Morning Musume. 7 years after graduation. Riho Sayashi's "true self" in her second year as a solo artist
Morning Musume. Sayashi Riho, who graduated from the absolute ace of the group at the age of 17, studied abroad in New York, and made her solo debut last year. Released her 3rd EP "UNISON" with 5 songs. Specializing in groovy dance music with a team of artists who are active globally in all songs. It's a big change from her previous works, but she says, "Finally, I've arrived at my true self."
It reflected my listening to Western music since I was little.
――From the pre-delivery hip-hop tune “WE THE ONES”, I felt like I was being attacked. Did you want to change this time's "UNISON" from the past? Or did it change when you did what you wanted to do?
Sayashi : If I had to say, I have a strong feeling that if I do what I want to do... However, as for the timing of the third album, there are times when I feel that I have to develop something. The organizer, Kamikaoru-san, gave me a lot of support, so I made all five songs dance music that I grew up listening to.
――Did you listen to that kind of music when you were little?
Sayashi Yes. He listened to Western music more than Japanese music. It's his mother's influence. At the time, Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake, and Britney Spears were popular. When I listen to songs that have that kind of essence, I feel like my soul is dancing. Such my taste is reflected more this time. While showing a new side, I'm getting closer to myself.
--Morning Musume. Did you listen to Western music at home in those days as well?
Sayashi It's not that I don't listen to Japanese music, but Morning Musume. I liked the songs from the beginning, but I mostly listened to Western music.
――Did you learn more while studying in New York?
Sayashi There was. I originally listened to 2000s R&B and hip-hop, but studying abroad made me listen to more trends. In dance lessons, teachers often play songs that have just been released. It had the biggest impact.
--What kind of songs have you been listening to recently?
Sayashi Charlie Puth or The Weeknd. Also, I listen to K-POP such as BTS and BLACKPINK.
Bringing my past self that I left behind
――Is there something that excites you about working on roots-like music now?
When I was making Sayashi songs, I always thought that it was necessary to be able to dance the way I imagined in a live performance. I thought that if it was me now, I could dance to a song like this.
- Is it because your skills have improved?
It may be a sheath teacher skill, but it seems to have a heart. It gave me the confidence to take on challenges and trust in myself. If it was a year ago when I started my music career, it wouldn't have been right for me to do this. Now, with songs like this, I feel like I'm reaching my true self. Until a little while ago, my real self was behind my real self, and it felt like there was a distance. As a result of doing music activities this past year, I feel like I've come to focus.
――Did you have the concept from the beginning to “take the hand of your past self and start walking in search of freedom”?
Sayashi Yes. In the past, I had to focus on the present, so I tried not to look at the past. Bring the old self you left behind, saying, "It's okay now," and move forward together into the future. That became the theme of this EP.
――There is a past self, and there is a present self.
Sayashi : I think I've come to be able to convey that properly.
There is a foundation for songs that you can dance to, and the sound is highly complete.
――All the songs were produced by artists who are active overseas, such as VIIIV.
Sayashi : Up until now, there were many methods of having me compose music at the same time as I wrote the lyrics. This time, in order to concentrate on singing dance music, I chose 5 songs from the candidates that my wife asked me, "How about this kind of music?", and produced it while exchanging opinions.
――Did you have any requests from Sayashi-san about the track maker?
Sayashi : When I first heard the song, I didn't know who made it. As a result, the ones I chose were not scattered, but became a unity like a team. I guess it was my favourite.
――Did you feel the sense of people who are active on the global stage?
Sayashi : There was a foundation of danceable songs, and the sound was highly complete. The essence of Western music that I'm used to is strong, and I think it's completely different this time.
――Even when it comes to co-writing the lyrics, did Sayashi-san’s involvement change?
For Sayashi's themes, I was the one who said, "I want to say something like this," but I decided who was in charge of creating the axis of the world of lyrics for each song. My wife, I, and the singer-songwriter Emi Kamoto were asked to put the right person in the right place. So, in the end, it feels like we finished it while exchanging opinions with each other.
Don't change the atmosphere of the dance song even with Japanese lyrics
――The lyrics of “WE THE ONES” are a mixture of Japanese and English.
Sayashi : Originally, this song had all English lyrics written by VIIIV. It fits my mood right now. I want to take advantage of this opportunity. But I wanted to convey it to Japanese listeners, so it became half English and half Japanese.
――Was it difficult to write the lyrics?
SayashiI wondered how to say it in Japanese to close the gap between it and English. I needed technique, and I struggled a lot.
