[Radio] Kaito Aiko no Mado café (2020/12/20)

Broadcast: 2020/12/20 on TOKYO FM
Original Name: YKK AP presents 皆藤愛子の窓café ~窓辺でcafé time~

Part 2 of 2.

Part 1: https://saitosoma.kouhi.me/2020/12/13/radio-kaito-aiko-no-mado-cafe-2020-12-13/


Highlights:

  • Voice actors tend to be busy right up to and right after New Year’s, but Soma feels grateful for it because it means there’s that much demand for them, and he wants to do as much voice acting as he can.
  • Soma’s favourite movie is Stand By Me. He still rewatches it from time to time.
  • The protagonist of the movie dreams of becoming an author, but his father doesn’t support him. It’s a story of a group of boys spending a summer together, and a character named Chris tells the protagonist, “You have talent at writing, but if no one nurtures that talent, it’ll disappear. And if your parents won’t do it, then I will.”
  • Soma always cries at that part, no matter how many times he watches it. When he first watched the movie in his early teens, he wished he had a friend like that.
  • He does have a lot of close friends, but recently when he rewatched it again, he thought about how he’s turning 30 next year, and it made him want to become a person who can say that kind of line to someone.
  • Now that he’s been a voice actor for ten years and has juniors, he wants to pass on to them what he’s received from others.
  • The heart-throbbing song that Soma requested was “Snow Smile” by BUMP OF CHICKEN.
  • He struggled with the decision since he didn’t think he’d heard one before, but went with a song that made him feel that way in middle school.
  • The part of the lyrics that he likes is: “Etching parallel lines into a spotless blanket of snow with our footprints / A smile escapes from my lips, knowing that that dream will never come true / On this snowless road”
  • Soma likes BUMP OF CHICKEN a lot and thinks that this song has deep, heartrending lyrics. He praises Fujiwara-san’s singing voice and calls it an instrument in itself.
  • in bloom has an omnibus-like format, depicting various different stories taking place after the end of the world.
  • Since he’s a voice actor, he doesn’t have to restrict the songs’ atmosphere, arrangement, singing style, or lyrics. He can approach them as an actor. Instead of singing the songs as “Saito Soma,” he sings them as each song’s protagonist.
  • Since Soma is turning 30 in 2021, his goal for the year is “to become an adult.” Instead of solely receiving from the people around him, he wants to pass things on himself, recognizing his place in the grand flow of things.
  • He also wants to retain his sense of childish wonder at mysterious things that catch his attention. He wants to be “an adult with the heart of a child.”
  • As the lead track of in bloom, “carpool” is supposed to give the sense of a new story/journey beginning.

[Radio] Kaito Aiko no Mado café (2020/12/13)

Broadcast: 2020/12/13 on TOKYO FM
Original Name: YKK AP presents 皆藤愛子の窓café ~窓辺でcafé time~

Part 1 of 2.

Part 2: https://saitosoma.kouhi.me/2020/12/20/radio-kaito-aiko-no-mado-cafe-2020-12-20/


Highlights:

  • Soma likes to make snacks to go along with drinks, like deep-fried eggplant in broth.
  • On Sundays when he has the day off, he’ll simmer things for 2 hours instead of using the pressure cooker. He feels oddly at ease when he’s absorbed in chopping ingredients and simmering them.
  • Simmering takes time, but in this busy society, he thinks it’s a luxury to be able to relax like that on his days off.
  • Soma likes learning new things, so he’s always curious about a lot of things.
  • Since “in bloom” was being released in winter, he wanted to write wintery lyrics. While he was thinking, he realized he hadn’t seen any fireworks that year at all. He likes seasonal things and wondered if there was such a thing as fireworks in winter, and found out that there was a company that makes fireworks designed for the winter air, with a very Japanese-style aesthetic.
  • He actually bought the fireworks, and he hasn’t used them yet, but he thought the idea of winter fireworks was very emotional, so he wrote the song “Saigo no Hanabi” (Last Fireworks) for his album.
  • He wonders if there are a lot of other things that can be nice in seasons other than what you associate them with.
  • The brunchtime song that Soma requested was “Scarlet” by Spitz.
  • When he writes lyrics, he’s inspired by Spitz’s Kusano Masamune’s respectful, cherishing use of the Japanese language.
  • A lot of Soma’s songs have a decadent or “end of the world” motif, and after 2 years of that, he thought he might’ve overdone it.
  • He happened to be reading Dazai Osamu’s story Roman Dourou which is about a group of siblings writing a relay story, and one of them says, “Stories always end with the prince and princess getting together and living happily ever after, but what I really want to know is what happens after that.”
  • Soma completely agreed, and started imagining what kind of life would come after the end of the world.
  • The “in bloom” title evokes the imagery of plants sprouting after the end of the world.
  • People are divided on “Petrichor”—some think it’s upbeat and cute, while others think it’s really scary, which is exactly what Soma hoped for.
  • (He talks some more about it but it’s all stuff he’s said in interviews)

[Interview] Ani-PASS #10 – Saito Soma – in bloom

Released: 2020/12/9

Soma was on the back cover and had a stunning 21-page feature. There is also a laminated artist card inside, as well a postcard that came with purchases from Animate.

※Since this is still a recent release, I will not be providing scans. The magazine is in stock on Amazon Japan.


I decided to stop following physical restrictions and personal rules

Q: Two years from quantum stranger, your long-awaited second full album in bloom is finally being released. Last year in December, you released the mini-album my blue vacation. Every December, Santa Soma delivers a present in the form of an album. *laughs*

Ahaha, you’re right *laughs*. My releases often end up being in June and December. After my blue vacation, I was vaguely planning a full album next, but while I was preparing a single for my third anniversary in June, the world fell into a pandemic, making it so that I couldn’t release a physical CD. In the end, I was able to release the tracks “Petrichor,” “Summerholic!”, and “Palette” (which are also on in bloom) as a series of digital singles starting in June. And then my album would be released in December. The releases have gone mostly as planned, which is a relief.

Q: It’s true that this year has been irregular in every way for the entertainment industry.

It really has been. But for me, there was a positive outcome in that I realized the advantage of digital singles. Normally, my albums always end up being released in December. That makes it really hard to include new songs that are based in the middle of summer. But through digital singles, I was able to link the songs to the seasons and release “Summerholic!” in summer. It’s really good that I was able to do that, since the digital single series was themed around seasons. For us creators, it’s more constructive to think about what we can do based on the current circumstances. Especially in this troubling time, I was able to proactively work on my music.

Q: You were proactive during the stay-home period too, right?

Yes. I bought a new computer for making music, as well as various tools.

Q: You composed and wrote lyrics for all of the songs on in bloom. Come to think of it, during the release interview for my blue vacation, you said that your demos evolved from singing to your own accompaniment to programmed tracks with an iPad and GarageBand.

Yes. And now they’ve evolved even further, to a computer and “Logic Pro”! *laughs*

Q: Finally, the addition of a true DAW (digital audio workstation)!

Indeed. Now I can express my ideas more clearly at the demo stage…and way more of my songs get scrapped now *strained laugh*. I have the production team listen to my idea sketches more often now, which means that there are more fragments that get rejected. But in that sense, it means that we’re working more like a band this time.

Q: Is there anything else that changed about your creation process?

One thing would be that I decided to stop following physical restrictions and personal rules. Before when writing lyrics, I had a personal restriction on myself to not use vocabulary that I already used in another song. But I decided to remove that restriction and not be afraid to use what I felt was most appropriate for each situation. But on the other hand, this resulted in “a restriction of not setting restrictions,” or “a rule to not follow rules,” which made things much more difficult up until halfway through production, especially when it came to writing lyrics. *strained laugh*

I was glad that I was able to write a standard guitar band song

Q: Which was the most difficult?

“Schrödinger Girl,” perhaps. I’m releasing eight new songs this time, and in April, I posted a video of a work-in-progress on Twitter and said, “I’m working on this new song right now!” Since the chord progression was based on Swedish pop, I gave it the tentative title of “Hokuou” (Scandinavia)… but I really could not come up with any lyrics for it *strained laugh* so I put it off for quite a while. The melody ended up having the dry feel of a band in winter, so I think it matches the season. This song was actually a candidate for the lead song until “carpool” was made.

Q: Really?

This time, I mulled over what to use as the lead song up until the very end. At first it was between “Schrödinger Girl” and a song that wasn’t included on this album, but neither of them felt quite right. I wanted the lead song to be a bit dark, something like Spitz or ART-SCHOOL, with a composition you’d see from a traditional Japanese band. I spent about a week thinking of new songs every night, when the melody of “carpool’s” chorus popped into my head. It’s an orthodox chord progression that I like. I quickly sent it over to the producer Kuroda-san and the arranger Saku-san. Saku-san replied with, “I can feel that this is going to be a masterpiece,” and we went through with it… The next day, I finished the song in a flash, lyrics included. It’s a really good song, if I do say so myself *laughs*. A lot of the songs that Saito Soma writes are niche. I intentionally hadn’t written songs that immediately grow on you like this one does, so I was glad that I was able to write a standard guitar band song.

Q: As with your other songs, “carpool” really feels like it tells a story.

I’m always happy that my listeners each visualize their own scenery, but personally, the keyword “carpool” makes me think of adolescence. Like The Notebook by Ágota Kristóf.

To the boy, his “bad friend” was like another version of himself. But that bad friend died in the sea, and after that, the boy felt like he was living out of sheer habit. Then, after growing up into a young man, he drove to the sea where his bad friend passed away. The driver’s seat used to be “your exclusive seat,” but now it’s “my exclusive seat.” And it ends with “I’ll catch up soon, so wait for me there.”

Q: The line that goes “You’re calling out to me from between the waves” is both nostalgic and profound.

Indeed *strained laugh*. That said, this is ultimately only my interpretation, so please don’t restrict yourself to it when you listen to the song.

Q: The song really is like a short film. Do you have a favourite line?

“I never wanted to know what lies beyond the sea’s horizon.” I think I wrote a really good lyric there. Kuroda-san was with us when the song was being mixed down, and when I tried to talk to him, he was so moved by that phrase that he shed tears. *laughs*

Q: It must’ve resonated with him. The MV takes place on a coast too.

Yes. It was filmed at the coast near Helena International Hotel in Fukushima Prefecture, where King Gnu-san’s “Hakujitsu” was filmed. I wanted to have a cut where I walked along the shore, just like in the lyrics, but it was right after a typhoon, so the sea was too stormy. It resulted in good footage though, so that was nice *laughs*. I feel bad singing my own praises, but it’s the first time in a while that I wrote a song that I’m completely satisfied with.

Q: In terms of being like a film, “Kitchen” feels more like a cut from everyday life than a story.

I struggled the least with that song’s lyrics *laughs*. Also, it wouldn’t have existed if it weren’t for the stay-home period. I’ve cooked for myself before, but I took this opportunity to get back into it and I bought a lot of appliances. I like casually drinking alcohol in my kitchen while making snacks to go along with it. One of the themes of this album is “delusions,” and this song is a fleshed out “kitchen drinker” delusion from my own experience.

Q: The chic bossa nova arrangement feels fresh too.

The song itself is from the hobby band I was in when I was a student, although the lyrics were written anew. The guitar chords are also my unique chords—they’re strange ones that take a long time to explain how to play. Also worthy of mention is that the rhythm section is made up of kitchen utensil sounds. I created sounds during the stay-home period and Saku-san sampled sounds from things like ladles. The snipping sound is from scissors, and there’s also the sound of a coffee grinder. It’s a playful toy pop song, and when you listen closely to the lyrics, it makes you think there must be something wrong with the protagonist’s head, which is fun too. *laughs*

Q: The unique vocal work that feels like it’s wafting in the air is lovely too. It’s perfect for the bossa nova atmosphere.

I often used to ask the engineers and technicians I met through work, “How does live singing differ from recorded singing?” I was told that I tend to be too loud in front of the mic. I was also taught that singing more softly would make the low harmonics resound more richly. So, I tried to sing softly for “Kitchen.” All of the vocals are double-tracked and I sung in an extremely relaxed way to get that floaty feeling.

Q: You didn’t establish rules for singing style either.

Right. So it was done quickly, probably in about five takes. We recorded “Canary” on the same day, but that one only took around two takes.

Q: That’s fast! “Canary” has a simple accompaniment centered around the acoustic guitar, and the swaying vocals are quite impressive.

I wanted to make the song feel ambiguous, and the lyrics have that kind of setting too. Up until now, I’ve enjoyed singing over and over again to achieve higher accuracy, but for this song, if my pitch wavered, I left it like that. I wanted it to be a bit distorted. Personally, I wanted to do whispery vocals like Elliott Smith.

