Translator: Erin Grace
Excite: Your most recent album, “SPARK,” is your second mini album along with “Refrain,” which was released this past March. Is there any relevance to this?
Yuka: Honestly, a lot of the songs on “Refrain” and “SPARK” were rather unexpectedly created around the same time.
Masaki: I can say with confidence, from all of the songs that we’ve created, the ones we really wanted to release in the spring went onto “Refrain,” and the ones we really wanted to release in the summer went onto “SPARK.”
E: Do you have a “grading scale” to determine which are best for spring, and which are best for summer?
M: No, of course not. (laugh) We create them first by deciding the tempo, but there was no sense of this one being “summery” or that one being “spring-y.” When we listened to them, most were decided at the very beginning by Yuka’s impression of them.
Y: There were many different interpretations, even for a single song. The rhythm, the guitar, the kind of situation it would be best to listen to it in, songs we created while we were talking together, and songs that we considered what to do with only after the demos were recorded. But we’ve contributed ideas related to the sound and the lyrics since before now, and it’s gotten easy.
E: When you speak of moumoon you see that “Sunshine Girl” is quite popular, and had started gaining popularity before its release, when it was the CM song for Shiseido’s product “Anessa.”
Y: Thank you. We performed it during the “FULLMOON LIVE TOUR 2010” in Osaka, Nagoya and Tokyo, and there were even a lot of people who had become fans because of this song, so we understand that when the intro for it starts, everyone’s thinking “This is it! This is it!” It makes us really happy to know they’re happy.
E: Did you write this song specifically for the CM?
M: Yes. The truth is that, from the first time they heard “SPARK,” which is the first song on the mini album, [the Shiseido] liked it. But they had already completed shooting on the CM. “SPARK” was too different from the feeling of the CM to suit it, so we wrote a new song, “Sunshine Girl,” to compliment the CM. There are about 10 different patterns in the arrangement.
E: What? Really?!
M: Yeah, there’s about 10 subtly different things.
Y: Of course, when it first appeared on TV, we wondered how much people would like it. We increased the number of instruments, and decreased the number of instruments, and subtly adjusted it.
M: In the end, we decided to stick with what we had at first. We thought that rather than overloading the images with sound, a simple melody and arrangement would suit it much better. Later, we decided that an arrangement using the whole character of Yuka’s voice would be best. In this way we created the song by talking about it, and when everyone said that it was good, it was a real confidence boost.
E: So we know moumoon from their song “Sunshine Girl,” and for those who know your image, the title song “SPARK” must be stimulating, both in terms of sound and character.
Y: But, we want those who know us from “Sunshine Girl” to listen to the stronger sound in “SPARK” and like it. It has the pleasantly cool, sparkling feeling of the place between the tender first summer and the blazingly hot mid-summer. We created it as a song invigorating enough to turn back a heat wave. To me, this song is an evolution from “Sunshine Girl,” a different feeling from the perspective of an ordinary girl… It gives the image of a girl with good taste and intention; a powerful person who faces what’s before her.
E: Did you arrange it with this image in mind?
M: We did. But it was originally a song we couldn’t do more than a part of. But then, after speaking with Yuka, I thought it had a more hyper feeling. (laugh) We were indifferent to it at first, but eventually changed it to an energetic, rather than hyper, feeling.
Y: It shines. (laugh) When we first listened to the demo, we thought that this wasn’t really a normal girl, but rather a girl that has to do normal things. (laugh) Like she wears this great dress, but dances barefoot. It has a sound that gives you the feeling of energy bursting forth, like champagne bubbles bursting one by one. Until now we’ve done tender love songs and ballads, strongly gripping the heart, but there are also songs where you can feel us evolving, cheerful songs that are a thrill to produce.
E: Also in terms of evolution, we can see your lyrics evolving. Until now, your lyrics have had characteristically sharp places. But this time that veneer vanishes, and there are many opportunities to look into the depths of your heart. Was there something that changed your thinking?
Y: Since we created “Refrain,” we started thinking again about the extent to which we’re able to get strength, and how it is important to have fun. Like, the people around us really give us support. To that extent, the things that I wanted to do began to change...
