Early last month, URBANGARDE's lead vocalist Yoko Hamasaki dropped not one but two solo releases, the first being a remastered version of her first album Film noir (2010), now titled Film noir ultime, and the second being her third album, BLIND LOVE. In an interview with the sensual J-pop singer, JaME explores some of the creative ideas and decisions behind both albums.Your new MVs feature square framing, and the MV for
How have you personally grown as an artist in the time leading up to your third album Blind Love?
Hamasaki: I feel that I’ve grown in different ways. My approach to writing lyrics has changed dramatically compared to before, and I’m more willing to put my true feelings into words, even when I’m feeling the most vulnerable.
What prompted you to remaster your first album film noir into film noir ultime?
Hamasaki: film noir is still an important part of my personal history, but as I was preparing BLIND LOVE, I wanted to take the opportunity to bring my past work into a clearer presentation. When you listen to the album now, it fits together better with my current style of production.
How was it like working with producer Toshiki Kadomatsu?
Hamasaki: My mother was originally a fan of Mr. Kadomatsu, and when I was younger, I grew up listening to his music, so I was very happy for the chance to collaborate with him. Mr. Kadomatsu is a great musician and vocalist, and working with him gave me a new awareness of my own musical range. It was like seeing a song that I created wearing clothes I’d never imagined, and seeming so beautiful at once!
FORGIVE ME switches between rectangle and square framing. What can you tell us about the visual style of your new MVs?Hamasaki
: I think it created a unique aesthetic. We discussed the themes contained in the lyrics, and the video director developed the visual style to blend perfectly with the music. I don’t think the songs could have the same emotional power any other way.What does the dragon fruit you’re holding in the MV for
: It’s a symbol that carries an impact both in monochrome and in full color. When you watch the music video, as the music and the imagery come together, I want people to create their own meaning for it. Whatever they decide, it will be true.In
BIBLE, what’s the link between the earthly concept of love and the divine?Hamasaki
: To many people, isn’t the Bible something that represents rules? And it makes you think about, what are my own rules? Is there a law created by a higher power that creates people like me? When I was writing this song, I thought about the Bible in the sense of an intense love where “you” burns through the concept of “me” and destroys what’s been created to form something new.What can you tell us about the central character's sense of morality in
: I understand why the reaction is to look at the “teacher” in the lyrics as an adult in a school situation, and then people would pass judgment on that. But for me, the “teacher” is someone who you meet who has richer life experiences, and that makes the student someone who’s willing to journey into new, unknown moments without marking those things as “right” or “wrong”. Morality is created by the people who watch, not by the person who is having the experience.JaME would like to thank Yoko Hamasaki and Resonance Media for this interview opportunity.