The chord progression goes Em7, D, C. Everyone likes this kind of progression, right? I love it! It’s a simple composition.

Uchida Kirin-san, who also played the cello for “Rutsubo,” provided a beautiful, emotional solo. It stood out a lot against the stillness in the rest of the song.

Q: The lyrics are also a bit distorted. It feels like you’re drifting through an imaginary dream world.

A lot of the songs on in bloom blur the boundary between dream and reality, or delusion and reality.

Q: As with “carpool,” “Canary” also ends with unsettling words: “poison” and “I lose my senses.”

Indeed *strained laugh*. Actually, there’s a song that didn’t make it onto this album called “Rakuen” (Paradise), which I wanted to use as the last track. “Rakuen” is also about limbo—a place where people go when they leave this world that isn’t heaven. The song says that it’s the final paradise; the garden of beginning and end. I’m sorry for talking about a song you can’t listen to yet, but I think that that “interspace” feeling is present in all of the songs.

Q: The threshold between life and death, fantasy and reality… in bloom’s songs do have those themes. When I listened to this album, I thought, “Saito Soma’s gone all out!” *laughs* How does Saito Soma arrive at these songs?

Hmm… I think it has to be because I’m twisted in some way *laughs*. I find myself drawn to things with a sense of loneliness, though this doesn’t apply to everything, of course. So even though my stance of “not including personal messages in my music” hasn’t changed, I think the number of introspective songs has increased.

Q: You’ve always liked shoegazing music, which is characterized as introspective and floating, right? Since your heart and mind are free from restrictions now, it feels like you’ve dug deep into your true nature.

I really wanted to make “Isana” a shoegazing song. “Isana” is an ancient word for “whale,” and I included a guitar choke in the intro of the demo that sounded just like a foghorn or a whale’s cry. That’s where the whale motif came from, and I decided to sing about a Spaceship Earth-esque world view. So, I think the scope of the song is wider than my previous albums. It’s also spiritual.

Q: Whales are mystical creatures, right?

Indeed. I don’t know why, but they seem very sci-fi. And to me, they feel nostalgic. My mother is from a place that’s famous for whales, so I was very familiar with the word “isana.” And when my grandfather was driving, he’d talk about what happens to whales that stray into the harbour. Whales bring back fond memories for me. The “you” I sing about in this song could be a whale, or it could be something more cosmic… The song is also about the people in each of the in bloom songs. I think this song can be experienced in many ways.

Q: Since the album title is written in hiragana in “Isana’s” lyrics, it did feel like it was depicting a vaster world. And sound-wise, the arrangement was done by The Florist, a well-known artist in the Japanese shoegazing world.

Yes, it was Kuroda-san who introduced me to The Florist-san. My song “Kesshou Sekai” also had strong shoegazing elements, but it was still closer to guitar rock. For “Isana,” rather than going for a thundering sound, the arrangement used a thick reverb to create a wall of sound. There are also elaborate details in the sound. They also slowed the BPM quite a bit from the demo I first created, and said, “We might as well take it past 8 minutes!” *laughs* It’s long as far as pop music goes, but well, the Beatles’s “Hey Jude” is over 7 minutes too *laughs*. I hope that those who don’t usually listen to shoegazing music will find it a pleasant song and see what I was aiming for.

Rain fell upon the world that once ended, leading to the sprouting of new life in “in bloom”

Q: in bloom has a lot of reverb-heavy songs in general, right?

Yes. Saku-san said so too: “There’s reverb on basically everything this time!” *laughs* There’s also frequent use of chorus for spatial effect. “Schrödinger Girl” has chorus all the way through.

Q: It gives off an organic feel, though.

I think it’s because instead of trying to match the BPM exactly, I aimed to give it “fluctuation.” It also used a lot of live, unedited instruments. The only tracks that were fully digital were “Vampire Weekend” and “BOOKMARK.” Oh, but we had live guitar for both of those as well.

Q: “Vampire Weekend” is a light funk song. It gives off an urban scent.

I boldly used an existing band’s name for the title *laughs*. This song implements a strange structure in a different way from “Kitchen.” I made the demo on my iPad with GarageBand, trying the feature that lets you create a song by looping a resource. It’s a Western-style idea of repeating the same chords while changing the melody and creating a groove.

Q: Where did the vampire motif come from?

I was reading a book and it said something along the lines of “living like a vampire.” Vampires’ true nature may deviate from the norm, but instead of denying that they’re deviants, they pose as humans while possessing their own traits. It’s a form of life hack. I was inspired by that and made the protagonist a “vampire” who has an abnormal mentality of not being satisfied with their normal self. In accordance to that, the song’s structure is abnormal too *laughs*. I asked ESME MORI-san, who I worked with in Hypnosis Mic, to handle the arrangement. The guitar is by Morishii-san from Awesome City Club, which ESME MORI-san also provides music for.

Q: The vocals are sexy, too.

I made the lyrics more mature to match the arrangement. My favourite word in them is “damashiai saretai.” It takes “damashiai” (which means to deceive each other) and replaces the “ai” (each other) with “ai” (love). These five syllables “da-ma-shi-a-i” are layered with a whispering voice, and I hope you enjoy the “o-mo-te-na-shi” feeling it gives off *laughs*. I think it’s a danceable song, so the beat feels really nice when you turn up the volume.

(TL note: “o-mo-te-na-shi” refers to a presentation given by Takigawa Christel to the IOC when Japan was bidding for the Olympics. She used “omotenashi” (hospitality) as a key word and stressed each syllable individually, which left a big impression on Japanese people—who proceeded to do the same thing on social media with other five-syllable words.)

Q: The other digital track is “BOOKMARK.” What can you tell us about “J-san” who performed the rapping?

J-san is my friend. He’s not a professional musician, but he’s always been good at rapping and he writes music too. He wanted to try writing a song based on a guitar loop, so we made the track together. I already had the basis for the song itself from back when I wrote “Petrichor,” and when I passed it to J-san to do the arrangement, it came back to me with programming and rapping included *laughs*. It sounded really cool, so I asked the record label to include it on this album.

If you listen closely, you can hear the sound of pages flipping in a book, which relates to the “BOOKMARK” title.

Q: So that’s why there’s the sound of turning pages. It’s a stylish presentation. Are the lyrics about a protagonist who’s drinking alcohol?

Yes. It’s rare for me to be so direct, right? *laughs* This song is about a student who stayed up until 4 a.m. and is reminiscing about his youth. It’s about a once-real dream that is now a memory of the past.

Q: This song brings back authors’ names with the line “Kafka, Pelevin, Dick, Vonnegut.” The choices seem a bit student-like too. *laughs*

(Victor) Pelevin is the only one of these that’s still alive, though *laughs*. (Philip K.) Dick and (Kurt) Vonnegut were named because I remembered when J-san asked me for sci-fi novel recommendations, I said he should start with Dick and Vonnegut. That was what led to us becoming good friends.

These lyrics feel like a pair of drunk students having a pointless, immature debate. Like, “Was Dazai writing his stories seriously or abstractly?” *laughs* J-san and I wrote the lyrics together, and I think mine were a bit more nonsensical. I figured that since it’s students singing, I should tone down the rap part because they’d be too embarrassed to go all-out. It’s an early-morning song about someone around 20 years old, who says “I’ve woken up from my dream!” but is actually thinking that he really doesn’t want to wake up. *laughs*

Q: Perhaps that’s why he wants to put a bookmark there—he never wants to forget that memory. Finally, the last track of in bloom is the new song “Saigo no Hanabi” (Last Fireworks).

This is sort of a song about birth. I was allowed to do whatever I wanted for in bloom, and that had its advantages, but I didn’t really think any of the songs were catchy and easy to familiarize with on the first listen. This kind of contradicts what I was talking about earlier, but I wrote a j-pop style song with “happy end” imagery.

…That said, it takes some sharp turns, so you’ll be thinking it’s pop music when suddenly it shifts to rock. That non-straightforwardness is fitting for the end of this album, and I think I was able to write an interesting song.

Q: The lyrics are about fireworks even though it’s winter.

Yes. It seems impossible at first, but there actually are sparklers designed for use in winter. That’s really lyrical in itself. The person in this song is mostly likely setting off winter fireworks by themselves. So, they’re probably pretty eccentric. *strained laugh*

Q: A lot of the in bloom protagonists are people you can’t lower your guard around. *strained laugh*

The line “If a meteorite were to come down today” is conspiratorial…or rather, it’s an absurd thought, right? But that doesn’t mean there’s a zero percent chance of it actually happening. The line “The last fireworks fall in the winter sky” is made up of everyday words, and yet it feels out of place. The things that this person is saying and thinking could all be delusions, but there’s also the possibility that today really is the end of the world. Nothing is happening on a global level, but his personal world could be ending—it’s the scope of his thoughts. But since the ending goes, “Look, they’re lighting up again,” I hope that’ll ease your concerns *laughs*. It’s rare for me to include a message—and this isn’t really to the point of being a “message”—but I hope my feelings of, “Thank you for letting me release this album; I promise there’s more to come” will get across.

Q: Saito Soma’s world of music is unending.

Yes *laughs*. The title in bloom also has a strong nuance of “this is a good period of time” rather than flowers blooming. Up until my blue vacation, the world view was faded and decadent. In “Epilogue,” rain fell, and the rain continued at the start of this year’s “Petrichor.” Rain fell upon the world that once ended, leading to the sprouting of new life in “in bloom”. I hope you thoroughly enjoy this album.


Keyword Q&A

Q1. carpool – Where would you go on a drive? Tell us your recommended drive destination.

I’d like to see the autumn foliage, if there’s a place where you can still do that in December. If not, then… I never thought this at all before, but recently I’ve been wanting to visit the remote islands of Okinawa. I want to drive in a quiet, deserted place with sprawling fields… but I don’t have a driver’s license, so if a big-wig listens to “carpool” or reads this article and starts a TV or YouTube program where I get my license, you might see “Saito Soma is taking action!” *laughs*

(TL note: This is a reference to a phrase “(name) is taking action” which was popularized online by an entertainer.)

Q2. Schrödinger Girl – Schrödinger is associated with cats. Which animal would you compare yourself to?

There are a lot of animal horoscopes on the internet, right? When I did one, it said I was a black panther. Is it a dog or a cat? It’s called both, but I think it’s more often designated as a cat. Personally, I’d like to be a jellyfish, just floating around. That’s how I feel sometimes.

Q3. Kitchen – What’s your favourite part of cooking?

Huh?! It’s…obviously the eating part, right?! *laughs* If I have to pick a part of the actual cooking process, I think it’d be seasoning. When I get the seasoning just right, I think, “Yes!”

Also, while it’s not strictly part of cooking, I used to hate washing the dishes—but since I cooked more often during the stay-home period, I started to enjoy optimizing cooking and washing at the same time, thinking of it as a game. I like it the most when the food’s ready and everything’s clean at the same time.

Q4. Canary “This poison is a bit lukewarm” – Do you eat piping hot things as they are, or do you let them cool first?

I really have a cat’s tongue. I guess that’s why I’m a black panther? *laughs* The skin on my fingers seems to be thin too, so I’m sensitive to hot things. I love piping hot foods like ramen, though… Maybe I’m the type that doesn’t mind getting burnt. I want to eat delicious things in their best state.

Q5. Vampire Weekend – What kind of fantastical person would you want to become?

I would like to try being a vampire, but if I was going to become something… It’s not really a fantastical person, but something like a silicon-based lifeform? Or a data lifeform that can’t be confined to 3-D. Something that only exists on the net. I’m a sci-fi fan, after all.

Q6. BOOKMARK – What are your favourite types of alcohol or cocktails, and how do you like to drink them?

I often drink highballs at home. During the stay-home period, I bought a carbonated water maker because I wanted to make delicious highballs…but when it runs out of gas, you have to send it to the manufacturer for an exchange, and it’s annoying so I haven’t done it. Now I’m buying carbonated water from the store like a normal person *laughs*. If I’m not home, I like bottled beer in the winter. I like drinking it at diners and hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurants. If they have Sapporo’s “Red Star” beer (Sapporo Lager Beer), that’s the best. It’s good to choose the right alcohol to go with your food.

Q7. Isana “Like a long film” – What’s your favourite feature-length film?

Stanley Kubrick’s works, perhaps. A cliche pick would be 2001: A Space Odyssey. The one I want to watch right now is Eyes Wide Shut. The film itself is great, and there are also a lot of fascinating stories revolving around it. I haven’t been able to watch many films lately, so I’d like to properly settle down and focus on watching some.

Q8. Saigo no Hanabi – Did you see fireworks this summer?

