Yahoo Music Interview (2009.06.30)
■ So you finished that highly anticipated, talked about and 8-year-long-awaited album?
F: First, let me say something in my own defence please. (laugh) This album could in fact, have been released a couple of years ago, but thankfully, I got commissioned with several unexpected jobs during this time…..(laugh) Unplanned singles releases, inclusion of other songs, Music Video production, etc. Repeatedly working on jobs like these, time just flew by and I couldn’t squeeze any time out to focus on making the album.
In music, if you are producing your own songs, you will need to be working alone most of the time. Composing, recording, pre-production, re-arrangement, slowly building up your song bit by bit, rebuilding as you finish it and then doing the same for each song one after another. It’s a very time-consuming process whichever way you look at it. Well, I guess I’ve roughly explained the gist of it. (laugh)
■ But, this type of highly skilled craftsmanship, is just typical of what Fukuyama-san would do.
F: If I had used more efficient “ways”, perhaps the compositions could have been available earlier. But I am after all, a singer-songwriter, and in upholding that tradition, I do not need to be changing my mode of operation now…..On top of the fact that I will always compose the melody first, filling in the lyrics only after the music has been completed. Though there have been times where both melody and lyrics have materialized together in my head, but for me to write the lyrics first, is something that will never happen.
■ Fukuyama-san’s lyrics are very well constructed, your message matches well with the melody and is communicated effectively to us.
F: That’s because I have folk song in my blood (laugh).
■ What do you think about producing (other people’s work) like what you did with KOH+?
F: That was a totally different channel altogether, I enjoyed it immensely. Because if you were writing for yourself, you’ve got to face up to yourself first. No matter what type of singer-songwriter you are, there must be an inevitable act of self-reflection. As a result, there is no way I could have written phrases like “Kiss Shite” (KISSして Let’s kiss/Kiss me) for myself. It’s only if I was writing for someone else in the first place that I can use such words. Be it the melody or the lyrics, (writing for KOH+) was an interesting (fun) experience.
■ And because there were so many different types of work, that’s why this original album took 8 years to make?
F: But, I hope the next one can be released earlier. I’ve come to the age where you start to countdown on your remaining life. So even if I do a concert tour every 2 years, how many times can that be done? Ah (laugh). If you think of it this way, you’ll see there isn’t much (time) left.
■ In your album, there are tunes written in the early and latter parts of your thirties. How were you able to bring all these songs (spanning such a wide period of time) together, without letting us feel any incompatibility amongst them?
F: In the last 3 months, I made all sorts of adjustments and fine-tuning. I think that’s the reason why. I reviewed the melodies I had written before and put in the lyrics in these 3 months.
■ Please tell us, amongst all your new songs, which was the earliest one that you had composed? And which was your most recent?
F: The basic melody having been completed more than 10 years ago, that would be [18 ~eighteen~]. I didn’t have the image of my thoughts at 18 years old yet. I had only written down the words “My Home Town”, what did I want to sing about based on that? I couldn’t find a suitable focus for the longest time, and so more than 10 years just passed by. I tried to record this song once in 1992 when working on the “BOOTS” album, but I just couldn’t get it done. But the framework was completed, and the chorus part was already there, just like with [Tokyo ni mo Attanda] (東京にもあったんだ Tokyo has it too)*. On the contrary, [Koufukuron] (幸福論Theory of Happiness), the recent singles [Keshin] (化身Incarnation) and [Sou ~new love new world~] (想 ~new love new world~) are all my latest compositions.
■ [Koufukuron], [Keshin] and [Sou ~new love new world~] all sound more rock and pop, do you find that the tune of your compositions have changed over time?
F: I can feel the generation gap now. So I wanted to write melodies and lyrics that are a bit younger. Lately the songs of younger artists have an incredible number of words in their lyrics. I like to try new things, and I’d thought about doing the same, but I find it quite hard if each syllable does not corresponding to a musical note. What I mean by “quite hard” is “I just can’t do it!” It’s just so difficult for me.
Say for [Keshin], I had written 3 different versions of the lyrics. At the beginning, I tried to play around with the language, adding in Kansai dialect in parts, but it just didn’t feel right. I really tried very hard to give it a “present day” feeling, but it didn’t go well with the melody, and the outcome didn’t sound “present day” at all! (laugh)
■ The lyrics for [Sou ~new love new world~] are very rhythmical indeed.
