Otsuka Ai Excite Interview – Pocket

by sljinu on April 3, 2008 · 9 comments · AddThis

Pocket Promo

This article is translated from an interview done with Ai Otsuka by Excite Music.
Translation by sljinu

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Excite: Your new title song, Pocket, was performed last year in your [LOVE IS BORN] ~3rd Anniversary 2006 tour. I heard the song on that day and thought it was really good, so I was curious as to what future plans you had with that song.

Ai: Well, in the beginning, there weren’t any plans to release the song, Pocket.


Excite: But now, you released it, even though it was only a month after your new album, Love Piece. Why is that?

Ai: There were more and more people wanting this song to be released and I also felt that the timing was good so I thought “This is my only chance!” Even though there weren’t any plans to release a CD, I really wanted to release it, so it was done.


Excite: Otsuka Ai, this song is very personal and important to you isn’t it?

Ai: Yes. With this, I feel as though even if I end my musical career, it’d be alright (laughs). Within all my works so far, I don’t think I’ve ever put in as much feeling and thought into any one song. So yeah, this song is definitely aimed at women. I want the girl to listen to this song as if it was her own, and I want her feelings for the person most important to her to warm.


Excite: When we read the lyrics, the so-called “normal things” are written there but gradually it begins to imply the heart.

Ai: Yeah you’re right. Somehow, rather than me feeling happy, it’s like if he was delighted and if he was happy and smiled, then I would be happy. You can think of it like he’s a pivot. But it’s not like, if that’s the case then I’d start using him, or me being with him would be a burden on him. If two people can live together as one, I thought that it’s a really great thing that they can relate so well together…that’s how I felt when I wrote this song. Comparatively, I’ve written a lot of love songs up till now, but I think it was the first time I wrote a song about actually loving someone. Doing such a song for the first time, I realized the difference between a romantic love song and an actual love song.


Excite: What do you believe is the difference between romantic love and actual love?

Ai: Romantic love has a great instantaneous feel to it, but on the other hand, if it’s like “I want it more like this”, or it’s forced upon someone, or it turns into greed. Ultimately, this will lead to pain and heartache, and also would most likely end. Romantic love has its good points and bad points, but actual love is different. Take for example, in between two people there is a hot spring that isn’t actually hot. Despite that, one would collect hot water from somewhere and pour it in (to make it hot)…it has a nurturing feeling to it. You both grow and mature together, your experiences overlap. I think that’s the really beautiful thing about love.


Excite: I really think the soft intro played by the piano expresses those deep, warm feelings. Do you fuss over the arrangements and recordings too?

Ai: When I first completed the song, we hadn’t decided on a release date at all, yet in spite of that, the string players and engineers all turned up for the preproduction. It was because “it was a good song”, they said. This song was completed due to everyone’s efforts every night however, of course I also demonstrated everyone’s melody on the piano saying “This is the kind of melody I want”. I put in a lot of effort into the making of this song. With that, we were able to reproduce it at the recording perfectly. I believe I made it to the best possible song it could be.


Excite: It’s quite surprising that you took that much care for a song without a properly decided release date, however, with the release date now decided, tell me honestly, how does it feel to be interviewed about it?

Ai: Actually, I really didn’t want to have this song as the subject of an interview and at one point, I even thought about refusing. I thought that if there was too much talk about it then it’d look suspicious…I also felt that it was wrong to describe this song in words, and I didn’t want to say the wrong things either, so rather than hear the hype about it, I just want people to hear the song. Seriously, I even wanted to avoid putting on a price tag for this particular one. However, of course that’s impossible (laughs).


Excite: That’s for sure (laughs). So, through discussing your feelings about this new song of yours, did you find yourself realizing anything new? Or maybe you found that some of your thoughts have changed?

Ai: It wasn’t long ago since the completion of the song so for the moment, I don’t really want to think about it. My thoughts are still rock-solid at this stage, but with time there may be other things that I’ll come to understand (about my song).


Excite: By the way, I watched the music video for Pocket but did any of your ideas play a large factor in its production?

Ai: Well, singing surrounded by snow was the obvious must-have image given by this song. I didn’t really picture an image of a train though. Did you watch all the way until the credits?


Excite: Oh, I didn’t really watch up to that. I just saw the main bit.

Ai: I see…that’s a shame. If you saw all the way until the credits, then you would see that the coupling would suggest to the audience the song, Ticket. In that sense, I think it was really well made.


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Excite: So you’re saying that Pocket and Ticket are related?

Ai: Yeah I guess so. It’s like a continuation to the music video.


Excite: I see. Ticket seems to have a bright, up-tempo melody to it and the fact that there are strings in it is quite impressive. Within your songs, this is pretty rare isn’t it?

Ai: I believe Hani Kami Jane also had it but I think Ticket had the faster tempo. At first, there were no plans to involve any strings. It’s just that the arranger, Ikoman, put in a really sweet sound and the entire thing became really cute. I didn’t want to make it into this sort of song so I had to consider which other instruments I could put in and what would sound nice.


Excite: So that’s where you came up with the strings?

Ai: The most suitable sound for this song would’ve been one that gave the feeling of the wind…so with that, the idea of strings came up. We tried so many other different instruments too but when I heard the version with strings in it, I felt that the song’s level went up.


Excite: Why didn’t you want to make this song too cute?