Fireworks, huh… I haven’t seen them or set any off in a while. When I’m out, I might hear the sound of fireworks coming from somewhere and catch a small glimpse of them, but that’s about it. So, I really want to try out the winter sparklers. Summer fireworks have their charm too, but I want to use the sparklers in the winter, when it seems like they can go out at any moment, while saying, “It sure is cold!” Since the winter air is crisp and clear, I’m sure they’ll be beautiful. I’d also like to use fireworks in a place covered in snow, although it might not be possible in Tokyo. I wonder if we can film a “Saigo no Hanabi” MV up north. *laughs*

Q9. in bloom – What’s your favourite flower?

Delicate flowers like violets are nice, but if I had to say, rather than lovely flowers, I prefer peculiar decorative plants like staghorn ferns, or bizarre ones like cacti and carnivorous plants. I often used to use cacti as a motif in lyrics, and the word comes up in “Reminiscence” too. Isn’t that unusual appearance great? *laughs* I like looking at plants, so I might use in bloom as an opportunity to bring some into the house.


Behind the Scenes: Soma-san appeared in two styles for us, one with a long coat and one with a white jacket. The first part of the photo shoot had him holding flowers in a garden, while the second part was in a room with beautiful lighting. There were so many wonderful shots that we struggled until the last minute trying to decide which ones to use and where to put them. By the way, the flowers in the birdcage are themed around “Canary.”


Bonus: Animate-exclusive postcard

Bonus: Off-shots from Soma’s stylist, Honda Yuuki


Extra

[Blog Post] Palette / in bloom

Original URL: https://ameblo.jp/somasaito/entry-12626059673.html
Published: 2020/9/19

It’s been quite a while since the last post, but how has everyone been doing? Today felt very much like autumn.
As for me, I’ve still been enjoying books and music alongside doing my work. I wish I could have a chance to talk leisurely somewhere about the things I found interesting.
Hoping that autumn will be long this year while craving meat and saury—Saito Soma here.

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At last, the third and final song in the digital series “in bloom” has been released! Thank you!

Also, the issue with the purchase bonuses is currently being investigated! We’re very sorry for the trouble…!
I think updates will be provided on Twitter as they become available, so please wait a little longer…! Sorry!

Now then, I missed my chance to write a blog post back when the second song “Summerholic!” came out.
I’ve talked about it in various places, but “Samahori” is an uptempo rock tune about a luxurious life of not taking a single step out of the house during the peak of summer.
Some might think it feels like surf rock.
This was a straightforward song; a complete change from the first song “Petrichor” which was quite deceptive.
Personally, I think this is a punk song. I’ve always liked this chord progression.

Now, the third song “Palette” is a heavy, heartrending song for the end of summer to the beginning of autumn. Unlike “Samahori,” this one is squarely US emo.
This song is also straightforward in a sense, but it was written so that it could be interpreted in various ways depending on how you read into it. My personal interpretation is that the lyrics tell a clear story!

As an aside, when I was recording a certain part of the song, for some reason, my mic gain (volume) kept dropping at that one part, no matter how many retakes I did. This happens to me a lot.
Anyway, this song has incredible sound pressure. Please listen to it as loudly as you can.

Also, the MV was unveiled!
Thanks to the efforts of all of the wonderful cast and staff, including Okudaira Daiken-san, it became a truly amazing MV.
I’ve always said that my songs are about stories, not myself. I think that this time, I was able to express that really well in video form. The presentation of colors was magnificent, right?!

Once again, thank you to everyone who created the “in bloom” series with me, and everyone who listened to it!
I hope to bring you more music in various ways, so please continue to give me your support!

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Well then, that’s all for today!
Take care!

Saito Soma

[Interview] Bessatsu Kadokawa Scene 03 – The Talented Expresser: Saito Soma

Released: 2020/8/31

Soma was on the back cover and had a 16-page feature.

※There was originally a digital version released too, but it seems to be unavailable now. Either way I will not be posting scans for this one. (It’s in stock on Amazon Japan)


Interview #1: Saito Soma’s Roots and Desire for Expression

Saito has charmed many fans through his voice acting, music career, and essay-writing. Here, we explore his roots and creative side.

(1) Voice Acting

Acting is all about how close you can get to that person.

Saito Soma has appeared in many popular series such as IDOLiSH7 (as Kujo Tenn), Hypnosis Mic -Division Rap Battle- (as Yumeno Gentaro), and Haikyuu!! (as Yamaguchi Tadashi). He’s received high praise from anime fans for his diverse yet detailed acting ability. Now that he’s reached the tenth year of his career, we asked him about his stance towards voice acting, his ideal image of a voice actor, and his unique theory.

There are a lot of interesting things about this job. First is the question of “How close can I get to a character that isn’t me?” This applies to all types of acting, not just in anime—acting is all about how close you can get to that person. However, different actors have completely different ways of approaching their characters. Some people link themselves to the character while they act, while others use data to construct the character logically. Even if the approach differs, what’s most important is how well you can synchronize with the character and the project.

I myself go through a lot of trial and error, but if you ask me for my ideal, I think it’s best to be able to act without thinking about anything. In real life, you wouldn’t think, “This is my personality, so this is how I should talk,” right? It’s important to use a logical approach at first, but I want to be able to jump from there to “unconscious” acting. Right now I’m having the most fun pursuing that.

As I gained experience, my perception of time changed. The other day, I was talking to a veteran voice actor and agreed with them that it’s very important how you perceive the duration of “one second.” In everyday life, a second passes before you know it—but when we’re recording and the line is one second too short, they’ll throw in another three words, meaning that it was quite a bit too short *laughs*. This job requires us to have a macro bird’s-eye view of the overall work, and at the same time, a micro awareness of “How do I perceive one second?”

This year, it’ll have been ten years since I debuted as a voice actor, but if you asked me ten years ago, “What do you think one second is?”, I don’t think I would’ve been able to give much of an answer. I think that being able to sense an expansive space in the duration of “one second” now is a sign that I’ve grown at least a bit. The more I continue down the road of anime, the more things I notice, and the more I find myself thinking, “This part is too short.” Voice acting really is a job where you can take pride in your technique. I hope to treasure each and every one of my roles while progressing towards my goal.

But if you ask me whether or not I’m suited for this job, I still don’t know the answer. Of course, I leaped into this world because I admired voice acting, but that doesn’t mean I analyzed myself and thought, “I have these traits and weapons in my arsenal, so I can put up a fight here.” After having the opportunity to be part of so many anime series, I do have my own methodology, but as I said before, it’s not good to be too caught up in analyses and theories. Even if you stick to your ways and use what you’ve learned that way, it’s of no use if it doesn’t match the project.

You need the adaptability to let go of your fixations.

Saito has gained a wide range of expressiveness through the many characters he’s voiced. He’s built up his own voice acting techniques and methods, but sometimes it’s important to discard them.

This is veering into philosophy, but I recently came across the word “non-self” in a book I read, and I thought it was really good. Not “selflessness,” but “non-self.” It’s important to have your own “self,” as in something that forms your axis, but if you adhere too closely to it, you’ll suddenly get left behind by the world which is always in a state of flux. For example, let’s say you get assigned to a character that’s difficult to portray. You read the script and come up with your own interpretation of what kind of person they are. But if you go to the recording and they tell you “That’s not right,” how do you react? Of course, it’s fine if you just think, “Oh, so I was wrong.” But if you don’t have that flexibility and instead think, “That can’t be true!”, then you’ll get bogged down. Everyone has their fixations, but you need the adaptability to let go of them when the time calls for it. When I see my seniors doing that, I think they’re amazing.

It’s a matter of calmly looking at the work as a whole and maintaining a balance—sometimes I do it my way and sometimes I express what I sense around me. So when interviewers ask me, “What is voice acting?”, I can only say, “Right now it’s like this.” I want to be able to enjoy all of the changes.

Voice actors actually have a lot of freedom thanks to the nature of animation. For example, when it comes to gasping, there are subtle differences depending on whether it’s from a sudden realization, surprise, or shock, making for countless ways to do it. Since we’re free from the restrictions of 3-D, more detail is expected from us. I think that’s one of the characteristics of anime.

Even in a live play, I think the principles are the same as voice acting. You have a script and you connect your heart’s movements with your body’s movements… I don’t have experience with acting in traditional plays, but I think the essence is the same: getting as close to a character in a fictional world as you can. Of course, due to the medium, the way you express yourself is different—a live play has the advantage of being able to use your body—so I’m personally really interested in it. I’m turning thirty next year, and I want to challenge new things.

My favourite movies? When I was a student, I watched more indie films than Hollywood blockbusters. I was interested in surrealism because of Nakajima Ramo, so I’d watch things like Un Chien Andalou. I also like sci-fi, so I watched everything from esoteric films like Donnie Darko to staples like A Clockwork Orange. After starting this line of work, I also began watching dubs of action and comedy films. I think that translation is amazing, and it’s educational from a voice acting perspective too.

(2) Music

I was seeking something different from everyone else.

Saito’s artist career began in 2017 with the single “Fish Story.” In 2018, he showed off his talent for composition, lyrics, and even CD cover design with his first album “quantum stranger.” His style combined his deep musical sense with “the voice actor Saito Soma’s” pop music. Now, he’s evolving that style even further. First, let’s take a look at his musical journey.

Rather than listening to music from specific periods or listening in a systematic way, it feels more like I reach out to whatever I like or am interested in. In elementary school, it was centered around what my parents listened to in the car: Yuming-san (Matsutoya Yumi), Inoue Yosui-san, Spitz. They also played a lot of the Beatles. I still like those songs, and I think they’re reflected in the music I write now.

I fully got into music in my first year of middle school because of a friend I made. His whole family was into subculture—his parents and older brother were all knowledgeable about pop culture and subcultures. He put his recommended songs on a MiniDisc for me, and on it was U2; “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” by the Rolling Stones; Emerson, Lake & Palmer; Marilyn Manson; and Kinniku Shoujo-tai. Those varying genres of bands were my gateway, and I delved deeper from there. As for the current music at the time, my middle school years happened to coincide with the rock ‘n’ roll revival period. Some of the bands I liked were the Stripes, the Libertines, and Bloc Party. I listened to their songs a lot.

Looking back now, I think I was seeking something different from everyone else. It wasn’t that I was trying to reach farther, but rather, I proactively took in things that other people didn’t know about and weren’t interested in. I was looking for “someone who isn’t me, in a place that isn’t here.” I think it was music and fictional works such as novels, movies, and animation that satisfied that longing of mine.

I think I realized that it was important to absorb different things, contemplate them by myself, and decide what to do.

In elementary school, I was aware that I was living as a model student. As a child, I lived my life thinking about how I should act to get adults to accept me… So when I learned about rock, punk, and literature, I think I was shocked to discover that those things existed in the world. They were vulgar in a good way, and very free. They made me think that maybe I’d been living my life not thinking about anything. I didn’t rebel against my actual lifestyle, but I wrote songs and prose, trying to become a me who wasn’t a model student. I think I realized that it was important to absorb different things, contemplate them by myself, and decide what to do.

I prioritize entertainment value above all else.

Considering that he’s been delving deep into music ever since middle school, it was inevitable that he’d start his own artist career. Just like with voice acting, he has his own unique stance when it comes to music too. His central principle is entertainment value that a wide variety of listeners can enjoy.

When it comes to the music career of “the voice actor Saito Soma,” I prioritize entertainment value above all else. My voice acting work came first, and the various connections I made through there gave me the opportunity to release songs and perform live. But I don’t exactly try to show my true colours there in a “listen to what I have to say” way. In all of the songs I’ve released so far, there hasn’t been a single message song or love song. I’d say I’m more similar to Pete Doherty (from the Libertines) who also often wrote lyrics about fictional settings. Although as a listener, I do enjoy message songs too, and there are love songs that tug at my heartstrings.

Also, rather than songs that say “You’re not alone,” I’m more drawn to songs that say “It’s okay to be alone.” Like Elliott Smith’s lyrics, or in terms of Japanese bands, ART-SCHOOL, BURGER NUDS, GRAPEVINE…that kind of introspective mood. I want to mix that element into the voice actor Saito Soma’s pop music.

