Producer Keeno’s interview from the “Bokaro to Bokura” (“Vocaloid and Us” Series)

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Hello everyone! Today I’ll be providing something a bit different for everyone to enjoy. I recently heard that one of my favorite producers, keeno, was featured as part of the Vocaloid interview series “Bokaro to Bokura”. So I decided to translate the interview and share it here on the blog. This interview is one of 8 that has been posted so far and if there is some interest in the others in this series I will consider translating them as well. I decided to leave the Japanese text here as well for people to reference and also to help those who might be studying and trying to learn Japanese like me, so they can have something for comparison. In my opinion, Keeno-san is one of the most talented producers currently making Vocaloid music. The vocals (almost always featuring Miku Append Dark) and the instrumental quality of his songs is incredibly high and they are always soothing to listen to. While the content of his works (which are always given one word English titles relating to their theme) is invariably sad, the lyrics themselves are often poetic and touching while addressing the real hurt and pain that love and attachment often bring each and every one of us.

Before we begin the interview let me provide some links for those who might not be complete familiar with keeno’s works. To start, here is his most recently release public work, “bitter”, which I translated a few weeks ago:

No mention of Keeno can be made however without acknowledging his first and perhaps most famous masterpiece, one of the best Vocaloid songs you’ll ever hear, “glow”:

That feeling when the guitar starts to play, and then when you first hear Miku’s voice…few things have left such an impression on me. As for keeno’s other translated works, they are: crack, fix, grief (ft. IA), lying, wound, and dusk. In total he has written about 15 songs and I will be doing my best to provide translations for the rest of them on the blog or on Youtube in the near future.

Now that you’ve had a chance to hear the awesomeness of keeno, let’s move on to the interview. Please note that most of the words in parentheses throughout are my thoughts or notes, rather than part of the transcript. Please follow me after the jump for the interview.


It’s been about 4 and half years (closer to 5) since the birth of Hatsune Miku, which was created as the face of Yamaha’s vocal synthesis software, “Vocaloid 2”—A large amount of content featuring her in the leading role has appeared. Behind this success has been a great number of creators and artists.

“Vocaloid and Us” is an interview series featuring individuals involved in this emerging phenomenon. For this 8th installment, Vocaloid Producer “Keeno” was interviewed. How does he create that wonderful and soothing tone? We discussed how he became a producer and his feelings about Vocaloid.

Also don’t miss the special surprise at the end of the article!


Impressed by the natural and smooth singing of the Vocaloid, he became a producer…


Interviewer: Keeno, your first upload to Nico Nico Douga in June of 2010 was the song “glow” featuring Miku Append Dark. ( first of all could you tell us a bit about your motivation for creating and uploading the song.

keenoさん:友 人からニコニ コ動画でボーカロイドというものが面白いと教えてもらって、何曲か聴いてみたら、様々なジャンルでハイクオリティな楽曲が沢山あって、しかも、思っていた よりもずっとボーカロイドがちゃんと歌っている。あっという間に魅せられました。調べてみると、私と同じように普段は仕事をしながら趣味で作った楽曲を発 表されている方がたくさんいらっしゃって、とても楽しそうで、羨ましくなってしまったんです。ちょうどその頃、普段の仕事も落ち着いてきて、漠然とまた音 楽をしたいなと考えていましたので、DTMに必要なものと「初音ミク」とDTM教則本のようなものを買いそろえて、最初に作り始めたのが「glow」で す。四苦八苦して完成させた後はやっぱり誰かに聴いてもらいたくなってしまって、ビクビクしながらニコニコ動画に投稿しました。

keeno: My interest was first piqued by a friend who introduced me to some interesting Vocaloid related works on Nico Douga. After listening to and watching countless songs, I encountered lots of high quality productions in a variety of genres. More than that I also noticed how the Vocaloids would always sing so perfectly.  It’s seemed that like me many people had careers and then as a hobby would create music. It seemed really fun and I became jealous. Around that time I finally began to settle into my job and begin to have the vague feeling that I still wanted to make music. So I bought the items necessary to for making DTM (desktop music), Hatsune Miku, and some guides as well. The first thing I created at the outset was “glow”. So after a bunch of pain and suffering, striving to make it perfect, I really wanted to have people listen to the song. So with significant anxiety I uploaded it to NicoNicoDouga.

