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[Awakening:Sleeping] A dialogue - Natsuko Miyamoto and Asami “Addy” Suzuki

- An introduction by Asami “Addy” Suzuki - 

 

In early August 2022, I was in Kobe.

 

About three months earlier, in Tokyo, Natsuko Miyamoto, aka Nacchan, said to me, "Masdre has a new album coming out, Addy, would you write something for it? 

 

This was the "fieldwork" I had been wanting to do since then.

 

I wanted to stand in the landscape where Nacchan now sleeps, wakes, and where her body and soul live, so that I could get a sense of the background of the album's creation and where it was headed.

 

Writing something = a dialogue, and if that is the case, so much the better.

 

On the way to Kobe, I was remembering the time when I was playing music with her.

 

Ten years ago, It was during the period when Masdre was on hiatus. Nacchan and I, coincidentally at about the same time, were both no longer able to play in our own bands.

 

At the time, I was just a one-sided admirer of "Natsuko Miyamoto of Masdre," but she was coming to Sapporo, Hokkaido, where I lived, to do a solo show. And so the connection was made.

 

I believe that the words and music that I exchanged with Nacchan at that time took us to where we need to go next, and I am very proud of that in my life.

 

Performing with Nacchan, we are able to touch the heart of the matter by having a thorough dialogue about "how we are living now.

 

I am sure that this time will be no different. Or rather, I am eager to do so now.

 

In the seaside town where she currently lives and where her hometown is located, she was waiting for me with a cheerful smile, just before the release of her new album.

 

Half a month later, after successfully releasing their first album in four years, they left Japan early to perform at the ArcTanGent festival in England.

I was waiting for her return to Japan, listening to her past works and the latest one, while watching the reactions to the new album and the performance of Masdre at ArcTanGent on social media.

 

The day of our promised meeting was in Tokyo at the end of August, in a drizzling rain.

 

This is what we talked about in "Awakening: Sleeping”.

...Impressions after 13 days of release

Asami Suzuki ("Addy"): Well, let's say hello~.

Natsuko Miyamoto ("Natsuko"): Greetings? What kind of greeting?

 

Addy: Like "Pillopillo~, it's Natsuko"?

 

Natsuko: Pillopillo, it's Natsuko.

 

Both: (laughs), Hello~!

 

Addy: Hello. I'm Asami Suzuki, nickname is Addy. I've been a friend of Nacchan since when she couldn't do masdre. Well, I hope we can talk about various things today in a round-table style.

 

Natsuko: I see.

 

Addy: First of all, congratulations on the release of your fifth album, "Awakening:Sleeping".

 

Natsuko: Thank you, thank you. Thank you so so much.

 

Addy: Today, a week has already passed, right, Was it August 17?

 

Natsuko: Yes, and today is August. 30th, so 13 days? But still 13 days, it hasn't been two weeks. Is it still like that?

 

Addy: Well, anyway, congratulations!

 

Natsuko: Thank you...I'm so happy.

 

Addy: Immediately after its release, you guys went to England (to perform at ArcTanGent) in a flurry.

Natsuko: Yeah, we went there.

Addy: I think it was like you were on the move all the time.

Natsuko: Right, we’ve been always moving.

Addy: And the album became the top alternative album in the iTunes Store Japan.

Natsuko: Yes, yes! That's right, I was surprised.

Addy: I thought  "Wow!”

Natsuko: We were also like, "Wow!” We had just left for England and were in transit in Thailand at  that time. When we received a notification like a chart entry was posted on the website. It said something about a new record high of our sales, and we were all like "Yaaaaaaaaaaay!

Addy: Man, congratulations!

Natsuko: It was like “Isn’t it crazy!?”

Addy: It's good on Spotify and so on.

Natsuko: Yeah, that's true.

Addy: So 13 days have passed, and the band was out of the country early. While you could see that kind of response...well, were there any impressive responses or impressions from people around you?

Natsuko: You know, ...... It’s very, very well received. Hahahaha (laughs)

Addy: That's right, of course!

