Translated by John Thomas
Source: Yahoo! Music Japan
I never want to be separated from the voice in my heart
--First, I want to ask about the title of the new album. The title song, “Tatakai wa Owaranai,” is an invigorating and positive rock number. When did you write it?
Abe Mao: It was January of this year. As I was writing the lyrics I thought to myself, “This is the album title!” That’s the mode I was in.
--In more concrete terms, what kind of mode would you say it was?
A: I felt like no matter how old you get or how far you go, the fight in you doesn’t end. It’s about the dreams and beliefs you’re born with... You have to fight for them despite the people trying to influence you otherwise and the difficulties you have along the way. That’s the “fight” I’m talking about.
--Do you mean the fight of society and of adult people?
A: No, this “fight” isn’t about outside forces, but the fight inside oneself. No matter how old you are or what experiences you have there are barriers and obstacles, and faith in the things you believe in will be tested. Instead of turning away from your beliefs and throwing away your dreams, it’s about seeing how far you can take yourself.
--You’re singing “don’t give up, don’t run away, and don’t underestimate yourself.”
A: I think if you don’t hold on tight to the voice in your own heart, you’ll lose your way. Personally, I’m the type who’s is especially perplexed by different people’s opinions. I’m singing that you shouldn’t separate yourself from the voice in your heart.
--The song is also a declaration of self-determination. You should believe in yourself and push forward.
A: Yes, that’s right. It’s something I think even now, but since the beginning of the year I’ve been divided, in a good way. Like if someone doesn’t like me, or laughs at me, I can’t help that. I just want to do what I want to do, so I have to go for it . . . It’s like the answer is inside my heart. So the title of this song is like “I’m going for it from now on,” and all of my feelings come out in it. I’m not sure if it was my state of mind that allowed me to write this song, or if the song brought out the positive in me, but this is like a turning point for me, and I think this song is a major one on this album.
I’m overflowing with love from many places
--Generally speaking, you’ve been giving off a positive outlook since your third album. What kind of album did you want to make?
A: This one was different from previous releases for a variety of reasons. I was able to take some more direction and was given the chance to choose the arranger and engineer. As far as the sound, this was the first time I was allowed to stand in the center, so to speak, as we made it. It was also the first time I had written songs in order to put an album together.
--Until recently, you had written more in your teens.
A: That’s true. Ten of twelve songs were written for the album, and “Soba Ni Ite” and “Juuhassai No Uta” were intended to be released as singles. Also, when we decided to make the album I realized I’d never had a unifying concept or theme before. Until now we collected the songs and made an album, but this was different. This is an album of my thoughts, so it’s like the listener can get my feelings in real time. It was also big knowing there was going to be a tour attached. I knew I would be singing these songs in front of an audience, so I made it a goal to project my feelings. Projecting that I’m living and I’m alive became an important message. Right now I’m feeling like I’m overflowing with love.
--What sort of love is that?
A: When I talk about this it makes me feel very peaceful. (laughs) I’m overflowing with love from a variety of different places. First there’s my love for myself. I really feel the love and support from my fans and staff, and that’s very important to me and has allowed me to love myself. Until now I hadn’t experienced that sensation.
--You had a lot of songs that came from self-denial and self-hatred.
A: True. There was a time when I didn’t really like myself, and I wasn’t the type to appreciate what I had. But now I’ve learned how to love myself, and learned how to love other people. For example, any person has people that they love, and people that they hate, and people who they feel indifferent about. But I’ve come to learn you can learn something about yourself even from someone you don’t like, and that’s a chance you shouldn’t waste. There’s a reason inside yourself why you don’t like someone, and it doesn’t mean you should necessarily respect them, but understanding that reason is important. I’m thankful for learning this lesson. I had no understanding [of it] up until last year.
--Your perspective has really become positive. Why do you think that is?
A: A big part of that comes from my fans. I still have problems. There are times that are very painful and I feel like I’m going to die; the tears just don’t stop flowing. However, when I see the faces of the people who come to my concerts and feel that my songs are really reaching them, it seems like my painful times aren’t wasted. I can’t say how important my fans are to me. I really want them to know that.
Without an audience, there’s no reason to sing
--There are songs on the album about cheating and broken hearts and some difficult emotions, as well as an attitude about living life to the fullest. But the song “for you” is clearly directed to your fans, isn’t it?
A: I actually wrote that song while in the bathtub. I wanted it to be playful, but it turned into a much more serious song to express my gratitude to my fans.
--You sing, “Ongaeshi sasete yo” [“let me pay you back”].
A: It’s thanks to everyone that I became able to like myself, and I learned the power of happiness. This is a great gift, so I felt like I needed to find a way to pay it back. I felt much more negative years ago. I felt like life was like a confession. (laughs) But now I want to show my thanks, I want to return the favor. I get the power and I pay it back. It’s a never ending spiral of happiness.
--You also wrote the words “watashi ga utau riyuu” [“the reason I sing”] again.
A: I thought about it. Until now I had manipulated my singing so much I didn’t notice [my own voice], but when I had vocal cord surgery last year I really felt the how wonderful the simple gift of singing was. After the surgery I thought about what it would be like if I couldn’t sing again, and more than being worried about not having my voice back, I was first worried about not being able to share my voice with my fans. When I felt that, I realized the reason I sang had changed. Until now I wanted people to know who I was, but now I feel like I want to reach people.
--Are you saying you want to communicate with your listeners through music?
A: Yes, that’s right. Without everyone, there’s no reason to sing. Of course, even from the beginning I wanted to sing to connect with people, but back then it was just a push. Now I want to share back and forth with people. That’s why I want Mao Abe music now to resonate with my fans who have watched me. I’m Mao Abe because of them, and they give my singing meaning. This is not a half-baked love but a whole huge love.