[Interview] FanplusMusic – Artist Saito Soma’s 2nd Chapter

Published: 2020/9/4
Original URL: https://music.fanplus.co.jp/special/20200915888ca508b

—Gracing the start of your second chapter of artist activities is the “in bloom” digital single series themed around “the changing of seasons” and “what comes after the end of the world.” With “Petrichor” for the rainy season, “Summerholic!” for midsummer, and “Palette” for the end of summer, each song vividly depicts a season in your unique sensibility.

I’m glad you felt that way about them. My journey began with my debut single Fish Story, and after experiencing my first album quantum stranger and my first concert “quantum stranger(s),” I felt that I’d reached a milestone. Many of my songs up until now dealt with finality and the end of the world, and I felt a new desire to depict a different world—a story that comes “after.” With this series, I think I was able to show what I like about each season.

—First was “Petrichor” which released on June 27. The title means “the aroma that rises from the earth when it rains,” and accordingly, the song brings a rainy scene to mind.

I came up with it quite a while ago and left the hook melody sitting on my iPad. It was very rain-like and matched what I wanted to do, and the release timing fit as well. From there, the full song came along relatively smoothly.

—It begins with the sound of rain, and has a comfortable layering of sax, piano, and bass that give the impression of walking with a spring in one’s step.

When I was making the song, I played the intro sax riff with my guitar, and guitar was used for the demo track as well. But I had a eureka moment and thought a sax would be good. I asked the arranger Saku-san, “Please put this kind of sax riff here” and “Please make it so that you can hear noise guitar on the left-ear side,” and he made the adjustments for me.

—Your elegant vocals and the harmony at the hook were wonderful too.

This song is extremely difficult to sing. The verse is in a low key, and whether I could reach those low notes was like rolling a gacha *laughs*. But the recording went relatively smoothly. I really like the hook’s harmony too. On the day of the recording, Saku-san, the engineer, and I went through trial and error to decide what kind of melody to make it. It was a fun recording.

—Rainy days are generally seen as gloomy, but this song uses playful wording like “melancholy, shiranpuri,” “kana, kana, kana,” and “tori no you ni yorisoi yoi dreaming.” The line “The sun doesn’t have to come out yet” shows an attraction to the rain that feels like your distinct style.

The protagonist of “Petrichor” feels really good in the rain. *laughs*

—On the other hand, amidst the lyrics that sound like a casual stroll in the rain, there’s the phrase “blooming out of season.” I’m curious about the hidden meaning in that.

The protagonist is enjoying himself, but to the people around him, he might seem eccentric. They might even feel a sense of horror from him. The mood of this song may change based on whether you interpret it subjectively or objectively. Since it’s entertainment, I feel happy as a creator if the listeners interpret it in different ways and speculate on it.

—The next song, “Summerholic!” was released on August 19 and took a completely different turn. It’s a summery, upbeat band tune. How did this song come about?

Since it was going to be released in August, I thought a refreshing summer tune would be suitable. I was playing guitar at home and happened to come up with the first guitar riff. From there I added a preferred chord progression of mine and it felt right. Up until then, I hadn’t released any songs that were 100% cheerful. But this became a song with a strong rhythm and a fast BPM, and above all, it was catchy.

—The band members are rock-inclined too, with Takahashi Hirotaka-san (ELLEGARDEN, PAM) on drums, Suda Yuki-san (ex.Suck a Stew Dry, ex.THURSDAY’S YOUTH) on bass, and Ono Takemasa-san (KEYTALK) on guitar. Your shouts and trills hype up the song too.

I’m always supported by amazing musicians. In “Summerholic!”, Takahashi-san, Suda-san, and Ono-san created a unique groove and made the song come alive with detailed nuances, which I’m truly grateful for. The vocals used a method called “double-tracking” where I sang the same phrase twice and the tracks were overlaid to create an exquisite discrepancy. Thanks to that, it came out with a Western music feel. I hope you enjoy this atmosphere that didn’t exist in any of my previous songs.

—The lyrics have an element of surprise, where even though it’s “a fine summer day,” the singer stays cooped up in their “air-conditioned paradise.”

Yes. Since the weather is incredibly nice, they refuse to go outside. In a sense, I think that’s a luxurious way to enjoy summer. I know I often write twisted lyrics, but these ones are positive—”It’s sunny, so I’ll laze around at home.” There’s only one twist, so I’d say these lyrics are honest as far as I’m concerned. *laughs*

—The line “yuurei datte hashaijaisou” has impact because it’s sung in a way that doesn’t sound Japanese.

This is a Western-style song rather than J-pop, so I intentionally sang in a way that sounded like English. That line came to mind as I was walking from one workplace to another, listening to the “Summerholic!” demo that I made. I looked up at the sky and saw that it was extremely “piikan” (a fine day), so I started humming ♪piikan no natsubare da♪ (a fine summer day) and it fit the melody really well. I also wanted to sing “natsubare” as “natsubaREEI” to give it that Western feel, and when I thought about what would rhyme with “reei,” I considered that on a hot day, a tired traveler might see ghosts (yuurei)… *laughs*

—So that’s where the fun rhyming of “natsubareei” and “yuureei” came from.

It’s the result of a coincidence *laughs*. By the way, the other day we filmed the “Summerholic!” MV. Even though I’m the only person in it, I’m cheerfully going, “So, cheers!” by myself, and it’s like, what does that mean?! I hope you’ll enjoy that horror feel.

—And then there’s “Palette” which will be released in September. It’s an emotional rock number filled with a sorrowful tone. A song that shakes your heart.

When I was creating the demo for the delicate “Petrichor,” I suppose there was a recoil effect that had me wanting a powerful guitar song. As I was playing the guitar, I came up with an unexpectedly emotional, sensitive, and violently passionate demo. It became a fitting song for both the “end of summer until beginning of fall” season and the conclusion to the “in bloom” series.

—The performers were the same as “Summerholic!”—Takahashi Hirotaka-san, Suda Yuki-san, and Ono Takemasa-san. The weighty rhythm, Ono-san’s singing guitar, and your heartrending vocals gave me goosebumps.

The guitar really is singing. The band sound really brings out the low tones, and the instruments and vocals are all quite distorted, but that just shows how heavy the emotions are. I hope the listeners will feel those crushing emotions in their heads.

—The sentimental lyrics make me tear up.

The lyrics are heavily inspired by a short story that I like: A, Aki by Dazai Osamu. In it he writes, “Autumn is a crafty devil. It disguises itself completely during summer and squats there, sneering.” In response, I write that it’s sad when summer’s presence fades into fall, but as the seasons go around, you’ll be able to meet summer again.

—I can imagine each listener projecting different people and memories onto the “you” in the song, who represents summer.

Exactly; I think different people will be touched by different aspects of the song.

—At any rate, in “Petrichor”, “Summerholic!”, and “Palette”, I was once again surprised by the power and depth of your expression. Did you discover anything through these creations?

By nature, I’m the type of person who wants to have a logical justification for everything. Even when composing music, I’d been doing it in a relatively calculated way, deciding for each song whether to use the typical pop format or add a strange development. But through my voice acting and music careers, I realized the importance of sensitivity. With these three songs, I was able to follow my senses and write them intuitively. Because of that, they have elements that may seem irregular or strange, but I had a lot of fun creating them this way. From now on, when I’m writing new styles of songs, I wonder if they’ll be “in bloom” too.