 

Both of them: (laughs)

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Natsuko: This is more than I expected, or what can I say? People from unusual connections contacted me on purpose. I didn't have that kind of phenomenon with my previous album.

Addy: Oh, any immediate reactions you had on the last album?

Natsuko: ...No there wasn't.

Addy: Uh-huh

Natsuko: So, we really didn't know how people would receive this album until we released "Awakening:Sleeping". Well, we made the one we liked the most, the best! We were like, "We love this album the most! So we wanted people to listen to it as soon as possible, and I guess I feel that same feeling from the people...

Addy: Oh I see.

Natsuko: I feel like the nuance of "I hope you get it" was conveyed. Well, I don't know yet. It hasn't been that long, so I don't know... but I have the impression that people are accepting it more readily than I had imagined.

Addy: It's like they got the message.

Natsuko: Yes.

Addy: Well, of course listeners may get a different impression after listening to the songs repeatedly. I see...so frankly speaking, that makes you happy?

Natsuko: I'm so happy. So happy that people can tell that I made an album that I like and think I like the most.

Addy: I'm so happy too! It's like a mutual love, isn't it?

Natsuko: Yes, yes (laughs)! If they say, "This is not what I was expecting from Masdre," that's okay, too though.

Addy: There might be some unexpected reactions, which would be interesting.

Natsuko: Yes, yes! I thought that would be fine, but it was kind of unexpected...

Addy: Straightforward?

Natsuko: Yeah. I was really surprised that people from the same industry contacted me.... I was really happy about that.

Addy: Are there reactions like “Awesome!”, “Great job!” kind of excited ones or deeply-moved comments?

Natsuko: You mean the reactions from the people around? Oh, it depends on the person though,It was  like, ”Badass, or "It's so big!". Many people said the sense of scale is huge.

Addy: Yeah, it wasn't simple like, "Oh, I like it, it's good..." but this time, even if it was just a chance encounter, people said, "Wow, there's a great guy here" though they didn't even know you guys at all. Even those who had never heard of them and were far away from them would be shocked and feel the "bang! I think that even people who had never heard of the work and were far away from it would feel it as a shock.

Natsuko: I was hoping that would be the case. I'm very, um...grateful.

Addy: That's right.

Natsuko: That's a big part of how I feel now.

Addy: When we talked in Kobe before the release of this album, you told me that you started working independently four years ago with your 4th album "No New World", and the music spread slowly at that time, right?

But you felt that it was steadily spreading, so this time you have some of the groundwork... so you think the initial response, or rather the response after the release, will be quicker. That's what you said, right?

Natsuko: Yes. That's exactly what I was thinking.

Addy: Or even more than that?

Natsuko: Well, maybe even more.... When I talked to, everything was already prepared for the release, right? Subscribers' registrations and so on. And now, the number of plays depends on which playlist you are in. You don't know until right before the release whether it will be in the playlist or not, and sometimes it gets put in the playlist after it is put in the playlist.

Addy: That's right.

Natsuko: What made me happy was that I was chosen to be on the cover of a Spotify playlist called "Big in Japan.

Addy: Yes, I saw it.

Natsuko: It was like the playlist for international listeners.

Addy: It was like, "This is hot in Japan right now! 

Natsuko: Yeah, that's right. And to be selected and to be allowed to do covers... I don't know how to say it, but we were recognized as being in the position that we wanted to be in! I guess we're being recognized as being where we want to be!

Addy: Right.

Natsuko: So the actual speed and influence may be even greater than I had imagined...maybe even greater.

Addy: (Applause)

Natsuko: Ha-ha-ha...well, I’m so greatful.

Addy: Well, but I talked about this before its launch... "For those who don't have a clue with this album, you should tell them something, you know?" I said that.

Natsuko: Like  "You do have no taste!” (laughs).

Addy: "You do have no taste! (laughs) Well, we’re not actually going to tell them though.

They both laugh.

Addy: But you don't have to worry about that, do you?

Natsuko: I guess not. I was kind of wondering if that's true.

Addy: Well, I'm sure we'll hear a different kind of response from now on...more reviews with thoughts, not simple stuff like "I love it! That's cool!" 

