Wish/Starless Night Photoshoot
|Artist: OLIVIA inspi’ REIRA
Product Code: CTCR-40245/6
Release Date: 2006.10.11
First Press: Sticker/Cell Phone Charm
Debut Ranking: #6
Label: cutting edge
Oliva Lufkin, more commonly known as OLIVIA or Livi amongst her fans, returned to the Japanese music scene with a completely revamped style. A factor leading to this change was the fact that Olivia started creating music for the anime version of NANA and took the stage name of OLIVIA inspi’ REIRA. Consequently Livi’s music moved towards a more commercial direction and was created to fit the persona of Reira. After the success of “a little pain“, Olivia released her 10th single titled “Wish/Starless Night“.
This single was announced in August, after it was decided that Olivia would sing both the opening and the ending theme songs for NANA. Thus avex announced the release of a double A-side single much to the excitement of her fans. Olivia was just as much as excited since she was confident that she could represent Reira perfectly since she saw many aspects in Reira which were exactly like hers. In a recent issue of Purple Sky magazine, Olivia reveals how she could relate to Reira because she felt isolated from the Japanese due to her inability to express herself well in Japanese. Her only way of communication was by singing. For this reason she compares herself to Reira since she’s not a good communicator and is not good at choosing men.
Both songs had received a positive feedback from NANA and Olivia fans since their focus was specifically on the rock genre. For this reason the theme of this single was darker and had a more bizarre setting. The artwork of this single was photographed by Kio Yoneda and featured Olivia surrounded by vintage furniture. Oddly enough though, the setting was a forest. Personally this is my favourite photoshoot since it’s so unique and artistic.
After seeing that Olivia’s NANA releases had the potential to sell, avex decided to expose Olivia’s music more. Olivia held a small concert called “Chocolate & Confusion” at CLUB QUATTRO close to the release date. She was featured on the front page of beatfreak, a magazine released by avex and she was featured along with Anna on “Cookie”, where the manga version of NANA is serialised. She also had more extensive radio and online promotion. She performed on three variety shows, but the Hey!x3 episode remained unaired. For the first time, Oricon conducted an interview concerning this single. However the most important event only happened later on the 28th October when Olivia performed in the states for the very first time at PMX, held at Los Angeles. This would lead Olivia to realise that she has a rather well defined fanbase in the west.
This single was relatively successful for an Olivia release. It ranked at #7 on the first week, making it her highest ranking single. However it would sell less than “a little pain“, selling 27,854 copies to date. This made it her second highest selling single after “a little pain“. These results were positive enough for Olivia to release a mini album in the following year.
Despite the fact that this single was a double A-side single, “Wish” is doubtlessly the strongest track off this single. This song would be later included in her mini album “The Cloudy Dreamer” but sung completely in English. A live version would be later released in her “OLIVIA inspi’ REIRA (TRAPNEST)” album. “Wish” was the opening theme for NANA and is also one of OLIVIA inspi’ REIRA’s signature songs.
The lyrics were another creation of Olivia. In an interview Olivia mentioned how she wrote the lyrics of “Wish” by imagining Reira’s desire to help and inspire her fans to lift up their spirits. On the other hand Reira is a lost and lonely person so she needs to release these supressed emotions somehow. So Olivia mentioned that Reira is writing these powerful and hopeful words but she was actually singing them to herself. These lyrics give courage to Reira herself and create a connection with the outside world.
“Wish” focuses on combining agressive rock elements with softer fantasy-like vocals and instrumentals. Thus the song is rich in layering between these two elements, where they constantly blend together to gradually create a very powerful chorus. This aspect was extremely appealing, especially since it reflected the theme of weakness and strenght. The mood seems to be lying on a thin line between hope and hesitation, which is amplified by her raw vocals. It contains a rather energetic and catchy chorus which grows onto the listener at once.
