Vocaloid producer L75-3 explains one of the most interesting vocal plugins around.
With the help of technology we can virtually re-create pretty much anything these days.
It seems like there are VST Plugins for every ‘real’ instrument out there. ‘Real’ effects units have become computer processes. And ‘real’ performances have become copies through sampling.
Technology has successfully modelled, and and even surpassed, the original in all areas of music production. Which begs the question: “which one is the ‘real’ one anymore?”
Even vocals have changed…
The role of the voice in music has been pretty standard for awhile: You find a great singer, they sing some great vocals, you put the great vocals on your track and bam! You’ve got your song.
But all of that is changing with the invention of a truly unique production tool:
What Is Vocaloid?
Vocaloid is a voice synthesizer software plugin. Using synthesizer technology and recorded vocals from real singers, Vocaloid allows producers to create singing performances by typing lyrics and melody.
“You can think of [Vocaloid] as a kind of audio font: musical notation and lyrics can be translated into the chosen voice, then saved for replay, just as a word processor might translate a text into Helvetica or Times New Roman.” –Bill Werde
The name Vocaloid comes from the combination of VOCAL and ANDROID. Despite Vocaloid’s massive popularity in Japan, Vocaloid was originally developed in Spain.
One Tool. Many Voices.
There are thousands of Vocaloid voices. But what makes Vocaloid so unique are the characters and personalities attached to each voice.
Every Vocaloid character is animated. They all have their own singing style as well—ranging from “sassy” to “bright and positive.”
They all have their own singing style as well—ranging from “sassy” to “bright and positive.”
As a result of their life-like presence and talents, some Vocaloid characters have become massively successful as solo performing artists—often more popular than real pop-stars!
The best example is Vocaloid mega-star Hatsune Miku who performs regularly to thousands of people using live 3-D projection technology:
Hatsune Miku: The First Sound From the Future
Hatsune Miku is a superstar. Her name means ‘the first sound from the future.’
It’s a fitting title for Hatsune. She’s responsible for taking Vocaloid from a fledgling technology into a full-blown, worldwide phenomenon.
Vocaloid is now used by producers all over the globe and massive communities of Vocaloid producers share tracks in huge online networks—largely because of the success of Hatsune.
She goes way beyond a simple vocal synthesizer plugin…
Vocaloid producer L75-3 on Vocaloid and the future of singing
LANDR Japan recently launched a remix contest featuring a track by multi-talented Vocaloid producer L75-3.
I caught up with him to find out more about producing with Vocaloid and what kinds of doors the technology opens for producers everywhere.
Check all the contest details HERE to enter.
L75-3 (Tomoki Miyakawa) is a distinguished and accomplished producer that works with Vocaloid. He was more than happy to answer a few questions for us!
Here’s some highlights from our chat:
Scott: Hey Tomoki! Thanks for hanging out. So how did you become interested in Vocaloid? Was there one character that really got you hooked?
Tomoki: I was introduced to a song by Hatsune Miku by musician friends, and simply because the tune matched my tastes I naturally developed an interest in Vocaloid.
Next I became aware of the many creators online who use the same voice to create songs, and the competition element sparked my creative impulses. This is when I began using Vocaloid.
To be honest, I initially felt some resistance to the voice of Hatsune Miku…
But when I explored different aspects of musicality to match her voice, I discovered charms that are clearly different from that of the human voice, and I realized new possibilities of expression using robotic and amateurish songs.
“In my opinion the greatest mixes are those that are musically and visually creative and that expand on the arrangement to startle the experimental listener with their bold processing.”
Why is remixing an important art form?
I believe that both creator and listener enjoy listening for changes and making comparisons between an original song and a remix.
Based on a common understanding of the original the differences are clear, so I believe that it’s similar to the experience of enjoying an original song.
What separates an OK mix from an amazing mix?
Well, simply arranging and organizing tracks to provide the listener with a clear and clean listening experience results in a so-so mix.
In my opinion the greatest mixes are those that are musically and visually creative and that expand on the arrangement to startle the experimental listener with their bold processing.
What your newest and favourite Vocaloid is right now?
As for myself, I was introduced to Vocaloid thanks to the character Hatsune Miku. Although I’ve collected more and more libraries since I started using it, I still feel an ease-of-use that stems from my original affection for Hatsune Miku.
What parts of real vocals do you think Vocaloid captures well?
As for how close one comes to matching the human voice, that depends on the amount of editing that the creator does.
I feel that every time there is an update to the vocal synthesis engine the connection between tones becomes better even in the beta version, and it is gradually becoming more natural-sounding.
What sets Vocaloid apart from real vocals?
Musically speaking there is a major difference in that there are no physical limitations, such as the need to breathe, and a greater vocal range can be explored than would be naturally possible.
Also, unnatural vocalizations that remind the listener that the voice is that of a robot can, depending on the genre of the music, become addictive in a way that would otherwise be impossible.
“There are no physical limitations, such as the need to breathe, and a greater vocal range can be explored than would be naturally possible.”
Do you think Vocaloid could replace real singers one day?
Even if the voice is not inferior when compared with that of a human, the fans of singers and artists are often attracted to things outside of pure music, such as personality, so I think that it would be impossible to make a perfect substitute.
However, it may have a possibility to replace a Japanese idol…
Do you ever experiment with your own voice?
L75-3 was originally run by a vocalist duo unit, so I’ve been involved in experimental creations using her voice in a multi-voice chorus.
I used a cut-up approach to remixing, and used Autotune to create a robotic, synthesized voice. So yeah, I have experimented with real vocals in the past.
If you created a new Vocaloid persona, what would it be like?
Including a design of a character, I would make a cute Vocaloid character that I will also like.
Are Vocaloids an instrument? Or something else?
I believe that there can be many interpretations of Vocaloid technology depending upon the creator. Like using it as an instrument that’s capable of emitting words, an instant singer that can be used to test temporary lyrics, or a virtual Japanese idol.
What is your own definition of Vocaloid?
I believe that the ability of Vocaloid to develop such a rich culture began with the introduction of the variety of libraries and character settings.
So in addition to being an instrument that can emit words, the presence of characters is extremely important.
Vocaloid made a leap for vocals. The technology has opened up a whole new palette for producers looking for lyric variety on their tracks.
VSTs aren’t just for instruments any more. So try plugging in a Vocaloid and get some vocals on your own tracks.
Entering the Sleepfreaks X LANDR Remix Contest is a great place to start—The L75-3 track you have to remix for the contest is a great example of what Vocaloid can do.
Or find your own way to experiment with Vocaloid, because it might be ‘the first sound of the future’ but it’s certainly not the last.