My songs don’t have any of that “Happy! Yay!” stuff in them, so they might not be suited for live concerts *laughs*. I was in a band when I was a teenager, but at that time, I was already thinking, “I want to create the best music” instead of “I want to perform live.” That hasn’t changed, so when I’m composing, I don’t think about whether I’ll be able to reproduce the songs at a concert. For example, “Waltz” and “Lemming, Ai, Obelisk” have a ton of layered vocals. It becomes a question of “How are you going to perform this live?” *laughs*

I also like albums that have concepts, and I’m fussy about CD jacket designs too. CDs are more than just music—you can put them on display and the lyrics cards are fun to read. I suspect that we’ll be the last generation to experience the appeal of CDs, so I want to provide the enjoyment of holding music in a physical form. For the packaging, I work together with the record label’s producer and designer. While I do present my own design direction, the staff also suggest a lot of ideas that I think are great. I love how it feels like we’re creating it as a team, and it’s a lot of fun.

(3) Writing

I don’t include any personal messages in my writing at all.

Saito Soma is also known as a writer. In 2018 he released his first essay collection, Kenkou de Bunkateki na Saitei Gendo no Seikatsu, and he actively does writing work. We asked him about his history as a reader and how he feels about writing.

Writing was my first interest, not acting or music. Everyone in my family was a different type of reader, so our house had lots of books and I naturally ended up reading from a lot of genres. My tastes were probably closest to my grandmother. Her bookshelf had the first edition of Kojima Nobuo-san’s Zankou, and it was just amazing. In middle school, I liked reading Dazai Osamu-san, Oken-san (Otsuki Kenji), and Tsutsui Yasutaka-san, among others. I also liked South American literature like Borges and García Márquez.

I wrote as a hobby in university, and after working as a voice actor, I received an offer to write an essay serialization. The serialization was published as a book in 2018, and circumstances permitting, I’d like to release a second one.

I consider essays a form of entertainment too, so I hope the readers have fun reading them. If I were to write fiction, I’d like to write a curious and bizarre story.

One time, the editor in charge of my essay collection read me a short story. It was about someone who regularly drank in Kichijoji, and at some point he accidentally wandered into an ogres’ feast, where he was made to gamble by guessing which of nine fingers was a human finger and licking it. I’d like to turn that kind of thing into an entertaining pop story, but I haven’t been able to find the time… I hope to be able to plug away at it.

Just like with my music, I don’t include any personal messages in my writing at all. I don’t think there’s any connection whatsoever between my creative works and my own thoughts and beliefs. I think that’s probably because…creating is a hobby for me. I’m not doing it with the intent of expressing my feelings… For example, I might walk outside and think, “It sure is bright,” and when the wind blows, “This feels nice.” Even if I directly convert those situations into my creations, I don’t add my own emotions to them. If there was something I really wanted to assert, I think it’d be better to say it straight out instead of going through a creative work.

Column: Tell us your recommended autumn entertainment!

First is Dazai Osamu’s “A, Aki” which can be read on Aozora Bunko. It’s about a professional poet who keeps notes on poetry materials because “you never know what kind of request will come in.” When they flip to the page for “autumn,” what’s written there is “Dragonfly. Transparent.” It shows how genius Dazai was.

Also, though the genre is horror, Tsunekawa Kotaro’s Aki no Rougoku (Autumn Prison) has a peculiar setting but is very easy to read. I often say that I like bizarre stories, and I recommend this to people who wonder what I mean by that.

As for anime, Zettai Shounen. For me, autumn is the season for sci-fi, and this anime does a great job at blending slice of life and sci-fi elements. I own the DVD boxset and have watched it many times. *laughs*

Interview #2: Saito Soma’s Artist Career – Chapter 2

The second chapter of Saito’s artist career has begun with the “in bloom” series (three digital releases) themed around “the changing of seasons” and “what comes after the end of the world.” We asked about his preferences when it comes to lyrics and producing his own music.

I feel that I can be bolder now.

Saito Soma completed Chapter 1 of his music career with his first album quantum stranger (2018) and his mini-album my blue vacation (2019). The “in bloom” series that marks the start of Chapter 2 consists of three songs: “Petrichor,” “Summerholic!”, and “Palette,” which are themed around “the changing of seasons” and “what comes after the end of the world.” Entering this new phase, he said he thought that he could be bolder music-wise. In this interview, he reflects on his career so far and speaks about where he currently stands as an artist.

My personal music career began with my debut single Fish Story, which Oishi Masayoshi-san wrote for me. Then came my second single which was centered around “the end of the world” (Yoake wa Mada / Hikari Tatsu Ame), my third single Date which I composed and wrote lyrics for by myself, my first album quantum stranger, and then my first live concert (quantum stranger(s)). With that, I felt that I’d reached a milestone. I hadn’t done everything yet, but the two years since my debut had flowed very nicely, so I thought that I could call that “Chapter 1.” The final part of that chapter was a song called “Epilogue” that was released in March this year.

Up until now, I strongly felt that “as long as I’m a voice actor, I want to produce music that has entertainment value.” That still hasn’t changed, but when I heard what my listeners had to say, I also felt that I could be bolder now. There were things that I’d originally decided not to do, but in the EP I released last year (my blue vacation), there was a song with a darker atmosphere than anything I’d released before. I’m also trying new things with “in bloom” which will be the start of Chapter 2.

As for the title “in bloom” itself… at first, I didn’t plan on giving it a name. But the producer at the record label told me to give it one because it’d be easier to promote it that way *laughs*. “in bloom” was originally going to be a song title. To put it simply, it means “after the rain, flowers bloom”—it relates to the theme of “after the end of the world.” Dazai Osamu wrote a story called Roman Dourou. It’s about five siblings that like books, and there’s a part that goes, “It says that everyone lived happily ever after, but what we want to know is what actually happened after that, right?” and I thought, “True!” I wanted to depict what happens after my “end of the world,” and that was going to be the song called “in bloom.” After the rain, beautiful flowers bloom. It also has the imagery of changing seasons.

Saito Soma’s second chapter is starting with the three songs in the “in bloom” series: Petrichor, Summerholic!, and Palette. From the lyrics to the sound production to the vocals, every song is packed with new expressions.

“Petrichor” is a shuffle beat song. The rhythm has a swing to it, and when you first listen to it, it sounds like a normal pop song—but when you look at it from a different angle, you see that it’s more than what it seems. In that sense, I think it’s a bold song. As for the lyrics, technique-wise, at first I wanted to write it without a single foreign loanword. I wanted it to feel like the “new music” genre from the 70s and 80s. But as I was writing, I thought, “There isn’t much point in imposing this restriction by myself” *laughs*. The tentative title back then was “Amadare” (raindrops dripping from eaves/etc), which led me to “Petrichor.” Petrichor is the earthy scent produced when rain falls on soil. I chose it because it’s a song themed around rain.

“Summerholic!” seems like it’ll be exciting at a concert, I think? It’s an up-tempo song with a cheerful melody. Although the lyrics are about spending summer cooped up in your room *laughs*. I put a lot of homages into this song. Specifically, the Libertines, the Cribs, and Ojamajo Doremi. The chord progression is commonly used by English rock bands, so it has a UK rock aesthetic. The melody has a summery atmosphere. The lyrics are about not going outside to play, instead eating ice cream and drinking beer in an air-conditioned room. Even though it’s bright and sunny outside, the protagonist chooses to enjoy spending their time at home.

“Petrichor” is about the rainy season, “Summerholic!” is about summer, and the third song “Palette” is about the transition from summer to fall. It tends to be a sentimental time of year, but instead of giving it a name, I decided to try turning it into a song. The lyrics are quite optimistic. At first I wanted to make them darker, but my mind changed bit by bit as I was writing. Before you realize it, summer is gone and the season has changed—and I don’t think that’s a bad thing at all. I was rewriting the lyrics up until the day of the recording, and it became a song that expresses painful feelings within grandiose sound. I want “Palette” to be heard in the loudest volume that your environment will allow for. I think it’s an immersive song, so you can even pretend you’re the MV’s protagonist when you listen to it. *laughs*

For all three songs, we were joined by amazing musicians. “Petrichor” was done quite experimentally, while I could really feel the band’s groove in “Summerholic!” and “Palette.” Ono Takemasa-san’s (from KEYTALK) guitar solos greatly exceeded the scope of the demos. That’s the thrill of creating music as a team, and I’m thankful for it.

As for the sound, I consciously produced the songs in the style of Western music. By not increasing the number of notes, it creates gaps where you can feel the groove. I also emphasized listenability, but they did end up being quite bold. Also, I obtained quite a lot of equipment during the stay-home period. I used to create my demo tracks by recording myself singing to my own guitar, but now I can do some of the programming myself too. I want to combine the best aspects of analog and digital.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are restrictions on all artist concerts. Saito is no exception, but he seems to have an idea of what kind of live performance he can do.

Live concerts aren’t possible in the current situation, but there’s nothing that can be done about that. If the situation improves, I’d like to try an acoustic concert. My songs aren’t the kind where everyone gets loud and hyped up anyway *laughs*. I think it’d be nice to have people listen to them carefully in acoustic form. Dirty Pretty Things’ first album Waterloo to Anywhere had an acoustic version of one of the songs as a bonus track ((note: Japanese edition only)), and I suspect that it was recorded in a big area, which sounds really fun. I think it’d be nice to have a fun acoustic concert with the musicians for everyone to see. It’s only a thought, though—nothing’s been decided yet.

I’m actually not that comfortable with my own concerts. When I’m standing in front of people as Saito Soma, rather than a character, I don’t know how I should act. But I gain very much from it. Brainstorming with all of the staff, spending time to prepare, and then putting on the show itself—the sense of accomplishment after making it through isn’t something that you can feel just anywhere. Year by year, the joy of concerts is budding within me.

Staff Interview: Saku

Saku is a composer, lyricist, arranger, and guitarist who has been deeply involved with Saito’s music. We asked him about Saito’s songs, lyrics, and nature.

It’s my role to organize Soma-kun’s ideas and brush them up.

Saku has been the main arranger supporting Saito Soma’s music from his third single “Date” up until now with the “in bloom” series. He’s also done composing and guitar work for artists like Kanjani∞, Aoi Eir, Haruna Luna, Amamiya Sora, and Kito Akari. We asked him about how he met Saito, as well as the nature of Saito’s music and character.

I met Soma-kun in 2018 when the record label producer introduced us to each other. I joined them when they were drinking and we talked about various things. We hit it off right away because of our similar tastes, like how we both liked GRAPEVINE. He showed me the song “Reminiscence” that later became part of his third single Date. It had a bit of a GRAPEVINE feel to it, and after listening to it once, I really liked it. From there, I got to be the arranger for his songs. It was right when he started doing his own compositions and lyrics.

Soma-kun’s songs are a bit unusual. The chord progressions and melodies have unexpected parts that make you think, “It’s going that way?”—anyway, they’re unique. For example, “Summerholic!” has parts where the chords and melody don’t match up, but when you try to change the chords to the right ones, something feels wrong. That’s Soma-kun’s characteristic quirk. Building up his songs as an arranger is extremely stimulating, and I’ve gained a lot from the experience.

His lyrics also have a unique world view. Every time he sends me a song, I look up word definitions *laughs*. I understand the content, but I’d never be able to write these lyrics myself.

It seems that at first he used his iPhone to record himself singing to his guitar, but lately he’s been able to do his own programming and the quality of his demos has greatly improved. He also sends me reference tracks, saying things like, “I want the rhythm to be like this song” and “the guitar should sound like this song,” and they’ll be songs that only an enthusiast would know. The noise guitar reference for “Petrichor” was an artist named Arto Lindsay, and I didn’t know who that was *laughs*. Soma-kun really is knowledgeable about a lot of different music.

We’re trying new things with the “in bloom” series. The saxophone phrase in the intro to “Petrichor” was Soma-kun’s idea. In the demo he played it with guitar and asked to use a saxophone for it. It’s my role to organize Soma-kun’s ideas and brush them up.

He’s also an amazing vocalist. He has the strength you’d expect from a male vocalist, but his high notes also feel like a woman’s vocals. He also has a clean falsetto, so we often layer the chorus melody with one an octave higher. Soma-kun seems to like doing that too. When we’re recording, he doesn’t just sing the way that was planned—he also gives suggestions, like, “How about this way?” It’s really fun to make changes on the spot like that.

Soma-kun’s human nature? How do I put this… He’s really a good kid *laughs*. He’s polite to everyone, he’s friendly, and everyone loves him. It comes really naturally too. It doesn’t feel like we’re just work associates—it feels like Soma-kun, the producer, the engineer, and I are in a band together. He often sends me LINE messages like, “I hadn’t given Foo Fighters a proper listen, but they’re cool, huh?” *laughs*

I hope that Soma-kun will continue to demonstrate more of his individuality. He already has a lot of dark songs, but I think he can step into his dark side even more. But since Soma-kun’s really nice, I think he’ll also compose songs that will make his fans happy.


