This article is translated from an interview done with mihimaru GT by Excite Music.
Translation by sljinu
Excite: I heard your new single and upon listening to the euro-beat Kylie Minogue cover, I SHOULD BE SO LUCKY, it still sounded very fresh. How did you come up with it?
Hiroko: It was suggested to us by the Fuji-Television drama, Abarenbo Mama. At first, they were like “Could you provide us a cover for that song?” but then it wouldn’t be anything like the hip-pop that we produce. There’s no rap in it either, so we decided to change it into something that sounds more like us. Hence, the entire track and its lyrics were changed.
Excite: The original song was extremely popular back in 1988, so you were still very young back then.
Hiroko: Yeah you’re right! I remember first hearing it in a bowling alley (laughs).
Miyake: I was also really small back then so I wasn’t really into the pop-culture at the time. However, I always listening to rock music and never really got into Kylie Minogue or her style of music. As a result, I never really knew about it until I grew up. All I remember was that it was catchy and I could always recall the melody.
Excite: What did you think when you heard about the renewal?
Miyake: I thought that the song would suit Hiroko perfectly. Also, since it was tied to a drama, it was a chance to get a whole lot more people to listen to it. That’s why we definitely wanted to release our own original work. The drama production team accepted our wish and we went straight about to arranging it.
Excite: What did you aim for in the arrangement?
Miyake: It was an 80’s hit so I considered how I could make it sound modern. With this kind of song, there is an extremely high degree of freedom so even what you want to change it into, ends up changing. If you make it too similar then it becomes a remix. But you don’t want it to be too different so you’d want it to still have the same tempo, the same melody and keep the transition to the climax the same. With that, I left the tempo pretty much as it is, just as I left the background melody and furthermore, I made sure that the transition between the rap and the vocals was seamless. There was a lot of work involved with this.
Excite: Did it take a long time?
Miyake: It took about a month to complete.
Excite: You said that it was a song that would suit Hiroko very well but in practice, how did it work out?
Hiroko: I could always hear the climatic phrase, “Lucky lucky lucky”, in which I also remember holding the hem of my skirt while I sang when I was small. This time, I’ve tried various styles of singing but it always becomes either cute or cool. I’ve come to love that moment when you impress them. So rather than always copying those famous songs, I always wonder if I could end up making it my own.
Excite: The term “boot camp” appeared in your lyrics, making the lyrics seem modern and it keeps that mihimaru style with you.
Hiroko: At first, we read the Japanese translation to the original song. It was very girly, mentioning things like “unrequited love” or “within a dream” constantly. We took those keywords and then expanded upon it. With that, we ended up singing about “a moving onwards after unrequited love”.
Miyake: It’s popular today to add the traditional Japanese touch to a cover of a Western song so we wanted to add the Japanese taste to it. If the name “Milky Way” appears then any Japanese person will instantly be able to imagine the famous love story. We felt that boot camp was a word that allowed you to feel a future era. There is an enormous gap in time between 1988 and now so we thought like “It’d be great if we could modernize this!” and that’s how we went about writing the song. Additionally, the lyrics to the original song were extremely vague. Was the person that she loved her friend? A person who couldn’t speak? It was those kinds of things that we couldn’t understand. However, we still wanted to respect the original song so we couldn’t just assume that the person she loved was a friend. Hence we had quite a difficult time selecting which words to use.
Excite: So basically, you expanded upon the original lyrics.
Hiroko: Yeah, that’s what we did. We turned it into our song about moving onwards from unrequited love. Even so, unrequited love is still a painful thing. So with that, we also included the irritations the girl felt.
Excite: If you listen to the entire thing then you feel that the girl is quite powerful.
Hiroko: Yep. A person gives it everything they have when they are chasing the one that they love don’t they? So during times of unrequited love, the drive burns even more. We just expanded upon that wild idea (laughs).
