The Road to Producers: An Interview with Project OverDoze

OverDozeLogoWhat is Project OverDoze?

Project OverDoze is a group of producers and artists from all over the globe. TSUtauSeries (Tsus) and Starapture (Star) both hail from New York City, New York, while Shius is located in Japan, Steampianist (Steam) from the Philippines, and Nova (.Nova) from Norway.

Tsus is a co-founder of the circle as well as a lyricist and vocal tuner.

Steam, the other co-founder, is a composer and mixer.

Shius is the main translator and co-lyricist of Project OverDoze as well as an animator and artist. You have him to thank for the Japanese translations in the English songs and the Japanese lyrics in others.

Nova is the main animator as well as an artist.

And Star rounds it all out as the main artist and an animator as well.



Interview with Project OverDoze

The interview was conducted in two separate parts due to the timezone issues. We sent questions in ahead of time for everyone to answer and then sat down with Tsus to get more in-depth.

Part One

VOCALOID Oliver's Box Art
VOCALOID Oliver’s Box Art

How Did You Get into VOCALOID?

Tsus: I got into Vocaloid in 6th grade, so in 2009 when a friend showed me a MMD video of Hatsune Miku dancing to Renai Circulation. I got completely obsessed with her and looked up more videos. I then, being the anime freak I was back then, researched everything I could about Vocaloids and attempted making a “Vocaloid” through the UTAU program (I still have a lot of old singing files; they’re quite terrible.)

Anyway, that got me super into music and I started playing instruments and taking vocal lessons. In 2011 when Vocaloid Oliver was released, I begged my mom to buy him! And she did. He was my first Vocaloid and the first time I had even seen what the software looked like.

.Nova: I started out listening to utaite covers of Vocaloid songs, not knowing what Vocaloid was. I got pretty curious as to who made the original songs of all these covers, so I searched the originals up and, although I found it a bit weird at first, Vocaloid slowly grew on me.

Shius: Okay, so, I got into Vocaloid because of mothy, I think. I knew some characters like Yowane Haku, and I was just kinda a fan of only her for some years while I lived in Japan. Then I found the existence of Engloids through Vocaloid Oliver, and THAT’S when I finally got IN to Vocaloid after I noticed the lack of Engloid fame and PVs made for western Vocaloids.

Steampianist: I got into Vocaloid in a weird phase of my life where I was interested in the esoteric stuff and applying it to music. I found Vocaloid to have all these occult aspects (alchemy like taking a soul/voice and transforming it into a whole new being lol). Morb (my partner/friend) introduced me to a demo of a Vocaloid called “Oliver” singing Scarborough Fair and I got intrigued and read about Vocaloid, listened to some Japanese producers, and realized I wanted to get in on this. So I asked morb if she could help me out with lyrics but with the condition the first song made had to be with Oliver.

Starapture: My first exposure to Vocaloid was through my time animating on Flipnote Hatena, starting when I was around ten years old. I didn’t really get into Vocaloid until last year, when my best friend dragged me into her KagePro phase. Since then, I’ve gotten deeper into this hellhole, especially for the PV aspect of the community.

What Inspired You to Make VOCALOID Music?

Tsus: Honestly, back in the day, I wanted the popularity that came with it. I felt so insecure in my school and family; I was growing up and I wanted a place where I could belong, and I loved music so much I felt that I could make friends through it. I learned very quickly that it wasn’t the case though. A lot of people I met were very mean and almost elitist. The select few that were genuine were from all over the place and it was hard to keep the friendships. I took a huge hiatus and tried to figure myself out before I realized I wanted to write music for myself. Like diary entries I could share with the world. Vocaloid allowed me to be creative without having to feel hindered or restricted.

Steampianist: Not inspired, I guess? Rather motivated by the fact that Vocaloid was like a blank slate and I knew I could probably give something new… well, not new but something that was really obscure to the Vocaloid scene like steampunk, dark cabaret, or music inspired from western cartoons.

Why Did You Choose the VOCALOIDs You Did?

Tsus: Well, song wise, I always write songs based off the Vocaloid itself. I look at them and go, well, “These are abilities you have and this is what I want, so it has to be you.” Buying wise, Vocaloid is a part of my life and I aim to collect all of them and write songs for each one. I own all of the V2 era Vocaloids (except for VY1 and VY2, who were no longer sold when I started buying Vocaloids).

Steampianist: I originally wanted Avanna or any female English Vocaloid really, but, due to my agreement with morb, I couldn’t. Plus, at that time I couldn’t write lyrics to save my life so I had no choice. I had to get Oliver. But I must admit I’ve grown fond of using “Oliver”. Avanna at that time was new-ish?

Do You Find Any VOCALOIDs Notably Easy or Difficult to Work With?
Dex's Box Art
Dex’s Box Art

Tsus: All Vocaloids have quirks and all of them have different “personalities” almost; depending on what you want, some can do it easier than others. To be honest, in my opinion, the easiest English Vocaloid to use is Avanna. Yes, her consonants are a bit hard but she’s almost completely flawless. The most difficult Engloid to use is a tie between Sonika and Ruby. Sonika has her background noise issues and Ruby is wonderful in her lower register, but failed to meet my expectation with her nasality in her upper range.

