An Interview with Mori Calliope of hololive English
Following up our hit article on popular VTuber Gawr Gura (published in the April 2021 issue), here’s the second in our interview series with members of hololive English. Calliope Mori crashed into the VTuber world with her debut original song, a bilingual (Japanese and English) rap called “Excuse My Rudeness, But Could You Please RIP?” and since then she’s kept eyes on her and announced tons of releases. We asked her about the secret to her creative process, how she likes to stream, the other members of her group holoMyth, and how she feels about her fans, Dead Beats.
Supervision: 2016 COVER Corp.
Translation Assistance: Sarah Tangney
“When I found out I got in, I wondered if it was actually real”
――How did you find out about VTubers and hololive? What were your first impressions?
Calliope : The first clip I ever saw was (Natsuiro) Matsuri-senpai telling a story about band-aids and gym class. I remember thinking, “what on Earth is this…” but I kept watching. Then I saw (Inugami) Korone-senpai appear in my recommended videos almost every day. The name “hololive” reached my eyes a couple times but I didn’t fully understand it until the auditions came around. I read everyone’s profile, and thought everyone seemed so cute and talented, like total superstars. I had real low confidence back then, but somehow I wanted to be like them.
――When you found out about the hololive VTuber auditions, what made you decide to audition?
Calliope : One of my friends sent information about the auditions in our group chat, but she was telling a different friend about it, not me. I very sneakily clicked the link, did some research and applied because it seemed fun. After seeing what hololive was all about, I figured it might be my chance to be a creator full-time. Plus, many of my friends had made it to the “other side” and I loved the idea of being able to interact with them as a VTuber.
――When you passed the hololive VTuber audition, how did you feel?
Calliope : I didn’t know how to feel, because I didn’t think I would get in. I remember it feeling like a dream, with every hurdle I passed to being accepted I got more and more excited. When they eventually said, “You made it!” I was so full of questions I couldn’t contain myself. I wanted to know just how much my life was going to change. Even after a year, I still wonder if any of it is actually real, LOL. Even now, I think I only really found out what I’m truly capable of thanks to hololive.
“Getting into Net Rap was like discovering a gold mine”
――In the past you’ve mentioned that J-pop led you to having an interest in Japan. What artists, songs, and genres had the biggest influence on you?
Calliope : Not so much J-Pop, but rather J-Rap got me truly interested in Japan. I randomly found something called “Net Rap” on NicoNicoDouga, and while some may see it as kind of nerdy and outdated, I want you to imagine being a foreigner and finding this kind of thing. I thought it was a gold mine of good music no one in my country had ever heard before, because it was obviously rap but sounded nothing like the rap I knew in my country. In the beginning, I thought ALL of it sounded good. Now, however, I have a little more discerning taste. Some of my favorites from that era are Rapbit, TOPHAMHAT-KYO, Alilem, and the members of TamaOnSen.
――What sort of meaning does the song “Excuse My Rudeness, But Could You Please RIP?” have to you now that it has accumulated over 26.6 million views?
Calliope : I have a bittersweet relationship with that song. On one hand, I’m happy people still love it and listen to it, and that it got so many eyes on my work. On the other hand, I know I can do better. It’s not altogether a bad thing, just interesting I guess.
“I wanted to show I’m serious about making music”
――You shocked everyone by announcing and releasing three more original songs (“Reaper or Rapper?” “DEAD BEATS” “Live Again”) right after your first video in a short period of time. Why did you decide to announce a total of four original songs when you debuted?
Calliope : People reacted so intensely when VTubers debuted with just one original song. I thought to myself, “One song isn’t even that much. I bet I can write 4 before debut.” I wanted to put out an absolutely ridiculous impression. I wanted to explode onto the scene and show the hololive fans, “This girl is serious about making music.” As for why 4? 4 is a great number, but it was also just realistically the best I could do at the time without the quality falling.
――How do you come up with lyrics? Do you have any habits or routines you do to get into writing mode?