Natsuko: Indeed. I'm looking forward to it.

Addy: We will pick up such things in the future and incorporate them into our sensibilities.

Natsuko: That's right. We'll make the most of them.

 

Addy: That's right. So, let's start with the 13th day after the launch...

Natsuko: What do you think?

Addy: I mean, the reactions. I'm glad.

Natsuko: I'm happy.

Album production, changes in the band

Addy: Well, let's see. I'd like to ask you about the production process, and also as a Masdre fan, I'd like to ask you some questions, including what I feel.

 

Natsuko: Yes.

 

Addy: I first listened to the album at the beginning of this month, afterwards,  I met you guys and told them how I felt.

 

Natsuko: Yes, that's right.

 

Addy: My first impression was, "You guys seem to be settled down," but after that, I kept listening to it over and over again...now I just thought, "You guys played just great.”

 

Natsuko: Oh, wow! That makes me so happy.

 

Addy: You know, there are many ways to record a song. Are you guys recording together at the same time? 

 

Natsuko: Yeah, we play together in one room. 

Addy: Even though there is a "put the amp over there..." (partition and equipment arrangement to prevent each part's microphone from being covered by the other's sound), you can communicate directly with each other at the same time?

 

Natsuko: Right. We don't record separately.

Addy: Is that ever since the first album?

Natsuko: Ever since.

Addy: That's right. It is very fitting and makes sense that Masdre uses that way of recording. 

Natsuko: Well, I don't think the verticality (i.e., rhythm, accuracy of timing) matches perfectly. How should I say it?

 

Addy: I understand what you mean.

 

Natsuko: I think that's the beauty of masdre. When there's a little bit of a gap in the groove, back and forth...

Addy: It IS the groove, isn't it?

Natsuko: Yes, Yes! That's really it. It “undulates”, doesn't it?

Addy: Yes, yes. That's the breath of the music, and that's what we usually play. And this time, you were able to play and record it as it is...without any differences from usual in the recording?

Natsuko: Yes we did.

Addy: Yes, I really feel that way. ...Well, I've brought all four of your past CDs with me today (begins to lay out the CDs on the table)...

Natsuko: Oh yuck! Ha-ha-ha!

Addy: Since we're here, let's put them in order! We don't have the newest one yet.

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Natsuko: The newest one is not out yet.

Addy: The physical (CD) is coming out on October 7, right?

Natsuko: Yes.

Addy: I listened to all four albums again. So, did we just talk about “vertical lines” of Masdre's sound.?

Natsuko: Yes, yes.

Addy: Basically, I think you guys haven’t changed the way you record a song by shouting "Se-no!”

Natsuko: We haven't changed that style at all!

 

Addy: I think each of the past albums have their own vertical mismatch in a good way, depending on the time of year. But still, your performance on this one is so good! Sorry to sound so bossy though.(laughs)

 

Natsuko: No, no! I'm so happy.

Addy: You know, I felt like you guys were united as one, more than ever before. I don't think you did audio editing kind of stuff like pitch and timing corrections, etc.

Natsuko: That's true. There were some punch-ins in the performance (i.e., overwriting only the part of the recording that you want to correct), but... well, there are almost no punch-ins at all. But we (Masdre) don't have that either.

 

Addy: Yeah. All the changes and growth of the band in the four years since the last album are reflected in our performance. We started managing the band by ourselves four years ago, So I think we're more aware of that now.

Natsuko: That's true.

 

Addy: I don't feel that your spirits or motivation has decreased at all, Not getting used to it (in a bad way), or not getting tired of it, either.

 

Natsuko: You’re right.

 

Addy: I think a lot of things have come to fruition. I feel like everything you guys have been up to now has been pulled together and it all makes sense. With this album.

 

Natsuko: Yes, yes, ..wow, I'm so glad you think so.

 

Addy: This album is a really, really good work.

 

Natsuko: ...I'm so glad. I don't listen to it like you do though.

 

Addy: Sure, you don't listen to your own work, do you?

