Holographic pop star Hatsune Miku to perform Montreal concert

A Japanese pop star is making her Montreal debut this year ⁠— just don’t expect to see her in the flesh. That’s because Hatsune Miku, who has taken the stage and performed to sold-out crowds around the world, isn’t real.

Using projection technology, the character can appear and sing before a live crowd

Hatsune Miku is a 3-D avatar created by the Japanese technology firm Crypton Future Media. (Sega/Marza Animation Planet Inc/Crypton Future Media)

A Japanese pop star is making her Montreal debut this year ⁠— just don't expect to see her in the flesh.

That's because Hatsune Miku, who has taken the stage and performed to sold-out crowds around the world, isn't real. She's a hologram.

Hatsune Miku is a Vocaloid — a voice-synthesizing software for producing music. Users can input syllables and adjust the pitch to make the program sing, meaning anyone can compose a song using her voice.

Those songs have exploded on the Internet, leading to Hatsune Miku world tours, using projection technology to appear on stage. This year she is even performing at massive music festival Coachella.

Tickets for her first Montreal concert in May go on sale Friday, but dedicated fans are already getting in the Miku spirit.

Watch Hatsune Miku perform the song 'Bless Your Breath' at a Japanese concert last year:

Chloe Proulx has dressed up as Miku for cosplay, and said there's something endearing about the character's personality.

"She's super peppy and very happy and very energetic, and that kind of comes through in that high-pitch voice that she has," Proulx told CBC Montreal's Daybreak. 

Cosplay photographer and Miku fan Nicolas Vicenzo said the pop star is clearly "not a run-of-the-mill" artist, but it's long been his dream to see her in concert.

"She's pretty much the most popular pop star that no one knows about," he said.

While some people might balk at the idea of seeing a concert performed by someone who doesn't exist, Vicenzo said he thinks fictional performers are more palatable than some of the alternatives.

In 2012, Coachella held another holographic concert, using a 3D hologram of rap artist Tupac, who died in 1996.

"I find that opens up an ethical can of worms," said Vicenzo​​​. "Is it ethical to revive someone, who's a deceased performance artist, for the sake of entertainment?" he asked. "Compared to Miku, where she's fictional begin with."

Chloe Proulx (left, wearing a Hatsune Miku wig) and Nicolas Vicenzo are both hoping to see the virtual pop star live when she comes to town this May. (Annie Deir/CBC)

Proulx said that appreciating a virtual artist doesn't mean you don't enjoy real, human performers as well.

"I go to a lot of shows that happen to be more alternative bands," she said. "So really it's just a diverse music taste."

But Proulx said the fact that anyone can write a song for Hatsune Miku gives a sense of community to the performance that's hard to find at a traditional concert.

"There's a feeling that it almost becomes more 'democratized,' I guess," she said. "Anyone can write Vocaloid songs. Anyone can become big in the Vocaloid community, whether or not you have any singing talent or whether or not you look good."

"If you have Miku, or any other Vocaloid software, you can create music. It kind of turns it into a very universal thing."

Hatsune Miku will be performing at the Place Bell in Laval on Friday, May 15.