Information from the Engloids’ blog has revealed that they recently had an interview with Bil Bryant, who’s the Production and CEO of PowerFX, the company behind English Vocaloids such as Sweet Ann and Big Al. The interview talks mainly about PowerFX’s involvement with making Vocaloids and the development of Big Al. For more on the interview just continue reading after the break~
And here’s the interview below.
1) How did you and your company get involved with making Vocaloids?
Being a sound developer we are always interested in new developments and technologies. We became aware and very interested when we heard the first Vocaloids from Zero-G at the NAMM trade show. We were recommended to Yamaha by our Japanese distributor Crypton Future Media after we let them know of our interest in developing a title.
2) Compared to the other Vocaloid companies. PowerFX seems to be lacking in the number of Vocaloids they have to offer. Do you feel as if you have to play catch up with the other companies or do you feel comfortable at the pace you work at now to make Vocaloids?
We are a sample developer and digital distributor and are involved in many projects and products like our state of the art online sequencer “Soundation Studio”. Vocaloid is a very interesting technology to be involved and we consider it a product we will continue to develop and be involved with.
3) Recently, PowerFX has been introduced to a side of Vocaloid that they probably didn’t know existed until a few months ago. Of course, I’m referring to the Vocaloid fandom that began in Japan and has over the years spread overseas. I would like to know what are your thoughts on this Vocaloid fanbase?
Yes, when we released Sweet Ann, over 2 years ago, we really thought it would be a great tool for producers making electronica based music. But they have yet to embrace it, the west in general has not really accepted Vocaloid singers. The huge Japanese fan base and YouTube postings have made us aware of this growing movement.
4) Sweet Ann was created to achieve a smooth, melodic sound virtual singer, and Big Al was created to achieve deep and resonant voice that would challenge all other male vocaloids. Tell me, what type of vocals do you plan on tackling next?
With Big Al, we thought it would be great to have a low voice for harmonies and to compliment Sweet Ann. We will most likely do another male voice to compliment Big Al and perhaps create a virtual boy band of Vocaloid artists, a really good idea suggested to me by Anders Södergren, an editor in the Big Al project. I think it would be great to hear back from the Vocaloid fan base as to what there is lacking for them and if they think this is a good idea.
5) I know this may seem like an odd question to ask, but if I don’t use this opportunity now I may kick myself for not asking it later on. A lot of people in the Vocaloid fandom are very interested in the people who give the Vocaloids their voices, so at this time I would like to ask you who gave Sweet Ann her voice?
An Australian singer whose artist name is “Jody”.
6) When I emailed you, you said you wanted to set the record straight about the new Big Al and the old beta version that appeared a year ago. So please, tell your story.
The original Big Al was recorded with a singer/artist named Michael King, it was our first vocaloid. Michael is a fantastic, award winning Elvis impersonator and did a great job staying in character. Elvis he has a specific vibrato that is essential to his style but it took away from the pronunciation and …, we tried to fix this in the editing process and made some early test demos we made that were posted in the internet with the original artist picture, but we did not think it was good enough to release. We tried to re-record Michael King, but he was touring a lot so we decided to make one with Frank Sanderson, a professional voice over artist, studio engineer/owner and former PowerFX employee. Frank focused on pronunciation and tone and has a deep voice with character. We also recorded more keys than previously, which is why it is so big in size, almost 2 GBs.
So this is why there are some early beta songs with the “Frankenstein” look that sound quite different that the new released, Big Al. Totally different singer and recording technique was used.
7) PowerFX seems to like to portray their Vocaloids as monsters. What inspired you to come up with this unique style?
The first vocaloids were marketed as “replacement singers” or “a vocalist in a box”, and this was not the case and a lot of professionals and journalists in western media did not review the first versions of Vocaliod very well. We wanted to make it quite clear that Vocaloid is an evolving technology and is a fun and creative product.
8) Like I mentioned before PowerFX Vocaloids are portrayed as monsters, but so far most of your Vocaloids have only been seen as Frakensteins. Do you plan on continuing making your Vocaloids into Frakensteins or is PowerFX planning on moving onto other monsters, and if so what kind of creatures do you have in mind?
I think the vocaloid fan base prefers a different look which we have tried to do with the “new” Big Al.
9) With the recent change of box-art with Zero-G’s Sonika and your companies Big Al, a lot of people have been wondering if Sweet Ann will be getting a box-art change as well. Does PowerFX plan on making any changes to Sweet Ann’s box-art?
Yes, we will be having a competition soon for a new Sweet Ann look.
10) Do you have any Vocaloid news or plans in the future that you would like to discuss now?
No we have just finished with Big Al, so we will try to get some feedback from the users and community before we begin another Vocaloid.
So it was made known that there will be an upcoming competition to help decide Sweet Ann’s new look, for those of you Sweet Ann fans especially those who like to draw this would be an great opportunity to submit your Sweet Ann fanarts to PowerFX then. =D
Info source: Engloids’ Blog
It’s always nice to see the English Vocaloid producers interacting with their fanbase. Sweet Ann getting a new look is a very interesting development, but hopefully her voice could also get an update. I did find the answer to the 5th question kinda lacking, though… it would be nice to have more info on this “Jody”-person. On a final note, I just hope that Michael King could come back and record some more voice samples for a new Vocaloid.