 

Both of them: (laughs)

 

Natsuko: But just taking a quick look at them like this (the four past albums), it reminds me of many things, I guess. And I wonder...as music, well, they are all music, but the first album, the relationship with the first original  members, the impulse to "do the band." and so on. It was probably at this time (pointing to the first album) that everyone's energy was hitting each other, energy that had nowhere to go.

 

Addy: Jam-packed energy.

 

Natsuko: Yes, yes.

 

Addy: That's what makes the album cool, though.

 

Natsuko: That's right! But that was not really musical. It's good, though. But I think I'm finally aware of it from the latest album (pointing to “No new world”, the 4th album).

Addy: Oh...I understand.

Natsuko: Up to this point (before the 3rd album), I think we were still in the process. I think I finally started to understand a little bit with the 3rd album. But then there were things like Chiemi's quitting, etc.

Addy: After that, there was a lot of time as a band…

Natsuko: We had to stop and there was a time..here were pauses,and then we came to this (4th) album.

Addy: What's it been, 8 years?

Natsuko: 8 years. 8 years, wow (laughs). (laughs) During that time, I also met you Addy.

Addy: Yes, yes, that's right.

Natsuko: You haven't stopped as a musician, have you? But my activities as Masdre had stopped. What I experienced during those 8 years and ......, I feel like "Masdre is my life" now. I was aware of that from the beginning, but now it's finally time for the two (current members) to become my life partners. It was after Ogu (Naoya Ogura, Guitar / Vocal) joined the band that I felt that awareness and the sense that it was being sublimated into music was born...

Addy : Yes, yes, yes.

Natsuko: Before the 4th album, I made a solo with Ogu, so I thought that was a big part of it. Ogu also said that "Nacchan's solo stuff with me was big”. So, after finally realizing that with the 4th album, we took it to another level! I feel like this is the next step.

Addy: Yes, that's true. I think the people who have been following Masdre for a long time would agree with me, and I think the people who just started with this album or who only know the sound will definitely find it convincing...the sound definitely conveys the message.

Natsuko: Well, I hope they get the message.

 

Addy: They get it, don't they!

 

Natsuko: (laughs)

Addy: Since you mentioned Ogu. Um, you told me about a really good episode the other day, right?" He said, "I think I can definitely make Masdre the coolest band.

Natsuko: He was like, me! me! me! (laughs). (lol).

Addy: I was impressed. He's such a hero! I thought.

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Natsuko: After Chiemi left the group, he said, "I thought I was the only one.

Addy: That's nice.

Natsuko: The fact that he can say such a thing so straightforwardly is what makes him so great and attractive.

 

Addy: The good thing about Ogu is that he can say it in a good way and still be convincing when you see him. Isakon (Isao Yoshino, Drums), well, as I mentioned before, he has been a member of the group since the 2nd album, and of course I feel that there are some changes in the 4th album, but......I wonder if he still had something like "Attentiveness to ghosts of Masdre"....... You know...

Natsuko: What you said  was a very good expression! When I heard that.

Addy: I thought that myself.

Natsuko: Ha ha ha ha (laughs)

Addy: When Masdre's first album was released, I think the scene at that time was shocked to hear that "something great had come out. Then, Isakon joined from the second album... I wondered if he had long been discerning about Masdre's character and the image of Masdre in the past. I was wondering if he was like “I am a member of Masdre, but I don't feel that at all in this work” at that time period. But I don't feel that at all in the new album.

Natsuko: Yes, yes.

Addy: That's really what I was personally moved by as a drummer myself. 

Natsuko: I really want you to tell him that. Someday.

 

Addy: I feel so embarrassed. (laughs). 

 

Natsuko: ...I wish you would tell him that.

Addy: To sum up. Each one of us has...stood up. I don't think we have ever been dependent on each other. I think we've become independent.

Natsuko: Can you feel it?

Addy: Yeah, I can feel it.

Natsuko: “Attentiveness to ghosts”.....

Addy: No, no, no (laughs), "I am Masdre!" (laughs).

