer”.
Monds: It is true that having a VOCALOID is much easier than finding a real singer and you can tune it to how you would like it to sound. Not really possible with humans.
AdyS: Little did I know, English Vocaloid was not at all the thing back then. I mean, sure you had Miriam, LEON and LOLA, Prima, or even Tonio, I guess. (Japanese Vocaloid was out of the equation because I can’t read Japanese and thus I didn’t know how to buy them). I thought they had a young “pop-ish” female ENGLISH Vocaloid like Miku, well there was Sonika. It was close to what I wanted, I guess. I didn’t have a lot of choices anyway back then. So without any hesitation, I just bought her and decided that this will be my Vocaloid from now on. I spent some time playing with her, editing, experimenting, and tuning (which is a term I didn’t know before). After a while, I started to make some songs with her. Just a simple trance or hip hop song with her vocals on top of it. Not much, really.
Monds: You do an amazing job with SONiKA and I never hesitate to share your work with others whenever I speak of SONiKA. I can tell you spent a lot of time working with her, where others have given up.
AdyS: After a while of using her, I started to add more and more lyrics and put more efforts on the vocals. Eventually I came up with an actual Vocaloid original song, which was my song “Everyone’s Going Down“. I didn’t expect much from this song really, just wanted to try something different. Back then I didn’t expect this song to get a lot of views at all. Well, not much, but for a “noobish” musician like me, back then getting close to 1k views in one week was HUGE. Obviously, this was primarily my motivation to make more and more songs using Vocaloid as a “singer” and not just an instrument. “Fade Away” was another “big hit” that I would call it, since again, I didn’t expect to get a lot of views with this. It actually started from there too, where I started to make less trance/dance/hiphop etc, and focused more on making Vocaloid original songs. Basically this channel is now a Vocaloid channel and not an EDM channel as people would call it, which was what I intended to do.
Monds: “Fade Away” Happens to be one of my favorite songs. I cannot help but listen to it at least 2-3 time in a row as well as “A Parallel“.
Is there a song that you made that has a special meaning to it, that you would like everyone to hear?
The first one is basically me trying to make a soundtrack for an “anime”, which I made up myself in my head. It’s about “making the world a better place, without making it a better place”. The second one is kinda about my own “journey” as a musician but using love songs to convey the message somehow. lol.
If I have to choose :
Monds: Do you have any tips for newer producers just getting started?
- I would suggest [for new producers] to learn one basic chord progression first and then stick to that same chord progression but try to vary your instrumentation and/or groove for each song. When you feel comfortable making songs with said progression (by that I mean you can make a quick song with it no problem), try different progression.
- For Vocaloid, make sure you tune efficiently! Don’t just add pitch bends/vibrato etc. all over the place blindly. Ask yourself, do you need to bend the pitch here? Is it necessary? Does it sound better? etc. Make your tuning simple, of course. There’s nothing wrong with complex tuning but make sure it actually contributes something good to the vocals. Same goes for mixing vocals; make it simple! Usually you will only need an EQ, a compressor, and a delay/re-verb (sometimes de-esser). In general you should have at most 3-4 plugins for your vocals and not more (unless you want to add creative effects like radio effects).
- Lastly, listen to a lot, and I mean a lot of songs. Just listen. Listen to them religiously, analyze, ask questions.
“Why does this drum sound cool?”
“Why does this vocal sound rich?”
“How did they make it sound so complex?”
Sometimes what you need is not really tutorials, how to instructions, tips, or tricks. Sometimes you just have to listen so that your brain will have the right perception/intuition on how good songs should sound.
Monds: That is some good advice, I am no producer myself, however I have watched some of your videos where you explain FL studio such as mixing and all that kind of stuff. Its an interesting watch. I am sure for someone starting out they could learn a thing or two by watching them.
AdyS: Yeah I really hope it could help people, because I still have a hard time explaining things to others. But that is not the reason why I wanted to make these kinds of videos in the first place. I wish to improve my communication skills.
Monds: That is a good way to look at it. Being from France I assume your primary language is French? I am also French but from Canada.
AdyS: I’m living in France right now, but I’m actually from Malaysia, and I come here to study. I can speak French bien sûr.
Monds: Many people say SONiKA is very difficult to work with. What are your thoughts on this?
AdyS: I remember the first time I used her, I found it really difficult. But back then I thought it was just me who was still inexperienced in using the editor and it wasn’t the voice bank’s fault. So I spent quite a lot of time to make her sound good and try to find the different ways to fix her vocals. It was only after a while that I realized the voice bank is in fact hard to use and it wasn’t because of my lack of tuning skills (well actually partly because of that too lol). I heard people say that she’s a low quality voice bank and thus impossible to use, which I partly agree with. I mean, she’s hard to use, but it’s not impossible to make her sound good. She at least has a nice voice tone, which is what matters to me the most. I think people are just a bit too extreme with their opinion on Sonika or even Engloids in general, which unfortunately affects other people’s opinion on her and thus creating this one large “circlejerk” that thinks Engloids are bad.
Monds: The quality I believe depends more on the producer than the VOCALOID. You have proved to us that with SONiKA. I have heard several people mention you as being very good with SONiKA and I would have to agree. Even though some people don’t like her, the ones who have heard your work know it’s not impossible.
Would you recommend her?
AdyS: Would I recommend her, though? Well, back then in 2010, I believe I would have. I had no choice at all; she was literally the only English Vocaloid close to the “pop-ish” young female voice type I was looking for. Nowadays, though, I would say you have no reason to buy her anymore since you have much better choices like AVANNA, GUMI English and CYBER DIVA. Unless, of course, you love Sonika so much that you love her character and such, you want to be a Vocaloid collector, or you want to keep it old school like me. lol.
Monds: Sometimes when we don’t have many options in what we use, that is what motivates us to work harder, which was the case for you. Nothing wrong with wanting to stay old school. lol.
Is there anything else you would like to tell the people listening to your music or the readers?
AdyS: To all the people listening to my music and the readers, I would like to thank you simply for taking the time to listen to my songs. Hate them or love them, it doesn’t really matter to me as it makes me happy simply to have the opportunity to show my creative side to people. I would like to thank you for these questions, too, as it somehow reminds me of some of my old funny moments and memories in this fandom. haha.
Monds: As long as you are happy, that is all that matters and I am glad to hear you don’t let people get in the way of what you want to do. That is how it should be.
And no problem! It was a pleasure to do an interview with you as well.