The grim reaper herself on reaching for your goals
This interview is part of our series of articles and interviews with hololive VTubers IRyS and the members of -Myth-! This series includes interviews and recommendation lists from some of the world's most well known VTubers. You can read Mori Calliope's Top 10 Anime here, and you can see all of the upcoming articles below!
Back in September 2020, the VTubing world was graced with the debut of hololive production’s first set of English-speaking talent, collectively known as hololive -Myth-. Among those five was Mori Calliope, a shinigami on break from her reaping duties to spend her time streaming and creating music for all the Internet to enjoy. With multiple singles, EPs, an album and recently even a whole concert under her belt, Calli has proven herself to be one of the hardest working VTubers in the world. Today, we’re sitting down with Calli to discuss her experiences, influences, work ethic and how she keeps going through thick and thin.
Crunchyroll: Thanks for taking the time out of your busy reaping schedule to talk with us. For those who might not know, could you introduce yourself?
Mori Calliope: hololive English -Myth- Rapping Reaper, at your service!! I write lyrics, sing and rap, and focus mostly on music. I guess I’m a V-Musician of sorts? But I love games too, especially platformers, and streaming in general is something I’ve fallen in love with. I speak Japanese, too! Yoroshiku~
What inspired you to audition to be part of hololive production?
Calli: I’d seen clips of them pop up on YouTube!! Then, some friends were talking about the audition and I got curious. I spent all day at work during my breaks watching videos of hololive production and learning about the characters, and I felt this anxious fire in my stomach slowly grow, like “I HAVE to do this!!” I started dreaming about what it’d be like to debut and get to know them all, and I dove right in.
What do you find the most rewarding part of VTubing to be?
Calli: Seeing ideas I create come to life and witnessing the Dead Beats enjoying them in real time. It’s something so special and exclusive to streaming, I feel.
Calli and Gawr Gura's collab music video, 「Q」
You make plenty of hip-hop and your karaoke streams are often full of nostalgic pop punk tracks. What would you consider your biggest musical influences?
Calli: Japanese rap!! That’s actually what got me to give hip-hop a chance. I’m a bigger fan of Internet rap in Japan because it’s so unique and doesn’t sound like they’re simply imitating an American style of rap. They’ve made it their own, and it’s so impressive. That’s not to say other Japanese hip-hop isn’t great! But the more otaku-centric melodies and themes really caught my attention.
When writing a new song, how do you usually get your first burst of inspiration?
Calli: I let something make me feel a certain way!! Whatever that emotion is. Something gets me angry, something makes me happy, something gets me thinking. I write a lot of songs about being a creator on the internet because, surprise surprise, it’s what I spend most of my time doing.
Calli relaxing while streaming VA-11 HALL-A
And on the flip side, what do you find helps when you get writer's block?
Calli: Listening to other people’s music. You cannot, CANNOT just listen to your own music if you wanna make something good. Unless you’re like, a prodigy or something. Complete and total originality is not real. Maybe that’s a hot take? My comics friends and I talked a lot about this, since occasionally you’ll run into a burnt-out comic artist who… doesn’t read comics.
When I get in the music making process, I can’t listen to other artists too much in fear of copying by accident. But when I’m uninspired or not currently making music, I blast old and new favorites to get the music spirit flowing again and soon enough I can jump right back in. I think, “man, this song is so sick, I love music” and I feel like producing right away.
Do you have any go-to music to listen to after a hectic day of streaming?
Calli: Lo-fi playlists, they’re low maintenance and don’t cause too much trouble for my brain fog, lol.
Are there any artists out there you'd like to collaborate with if given the chance?
Calli: FAKE TYPE. They inspired me to start rapping and making music; I’ve talked about them sooo much to be honest. The other two are long shots: Ado and Billie Eilish. They’re such powerful singers, I’m so in awe of them. I waited my whole childhood life for ladies like them to show up in the music scene and inspire more low-register girls like me, and I’m glad they finally arrived.
As a creative person, how has VTubing affected your artistic process?
Calli: I work…a LOT faster. Cuz I don’t have time! When I can just create music, things are decently chill. But now I wanna connect with the fans, so it adds a whole new segment to the job. I love it, but it just means I had to speed up my process out of necessity.
What advice would you give to any aspiring musicians out there?
Calli: You better like music if you’re making music. Just do it cuz you like it and if you make money and a living off of it, good shit! But don’t ever expect it. I never did. I grinded for years to an audience of 20 or so people just cuz I loved it and I happened to make the right decisions and get lucky enough that I ended up successful.
Hard work does not guarantee success.
However, hard work INCREASES your chances.
Think of it like gacha. If you could increase your chances to pull your favorite character then you would, wouldn’t you? You’d do what it takes, right? Idk, that’s how I see it personally.
Have there been any standout moments in your career so far that took you by surprise?
Calli: It’s hard to surprise me these days, cuz I’ve seen so much. In the beginning, EVERYTHING surprised me. One thing that hasn’t changed, though, is the warm feeling I get when I see how many Dead Beats still listen to my music and care about what I do. Almost half a million active listeners on Spotify is a feat I thought I’d never achieve. I was at like, maximum 100 for a few years lol.
VTubing with hololive production involves a lot of collaboration with your fellow streamers. Has that experience taught you anything new or unexpected?
Calli: I’ve learned how to bounce off people and relax, have a good time, all that. I used to be kind of uptight and anxious during collabs because I reeeeally hate scuff… it seems to follow me, though, lol.
But we’re there for each other and at the end of the day, as long as we’ve got each other’s backs it’ll be fine!!
You've had quite a number of different looks over time, from your reaping outfit to your casual hip hop look to even a full-on male persona. Are there any places stylistically you'd like to go in the future?
Calli: Sheriff!! UNDERWORLDIAN SCOURGE OF THE WEST. I want a skeleton horse, too.
Calli in her "Mori Calvin" persona
Whatever trouble gets put in front of you, you always seem to persevere. How do you manage the ups and downs of VTubing and content creation in general?
Calli: By not responding to stupid drama. I made a real bad slip up one time, and it was annoying cuz I was doing pretty well ignoring everything before! It’s like a strike on your permanent record, no one will forget it and it sucks. The only thing I can do is move on and take the lesson, because WOW making big mistakes sticks with you!! But I’ve been forged through some insane BS in my life before hololive production so it’ll take a lot more than drama to get me to stop doing my job.
Any parting words for all the Dead Beats out there?
Calli: Love to all of you, there’s more fun to come.
Keep your eyes peeled because the train doesn’t stop until I’ve written everything my soul can say.
Other articles in this series:
ⓒ 2016 COVER Corp.
David Lynn can be found obsessing over Fate/Grand Order on Twitter @navycherub.