Ayaka has finally returned. Although she’s taken a break from public acitivty for these past two years, that hasn’t extinguished the “fire of creativity.” Her self-produced album “The beginning” is a testament to that. With a title that predicts the opening of the second act of her career, it makes one wonder what emotions surround the music. We went to meet her immediately.
The words “The beginning” are meant to convey that I’m coming back to my starting point
--As expected, you catapulted to top artist status with your debut song “I believe.” You continued to advance steadily after that, and it was big news when you announced that you would cease activity. It’s been two years since then. It seems like perhaps you’ve taken that time to gather your strength for a take-off.
Ayaka: Looking back at the two years I decided to go on hiatus it’s clear now that it was necessary to take that time for myself. Of course, I thought hard about it, and during the hiatus I was impatient as I looked back to the stage. But there were also a lot of times when I inadvertently remembered how much I loved things other than performing. I’d make lunch especially well or buy a CD and listen to it; they weren’t earth-shaking moments, but they seemed fresh to me.
--Of the 13 tracks on “The beginning,” it seems like there are some songs that came out of that. Until now you’ve been part of drama tie-ins and large productions; this collection seems to depart from that. All the songs seem to come from a new place.
A: I wrote “Itsu Itsumade Ni” without a deadline. I’d be fixing lunch or dinner and suddenly be hit by a melody, and I’d sit at the piano to capture it. I only wrote music that came to me naturally. There isn’t a single song on this album that I was forced to write.
--Because of that your emotions are perfectly reflected, just as they are, as if by a mirror. The title “The beginning” seems to work with that interpretation.
A: I wanted to convey a sense of the things that are important to me. I’ve always intended to do that, but I still had a hard time doing it. Also, title “The beginning” implies returning to the “starting point.” Of course, I also don’t mind if people interpret that title as referencing the restart of my career, but I think the first song, “Hajimari no Toki,” gives off that feeling most strongly. I wrote the song with the point of view that beginnings are good no matter who you are or how many times they happen. That even I was making a fresh start.
--Also, while your feelings are on the album, large as life, it also echoes with with new ground that you’re breaking as an artist. We’re catching a glimpse of your life, as this music is clearly a product of your lifestyle. “Hello” is an undeniably pleasant shout from your core. “HIKARI” shows the listener a new aspect of your music, adding in an ethnic component. “Sora Yoo Onegai” restores the Ayaka ballad, with simple piano and a feeling of loneliness. In “Yasashii Ao” the lyrics flow together with the tea of the Morinaga Milk Cocoa CM. During the first part of your career you composed lyrics based on daydreams and fantasies, but that’s not the case on this album. Everything comes from your true emotions. And “THIS IS THE TIME” is a song that listeners should take note of. The arrangement is credited to “Ayaka Band.” Fans will also be able to see you in concert again.
A: To tell the truth, when the hiatus was still new it occurred to me that I’d return to the stage. When I slept, I’d dream about it. I knew that I had to go on stage again. That thought crystallized into this song. Even though I say I’m making a new start, there was a time when I couldn’t see it happening, and I really feel that the words “THIS IS THE TIME” encapsulate my feelings about my return.
--On Twitter you said, “When I listen to this song, even I want to keep trying,” and you got countless fan responses from that tweet. After that you said that you would return to the stage; the fans had pushed to you go for it. What will be the first thing you say when you do return to the stage?
A: I think “Tadaima!” [“I’m back!”].
That was her answer. I wonder if, saying that in front of the fans, they won’t respond with “Okaeri!” [“Welcome back!”].