J-pop duo Do As Infinity, here for first concert in 18 years, still a hit with fans

Japanese band Do As Infinity are still making music after almost two decades

Tomiko Van and Ryo Owatari (both above) have kept their 18-year working relationship harmonious by giving each other lots of space.
Tomiko Van and Ryo Owatari (both above) have kept their 18-year working relationship harmonious by giving each other lots of space.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Japanese band Do As Infinity are surprised to hear that they were a leading force when the Japanese wave was in its heyday in the early 2000s.

"I did not know we were so popular back then," says vocalist Tomiko Van, 38, with a hearty laugh. "Our company should have told us."

She was in Singapore for the band's concert at Capitol Theatre last Saturday.

The group's iconic ballad Yesterday And Today - which was used in hit J-drama Love 2000 (2000) - is still fresh in the minds of J-pop listeners.

Guitarist Ryo Owatari, 45, says: "Last November, we visited Taiwan for the first time in eight years. It was a pleasant surprise to find out that so many fans in Asia were still listening to our songs."

The good reception to the band's performance at a rock festival in Taiwan last November was what led to this year's concerts in Taipei and Singapore.

The pop-rock outfit sang classics and new tunes last Saturday night. It was their first concert in Singapore in their 18-year career.

"I'm 38 now, but I can still sing the songs from when I was 20 and they don't feel old at all to me.

"I'm grateful to be able to sing music that transcends time," says Van in an interview ahead of the concert.

Do As Infinity started out as a trio in 1999 with guitarist Dai Nagao, Owatari and Van. They disbanded in 2005, but returned in 2008 as a duo with Van and Owatari.

Nagao, 46, composed the hauntingly beautiful melody of Yesterday And Today and Van wrote the touching lyrics.

Van recalls: "One day, I received a call from composer Dai Nagao to go to the studio. I heard the song and the first line 'dear friend' and the rest of the lyrics naturally flowed.

"When I was writing the song, I wanted it to have a universal theme. It was like writing a letter to a good friend."

The group have continuously put out new material.

They will be releasing a new single To Know You on Wednesday to commemorate their 18th anniversary.

They are also working with famed sound producer Hiroyuki Sawano to create a light-hearted song, says Van.

She adds: "This time around, we wanted something a little more cheerful. A song that will make someone who listens to it happy."

After spending almost two decades together, the duo have nailed the art of maintaining a harmonious relationship.

With a relaxed air, Owatari says: "Do not be too nosy about what the other member is up to and keep a good distance from each other. That is the secret to us getting along for so many years."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 25, 2017, with the headline 'Tunes that transcend time'. Subscribe