音楽と人 - June 2004
Interview with Sakurai Atsushi
Translation: Lola

How is recording coming along?
There's about...two or three songs left so my goal is almost in sight.

Do you find your first experience strange?
Well it's strange that it went without a hitch...isn't it?

Yes, that's true. *laughs* Until now were you aware of a solo project as a possibility?
Not really, I didn't even talk about that kind of thing, didn't think I would do it until the band went on break. How could I think of going solo when I believed the band had absolutely no limit.

I guess.
Well that's...why are you saying it like that?

Don't listen to me *laughs*. First, let's get back on track. What made you think to do a solo?
Um well at first...there was a rumour in the wind that one of the members wanted to do something with other people.

A rumour? *laughs* No one talked about it directly?
Not at all. I wasn't even shown that courtesy......so cold-hearted.

Then my manager said, 'Sakurai-san, since it's been over half a year that you haven't been able to do anything with the band, why don't you try a solo?' But I thought it would be too troublesome.

Kukuku. You really have to rely on other people for that.
Because of my disposition. The main point is that I'm standing at the head by myself, I'm the one waving the flag but I can't imagine myself doing that at all. Here! Let me present Tanaka, the director, on the scene.
Tanaka: ...forgive me, I'm sleepy.

Ah, please don't run away *laughs*.
We're doing this TO.GE.THER. (<-said emphatically) ....I thought you said we would, rain or shine. Right, right~? (<-staring at Tanaka with an intimidating smile)
Tanaka: You might say that's...what I said in a way but in way it isn't.

He's here now isn't he.
Yeah. Maybe it's better to talk to me about my solo *laughs*.

Yes, returning to what we were discussing a little while ago, you said that you heard another member wanted to do a solo, even though you didn't say it, it was Imai-san wasn't it?
Yes, it was.

When you heard the rumour, how did you react? 'Is there still a band?' type of thing?
No. I didn't really think of it....in that way. I thought that when there's something you want to do, it's better to do it. When the desire to do something meaningful appears, I think it's better to get it out of your system...of course there is only so much you can do in a band.

In regards to Imai-san?
Yes. But at first, I didn't know why he wanted to do it. The significance of it came later.

In other words, your motive was 'Well, Imai-san is doing a solo'.
Only that, yes...it's a little impure for a motive.

As time goes on you let yourself be lead by others *laughs*. But why hasn't the interest to do a solo come forth till now?
Because I can't do anything by myself, but I might be able to do something alongside others. Of course it's because I want to do something with a pure heart too. When I do it. I do that in the band but I wanted to try something a little different and if I tried it for a bit and didn't like how it felt then I'd return to the band but if I liked it then I would see where it leads.

With a pure heart.
But I'm incompetent in that. I can only write songs but other than that I can't do anything.

Like write music.
Yes. That position was left to the band, it's never come up until now. I didn't even feel it was necessary to dare to do it.

But Sakurain-san, if you thought about writing a song, don't you think you could do it?
Hahaha. There are people who write music in the band so how could I feel that way *smiles*. If I composed the melody, I think I would take an enormous amount of time. If I think of my personality I might get thrown off on the way so, really I'm far from being ready for that.

You'd have a hard time.
Really if I came to do something myself, if I didn't have anyone's help as I did the past three months, it would have been utterly impossible.

Now the fact is that you're right in the middle of working on an album. You can't announce it yet but it seems that you're collaborating with many people, some very known artists among them.
Seems that way doesn't it *grins*.

What feeling do you get from trying to work together with other people?
Ask Tanaka-san.

No no. Well like Wayne Hussey, he wrote amazing music for me, just as I imagined! Mm, how can I say it properly. Together with the band, Tanaka-san almost arranged all of the music for me, then after I would write the lyrics and just sing because that's my position.

So you came to improve on writing lyrics as opposed to music.
You say this but that's not really even what I was saying...

