Interview with Yuya Matsushita

interview - 11.27.2008 07:00

JaME sat down with Yuya Matsushita shortly before his debut and discussed his past, present and future plans.

Yuya Matsushita is an up-and-coming young artist who will make his debut on November 26th with his single foolish foolish. In order to get to know the artist a little better, we sat down with him for an interview in Tokyo in October.

Could you introduce yourself please?

Yuya Matsushita: I’m Yuya Matsushita. It’s nice to meet you.

What attracted you singing when you were an elementary school student?

Yuya Matsushita: I've really loved music and Hollywood movies since I was a child. I watched and listened to them all the time. When I was in the 6th grade of elementary school, I found out there were professions as singers and artists so I thought "I’ll do that!" It was kind of sudden for me.

Did you watch TV programs a lot?

Yuya Matsushita: Yes. So it wasn’t like someone said something to me or anything like that.

You did not like anyone’s songs especially?

Yuya Matsushita: I didn’t aim to be like someone else when I decided to be a singer.

And you didn’t listen to anyone’s music in particular?

Yuya Matsushita: I think I listened to various kinds of music as I was a normal elementary school student; I didn’t really have a genre that I especially liked though.

It was just unexpected when you wanted to be a singer one day, as you said?

Yuya Matsushita: I didn’t have any friends who had anything to do with music, so I didn’t have any idea about that. When I found people who did have professions on TV, I just thought that was one way to becoming an artist. But it might have been what I was looking for up until that point.

You attended a vocal and dance school in Osaka, which you found by yourself. You went to a book shop to find information, right?

Yuya Matsushita: (laugh) Yes.

How was the training there?

Yuya Matsushita: Basically, I did western music the most. And I had gospel lessons. I learned various genres, such as dance, hip hop and rock.

You did many different things but did you have any strong points or weak points?

Yuya Matsushita: What I was good at and I liked a lot was hip hop.

Was there also any typical western rock?

Yuya Matsushita: Basically, R&B was in the main stream at the school, but I sang rock sometimes. There was a time when I liked Aerosmith and Bon Jovi when I was an elementary school student, because I was influenced by my mother.

Did you enjoy lessons?

Yuya Matsushita: Yes, I enjoyed them. But it was very difficult at first as I had to catch up.

Really? Do you mean the lessons were very hard?

Yuya Matsushita: Yes, they were, and in other ways. The class had a lot of girls. (laugh) I don’t mean that there weren’t any boys, but there were more girls than boys, so it was hard to catch up with them at first. (laugh)

You went to New York City for the first time when you were fifteen years old, but at that age, you were still in the third year of junior high school and it must have seemed very hard. Why did you want to go to New York?

Yuya Matsushita: When I was 15 years old I was a third year in junior high school as you mention, and usually we study really hard for the test to enter high school in Japan. But I didn’t think about anything else except becoming singer, and I had done that since I was in the 6th grade of elementary school, so I thought, "I don’t have to enter the high school." I just wanted to do music. But my parents wanted me to go to high school, so we clashed. Finally I said that I would go high school, but that I wanted to go to New York City in the United States, which is the origin of the hip-hop, R&B, and gospel music that I liked so much. So I promised them that and then I went there. It was a really big concession for me at that time, but looking back now, it was just my selfishness. (laugh)

So how was New York for you?

Yuya Matsushita: I had never been overseas until then, and I got my passport for the first time at that time. Not only overseas travel, but also in Japan, so I even felt like I was going on space travel. (laugh) I was so impressed when I saw Times Square for the first time! I was longing to go there ever since I saw it on TV, and I went there at night when the neon lights were really bright.

You had so much courage. Were you good at English?

Yuya Matsushita: No, not really... But I gathered momentum! (laugh)

What was the difference from Japan?

Yuya Matsushita: Well, mostly the people, I think. When I went into a shop, a shopper sang a song with music and danced, which we hardly see in Japan. I thought it was very good that music was always with us in our daily life. Of course, I went to see real gospel and had dance lessons there. I think there are many other cultures and arts in New York, but it was the music that I really wanted to get to know there.

I’m sure that music has always been close to people there.

Yuya Matsushita: Yes. I thought it was nice that people sing as they use the register in a shop, and stuff like that.

Did you feel at home?

Yuya Matsushita: Yes, but not because of music. I’m from the Hyougo Prefecture, and my school is in Osaka so I go to Osaka almost everyday, and I thought that people in New York seemed similar to people in Osaka in some ways. (laugh)

Your favorite artists are mostly American and you also enjoy American movies. Why this special attraction to American music and movies?