Bonus: Off-shots from the photo shoot (2 per tweet GIF)

[Interview] SPICE – Saito Soma – Chapter 2, “Summerholic!” and “Palette”

Published: 2020/8/27
Original URL: https://spice.eplus.jp/articles/274703

Saito Soma has started his “in bloom” series, which marks the second chapter of his artist career. The three digital singles with the themes “changing of seasons” and “after the end of the world” are currently in the process of being released. Following the first single “Petrichor,” the second single “Summerholic!” was released on August 19th, and the third single “Palette” is coming out on September 19th. We interviewed Saito about the “in bloom” series and his thoughts about the three songs, and he said “When I created these three songs, I could tell that I’d be writing more songs like these in the future.” We’re highly anticipating the second chapter and what kind of expressions he’ll entertain us with now that he’s unleashed himself.


Q: What thoughts did the artist Saito Soma put into Chapter 2?

There wasn’t anything too definite at first, but I started with the intent of writing songs that would yet again be different from what I’ve released so far. The mini-album I released in December 2019, my blue vacation, was entirely themed around “traveling” and “the end of the world,” and it felt satisfying when it went well. That being the case, I decided in my heart that I would start expressing the musical styles and compositions that I’d been “restricting” up until now. It was the fans that made me think that way—many of them wrote letters to me saying, “Even if you do deeper music, I’ll still listen to it.” Up until then, I’d been restricting myself, thinking “This song would be too dark for the voice actor Saito Soma to sing” or “A song sung by the voice actor Saito Soma needs to have some degree of entertainment, so I’ll give up on this one.” But going forward, I think it’ll be okay to clear away those thoughts.

Q: How did you feel about the requests for deeper music?

I was genuinely thankful. None of my songs are so-called “message songs,” whether they were written by me or someone else. My songs aren’t about things I want to say–for example, my first single “Fish Story” is simply the story titled “Fish Story.” It doesn’t have anything to do with my own feelings. Since each and every one of my songs so far has a story to it, it’s not so much that I wanted people to accept the deeper parts of myself, but rather that it seemed like they’d accept music that was less pop-style, so I felt it’d be safe to try that. These three songs are an example of that, but I think my future releases will have even deeper elements. So, these three songs are still a bit more on “this” side.

Q: Up until now you’ve been releasing your conceptual works as CDs, but are there any benefits that you can only get from digital releases?

The advantage of being able to release one song at a time is that I can release songs that align with the real seasons. For example, if I’m releasing an album in December, it’s hard to include summer songs. I feel that this is a major strength, and I’m glad that the listeners felt the “currentness” of the song.

From the “Petrichor” MV

Q: The first song in the series, “Petrichor” (released June 27) was extremely fitting for the rainy season.

Since this June was going to be the third anniversary since my debut, I wanted to release a single at that time. However, due to various circumstances, it had to be a digital release. “Petrichor” already existed by then, and I really wanted to release it in June to coincide with the rainy season. And if I was going to do that, then the second song would be released in summer and the third song would be in the transition between summer and fall. In that case, it would be interesting to sing about the changing of seasons between June and September. That’s how I came up with the theme for these three songs.

The “in bloom” songs are very individual and introspective

Q: The second song, “Summerholic!” (released August 19) is extremely fitting for summer, but when you pay attention to the lyrics, it’s a surprisingly peculiar summer song.

“Petrichor” is the type of song that grows on you as you listen to it over and over, so for the second song, I wanted to do the reverse—an upbeat song that you can get right into, that feels like summer. “Summerholic!” was the result of that. But, everyone has their own ways of enjoying summer. Just like the protagonist of “Summerholic!”, I like to think “The weather’s really nice today” and then proceed to stay in my room watching movies, drinking, and reading books. That’s one of my personal indulgent ways of spending time during the summer *laughs*. But that probably doesn’t quite align with the average person’s way of thinking. Normally, they’d think “It’s sunny, so why won’t you go outside?” but for me, I’m completely satisfied with this positive, luxurious way of enjoying the summer. So you could say that this song is twisted in an honest way. When I wrote it, I thought that that might be an interesting aspect of it.

Q: So it’s full of your personal ways of enjoying summer.

When I watched the MV from an objective point of view, I thought “He looks like he’s having a lot of fun, but he’s all alone in that room, huh…” and I didn’t know if it was funny or scary *laughs*. I’ve written songs like that before, but the three “in bloom” songs in particular are all immersed in their own worlds. So, the songs’ protagonists are really enjoying themselves, but someone watching from an outside perspective might think they’re suspicious. For example, “memento” (from my blue vacation) was a direct interpretation of “the end of the world.” But that wasn’t in the sense of a “personal” world, but “this entire world.” Compared to that, the “in bloom” songs are very individual and introspective. When I created these three songs, I could tell that I’d be writing more songs like these in the future.

Q: Even though the world views are becoming more introspective, the songs are upbeat with interesting compositions.

It’s important for music to be upbeat and fun to listen to, so I kept that in mind for all three songs. Also, the songs were intentionally structured to make you wonder “What do you call this part of the song?” J-pop often follows the A-Melody → B-Melody → Chorus structure, but that doesn’t mean it has to be that way. Thinking about it from another angle, a lot of the songs that I like don’t follow that template. In “Summerholic!”, the chords themselves don’t change much; it’s the same set looping over and over. But by changing the melody on top of them, they sound completely different, which is interesting, right? It’s a Western concept that I tried using.

Q: What variations can you introduce that way?

For example, the traditional A-Melody → B-Melody → Chorus structure has a sense of security to it, because when you listen to it, you’re prepared, like “oh, the chorus is coming next.” But when you listen to songs with changing structures, it’s exciting because you don’t know what’ll come next. Both are valid ways to compose music, but personally, I like it more when a single song can surprise me with how many twists it has, so I prioritized that excitement. This is one of my tastes.

From the “Summerholic!” MV

Q: The intro phrase had a really good flavour to it.

I played the intro guitar phrase on loop in the DAW software while looking for chord progressions that would go well with it, and finished the song without a hitch. This chord progression is made up of seventh chords, which come from classical English music. It has a band aesthetic and just the right “dusk” feeling. It’s fun but has a hint of loneliness, which I think is perfect for this song.

Q: It was intriguing how the feeling of loneliness instantly went up just by adding a harmonica to the same melody.

The harmonica comes in at a good time, right? That was the arranger, Saku-san’s suggestion. But when I think about it calmly, I suddenly realize, “Is this person playing the harmonica in his room by himself…?” *laughs* This song has that kind of off-beat feeling… a “feigning ignorance” kind of humour. Those who thought it was a summery, happy song should try listening to it again with this perspective. I think you’ll enjoy the different impression it gives off.

Q: On that note, it’s also strange that there’s so many people shouting “Cheers!” with him even though he’s supposed to be alone in his room.

When I listened to the completed song, I went, “Wait, who is he shouting ‘Cheers!’ with?” *laughs* Naturally, the creator Saito Soma has his own idea of the song, but it’s also fun to interpret the song from a third person point of view as the listener Saito Soma. Also, if I can sing this song at a concert one day, I’m sure the call & response for that part will be fun.

Watching a movie at night… Saito Soma’s summer anecdote

Q: What was your interpretation, by the way?

There are actually hints in the lyrics. At the beginning of the vocals, it goes “yuurei datte hashaijaisou dayo ne” (even the ghosts are making merry), and in the latter half, he’s going “Cheers!” with people, which means…?

Q: Oh, that’s scary. *laughs*

Indeed. Well, it’s summer after all! It’s a song that’s fun to listen to while also having room for speculation.

Q: Is “Summerholic!” your ideal way of spending summer?

When I was little, I often did summer-like things such as going to the mountain or catching bugs. But I was always more of the indoor type, so I never really did the stereotypical, “It’s summer, so let’s go to the beach!” thing. However, I think summer is the most emotional season. Fireworks, watermelons, wind chimes, pools… Out of all four seasons, summer is the one with the most things that remind me of it.

From the “Summerholic!” MV

Q: Do you have a summer fright story?

The other day, I was watching a movie at night. I was really engrossed in it, but suddenly I realized that something was going bang, bang, hitting my window. I looked outside and nothing was there, so I went back to watching the movie, but the banging sound was still there. Naturally, I went “Really…?” and fearfully opened the window. There was a cicada on the balcony *laughs*. It appeared that it got lost in there and couldn’t get out because it was fenced in. I knew I had to set it free somehow, so I grabbed my quickle wiper ((it’s like a Swiffer)) and scooped it up like I was playing cricket *laughs*. It was scary.

The theme of “Palette” is “the colours of emotions”

Q: On September 19, the third song “Palette” will be released.

I made this song when I was writing “Petrichor.” What I always do first is make a demo for the staff to listen to, about 90 seconds long, and if they like it, I’ll work on the full version. When I was doing that, I got stuck on the lyrics for “Petrichor” and wanted to take a break.

“Petrichor” is a song that builds groove using a refrain, so I found myself wanting to play the reverse: powerful, distortion-heavy phrases. I thought something like American emo music would be good, so I played some riffs and ended up easily finishing the first verse or so of “Palette.”

Music-wise, “Palette” has a quite direct sound. I was originally also thinking of releasing it after “Petrichor,” because an emotional song would be good for summer. But then this and that happened, “Summerholic!” was created, and I decided to sing “Palette” as an emotional band song representing the transition from summer to fall. So, the creation time was rather short, and I spent more time on the lyrics instead. The arranger Saku-san also spent a long time on “Petrichor,” but for “Palette” he said, “But this one was done instantly!” I think that’s probably because “Palette” is packed with elements that we band kids love.

Q: It sounds like something you’d want to hear at an outdoor concert at the end of summer.

With an explosive sound, right? I think it’s a striking song for both the performers and the listeners.

Q: What did you focus on with the lyrics?

For this song, as the title “Palette” implies, I wanted to sing about the “colours of emotions.” For example, during the time between summer and fall, you can feel both seasons, but there isn’t a precise name for that period. Similarly, there isn’t a name for transforming emotions. Rather than giving that scene a name, I wanted to express it through music and song, and I wrote the lyrics as such.

The lyrics are straightforward, so it should be relatively easy to understand. The last chorus also ends in a way that’s somewhat hopeful. Originally, the lyrics were a bit more destructive. Instead of the word “melt,” I had “break.” But, I settled on music and lyrics that leave a refreshing, positive aftertaste instead.

Q: It’s rare for a song of yours to have straightforward lyrics.

Directness is a virtue, and I think it’s important to be able to be direct and sing directly. But personally, I’d have to say that it’s embarrassing for me, so I prefer to deliberately distort, hide, and use humour to deceive. But rather than what I want to do, I prioritize what kind of lyrics the song needs. I felt that “Palette” called for direct lyrics, and personally I think I did a good job.

Q: The straightforward lyrics are a great match for the song’s noisiness.

When I made the demo, I requested that they make it loud and distort all of the sound. The orchestra is concentrated in the low notes, so I put the vocals in the medium to high range, and for the harmony, only the upper harmony was recorded. Since the powerful notes are in the low range, it’s a song where the vocals escape into the high range. It’s a good match for the opening lyrics that have the words “rooftop” and “return.”

Q: It’s a Saito Soma song that’s also brimming with band energy.

I try to leave as much to the participating musicians as I can. “Petrichor” is a song that values subtraction, and they brought out a wonderful groove with that. On the other hand, “Summerholic!” and “Palette” have something that only a live band can bring out. They’re different types of songs, but they both showcase how amazing and entertaining bands are, and I feel that the performers made the songs even more wonderful.

For Chapter 2 onwards, I’m freeing myself from the rules

Q: What style of music do you want to pursue after this?

What I like about music is imperfections. For example, if the pitch doesn’t match, or the rhythm is a bit too fast. I actually think that those aspects have an unparalleled appeal, and that’s what’s interesting about pop music. So, moving forward, I want to continue working with a variety of people.

The good thing about making music as an individual is that I don’t have to put restrictions on my musical style. I don’t have to say “The artist Saito Soma will absolutely only sing this genre.” I’m extremely grateful that I can change my way of singing or even my vocalization to suit the song. That’s exactly why I want to try forming bands with different musicians and pursue the grooves born from those combinations. The one thing is that I think the band style will always be at the heart of my music, because that’s what I mainly grew up listening to.

Aside from that, I’m also interested in more introspective music; the kind that I could even do the arrangement and mixing for by myself. Especially something that doesn’t even have a chorus…like acid folk and electronica. I don’t know if I’d actually do that under the name Saito Soma, though. I realized that I’d been putting restrictions on my music up until Chapter 1.5, so I’d like to free myself from those rules and release even better songs.

Q: I’m looking forward to hearing songs that are even more uninhibited than these three.