Calliope : I can’t force myself to get in the mood to write lyrics. Either I want to do it, or I don’t. And I HAVE to be in my house or studio, otherwise nothing comes out. But I collect ideas and lines that drop into my head when I’m taking walks or riding the train. I kind of just like to let the words flow out and arrange them later. I do a lot of inter-locking rhymes and rhyme multiple syllables with each other, but I always make sure that they MAKE SENSE. You can be concise with your message and also make it sound good phonetically.
――In April 2021 you announced that “Your Mori.” will be released not only on streaming services but also on CD. What are your thoughts on that?
Calliope : Having a physical CD gives you something to sign for the fans, and it’s a nice memory and tangible proof of that music’s existence. Maybe it’s a bit sentimental, but since it’s the time period I grew up in, I always dreamed of seeing my music CDs in real stores as well. Even in the digital era, I simply wanted something physical to go along with it and realize that dream.
――In December 2021, you collaborated with composer Taku Inoue to release “Yona Yona Journey.” What are your thoughts on this experience and the song that was created?
Calliope : It’s unlike anything I’ve ever produced before! My works don’t usually have a sound that appeals to a party-going mainstream, but this track is a banger they can throw out at the club and get everyone bobbing their head to. I have 0 songs that utilize autotune with my voice, so it was wild to hear it used here on the song. I never want to produce the same type of music over and over, so I’m glad I got the chance to make something totally out of my comfort zone. Big ups to Taku Inoue, who is very professional and an amazing visionary when it comes to sound.
“The hololive grind helped me mature as a creator”
――In September you were at two big North American events, Calgary Expo and Fan Expo Dallas. How were each of these events and what was memorable about them?
Calliope : Both expos were really fun, and seeing the fans actually gather in such large quantities to see us felt surreal, but amazing. I didn’t realize how truly popular we were until that tour. I never thought people would get that excited for me to appear before them, so it was really amazing. I loved seeing Calli cosplayers, especially when they carried huge scythes around! Everyone was so cute when they asked questions, and there were some really insightful ones. I hope we can do them again!
――You debuted in September 2020. How would you describe your first year at hololive?
Calliope : Very chaotic, but I’ve made more content this year than I have in my entire life. I’ve grown so much as a creator that no matter where I go after this, I feel like the work ethic I developed with hololive will make me unstoppable. From someone who had no streaming experience to someone who feels like I have the authority to teach a class of students on how to be a streamer–that is something insane after just one year, but that’s the hololive grind. Every single person in hololive production has motivated me to learn more than ever what it takes to be passionate about what you do, even if it’s something you start off with no experience in. I’m just lucky there are so many cool people here to befriend and make content with, sharing in the fun.
――During your first anniversary stream, you rewatched your very first stream with your viewers. What was that like? If you could give any advice to yourself just before you debuted, what would it be?
Calliope : The smoke effect is making the model move at 2 frames per second. TURN OFF THE SMOKE EFFECT. Also, don’t say “TEE HEE.” It was funnier in your head, Calli…
――When you compare your current self with the self from the time of your debut, where do you think you’ve grown the most?
Calliope : I had a really bad collaboration with a fellow genmate where everything technically that could have gone wrong, did. I realized my preparation skills had to be better. This is a fun job, but it’s also a job that is work, and that means it’s my duty to ensure the least amount of hiccups ruin the fun for everyone.
“All the games that I’ve learned really important things from”
――You stream yourself playing a lot of different types of games. What are some of your favorite games and genres?
Calliope : I like platformers (especially 2D) and old RPGs, or any game with pixel art and a cute style. Story-focused games are fun for me, but good art and music are also a must. Management and simulation games are a guilty pleasure, but I don’t like streaming them. They’re my “calm down from work” games. I’d say the only games I don’t enjoy to the fullest are FPS games. My favorite games of all time, though, are Bloodborne and Ghost of Tsushima, which are actually action games. Persona 3 joins the list, too. Following those would be Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. However, I can’t stream any of those, so I enjoy them on my own time.
――Is there something that you try to keep in mind during your streams?
Calliope : Never let the negative moments get to me. I didn’t read the chat for a while because I was scared of comments like that in the beginning, but I don’t want the core audience of good fans to suffer because of a few comments. So, I filter them out in my mind and easily skip the bad ones instead of giving them any attention.