Natsuko: Everyone thinks that, right? I know, I know. I think that.

release Engineers / About the album  title

Addy: Okay, then. I would like to hear about the engineers who did album production. 

Natsuko: Yes indeed.

 

Addy: This is also... a dream come true.

 

Natsuko: It really is like a dream, isn't it?

Addy: Mr. Howie Weinberg (who did the mastering).

Natsuko: Well...I'm sure everyone must have listened to his work.

Addy: We definitely had a listen.

Natsuko: You definitely did, didn't you?

 

Addy: Nacchan, which of Howie's works do you listen to the most?

Natsuko: Which one is the best for me? It's hard to say which one is the best... PJ Harvey's "Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea" was also by Howie, and I listened to it a lot, and he did Smashing Pumpkins and Jeff Buckley's album "Grace" thatI listened to a lot. Limp Bizkit is another one. The list goes on and on...

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Addy: You're right.

 

Natsuko: I listened to so many albums in my youth, I think most of them are by Howie. I didn't know about him at that time and had no idea about “mastering”...

 

Addy: We didn’t see album credits like “engineer” very often.

Natsuko: When I did see it, just "Special thanks" or something like that (laughs). 

When I was just a listener, I wasn't that interested in the engineer...so it was shocking when I saw his discography " What, this too? This one too?”

Addy: It’s like "All of them!" 

 

They both: (laughs)

 

Natsuko: Yeah, really. We offered Howie this time because Mr. Hara (Koichi Hara), who recorded the album, was connected to Howie. Mr. Hara is the reason for this, too.

Addy: Yeah, yeah...but this is really dreamlike, isn't it?

Natsuko: ...It's a dream.

Addy: Isakon and Nacchan are rather far apart in age. You guys are about 10 years apart, right?

Natsuko: Yes, we’re 11 years apart.

Addy: But on the other hand, Isakon also said that Mr. Howie was involved in the important works of his youth.

Natsuko: "Is that possible?" I thought.

Addy: Music connects us, doesn't it!

Natsuko: It's very moving when you come across something like that.

 

Addy: Good story. And, after all, the quality of the album has jumped up even more thanks to the work of both Mr. Hara and Mr. Howie this time.

 

Natsuko: I definitely think so. It reallly did.

Addy: I think I saw in some media that the previous album "No New World" was described as an "outstanding work," but this time it's more than just an ”outstanding” at all.

 

Natsuko: (laughs)

 

Addy: Isn't this album  "epic"?  You can say that. It really is.

 

Natsuko: Thank you. I also like this one (past work), but the new album has more mass...more weight, in a good way...I could say that we were able to create a work with the same weight of what we have been doing for 20 years. Well, we've been doing this for 20 years, right?

 

Addy: It's also your 20th anniversary.

 

Natsuko: In terms of sound creation, there are some mid-tempo and heavier songs. I love Hide, and I listened to a lot of industrial and new metal music in my youth, but it was never really reflected in Masdre.

 

Addy: Yeah.

 

Natsuko: But I'm getting better at pulling off those genres of music as well.

 

Addy: Like, just pop it out of a drawer?

Natsuko: Yeah, right.

Addy: It seems that those things have become addictive to the music that Masdre is doing now.

Natsuko: You could say that, yes.

Addy: Of course, Masdre nowadays is not only Nacchan's world compared to before, though.

But at the same time, Masdre itself is getting closer to Nacchan yourself, isn't that right? Is that so?

Natsuko: ...... I nodded about 4 times just now.

 

Addy: You did indeed.

Natsuko: I think you are absolutely right. It's really a strange thing.

 

Addy: It is connected to the title of this work, isn't it?

Natsuko: I think it does. In the interview (on SPICE [Japanese only]) before this talk today, I was asked about the title (meaning, etc.). And I tried to explain that I was sure that everything is connected in my mind, but it was quite difficult to explain to other people in words.

Addy: Indeed.

Natsuko: Getting closer to our true selves means getting closer to the parts of ourselves that we are not aware of, doesn't it?

Addy: It means to dive in.

