We feature Ai Otsuka, who will celebrate 15th anniversary this year on 9th October this year, and release the debut 15th anniversary best album "Ai am BEST, too" on January 1st in 2019, across the first and the second part. Following the first part that unraveled the artist Ai Otsuka from the perspectives of three people: A&R Aburai and management Kyono and Gyobu, this time we welcomed Ai Otsuka herself. And we talked about “Ai Otsuka in the past and in the future”, with the story about the 15 years she has built and the songs that she has sent to the world at the core.
Ai Otsuka, whose "current
is more interesting than
the past" Looking back on
the anniversary that
condensed 15 years
15 years of artist Ai Otsuka is too long and dense to look back. Therefore, we made her to recall from the latest Ai Otsuka LOVE IS BORN ~ 15th Anniversary 2018 ~ this time.
Otsuka "Basically the live called LOVE IS BORN is kind of like 'Customer Thanksgiving'. It's like a karaoke festival saying 'let's sing together everyone!' (laugh). It's different from so-called album tour and combines various things including old and new. It was 15th anniversary this time, so I thought that it would be nice if people who are not my fans would also be able to feel the time flow. "
Music has magic to turn everyday landscapes into one scene of a movie. 29 songs of 15 years played at Hibiya Open-Air Concert Hall on 9th September should be also the daily BGM and the theme song of life for somebody, as Otsuka's word "If they lead to the nostalgia of own life of the person who listened to these songs."
Even for the production side, this time's LOVE IS BORN and "Ai am BEST, too" are memorable monuments that need special attention. However, the timing of 15th anniversary is not "culmination", but it's also an opportunity to redefine the artist Ai Otsuka.
Aburai "Since I haven't changed the impression of her 'now is always the best' for a long time, there is not much to be emotionally involved with putting together the works themselves, but I think it's a good opportunity to be able to produce a shining feeling of current by arranging from zero to now. Both the live and the best album are comprehensive, but there are not so many opportunities to produce 'This person is more interesting now than the past' with the story. Whole staffs are saying that we want to cherish that part."
Kyono "Since this live was decided to be recorded in "Ai am BEST, too", I thought that this live was also the best in a sense. But at the same time, I thought that it was a live show with rich expressions and colors of songs that made us feel the variety of songs made by her and something like 'This song can be sang with a piano.' Even in the sense of making a picture, we tried to film those kind of parts."
The gap with the public
image makes the charm of
"presence" made with "courage"
For Otsuka who says "It has been always like turning corners." for the last 15 years, what kind of songs has she sent out to the world? After a little while, she replied to that question like below.
Otsuka "In the first place... songs that were released mainly were not my taste so much. The music to be launched as business and my favorite music are entirely different, and I kept on doing it for the long time as thinking if I could insert one of those favorite songs into the album. There was also a kind of feeling like 'Am I going to keep doing such unfavorite music and such unfavorable people the whole time?' Because I've been active in my real name, I don't have an escape place or something like that. Basically, I like songs like movie music flowing as background music rather than songs that everyone can sing. That's why I've always thought about how to accept songs and artistic images I made in business, and I always aimed for the timing of when to break them. "
Indeed, there is a difference between her musicality with a wide variety of pop / rock / electro / jazz / classical and what the name "Ai Otsuka" makes us recall. Superficial images gradually became obstacles to a variety of songs that were also her strengths.
Otsuka "I think that any work has something like 'a compensation for happiness' to hit, not limited to music. There is also a feeling that 'thanks to that song' as a premise, but I'm told by everyone 'That's you!'. If I was dead from there, I think it's still good, but I always change everyday. Originally, I don't like to be fixed. And I don't want to stay in the same place forever. I thought that I had to cut it off with something in order to escape from there. "
One answer that Otsuka, who was looking for a place to escape for a long time, put forward in the conflict was "Re: NAME" released in 2013. The song that she made up her mind as "I told myself, 'Let's do it once again if I do, there will be money for tomorrow's meal! ' was released as a 1st single commemorating 10th anniversary after childbirth. Regarding the birth of the song, Aburai looks back as following.
