As a Pokémon fan, you’ve heard the song at least a million times — it’s been pumping rhythmically through your veins since the late ’90s with the inaugural episode of the Pokémon anime series. However, fans of the Pocket Monsters franchise may not know who sang that ever-lasting, impressionable tune called “Pokémon Theme.” Jason Paige is his name, and Nintendo News recently caught up with him to learn more about his career, some of his most challenging moments, and to see what he’s been up to.
Where are you originally from? Where do you currently live?
My primary residence is in New York City but many of my creative experiences and opportunities are in Los Angeles. I’m-bicoastal.
How did you get your start in the music industry? How old were you when you realized “this is for me”?
When I was in 8th grade I auditioned for the High School of Music & Art, known now as the “Fame” school. I moved from Queens into Manhattan where I started performing as a magician, street-performing on Columbus Avenue and was approached by a manager. She got me into commercials, soaps and on to Junior Star Search in the acting category. As a vocal major I started a band that was produced first by Steve Katz of Blood Sweat & Tears, then Paul Stanley of KISS. Eventually, my band Whats Up was signed to Imago records and produced by the late Bernard Edwards from Chic.
You’re the singer of the original English “Pokémon Theme” song, which debuted in 1998 with the first episode of the Pokémon anime, “Pokémon – I Choose You!” Did The Pokémon Company contact you directly for that role?
It was a demo for a jingle house I worked for Paradise Music. I had done many jingles industrials and other work in the session world. The demo was accepted … the show was a hit as was the song.
You recently performed Pokémon Theme inside a studio, and shared a video of that performance on YouTube shortly after. What inspired you to do that?
I thought it was important for people to associate my face and name with the song. So many people get so much joy from the song underscoring their imaginations while they’re playing the games and living their Pokémon realities. There are lots of fan requests for me to sing it again in many forms. I’ll be satisfying some more of those requests soon.
Jason Paige Sings Original Pokémon Theme Song
What does “Pokémon Theme” mean to you?
It’s a wonderful anthem about being the very best that you can be … overcoming challenges and understanding how to be the master of your own destiny.
In addition to Pokémon, you performed vocals in the rock band Blood, Sweat & Tears from 2011–2012. Tell me a little about that experience.
That was one of the most robust musical experiences of my life and, to this date, one of the best sounding bands I’ve ever played with. Since the 60s, their songs have underscored mine and my parents’ and grandparents’ lives, and it was a wonderful way to share all of my vocal abilities in expertly curated performance environments.
What have been some of the most challenging moments of your career?
Performing with Michael Jackson at Madison Square Garden was an incredible challenge. I did the rap solo in “Black Or White.” All of the singers involved were held to the highest standard. Singing behind Michael Jackson … “ahhhhhhh, can you imagine!?” His voice, his movements, his songs, his energy, his screaming fans — all overwhelming in the best way.
Performing in theater is one the most challenging arts I engage in often. At the Open Fist Theatre in Los Angeles, I perform in a yearly Beatles Gospel Nativity concert that I arranged and conduct as well. It builds a community around the holidays that provides an alternative to our Santa Claus consumer obsession holiday. Even more challenging is my participation with For The Record, a group of very talented Los Angeles artists led by Shane Scheel and Anderson Davis who do mash-ups of movie directors. Our Scorsese show is going to be at the Wallis Annenberg this September.
You’re clearly a man of many musical talents, but what are some other things you are good at?
I’m sort of a pied-piper. As an expert balloon sculptor and magician, I have used those skills to bring introverted children out of their shells and connect with them. It’s a unique and valuable tool. I’m also what I call a “Sharpie Artist,” drawing on vintage clothing and canvas.
Besides singing, what do you do in your spare time? Are you catching ’em all in Pokémon GO?
I love the game. I played it during a CNN interview on camera — it was really exciting to catch Squirtle in my living room. Recently most of my time has been preparing for my own show at Rockwell Table & Stage. There will be a Poké surprise, too. I’m trying to keep up with all of the Pokémon fans hitting me up now. And I’m trying to catch ’em all in my social media web.
What’s next for you? Are you currently working on any Pokémon-related projects?
I’m being asked to sing at some Pokémon GO events, and I just did a “Poké Rock” parody for Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s official YouTube channel. I would love to collaborate with Nintendo and The Pokémon Company to expand some of this global joy even further, to make appearances at their events and satisfy some of the demands of tens of millions of fans whose childhoods were underscored by the vibrations of my voice and the uplifting anthem … fans, I might add, who now have children who they are enjoying the Pokémon universe with.
Nintendo News thanks the talented Jason Paige for taking the time to talk with us and share some insight about him and his career.