I’m still working on new songs right now, and I think I’ll be able to release something that goes in a different direction from anything I’ve done so far. There’s also a song that’s so completely different that if you ask, “Is this Saito Soma?” the answer is well, I think you’ll understand, maybe? *laughs* If I were to liken it to something… It’s like the result of cooking with the mindset from “Date.” The temporary name of the song is “Kitchen,” so please look forward to it. After creating “Petrichor,” “Summerholic!”, and “Palette,” I wanted to stray even further from the rules, so the plan is to spread out farther and farther from here on out.

What the fans’ analyses made me realize

Q: On the other hand, what do you think is the axis of your music, that will always be there no matter what surprises you bring?

I think it’d be pop. No matter what kind of difficult or high-level songs I do, it’s important that they’re enjoyable to listen to, so I don’t want to stray from that. I do think I’m going to be releasing more experimental songs, but that doesn’t mean all of the songs on an album would take that route. I want to maintain a balance between experimental songs and familiar pop songs. I hope that as a result, when you listen through an album, you’ll be able to enjoy both sides.

I do think that there’s a clear axis for which you could say “This is Saito Soma’s music.” But I think I’d like it if it were more, “There is, but there isn’t.” In Buddhism, there’s a doctrine called anatman, or “non-self.” It means that while people do have something like a “true nature,” it’s constantly in flux and can’t be defined concretely. For example, sometimes I’m cool and collected, but sometimes I’m impassioned, so you can’t say with confidence that “Saito Soma’s true nature is calm and collected.” But, my true nature does exist. After reading about it, it made sense to me. So, it might be ideal to use different presentations depending on the song.

Ultimately, I think I’d be happy if people said “I couldn’t tell that it was Saito Soma’s song.” I say this about voice acting too: the ideal actor erases himself and becomes the character. Perhaps the same goes for music. I want to keep transforming my musical style and release different kinds of songs.

Q: It’s good that your fans are also hoping for that.

Yes. There are a lot of people who analyze my songs while they listen to them, and I like looking at their analyses. It’s fun to examine my songs from various angles with the listeners, and I’m thankful that they do that.

Q: We have faith that “Since it’s Saito-san, there must be some kind of intent behind it.”

When I’m reading people’s analyses, there are times when even I go “Oh, I see!” I think that when you’re creating something, no matter what your intent is, you’ll always unconsciously link something else to it. So, these analyses make me notice the unintentional connections that were there. I wouldn’t have found them with my perspective alone. I’m sure I’d unconsciously made those connections, but I couldn’t have done so intentionally. It’s really interesting how I can finally see them thanks to everyone’s analyses.

Q: You’ve produced so many diverse musical styles so far. I’m looking forward to seeing what’ll come next!

Thank you! The themes of the “in bloom” series are “the changing of seasons” and “after the end of the world,” and I tried singing about them from different perspectives. I’m happy that the listeners enjoyed coming up with their own interpretations of the songs. Saito Soma’s second chapter has begun, and I want to explore new directions with my music that I haven’t before. I don’t know what I’ll be able to pull off, but I have a lot of ideas prepared, so please wait until they’re ready to be announced. I’ll be continuing to work at my own pace, so please watch over me gently and enjoy the journey with me. Thank you for your support!

[Interview] Natalie – Books that Make the Artist Vol.27 – Saito Soma

Three books that got the young Yamanashi boy into music

Published: 2020/7/24
Original URL: https://natalie.mu/music/column/386924

This is a series where musical artists introduce books that influenced their creations and ways of life.


1. Gummi Chocolate Pine (Kadokawa Bunko) / Ohtsuki Kenji

Middle school, when he first formed a band

This book was recommended to me by a friend that I formed my first band with during middle school. Thinking back, he really was mature for his age, and it was him that showed me Tsutsui Yasutaka-san, Nakajima Ramo-san, and various musical artists and whatnot.

For my first band, well, setting musical style aside, on a spiritual level I really wanted to do punk, and I felt like I had something in common with the characters in this book (I especially sympathized with Kawabon for some reason). Come to think of it, the first Tsutsui-san book I read had commentary written by Oh-Ken too.

When I was a teenager, I went through that impatient, restless feeling of wanting to go somewhere else, the assumption that there had to be something about me that was different from others, and the futility of it all. This book depicted those feelings brutally and honestly, without trying to make them look good, and if I hadn’t encountered it, I might never have gotten so absorbed into music.

My band at the time had lyrics that were more on the serious side, but—and it may be presumptuous of me to say this—I get the feeling that Oh-Ken’s ideas, that draw from delusions, leaps in logic, and other illogical resources, are somehow similar to my current style of lyrics.

2. Please Save My Earth (Hakusensha Bunko) / Hiwatari Saki

Turning his impressions into music and writing

Recently, I was led to reread this all at once up to the latest series, and no matter how many times I’ve read it, it always has me crying my eyes out. It was originally my mother who liked it, and I love it so much that we still talk about it as a family when we have the chance.

The series often uses imagery of “dissolving into the atmosphere,” especially for Mokuren-san. It’s a grand story that takes place across the Earth and the Moon, but the ideas of “going around,” “dissolving,” and “soon fusing into one” were very close to the vague intuition I’d had ever since I was a kid, so I felt nostalgia the first time I read it. I use these motifs quite often in my songs and writing compositions, although how they’re handled differs depending on the song. Even when it comes to listening to music, I like songs with those themes (e.g. Mystery Jets’ “Soluble in Air,” Sunny Day Real Estate’s “One”).

When I’m writing songs, I don’t have any intent of conveying a message at all. Instead, I create them as if they’re films or novels. I often turn the impressions I’ve received from books, films, and novels into music.

3. Quip Magazine (Medicom Toy / no cover)

Imagining the unknown from short introductory articles

This might be a bit of a change-up, but back when I lived in Yamanashi and sites like Myspace and YouTube had just emerged, the city of Tokyo was like a mystical utopia in my mind, and I considered Shimokitazawa the ultimate holy land. On the very rare occasions when I got to visit, I spent the precious few hours I was given desperately absorbing the music, atmosphere, and essence that (I believed) only existed there.

In the past, there was a store in Shimokitazawa called HIGHLINE RECORDS that sold things like 2-track CD-ROMs self-produced by brand-new indie bands. I would make sure to go there every time and buy “Quip Magazine.” That was how I encountered new music that couldn’t be found anywhere on the internet. It gave my younger self hope that one day, this could become reality for me—a place where I could spend my daily life.

Once those dreamlike hours were over, it was time to go home. On the way back, and even after returning home, I’d read that Quip Magazine over and over again. I was intrigued by the short introductory articles that only spanned half a page each, but I didn’t have the means to find out what the songs sounded like. So, I imagined with all my mind. The thrill I felt towards the unknown back then was undoubtedly a driving force behind my creative endeavours.

As an aside, when I finally did start living in Tokyo, the once-dreamlike Shimokitazawa gradually became clearer until it truly was a reality. The Shimokitazawa I saw back then might only exist in my memories now.

[Interview] Harajuku Pop Web – Saito Soma – “Petrichor” and “in bloom”

Published: 2020/7/8
Original URL: https://harajuku-pop.com/21129


“I’m the type that pays attention to the visual nuances of words”

Q: Like flipping pages in a book, your artist career has entered Chapter 2 with the “in bloom” series. I’m interested in the reason why you’ve separated it into “Chapter 1” and “Chapter 2.” Was it done deliberately to make a clear distinction about what you’ll be presenting next?

It’s not that deep—It’d been about two years since the label asked me if I was interested in a music career, and after releasing an album and performing a live concert, I felt that I’d reached a sort of milestone. Looking back, there was a nice flow from “Fish Story,” the amazing song Oishi Masayoshi-san wrote for me, until my album quantum stranger. Many of the songs were themed around “traveling” or “the end of the world.” But since I was a voice actor doing a singing career, I thought that pop entertainment would have to be at the core no matter what. However, I couldn’t stop my desires from building, and I started wanting to do darker, more incomprehensible songs. So from now on, I’m going to create more varied music, so please lend me your support. Although it kind of feels like I’m trying to show off, and it’s a bit embarrassing… *laughs*

Q: I was also intrigued by the name of this series, “in bloom.” What was the reason behind that?

I didn’t really think there was a need to give it a name, but the producer asked me to give it one so that the connection would be easier to understand *laughs*. The original plan was to release a single in June, but due to various circumstances, it had to be turned into digital releases instead. So, when I was putting together the songs I had in reserve, I noticed that many of them had a seasonal feel to them. I was originally thinking of using “in bloom” as a song name, but I realized that it was perfect for this series and decided on it right away. It had a nice ring to it, and personally, I’m the type that pays attention to the appearance—or rather, the visual nuances of words. “in bloom” was both visually and audibly appealing. So it’s not like I chose this title from the very beginning to form the overall concept. It’s more like it dawned upon me.

Q: You say that the themes for this series are “the changing of seasons” and “what comes after the end of the world.” I can feel romance and emotion in “the changing of seasons,” but what I’m really interested in is “what comes after the end of the world.” Could you tell us the reason behind these two themes?

I’ve always liked the process of change as well as ambiguity. So, I wanted to write songs that gave off the feeling of the rainy season or that brief moment between summer and fall. I enjoy turning nameless concepts into songs rather than simply giving them names. I still have yet to write a coherent message song—my approach is to express certain situations or feelings in the form of music. In that sense, the three songs in this series express the changing of seasons in their own separate ways.

As for “what comes after the end of the world,” I mentioned earlier that many of my songs so far had “the end of the world” as a motif. When I was reading Dazai Osamu’s Roman Dourou, I encountered a phrase that left an impression on me: “The real story always begins after the dance of love has ended. Most films end with the formation of a happy couple, but what we want to know is what kind of life they live afterwards.” There are two themes I’ve chosen not to write about for the time being: message songs (as mentioned earlier) and love songs. Setting that aside, I very much agreed with that passage. So far, I’ve been writing stories about how people would receive the end of the world, but now, it’s a question of what happens next. Is the world completely over, or…? I wanted to try writing songs about that. This theme will continue beyond the scope of these three songs, too.

“I like the scent of rain. I also like both the sound and appearance of the word ‘petrichor.'”

Q: The first digital song in the series is “Petrichor.” The word refers to the scent that rises from the ground when it rains, and I thought the word had a lovely aesthetic. I’m very interested in what led you to it.

I don’t remember how I learned this word, but… At first, I had a sort of prototype for the song, and when I came up with it, I knew it was going to have rain. And originally, I didn’t want to use katakana for the title—I wanted to give it a bit more of a Japanese setting. But I got stuck, and when I was brainstorming, I suddenly remembered this word and decided to lift the restriction on katakana. From there, it was a relatively smooth path to the overall image. I like the scent of rain. I also like both the sound and appearance of the word “petrichor.”

Q: Since the “in bloom” series is about the changing of seasons, will the next songs also take place in specific seasons? I’m also interested in why you chose to begin with a season about rain.

“in bloom” is currently expected to be three songs, so that’s the plan.

Many of my songs already have rain or nighttime as a motif, and since this June marked my third anniversary since my debut, I was planning on releasing a single with all three songs about rain. The title was going to be “Ame no Sanbusaku” (Trilogy of Rain), an homage to Yoru no Sanbusaku (Trilogy of Night) by the author Fukunaga Takehito. That was the original plan. However, due to various circumstances, that became difficult to achieve, but I really wanted to release Petrichor in June no matter what. So, it became a series of digital releases. The other songs don’t have a rain theme and originally weren’t going to be used here, but since the new theme was the changing of seasons, I thought they’d be perfect. Come to think of it, “Reminiscence,” the coupling song on my Date single, was also originally titled “Ame” (Rain).

Q: “Petrichor” has a light, pleasant feeling that makes you want to go out in a raincoat with an umbrella and strut around in the rain. What did you keep in mind when you were composing this song?

Bringing out the nuance of splashing raindrops while not making it too upbeat.

The recurring sax riff is somewhat off key, but that’s because I was aiming for a sound that can’t be expressed on the musical scale. “Blue notes” are the same way, but I really wanted to express something “ambiguous” or “unclear” here too. So, people who listen to music from a logical perspective might feel that something is off. But when I created the riff, I hoped that it’d continue to linger in people’s ears after the song was over.

Also, it was the correct choice to add the noise guitar to the intro and outro—I’m talking about the sound coming from around the left side. I showed the arranger, Saku-san, a video of a no wave guitarist named Arto Lindsay, and selfishly asked him, “Please do it like this, playing the rhythm with noise instead of melody.” *laughs* I’m sorry for always making such complicated requests. Thank you for yet another wonderful arrangement, Saku-san!

