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Anime Key Player Interview #3
Thomas Sirdey, Co-founder of Japan Expo Part.3


So let’s talk about anisong market in France. Are there any preferences in France?

-There are two different markets. One is French anisongs, anime songs sung in French. There’s another market that is smaller for Japanese anisong. It really depends on the popularity and fame of the anime. The fame of the anime equals the fame of the song. Just like Evangelion.

Evangelion was really popular in France right?

-Yes very popular.

Have you ever invited anisong singers to Japan Expo in the past or had anisong stages? 

-We had JAM Project. Last year we had Rika Matsumoto, the singer of Pokemon. We had many anisong singers and many bands that had tie-ups with anime. For example, we had FLOW as they have some famous anisongs and the concert was full of people.



When you guys organize the stage, how do you choose which artists to come over? 

-We have good friends that introduce artists. We have a lot of people that send proposals. We have a forum and other kinds of community. We look at everything because every year we can accept maybe 10 to 15 bands.

That’s a lot!

-Well that's not, because we receive about 100 requests. We have to sort it out.

Wow. So 100 different singers want to come but you can only choose 10 to 15 bands?

Yes, it is very difficult.

How do you choose?

-We usually receive music videos and we watch it and research if they have any tie-ups and fame. We look online to see if people want to watch them. So some bands are chosen because we know people are really looking forward to hearing them. Another reason for them coming is because we think they are interesting and we want to introduce them to the market. But it's a nightmare choosing.

It must be tough choosing. So every year you may have different artists performing. Any of the same artists?

-There are several cases, for example we have smaller bands that are not very famous but we are friends for example, ILU GRACE. They are a very nice band and the singer is incredible. We try to help them grow so we had them two or three years in a row. They can come and try to build a fan base and after that they will get repeaters. We also have some famous bands like Man With A Mission. They came twice I think but that's part of their strategy. We are always happy to have them but they don't need us because they have a big fan base. Yoshiki for instance, came to Japan Expo about 5 times but he doesn’t need us. We are making a way for him to come but he already has a huge fan base. So the relationship is very different. We try to mix new and repeating guests. But we can’t just have repeaters because the people who would get kind of tired. 

The most important for musicians is when they come to Japan Expo, try to find some tour management in France. Because a lot of time, they come to Japan Expo and that’s it.


©Frederic BRET

That’s true. So for all the anisong stages you had in the past, what’s the most memorable stage?

-JAM Project. Cha-la-head-cha-la. I believe Flow had a very big impact on the audience, but for me it’s Cha-la-head-cha-la. It’s amazing because it’s the stage that you organized and they are there performing.It made me feel great.

You watched them in your childhood and now you're organizing the event and called them over. So what's your future plan for Japan Expo? Do you have anything new you want to try.

-Many many things. Now we are trying to work on e-sports because it’s getting very popular. We are trying to push the traditional culture parts as well. This year for instance there's a big program between Japan and France. The program will be inside Japan Expo and it will be promoted all year long. It's a program that will last over one year. It’s going to be a huge thing and for the future we really want to push the traditional culture and hopefully also continue what we do with anime, manga and music. We would also like to have sumo.

So many new things to look forward to.

-That’s the good thing about Japan. There’s always new things to do.

How about anisong stages in the future. Any visions for the future?

-Nowadays there are less anisong singers that are big bands. They don’t come to Japan Expo. So we hope we can organize stages for singers that are really dedicated to anisong. Like JAM Project. Most of the songs that come from anime that we have at Japan Expo they are sung by Jpop artists. There are a lot of bands like this and they have other songs. Anisong singer and voice actors are something that we are not so strong in now. So we wish to develop that part.

What’s the advantages of anisong singers to perform at Japan Expo?

-First of all, they would get more fans. They will get promotion in France and even in Japan because a lot of media in Japan talk about Japan Expo. They can get some feedbacks when they perform in Japan Expo. If it's possible, we try to help them get connected with the local tour management or people in the music industry. But the most important thing is that if they want to get popular, they need strategies. The idea is for them to come back not during Japan Expo but for their own tours.

Yeah. To be able to do it by themselves. Are there any anisongs you like right now?

-I am not very good with anisongs, but I really like Japanese music in general. I don't differentiate it as anisong or Japanese music. To me they are both Japanese music. I like rock music like Flow’s Naruto song, because it is a Naruto opening song but it’s rock music.

Do you see any difference between concerts in Japan and concerts in France?  

-Yeah the concerts in France is more exciting. The Japanese artists come out and the fans start screaming and they get surprised. The fans are louder in France and they have a lot of energy.

What do you think of our new business matching site called Anime Music Lab?

-I have seen it and I think it’s a wonderful website. I’m so happy a site like this was created. I’ve been waiting for a site like this. It’s going to be very useful. It’s very difficult to connect with people. There are other people in France who would like to connect with Japanese companies. They are interested in some contents and there’s no easy way to do it. They can come to Japan Expo but it’s only once a year and it's in July. So if you are not there in July and want to talk to Japanese companies you have to wait one more year or they have to go to Japan. It’s very difficult so a website like this can be very useful, it will open up opportunities and empower smaller companies and companies that don't have the money just to travel everywhere to look for partners. They can get information from the site so it's good empowerment for smaller business.

I’m glad. So this will be the last question. What is anisong to you?

-It's my childhood.Whenever we meet with friends and of course it's not always Japanese anisong but anisong in general. When you get older for instance 10 years after you watch an anime, what you usually still remember is the song. When you are celebrating with friends and you start singing, you sing anisongs. Most of the time if you want to find a song that everybody knows, you would find it in anisongs.

So everyone knows it?


That’s very nice. Anisong being your childhood is a sweet answer. Thank you so much!

-Thank you!!

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