Translated by Erin Grace
--Where did you get the idea of expressing this album as a magazine?
Kuroki Meisa: I’ve been a musician for 2 years, and the way that I look at music now has changed from how I looked at it when I first started. I realized that I want to convey that, and the idea of expressing it with a magazine came to mind. There’s even a 4-page interview included. Even more than making music, fashion is the one thing I can’t live without, so they let me create this volume like a magazine.
--You said that the way you look at music has changed. In what way has it changed?
K: I’ve been part of the fashion world since I was a teenager, and I’ve always had plenty of adults and others with more experience than me to help me out. Because of that, I act the role of Kuroki Meisa, like an actress. Hiding the way I really think and feel has become second nature to me. It made me uncomfortable, and I began to wonder where I could possibly express myself openly. When I though about it, I decided on music and dance, the things I’d liked before I got my career. But at first I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say with my music, or who it would be for. So I decided that I’d create music that spoke to who I was and which tore open the problems I’d had when I was a teenager. From there I wrote songs little by little and started up a blog. The people who listened to my music left comments on my BBS, and in 2010 I had my first live. Performing live, I could see my fans’ faces and their reactions, and was able to see for myself why I have to send my music out into the world. I wanted to express that change [in my mindest] in this album.
--Does this album represent the real you, rather than the personality of your stage name, Kuroki Meisa?
K: Yes, it does.
--The impression I had when I listened to the album was that it has a very honest feeling, and that it covers the range of a human emotions.
K: It does. Until now I’ve given the image of a strong woman in my musical activities. But even strong people have their weak parts, parts of themselves they want to hide, and I thought that if I show those weaknesses to others and admit them to myself, then I can harness a different kind of strength. So this isn’t the me you’ve seen up to now; this is the authentic me, the same as I am when I go home for the night, weaknesses and all.
--Was that embarrassing at first, or did you find you didn’t need courage?
K: It did take courage. In my heart I felt that I had to show this part of myself, and while I play the part of a strong woman, that in itself takes strength. But I think it’s good that everyone has their weak points. I decided that if me showing my true self would help even just a few people that are struggling, then it’s worth it. Showing my weaker side became a mini-theme for this album. (laugh)
--Listening to the album, it seems that at first you express discontent and irritation, then you let us see inside your heart and how you want to be accepted, and by the end of the album the feeling is gentle.
K: Heh heh. (bright smile) During production, I wondered if I was really facing the real me. I just put in what I wanted to sing and what I wanted to convey without thinking about it too hard.
--“Say Good Night” is exactly that way, cutting right to the heart.
K: Yeah. (laugh)
--“As I Am” expresses that sense of a “weak point,” the confusion of not understanding yourself.
K: I was really embarrassed with this one. (laugh) I think “As I Am” expresses something that’s a part of a lot of people. It’s the opposite of what I’ve been saying - I couldn’t express what I was thinking in a straightforward way; I had to use roundabout expressions. But that’s how I was feeling.
It takes a balance to act and do music
--What’s a song that’s made a deep impression on you?
K: “LOVEHOLIC” was a new challenge for me. I’ve worked with the producer, Kami Kaoru, since the very beginning and she’s like a big sister to me. She’s always asking me whether I have it in me to perform this new song or that one. This song was new, too, and it was fun to try. I sang it with a listeless kind of feeling. (laugh) Also, “BYE BYE MY FRIEND” and “CELEBRATE” were recorded in L.A. I had decided to do a live, so I finally got to go to L.A. while I trained...so I recorded there. The creators had a really high-stress meeting, and it was really fun recording.
--The final track, “Somewhere...” has a lot of different meanings to grasp. It has elements of a love song, and it felt to me like you were in the middle of looking for that “somewhere.”
K: Heh heh. I really want the people who listen to it to take their own meaning from it, out of their own circumstances and feelings. It gives a “To be continued...” type feeling. (laugh)
--Was taking the pictures for this album different from your normal experience with photo shoots for a fashion magazine?
K: It was. You can’t do normal, every day expressions for a magazine shoot, but you can for a music shoot. With both the music and the photo for the CD jacket I was aware of the visual component. During the shoot I just played around and had fun with the clothes and mic.
--What fashion trends do you normally go for?
K: My clothes are almost all black. But I like to switch it up with a jacket, and I like anything with stars, or anything that has punch.
--Does it take a balance to be both an actress and a musician?
K: I think it takes a balance right now while I’m trying to do both at once. I spend part of the time killing my emotions, then with music I just let them explode out, and it’s very satisfying to have a chance to reset where I tackle something different. I want to keep going like this.
(Inteview: Misawa Chiaki)