MEG "La Japonaise" Exclusive Interview Translation

Source: Natalie

 

The reason for my hiatus

 

--You stopped your activities in Japan in 2010 and moved your base of operations to France. So my first question is, what did you learn from your experiences there?

 

M: I released a best-of album [in Japan] in September of 2010, and then I stopped my activities after my birthday live in October, but I still had releases. Nakata [Yasutaka] is very quick at creating music, but it felt like we had the lyrics written and the music recorded for the album in three weeks.

 

--That really is fast.

 

M: When I made the album “MAVERICK,” I started to move more toward pop rather than club music. After that the lyrics became more important, so I had to choose my words wisely and I thought that the quick pace was just impossible. I thought it would be horrible if we didn’t take more time on it.

 

--Despite that, when you’re putting lyrics over an electric beat, can’t you place to the focus on the energy of the song?

 

M: What I mean to say is, when I was working on the pop pieces it would have been bad not to put more time in. If I don’t understand the central theme, then I can’t create anything. On top of that, even since working on “MAVERICK,” I’d wanted to release a best-of album and take some time off.

 

My sojourn in France

 

--So why did you decide to go to France?

 

M: I first went to France in 2008 to perform in “JAPAN EXPO,” and I’ve been interested in France ever since. I think interest in Japanese culture and entertainment is spreading in France, and I had a lot of fun there myself. After “JAPAN EXPO,” I went to events there 5 or 6 times a year.

 

--But you didn’t move there.

 

M: I also went to the neighboring countries. It feels like a long three weeks, looking back on it. At the very beginning, I had raw salmon sushi from the catering after the live. It was delicious, because I hadn’t had Japanese food in so long. But after I was done working and I on my way back to Japan I started to feel bad on the plane. Then after we landed I felt terrible...

 

--Was it the salmon?

 

M: I’m not sure, but I went to the hospital. And then my three weeks away were for nothing. (laugh) Afterwards I learned that I had a wheat and gluten allergy. So when I eat bread or pasta, I start to get sick.

 

--If that’s the reason you’ve started back up in Japan, your fans would be happy.

 

M: That’s Japanese people for you. Thinking it’s terrible not to eat rice. (laugh)

 

My encounter with the veteran label

 

--When you decided to go on hiatus in Japan, how far ahead had you thought as to your plans for during the hiatus?

 

M: I hadn’t thought of anything. (laugh)

 

--So you hadn’t announced that you’d be working in France or that you’d be releasing an album...?

 

M: No, and I hadn’t selected a label either. (laugh) I got the information about the album at the end of last year. It felt like the producers released it stealthily, without my even thinking about whether it would be something I’d do in Japan.

 

--You didn’t have a Japanese release of the music you sold through French iTunes, either.

 

M: That’s right. I could have gone for a worldwide release, but I figured that just France would be fine. (laugh) After I had completed my 6 months of releases in France, I was invited by Japanese record companies to release them in Japan as well. I hadn’t decided anything and worried about what to do, then Starchild Records pitched this album, as though to say “Release this on Starchild!” I thought it was perfect.

 

--Because Starchild does anison,* right?

 

M: Yeah, I thought it would be perfect for these babies to go with the veterans. (laugh)

 

Distanced from anime

 

--It was quite unexpected for you to select songs that are best known for their connection with anime. Do you watch anime?

 

M: All the time. But I don’t really know the songs from Japanese anime. I graduated out of anime when I was in elementary school. After that I watched Ghibli movies, but it’s not like I DVR anime every week.

 

--I think that’s okay. (laugh)

 

M: As an adult I totally forgot about anime and manga, but when I went to France I watched all of the “NARUTO” and “ONE PIECE” DVDs. These two anime were the foundation of the event, so I thought I’d only get half the enjoyment from it if I knew nothing about them.

 

--There are a lot of “NARUTO” and “ONE PIECE” DVDs.

 

M: I had some spare time. (laugh) I read the originals, then watched the DVDs, and now I watch every week. But that’s all.

 

--There’s a feeling in this album as though the music has been “reimported.” Like you were influenced by French otaku.

 

M: Yeah. “ONE PIECE,” “NARUTO,” and “Fist of the North Star” were so popular at “JAPAN EXPO” that everyone could sing the music from them. There were even some people who could dance to “DISCOTHEQUE.” But there was also the sense that regular French people you’d meet walking around town knew about Miyazaki Hayao’s movies. I really wanted to meet people who knew all those songs. (laugh)

 

The impetus was “DISCOTHEQUE”

 

--What kind of atmosphere was there in your French lives?

 

M: It was different from Japan. Rather than just watching the lives, the French fans sang along a lot and danced; they were very energetic. So even though my songs are fine, I think it would have been more fun for them to have more songs that they were familiar with.

 

--I see.

 

M: Then, at the Japanese culture event, there was a lot of focus on karaoke. There was a huge screen, and about 40 pipe chairs. All the French people were singing anime theme songs. That’s where I encountered songs like “DISCOTHEQUE.” No matter what the event is, if I perform this song, everyone gets up and dances that dance.

