Interview with Paprika Mari

Another Yes Tiger! interview for you guys: this time with an idol based in America! I had the chance to talk with Paprika Mari about her idol performances, why she became an idol, the Idol Academy performance program, tips to improve your voice, her idol inspired drinks, how she feels about performing in East Meets West, and more!


Thank you for joining us here at Yes Tiger! Please start by introducing yourself.

Hello! 初めマリまして、My name is Paprika Mari and I am a singer, music teacher, and cosplayer! I am also the CEO and voice instructor of the performance program called Idol Academy where people learn how to sing, dance, and perform… like an idol! I’m so excited to chat with you, Yes Tiger =)

How would you describe yourself as an idol? What are your lives like and what kind of songs will you be performing?

As an Idol… I think I would describe myself as a yolo-chill person who wants to spread 萌え energy for the world to be extra magical and happy. LOL no, really!  But during the day, I’m actually a music teacher training aspiring musicians of all ages. My life is a constant juggle between being a growing musician and a mentor to my students. At East Meets West Fest, I will be performing a mix of anisong and idol covers along with my originals and I am omega excited to be a part of such an epic lineup of metal bands and Idols! よろぴくね~

Is there anything attendees should know to help make your East Meets West performance the best it can be? For example, anything to bring or any calls to know?

OMG This question is hella LIT. Okay, for my performance, I would like everyone to take a deep breath 深呼吸して~, and exhale. Ok? We’re gonna do it three times together!! LOL but anyways, please bring yourselves and have A LOT of FUN so we can share the same energy together! For calls, I will lead you to join me but if you’re curious, please chant out my nickname まりり~ん if you get lonely *wink*

How did you get interested in idols and what made you want to be an idol?

Hmmm that’s an interesting question, but to keep it short and simple, I wanted to become an idol because I love love love watching and learning the singing and dance routines, and also experiencing the escapism that the idol culture creates (bc let’s face it, life is too real O_O). As a child, I wasn’t allowed to listen to Idol groups nor could afford to get in contact with the Japanese idol scene so as an adult, I feel like I can finally experience something I missed when I was growing up.  The main drive tho, of wanting to become an idol is so I can show my students that yes, it is possible to do something you enjoy as a living so it can motivate them to work harder in music.

I see that you are a voice coach at Idol Academy. Can you tell us about Idol Academy, what it is, and what the curriculum is like?

YAAAAY! So Idol Academy is a performance program for aspiring idols who want to learn to sing, dance, and perform. We basically teach people (of no music/dance background) to be able to sing and dance 2~3 songs in 6-8 weeks where they work as a team to put on a great show! There’s a ton of on-hands training with a lot of practicing involved ~ I teach voice for 1.5-2 hours/week as my partner teaches the dance choreo in the same amount of time. Our goal is to bring awareness that being an idol comes with HARD WORK, because we believe in WORK HARD PLAY HARD. Being a self-employed artist is a life full of hustle and I wanted to share that experience with others who may also be interested in that hard core life.

As a voice coach, do you have any tips for readers who would like to improve their voices?

OH YES! I have plenty of advice but to keep it short (from becoming too boring)

  1. TAKE LESSONS, PRIVATE LESSONS… please!! It will help you a lot and make you sound better!
  2. PRACTICE never makes PERFECT, but PROGRESS
  3. Just keep singing, singing, singing =D

You seem to be active in many different fields – as an idol, a pop band vocalist, a cosplayer, a Japanese fashion enthusiast, and more. Can you tell us about some of your other activities?

OMG I know, I think I do way too much. …but I do love to draw illustrations and mix drinks sometimes ❤ and like, playing piano… oh yes, and I do enjoy teaching!!

I noticed that you are a licensed mixologist known for creating anime-inspired drink tutorials. What are some of your best creations? Have you ever made any idol-inspired drinks?

Yup!! Ooooo!! To be honest, I am super lightweight and can’t handle anything (which is ironic bc I have a mixology license) but I’m told that my Sheryl Nome drink is pretty tasty. …but personally, I thought the Ranka Lee drink would be better bc team Ranka. Yes, my idol drinks were inspired by anime (such as Macross Frontier)

How do you feel about performing in the upcoming East Meets West Music Festival? Are you excited?