Jacket cover for keeno’s debut mini-album, “at dusk”

Interviewer: I see, so after seeing the actions of others, you decided to start as well, huh?

keenoさん:は い。自分が 「ボーカロイド」という名前から想像していたものよりもはるかに自然に歌っていたのが衝撃的で、しかも制作者の方によって歌い方も可愛いものからかっこい いものまで様々で、単純に自分の曲も歌ってほしいと思ったんです。自分で歌うことも、ボーカリストを招くことも必要なくて、一人で完結できるというのも魅 力的で、自分でもやってみようと思いました。

keeno: That’s correct. Much more than the name “Vocaloid” implies, the singing was much smoother and more natural than I expected. Moreover, seeing how various producers made her sing in a variety of cool and cute ways, naturally I wanted her to sing my songs as well. The idea of not having to sing myself, of not having to invite singers, being able to complete songs entirely on my own appealed to me, and so I thought “I should give this a try”.

Interviewer: Before beginning you work with Vocaloid, what kind of musical experience did you have?

keenoさん:学 生のころから バンドは続けていました。パートはギターボーカルでしたが、もの凄く  下手くそでいつも怒られていました。人気もなかったですしライブチケットを捌くのも一苦労でしたが、メンバーで集まって音を出すのは楽しかったですね。 結局、メンバーそれぞれが仕事を持って時間もなくなって、いつの間にか消滅してしまいま したが……。

keeno: From the time I was a university student, I was part of a band. I did guitar and vocals, but not being very good, I was always getting frustrated. We didn’t have any popularity and it was very difficult to sell tickets. However getting the members together to make music was always a fun experience. In the end all of us members began to get jobs and careers, and having no more free time, before we knew it, the band had been disbanded.


That gentle and pleasant singing style was born of a desire for accompaniment for the guitar

Interviewer:  When you begin producing a song, what part do you begin with?

keenoさん:基 本はギターの 弾き語りでメロと歌詞を作っていきます。Aメロの歌い出しからグッとくるものを書きたいと常々思っているので、納得するまでひたすら弾き語っています。 歌っているときに自然に出てくる言葉や響きを大事にしたいと思っているので、オケから作るよりはこちらのほうが自分に合ってるように感じますね。最初にス トーリーを考えたうえで曲や歌詞を付けることはほとんどありません。作っている途中で、自分はこういう曲が作りたかった、こういうことが言いたかったんだ なと思うことがほとんどです。

keeno: The first thing is to create the guitar accompaniment, so I go about making the lyrics and the melody.  I feel that from the very beginning of the “A” melody I want to write something that solidly draws people into the song, so I spend a lot of time working on this part until I’m satisfied. I feel that I need to treat those words and sounds that come out naturally when singing with great importance. So rather than write for the crowd, I write what I feel best suits me. So first I think about the story, then I move on the the music and try to affix lyrics and music to that original idea. So during the creation process I want to feel like “This is really the song I wanted to make. This is really what I wanted to say”.

Interviewer: So, where do the ideas for your songs come from?


keeno: I read books, watch movies, and somehow on my own accord try writing theme songs for my own life. I always come up with little phrases when I’m driving. But since I don’t really record them during the drive I often forget them by the time I get to where I’m going (haha).

Interviewer: By the way, when your in the midst of making Vocaloid music, is there any specific things you wind up fussing over?


keeno: Since I often use Miku Append Dark and personally prefer a lower-sounding voice, I suppose I am concerned over that point,  but it’s Vocaloid after all and even though I say that, it’s not something I often think about. From time to time I create a melody where there is no room to take a breath, but then I tell myself the excuse that “It’s Vocaloid after all so it’s fine”.

