oritsu_luv: (Default)
Note: this is kind of messed up because the scans are cut off a little bit.

Hamasaki Ayumi talks about 'Love Songs'.

"Rather than wanting people to sympathize or relate to the songs, I want the songs to become a mirror that reflects the listeners and thereby give the listener a chance to take a look at their own reflection..."
That was the thought in Ayu's mind as she worked on her new album 'Love songs'. What was it that she wanted to ask everyone through her songs about all different kinds of love?

The title 'Love songs' made me look forward to a really pink album, but now I realize that was stupid. (LOL)

I'd never made an album like that! I mean, this is me we're talking about. (LOL) Even the first song 'love song' isn't a ballad.

So first off, could you tell us why you wanted to make this album?

It all started with my 7 days show at Yoyogi. I thought that'd I'd be totally exhausted after I made it through those seven days, so I wanted to give myself a little rest. But after it was all actually over, I thought "I can't stop here." "I need to take all the things I learned in those seven days and keep on moving forward." To put it succinctly, I felt enlightened.


My idea of the kind of singer I needed to be, that I wanted to be, suddenly became very clear and simple. I realized once again that I want to be a vocalist. That I didn't want to use complicated gimmicks, I wanted to get things across to people in a simple way, by expressing what I want through my songs. I realized that that is how I should be.

I see. And this new album is your first after realizing that.

Up until now, I always had an ulterior motive in choosing my words, some sort of darker side or reason behind them. I didn't want that, I just wanted to make an album that was a collection of songs that were simply about different kinds of love. That's when I thought of the title of 'Love songs'.

I do think that there are all kinds of love on the album. What does 'love' mean to you?

I think it's the greatest theme of our lives. The most important thing. Life has no meaning without love, and we're living because of love, and it's the biggest, most beautiful, most difficult thing in the world. Choosing to write about love like that was very difficult emotionally, as well. I felt like I was climbing this huge mountain. (LOL)

No wonder. Could you give us your definition of a love song?

It's all summed up by the album title 'Love songs', but within that, when I tried to write what I think of as a love song, what I wrote was 'Love song'. That's where I am right now. 'Love Song' isn't saying 'I fell in love' or 'I'm singing about all these romances'. -------- or fun, or sweet, or gentle or passionate. I think that's 'romance'. We don't know what love looks like, or if it's warm, or cold - it might be hot enough to burn, or ice cold. It's not something tangible that you can reach out and touch. I even think that whether love is good or bad depends on the person. Some people deny love. So I wanted to sing about all of those different kinds of love. That's where----

The last song is a recording of 'Seven Days War' from the final day of your 7 days show. What was the meaning behind that?

If 'LOVE = LIVE' then that moment there contains my very core. I was just sobbing so I couldn't sing very well, but I felt like all of my emotions, everything I feel about why I want to be a singer, and everything I take pride in as a singer, it was all there on that day, in that song, and that's why I immediately decided to include it on the album.

The songs on this album talk about all kinds of love, but I wondered if 'NOVEMBER' isn't actually---

I'm not telling. (LOL) I know that's the most difficult thing, but that's a mystery I'm going let you all enjoy solving.

I got this wild idea 'Is this actually about Ayu? Has she met the One?'

Who knows?

And maybe his birthday is in November?

Hahaha! That's the last reason I'd use that title!

Too bad! I thought we'd get to chat about your lovelife, but maybe next time!

I liked those 50 questions I did last time. I'd like to do that again. It would also be easier to answer questions about my love life that way.

Like, 'Are you in love right now?

oritsu_luv: (Default)
"I think it was something that was really necessary for me to become an adult, to move forward to the next thing."

Since her debut, Utada Hikaru has put out numerous hits, and always been in the spotlight, but in August, she announced on her official homepage: 'Starting in 2011, I'm going to stop my activities for a while.'

"I debuted when I was 15, and I started doing (music) without really knowing anything. When I got to a turning point, I was able to do what I said I wanted to do, but I've come all this way never knowing where it was all taking me, whether I was headed towards a mountain, or a cliff. I've always said "Being random is a family trait!", but I feel like that came out in a negative way, you know? I got to the point where I realized, "Oh man, if I kept on this way I'd fall of this cliff', and for the first time, I realized the danger of that."

Did I get here by my own, as a person? I've had a lot of experiences as an artist, but maybe I've only had really narrow experiences. This fragmenting of Utada Hikaru's emotions could be seen in the text she wrote in TEN, the official book she released in Spring of 2009 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of her debut. She took a look at the various events in her past, and the point she was at currently, and wrote about emotions that only she could understand.

"I think that writing that was a catalyst in a way. In terms of taking a look at myself, or facing myself, leaving a record like that which couldn't be erased meant that I had to take responsibility for what I was saying, so I think that I gained something by facing up to that responsibility. When I look at what I write now, from an outsider's perspective, part of me feels like, "Oh, that was kind of selfish", but by letting out that confusion, instead of holding it inside, I was able to re-evaluate it and digest it. Of course, if I read it ten years from now, I may be really embarrassed by what I said.(laugh) But I think it was something that was really necessary for me to become an adult, to move forward to the next thing. Because I was able to get out all these things that I had kept inside and tried to force down, these emotions that I had tried not to show my parents and the people around me.So I feel like I can finally be glad that I was able to get it all out. I think it will help me take the next step."

"Utada Hikaru SINGLE COLLECTION VOL.2", the best album to be released before her hiatus will contain not only the singles she released in the past 6 years, but also 5 new songs in which she had put all the gratitude she feels to everyone who have supported Utada Hikaru this whole time.

"I wanted to put some new songs on it. I wanted to write songs, and I had things I wanted to say. This is the first time I had something I wanted to say. Up until now, in interviews when they'd asked me to give a message to everyone, I was like, "Sorry, I guess they can just take it from my songs.", I didn't really know, myself. But this time I thought about some really important things. I really had something to say."