F: I tried my hardest, that was my limit (the best I could do)! (laugh) I’ve been re-thinking about it lately. If a song that is able to move and excite people, is not true to that person (composer) himself, then it is meaningless. In other words, if you don’t have it in you, you wouldn’t be able to do it, however much you wanted to. Like if I suddenly wanted to turn into a Rap artist, I think I would give the people around me a big headache! (laugh) On this point, the songs by KOH+ are very reassuring creations. By letting a young artist perform a song, it would sound young automatically! (laugh). If I keep on doing this, then I can slowly retire (laugh). (Izumi: not sure of this last sentence)
I think [Sou ~new love new world~] has captured the essence of my future work. Personally, I really like the heavy use of synthesizers in the music of the 1980’s. Taking my concerts into consideration as well, I have used something that I had always wanted for this song - the Moog Synthesizer**. It gives a tinge of the Disco feel. I like that a lot, that ambience.
■ Please tell us about your rationale behind the theme of the album “Zankyo” and the first song [Gunjou ~ultramarine~] (群青 ~ultramarine~).
F: “Zankyo” was the theme for my Photo Exhibition in Nagasaki last year. Whenever I reminisce about certain scenes and about my hometown, it’s not just the images I recall, I can remember even the sounds as well. Especially since Nagasaki is surrounded by the mountains and the sea, the impact of the sounds is particularly strong. If I have to express my impression of Nagasaki in words, that would be “Zankyo” (殘響Reverberation / Echoes in the Heart).
As for the first song [Gunjou ~ultramarine~], at the time when it was set as the theme song for TV Tokyo’s news programme ‘World Business Satellite’, the US anti-terrorism policies were still creating a ripple all over. I believe many people may have questions about the situation then. Thinking about it, everyone who lives on this earth, in this modern society, would be impacted in one way or another by the affairs of the world. In this tsunami of world economic and political chaos, even a small ripple could effect a change in our lives. I don’t have much influence on this world, but when I think about how regions, cities and societies can be related together, I believe it all boils down to the fact that ‘your family, your lover, colleagues and people around you, are all closely inter-linked. If possible, I hope that kindness and warmth (can spread) in our connections with each other. Like a miniscule chain reaction, perhaps it can eventually impact on this world. Each and every individual is a drop (of water) that comes together to make up this blue planet.
■ Your concert tour has started, how do you foresee it coming?
F: In my concerts, the audience usually spans a wide age range. “Even though I don’t have his album, I like some of his songs”, many will come because of that. And since it’s the 20th anniversary, if they can come (to the concert) thinking “I hope he sings that song, I know that song”, that would be good enough for me. As for Inasayama (the concerts held at the outdoor stage in the Inasayama Park in Nagasaki on 08.29 and 30), it might be a bit different. Because they will be outdoors, we won’t have the benefit of the lighting effects, so we’ll probably add something more to it.
■ Both the album and the tour are focused around your 20th anniversary. What do you feel now, looking back at the past 20 years?
F: That music and acting could co-exist, was something I had never thought could happen. I had always expected to fail in one side (laugh). We’ve seen examples before, haven’t we? And I didn’t think I was the type to break the precedent. That (i.e. himself) was a much more naïve person then (laugh). And as for commercials (CMs), my impression of CMs in my teens, was that they sold on product features directly. So I never had the connection (in my mind) that I wanted “to be part of that CM”.
■ So from all aspects of these 20 years, were there many things that were out of your expectation?
F: Definitely! First, I never thought I would be in a movie, it was beyond my capacity to think even at the very beginning. I came to Tokyo planning to join a band, and ended up debuting solo. In a nutshell, none of it was what I expected. But now, I still want to try forming a band. When can that happen? I’d feel anxious about it too. (laugh)
~The End ~
In the video included on the Yahoo Music Interview page, Masha had a few words specially for his overseas fans.
“To my friends in Japan, I’ll see you at the concert tour. And to all of you overseas, if you have the time, please come over. I hope to see you all at the concerts in Japan………..I’m now on a concert tour (laugh)”
* Masha once said that the lyrics for the first line of [Tokyo ni mo Attanda] appeared at the same time as the melody in his mind when he started to think about that song. (Izumi: That’s probably what he meant when he said it was similar to the “My HomeTown” part in [18 ~eighteen~] )
Translated from Fukuyama Honne (Articles 6238 and 6251) with reference to the original interview
This English translation was first posted on MashaPlus [dot] Info Forums. (Registration required to enter.)