On September 24, 2015, the Vocaloid community mourned the loss of samfree.
Best known for the infectious Eurobeat track “Luka Luka Night Fever,” samfree was one of the first Vocaloid producers, creating tracks in the genre’s early days and rising to prominence within the Japanese community and later, the international community. Five years after his passing, his works retain their popularity and continue to inspire new generations of Vocaloid producers and fans. While most fans know him for “Luka Luka Night Fever,” samfree’s work encompassed more than this one smash hit.
Sano Takayuki was born on September 9, 1984, in Niigata, the capital city of Niigata, Japan. He uploaded his first Vocaloid track, “Daybreak,” to Nico Nico Douga on November 11, 2007, less than 3 months after Crypton Future Media first released the Vocaloid software for Hatsune Miku. The lyrics speak of wandering through darkness in search of the light, a light that will always come at daybreak. While the 1:56 track has garnered a mere 15,302 views over the past 13 years, it was the start of many things to come for the young producer.
He rounded out 2007 with 7 more tracks: Tender Wind, Daybreak -Full ver-, 桜のような恋でした (It Was A Cherry-Blossom-Like Love), 君のメロディー (Your Melody), CHAIN, Daybreak (Kagamine Rin Version), and Daybreak (Kagamine Len Version). Of these 7 tracks, the full version of “Daybreak” featuring Hatsune Miku became his most popular track of 2007, clocking in at 482,471 views as of the writing of this article.
In the span of 8 years, samfree uploaded a grand total of 65 Vocaloid tracks to Nico Nico Douga, averaging close to 2 tracks per month. While most of the tracks are his original works and remixes sung by Vocaloids, some feature samfree himself and others singing along to Vocaloid tracks from other producers such as kz-livetune and Dixie Flatline. His most popular tracks comprise the “Night” series: Luka Luka Night Fever, Tako Luka Maguro Fever, Megu Megu Fire Endless Night, Miki Miki Romantic Night, and others. By far, “Luka Luka Night Fever” is his most popular track to date, clocking in at almost 5 million views as of the writing of this article. Uploaded on February 12, 2009, it is widely regarded as one of Megurine Luka’s unofficial theme songs.
The final Vocaloid track samfree uploaded to Nico Nico Douga was “Mind Voice,” featuring IA, debuting on August 21, 2015. It is believed that samfree composed this track knowing that he did not have much time left in this world and that the most important thing is to never give up. As the track’s lyrics say, “What you have to go on is what lies in your heart.” To date, “Mind Voice” clocks in at 260,591 views, with many comments from users around the world expressing their condolences upon his sudden passing just over one month later, at the young age of 31.
While Sano Takayuki’s life was cut short too soon, his contributions to the Vocaloid community are many, and perhaps both his well-known and lesser-known works will inspire others in 2020 and beyond.