mikan music articles
Interview Akeboshi
By Shimoa, on 2009-01-29 17:00 - Translation : janiine
Here is an exclusive interview that Akeboshi gave us on Christmas Eve. Though he usually is a reserved artist, we finally managed to have a productive conversation about issues such as downloading, Naruto, but also his years of study in England.
Akeboshi
■  mimu : First, you told me the other day that you were leaving Epic Records. Could you tell us more about the reasons why ?
Akeboshi : (laughing bashfully)
Manager : I'm going to answer. We had a contract for a few album releases and this contract has just ended.

■   In an interview given to Excite, you said you were not really free to choose the songs and the title of best-of album Roundabout (editor's note: "As I was told that they wanted to include my most famous songs, the proportion of titles I've chosen myself is not that huge." ; "The director of Gururi no Koto (which theme song was Akeboshi's Peruna ) told me that I could pick up a single in English and I've chosen "Roundabout" in a list). How do you feel about that ?
A : (thinking carefully) Roundabout ? Roundabout is the English title for Gururi no Koto, and since I've worked on the theme song and the soundtrack of the movie... Nobody can say that I was "not free to choose".

■  A question that a few fans are asking : have you been part of a band before starting your solo activities, and in this case, what kind of band was it ?
A : That was when I was in Liverpool (editor's note : there, he entered a music school in 1999) : it was a four-member band, with an American, a guy from Brighton, a Norwegian drummer and me. We were playing jazz.

Akeboshi
■  And if you were not an artist, what would you do ?
A : But I'm not an artist (laughing). No, I don't know...

■  About that stay in Liverpool that you've mentionned, what do you miss the most or the least from this period ?
A : (thinking carefully) In the school I was studying, there were people from many different countries, and by their side I've learnt a lot. That's how I've met my fellows of the group I've just talked about, for example. Living in a community like that was what I liked best. As for the bad things... They were about as many as the good ones (laughing bashfully)... I was living in a shabby neighbourhood, there were quite a few burglaries, etc. I've never been attacked directly but I've seen a lot of things. Oh, and soccer. We often played soccer, I'm also nostalgic for that.

■   I see. Let's change subject : we would like to know a bit more about the way you compose your songs in general.
A : Hum... It's hard to explain, it depends. For example, I've composed Wind with a piano and a computer program, with which I've created the rhythm and the melody that are repeated all through the song. I try to create rhythms that are more complex than "pop" rhythms, with for example a 5-4 rhythm structure. The idea is to make a subtle nuance, that can't be noticed at first, so that after several listenings, people say "Hey, that's cool !". This was roughly the case for Wind, but I'm not going to talk about each song, or we will spend the night on it (laughing). But usually I try to compose my songs creating a story, then a message.

Akeboshi
■  What about your lyrics, that are written in both Japanese and English : do you choose the language from the start ?
A : It's not really "planned", the process is more natural. I think for example : "I want to tell this story in Japanese".

■  Among all your lyrics, I think the text for One step behind the door is particularly interesting. How was it written ?
A : It was during a trip to Ireland. I met this Israeli boy, who had to do his military service as soon as he got 18 years-old. He had one week to go back to Israel and join the army. But his parents, who were living there, asked him not to go back and to live on his own : they had already lost their elder son. But that meant he would never go back to Israel, because refusing to do the service is severely punished. He didn't know what to do. I've talked with him a lot during this critical moment.

■  A lighter question now : if you had to introduce your music with one song to someone who doesn't know you, which one would you choose and why ?
A : I would make a medley (all laughing).

Akeboshi
■  ... Well done, you've eluded a question (laughing). Your song Wind is quite famous in foreign countries mostly because it was used as an ending for anime Naruto. Are you aware of that ?
A : What ? I didn't know that. That's because my staff doesn't give me all the information (all laughing).

■  Has this tie-up boosted your popularity in Japan ?
A : Actually, I've composed this song when I was in Liverpool... and I've never watched any episode of Naruto. Well I have once, when I came back to Japan, but at that time another song was the ending theme. Anyway, I've never really been able to realise what was the impact of this song, of its radio broadcasting, etc.

■   According to some people, you don't seem to be very interested in money, and paradoxically you owe part of your popularity to Naruto, a work sometimes treated like a pure commercial product. What do you think about that ?
A : I am interested in money ! I've never thought about that but... My feeling toward Naruto is more than gratitude : thanks to Naruto , my music could be listened to by people who never would have listened to it otherwise.

Akeboshi
■  Could you give us, with more details, your point of view about the evolution of music and how it is broadcast : Chaku-uta, YouTube, MySpace,etc. ?
A : At first, I thought that downloading really was a shame. We spend money and we do our best to buy good equipment, good microphones, we spend time to find the perfect sound, and all this ends up in a Chaku-uta format. The sound of Chaku-uta sucks. On YouTube or MySpace, the sound is not that bad. I'm not the kind of person who would say "Buy CDs, only CDs". It would be great if we could download "immediately" CD-quality songs, but technically it's still complicated... About YouTube, I'm not really against it. If it can bring more people to live shows, I'm not against it. It seems like now we can do everything with a computer : promotion, recording, etc. It looks like a label in one's room. I think it's great.

■  We know that the singer of Tsubaki begged you to collaborate wth them (see live report about the collaboration concert). Are there any other artists you would like to work with ? Without them having to beg you ?
A : (thinking carefully) I would say Bob Dylan but... (laughing, then another long reflection)... There are many actually, but they are not well-known at all.

■  OK then, that was the last question, thank you for your time and wish you all the best for your future without Epic Records.

Thanks to Akeboshi and his staff - Photos © Akeboshi - PAPAdo Music Publishers
You may want to order Akeboshi's CDs from CDJapan and Yesasia.