Ayumi Hamasaki Sekai - View Single Post - [Translation] (interview) Zappy, November 2000
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Old 25th December 2015, 07:23 PM
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(interview) Zappy, November 2000

I translated another one of her older interviews~ She talks about Duty and the big influence of her 1st long tour, Concert Tour 2000 Vol.1 & Vol.2.

I nearly quit halfway through. I love you, Ayu my dear, but learn to finish your goddamn sentences. It's a pain to translate

(read on tumblr)


Ayumi Hamasaki has released her new album Duty, after holding her first nation-wide tour from April to August and releasing 3 singles in the meantime. Her previous album was released 10 months ago, a short interval. On this album, which can easily be called her greatest yet, what feelings is she trying to share with us?

I couldn’t have made this album if I hadn’t toured

Come to think of it, it’s only been 2,5 years since your debut. Amazing. Almost too fast.

A: Really fast, huh. I’m impressed everyone managed to keep up (laughs).

True. The one who’s doing the running is you, Hamasaki-san (laughs). In any case, your new album Duty turned out amazing. It’s compact but very much worth listening to. Unlike your earlier work, many of the songs have a “band sound” approach to them this time, right? Perhaps 3 months of touring had a big influence on you?

A: Very big. I’ve never sung live so much before. I often worked with step recording before, but I wanted to use live instruments as much as possible this time.

How much time did you spend recording the album tracks?

A: I started after my tour ended…

Eh!? After your tour ended 9 August …you mean?

A: Yes.

It’s not like you decided only on the songs during the tour and nothing else… right?

A: That’s exactly what happened (laughs). Out of sweet - or maybe cruel (laughs) - consideration… my producer (Max Matsuura) decided: “Won’t you be unable to concentrate on touring if we talk about albums too much?” (laughs)

But CD shops were already advertising “new album on 27 September!” in early August?

A: I heard when the tour’s 2nd volume was almost over. I was told: “You’ll release a new album on 20-something September after the tour.” Just like that (laughs).

It’s incredible you managed to create such an amazing album with such a crazy schedule…

A: No. On the contrary, I think I couldn’t have made this album if I hadn’t toured. Yeah.


A: After the tour, things like “I want to sing songs with this kind of sound” or “I want to write about this” or “I want to sing more like this”… I got the strong desire to write certain lyrics and create certain songs. I feel like I managed to get all those things out with the perfect timing.

I think I’ve become able to honestly feel “today was fun” lately

The track list also gives off the strong vibe of a live performance. I feel it has resemblance to the tour’s 2nd volume?

A: That’s right. It’s intentional. I created it while saying things like “Yocchan (Yoshio Nomura, guitarist) enters now” (laughs).

Actually, wasn’t the initial plan to release a spring album? Was this an alternate result of that plan?

A: It ended up like that, yes.

And, I feel, as a result, this album contains your time spent touring in addition to your 3 previous singles at its core.

A: The track list follows the release order of vogue, Far away and SEASONS, but the rest of the album isn’t just made up of the things I felt and gained after the tour. The tour itself is the key point… Frankly speaking, before the tour, there was a period I said “I’m feeling despair”. I continued the tour the best I could while feeling such despair. But I managed to shake off various issues by the time the tour finished. I wanted to include this process in the track list. That’s why, the songs before and after vogue are how despaired I felt back then… Then, just before the tour started, I felt ready to attack, ready to stand up again, like in Far away’s lyrics: “Newly, like myself…” That’s why I put a song like AUDIENCE afterwards. But then I got to the point of feeling “there’s no way everything will stay alright”, which is why teddy bear is placed there. But in the end, the album ends with girlish: “Let’s sing together again”…

How did you get past your period of despair? Was it thanks to the tour?

A: I wonder how… I don’t know why, but after the tour… I was still pretty much on edge when I was making the album. Normally I don’t listen repeatedly to my own songs, but…

You’re someone who hardly listens to their own work?

A: Hardly (laughs). But after finishing the album this time, I asked for the MD right away and listened to it again and again… I was too embarrassed in the past. Like, “Isn’t it lame to listen to Ayumi Hamasaki in my car?” (laughs). I was trying to look cool in some strange way. But this time I can freely say “this is really good” (laughs). I can say “this album is amazing” and I feel it’s OK to think every day is fun. Without any specific reason. In the past, I’d always need a reason. I’d think to myself: “Why? Why is this fun?” I was a person who’d end up thinking: “It’s not really fun, is it?” But I guess I’m able to freely say “Yes, today too was very fun” nowadays?

I’d almost ask you “why?” myself right now, but that’s my profession, after all (laughs).

A: (Laughs). That’s why I wrote “Don’t look for enjoyment. Simply enjoy the present” (girlish) as the last lines of the album. That type of state of mind… Actually, whenever I met up with friends in the past, I would often think things like “Isn’t there anything to do? What should we do? What’s fun to do?” I don’t say that anymore. Now I’m just having fun …it feels great (laughs).

You’re in a good place right now.

A: How rare! (laughs)

In your entire life?

A: Hahaha… yeah.

Maybe it’s because, during the tour, you managed to spit out the trauma’s you were holding in? Moreover, the audience accepted all those things. While watching the footage of your tour, I strongly felt you, Hamasaki-san, were cleansed as well.

A: It feels like I let out everything I needed to let out in one go, had a funeral, died and managed to come back again.

