Futakuchi Mana on Combining Metal Music With VTubing

Mana spoke to NewsDrop about her musical journey, her lyricism on original songs, as well as learning more other stuff on her music collaborations and preferences.

In the wide world of indie VTubing, there is quite a rarity of VSingers who wholly specialize in the genre of metal music. One of those indie VTubers is Futakuchi Mana, who has released a handful of metal covers over the past few weeks.

Some of those covers include Kanaria's Queen, Ado's Tot Musica, SiM's The Rumbling alongside PRISM Project's Suzune Nia, and more recently Paramore's Ignorance alongside Planya. Just recently, she released a metal cover of Kanaria's Cerebral Rendezvous.

NewsDrop spoke with Mana to learn more about her musical journey, her lyricism on original songs, as well as learning more other stuff on her music collaborations and preferences.

The Journey to Become a Metal Music VSinger

NewsDrop: Could you tell us a little bit on how you ventured from doing music to incorporating your VTuber personality into it?

Futakuchi Mana: First of all, I would like to thank you for taking interest in my work! I really appreciate it as an indie VTuber/VSinger.

As for my history, I used to be involved in the hardcore punk scene at a very young age (early teens) and eventually had my own band during my years in university. We played live shows and released original songs that we wrote ourselves as well.

I came in with very little knowledge about VTubing so I’ve never really thought much about “branding” or anything of that sort. I just curated my interests into one persona and acted as myself. I can’t act my way out of a paper bag at all which left me to just do whatever I want like I always have in my life and fortunately, a lot of my fans liked that about me apparently.

I don’t even have an official “lore,” like how it’s usually done in this community, because I don’t think that’s really important.

My intention of becoming a VTuber/VSinger was purely out of the desire of wanting to make music again and sharing it with others. It may be on a different platform than what I was used to but essentially it’s still the same principle.

I’ve also never thought about becoming a content creator, the numbers game, or monetization until I was confronted with this reality shortly a month after I dropped my first cover and now I have to pay taxes for my earnings from doing this. Japan doesn’t mess around with taxation. It was and still quite a shock to me, if I were to be honest.

On Music Themes and Lyricism

Would you say that there is a common theme with the original songs and covers you do? If so, what do you think they are?

Apart from “metalizing” the vocaloid/pop songs in some of my covers, I don’t think there’s an actual common theme at all. Whenever I choose a cover, I just go with the vibe/if I like the song and whether I could improve/develop my singing technique further through studying the source material.

For me, the point of doing covers is to try different vocal stylizations and learn from the process while finding my own sound.

A cover of "Circle With Me" by Spiritbox.The music is produced alongside music composer Jun Mitsui

As for the originals, I intend to write songs that could allow me to explore my inner self a lot more than I used to. Being a hardcore kid, it’s a lot easier for me to access anger whenever I wrote lyrics back then. But now I want to explore other facets of myself since I have more experience in life and have gone through therapy. I think I owe that to my younger self.

One of your most popular singles was 'Dissociation', which to me is an interpretation related to maintaining an identity. Could you tell us more about the lyrical direction of said song?

'Dissociation' is by far the saddest song I have ever written yet. My lyrics back in my hardcore band days were usually politically charged, exploring sociopolitical issues. I am still very openly political but somehow whenever I try to write something now, I mostly end up writing about my inner struggles. Like Dissociation for example, it’s basically my therapy song.

"Disassociation", one of the original songs by Futakuchi Mana

After going through emotional abuse, I knew I wanted to write about my experience. Being gaslighted to the point of losing confidence in your own judgment and sense of self to an extent, can seriously mess you up.

Luckily with trauma-informed therapy, anyone can overcome this hurdle, however I would be lying if I’d say it’s a walk in the park. Also, I’d like to believe that I am able to process and articulate my emotions better than before. I love that for me and I wanna continue exploring more.

Collaborations and Preferences

Let's talk about your collaboration with Filipino rapper Calix on the song 'Juicy'. How did the collaboration materialize and what was it like to be in a song collaboration different from your usual style?

"Juicy", an original song by Filipino rapper CALIX, featuring Futakuchi Mana. The song appeared in CALIX's 2021 EP "Crash and Burn"

I’ve met Calix through a previous collaborator and found out he writes political rap which of course I took interest in. Calix composed my stream background music as well and we became good friends.

Last year, he asked me if I wanted to do the bridge for ‘Juicy’ and I happily obliged since we’re homies. I listen to different genres and I wanted to channel Utada Hikaru vibes to see how it would turn out. Fortunately, it was well-received among his fans to my relief.

Most of your followers and fans know you for your incline into metal music. Would you say that there are other music genres you want to explore potentially?

I would also want to do math rock and maybe djent rap. Singing "quieter" songs is a struggle for me since I’m quite a belty type singer so I’d like to take such songs up for a challenge.

Future Projects and Advice

While you have said publicly that your music projects are the result of the generous donations from fans, what potential music projects would you want to do someday if financing wasn't an issue?

Well, I’d wanna work on full length albums and hire the best sound engineers in the metal scene to work with me. I have some connections here and there so maybe if I would have enough funding, it would be possible to materialize my vision, I guess.

There are not much VTubers in the community that specialize in metal music. Any advice to those who aspire as ones who do metal music?

I don’t think I’m in the position to give people advice since I’m fairly new to VTubing so I’ll just speak based on my experience. If they wanna make metal music their main content then I think they should invest in music production, quality illustrations and music videos.

I work a full-time job and I started paying out of my own pocket to pay for the production costs. Luckily, now I don’t have to, thanks to my generous fans.

Moreover, humans are visual creatures, and it will certainly help if you have great aesthetics to match your music. This is especially evident in the VTubing scene. Also, don’t pretend to be someone you’re not.

Having been in the metal/hardcore scene more than half of my life, a lot of metalhead/hardcore fans can be really harsh with their critiques, sometimes even “gatekeepy” but on the flip side, they can easily pick up on the "manufactured vibe." It’s a counter-culture after all.

For instance, some of my friends who run underground shows can tell whether someone is an undercover cop or not. I pick up on them fake vibes real quick too.

Just be yourself, you have nothing to lose, unless your real self is an insufferable person then please keep up the façade. In my experience though, if you genuinely just put your energy into your work, most of them will notice that and appreciate you for the work you do.

Thank you to Futakuchi Mana for making this interview possible. You can follow her on Twitter and YouTube, as well as checking out her music on Spotify and Bandcamp.

Featured Photo: Haryu on Twitter

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