 

--It seems to be a popular song even in France.

 

M: When I first heard it, I thought “This is a really cute song, but who is it by?” So I looked it up and found out that it’s by Mizuki Nana. It’s because I saw everyone performing “DISCOTHEQUE” that I chose it as a song to perform.

 

--So you included this song in your repertoire, a song at the heart of anison and well known by French people.

 

M: I also did a song with RAM RIDER called “Ma Melissa,” though it didn’t end up on the album. It’s from a French children’s show. It’s kind of like “Niko Niko Pun” in Japan. When I sang it, everyone was like “I remember this!” They were really happy; they sang along really loud and waved their hands. So this isn’t just about anime, “DISCOTHEQUE” is a song that I sang with people who came together to show their love for Japanese anime and manga. That’s how I came up with this line-up.

 

Episodes with the producers

 

--What’s the story with your producers this time?

 

M: The first song I did was “DISCOTHEQUE.” I asked Tanaka (Yusuke) to do a bright “house” arrangement that would be good for people singing and dancing together. I made “Banana no Namida” at the same time. The first month of releases were these two songs.

 

--I was surprised to see that you collaborated with the telephones.

 

M: I created the song with the band members. When we talked about which song we wanted to do, the first idea that came out was to do a “Saint Seiya” song. I wasn’t so sure about it, but I decided to try practicing it. In the end, though, I couldn’t sing it. (laugh)

 

--It’s a really wild song.

 

M: The French love that song, of course, but I just couldn’t put any emotion into singing it. (laugh) So I thought it might be better at “TOUGH BOY” from “Fist of the North Star.”

 

-- “Motteke! Sailor Fuku!” was produced by ANIMEny DJ’s, a unit made up of Mito from Clammbon and agraph from LAMA. This is something that I wouldn’t have expected you to choose.

 

M: I’d decided ahead of time that I wanted to do this song with Mito and agraph. When I told them about it they were really excited. They were like, “Oh, that song!” and “But the original is already so good...” “Yeah, it really is...” (laugh) They were like, “Let us take this one home.”

 

--(laugh)

 

M: They thought about it for a week or two, and this is the song as they proposed it. They’d thought about it so hard that I felt like I really needed to do my best with this song. It’s a really danceable track. Singing it was hard. The voice actresses are amazing.

 

--You do great things with the songs you choose. Rather than “Get Wild,” you went with “Still Love Her;” rather than “Ai wo Torimodose!!” you went with “TOUGH BOY.” (laugh)

 

M: That’s right.

 

--”Banana no Namida” leads off the second half of the album, which is also full of famous songs.

 

M: “High School! Kimengumi” has been broadcast for years and I was really nostalgic for it. So when I came back to Japan I bought the “Kimengumi Best” CD and listened to it a lot. There are a lot of good songs. “Banana no Namida” and “Nagisa no ‘Kagikakko’” in particular made me really worried; but of course with these songs, everything from the B-melody to the hook is insanely cliche. (laugh) That was the deciding factor.

 

Letting the model shine through

 

--With this album, I get the impression that you took the hopes of your producers and the French fans and used them to show a new side of yourself.

 

M: That’s right (laugh), there’s a sense on this album like “I tried it out.” I took the opportunity to challenge this.

 

--I think that’s what makes this album unique. Up to now your music has always had a strong purpose, so that you can penetrate to the heart of your music. But with this album you seem to be more relaxed.

 

M: Yeah. I made songs that even my fellow artists can enjoy, and which are also enjoyable for the listeners. I think that’s great.

 

--I think that this album is a very unique item in your discography.

 

M: It’s an “on break” piece. As though my experiences since my break have taken shape.

 

--It feels like a research paper on the freedom of summer vacation.

 

M: I can see that. (laugh) And I don’t think that it would have ever been published if not for Starchild Records approaching me about it.

 

--It’s very different from the covers you’ve done up to this point.

 

M: Yeah. Even comparing the photo shoots, up till now I’ve always had a very specific thought on what I wanted from the photos, with a specific situation and hair and make-up planned and ready to go. I even got down into how the lighting was to be done. But this with this photoshoot I walked into the studio and everything had already been decided. I felt like I was playing a game, trying to decide what pose I should do or what character I should play. I made myself fit the situation at the studio. It was fun.

 

--So up to now you’ve been the cameraman, the director...

 

M: But this time I was just a model. It was interesting.

 

Ideas for my next album

 

--I’m very interested in your next piece. Even listening to this album, I find myself trying to guess what the next piece will be like.

 

M: I don’t know what it’ll be like. What am I thinking about for my next single...? I don’t really like being predictable, so that’s good. I can’t predict what it’ll be, but I know I’ll have fun with it.

 

--But you’ll be picking up your activities in Japan again in the near future, right?

 

M: Yes. Through my travels I’ve been able to see what I love about Japan again, so I plan to come very soon. And Japan has rice on the menu; that makes me happy.

 

*A portmanteau of “anime” and “song,” referring to music closely associated with anime.