I’M ULTRA excited. I’m especially more excited because I’m told a youkai will be appearing on stage with the name of 14Generation HANAKO-SAN. OMG do you know her? She’s #LIT

PhEri, one of Idol Academy’s groups, will also be performing at East Meets West. Can you tell us about PhEri and how you feel about having them as part of the lineup?

Yea! PhEri is a duo created by two of our students from Idol Academy! Their names are Eri and Phoebe and they trained under our program. As a mentor, I’m excited to see their performance and (growth) as a performer bc I was involved their journey of learning to become an idol. LOL whoops I need to stop being a 先生 all the time bc I’ll end up analyzing their breathing and singing instead of enjoying the show.  HAHA

Since the live is called East Meets West Music Fest, what are your favorite artists and/or idols from both the East and the West?

OH MAN that is a tough question… okay for East, I’m super excited to meet Hanako-san so she can (I hope) throw toilet paper at me. For realsies. For West, I’m interested in hearing Abigail Williams as I studied metal music a bit in college and I love METAL, omg symphonic metal too!!

Will you be selling any merchandise at East Meets West? If so, can you tell us about it?

I will have special merch available for sale at the East Meets West Fest, prints, まりりん chekis, glowsticks and shirts!! I hope you will love them (//∇//)

For anyone coming to California for the first time, do you have any recommended places to go or foods to eat?

YES I have many places to recommend but here are my top three:

  1. In and Out – bc that where all my friends from Japan love to go to
  2. Mexican food, but better yet burritos/tacos from a taco truck parked on a sidewalk after 10pm ← bc my rehearsal ends at 10pm
  3. Place? Disneyland for the magical funtimes

What are your goals for the future as an idol and in general?

As an idol, I hope to inspire others who are aspiring idols or musicians, to work hard and learn a lot bc that’s what keeps the fire going! For the most part tho, my goal is to keep staying positive and happy so I can become a better performer and continue growing.

How can we get to know you better before East Meets West? Which of your songs would you recommend?

Check out my website and Facebook – I sing covers live on Tuesdays 8pm so come visit sometime!

I’m still in the process of recording my other songs, but I like my first song 空中ブランコ because… it’s my first baby!! The hard work it comes out of, songwriting is like having a baby, okay? HAHA I will have more songs soon それは後のお楽しみです~

Could you please give a message to your fans, especially your fans attending East Meets West?

Thank you so much for your support!! If it wasn’t for you, then we wouldn’t be here… I am excited to meet you at the show and let’s have some funtimes =)

これからもよろしくお願いしまりりん (did that sound right? I’m still working on the idol-diction here)

Thank you for taking the time to talk with us today. We hope you have a great time at East Meets West!

Thank you so much for chatting with me and I’m super happy to have been able to chat with you! 楽しかったです~ はいカンパーイ!


Thanks again to Paprika Mari for working with Yes Tiger! and answering my questions. I was really impressed by how quickly she sent the interview back to me and replied to all of my messages!

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Paprika Mari will be performing at the East Meets West Music Festival on August 19th at the Chain Reaction in Anaheim, California. Tickets are $40 in advance for one day or $70 in advance for both days. VIP ticket packages are also available, starting at $100. If you can’t make it in person but would like to live stream the festival, you can buy a live stream ticket for $40 or a VIP live stream ticket for $400. Regular tickets are available here and VIP tickets are available here. If you’d like to learn more about the festival, you can read my interview with Derek Vasconi, creator of the festival, here.

Paprika Mari Website
Paprika Mari Facebook Page
Paprika Mari Instagram
Paprika Mari Twitter
Paprika Mari YouTube Channel
Paprika Mari SoundCloud
Idol Academy Website
Idol Academy Facebook Page
Idol Academy Instagram

East Meets West Music Fest Facebook Event Page
East Meets West Music Fest Twitter

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