Aburai "It was impressive that Otsuka said that 'Because the top songs was made at this timing, there is no regret in my music life.' I felt that the lyrics and the atmosphere of the song, which the person who made it says the best, were amazing. Thinking back now, I think it's really like her that she couldn't say 'this song is like this.' Depending on the timing to listen to, it's comfortable, but there are also times when you feel it heavy. On the contrary, when you listen to this song, there are times when it's hard to think about the future. And there is a time when I throughly feel that it's a great song. "
It might be fearful for artists to overturn fixed images that are supported by fans, as they do music as business. But for Otsuka, it was also a method to save Ai Otsuka as a person.
Otsuka "It took quite a while before I noticed my standing position. In the past, I was accommodating my private to my songs. If it was an upper song, I behaved like a kid with that kind of clothing, or wore only elegant one pieces when I played ballad. After all, I guess that I didn't have private, or I was suffering thinking that my work was tightly bound together with my work since I was acting with my real name. But now I became able to think that the work and I are different things, and to create a presence that shows what I like and what kind of person I am. That's why I can think that all I have to do is putting my all energy to each song."
Birth, creation... 15 years
that she built up
Ai Otsuka talks about
Really! Mad +
Pure view of life
Otsuka after "Re: NAME" expanded the field of expression as if she was released from something. In the album "LOVE FANTASTIC" announced for the first time in about five and a half years from "LOVE LETTER", she showed deeper pops that cannot be caught by existing "bright and cheerful" images. In the following 2015 album "LOVE TRiCKY", STUDIO APARTMENT's Noboru Abe was welcomed, and she surprised the listeners and the J-POP scene with the sound that shook off herself to the electro that she is good at.
15 years of artist Ai Otsuka are also 15 years of a single woman, Ai Otsuka. As a singer-songwriter, there is no doubt that her private life becomes the origin of her creation. In particular, the experience of childbirth / childcare may be perceived as a revelation for her to continue the artist. Otsuka talks about her daughter as following.
Otsuka "I don't think that she is my alter ego or something. My daughter has such a personality that 'we are so blessed because we can eat today as well.' But I'm the type that always looks up and feels my own lowness. I don't look down, because there is always a higher. Because my daughter has something that I don't have in myself, I often think that 'you are such a wonderful person.' There is also something I receive from her, and when I say 'Maybe it was like this, or it was like that.', I'm scolded by her like 'Do you really need that trouble?' (laugh)."
Aburai "I realized a lot of changes since she gave birth. I think that her attitude toward her songs has also changed a lot. I feel that her wild impression in the past and the current atmosphere are very different. And originally she was a person with a strong family feeling, but I think she can get along with anyone who she meets for the first time now. I was quite worried when we just met (laugh), as I felt that her aura was heavy. Like, 'why is she like that even she's so great?'"
Otsuka "I'm weather which cannot be forecasted. I guess I was like stormy after ten minutes, and was sunny after ten minutes, so I was pretty wild. Now, I'm finally an Australopithecus or something like that. "
Aburai "I guess it's still wild."
Looking only at the figure of 15 years, it seems to be enough time to admit the artist's maturity. However, Otsuka's overall evaluation for these past 15 years is severe.
Otsuka "I don't even want to look it back as it was too bad as music and as a person. If I look back, I feel that I couldn't create any great work as it seemed that the strength of luck to ride on the waves of time and tie-ups etc. was the best thing I had."
Aburai "Her self-evaluation is low. It was also awfully low when we met, but it's still low now, isn't it?"
Otsuka "It depends on the day. There are few healthy days, and mostly I'm sick (laugh). Well, other record companies didn't even look at me, you know. I think that I could enter Avex because it's different from other companies. But I'm not the main building of Avex. "
Aburai "You mean an annex. It's not the front."