Miyake: We have produced songs with the theme of love before [The Feeling of Love] but that song was a ballad so no matter how you see it, it didn’t really have a positive theme to it. I SHOULD BE SO LUCKY also deals with that same theme of love but with a nuance. Understanding that, it’s once again another mihimaru GT variation.
Excite: I think that men and women think about love differently; do you agree with this, Miyake?
Miyake: Unrequited love and within a dream, compared to love, are still huge keywords; particularly dream because it has enormous meaning. Even if you don’t think you feel anything for a person, if they appear in your dreams, you’ll realise that you were subconsciously attracted to them. Wouldn’t you say that the idea of love and dreams are tied together? Or so I think. A dream could be yourself searching deeply throughout your own mind. I also felt this same image when I listened to the original Kylie Minogue song.
Excite: I should think that everyone has had that same experience. With regards to that, the Kylie Minogue song is actually quite deep. What do you think about this concept of love and dreams being tied together, Hiroko?
Hiroko: I would like to dream about myself and the person I love getting along well with each other. I’d often stare at his photo before I slept. Does that make me weird (laughs)? If I go to sleep after that then I’d often dream of us holding hands. The more I love him, the more vivid the dream is.
Excite: Around what age was this?
Hiroko: I think I did this the most around middle school [Grade 7 – Grade 9].
Miyake: Puberty (laughs).
Excite: Do you still understand the feelings of the person in your song, I SHOULD BE SO LUCKY?
Hiroko: I think that no matter how old a girl becomes, she’ll always be able to fall in love. The feeling that you get from falling in love will always be able to grow. However, it might be difficult to reach this level of love (laughs).
Excite: Regarding the composition of this song, the euro beat is reminiscent of the 80’s mood. With that, I think you made it a little bit cooler.
Miyake: Yeah that’s true. But that’s because like, pop music has that cute beat so with that, we didn’t wanna take it any further. What’s important is the feeling of hip-hop so we refused the addition of the kick or snare drums. Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of hip-hop and I thought it’d be nice to incorporate some sampling as well. We got Hiroko to sing slowly and we sampled it and played it back twice as fast…a bit like what Kanye West did…there are a lot of experiments like that in there. And regarding the bass line, in order to give it that thick, raw sound, we added a grinding synthesized bass.
Excite: At which point was Hiroko’s remixed voice used?
Miyake: At the intro, and you can also hear a bit at the end of the rap line.
Excite: Wow, for the listener there are a lot of exciting surprises. This time, you guys produced a double A-side but your other song, Ai Kotoba is once again a different song. At the beginning, it feels like a pop/soul-like song but the climax is extremely rousing.
Hiroko: It certainly seems that way. I SHOULD BE SO LUCKY is quite girly but the second song has quite a tomboy-ish feel. And unlike me, she’s a very strong-willed girl.
Excite: You said “Break life’s rules” in your lyrics and it’s a very impressive and bold statement to make but do you feel the same way?
Hiroko: I doubt I could possibly break ‘em (laughs). I didn’t think I could say such a thing so it was quite a surprise for me. Whenever I sing, I feel I’ve become stronger and the wall standing in front of me gets burned down…that’s the kind of strength I feel.
Excite: There’s also the phrase “become faithful”, but do you occasionally feel that way, Hiroko?
Hiroko: There is, there is. I especially feel that way whenever I’m upset. But there’s only one me; such a fundamental fact will never change. Rather than hating that part of me, I’ll go and do something about it instead.
Excite: Girls have quite a fighting spirit don’t they?
Hiroko: They do, don’t they! There’s that sense of wanting to take control of yourself. There’s always that wall standing in front of you and you always want to demolish it.
Excite: How do you feel about the lyrics, Miyake?
Miyake: Well I’m quite the lazy type so I always try to figure out the fastest way out…I reckon there is a message against that type of me in there somewhere. It’s easy to just say it but it’s hard to do in practice. It’ll take time for me to change and while I want to, it’s like, somehow I can’t. I think those kinds of feelings developed within me because of this song.
Excite: The arrangement is also really interesting…how did you go about it?