Oi oi oi.
But of course there are always differences in feelings. Until now there was more than a bit of tension as the one who usually offers me music isn't here. There's a lot of emotional dependence on others in a band but here I'm without any of it. I'm not completely alone but being witness to that composition, I feel I am opposed. Since, well what can come out of my self? That's always the way I feel. Just as my way of working hasn't really changed, neither has my system for writing lyrics.

Ok first, what were your impressions when you listened to Wayne Hussey's 'Sacrifice'?
I was happy. Since I had also listened to The Mission. Then he comes with this cool song. Of course because he's from a different country, the atmosphere is also different but I think life is born from that. Because of that truly different environment, it feels fresh and cool.

So that at the end of listening to the song, we can think that Wayne Hussey knows Sakurai-san well.
How is that...Tanaka-san, it's your turn *smiles*.
Tanaka: It's like the same way you learn about a band if you look at their homepage.

So it's not like Buck-Tick handed over their sound source is it?
Perhaps it would have better if they had, then we could have had some leeway because there was no time.
Tanaka: I wasn't able to make any detailed appointments but there were people who wanted to try working with Atsushi-kun anyway so I approached them one by one *laughs*.

One by one *smiles*.
You know, by force. But the result is that I'm with those who wanted to be with me more than anyone else *smiles*.

Your trust in them is strong. But let's talk about Japan & Britain's darkly decadent song next, the Sawada Kenji cover!
Yes. That cover wasn't my idea either though. It was Tanaka-san's. We were wondering what to do and a few candidates came up. A good one was 'From Japan with Love' but we chose Sawada-san's 'LOVE. (Dakishimetai)'. I've always liked it since grade school.

You liked it?
I saw it on t.v. That's mostly where I heard it. So I was told, 'You should record it'.

Was it difficult as a cover?
In the end when it came time for me to do it I thought it was difficult. I cannot do it with a playful heart. Just as I cannot do it as I would in karaoke. But the people of FOE just broke down the sound in tiny pieces without even saying anything *smiles*.

After, everyone was admiring their work style. So professional you know...but I thought so too *smiles*. Because of the way they worked in the studio and the way they arranged everything.

Even so I was surprised their song was the third one.
I knew nothing of them as a band...until Tanaka-san told me about them...so I also wondered how their song would be *smiles*.

Hahahahaha. At least you're honest.
That's my code, how could I do otherwise? But you know they exceeded my expectations by far. I'm pleased. Until I stood before the mike, I didn't know what would happen.

Weren't you anxious or uneasy?
I was, yes. I could not imagine how to do the song and make it mine.

Because it was your first time right.
No, it's always like that. Even with Imai and Hide. I think, how will I do this here? That's the main cause for my stomach knots *smiles*.

Stomach knots? *laughs*
Because they pressure me. Who's song is this? For some reason I can imagine in my mind what I will do when I'm recording to a certain extent but then right when I'm before the mike, about to sing, I don't know. So yes, anxiety is always dangling over me. How can I establish a strategy for a song with that problem?

In regards to lyrics then, did something change in the type for your solo?
Of course within Buck-Tick, I think there's a story in me that goes from beginning to end and the words used come naturally. Now as I'm not in a band, in a way it doesn't feel natural as perhaps there are more personal elements in it so it's not something I could do constantly.

What elements in Buck-Tick make it more definite?
Hmm...it's like the difference between leather boots and sneakers *smiles*.

Hahahaha, which is the leather?
Of course Buck-Tick are the leather *smiles*. Well I was joking but, of course there is a variety of people in music. Out of those people, it is those who are near me that I get closest to in the end.

Those are the ones steeped in the color of you.
In that case, what a light feminine color it must be *smiles*. But we were talking about changing the people around you. When I'm in Buck-Tick, for some reason the right atmosphere is already there, it's comfortable and because of that I'll protect it, it can never be taken away, the bond is there.

I see that.
I think if this is how people in music communicate then of course various possibilities emerge.

Like the various colors and styles of sneakers you wear.
Yeah. Up till now I wore leather boots because they look good but lately I can't think about that. Like if I'm wearing sneakers or geta.


