Translator: Erin Grace
“The shine of the only one that doesn’t fade!”
We’re speaking with JASMINE, who released her stunning debut single last year, the impactful “sad to say,” full of real and creatively expressed lyrics as well as intense visuals. It’s been a year since her debut, and she’s finally completed her first album!
The title is “GOLD.” The album compiles all her single titles, from “sad to say” to her most recent single: the masterpiece ballad “Dreamin’.” With strong lyrics like “Light shining, not decaying/The value doesn’t change,” this will be a masterpiece album to represent 2010!
“Since my debut I’ve had a sense of ‘writing lyrics...’”
--First of all, tell us about the origin of your name.
J: My real name is “Asumi,” but when I was in middle school my friends called me “Asumin.” I hated “Asumin,” but I thought, “Well I like ‘Jasmine’ [Jasumin].” (laugh) After I began to sing in clubs, I made my stage name “JASMINE.”
--And what prompted to you start music?
J: My mother is a piano teacher, and my dad used to fiddle around with the guitar during the day, and I also practiced instruments several times a day, but I couldn’t play well or read music, so I was frustrated. (laugh) But I hadn’t learned any songs, and you can sing even if you can’t read music. Anyway, my family wouldn’t let me get away with not being able to do something. (laugh)
--What kind of music did you listen to when you were little?
J: My mom listened to every single thing on the J-Pop singles charts. At that time, I heard of Brittany Spears and the Backstreet Boys from my big sister, and I thought, “What is this? It’s awesome!” From then on I started seeking out music on my own, and I began to like hip hop.
--And that’s when you encountered gospel.
J: Right. I went to a festival on Yokota [Air Force] Base in Fussa City, and there was a gospel live being held in an aircraft hangar. I was overwhelmed by my first encounter with gospel, and I begged my mom to let me try it myself.
--Why did you begin to write your own lyrics?
J: I began singing in clubs, but I couldn’t sing songs I hadn’t written, so in reality I had no choice but to write my own songs. (laugh) You can’t clearly hear the lyrics in a club, so I thought it would be neat to write really cool words for my songs.
--That’s surprising! (laugh)
J: Up to that time, lyrics for me were “a journal written of extreme emotions.” So then, since my debut I’ve had a sense of “writing lyrics.”
--What was the driving force behind your debut?
J: I established a life plan when I was in third grade, and my plan was to debut when I was 18, but it didn’t go according to plan and I was really uneasy. Until then I’d had fun singing in clubs and I hadn’t really made any steps toward going major, so I resolutely sent out demo tapes.
“At any rate, we emphasize the impact!”
--Tell us about what inspired the album title “GOLD.”
J: I’ve only released singles until now, and each time I choose an image color. Putting together all five, they look kind of like the Power Rangers. (laugh) And the Power Rangers usually fight against a boss, right? So that’s “GOLD.” (laugh)
--So that’s the meaning! (laugh) And incidentally, what’s your favorite color?
J: Black, purple, and gold. I still haven’t chosen black as an image color. (laugh)
--How do you decide what image to use each time?
J: I think “The album has this kind of feeling,” and “This is the color to go with it,” then my art director – Tanaka Noryuki – and my costume designer – Jaian – come up with an image to represent that, discuss it amongst each other, and create a costume from it. At any rate, we emphasize the impact!
--The first song on the album, “PRIDE,” is a song that precisely fits your image.
J: I think so, too. I like cool compositions, and I wanted to create a strong image, so “PRIDE” is the first song.
--Your debut song, “sad to say,” is also a visual, and the impact of the words is also intense. What reactions have you gotten from it?
J: I’ve gotten comments like “Thank you,” and “I sympathize,” and I found it strange that so many people had heard the song on my filter; it made me happy. On the other hand, there were also some haters. (laugh)
--Has there been any resistance to your use of strong language, like “fuck off” and “shit?”
J: I had thought, “Since I’m using this kind of language, I probably shouldn’t release it, should I?” so when I heard it after it finally was released, I thought “That was scary,” and “No place is going to play this.” (laugh)
--“Dreamin’” is a magnificent ballad, and totally different from what you’d released previously.
J: It is. I really like to sing ballads. When I go to karaoke, I warm up with an up-tempo song first off, but after that I just sing ballads.
--When did you write “Dreamin’?”
J: After “sad to say” was released. When I was discussing the timing of the release, I decided that it would be best to release “Dreamin’” a little later, so I released it on my 5th single.
--You sang it on Music Station, and the effect seems to have been a big one.
J: I saw the Music Station performance later, but I personally didn’t think it was any good. (laugh) But that wasn’t the case; it was popular. But, of course, it’s best to sing “Dreamin’” when you’re not nervous. (laugh)
--Is there anything in particular you want people to notice on this album?
J: I think “Jealous” is fun to sing, and that “L.I.P.S.” is interesting to listen to.
“There are things you have to love about writing (laugh)”
--What’s the most important thing for writing lyrics?
J: Writing with your mind open. It’s possible to write without your mind being open, but you’ll always struggle to open up to your real intent. So then you have to line up the words one by one. But the first things you write aren’t written while you have your mind open, and you don’t use them.
--When do words for the lyrics come to you?
J: I concentrate and write when I’m alone at home. But sometimes there’s too many of them. I’ve come to like love songs while writing them, despite that I didn’t like them before I wrote them. (laugh)
--What is writing lyrics, to you?
J: Writing lyrics is a very frustrating process. For example, there are things in your past that you don’t like, people who you’ve hurt by acting like you don’t know them. But I want to become the kind of person who doesn’t do that, and by facing this unpleasant side of myself I can understand myself more deeply, so that when I write I feel that I’m becoming stronger little by little.
--What artists have influenced your writing?
J: I take strong influence from the mind behind Christina Aguilera’s “Stripped.” On first glance you get a bad impression from it being overly ostentatious, but if you dig deeper you become aware of a profound mind behind it.
--Is there anything you’d like us to pay particular attention to in your lives?
J: In my lives, the production is very intricate, and we use images that work together with the songs. We use LEDs, and our dances are also really cool, so I think the lives are very interesting.
--What do you do on your days off?
J: I get my nails done, go shopping, everything you can do while you have a day off. When I’m working, I always think “When I get a day off I’m going to sleep the whole day,” but when the day off comes, I think “Time’s too precious!”
--Tell us about your normal sense of fashion.
J: I love patterns everywhere. Also, big accessories, and using “too much” color are my M.O. (laugh)
--And finally, please give us a message for our readers.
J: Memorize the lyrics and sing my songs at karaoke! (laugh)
--Thank you! Thanks for speaking with us!