Otsuka "I'm Avex and not Avex at the same time. Recently, I was told Mr. Matsuura (CEO) something like 'I thought you would quit.' But he told me 'I hired you because you are not like Avex,' so it's all good, I thought. I wasn't likely to be fired yet. I think that I've been able to continue for fifteen years, thanks to the CEO who let me swim freely like this for 15 years. While I hear that there are quite a lot of commitments and constraints in other companies, I guess I could do so freely because it was Avex... and I'm naming the company at the very end (laugh)."
"(laugh) But I think that's true. At the time of Otsuka 's debut, it was so rare that CEO didn't interfere with producing an artist. Following the original, staffs thought that it would be like 'Is she really Avex?' when we produced a singer-songwriter from Avex, which was mainly producing dance music at the time. Therefore, for the type like Otsuka, we had a strategy that it was better to first create an atmosphere that she was supported by audiences of indies, then released in major."
Otsuka "Since I was really in trouble with money at that time, when Mr. Matsuura first asked me 'Don't you want to play as indie?', I thought that 'indie = not so much money!'. So I said 'No, I have problem with that, I came here to sell myself to make money in major scene!'"
Aburai "Then, she went at the fastest speed (laugh)"
Otsuka "There was one time that I was scolded, but I broke through saying 'Then I quit.' Including that kind of thing, it was so big for me that he thought that 'It seems not to good to make her so fixed since she makes the work by herself.'"
Aburai "An artist like Ai Otsuka was the first in our company, and she is still one of the valuable singer-songwriters. She's the one who is doing firmly on the music axis. She is a treasure of Avex. Ai Otsuka herself is Really! Mad + Pure. "
And Aburai continued "Avex starts with respect to artists and creators who produce works. I think that the atmosphere of the staffs who are premised on the respect for artists is because of the CEO Mr. Matsuura's genes. " The magnanimity of the company that doesn't tie the artist, all the people, things, and people she encountered bred and brought up a rare singer-songwriter named Ai Otsuka.
Otsuka "It was fifteen years to meet many people, and it was 15 years to know what I didn't know at all as well. At the same time I felt that everything that I touched was building myself, I often thought that I was ignorant and there were lots of things I didn't know yet at all. I’ve learned in the past 15 years that I couldn't do things exactly like how I built them. Like, 'It's just wasteful to assemble things!' So, I do what I'm good at, if I think that this is a good chance. It would be better to calculate the money, but it's wasteful only to imagine other things. I won't let thing as it goes. Do things first and judge how it was afterwards. "
In response to the question of whether there is no fear of jumping in, Otsuka firmly answered "If I'm worried, I do it and declare it isn't right. If I make a mistake, it's not a big deal if I take it as I just wasted time.” Well, what will happen to Ai Otsuka in 15 years from now?
Otsuka "Recently, I think that my value would disappear if I become a proper person and I cannot create a work, so it seems that I don't have to aim for that. I'm valuable if I create songs, I think. And also, intuition. When it says 'go!', the signal automatically turns to green, and when I cannot go, it turns to red just before I go. When I was alone, I was alive just like that, so I got being wild. But now I have a child, so the situation is making me stop even if I feel '!'. When this happens again 10 or 15 years later when my child leaves, I assume that I will get wild again and say 'Where is my preset location?' (laugh) "
Aburai describes the strengths of Otsuka as an artist as "absolute feeling of reliability by creators", "values that doesn't judge people by profiles", and "attitude to accept change and evolution, and her challenge spirit". Everything that multiplies the denominator called Ai Otsuka will become the source of what she produces.
Otsuka "Incorporating my intuition 'this is it!' or 'Meeting this person at this timing might be meaningful' or 'I broke up with this person since it's the timing when I graduate after learning everything' etc... while using people like that (laugh) and receiving various things that were born while I'm alive, I'm looking forward to seeing how far I will proceed. I feel like I'm going to die while thinking, 'Oh, this was the landing point.'” - As long as her life continues, no one can define the existence of Ai Otsuka.
Avex Management Inc.
Artist Management, Group 7
Avex Entertainment Inc.
Music Label Division
Creative Director's Group 3
Avex Entertainment Inc.
Music Label Division
Special project unit