――Are you conscious of the reverberation of words as sound?
I wanted you to have fun with Sayashimimi, so I put a lot of importance on how it sounds . Adding Japanese lyrics to a dance song like this would change the atmosphere. You can dance properly while mixing your own values. I thought a lot about the balance that can achieve both.
――What was interesting when looking at the lyric cards was that there were idioms in kanji that had a strong sense of language in a western music taste, such as <Kyodo empire> and <Metsutsu wa yakui>.
Sayashi That's a phrase I wrote. Originally, I wanted to use words that were easy to understand when I heard the chorus, so it was surprisingly easy to write. Rather, the A verse and other parts were difficult, so I had my wife help me and took lectures to study.
I used my sense of rhythm even when I was scared to rap
――Were you able to master the song right away?
Sayashi : When I dance, I store up against the rhythm. Even within the ton beat, there is a range, and depending on where you choose to dance, you can express your individuality.
――I wonder how many seconds difference is there?
Sayashi That's right. So, even with the 5 songs this time, "WE THE ONES", the interval between beats is really big, and I shouldn't have been too squeamish about the way I sang it. But when I sing, I tend to get a little ahead of the rhythm I want to express, which I discovered during the recording. When it comes to dance, I tend to pull back, but when it comes to singing, I tend to push forward, so the rhythm was different. I realized that if I had chosen songs that were suitable for dancing, I would have had to study more about how to sing them.
――The rap is cool and perfect.
It was my first time with Sayashi , but it went surprisingly smoothly. Originally, I wanted to do rap, but I was afraid if I could do it. However, I was able to make use of my sense of rhythm, and many people said "Like", which gave me confidence. It felt good to have a flow that puts the melody on.
The direction is decided from the phrase that popped out
――Is the theme of “Becoming one” in the first song of the EP, “MERGE”, shared with “WE THE ONES”?
Sayashi : It's a song that depicts the essence of the title "UNISON". "WE THE ONES" is "opinion" and "MERGE" is like "will". When I was about to start working on the first track, I was urged to come up with a theme for the EP. So "UNISON" was the title of the EP, and "MERGE" became the phrase that determined the direction.
――“MERGE” means “merge” or “integrate”.
It is said that Sayashi is mixed. “UNISON” also has the meaning of two or more things moving at the same time, so I put “MERGE” as the first song because it fuses and gives a feeling of a new beginning.
――The rigid idiom <immersion> is used here as well.
Sayashi : "If I immerse myself in you, I'll be free" is because I call my past self "you" and express the concept of being with my current self. It seems like two people, but one. Of course, you can listen to it as a matter of two people, but there is such a mechanism.
I had the lyrics changed to suit my ideal singing style
――These two songs go really hard, and the third song, the cool trance-type “Stupid”, does it feel like it’s balanced?
Sayashi : Rather, it's a song that I said, "This is the only one I definitely want to sing!" I listened to the demo and fell in love with it. The melody was a combination of my favorite 1990s R&B and retro electronic dance, and I was able to imagine "I want to dance like this on stage!" It's a mature song that I've sung so far, but if I can imagine it, I can take on the challenge.
――You can see the completed form.
The place I wanted to reach Sayashi popped into my head . My challenge is often accompanied by anxiety about whether I can do it. However, I sang this song with the determination that I would definitely overcome it even if it was difficult.
――Did you have an image of dancing to this song, which is quieter than the others?
Sayashi : Because the number of sounds is small, my voice is a spice, and the beat works well. Please look forward to the choreography.
――The vocals are subdued, and it seems that you use a mixed voice.
Sayashi Whisper-like voice is also included, making it feel like a mix. I also paid a lot of attention to how I sang. The first draft of the lyrics written by my wife was crisp and boyish, and if I sang it refreshingly in the pre-production, it would be different from what I thought. My wife thought, "Something's wrong," and through trial and error, I could see, "I want to sing in this kind of voice," and had the lyrics corrected.
――It became a nighttime lyric, like, “Let your emotions flow.”
Sayashi That's right. I imagined that this song would allow me to express my own voice.
The song that tells you that you fell in love with winter is poetic
――The 4th track, “Melancholic Blvd.”, overlaps with the road lined with winter trees and the road to the future. The other songs have the impression that the words were chosen with the rhythm in mind, but in this one the lyrics themselves come right in.
