Human Singer Stephanie Yanez Duets with Virtual Pop Star Hatsune Miku
Perhaps you've already heard of Hatsune Miku, the virtual pop star from Japan who has inspired video artists, laptop composers and cosplayers over the past few years and recently turned up in a commercial for Toyota Corolla. If not, here's the short version: Hatsune Miku is the most popular character in the Vocaloid family of synthetic voice software. Look her up on YouTube and you'll find a score of songs and videos created with her voice and image. Go to an anime convention and you'll see lots of young women sporting the long, blue pigtails and headphones that have become the virtual pop star's signature look. Established bands, like Japanese indie pop group The Aprils, have collaborated with her and she's even sold-out concerts.
Stephanie Yanez and Hatsune Miku on TinierMe
Most recently, locals Stephanie Yanez and Polo have championed the virtual pop star. Yanez is a singer, a former winner of Anime Expo's AX Idol competition, who has appeared at numerous anime conventions and even a cosplay cafe in Tokyo. She frequently performs in Los Angeles with guitarist Polo, who also plays in the bands Nirf and Nvr-Ndr. Their latest song "Ultimate Miku World" is a duet between the very human Yanez and the synthetic Miku. The song is part of a promotion for TinierMe, a Second Life-styled site geared towards fans of Japanese pop culture who are running an exclusive video until May 20 called "Hatsune Miku and Stephanie Yanez's Digital Dream Concert." Following the end of the TinierMe run, the song will be available on iTunes.
Yanez became interested in Miku when the animated singer first appeared on TinierMe.
Shannon Cottrell Stephanie Yanez on stage at Tune in Tokyo
"I heard of her [before Miku came to TinierMe]," she says. "I knew who she was. I didn't quite understand what she was. "
"When Hatsune Miku arrived on TinierMe the first time, I started getting really into her," she adds. "I started listening to her songs and some of the other Vocaloids, but I really liked Hatsune Miku."
After some of her fans suggested that she record a track with Miku, Yanez, who is a "virtual idol" on TinierMe, approached the company about doing a proper collaboration. When the idea was approved, she approached Polo to work on the song with her.
"Polo is the one who really worked on Hatsune Miku's voice," says Yanez. "There was no way I could touch it. It's really hard."
We emailed Polo a few questions about working with the program. He says that he started playing with Hatsune Miku last February, after seeing some videos on YouTube.
"First, I tried to make an easy melody and with funny lyrics," he says. "I made her say, 'Wake up, Polo! Let's go to Guitar Center!' in Japanese in a simple melody, accompanied with rock guitar. It was really fun!"