Natsuko: That's right! I think there is a contradiction between the words "awakening" and "sleeping" (Awakening:Sleeping)... I think there is a part of me that can go under the surface and a part that can't. I think I end up making music and songs to meet that part of me that I am not aware of. I think I end up making music and songs in order to meet such parts of myself that I am not even aware of. That's how I feel.

 

Addy: Yes.

 

Natsuko: These two words are very useful for expressing a kind of coherence within me. I think these two words are very useful to express how things add up for me...I've been watching the world over the past few years, and there has been a great polarization. I think they are words that fit the structure and atmosphere of the world.

Addy: Yes, It's true...

Natsuko: I thought they were words with many meanings.

Addy: Yes, they are inclusive and those words fit the album perfectly.

Natsuko: Yeah.

Addy: Basically, Masdre's works are not concept albums, right? Well, I think there is a story behind the process of song order, and that's what makes the album what it is. In other words, what Nacchan is feeling in your life comes out as it is.

Natsuko: That's right.

Addy: Is it more a feeling than a thought? Addy: No, I am thinking, but... it is a work of sensibility.

Natsuko: Yes, that's right. Music is the best way to use only the senses. I usually move my head and think too much. I've never had anything good happen from overthinking.

Addy: Oh  really?

Natsuko: According to my own statistics so far. In the end, it was better to give it a try.

Addy: Your own statistics.

Natsuko: Yes. Music seems to be able to do that for me. It's not that I'm saved by But in the end, it comes down to like "How am I living?" That is what becomes the work.k.

Addy: Moreover, when you listen to the history of Masdre’s work, you can feel the earnestness and purity of the work. Oh, but it's not just bitter earnestness. It's more like earnestness and sincerity. I know I'm repeating myself here, but I guess the synchronization rate of "Masdre is Nacchan”  has increased. This is what makes me think so.

 

Natsuko: Yes, I think so too.

 

Addy: ...I'm kind of deeply moved.

Both of us: (laughs)

About the  songs

Addy: May I ask you about song by song?

 

Natsuko: Yes. Of course.

 


 

[1. Dramatic / 8. birds and rhythm]
 

Addy: Let's start with the first song, "Dramatic".

 

Natsuko: This song was written when I was working with Addy. It was quite a long time ago.

 

Addy: Not quite 10 years ago?

 

Natsuko: ...It's been longer than I thought.

Addy: This one was written by Natsuko Miyamoto.

Natsuko: Yes, that's right. I had a pretty good idea of the original song and arrangement, so I recorded it in Logic (= DAW Logic Pro) and threw it to the two (Ogu and Isakon). Then, the detailed arrangement...of course, Ogu added the guitar phrases and so on, but I was quite involved in the arrangement myself...I wanted it to have a reverby feel, or I wanted the BPM to be this high, or I wanted the backing vocal to be this,...etc. ...

 

Addy: You had a blueprint.

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Natsuko: Yes. I usually don't really have a blueprint. But about this song, I tried to explain in detail as much as possible, like "this feeling of someone else's song,"you know.

Addy: And the other members said, "Let's include this! Natsuko:”

Natsuko: Yes. They said, "This is definitely the lead song”.

Addy: I see. Of the nine songs...when did the band start working on this one?

Natsuko: The first time we started playing with it as a band was... well... as a song, brief stuff, ideas, …

 

Addy: Well, you don't really remember... (laughs)

 

Natsuko: Ha-ha-ha (laughs), sorry. I think "Birds and Rhythm" is the earliest one in chronological order.

 

Addy: I played "Birds and Rhythm" with you, didn't I?

 

Natsuko: Yes, we did. So I originally played "Tori to Rhythm" (Bird and Rhythm) as a solo rather than as a band.

 

Addy: You don't remember when you started playing with the band...

 

Natsuko: Ah! But when I was originally playing "Dramatic" with you, there was no chorus.

 

Addy: I know. You changed it, didn't we?

 

Natsuko: Yes. What really impressed me was that in the lyrics of the first song I was working on with Adie, after the 1st verse  "I can't even count the number of times I've remembered," I had the lyric "There were none of those things”. But (in the current arrangement) I don't say that now.