Sayashi : It makes my chest tighten a little. I always wanted to put out a song with a sense of the season, and this time it was released in November, so I thought this song would be perfect. There are fewer colors in winter than in other seasons, and in December it is bright, but in November it is dull.
――It's the same with the streets of the city.
Sayashi : My feelings were assimilated, and it was cold, so it wasn't my favorite season. However, I was updated that good memories can be made during this period in my life, and I've come to like the stagnant season. That's what I wanted to say with this song. I wanted to make it more poetic than the other songs, so I asked Emi Okamoto to write the lyrics.
――Is it also a reflection of your inner self that has been launched since the 1st?
Sayashi This is absolutely true. I didn't call it winter directly, but it was also a time when I was depressed and thought, "My life is...". But I've changed my mindset to having fun and leaving meaningful things behind.
――There is a phrase, “If you can change your painful days with music”.
Sayashi : That's exactly how I feel. Right now, I'm not only depressed, but I'm using everything as energy. Plus, when memories are born at this time of year, it's not the fault of the season. I thought that it depends on my actions because I interact with people and change depending on what kind of event happens.
――And it would be nice to say “Let’s go without rushing, there’s still a long way to go”.
I hope it conveys the scenery of walking along the Sayashi Road . While trying to solidify the balance of the five songs, we were at a loss as to how much English should be included. Mr. Okamoto also prepared a pattern from the first draft that said, "This part can be said in English." As I searched for various words, I ended up with a lot of Japanese, and finally, my wife came up with the title "Melancholic Blvd."
It took 10 hours to record the chorus
――The last “DOOM PA” is full of New York feeling.
Brooklyn bridge appears in Sayashi's lyrics, and fireworks are one of the themes. I remember seeing fireworks on Independence Day on the roof of a friend's house in Brooklyn.
--It's July 4th, so it's summer.
For Sayashi , this became the song "Fireworks are not just for summer." It is the most positive song in "UNISON", saying, "Let's make each feeling that wells up in everyday life bloom like fireworks." There are so many developments in the melody, so I hope you can feel the satisfaction of listening to it. This song took 10 hours to record the chorus. It didn't end in one day, there was also a second day.
――Are you looking for more completeness?
Sayashi : Basically, the amount of recording is too much (laughs). This time, there are many other songs with few notes, and I use voices such as choruses to add depth and splendor. ” and sings a completely different melody. What's more, that "ha" also has a harmonious "ha". It took 10 hours as a result of meticulously recording all the harmonies behind the main.
――Did you sing all the harmonies, Sayashi-san?
Sayashi : It's all my own voice. It was fun, but there were so many tricks that I didn't know what was waiting for me. The main melody, the chorus, and so on, just by changing the part you listen to with concentration, the way you hear it will be completely different. There are a lot of gaya-like things in it, and the volume is so loud that you can't hear it if you don't listen carefully, but it's the fruit of your efforts (laughs).
Memories of New York come to mind and I think it's my song
――Does the song have an urban feel to it?
Sayashi : There's an urban feel to it, and it seems like you're skipping and singing. It's also a song that pushes my back to a bright future, so I feel like I'm being pulled. I was exhausted after recording the chorus for 10 hours (laugh), but I was glad that I was able to sing this song.
――Do you remember the sights of New York?
Sayashi Bicycle Sharing has existed in New York since before Japan. I also rented a bicycle and crossed the Brooklyn Bridge. It didn't have an electric function, but I thought I could go because it's a bridge, but I had to climb a steep slope from the entrance. The distance was too long and my legs were swollen. When I think of memories of New York, it comes to mind, so I felt that this was my song.
I am confident that I can achieve what I want to do
――The tour with this EP seems to require more stamina when it comes to dance songs.
Sayashi : I'm so impatient that I really have to do a physical strength training camp (laughs). For that reason, I want to make it an impressive live performance. Since it's a live house tour, I'm really happy that people can see the dance up close. I hope we can make it a stage that you can enjoy from any place and any seat.
――Is there anything you do to build up your stamina?
Sayashi starts by walking. I often take a walk at night to gather my thoughts and look back on the day, but lately I've been walking about 20,000 steps a day. (laughs) Also, I sometimes run on a treadmill for about an hour at the gym.
――Did you gain much as an artist by creating UNISON?
Sayashi is big. While borrowing the power of many people, I have a stronger feeling that I am able to achieve what I want to do. I was excited from the beginning of the production, and I'm confident that I've completed one piece that I wanted to show. Get closer to where you've been longing since you were little. As a performer, I think it will be a talisman from now on.