Let’s start with the release of your debut album RE: ACID QUEEN in January 2009. How did you feel when it came out?
Ayaka Ikio: When I started working on that album I was constantly thinking about what I wanted to do, and how it would turn out — and when the album was finished, there was a happiness and also a mysterious feeling. Even though I’m the one singing, it felt like a different person’s voice was coming out.
Who worked on the music with you?
One of the people that helped me the most was Masayuki Kumahara (he is a producer with Fantastic Plastic Machine). He’s really big in the retro scene. I was really nervous at first but as we worked on the music together, I was able to give my opinions and he really took me seriously so that made me feel better.
How would you describe your style of music?
It’s club music from a woman’s perspective — from the viewpoint of an independent strong woman.
Tell us about the song “Spin Me Round”.
“Spin Me Round” was written by TIGER and Masayuki Kumaraha. I really liked the beat a lot for that song, and when I first heard it I felt it matched my personality really well. I worked on the lyrics with my producers, and as I was writing the lyrics, my goal was to make the club really excited when they heard it so it would be really easy for everyone in the club to become absorbed in the music.
Have you been busy touring?
For GOSSIP I did a tour from summer to fall. I performed 2 days every weekend — from Tokyo to Hokkaido and even at clubs in Sendai and Kobe. I pretty much went all over.
You followed up your first release with GOSSIP in July 2009. Can you tell us how the songs were picked?
Since the timing was different from my first release (summer vs. winter) I wanted to have more up-tempo songs that matched a summer-time feeling.
Tell us about the lead track, “Get Out.”
It had the perfect beat for summer-time! As soon as I heard the final mix I knew that had to be the first single.
What are your memories of shooting the video?
We shot it all in one day, so it was intense. I went in very early in the morning and we didn’t finish until very late at night. It was a challenge because I dance non-stop throughout the video, but the song made me want to do my best so it helped me to keep my focus and keep my energy up.
How did you learn to dance?
I love clubs and I love dancing, so I go to clubs a lot just to enjoy dancing and let myself go. I like house/electro music when I go to the clubs, but when I go to my dance lessons I focus on hip-hop and R&B.
How different is it expressing yourself musically in English compared to Japanese?
It’s a challenge to match the meaning of my thoughts to English lyrics. There are times when I think “How am I going to express this in English?” and sometimes I think the English comes out different than what I was thinking originally.
Aside from music you are also a successful fashion model. Can you tell us how you first got into modeling?
Right now I’m not putting so much time into modeling, other than one or two magazines that I work with regularly. Because of touring, recording, and rehearsal, my schedule has shifted a lot.
Can you tell us a little about your hometown and what it was like growing up there?
I’m from Yokohama. My family has never actually seen me sing or dance in a club, so they’re wondering how I actually do it. My friends say “It’s not like you, Ayaka. It’s not you!” They can’t believe it.
How did you first get into singing and music?
When I first started about two or three years ago, I really wanted to express the idea of a cool strong woman. It’s my goal to be like that. I really look up to Namie Amuro and The Pussycat Dolls. I think they’re really strong — I respect them.
What are your plans for 2010?
(laughs) I’ve been so busy with 2009! Right now the biggest thing on my mind is that I’m performing at MIDEM in January. That’s a really big deal for me.
Aside from your music and modeling what do you like to do for fun and relaxation?
I go to aroma massage, and go to the gym. It helps me keep balance.
Do you have a final message to all your fans?
I really, really want to play a gig in America — please wait for me!