This article is translated from an interview done with Ayaka by Excite Music.
Translation by sljinu
Excite: First of all, would you be able to tell us your feelings regarding the way you titled your song, Sing to the Sky?
Ayaka: It wasn’t until the staff actually pointed it out that I realised that the word, sky, had so many connotations. When I write sky, it’s usually got something to do with hope, or the search for answers…it’s when I wanna think positively. To me, the sky is a huge entity which has limitless power…I aspire for that same strength. It also has the meaning of “I want this message to reach my family and friends!” Furthermore, you think it’s so easy to take that time out to really take a break and watch the sky and clouds, but in reality, it actually isn’t. I find I’m also like that. However, those times are really important to me and I think that if everyone else also took that time out, then they would be able to see things with a different perspective. If you happen to listen to this album and feel that same way, then that would make me really happy.
Excite: Is there a difference between the feeling of “Singing to the sky” and the feeling of the power you get from singing live in front of an audience at an event such as “POWER OF MUSIC”?
Ayaka: Mm, I would say they are equal. My voice won’t ever reach the sky and it’s not like the sky will be able to hear either but I always have that image in my mind of singing on stage in such a way.
Excite: I see. Ayaka, your theme of “Speaking from the heart” refers to this power, right? There are a lot of people who are now listening to your music so has this influenced you to include the reason to your singing in your lyrics? Or so I thought.
Ayaka: That is present. During the era of my first album, there wasn’t anyone that I knew. The first album included a lot of songs that I had composed earlier. That’s why I often wrote about my inner-conflicts or the worries that I faced while I trying to fulfill my dream. However, comparing myself to back then, I’ve come to think that this time, I’m walking down a goalless road, taking one step at a time. Of course there’s still my dream ahead of me and that’s really important to me but on the journey to get there, there’s this “Today” time that has to build up, in order to be able to achieve your dream in the future.
I’ve come to realise that true happiness comes from just enjoying all the small things along the way, so I try and think like that everytime now.
Excite: Do you feel it has the resolve of “Continuing on just like this”?
Ayaka: I wouldn’t quite say something as strong as a resolve but I just thought that if you lived life that way then you’d think that life was beautiful, everyday. Of course, I can’t possibly think that all the time either so whenever I do, I feel like writing about it. Taking into account those things that I overlooked and then putting them into song…I feel that’s what I finally managed to achieve in this album. Happiness and love come in various forms but lately, I felt that happiness is just a way of thinking. As in, so long as you have things to take pleasure in then you will be happy. Or so I feel, anyway. I’d be really happy if this album could even just slightly change your view on life, or encourage you a little more [in following your dreams].
Excite: There are certainly many forms of the feeling of gratefulness. The 5th track, Goodnight Baby sounds like a thank you to your parents. It has the impression of “I’ve realised this happiness I feel now should not be taken for-granted.”
Ayaka: There is, isn’t there. Those kinds of thoughts have increased. In the song Okaeri, after being away from Osaka for three years, the person goes home and finds in a place where nothing has changed, the one awaiting him saying “Welcome home”. The person then finally realizes how special the phrase, “Welcome home” is and writes about it. I first realized this when I left home. As late as I may have been [to realise this], there were a lot of times where I would really feel alone and I’d feel the importance of the phrase. Meeting new people also helped me understand this. There was this person of around the same age as me who was battling against this disease and naturally there were still plenty of things he wanted to do, yet he did not complain about it. After talking to him, I realised how small my problems were and felt really childish.
Excite: I agree that there is that feeling of gratitude however, I also think that this album expresses the importance of the feeling of love and how we should treasure it instead of thinking selfish thoughts such as “What do you think of me?” or “What can you do for me?”
Ayaka: The creation of music and song is equivalent to the relations between humans. I find that it’s impossible to distinguish between song and love.
Excite: Before, you sang about inner conflict. Do you feel that the theme has now changed to one of communication?
Ayaka: Yeah, that’s true. When I debuted, I was in Tokyo and I didn’t know anybody; all my friends and family were still back in Osaka. I felt really lonely. I also felt as though I put up some sort of unnecessary barrier around myself. However, I’ve made close friends in Tokyo as well now and I’ve got a new place to call home so the barrier disappeared.
Excite: How did you change your mind? Did you force yourself to change your attitude?
Ayaka: Well I never thought such things like “Ok! I’m gonna start talking to people tomorrow!” (laughs). One day, I realised all I was doing was hurting myself, and that the barrier I made was pointless. I thought to myself, “Isn’t it better to start trying to get to know other people?” and that’s probably why.
Excite: There must be a lot of songs that you composed which allude to this transition.
Ayaka: The opposition towards expressing the anger, hatred and sadness present in Gold Star gradually disappeared because it’s human. For example, it’s perfectly normal to be angry, be sad or have weaknesses. If you incorporate all these feelings into the album along with those happy and important times then doesn’t the album become incredibly realistic? Or so I’ve come to think. For me, it’s of the utmost importance to write songs which have real emotions.
Excite: Were you ever against such an idea?
Ayaka: Yes. I kept on thinking things like “I wonder if I should write this…” while writing, then in the end I end up thinking things like “What should I really say?” But it’s also ok to hit such feelings with such a head-on expression. If I keep writing warm or soft-style songs then you’d probably end up thinking I’m too naïve and idealistic. So instead, I thought I’d release the entire range of emotions and make it very humane.
Excite: So instead of only showing one side, you’ve now changed to completely expressing your everyday feelings.
Ayaka: Yeah, that’s true. I feel I can relate more to the music and my singing than when I did on my first album.
Excite: You have a much greater vocal range now and so the variations you can pull off are now simply amazing.
Ayaka: This time I was more experienced with the whole recording process so I was a lot calmer than when I released my first album. I met a lot of new people who helped me make the process this time really smooth. During the recording of my first album, of course I was new to it all so I was still fumbling a lot with everything. This time, however, I could really enjoy myself. I was now also able to concentrate on the timbre, strength and objective of each song so I could make sure each song was perfectly balanced.
Excite: Was there any pressure associated with the release of your latest album?
Ayaka: Mm there wasn’t really any at all.
Excite: Wow, you really are very composed person, Ayaka.
Ayaka: Oh really?
Excite: That is, it seems you never stray from that feeling of wanting to sing. In the lyrics of CLAP & LOVE, the phrase “No matter how many times I search, the answer is always with me” seems to fit you exactly.
Ayaka: Yes, eventually they’ll end up together. Of course, there are plenty of times where I feel the pressure and if I think about it too much then I’ll forget the most important thing of all…Whenever I wonder “Why am I singing?”, of course it’s because I like singing and I want to sing so that’s why I do it, yet if I forget that, then I end up being troubled over something small and end up thinking that there is no point to singing. But in the end, it’s extremely simple and no matter how many times I search for it, the answer’s always there.
Purchase Sing to the Sky: YesAsia