As for the vocals, I like how the harmony in the hook has an Elliot Smith feel to it. Whenever we’re recording, everyone will be playing the keyboard or guitar and saying, “Wouldn’t this way sound more urban and stylish?” while making changes to the melody, and it’s enjoyable having that sense of teamwork.

The song takes a rather peculiar turn from the second verse. It’s presumptuous of me to say this, but personally I think the part that goes “kuruizaku you na…” is reminiscent of Inoue Yosui. I also like that the part afterwards has a spoken sound rather than rap or song.

“For some reason, I’m incredibly drawn towards things relating to ‘rain.'”

Q: When I listen to “Petrichor,” I feel romance in Japan’s damp and humid season. What is your personal impression of the rainy season, Soma-san?

I’m not good with humidity, so I can’t say I love it, but for some reason, I’m incredibly drawn towards things relating to ‘rain,’ whether it be the shape of the kanji (雨), the rhythm of rainfall, or the scent and colour. It’s like everything is quietly hidden away rather than shown in detail. Isn’t it exciting when you pass by someone whose face is hidden behind an umbrella, and you can only see their mouth?

Q: In “Petrichor,” we see the protagonist walking on the street against a rainy backdrop with colours being painted in, depicting the lyrics of the song. Was there anything you kept in mind or aimed for when writing the lyrics?

Madness and enchantment… The listeners’ interpretations of this song are quite divided. There’s no correct answer, so thank you all for ending up exactly as I’d hoped *laughed*.

My personal interpretation is that it’s definitely not only an upbeat, light song. This is ultimately only my perspective, but while this song has a Singin’ in the Rain-like feeling, it’s closer to A Clockwork Orange, in my opinion. This person might seem like they’re in a really good mood, but how does it look to a third party? When writing a novel, there’s a technique called the “unreliable narrator,” and this is it.

But, what’s most important is to interpret it the way you want to. Have confidence in your interpretation—believe in it and assume responsibility for it. I think that’s the best way to enjoy the song, and I hope people will come up with all sorts of interpretations.

Q: I always try to avoid going outside on rainy days, but after listening to “Petrichor,” I got the feeling that it could lead to something dramatic. In the lyrics, there’s a part about “taking a little detour”—when do you feel like doing that, Soma-san?

I do it pretty much all the time. I love going for walks, and I’ve always enjoyed taking a different route every time. Even when I was a student, I’d constantly take different routes home. But, unlike the person in “Petrichor,” on rainy days I’d run straight home *laughs*. Then again, we don’t know where this person is coming from and where he’s going. He’s insane, in a way. So to be honest, it makes me think “this person looks like he’s having a lot of fun, but he’s kind of scary.” Going back to the original topic, I really love taking unknown roads and being inspired by what I see there.

Q: In “Petrichor,” I could sense the emotional “changing of seasons.” Are there hints of the other theme, “what comes after the end of the world,” hidden in the song as well?

I think it might be inelegant to explain too much of that, but… hmm, perhaps there isn’t that much in this song. I think this song is really introspective and subjective. Rather, since it’s about the rainy season and the changing of seasons, you’d think the person would be emotional, but he actually seems extremely ephemeral. It feels like he’s really enjoying what he’s doing.

That said, just because I wrote the song doesn’t mean I’m going to openly explain everything, although I’m not going to tell any crazy lies either, of course. There might be something hidden in smoke, so please listen to the song while keeping that in mind.

The “world” is another tricky aspect, though. Is it referring to the whole world, or this person’s world? I hope that the various interpretations will blend in with the raindrops.

Q: The recording members were: Bass – Ochi Shunsuke (CRCK/LCKS), Sax – Fujita Junnosuke (TRI4TH), Piano – Watanabe Shunsuke (Schroeder-Headz). Were you looking for a band arrangement?

No, I wasn’t. In fact, I wanted to reduce the amount of sounds as much as possible. Japanese pop music always ends up increasing the sound density and filling the gaps in the songs. It’s an additive process, whereas I wanted subtraction—a song where you could hear empty space. So, I didn’t ask for anyone specific. Since it’s also a jazzy song, I requested people who would perform this subtraction while preserving the song’s groove. In the end, everyone performed wonderfully and I was extremely happy with the result. Their performance was especially great in the outro, so please listen closely to it.

“Rain in slow motion is truly beautiful, don’t you think?”

Q: The MV for “Petrichor” was also lovely like a watercolour painting. Was there anything you were aiming for in particular with it?

Filming MVs in these times is rather difficult, and this was the result of researching what would be possible. I’m truly thankful to the movie team for creating something beautiful under such limited time constraints. When I gave them the general idea of what I wanted and they came back with the watercolour aesthetic, I thought, “This is it!” It really is a stylish video that matches the song. I asked the usual two to do the fashion styling and makeup, and of course, they did a wonderful job as always. Yet again, I felt how blessed I was to be able to create something with a team.

Q: Do you have any interesting stories from the filming? Also, what would you say the highlight of the MV is?

I remember that on the filming day, it just barely didn’t rain, but right after we finished filming, it suddenly started pouring. The movie team really did a wonderful job, so please watch it several times. Rain in slow motion is truly beautiful, don’t you think? As an aside, there’s a cut where I was snapping my fingers as I walked, but I actually can’t get any sound to come out at all *laughs*.

Q: What does the completed song mean to you now?

I think that once a song is out, it no longer belongs to me—it’s been released into the atmosphere. Personally, this time I’m very satisfied that I was able to express a hidden madness appearing and disappearing from behind the upbeat-ness, but when it comes to music, the most important thing is that it’s being listened to. There’s no greater happiness than having your song listened to by one more person, one more time. But if I may say an additional thing, it’s that I’m glad it became a song with a suspicious air, fitting for the opening to my new series.

Q: I’m also curious as to why this series is taking the form of digital releases.

As I wrote above, it was originally going to be a CD single. Currently, physical and digital releases coexist, and both sides have their advantages. But I grew up in the era of buying CDs in my hometown’s used record shop based on their covers, excitedly listening to them at home, and feeling overjoyed when there was a secret track after the last song. So, next time, I definitely want to release a CD.

Q: I’m very interested in what form the rest of the “in bloom” series will take. Is there anything you’re allowed to tell us right now?

The second song is called “Summerholic!” and it’ll be released on August 19th. It’s an “upper” band tune for the height of summer. This one is rather simple; I think it’s an honest song that’s only been “twisted” once. That said, there are still tricks inserted throughout, so I think it’ll be fun to listen to. As I said for “Petrichor,” this one might also have a horror vibe depending on the listener. Well, it’s summer after all *laughs*.

The third song takes place between summer and fall. It features an emotional band sound and sentimental lyrics. This one has more of the “end of the world” motif, but the perspective is still a bit different from my previous songs. We just finished recording it the other day, so I’m looking forward to hearing the completed version.

Anyway, I have an infinite number of written songs in reserve… In the past, I showed part of the demo for a song called “Hokuou (Kari)” (Scandinavia (Temp)) on Twitter, and I have a lot of other materials stocked up too. The temporary titles are “Oasis Miss,” “Bossa Nova,” “VW,” “Marilyn Manson,” “Kujira” (Whale), etc… I want to do my best so that these songs will have the chance to see the light of day.

Q: What kind of situation do you want people to listen to “Petrichor” in?

I think one of the best things about this generation is that you can listen to music at any time. So, please enjoy the song in any situation you like. My personal recommendation is while taking a walk. It’s really fun listening to it at night and copying the MV, although people might think you’re strange *laughs*. I didn’t have any exact time of day in mind when I wrote the song, but I think it might be an unexpectedly good fit for the morning. After waking up in the morning, you could listen to it on the veranda while watching the drizzling rain.

“Books and sleep are my idea fountains.”

Q: Please tell us about your favourite fashion style.

I like relatively simple clothes as well as French style clothes. In the past, I didn’t like wearing rings or watches, but tastes sure do change as years pass. For watches, rather than expensive ones or mechanically-impressive ones, I prefer ones that feel right for my body, and I’m still searching for the best one.

As for colours, I’d say I have a lot of green or black items. I often voice blue-type characters which leads to wearing costumes with cool colours, but if I had to state my preference, it’d be autumnal colours such as deep burgundy. I’m also attracted to pale tones; in other words, items with ambiguous colours. I love sweaters and cardigans too.

Q: Is there anything you’re particular about when it comes to fashion? Do you have any favourite brands?

How the clothes feel on my skin. Not getting tired when wearing them—when I’m recording and have to talk for a long time, I often wear loose clothes that won’t feel tight against my body.

I have a lot of favourite brands, but I’m the type that likes to enjoy my fashion quietly, so it’s a secret *laughs*. Even if you know what brands I like, please keep it to yourself.

If I have to name something, I wear Dr. Martens shoes quite often. I own several pairs, and they fit the shape of my feet and are comfortable to walk in on any surface. I like Paraboot for the same reason. My latest concern is that caps don’t look good on me because I have a round face *laughs*. I like using nice things for a long time.

Q: What’s essential to your lifestyle, Soma-san?

Books and sleep. Both of them are my idea fountains.

By the way, “lifestyle” is a very important keyword for beyond the “in bloom” series. That said, it’s still in the planning stage, so I don’t know how it’s going to turn out… Even when the world ends, life continues (or does it?). Keep that in the back of your mind, and someday the connection will be made.

Also, something nice I bought recently was a Le Creuset bowl. You can serve any type of food nicely in it, and it’s easy to clean. All I have to do is move the food from the frying pan to the bowl, eat, then wash the bowl, dry, and put it back. I’ve been cooking for myself more often lately, but I’m pretty much only using this bowl *laughs*.

I also bought a carbonated water maker-type thing, which has proven to be very valuable as well. It’s strange, because I used to not like carbonated drinks.

I also want a funnily-shaped guitar. Something with a really peaky sound… I should stop, because I could go on forever *laughs*.

Q: Lastly, please give us a message of your choice.

Thank you for reading all the way here! I hope you’ll listen to “Petrichor” many times! I plan on bringing you lots of songs this year, so please support my musical activities in addition to my voice acting work!

[Blog Post] Petrichor

Original URL: https://ameblo.jp/somasaito/entry-12607039774.html
Published: 2020/6/26

A friend recommended me Yagi Nagaharu-san’s manga, and I absolutely loved them…!
It’s to the point where I’m lamenting, “Why didn’t I read these earlier?” Mugendai no Hibi and Wakusei no Kage Sasu Toki were both amazing. There was a bit of a resemblance to papanya-san’s works.
Music-wise, I’ve been listening to a lot of Mystery Jets, from their second release onward. I really do love this band. I’m producing serotonin. Saito Soma here.

⭐︎

Now then, tomorrow… or rather, in a few hours, the digital single “Petrichor” will go on sale!
I had to release this song during the rainy season no matter what. I actually wanted to release it on a CD, but due to various circumstances, I settled for a digital release. I think that means you’ll be able to listen to it on various media though, so please do!

Next, I’d like to do a simple, informal introduction to the song. It might be best to listen to it without any prior information, so if you want to go that route, please wait a little longer and read this after it’s been released!

It’s the rainy season, and amidst the gently falling rain, a lone figure walks with a sway on the wet stone pavement, perhaps taking a stroll or returning home. He’s in a dreamy, or perhaps enjoyable state of mind. The lyrics feel about the same as usual, but I chose words with stems that are like raindrops—they feel round and light. The MV ends at just the right time, but I personally love what happens next in the song as well. Please listen to it.

On the music side, the most important thing to point out is the sax riff. I remember that once I came up with it, I swiftly obtained a grasp of the entire song’s image. Aside from that, the bass and kick drum are fairly emphasized, making for a strong rhythm section like what you’d hear in hip hop. Also, if you listen closely, you can hear the messy noise guitar in the far background, which blends and blurs in with the rain sounds. I think there are various ways to listen to the song.

Personally, I don’t really like getting wet from the rain, but I very much enjoy listening closely to the sound of raindrops from inside my room and spacing out. I hope that this becomes a song that gives you a different outlook on rain. Please enjoy it tranquilly with the rain.

And from here on, it’s a surge of consecutive releases!
The next song is quite summery and has a pop sound, but there’s playfulness all throughout and I think it’s a direction I haven’t done much of before.
The third song… I don’t want to say anything yet *laughs*
I think it’ll be about the progression from the end of summer to autumn, so it’s naturally going to be emotional.
And beyond that… I want to write a lot of songs, so that I can bring you more interesting music!

I went on for a long time there, but please listen to my new song “Petrichor”!

⭐︎

That’s all for today!
See you!

