A real nostalgic treat for you all today here at Nidcom. The wonderful Josh Goring recently put together an interview with the two original singers of DREAMS DREAMS for the community. The young Cameron and Jasmine sang on the track way back in 1996 giving us our favorite themesong. Josh catches up with them both to chat about the infamous song and what they're up to today.
First, why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself?
C: My name is Cameron (my friends call me Cam). I’m 30 years old. I’m a Kiwi but have spent a lot of my time in Japan, which I also consider my home along with New Zealand. I love reading a) manga and b) old horror anthology books. I play fighting games competitively and hope to be NZ champion one day. My best result so far is 5th equal in last years NZ nationals (Super Street Fighter 4 AE v.2012).
J: Hi, I`m Jasmine Allen, 27 years old.
I was born in Seattle WA, and came to Japan when I was a little wee one (8 years old). I went through Japanese elementary, junior high, and have been in the Japanese entertainment industry for nearly 15 years. That`s my story in a nutshell!
From what I understand, you have lived in (and still go back and fourth to) Japan. What is it like growing up there?
C: There is good and bad in every culture. Japan has a pretty high ratio of Awesomeness compared to lameness so I can’t complain. I looooooove Tokyo but I wouldn’t want to live there anymore. I hope to visit once a year in the future.
J: Yes, I have been living here for almost 20 years now. I never expected to be here this long. In fact, for the first few years I was always expecting my dad to say “Jasmine, start packing! We`re off to another country!” lol We were always moving around in the States…
Japanese school was difficult for me, especially catching up to my other 3rd grade peers, when I had all those Kanji to learn. I was lucky to make so many friends and be accepted, so I never really had any issues with “fitting in”. I didn`t expect to be here, but the longer I stay, the more and more I started to accept this as my home. I do occasionally visit my extended family in the U.S. and travel here and there, but I always get homesick!
I love the food, and people…and my friends…I pretty much have everything I need. And my older sister is married to a Japanese man and has 2 kids, so yes, I do have my family nearby, and they`re a huge part of my life.
So, how did you first get involved singing the NiGHTS theme song "Dreams, Dreams"?
C: I come from a singing family and a family friend heard of a job requiring a little boy singer. I auditioned for it and got the job. I would have been eleven at the time and it was my first paid job. I was a Sega fan boy (die Playstation die!) so I already had a Sega Saturn (they offered me a free one) but they did give me an armful of games and paid me a handsome sum. I was quite lucky.
J: To be honest, I can`t recall the exact events, but I think I was about 10? When my parents received a phone call and told me that I would be singing for a game software. I didn`t know much about games, ‘cause my dad never really let me play them (yes…it`s true) but I was certainly excited about being able to sing in the studio. I had already had some professional experience by then, and I liked being in front of the microphone with headphones. I had always been singing at home in the shower or in my own little space, so it was an exciting feeling for me. I had a couple days to practice, but I had it down all right. I really liked the song, and was happy to be a part of the whole project.
Have you played the game(s) yourself?
C: I played the original and loved it. I think the music was especially notable (not just because I was involved haha). The boss battles, themes, etc. You could tell a lot of heart went into the game. I was mildly disappointed at the end because a secret boss I was told about never made it into the game but then I saw my name in the credits and I felt much better.
J: I have to admit, I have never been much of a gamer. I have an older sister that always beat the crap out of me with Super Mario Brothers, so I guess I never really got into it that much. I`m really a chicken when it comes to fighting off the “enemies”, I always cringe when I fall in a pit or do anything self destructive.
At one point, I really got into Mario Kart, but I think I got too into it, because I ended up racing in my dreams, so I had to give that up too.
Jasmine, you were brought back to sing the "Sweet Snow" version for the sequel Journey of Dreams in 2007. How did that happen?
J: Yeah, so almost 10 years later, my agency gets a phone call, asking me to sing a song called “Dreams Dreams”. By then I had already sung many songs, so it wouldn`t be a surprise that I would forget it, but actually I was like, “Oh THAT song, of course I`ll sing it!” I`m the kind of person that doesn`t remember much of their childhood, but I remembered this in particular, so I just had to say yes.