Yuya Matsushita: I was influenced by my mother to see various things such as movies since I was about three years old, so I might have preference for those kinds of things.

From when did you play piano?

Yuya Matsushita: I started piano very late, about one year ago.

As you thought, you wanted to be a singer and started piano to make songs?

Yuya Matsushita: No, I wanted to play piano and sing; I was covering.

You thought that you would do it by playing the piano, not by playing the guitar?

Yuya Matsushita: Yes.

The producer Jin Nakamura took an interest in you and is helping you with your debut now. How did you meet him?

Yuya Matsushita: When I was about fifteen years old, I made a band in my school and did a live. Nakamura came to see us from Tokyo, which was our first meeting. Then we started to exchange music.

Jin Nakamura is a well-known producer and songwriter in the Japanese music industry who has worked with many important artists. How did you feel when he wanted to work with you?

Yuya Matsushita: I was very happy! It was something I was aiming for, but I had never imagined that such a great producer would make a song for me, especially one who had not yet made his debut, so I was very happy.

Your debut single foolish foolish is such a wonderful song. How did you feel when you listened to it for the first time?

Yuya Matsushita: I think that getting a song that was just for me made the biggest impact. I thought that this song had a melody and a track that you would never forget once you listened to it. I think that it matched me, including the lyrics; I was able to express myself very well.

When he made this song, did he make it after he met and talked with you about various things?

Yuya Matsushita: After we met each other, he thought about me and watched my live images, and said he imagined me as he made the song.

Yuya, you have such a wonderful voice that is both gentle and sad. How did the writing, arranging, and recording process go?

Yuya Matsushita: I was fifteen years old when I recorded for the first time, so I was nervous all the time. However, I enjoyed going to Tokyo for the recording and I was really stimulated by everything. It was just the beginning and it is a good memory for me now.

What are your expectations for the single that will be released on November 26th?

Yuya Matsushita: This is the song that I got from Nakamura for the first time when I was fifteen years old, and I have been singing it for about two and half years. So I’m very happy to debut with this song, and I think that this song could be the one to really represent me. I want as many people as possible to listen to this song and let them know about my existence.

Yuya, did you change the way you feel toward this song during these two and half years?

Yuya Matsushita: Yes. These lyrics are written about an "adult love story" and I thought I understood them when I sang the song when I was 15 years old. But I have grown up in a way, so I sing the song with more experience.

How was shooting the PV and CD jacket photos in New York City? Did you feel any different from what you felt when you were fifteen years old?

Yuya Matsushita: I remembered the feelings that I felt when I went to New York when I was fifteen years old.

Did you go to the many of the places where you went the first time?

Yuya Matsushita: Ah, this time we went to various locations, so I was able to see places that I have never been to. It was like I went from the top to bottom of New York. I really enjoyed the shooting.

Were there any funny episodes?

Yuya Matsushita: I was quite shocked to see Brief Man, or at least that is what I called him, he was there before and was still there! (laugh)

What’s that? Brief Man? (laugh)

Yuya Matsushita: He was half-naked, wore briefs with something written on them, had a guitar, and went in and around Times Square. Usually tourists take his photo. (Note: He is talking about New York City’s infamous Naked Cowboy.) I think he is famous because he was there even when I was fifteen years old.

It must be hard during the winter because he is half naked. (laugh) Are you interested in music activities elsewhere other than in the United States, like Europe?

Yuya Matsushita: Of course I am. I like fashion and art, and Europe is very fashionable, so I’m interested in Europe even though I have never been there. I really want to go there when I have a chance to.

After the release of your debut single, can we expect more work from you?

Yuya Matsushita: Yes. The next single, LAST SNOW, part of which is in the first limited edition DVD of foolish foolish is already complete. Please look forward to it.

At this point, right before your debut, you're very young. How do you see yourself in ten or twenty years?

Yuya Matsushita: The artists who I like and aim to be like, [in terms of] creating their own genres and not being like any other artists. I respect Michael Jackson the most and, of course, I respect his songs and dance - but I respect him the most because he is just Michael, not anyone else. I want people to see my new points more and more, and I want to establish a new genre of 'Yuya Matsushita' that isn’t like anything else.

Not like anything else, right?

Yuya Matsushita: Yes. I want to have a necessary existence, in which I sublimate good old and new music.

Please give your message to foreign fans.

Yuya Matsushita: Thank you for your continuous support. I’m very happy to be able to connect to you through my music. I want to try many things. I’ll work hard, so please keep following me and my activities.
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