In the songs she wrote in the past, she could see herself of those 6 years. The songs told her both good things and not so good things. She's living in the present. She's trying to walk on her own two feet into the future. So she wanted to put her current self into [the new songs] and show it to everyone.

" 'Can Wait 'Til Christmas' is a little different, but the other 4 songs are all about the same thing. It's the first time I've had a cohesive theme like that, and since I said want I wanted through 4 songs, so it has the most coherent storyline of anything I've done. They're a reconciliation with myself, and a reconciliation with my past, like, they share a theme of "What does it mean to love?" and "What is love?", and facing yourself and facing your fears.

"Why? Because I wanted to sing. I mean, I am singer."

'Arashi no Megami' (The Goddess of Storms) is a song where Utada Hikaru was able to express the emotions she could never really tell her mother in the word 'Thank you'.

"When I realized how necessary it was to face myself, I thought, well that must start with knowing yourself. And knowing your parents...I realized that for me, accepting myself also meant accepting my mother. I was born as her daughter, so I thought that was the first thing I needed to get past."

'Show Me Love (Not a Dream)', with it's strong band sound and powerful vocals was called 'PURPLE' when she created the demo two years ago.

"I want to talk about how the contradictions inside me gradually started to wear on my heart, and steal my energy. When the green light for 'GO' and the red light for 'STOP' overlap, those feelings are purple. I felt like those of us who live in this modern society are all confused. Like, it's not a good thing to want to cry but not be able to, not know how to cry. Crying is just as important as eating or going to the bathroom, but we can't do it because we're thinking with our heads too much."

'Goodbye Happiness' is a light dance song, written because, much like 'traveling', she wanted a cheerful song.

"I wanted to do something kind of like a 90s dance song. The arrangement and the melody are pretty classic, but I didn't want it to be too corny. It's pretty ubiquitous, but I hope that some of my own personality comes out in it too, then I'll have succeeded in what I was trying to do."

'Hymne à l'amour ~Ai no Anthem~', which was used in the Pepsi Next Commercial she appeared in, is a cover of French chanson singer Edith Piaf's 'Hymne a l'amour'. A second of the lyrics are Utada Hikaru's own translation.

"You now the woman in that famous painting from the French Revolution (Delacroix's 'Liberty Leading the People')? The lyrics of the original song made me think of a woman with a flag raised, leading the citizens. Piaf wrote this song during a period of extreme emotion, just after her true love had been killed in an accident. I've never experienced anything like that, but I knew I couldn't translate the lyrics if I didn't try to understand what she was feeling then. It made me realize that trying to understand other people results in understand yourself, so it was a really good experience."

The last song on DISC 2 is Utada Hikaru's first Christmas Song, 'Can't Wait 'Til Christmas'

"I wanted to write a cute song. But not like, a really cutesy song. I think girls try to put up a strong front a lot - I know I do. Like, we can't express our own cuteness, we hide the girly parts of ourselves and say things like "I'm not jealous!" or "I don't need any promises from you!" But I think that - and I don't just mean when it comes to relationships - hiding parts of yourself, hiding or negating the cute or really passionate parts of yourself is really bad for you. I never wrote much about that [part of myself] in my lyrics before, but I felt like I could write it now."

In December, she will have a concert at the Yokohama Arena, which will be her first Japanese concert in 4 years.

"I really wanted to do a tour, but none of the venues had days free, so it ended up being just the Yokohama Arena. But I wanted to have a concert, even just for two days. Why? Because I wanted to sing. I mean, I am singer."
oritsu_luv: (the it girl)
Many people, fans included, where surprised when Utada Hikaru announced that as of next year, she would be taking a break from her activities as a musical artist for a while.

"My contract with EMI isn't up yet, so I can't retire. (laughter) Besides, I really love making music, and it come naturally to me. I don't think I could last forever without music. I really am a musician."

"Besides, there are people waiting for my music." She expressed her gratitude to all the fans who had supported her no matter what, and for all the people who loved her music. And that was why she decided that when she released her best album as a prelude to her hiatus, "I want to put some new songs on it, song that I've really put my heart into."

"I had things I wanted to say, It was the first time I'd really felt that, from the bottom of my heart. When I wrote the lyrics for the new songs, I didn't do it like a lyricist writing lyrics, I just wrote what I honestly wanted to say. I don't know...in terms of my albums...DISC 2 (which contains the new songs) is sort of like 'FIRST LOVE', in a way.

It's been 12 years since her debut. She can never go back to who she was when she debuted, or erase the path she's walked. Maybe she realized that if she didn't face up to her past and the sadness and battles she'd faced, she couldn't envision what the future might hold for her. Those are the thoughts she put into her new songs.

"Really, when I wore these lyrics, I thought long and hard about what was important.The four songs besides 'Can't Wait 'Til Christimas' ('Show Me Love(Not A Dream)', 'Goodbye Happiness', 'Hymne a’amour', 'Arashi no Megami') are a reconciliation with myself, and a reconciliation with my past, and they all have an overreaching theme of facing myself, and facing my fears. It's the first time I've had an overreaching theme, and because I wrote what I wanted to say over 4 songs, the songs the most cohesive storyline I've ever done. I put everything I had into those lyrics so I feel more strongly than ever before that I hope they get my feelings across to everyone."

Listening to all the hit songs on DISC 1 really brings how just what a talented artist Utada Hikaru is. And the new songs on DISC 2 will tell you what the author of those singles is thinking now, and where she is trying to go.

"I kind of feel like on DISC 2 I'm trying to hug myself on DISC 1, and say "It's okay.", "This is fine.", and "Here's another way of thinking about things."


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November 2016

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