The DVD Version of this single had two clips. The first one was the promotional clip of “Wish“, while the second clip was the work of the NANA animation team and featured the Trapnest band with the music of “Wish” accompanied with it. This animated version was rather short, around 90 seconds. The promotional clip was another artistic video and was directed by the veteran music video director Inoue Tetsuo. The setting is rather mysterious and the colour scheme looks washed out. Not unlike “a little pain” there is a suggestion of a surreal alternate world. The most curious aspect is that it looks as if Olivia moved out to live in a forest as all the furniture is seen hanging in mid-air. Thus the concepts of fantasy and reality seems to merge together in a bizarre combination. There are two depictions of Reira: the one who lives in her own fantasy world and the artist. While Reira is singing in her band she gives off the image of being strong and confident. Consequently two sides of Reira are displayed: the powerful image of an artist and the lost, weak and lonely girl. The weak version of Reira has all her ideas scattered haphazardly, reflected by the furniture. The overuse of colour blue is used to symbolise her loneliness and how lost she feels. The strong version of Reira is confident and passionate and the colour red and the fire is used to symbolise her power and her desire to connect with the outside world. The tunnel scene is symbolising Reira’s inner thoughts as she considers if these two sides of her can ever reunite. Oliva has mentioned how she discusses her themes with her directors so I wouldn’t be surprised if this video was partly her creation. It’s definately one of the most curious and creative videos I’ve ever watched.
2. Starless Night
“Starless Night” was used as the second ending theme to NANA. The title itself suggests a rather hopeless mood and is again a trademark of Olivia, since she enjoys making use of celestial bodies in her song titles. In an interview Olivia mentioned how she loves doing so because nature gives her a sense of serenity and peace. Again it makes heavy use of rock instruments. It has been frequently been described as a rock power ballad. The mood for this song is extremely dramatic, haunting and tragic. Olivia’s flawlessly clear vocals suggest a desperate and depressing emotion. Consequently the atmosphere created is a rather dark, hopeless and barren one. The most spectacular aspect of this song is definately the guitar which is quite impressive.
Olivia mentioned on the Oricon interview that she wrote the lyrics with the theme of “people need people”. People need to reach for each other to feel alive and yearn to connect to the outside world. It is probable that in these lyrics Reira is trying to reach for her lover, who makes her feel alive and brings colour to her life. The stars are probably the representation of people, and Reira’s lover is the star which is shines most, which means it’s the most important to her. Her lover has given her a direction and she has learnt to lean on her lover when she becomes aware of her flaws and imperfections.
3. Close your eyes
As mentioned by Olivia, her b-sides tend to be the songs which truly reflect herself. She does this on purpose, since the music which she prefers to release is not so well received within Japan. Olivia clearly stated that her aim was to spread her music to as many people as possible, since her NANA releases are aimed to be mainstream releases. Consequently this is more of an Olivia release rather than an inspi’Reira one. It is also the only song from this single which has a composition by Olivia and her brother, Jeffrey.
“Close your eyes” is an ethereal and electronic ballad. The atmosphere is rather dreamy and serene. Olivia’s vocal style is rather soothing and minimal. There is an extensive use of layers with her vocals as they are blended together to create a very unworldy atmosphere. The lyrics are short yet rather intricate. Again reference to celestial bodies are included within the lyrics.
This single was her final NANA single, but it would not be her final NANA release. In the end, I am rather sorry to know that there are no inspi’ Reira single planned to be released in the future, since I felt that this musical style was simply perfect for Olivia. As mentioned in various interviews Olivia has appreciated being chosen to sing as Reira because their personalities are rather similar. For this reason Olivia’s releases sound rather realistic and vivid. Combined with avex’s increased budget in her promotion and production of these releases, Olivia’s ethereal and fantasy themes have been given a life of their own. I’ve also enjoyed how Olivia finally received some well deserved spotlight by the music community since she’s an extremely talented musician.
To conclude, I’m rather satisfied of the quality of this single. It’s definately well designed and every small detail is a clue linked to Reira’s story and life. I’m sure many fans have loved trying to figure out the hidden meanings. Also both title songs manage to stand out in their own manner and sound extremely fitting to be sung in concerts. I will never say it enough that I’m rather satisfied at Olivia’s creative direction of her music. I do hope that her post-NANA releases shall contain the same level of quality and creativity.
- Starless Night
- Close your eyes
- Wish [Video Clip]
- TRAPNEST Original Animation Clip