――Is there any one specific archived stream that you would recommend to new fans, and why?
Calliope : I’d recommend my Jump King series, because you really see how stubborn I can be when it comes to working towards what I want… As well as Everhood, a game I almost gave up on. I developed a lot as a streamer playing those games, because they taught me that taking the easy way out is boring. I’m playing Earthbound right now, and it’s been a gold mine for commentary so I recommend you guys check out the VODs and catch up! I also have quite a few archived karaoke streams, like one I did with IRyS and my friend MilkyQueen. Any karaoke collabs end up being a blast, because I get to practice singing but also synergize with my friends in a way that’s special and rarely seen!
“holoMyth are lifelong friends”
――What do you feel about the other holoMyth members who debuted with you? What do they mean to you?
Calliope : When we met for the first time, none of us had any connections to each other. We were thrown into a room and told, “These are your genmates!” So, in the beginning, I have to be honest and say I was very unsure of everyone. Now, they are lifelong friends. Each person means something different to me. Amelia is a reliable tech wizard who is passionate about innovation and helping her friends. Kiara is a bright and charismatic idol that never gives up and can light up any room she enters. Ina is a chill friend I can be myself around, and talking with her reminds me of the old days I shared with my art friends. Gura is a wise-cracking joker that can literally make me laugh at the drop of a hat even when I’m feeling my worst. They’re all people I can see myself talking to far into the future.
――How do you feel about your hololiveJP senpais? What do they mean to you?
Calliope : They are the ones who paved the way for hololive English’s success, and none of us would have come this far without their hard work and bright personalities. Every single person, whether from hololive or HOLOSTARS, puts in an incredible amount of work and they inspire me! We all motivate each other, and I want to do my best to become as legendary as them someday. I hope I can be less shy so we can all make more music together!
――Now that IRyS and the members of Council debuted this year, you’ve become a senpai. How does it feel to be called senpai? Is there anything you keep in mind as their senpai?
Calliope : I love being a senpai… In fact, I think I was born to be a senpai. Because now I can boss everyone around! Haha, joking. It’s more like, I get excited to see them go through what we went through, though there are some differences. It makes me want to cheer them on and see them fly as well. They’re all super talented and varied individuals, and they’re going to go far.
“We're a family no matter where you are in the world”
――How did you learn Japanese? If you have any tips, we would love to know as well. 🙂
Calliope : I studied all by myself! Any schooling I’ve had never offered Japanese lessons. My very first beginnings with speaking Japanese were actually just from talking to Japanese friends I met on Twitter through similar music circles! I was terrible back then, but those friends ended up teaching me more than any textbook ever could. My tip is to learn at least 5 words a day and try to make some Japanese friends, if you’re brave enough. Language exchange is the most fun way to learn a new language!
――What’s something you want to try in the future? Any specific goals?
Calliope : My dream is to make music at my own pace. I’d also love to integrate streaming as well. Basically, I want to live happily doing exactly what I want, whatever it may be. I’m getting closer every day! I’d also love to go to Fiji.
――What message do you have for your fans (Dead Beats)?
Calliope : Hey, Dead Beats! Thanks for picking this up and reading it. I hope you crazy skeletons are behaving yourselves and eating properly. Reach for your dreams, but take a break sometimes. You’re always telling me to watch out for my health. Well, I’ll do the same for you! Remember to brush your teeth, shower at LEAST every other day, and smile for those who love you. Death is imminent, but we still have so much fun left to have in life together! Let’s keep enjoying all that we have, and I’ll keep doing my best too! Thanks for everything, you guys.
――Finally, do you have a message for your Japanese fans?
Calliope : I know it isn’t always easy to understand what I’m saying, because my Japanese is still not very good. But for those of you who try so hard to understand me–thank you so much. I want to keep working hard for you all! Seeing you comment in your own language brightens my day and challenges me to understand Japanese better, so never feel like an outsider in my chat. You’re amongst Dead Beats, and we’re a family no matter where you are in the world. You’re my treasured supporters! Until the day we meet at Death’s Door, let’s keep enjoying our time together!