Miyake: It was something we made four years ago, around our debut. We wanted to sing something cool. However, we still hadn’t learnt the foundations yet at that stage, nor had we established our own style. Hence we didn’t release it because it would have looked as though we were trying to be cool. We had one euro beat song, so we wanted to make the other one quite impressionable. And with that, we finally released a four year old composition.
Excite: Are there parts that you fixed up?
Miyake: Yes there is. We changed the track, the vocals and the lyrics. It was kinda refreshing to see a song I wrote four years ago. I can see all my mistakes and habits so it was a good learning experience. Around the time that we debuted, I knew I didn’t want a repetitive-type song. I concentrated a lot of my efforts around keeping the groove of this two bar piano phrase. We may need that loop-like feeling, even now.
Excite: The chorus’ climatic phrase definitely leaves an impression.
Miyake: Exactly. Hip hop could be described simply by that catchy-phrase you hear.
Excite: Ai kotoba is an interesting title because it’s a pun for the word, ‘love’ and ‘password’.
Hiroko: We named it after we completed the song. At first, we were going to call it Tara Tara* but we thought maybe its meaning too vague (laughs). So instead, we chose a word within the lyrics. Leaving it as it is in the lyrics gave out the wrong image so we decided to use the kanji for Ai instead. If you combine the kanji with the katakana then it’s quite hard-hitting.
*[A/N: in Japanese, this means “lazy, impact-less”]
Miyake: In a world filled with conflict, telling that special person that they are not alone creates the connection between the pair. The song has the same connotation and let’s you escape the boredom of everyday.
Excite: You’re in the middle of the School Festival Tour aren’t you? Are you all pumped up for it?
Hiroko: A student’s pace is quite amazing isn’t it? They can start fresh and have a fast reaction. They have a different kind of air about them so it’s quite strange.
Miyake: Last year, there were about 1000 people who attended the school festivals and we went around 12 different venues. However, this year the number doubled with around 2000 people attending. Their pace is also completely different. This year, we attended NHK’s singing competition, we released a Best Of album, we had a movie tie-up, there were a lot of huge events so there were a lot of people who knew of us. There are also those who aren’t too impressed about school festivals and need something really different to become really interested. To see those people also become really excited…that made us really happy.
Excite: By the way, with 2000 people, does the gymnasium become the main venue?
Hiroko: Yes. Geez, the echo bounces back everywhere (laughs).
Miyake: We don’t want to use the earwig even though we should, so we’re always quite worried. The gymnasium is a terrible venue (laughs).
Hiroko: Also, it gets really hot in there so everyone starts sweating heaps. But it’s quite refreshing.
Excite: Miyake, before it’s your turn to perform, you take a look around all those mock-stalls right? How about you, Hiroko?
Hiroko: I meditate (laughs). I also sometimes take a quick peek but if I go outside then I get really nervous. If I sit down and just think to myself then I calm down.
Excite: You guys attend the School Festival’s as though it were some sort of policy. Do you ever have any thoughts opposing it?
Miyake: Well, I think it’s quite important. Being asked to participate shows that we’re still in demand (laughs).
Hiroko: I’m quite pleased that the students are good at organizing. The committee’s members also do their jobs so well that it’s hard to see us as being older than they are. Also, it has that handmade feel to it…it basically feels like when I first started.
Excite: It also seems that you have some live concerts at three locations in Tokyo and Osaka for the End of Year Jumbo Present Evening ‘07. What do you think this live will be like?
Hiroko: This year it’s supposed to be quite wild so I wanna make it as exciting and as crazy as possible (laughs).
Excite: And lastly, a message to all those excited fans.
Miyake: I SHOULD BE SO LUCKY is an 80’s song so there will be some who see it with nostalgia, and others who will hear such music for the first time. Either way, this song is for everyone so please listen to it. We gave it the full mihimaru GT flavour so let this song flare up your passion for love in 2007. Also, we are releasing the video clip for it on the DVD mihimaclip 2 so please keep on enjoying our music!!