As you wrote the lyrics to 'Sacrifice' and 'Wonderful World', let's talk about these two songs. My impression was that you are stepping into something deeply personal. As the vocalist leaving the band Buck-Tick, the result is that here, it is as though it is written in invisible ink 'Here is Sakurai Atsushi in the flesh'. It was a strong impression.
It's true. Of course being the face of a band I'm a private person but that comes and goes inside me. But it helps if I can get someone to tell me to go deeper. When this happens I can come or go as I please, my range broadens. I can use my feelings fully *smiles*.

It's like a barrier has been removed.
Yes, in the end I intend to show that by all means in a stylish manner. The thought is always there but just being able to isn't enough, I have to want to do it. So with this album, I'm not letting care about my appearance *smiles*. There's something in me now, anything I can use I must use, but I have the feeling that I cannot oppose the composers. Therefore, since anything will do even with the enumeration of words, it's like I found a key that opens all doors. 'I wonder what's in here?'.

'Huh? This room's in color!' 'Am I dreaming this?'
Yes, exactly. Or rather, 'Ah, I'm in someone's house!' *smiles*.

'Forgive me. Wrong door!' *laughs*
But I've gone to great lengths to try to end up with the person in that house *smiles*.

But then the result is that there are various expressions coming into being. 'Life & Death', 'Darkness', 'Mother' to name a few. Even though these are your distinctive traits, because there are many subjects they seem opposed to each other in the end.
I expressly thought a lot about that but there's nothing to analyze. This time, it's really just instinctual.

Well, I haven't listened to the entire album yet but Sakurai-san, the various aspects of your self won't be erased in it will they?
Of course by working with various people, on various songs, each one believes he's doing his best right. You know I feel that it's not by gathering various songs and people to myself that will make me lose myself.

I know you haven't finished all the songs for the album yet but have you decided on an album title?
It's...'Ai no...Wakusei' *smiles*.

You're shy about it now *smiles*.
No no no *smiles*. As a whole, the lyrics and music recorded for the album are shrouded in obscurity, even the words are. That's Japanese. When you write in symbols *smiles*.

So of course the keyword for you is 'Ai(1)'.
That's right. I knew you'd say I'm shy, circumstances being what they are.

So why are you shy about the title of the album? *smiles*
I'm not shy about it at all!

So how do you explain...'Ai no Wakusei'...?
Oh are you a little shy now? *grins*

No no, it's just that I don't use that word as often as you do Sakurai-san.
Hahaha, I'm not the only person who uses it!

The album seems pretty oppressive when you listen to it.
I suppose people will take it that way but what can I do?

Do you think doing a film will challenge your image?
Yes, while this is also a first for me, it still won't turn me into a pin-up *smiles*.

Do you have the script?
No I haven't seen it yet but...I'm starring in it.......what am I supposed to do?

I have an amazing director (Kitamura Ryuhei/director of films like Azumi & Godzilla), I can't believe it. When we first met I told him 'I can't act. I can't say my lines!'. So I'll just try to follow others and really pay attention. That's all I can do.

Did you hope it would awaken something new within you?
Yes, I did. Of course I was excited about it. But I'm terrible at speaking with people I don't know.

I know.
Just take us for example and how many years it took after we met for my nervousness to diminish. I can't be so high strung anymore.

It's become the same for me.

I wonder, do you have any high expectations regarding your solo debut's interview? *smiles*
Not really, of course I know I'm terrible in interviews but, that could be because they make me nervous and make my head spin. Because it means dealing with various people. Speaking of which, there are some wonderful people here aren't there, would you please tell them I'd like to borrow them?

What? No! Because this is YOUR solo!
Hahaha, but I can't borrow them without really being able to speak to them.

But you had a lot of motivation until now, has it gone?
It hasn't but, that's how it feels. I'm the type of person to leave fun behind but, well, it's like you can set a tiger free in the wild but it still has to hunt.

Kukuku. That seems so random, suddenly talking about nature.
I'm tired but I have a lot of motivation. That's the moral of the story. No pain, no gain! Hahahaha.

(1) Ai= Love