Saito Soma

[Interview] Ani-PASS #06 – Saito Soma – Until the End of the World

Released: 2020/1/10


Q: It’s been some time since your first solo concert at Maihama Amphitheater in February 2019. How did you approach your music during this time?

My first concert was an incredibly rewarding experience for me. As I said during the concert, having a live band backing me up made me truly feel that Saito Soma’s music is created by a team, not just myself. And if that’s the case, then my next music should be created as a team. As I was making those mental preparations, I also wanted to take some time for “input,” and so I deliberately spent half a year on that, constantly coming up with song motifs and various ideas.

Q: And after half a year, it was time?

I decided it was time, and after thinking about what topics to use in what form, the first song we finished was the leading track “memento.” The CD’s release date was slated for December… because I thought it’d be a good time, being exactly a year since the previous release. *laughs*

Q: The fact that it’s neither a single nor an album, but an “EP” feels really fitting for you, since you’re such a music connoisseur…

Yes, I deliberately wanted to call it an “EP” rather than a mini-album. Also, the concept behind “my blue vacation” is “If the world were to end one day, wouldn’t the time until then be like a vacation?”, but you see, I’m a big fan of a novel called Summer Vacation EP by Furukawa Hideo, and at one point I considered using that exact same title for my EP. But, it was going to be released in winter instead of summer, so I pondered about what a winter aesthetic would be like, and thought maybe blue with a hint of gray? To cut to the point, I made the entire EP the colour of “KITANOBLUE.”

Q: That’s the characteristic colour of Kitano Takeshi’s films, right?

Yes, so the CD jacket and the “memento” MV also used a dark, desaturated colour palette. I hoped to portray my decadent, ending world there.

Q: Why ending?

The “ending” feeling has always been at the base of the things I like, whether it be music I listen to or books I read.

Q: Perhaps you could call it your eternal theme.

With the release of this EP and the solo concert I performed, I thought that the first season of Saito Soma’s music had concluded. In order to move on to the next season, “memento” became a fantasy-style ending, and the concept expanded from there.

That said, I realized that the world seen in “memento” was actually the same as the one in “Kesshou Sekai.” “Kesshou Sekai” has romanticism, so I prioritized beauty when I sang it. But this time for “memento,” it was a bit more pop-style, because it’s a song that goes, “Let’s go on a drive until the end of the world!” Even though it’s the same end of the world as “Kesshou Sekai,” the perspective is different. In that sense, if “quantum stranger” is Season 1, then “memento” takes on the role of Season 1.5.

Also, the rest of the tracks which were written after “memento” are something of a premonition for the new direction my future music will take.

Q: So, “my blue vacation” is also a prologue for Saito Soma’s 2nd season.

Yes, you can interpret it that way.

Q: Now then, first let’s talk about the starting point for this release, “memento.” The word makes me think of the phrase memento mori: “remember that you must die.”

Yes, it was directly inspired from memento mori. In Latin they say “Carpe diem,” which I think would be “seize the day” in English? The “sono hi wo tsumi” in the lyrics is a direct translation of that, and shares the same meaning as memento mori.

Q: It means that since we don’t know what will happen tomorrow, we should treasure this moment.

Right, which is why the lyrics for “memento” are very straightforward. It’s just, “The world might be ending, but until then, let’s go on a drive!” The song has a very upbeat, optimistic energy. I also prioritized the feeling of rock music and speed you get when you listen to it.

Q: The way those straightforward lyrics paint visuals with imaginative words really feels like “Saito Soma style.”

Yes, like the phrase “tou karamitsuita midori no yubi” (green fingers entwined around a tower). This one is exactly what it describes—ruins covered in vines. But if I had to give an opinion, it seems harmonious in a way… it’s not a negative visual.

Also, in my mind, the car that’s driving towards the end of the world in these lyrics is a blue van.

Q: It matches “my blue vacation.”

Right, the word “green” appears in the lyrics, but “blue” doesn’t. *laughs*

The way I imagine it is, even though the world is ending, these delirious people are carpooling in that blue van. It could even be that the end of the world is all in their imagination. They look absurd from an outsider’s perspective, but the people themselves are dead serious about it.

In my mind, this EP is made up of the stories of people in different places during the time span of “my blue vacation until the world ends.”

Q: It’s like a scene from a surrealist film. Did you have any difficulties with the lyrics?

The entire song took a while, but what was particularly hard was the chorus. It took a long time to find words that rhymed and fit well.

By the way, the “suikatou no kodomo-tachi” (watermelon sugar children) in the chorus was inspired by Richard Brautigan’s In Watermelon Sugar, which I also recommended as part of Kawade Shobo’s book fair. I’ve actually eaten real watermelon sugar before. It tasted completely different from what I was expecting, but I’m stubbornly continuing to use my personal impression of the words. *laughs*

Q: I see *laughs*. This song has a strong “band” feeling to it, but what really stood out was the effect on the vocals after “minasoko e shizunda” (sinking to the bottom of the sea). It felt like even the audio was contributing to the distorted world.

That was the divine work of Hayashi (Kenichi)-san, the godlike engineer who I owe a lot to and who has also worked with bands like the Southern All Stars.

With this release, I finally started using music software myself to create my demo tracks. For this part, I’d already put a thick reverb into the demo, and tried to make it sound shoegazing-style. And for the mixdown, Hayashi-san and the director Kuroda (Akihiro)-san both shared ideas and turned it into something really nice.

Q: You started using music software!

Yes. The musical quality of my demos is now leaps and bounds higher than back when I was simply singing to my own accompaniment. I used to explain in words what I wanted the arrangement to be like, but now I can show it directly with sound. It’s a major change, and the arranger, Saku-san is very happy. *laughs*

Q: What tools do you use, by the way?

It’s ultimately just to convey what I have in mind, so I use an iPad and Garage Band. I connect a mobile audio interface called Sonic Port that lets me record my guitar and change the tones and effects. It’s extremely convenient; I recommend it!

Q: You have the face of a musician now, Soma-san *laughs*. You said that after your first concert, you realized the enjoyment of creating music as a team. Did that mixdown story you mentioned also change your way of thinking when it comes to sound production?

Definitely. My communication with Hayashi-san and Saku-san regarding music has become more intimate too. I don’t think the me last year could’ve taken the same close-knit production stance (which has its pros and cons) that I did for this release.

The second song “Paper Tigers” was created through teamwork too. I intentionally wanted to make it a really pop-punk style, power pop song, so I invited Saku-san and Kuroda-san to bring their guitars to my house, where we had a jam session and tried making a pop song with chord progressions I never used before. We mostly completed the short size right there and then. The composition and lyrics credits went to me, but it was really a collaboration between the three of us.

Q: Does “Paper Tigers” refer to paper-mache tigers?

Yes. I think the words are supposed to have a negative nuance, but to me, they have a positive meaning of fearlessness. Even if you’re a tiger made out of paper, it’s fine as long as you have determination. But at the same time, it’s not meant to be a supportive “You’ll be okay.” All it means is that this person is that way. That’s really all it was, and the rest was just stringing together words that felt good in how they sounded. That’s also why I pronounced “etsuraku biyori” in an English-y way.

Q: The “seikai” (correct answer) at the start of “memento” also sounds like it could be “sekai” (world)…

Yes, that’s exactly right. The multiple meanings came in from the very first line *laughs*. I’m a big fan of a band called LOSTAGE, and especially for their older songs, the words they sang sounded different from what was on the lyrics cards. I personally love comparing songs with the lyrics cards, so there are phrases all throughout this EP that’ll make you wonder, “Does this have this other meaning to it as well?”

Q: What kind of people are singing the third song, “Waltz”?

This is a song that the spirits are singing to “her.” She used to be able to fly a long time ago, but now she can’t, and she can’t perceive the spirits either. She’s also forgotten that she used to fly, but the spirits in the atmosphere are telling her “We’re always here with you”… that’s the idea of the song.

The English band Mystery Jets has a song called “Soluble In Air,” and one of my motifs is “melting and mixing in,” which appears here. It was in “Kesshou Sekai” and “C” too.

Music-wise, I made this song in the image of a hymn. Since it’s sung by spirits, the arrangement is toy pop-like. The structure also doesn’t follow the typical Verse A→Verse B→Chorus, and—at the risk of causing misunderstanding—is unbalanced. I wanted to write a song that was irregular yet pop-like, which is a type of music I’ve always liked.

Q: The vocal style was fresh too, with the heavy use of falsetto. The chorus work was also quite elaborate. Now that I know the concept was a hymn, it makes sense.

I’ve always loved overdubbing *laughs*. Up until now I’ve been limiting my melodies to note ranges that can be sung at karaoke, but since this is a peaceful song, falsetto suits it well. In the future, I’d like to write songs that don’t adhere to that limit, and I experimented with that here with this warm-up song. In my opinion, both the lyrics and the music feel extremely complete, and I’m very fond of it.

Q: Next is “Ringo” (Apple), a jazzy song with the aura of a cabaret club in a run-down district.

The original demo I made used an acoustic guitar, and it was a song with a groove… In terms of my previous album, it was similar to “Lemming, Ai, Obelisk.” The image I had in mind was based on the singer-songwriter Fiona Apple.

But when I heard the demo Dewa (Yoshiaki)-san made, it sounded really cool, and I thought “It’d be a waste to use it with this melody as-is.” So, I did something unprecedented for me: rewriting the Verse A and B melodies to match the arrangement.

Q: That’s another way of building teamwork.

Yes, it was a new experience for me. As for the lyrics… I guess it’s a song about an underground illegal gambling den in the world that’s about to end? *laughs* It’s actually a simple story about someone who drowns himself in booze and gambling.

Since it’s a jazzy song with a good beat, I prioritized writing lyrics that have a nice sound to them. My personal favourite is the “ganjigarame no ahinsaa” (tied-up ahimsa) phrase. I wanted to end the line on a syllable ending in “a”, and I just so happened to encounter the word “ahimsa” multiple times, in Tezuka Osamu’s Buddha as well as a manga called Choueki 339-nen (by Ise Tomoka). That coincidence left an impression on me.

At first I wanted to write it from a woman’s point of view, using feminine first-person pronouns, but it all got mixed up while I was writing it. *laughs*

Q: The final view of the end is “Tonight.” It’s city pop, with a drifting feel. The swaying vocals give a mysterious feeling, like you’re drifting between dream and reality.

In the intro where the band comes in, Saku-san added a sitar. This was an amazing discovery. The image I had of “Tonight” was a park by a station along the Chuo Line. But by adding a sitar, the stage shifted to India… or rather, it made me imagine a fictional town that’s fallen into disarray. The idea of an airy stroll through a place like that is where the word “suimukou” (drunken dream voyage) came in.

Q: The word comes from India Suimukou, a book by the poet Tamura Ryuichi.

That’s right, it popped up in my mind by association. So, this is another song where the lyrics came about after hearing the arrangement. The part I like the most is the section starting from “kono mama me ga samenakya ii no ni” (if only I could stay asleep like this). It’s the most pop-like, fantastical part of the song, and extremely emotional. Dozing off inside a balloon and being happy to stay asleep… It’s a bit scary, but it’s like a scene from a movie.

Q: It’s a beautiful scene.

And then, at the very end, the view leaps from the disorderly Indian night to the “other side of the galaxy.” The song feels like skipping along in slow motion, so I’d be happy if you listen to it while taking a walk. If I were to make a MV for it, I’d want the video to show jumps in slow motion.

The other key point of this song is the fade out at the end. I wanted to show that it has no clear ending. One of my interpretations is that after this, the people in this story could either fall asleep, hold their breath as though they were asleep… or perhaps even continue dancing forever. I wanted an ending that would linger on.

Q: …And right when you think it’s over, the CD version has a hidden bonus track, Epilogue. Now that the CD’s been released, please tell us about this song!

The concept is, after the events of “Tonight,” finding a record in debris or a wasteland kind of place. That’s why we added the static noise of a record player. The idea is that you’re listening to a remnant of someone from the past. It’s a very old item, but a story from that time is clearly etched into it… making it a fitting epilogue for a story about the end of the world. The lyrics are also like… our time is coming to an end, but that’s certainly not a bad thing. We’re accepting it peacefully and solemnly.

I wanted this to have a lingering effect too, so please expand on it with your imagination.

Q: I’d love to hear a full-size version of this beautiful Epilogue.

Yes, please wait until the day it fully takes shape.

In 2020, I want to jump straight into the things I want to do with my music. Like creating things without regard for the forms and media I’ve used until now, or writing songs that fully unleash my personal tastes. I want to share, “Right now, this is what I like!” and I’ll be really happy if everyone accepts it. That’s the kind of musical challenge I want to take on this year.