Wowaka: The Importance Of Crediting Artists.

Wowaka: The Importance Of Crediting Artists.

Claire Lattimore, Journalist

April 5th 2023, will mark the 4th anniversary of one of the most influential, famous and talented musician of Japan, Wowaka. A brilliant producer with a tragic career, always unacknowledged for his work he put out into the world. This article follows his life, and in turn shows the true importance of crediting artists.


We all consume media, and we all enjoy music and art. However, we tend to forget that there is a person, a creator, behind that piece of work we enjoy so much. Giving credit to artists is how you truly appreciate their work, by crediting them, you’re sharing their name with others and in turn helping said artist gain the commendation they deserve. Now imagine if you created multiple songs that were absolute hits, people loved them and gained millions of views. However, in these songs you weren’t the one singing, you put your song into a program software and had a robot sing for you. Even though you composed the song in its entirety by yourself, the media constantly credits and thanks the robot for the songs you made, almost entirely ignoring you and all the work you put into your music. Sounds crazy right? Welcome to the world of Wowaka.


To give some background, in Japan there are purchasable voice synthesizers known as “Vocaloids.” They are used by composers and musicians who want to make music but don’t want to sing, so they buy a “vocaloid” that they can use to program lyrics into to make them sing. There are five Vocaloid voicebanks that have been released, all with different voice types so the artist can choose which type of voice they want to use for their music. However these Vocaloids aren’t just voice synthesizers, they’re much more than that. These synthesizers have been given personas, the most famous one being “Hatsune Miku” and her popularity goes beyond music. She and the other five main Vocaloids have their own rhythm games, comic serieses, and are often referenced in anime and other media in Japan. These Vocaloids are so popular that Japan created a way for them to perform concerts through a projection on a big screen with a live band. They pre-animate the whole concert so it seems like these Vocaloids are singing and walking around the stage as if they were actual humans, and people love it! It’s as if the Vocaloids are real and performing on stage for everyone.


With that knowledge, this will make Wowaka’s story easier to understand. Wowaka’s first exposure to Vocaloid was in December of 2008, he was listening to the song Last night, Good night and found out the whole song was created by one man. In April of 2009 Wowaka quit his band and went on to create Vocaloid music using previously mentioned “Hatsune Miku” synthesizer. 


Wowaka has been described as one of the first major Vocaloid producers, coming out with insanely popular songs such as Rolling Girl, Two-faced lovers and World’s end dancehall. However, 2 years into making music Wowaka realized that people were not seeing him or acknowledging his talent at all, everyone was seeing the music as “Hatsune Miku’s” music. It was always “by Miku” and never “by Wowaka”; he was simply living in the shadow of the popularized voice synthesizer. This caused him to make a “response” song to the Vocaloid community, in 2011 Wowaka released the song Unhappy Refrain which was his way of reminding people that he was the real reason behind his music and how the lack of credit for his music affected him. Lyrics such as: “I sang until I ruined my voice,wasting so much time”  “How many times have I taken advantage of perfect circumstances laid out in front of me” “No matter how much sound I lay down, there’s no end, no beginning” and much more really give you a feel for how impactful everything was to him.


That same year, Wowaka quit Vocaloid and joined the band known as “Hitorie” and continued producing music under the band’s name. It wasn’t until 2017 Wowaka returned to Vocaloid one more time for the 10th anniversary of Hatsune Miku, that’s when he created his final Vocaloid song “Unknown Mother Goose.” This song was his final message to the Vocaloid community, his final thoughts he wished to express. The song is very bittersweet as it goes from when he was seemingly “unknown” by the entire Vocaloid fanbase, to him going through internal struggle of not wanting to dwell on the past until he finally comes to terms with himself by the end of the song. Looking back at the lyrics, it hurts even more now that he has passed.


On April 5th of 2019, Wowaka passed away in his sleep due to heart failure at age 31, shocking fans all over the world. His death was announced three days later on his band’s (Hitorie) website, even after his death, Hitorie continued making music and on the 1st of June they held a remembrance concert. Tributes were held at both Hatsune Miku’s Magical Mirai concert (2019) Miku Expo concert in Europe (2020) to honor Wowaka and recognized how influential he was in the Vocaloid community.


Wowaka’s story is a huge example of why giving credit to artists is so important. Due to lack of recognition, he quit making Vocaloid music, leaving behind a legacy that kicked off his musical career. He might have gone onto creating more music under a separate band name, but he will always be known as “Wowaka” by countless Vocaloid fans. With his passing, it shed light on the true severity of acknowledging the hard work artists put into their pieces, and it’s a shame that he is longer with us to see how much people truly appreciated him and his music. Wowaka will be forever remembered for his contributions to the Vocaloid scene, for he not only made music, but reshaped an entire generation of musicians alike.