Interviewer: keeno-san, speaking of Miku Append Dark, could you please explain the reason you continue to use it?

keeno: Perhaps the number one reason  is that I enjoy a simple voice.  Feeling that it goes best with the kind of songs I make, quite often I want to feature her voice in my creations. The fact that it’s honestly easy to work with is a big help. Sometimes when I have to use other Vocaloids, it results in a big headache for me (haha).


“Bitter” was amongst the most challenging songs so far

Song art for “bitter”

keenoさん:実 は 「bitter」のサビのメロと歌詞はたしか一年くらい前には出来上がっていたんですが、その他のフレーズでつまずいてしまって、そのままほったらかしに して忘れていたんです。それがボイスレコーダーの録音データ整理をしている時にひょっこり出てきて、なぜかその時にはA,Bメロもすんなり出てきたので、 ちゃんと作り始めました。最初は今まで通りギター・ベース・ドラムのバンド編成で作っていたんですが、今までの自分になかった要素を取り入れたくなって、 リズムにドラムじゃないカチャカチャした音を入れてみたり、シンセをたくさん入れてみたり、今までの曲の中では一番挑戦した曲です。時間はたくさん掛かり ましたが、すごく勉強になりました。

keeno: To be honest, the primary melody and lyrics of “bitter” were complete about one year ago, however when working on the other parts, I stumbled a bit and gradually it became neglected and forgotten. When I was organizing some voice recorder data, it suddenly popped up. For some reason at that time I was able to sort out the A and B melodies without much of a problem and properly began to put it together. From the outset as I’d done before, I prepared the guitar, bass, and drum sections, and this time I wanted to use some devices that I hadn’t used before. I didn’t put drums into the rhythm and tried out adding a “clinking” sound (TL note: this part confused me, listen to the song and see for yourself. You don’t hear much drum I suppose but you can hear this clinking sound, sorry not a music pro). I used the synthesizer a bunch as well. Among all the songs I’ve created so far it was the most challenging. It took lots of time but I really learned much in the process.


Interviewer: Well then, a few days ago was the release of MARiA-san’s debut album (“aMazing MusiQue PaRK” ) on which you helped write and record the song “mere”. (Check it out here) Tell us a bit about that as well.

開 き直ってとびきり自分らしいものを作ろうと決めてからは、スムーズに作れたと思います。アレンジはとくPさんにすごく助けていただいて、たくさんご迷惑も お掛け しましたが、自分の曲に他の制作者の方の意見を取り入れるという経験は初めてだったので、とても刺激的でしたし、楽しかったです。
完成した曲はドラムと ベースが生音になっていて、それも初めての経験だったので感動的でした。

keeno: Having not had any experience creating music for individuals outside of the Vocaloids themselves, I was somewhat worried, thinking about what kind of song I should make. When I was first asked, I couldn’t even make any progress at the beginning. I thought that if I just become determined and focused on making an excellent song in my own style, then things would progress smoothly. I received lots of help from TokuP, definitely bugging him was tons of questions. I asked for the opinions and experience of fellow creators and producers during the production process, this was a first for me and it was a very stimulating experience and quite enjoyable. The complete song features unprocessed drums and base, something that was a first for me and a very moving experience. The lyrics are written such that they carry the feelings right after a very sad event, and perhaps even more than in my other works there is a lack of relief. But hearing it sung in MARiA-san’s voice, there is a certain kindness hidden in the strength of her singing and I’ve personally come to like the song.



