LAMA "Spell" Exclusive Interview Translations

Source: Excite

--[Furukawa] Miki, you were the impetus for the LAMA’s formation.

Furkawa: You say that, but it wasn’t that cut-and-dried. (laugh) In the very beginning I was looking for a guitarist. I had been solo, and up to that point I didn’t know of a guitarist that made music as good as Nakako [Nakamura Koji, aka iLL], so I thought it would be great if I could get someone like him. Essentially, my number one requirement was someone who could do really cool feedback, and for whatever reason [Tabuchi] Hisako came to mind, so I thought, “If I could get together with her, I wouldn’t do solo work; I’d start a new project.” So while I was thinking about my solo work in a different light, I reached out to her and asked if we could do something together.

--Did you and Hisako know one another before that?

F: We actually hadn’t had the chance to meet. So even though I went to meet her, to an extent I was thinking that I needed to to whatever I could for my proposal. I’d already decided that my solo work would be too obscure, so I went for a direct meeting with her.

Tabuchi: When I was in Number Girl I actually caught sight of Miki once during a festival, and I thought “She’s pretty cute,” but I didn’t even say “Hello,” so my heart was pounding.

F: Your feedback and the way you dress is so cool, and even though I thought about who else might be good for the project, I couldn’t think of anyone. All the guitarists I found were good, but whenever you’d come to mind I’d think “It would be so much better to perform with another woman!” Because I’ve always made music alongside men, and I thought that if I could work with a woman I’d be able to get a totally new nuance to the music.

--And then you added Nakako and Ushio to the band.

F: I brought up Nakako as a good option during a talk with Hisako, didn’t I?

Nakako: And I heard about that somehow or other, so I thought I’d help them out if I could, and reached out to them to ask if I do anything. (laugh) That’s how I joined. We talked about how to handle rhythm and didn’t think about it too deeply; we just said, “Well, if we get someone else, they’ll do rhythm.” We figured that a drummer would be good, or that someone like Ushio would be good for percussion. We sort of thought we wanted to do dance music, but we didn’t specifically set out to do dance music. We thought of dividing up the music, but the rhythm wasn’t distinct. So we thought that Ushio would be good. (laugh)

Ushio: And I got a DM on Twitter from Nakako that say “Would you be interested in joining  Miki’s band?” (laugh)

N: I’d spread word among the other members that Ushio might be joining.

U: I heard the rumors (laugh), so I’d been thinking about whether to join when the DM came, and I said “Yeah, sure!”

F: The three of us said that we didn’t always need to have live drums, and that it would be better to have a person who could work with the rhythm flexibly. We’d already sort of decided on a live drum, but when we thought about the degree of freedom we wanted to have, we didn’t think it would be possible.

U: I wondered why they wanted me. But they’re all older musicians than me, I felt like it would be okay. (laugh)

F: Hey now. (laugh)

U: Even now, we joke that I’m not allowed to sit down while we’re doing work in the studio. (laugh) It’s a privilege to work with them. I can make my music instantly, but since our band has a good vocalist and a good guitarist, I’m in a new situation in terms of them needing to tune and warm up, so other than the music itself I don’t understand some of what’s happening. I’m grateful to have this interesting opportunity.

U: Then I sent along a basic rhythm to start out with.

N: Yeah. Our whole mindset seems to be around the desire to do something interesting. When I heard that Miki and Hisako were working together, I thought it sounded interesting, and when I heard that I could work with the two of them, I thought it sounded interesting.

--So how did you start work on the music after you’d gathered the four members of the band?

N: We were all busy, so we found it easier to exchange ideas rather than go into the studio. I said “What do you think about us being this kind of band?” and I’d let them listen to some songs I’d picked out of iTunes.

N: Then Miki sent in some music. Then Hisako added guitar to that, then Ushio thought about how to apply the rhythm... We got together a lot of songs that way.

F: And when we’d put all of our ideas forward, the four of us met up. When we all got together, we worked together and did the photo shoot that we’d been prepping for.

U: The photo shoot was the first time Hisako and I ever met. (laugh)

--So the unique thing about LAMA is that creator credit for the music and lyrics goes to the entire band.

N: The compositions and lyrics are a product of the band as a whole. The work we did together made up the biggest proportion of the work, and we thought that, since that was the case, we’d credit both the music and lyrics to LAMA itself.

--Miki takes the main vocal in these two songs, while Hisako and Nakako do the chorus.

F: For these two song I sing the main parts, but I’m not fixed as the vocalist. (laugh) Hisasko could do it, and so could Nakako.

--There are two songs on this single, but the title song, “Spell,” seems suited to being a single.

N: We put together the component parts that we all had, and they’re bright and don’t use complex chord progressions, which means anyone can sing them, and anyone can play them. These are chord progressions that we’ve become familiar with, and it’s a song that we’ve become familiar with. Besides, the way that we created this song from the beginning, we had to be able to adapt ourselves to the song or we wouldn’t be able to finish it, so it was easy to make it this way.

U: The dance music I’d been doing had between 120 and 130 beats per minute (BPM), but “Spell” is 147 BPM, and I’d never really made dance music at that tempo. So even though this is a perfectly normal tempo for a band, it was a challenge for me. It was really interesting.

--Speaking of which, in the B-side “one day” you can hear the displeased message along side the Aphex Twin/Breakcore-type rhythms, so that there’s the sense that the four of you tried to freely exchange ideas while making the song.

F: At the very beginning we wanted to release a single, and when we realized we were ready for one we had pop music in our heads, so we made “Spell.” But we’d gone to the studio and made “one day” while were still searching for the band’s direction, so we tried all different kinds of songs, and we thought that “one day” was a nice contrast to the title song. It seemed like the kind of song that could go on an album.

U: For me “one day” is more like something I’d normally do, so unlike “Spell” this song was sort of a “change-up throw” for me since I was already familiar with the way to create the rhythm.

T: For me, I love both songs, but I wasn’t aware of using any specific approach for either of them. I just thought about my impressions after I listened to them, then tried to play it so that it sounded better and flowed naturally. People who hear it are free to think what they want about what they’ve heard.

N: The first song is easy for all of us to understand; it’s pop music that we didn’t need to discuss first. With the second song, we asked ourselves “What do we want to do? What kind of sound do we want to give it? What sort of song do we want to create?”

--So you’re saying that, before that, you only had scattered conversations, but when those essential questions came forward, the band truly became permanent.

N: Hahahah! Yeah, something like that. (laugh)

F: Even the staff said, “We wondered sometimes if this is a real band. Keep it going!” (laugh) I want more genuine fun, and I want to enjoy making carefree music...  Making the raw melodies themselves. There’s a lot of depressing news out there, and I want to know that we can have fun with the fundamental parts of our music. We started LAMA, and there will be struggles, but I think we’ll stick around. 

Check out Erin's review of "Spell" on JMusic365!