Ai: Mainly because of my voice (it’s too cute!). If I make it too much like fantasy, then it’ll just end as some fantasy. I think I’m like the only singer who does this kind of thing (laughs). It’s not meant to be that kind of song…instead, it’s about how like even if a person has a lot of problems, within that there still could be the feeling of joy and that they should push on. So of course I had to draw away the naivety from the backing.


Excite: Wow, the lyrics themselves surprisingly touch a deep and realistic subject. Is this song supposed to be like a coupling?

Ai: I wrote them after we finished the filming of the music video for Pocket. However, it wasn’t perfected up until the very last minute. It got up to a point where I felt like I wouldn’t make it. I worked on it with everything I had, like, I would’ve stayed overnight at the studio even if I had to.


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Excite: Yet, even with so little time left to work on it, you’ve still managed to record three songs (laughs). However, the third song LIFE – LOVE CiRCLE is your first entirely English song!

Ai: Yep.


Excite: Up till now, no matter how you look at it, there was no image of you using English to the best of your ability. However, now, what are your thoughts about it?

Ai: There’s one reason why I don’t use English and that’s because I can’t speak it. I hate struggling to use it. However this time, I challenged myself to do it. That is, I hate saying good things in Japanese (laughs). I decided to do it in English mainly because I was saying a good thing.


Excite: Is that a way of giving the wrong impression?

Ai: Hmm, it’s more like a feeling of “Wow, I just said a great thing, didn’t I?!” However it wasn’t good enough for me. I really didn’t want to sing it in Japanese. Thanks to English, I wasn’t able to understand what the lyrics were saying but after researching a bit, I actually found I was saying a good thing…I needed that sort of position. If I sang this song in Japanese then I think I’d have this mind-set of “Reality is nothing like this.”


Excite: Did you encounter any new problems, compared to writing the lyrics in Japanese?

Ai: I wrote the lyrics in Japanese, and then got my English-speaking friends to translate it for me. I called Yuna Ito-chan and asked her stuff like “Is this correct?” However, even if it’s translated to the same English, the translated versions were all completely different. Depending on where they lived, there are certain words that people use and others don’t. Finding the so-called ‘Tokyo’ was difficult. With that, before the recording, I first got someone who could speak English to sing the song for me and then I sang it while I consulted with them about my pronunciation.


Excite: English and Japanese is pronounced at a different rate with regards to the melody obviously, so it must’ve been difficult to compose this song right?

Ai: Well I actually used a melody that I composed while I was 13.


Excite: 13!?! But didn’t you compose your first song when you were 15?

Ai: The first song I composed was indeed when I was 15. I didn’t especially write down this melody for anything, it was just always stuck in my mind. It still occasionally popped up in my mind and I had thought of using it from time to time but it never worked out nicely, so I used it now for this. I made it while I was 13 so it often just randomly changed key and now I think “wow” when I look at it (laughs). I think this song will have a kinda fun-like, “Woah, it’s English!!!” feeling to it.


Excite: It seems like this is it, with regards to your releases for this year, however at the beginning of next year you are going to begin another tour. What kind of tour do you anticipate it to be?

Ai: Well, first of all I would like to make it even better than this year’s tour. With the Best Album Tour I got a lot of help from producers, band members…lots of people. With this upcoming tour, I wish to challenge myself to make it even more interesting and fun than last time.


Special thanks to October who helped me with translating some of the harder phrases!

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About the author

sljinu is a hybrid Asian. He is currently employed by the geekmaster eyn, working as a translator. He has time management issues but still finds precious minutes to listen to his beloved Utada Hikaru and Otsuka Ai as well as watch J-drama (among other things) on the train.

{ 1 trackback }

International Wota » Avex Trax Blogs Recommended » [Blogs] Channel-Ai Shares Interview With Otsuka Ai UNITED STATES
April 5, 2008 at 12:00 am

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

renaye MALAYSIA April 22, 2008 at 9:16 am

she really composed the song when she was 13??!! hmm… i think i was busy studying when i was back at 13 …. impressive.


Wiilfrid April 17, 2008 at 2:05 am

Thanks for the article! It’s very informative and thanks for the translation and the audio clips as illustration. Very nicely done. I can’t read Japanese and I always feel that I have missed out so much on what’s happening at that side of the world. It’s the first time I hear songs from Otsuka Ai. I have to admit that I like the first song a lot. Not sure if I could say the same for the 2nd and 3rd though :)

Oh well …


Rinoa April 12, 2008 at 1:35 am

Really nice article. Gives the audience so much insight onto this particular single. I’m glad you translated this particular article. Made me rediscover “Pocket”. Keep up the awesome work!


zey April 9, 2008 at 12:47 pm

thanks for the translation sljinu.
haha, didn’t ai-chin and yuna-chan are friends^^wow cute^^


mafee THAILAND April 4, 2008 at 10:22 pm

Thank you sooooo much for translating this interview!
It really helps understanding the meaning Ai has in mind about ‘Pocket’.


Jo UNITED STATES April 4, 2008 at 7:56 pm

this is an interesting interview. come to think of it, I have never heard so much from Ai-chan. I guess reading her interviews really help me to understand her thoughts behind her works.

One thing I found amusing is the fact that she would call up Yuna Ito and ask her if the English lyrics are correct! How cute! I’ve never expected that coming, didn’t even know that they are friends! This is so COOL! <3


hiro UNITED STATES April 3, 2008 at 11:33 pm

Wow, thank you so much for translating this.
It really shows a deep, personal side of Ai :)


sakuraangel CANADA April 3, 2008 at 3:18 pm

Thanks for the translations sljinu. I always wanted to read this interview and now I can.


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