It’s the start of your 2nd volume…

A: Right, right.

In a way, this 3rd album marks the start of Ayumi Hamasaki’s 2nd volume…

A: No, the 3rd! (laughs).

This time, I wrote the lyrics while imagining how I would sing them

Excuse me (laughs). So, the album title is Duty. This word has the nuance of “having to do something”, right? Did you choose this title because of something you felt throughout the tour?

A: I strongly felt: “I felt the audience’s feelings so strongly. I must express myself clearly.” That’s why I chose the word ‘duty’: it’s what ‘my future self has to do’. But that’s not me reaching out my hand to someone who wants me, nor a call for people to come to me. It’s like I’m walking with my hands in my pockets and if you want to walk with me, that’s fine. Don’t follow me, don’t walk ahead of me. Just walk next to me, ok? That kind of feeling… In return, if the person walking beside me does something, I will support him or her and we’ll go together… That’s the feeling I wanted to bring across.

[…] This album also has a heavy side. Rather than carefully compiling the words, you’re directly throwing out your words this time, I think. That’s why your words will linger with more listeners, how to put it…

A: I also feel I wrote the things I wanted to say as they are this time. Lately, I’m facing everything head-on. That’s why I wasn’t afraid of anything, or rather, I felt “everything will be OK, Ayu!” no matter what words or singing style I used.

Then, how did writing the lyrics go?

A: Fast. I stopped one time, though (laughs). But once I started writing again, things went really fast.

I feel like asking how you overcame not being able to write lyrics has been a constant question in our interviews (laughs).

A: Yeah (laughs). But I didn’t feel the need to lock myself away when I couldn’t write this time. In the past, I would seclude myself at home, not even answering the phone. Nowadays it’s more “I can’t write anything now. There’s no point forcing myself.” Maybe something will inspire me if I go outside..? I’m currently thinking like that.

You didn’t end up going to the countryside somewhere suddenly, right?

A: (laughs loudly) Yeah.

Surprisingly, SCAR is your first triple metre song. It seemed like you already had such songs, but you didn’t.

A: I didn’t. I never chose such songs. Somehow I started wanting to sing a triple metre song.

Ah, that’s right, was girlish really performed live in the studio?

A: It was.

Who sneezed?

A: Our drummer, Kaoru-san. He did it on purpose, you know.

On purpose? (laughs)

A: Yes. He did it suddenly when they said the recording had started (laughs).

You’re also singing in different registers than before in some songs. […]

A: Indeed. Until now, I was stuck on maintaining “the voice of Ayumi Hamasaki”. Part of me felt that people should immediately be able to tell “Ah, this is Ayu’s song” when hearing my songs. […] But this time, I decided on things like “I want to sing really low” or “I want to sing in a full voice” or in contrast “I want to sing in a thin voice” or “I want to go really high”. I imagined the way I would sing while adjusting the key. No!? …I think already did so while writing the lyrics? I had songs where I knew I wanted sing parts really high. And because I know the sounds “i, ki, shi, chi, ni” are the easiest to sing in high notes for me, I paid attention to place those sounds in the right spots.

I heard you finished recording on the evening of September 1st. Are there songs you felt were easy to sing, or difficult to sing?

A: The song Duty has a range of 2 octaves. I was surprised (laughs). It was a little tiring because it was the first time for me to sing that kind of song. The low notes were harder than the high ones. But recording wasn’t that difficult on the whole, I think. Although I feel it would’ve been a different story before the tour.

You once listed Led Zeppelin as one of your favourite artists, during your debut. I remembered it while listening to this album. This album made me feel like you have “hard-rock” running through your veins.

A: I’ve been listening to rock again lately.

Actually, the background music during the photoshoot 3 days ago, was…

A: Yes. It was Red Hot Chili Peppers.

[…] The cover photo is once again quite daring.

A: Hahaha. It’s one of many ideas I had since LOVEppears.

Was this photoshoot also shot after the tour?

A: No. It happened between my performances in Fukuoka and Yokohama. In late July.

So, you didn’t decide on the cover after finishing the album. It was already ready.

A: Previously, I felt there’s no way I could shoot the cover if the album’s concept and songs weren’t done yet. But this time I was totally fine with it. …How to put it, I just felt “I want to dress as a leopard” and went with it? Like, “I don’t really need a deeper meaning, do I?”

If I may change the topic. You have your producer Max-san of course, but to put it extremely, it seems as if the power relationship has changed. Or rather, it has gotten easier for you to pass your opinion on the sound direction.

A: Yes, I guess that’s true. To a level, it felt like my producer was leaving things up to me, like “You know what you’re doing. You choose.” and that made it easier to express myself, I think? I could already always tell my producer anything, but I’ve also become able to confidently tell my staff “We’ll do it like this” nowadays.

Having finished this album, what do you think you've gained?

A: The feeling “Let’s go to the next”, I think? Not ending it like we’re heading towards the great finale, but rather like there’s more waiting, how to put it… I wanted to end it like “There’s something else coming”. To be honest, I’m already thinking about the next thing.

You’re already thinking about the next..!?

A: I am (laughs).

What will it be, I wonder.

A: What indeed. It’s still a secret (laughs).

When do you think you’ll be able to tell us?

A: Definitely this year. I think we can meet again (laughs).

(Laughs) Really?

A: Probably.

In that case, I’m really looking forward to it.

A: Alright (laughs).
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