Tom Smith on Clannadâ€™s Jpop/trance star, Lia
School days are complicated enough without the addition of family conflicts, love interests or sick-girls with a taste for drama â€“ something Tomoya Okazaki knows all too well. Now in his final year, as documented in the hotly released Clannad After Story, things are looking much more positive; not least because heâ€™s managed to transcend the dreaded friendzone and become the boyfriend of Nagisa Okazaki!
School wasnâ€™t any less complicated for the artist behind the seriesâ€™ opening and closing themes, Lia. On top of all the regular curriculum-based campaigns and social battlefields, she also had to contend with a whole new language. Not content with simply graduating from the coveted Berklee Music College (whose graduates include Quincy Jones, Steve Vai and John Mayer), Lia wanted more, and temporarily relocated to Los Angeles to further her musical thirst.
Her efforts paid off, and after answering an advert seeking a female vocalist in America, she oddly found herself emerged into the world of Japanâ€™s visual novel, nearly five-and-a-half-thousand miles from home. Hokkidoâ€™s trance production company Iâ€™ve Sound happened to be State-side at the same time. And thus â€˜Tori no Utaâ€™ was born, one of Liaâ€™s first professional recording jobs. Originally recorded for the visual novel of AIR at the turn of the millennium, the song would later return as Liaâ€™s very own single five years later, after featuring in the visual novelâ€™s the anime adaptation.
â€˜Tori no Utaâ€™ wasnâ€™t Liaâ€™s first major single though, despite being amongst her earliest recordings. Instead, that would be the honour of â€˜Natsukage / Nostalgiaâ€™. This started life simply as background music in the AIR visual novel too, while bizarrely featuring Nagisa from Clannad on the singleâ€™s cover.
Strangely, Clannad fans would have to wait a good few years for Lia to record songs for the anime. She slipped in the track â€˜Anaâ€™ as the second ending to the first series, but producers had her back to record all of the themes to the showâ€™s second series Clannad After Story. Its first opening and closing tracks became Liaâ€™s double A sided single â€˜Toki o Kizamu Uta (â€˜A Song to Pass the Timeâ€™ )/ TORCHâ€™, and gained her a position in Japanâ€™s Oricon single chart at number 15.
Lia gained an even higher chart place with her next single, â€˜My Soul, Your Beats! / Brave Songâ€™. This release was a joint effort with former voice actress Aoi Tada, and after both tracks appeared as endings and openings to Angel Beats!, the release rocketed up the charts, peaking at number 3.
More recently Liaâ€™s taken her trance roots with Iâ€™ve Sound further by launching a separate career as a happy hardcore producer, changing her name to capitals to differentiate the releases. And when vocaloid became a force to be reckoned with, Lia was approached to record the voice behind the digital star The IA: Aria on the Planetes. Her music can even be found over here too. Hit new music app SongPop features tracks from Liaâ€™s career in its Jpop section. So if youâ€™re nervous about the new school year, or changing job or location, donâ€™t worry and just think of Lia and how far her life has spiralled from venturing into the unknown.
Clannad After Story, featuring theme songs by Lia, is out 24 September on UK DVD from Manga Entertainment.