I wanted the songs on the album to leave no question about who I am
--First off, let me ask a frank question. Why did you choose to do a best-of album now?
Miliyah: I wasn’t thinking about timing with this album at all. I’m not commemorating an anniversary, I’m not switching labels, and I’m not going on hiatus. (laugh) But about a year ago, during a production meeting, the topic of what constituted my best work cropped up. I was also interested in what the reaction would be when I released a best-of album someday, but I didn’t say that we should try it within the year, or that it should happen now. I thought I’d release it in my own time.
--So you changed your mind?
M: I did. I can’t really explain it, but lately I’ve been thinking that I’ve been doing music for a long time. And at the end of last year’s tour - I don’t think about anything but the tour during a tour, so I think about my feelings at the end of the tour - and at that time, for whatever reason, I felt that it would be better to release a best-of album before releasing the next original album. And after that I wrote “Yuusha-tachi,” and that the song gave me a push. I thought, “I’m living as a musician, and I wrote this great song!” and I drew strength from that. I was in the frame of mind that, if I could write a song like that, that I should take a short break. That’s when I decided to release this best-of album.
--Why did you select these particular songs for the album?
M: I wanted the songs on the album to leave no question about who I am, because it took so much work to get the album out. So I included songs from singles, albums, and B-sides. But when I brought them all together it still didn’t feel right, so I added two newly recorded songs.
--Speaking of those new songs, what image were you going for with “RAINBOW?”
M: Like I said a moment ago, I thought that if I included these two songs the album would express me better. I went back to my roots, and started out by thinking of what I could do if I returned to the 90s-era hip hop and R&B from my debut. But my secondary theme was that I wanted to show that I’m good at songs like that. (laugh)
--Isn’t that more of an observation from your staff than a “theme?” (laugh)
M: I guess so. I’m just rambling. (laugh)
--What are your thoughts on the lyrics for this song?
M: To an extent, the lyrics are about the universal feeling of loving someone. It’s like, when you’re in love, your emotions are changing all different colors. You get uneasy; you get angry.
--Your heart is all over the place.
M: Exactly. Then, when your beloved is near you, the world sparkles in full color.
--So you’re trying to give the message that “where there’s rain, there’s a rainbow?”
M: Yes. To be honest, when I was trying to decide what should go out on a single with “DESIRE,” it was originally going to be “RAINBOW.”
--Ah ha! So when you were gathering songs for your last single, this is the song that was cut?
M: That’s right. But I really loved “RAINBOW,” so I redid it for the best-of album. It’s because the release was in June, right in the middle of the rainy season, and I remembered that rainbows come out with the rain, which brought out the theme of rainbows.
Ever since my debut, I haven’t hidden what I want to say
--The other new song, “Me,” has a dark tinge and a stinging feeling of easiness.
M: “Me” is my favorite song right now.
--This song seems like the identical twin of “Ain’t no other,” the B-side from “DESIRE/BABY!BABY!BABY!BABY!” Were the emotions from that song the foundation for “Me?”
M: I wasn’t aware of it, but it makes sense now that you mention it. The things I’m trying to say with the songs are different, but the emotional foundations are very similar.
--The foundations seem to be around “I’m a woman that has something to say,” “it’s no big deal to me,” and “let me be free,” but they’re expressed differently between the two songs.
M: Yeah. It’s full of rage, it doesn’t hide what I want to say, and just spits out what I’ve been saying since my debut. I’ve written a song like that for every original album, but I think there are a few people who can listen to this song and understand that that’s only one aspect of who I am. So I knew I had to have a song like that on the best-of album, and when I finished “Me” I thought that it would express that aspect of me quite well.
--When you look at this album, are there any songs where you’re surprised and amazed by the production side? Perhaps the initial stages of “Yuusha-tachi?”
M: If I had to choose just one, it would be all of “Yuusha-tachi,” including the initial stages.
--So what would you choose from Disc 01?
M: It would be “Yozora.” I have a really strong attachment to this song. In “Ningen Hatsudensho” (by BUUDHA BRAND, and the basis of “Yozora”), the hook is in a different key than the rest of the song, which is a very difficult thing to do. It’s a miracle that I was able to take enough from the song to do that.
--And what song would you say has had it’s interpretation change for you?
M: The very first song that comes to mind is “Beautiful.” Of course I had a grasp of it when I wrote it, but right now it feels out of place, and it’s the only song that I think isn’t right for the timing of the release. But time has passed, and I accept how I was back then.
--So then, which song shows your fans and listeners that you’ve grown up since then?
M: “Kono Mama Zutto Asa Made.” It was originally created to be a B-side, so I wrote it relatively carelessly, not realizing that it would become a favorite in lives. (laugh)
--You can’t just can take away from the lives, can you?
M: I can’t. Even though it was a B-side, everyone seems to know it. I still don’t understand why. (laugh) But I love it.
I’m constantly sending and receiving “transmissions”
--Another change in topic: in the seven years since your debut, what have been the things that you need every day?
M: Hmm, that’s hard. (laugh) What have I needed every day for the past seven years? Umm... Probably my computer.
M: First of all, because I’m constantly sending and receiving “transmissions.” I’m also constantly having misunderstandings with the Internet community. There have been a lot of dicey misunderstandings about me during the past seven years, and I feel I’ve developed a different cognizance of these things.
--So you need your computer to help you defend your image.
M: Yeah. On both the internet in general and on Twitter in specific, people are being frightfully honest about their feelings. And I’m frightfully honest about my feelings in my music. That is to say, that’s how I want my music to be, and I feel that’s what makes it interesting.
--Last question. With this album you’ve reached a critical juncture [in your career] - what approach do you want to take with it going forward?
M: Although I’m experiencing some new feelings, right now I’m not thinking about what music I want to do next. The only thing I’m thinking is how it seems like the world sees me as a woman that writes painful, heavy songs. I’m aware that people think that, and I feel like they’re lumping that image in with the content of my songs, but I’ve always wanted to think cautiously about my words before I write them.
--Speaking of which, have you been wanting to write songs that are a little more lighthearted?
M: [I have.] That feeling manifested in songs like “DESIRE” and “BABY! BABY! BABY!” But there’s love built into those songs, and that’s what I mean when I say that I want to write cautiously. ...But I don’t get it. It’s not that I specifically want to write songs like those, but I’m putting everything I have into them. (laugh)
--I see. (laugh) So the way you approach music has changed, hasn’t it?
M: It has. That’s the same as always. I always want to try something interesting.