Interview Exclusive

Interview with Shohei Koga from yourness

10/01/2021 2021-01-10 01:00:00 JaME Author: Pareesa Madjd, Christine

Interview with Shohei Koga from yourness

Guitarist and composer Shohei Koga discusses yourness' EP "BE ALL LIE" and the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the band's outlook and activities.

© Yoshiharu Ota
Known for their deeply emotional music, Fukuoka's yourness have been experiencing a big surge of popularity overseas recently due to a number of anime and video game tie-ups. Most notably, their song Kago no naka ni tori was used as one of the ending themes for the anime series "Yesterday o uttatte" and they wrote a song called Yakudo in collaboration with Maaya Sakamoto for the mobile game "Fate/Grand Order".

In November 2020, yourness released a new EP titled BE ALL LIE. Shortly after the release hit stores, we had the opportunity to ask the band's guitarist, main composer and lyricist Shohei Koga about this EP's intriguing theme, the band's striking animated music videos, the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on yourness' activities, and more.

For any readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe yourness’ music?

Shohei Koga: The music of yourness is not bound to one genre, as we always try to make the kind of sound we want at that time, so it's a bit difficult to describe it. But I would say that we're a band that puts a lot of importance on the lyrics and the universe of each of our songs.

How did yourness form, and where did your band name come from?

Shohei Koga: We were college classmates, that's how we met and started the band! To choose our name, we actually used the communication application LINE, and each of the members had to send one word made of one Japanese alphabet character that they like. We rearranged the characters, and it became "ユアネス" (yu-a-ne-su) in the Japanese katakana alphabet, which we decided to spell "yourness" in English.

You recently released your EP BE ALL LIE as well as three music videos for tracks from it. Can you please explain the concept for this release?

Shohei Koga: We chose the English title of BE ALL LIE because the concept of "lie" is central in this EP. It includes many different types of lies, like the ones we end up telling ourselves in our own lives, or the ones we tell other people. This is closely linked to our previous and second EP, which is called ES.

How did you try to convey this concept visually through the music videos?

Shohei Koga: Throughout these videos, we wanted to delve into deep notions like the meaning of life and death, or the escape from reality. We tried to express feelings in the images, like the internal conflict generated when you fail to act, or the regrets left towards the person you love.

BE ALL LIE includes a moving piano ballad called Futarishizuka. What inspired you to record a song like this featuring just vocals and piano?

Shohei Koga: When we make a CD, we always try to record a type of tune that we've never tried before. This time, we challenged ourselves with this piano/vocals-only track.

A significant number of your music videos are entirely animated. Can you explain why you often choose animation as the medium for your videos?

Shohei Koga: Animation is a medium that is very well-implanted in Japan, and I think that its quality is recognized around the world too. We wish strongly for our music to reach not only the Japanese audience, but also people from all over the world, so animated music videos seem to be the most appropriate choice. Especially in the context of this coronavirus pandemic where it was difficult to have people gather.

Could you tell us about the inspiration behind the illustrated cover art for BE ALL LIE?

Shohei Koga: The video for BE ALL LIE was actually based on a card game that is called Daifugō in Japanese. There was this direction in the storyline where the main character (the 3 of spades) wins against the joker. As we were wondering how to end on that, we came up with the idea of flipping over the heart figure, turning it into a spade. But for that, we needed the heart figure to leave a strong impression on the listeners, and that's what inspired us to create this cover illustration.

How has recording and rehearsing changed for you during the coronavirus pandemic?

Shohei Koga: It was a bit challenging, as we had to do the recording in a room with a limited number of people, and for the mix we were only two, the sound engineer and me. We also had to decrease the number of rehearsals, so instead of that, we increased the time spent on checking our sound together from our own homes.

Just before the pandemic became very severe, you were able to wrap up your one-man live tour in February of this year and then release a live DVD of the final show at LIQUIDROOM in Tokyo later in June. How does it feel to look back on that performance considering that many of your shows scheduled for this year had to be postponed or cancelled due to the pandemic?

Shohei Koga: These few months actually gave us the opportunity to reconsider the way we were making music and performing, and it gave us the time to think about many things, like how we should develop our activities in the future. So even though it wasn't an easy thing to have many of our shows being cancelled, this period also had a good impact, as it allowed us to get together to decide more carefully what we want to do next. I feel like if we compare yourness as it was in February and as it is now, we'll find that our mental horizon got a lot wider.

With the increased reliance on social media to spread awareness of your band and connect with your fans, have you been noticing that your music is reaching many foreign fans online as well?

Shohei Koga: Yes, we were very happy to notice that indeed. Recently, we did the theme song of the anime "Yesterday wo utatte" ("Sing 'Yesterday' for Me"), and following that we got a lot of kind messages and reactions from fans overseas. On Twitter and on Instagram of course, but especially on YouTube where the song was very warmly welcomed. That's why we started to put subtitles in our recent music videos, so that the meaning behind our lyrics can be understood by everybody.

What can fans look forward to from yourness in 2021?

Shohei Koga: In 2020, we got the opportunity to make several anime and video game theme songs, and our fans seem to enjoy it as much as us. But in 2021, we'd like to broaden our activities even more, so please look forward to what we'll do!

Please leave a message for your overseas fans

Shohei Koga: Thank you so much for your interest in yourness! We'll definitely go to the countries where you live someday! We are so thankful for your support on YouTube and social media. Please continue to be our strength from now on!

JaME would like to thank Shohei Koga, yourness and Lauriane Bedin for making this interview possible.

BE ALL LIE is available worldwide via digital stores and streaming platforms, and fans can follow yourness on Twitter and Instagram and subscribe to their YouTube channel to stay tuned for more updates about their future activities.
 Download or stream "BE ALL LIE"

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