The easiest Japanese Vocaloid to use is Hatsune Miku; her broad range and clarity is very basic and allows for anyone to control and bend her data at will. The hardest is Gachapoid… need I say more? The Spanish Vocaloids are all pretty easy and I won’t speak on SeeU since I don’t know Korean, nor will I say anything about the Chinese Vocaloids since I haven’t used them yet.

Steampianist: I have three Vocaloids. Gumi English and Mayu are both easy to work with. Oliver was tricky to use. When I first tuned Oliver, it felt so tedious to work with him because it sounds like he’s eating his vowels in faster tempos and certain note durations like sixteenth notes, so I was sort of limited when mixing Oliver in an instrumental. However, it becomes easy but still needs certain methods for him to fit just right into the mix.

Also, I’d like to add that Miku in our song “Synthetic Girl” was a challenge to mix, cause her frequency in the EQ kept changing due to a specific tuning style that my partner, Tsus, did on her. But I found Miriam in our upcoming song to be the hardest to mix due to her being a V1 generation and it’s just all that engine noise. I had to remove it and render her again and again with the tweaks I’ve done to her voice. It was hell.

Shius: Oliver and Dex (especially Dex) are really easy to work with. vFlower constantly sounds bored, so she’s a lot harder.

"Synthetic Girl" art by Starrapture.
“Synthetic Girl” Art (Blur Free Version) by Starrapture.
Where Do You Get Your Inspiration for Songs?

Tsus: All of my songs are based off of my feelings and life experiences or the experiences of my friends and families. Each song I write holds a piece of me, of my truth. They all have their broad meanings for everyone to relate to, but if you know who I am, you could see the hidden meanings.

Shius: I get my influences from the likes of Nashimoto-P, AdyS, metal singers like Hollywood Undead, and rap, like Eminem. Though I have a hard time replicating their dark and heavy sounds, it’s something I’m aiming to do in the future.

My inspirations come from random chord progressions when I compose songs – what start off as random bits of music become songs when I find out what works together.

Steampianist: For me, it’s usually from books, cartoons, and other music artists/bands that I like.

How Do You Come up with Your Amazing PVs?

Tsus: I kinda picture the PV in my head and then spout out nonsense to my animators and artists. They get me and know how to take my vision to the next level. They’re just amazing, wonderful people.

Shius: My PVs come mainly from the mood set by the song and lyrics given to me by Tsus. I try to interpret them in a way that fits the song but is not completely mundane or unoriginal. I am most proud of my “Ten Thousand” PV, in which I made the concept, art, and video. In the case of abstract songs like those, I try to add a visual story so there are two ways of interpreting the song: one that is abstract, and one that is (albeit, mildly) coherent.

.Nova: It’s by no means a quick process! Normally, I spend about a week planning out my videos, and then the making of the video itself will take somewhere between 1-3 weeks, all depending on how many illustrations/how edit-heavy the video’s going to be. With every video I make, I try to include something new, such as a technique I’ve never used before or a drawing style I haven’t tried, and I try my best to always maintain a high standard of quality!

Steampianist: I don’t do PVs; I usually let .Nova, Shius, and Morb do their own thing. I’m not too specific with the visuals. Well, at least as long as it makes sense along with the whole of the song.

What’s It like Working with so Many Different People from Around the World?

Tsus: It’s scary, honestly. These people are miles away from me and, personally, I can’t go two days without seeing my IRL friends. But that’s the thing: these people are my IRL friends. It’s more than a mutual love of Vocaloid and music that puts us together; for me at least, each member of my group is my family. I know it might be a bit strange or creepy, but I care so much for each one of them, I truly do love them so much, and I know they might not know that, but the thought of logging in one day and them not being there, of them just disappearing and just being oceans apart, the thought of me not ever knowing if they’re safe and happy. It’s scary.

.Nova: I can imagine working with my next door neighbor to be no different than working with these people. That is to say, I hardly notice that we come from such different places! When I joined the project, I was prepared to handle communication issues due to cultural differences but, so far, we’ve had nothing of the sort. We all get along really well and I’m very grateful about that!

Shius: To be honest, it feels great. There are so many different views and ways of doing things you can learn by just talking to your teammates – but so many things you can agree on as well. Considering the fact that I’m Japanese, there are a lot of things that differ between me and my western counterparts, but it’s interesting to know that some things don’t change as well.

Steampianist: Well, it’s really interesting to meet people from other countries, but generally it’s great and fun to work with other people regardless of where they are from. Well, most of the time… hehehehe.

Starapture: It’s interesting and irritating to work with people from all over the world. It’s interesting to see so many different cultures and languages mixed together, (and only one white person LOL plus like 4.2+ languages, right… the .2 is Chinese) and it’s irritating to be in at least three different time zones at any given moment. All the interesting conversations happen while I’m at school, it’s tragic… Ultimately, we all get along really well despite the age and time gaps, and it’s a great group to be in! Even if Nova’s a loser. lmao.

About Hoshi

She's a huge VOCALOID fan, a figure collector, and an all around nerd. Hoshi's been in the VOCALOID fandom since 2008 and has been a hardcore VOCALOID fan since 2013.

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