It`s funny…the songs that I loved the most as a child always come back to me, one way or another. I can honestly say that “Dreams Dreams” is one of them, no joke. Yes, this version was slightly different, but I thought it was perfect, and connected with it on a deeper lever. And I hope the listeners can sense this too.
What do you think of the original NiGHTS game being re-released for the current-gen systems?
C: Awesome. I plan on playing through it again soon. I’ve been following Trippy and DiGi on facebook for a while now and their involvement and efforts have been truly inspiring.
J: I`m really not the person to talk to when it comes to games. lol But oh well, I`ll give it a shot. I suppose with this rapidly advanced technology, people are wanting “Newer” “Better” and “Faster” everything. And with games, things are advancing as well.
Maybe it`s a good to take a step back, and give the gamers a taste of what the “Original” system is like and to appreciate the simplicity in it.
Would you be willing to come back and perform again for another NiGHTS game?
C: Of course.
J: Yeah, see you in 10 years! yaay
I`m excited to think what kind of version of the song they might come up with.
Are there any other projects (movies, games, music, TV, etc) that people might not know about that you were involved with?
C: Most of the work I did over the years (as an adult) was for Japanese TV commercials; singing little jingles and writing lyrics. I usually had 2 or 3 commercials that were running at any given time. I usually wasn’t credited so it was very much "in the shadows" type of work. I still get paid from time to time for commercials I did years ago if they get renewed and my agent still gets me lyrics jobs when she can which I can do from down here. I wrote some lyrics for a Mr. Donut commercial and a Jim Beam commercial a week or so ago which was fun.
Video game jobs didn’t come around nearly as often but I was the singing voice for the green blob in Loco Roco for the PSP and sang a few tracks for the English and Japanese versions of The World Ends with You for the DS. My sister-in-law Joelle has done more of that stuff than me. I think she did a track or two for Final Fantasy XIII-2 and sang the theme song for a game called Bravely Default.
I translated and subtitled a couple of minor Japanese movies that none of you would have seen. A yakuza film called Amazing Grace (2011) which was actually pretty good and a really weird one called Made in Japan ~Kora!~ (2010).
J: Pretty much everything you need to know is added on my Japanese Wikipedia page. As for game software. I remember doing something for SONY, the 2nd edition of Shenmue. I played the character, Fang Mei.
I did radio for a couple years when I was 22. I had my own little show every Sunday on a small, small internet radio site called RAINBOW TOWN FM. I coordinated the whole program, so I used up a lot of energy and time, but this was great experience for me, and was a valuable starting point in trying new things, not only as an entertainer, but as a director/creator as well.
What are you up to these days?
C: I’ve struggled to get work in NZ due to my lack of work experience in any of the relevant industries here but as of an hour ago I have a full time job as a night security guard at the local university.
Music-wise I’m auditioning for X factor New Zealand later on this month so wish me luck.
Game-wise I’ll be leveling up at Street Fighter and entering all the tournaments I can.
J: For the past year or so, I have been working as a manager and translator at a narration agency. Now being actively involved “behind the scenes”, I can see things from an entirely different perspective. I guess I`m developing the management/business side of me, and I`ll just see where that takes me.
I haven`t been singing lately, as I have developed a vocal dystonia, which affects my singing and speaking as well. It`s been an ongoing battle for me as with my voice, singing (and speaking too) and I have been currently going through therapy sessions. So, if any of you have wondered where I have been for the past few years, just letting you know that I am definitely on the road to recovery. And hopefully in the near future there will be a cure, and I would like to continue with voice acting as well as singing.
Because I need to rest my voice, lately I have been writing lyrics. In fact, this has been a passion of mine since childhood and I figure this might be a good time to hone it. I hope to continue singing, but if not, I will be involved in music in any way I possibly can.
How can fans stay in touch with you?
C: My personal facebook page (Cam Strother) is all I’ve got right now, but later on this year I’ll be starting a new Youtube channel for my music.
J: I`m on Facebook (Jasmine Allen) so just give me a holler.
Any last words for NiGHTS fans?
C: Keep on following your dreams.
J: I`m glad to know that you all enjoyed the game (and the song) just as much as I enjoyed being a part of it…
Thank you…and keep gaming!
Thank you very much Cameron and Jasmine!
- And don't forget to check out the DREAMS DREAMS Sweet Snow complete version if you missed it last Christmas.