M: A long time ago I might have written into the lyrics the things that I thought that I wanted to convey, but over the past several years we’ve had fans listen at the lives, and my desire to sing for each and every one of those people has gotten stronger. I feel the same way about the MC sections. So then, even more than the things that I hold dear, I want the people listening to feel it, and let them be happy while they’re listening to it. We theorized about this first, then went in that direction.
Y: When I began writing lyrics, as well as when I began writing songs, there was of course someone that I wanted to listen to them. Someone who I wanted to listen, and who I wanted to see them. I think that’s what I thought of. But, of course, it wasn’t like “Somebody listen to me!” but rather there was someone I wanted to direct the song toward, and to whom I thought it would have persuasive power. So then, for example, in “Sunshine Girl,” I wanted to say that there are times when you’re in a slump, and times that are irritating, but that I shook all that off. I wanted to shine so brightly that everyone listing could forget that those bad things exist, and that shaking off disappointments feels good. So that, even little by little, they might begin to think deep thoughts.
E: This album seems to be even more about “shaking it off” than it is summery-feeling.
Y: The words and sounds are of course working together. There was a demo, and when you write these kinds of lyrics there’s certainly an influence from the sounds you finally add to the song. This time the sound and the words really work well together, and I think this album completely rises above.
E: It’s an album like a sunflower, which blooms facing the sun, but how does it feel for a band like moumoon, which takes its name from the moon, which also faces the sun? Something tells me you weren't conscious of that angle. (laugh)
Y: Ah, in my opinion as a woman, the moon has a lonely, ephemeral, beautiful feeling. I too can feel the charm there, but, of course, laughing a lot makes you happier and changes the way you think. I was also aware of that.
E: And Masaki, what’s your opinion as a man?
M: I really wasn’t aware of it, because I was so hell-bent on writing the songs. (laugh) But when I think about it now, we do have a lot of sunny-feeling songs, and it was good that we were able to get all of them collected together. This isn’t the medium ballads that we usually do, so we hope that when put out these kinds of song we’ll be able to move the hearts of the many people that listen to it. It’s a fun idea.
Y: This time we’ve hidden the medium ballads that Masaki is talking about. In “Tomoshibi” there’s a part that’s a little heartrending, which is something that definitely won’t fail for moumoon. Even the people who are new to moumoon should know that this is also the kind of thing we’d do.
M: “Tomoshibi” is also a medium ballad with a positive message and a positive feeling, I think.
E: In terms of a “summer” theme, how does your cover of YEN TOWN BAND’S “Swallowtail Butterfly ~ Ai no Uta” fit in, in the midst of this album with its strong variety concept component? This is a song that Yuka loves, right?
Y: It is. Although I always said that I wanted to do a cover, creating it was such a joy! It’s a song that I’ve been listening to since elementary school. The original was by Chara, and in the lyrics there’s a girl character, and it’s a song that I can sing while remembering things that have happened to me, and people that I know. Plain old me was able to sing it with a moumoon kind of sound.
E: Did you feel the pressure of creating your own arrangement for such a famous song?
M: Oh yeah. (bitter laugh) When making the cover, we listened to the original over and over. The arrangement, each of the sounds, and even the sound of the instruments were all really amazing, and we thought, “There’s nothing we can do.” So we changed the concept a little and used some instruments that weren’t in the original. We added a little more to the chorus, and by doing little things like that we were able to change it. Finally we were able to create an image from the song, and were able to create an arrangement that sounded more like us.
Y: By using a different feeling from the awesome vintage of the original, we were able to achieve a strong night-type image with the sound.
M: Yeah. I thought the pleasantly cool ambience of it suited Yuka’s voice. We didn’t have a lot of confidence, but when people heard it they said “This is really good!” and we felt like we’d been spared. (laugh)
Y: Yeah, we thought “That’s awesome!” (laugh) We were really moved. I think there are a lot of people in this decade that don’t know “Swallowtail Butterfly ~Ai no Uta~” and to think that people may listen to our cover and return to listen to the original makes me extremely happy.