If Miku is singing, making music alone is not lonely at all

Interviewer: Coming back to it once more, in your mind keeno-san, could you explain the charm for working with Hatsune Miku and Vocaloids in general?

keenoさん:ミ クがいること でボーカルまで入った曲を一人で自分のペースで完結できるのはとてもありがたいですね。あとは、一人で家で曲を作っていてもミクが歌ってくれれば、少しだ け寂しくありません。聴く側としても、たくさんの作者の方の様々なジャンルの楽曲を聴けるのは、本当に楽しいで

keeno: Because of Miku’s presence, I am able to work on songs, even adding the vocals alone at my own pace. For this I am definitely grateful. Also, when working on this songs alone at my house, having Miku sing them, it’s not the least bit lonely.  When it comes to listening to music, getting to hear the works of so many creators in different genres is truly fun and exciting.  From the time it was an entirely new experience to the days it will have a nostalgic sense to it, I don’t think I’ll ever get bored of listening.


Interviewer: By the way, from now own to you have any plans to release songs featuring Vocaloids besides Hatsune Miku Append Dark?


keeno: Up until now I’ve also created songs featuring Hatsune Miku Append Sweet, Gumi Megpoid, and IA. But I think that from now on Hatsune Miku Dark will continue to remain my primary focus.

Interviewer: Please talk a bit about your plans from here on out.


keeno: Since we’ve entered this year until now, I’ve been working at no less than double my usual pace and I’ve become quite tired. I would like to go back to my usual pace, making songs in between my work demands. Also, it slipped my mind, but it would also be great if I could release my second album this year I think. (This album called “At dusk Complete” was suppossed to be released early this year but was delayed due to various unannounced issues. It is supposed to feature 12 keeno songs, including a new song featuring Kaito Append. Current reports suggest it may be released before year’s end.)

Another photo from the “at dusk” album jacket

Interviewer: We’re definitely looking forward to that second album. Finally, a message to our readers if you please.


keeno: My answers were a bit clumsy but thank you so much for reading.The pace of my song releases is not very fast, but I’m definitely focused on creating songs that you will recall and want to listen to in casual, relaxed settings. Therefore if you come to associate my works with your leisure and relaxation times, I’ll be very happy.

Interviewer: Thank you very much

Interview and Production by Fukushima Makiko


Further Information

■keeno(キーノ) プロフィール
Keeno’s Profile
2010年6月にVOCALOID処女作となる「【初音ミクDark】 glow 【オリジナル】」を投稿。
そ の質の高さからたちまち話題となり、 投稿からわずか9日にしてVOCALOID殿堂入りを果たす。2011年6月12日、THE VOC@LOID M@STER 16にて初のミニアルバム『at dusk』をリリース。また、2012年7月25日にリリースされたMARiA(メイリア)の1stアルバム「aMazing MusiQue PaRK」にオリジナル曲「mere」を提供するなど、活躍の場を広げている。

In June of 2010 he submitted his first work using Vocaloid, “glow” ft. Hatsune Miku Append Dark. Due to the quality of that production the work generated immediate interest and within a span of 9 months he was already enshrined as a popular producer. (It says something about entering the “Vocaloid Palace” but that is just a term I don’t know). On June 12th 2011, at THE VOC@LOID M@STER 16 event he released his first mini-album, “at dusk”. Having taken part in MARiA’s 1st Album release, “aMazing MusiQue PaRK” on July 25th 2012 by writing and producing the original song “mere”, he has begun to expand his interests as well.

Now for that special announcement!


Information about the “Special Present”

keenoさんが2011年にリリースしたミニアルバム「at dusk」にご本人のサインを入れたものを抽選で1名の方にプレゼント!

A copy of keeno’s 2011 mini-album “at dusk” signed by keeno himself will be given away as a gift to one person via raffle.

Entry Process

A special email address has been created for this event ( Please write the following items in the message and sent it to the address. The selected winner will be contacted via email at the address provided.

E-mail Address (this generally means e-mail address but it might mean mailing address so you could do both. I think it’s safe to just do email)
Your impressions of this article
5. インタビューを読んでみたいボカロ関連アーティスト等
Artists with relations to Vocaloid whose interviews you would like to read in the future
Application Address

Subscription Deadline

And that’s it! I hope you enjoyed the interview. I also encourage you to enter the raffle if you would like! So would you be interested in reading more of these in the future? Thanks for reading!

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