 

Addy: I know (laughs).

 

Natsuko: Yeah (laughs). And to the lyric "There were none of those things," you said, "When Nacchan sings this lyric now, it sounds quite..."

 

Addy: ...sad.

 

Natsuko: Yes, yes! I remember you said that to me. I thought, “Really?". I didn't intentionally leave it out this time either.

 

Addy: You just worked out as a song?

 

Natsuko: That's right. And I was a little moved by the fact that it naturally and unintentionally disappeared by itself.

 

Addy: Oh wow.

 

Natsuko: I felt it was unnecessary, I guess. It's like...the lyrics go along with the sound, and the lyrics go along with the sound. I was making the song in a flash, and it just came out so naturally. I thought to myself, "I'm glad I did that. Heh heh heh heh (laughs).

 

Addy: When I said "sad," I meant that as a fan it was a bit complicated.

 

Natsuko: You mean like, "It's not that big of a deal to us”?

 

Addie: No, no, it's not like that. It was more like " Nacchan, are you pushing yourself...are you okay?" Like that. Like a worry out of love.

 

Natsuko: Oh, I see. I see. I guess I used to tend to push myself a little too hard in that way.

 

Addy: But we had to do that sometimes to be able to stand. 

Natsuko: Yes, that's true.

 

Addy: Maybe you were guided by something.

 

Natsuko: ...I think so.

Addy: Wow, that was an interesting story.

[2. "No need" feat. Keita Ebina (from Discharming man)]

 

Addy: The second song is "No need” featuring Keita Ebina from Discharming man

 

Natsuko: Yes!

 

Addy: Ebina paisen (means “superior”).

 

Natsuko: Paisen. The giant of the north.

 

Addy: By the way, there are two songs with guest vocalists, Ebina and Taigen. Which one of these came up as an idea first?

 

Natsuko: I think Ebina came first. I had always wanted to work with him. I was playing the piano for this song, too, and suddenly I thought, "Hey, maybe I can sing this song with Ebina. I told the members that if I was going to do it with Ms. Ebina, I wanted it to be a whirlpool of sound, and Ogu was like this all the time, playing in a whirr. The drums were also slamming all the time! I wrote this song on the premise that "Mr. Ebina is there to sing together.

 

Addy: How did you record Ebina-san singing this?

Natsuko: I had him come to Osaka. Mr. Hara has a private studio, so I asked him to come. We were there together.

Addy: Ebina-san must have been happy, right?

Natsuko: Yeah..(smiling).

They both laugh.

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Addy: That's your best face today!

 

Natsuko: Yeah, really. I was happy too. It's been a long time coming... "We finally got to sing together! It was like, "We finally got to sing together! Ebina-san was listening to the overlap of his voice and mine, and he said, "We have the same voice!- (laugh)

 

Addy: You're right, I didn't recognize you guys for a second!

 

Natsuko: You don't, do you? That's right.

 

Addy: When you listen to it. That's how close you guys are.

 

Natsuko: But when you listen to my song with my voice alone, it's totally different.

 

Addy: Of course.

 

Natsuko: Why are we singing all along during the song? That's what I mean. I think. 

The reason why we chose the style of singing together all the time, rather than having different parts, is because we wanted to have that kind of texture. It's like a mixture of the two voices.

 

Addy: That's very interesting, and it comes across as a strong expression. It's good!

 

Natsuko: Ha ha, I'm so glad.


 

[4. 1960 / 5. Helluva feat. Taigen Kawabe]

 

Addy: What was it like inviting Taigen? (from Bo Ningen)

 

Natsuko: Taigen lives in London. He recorded the vocal track at his house (in London) and sent it to me. 

 

Addy: It's amazing that he was able to record at home with that kind of intensity.

 

Natsuko: It really is! We went into the studio once for a session when he was in Japan, and it was so good." So I was like, "Oh, I know I can leave this to him now.

 

Addy: He wrote the lyrics too, didn't you?

 

Natsuko: Yes, Taigen wrote all the lyrics. He also gave me all the instructions for the vocal effects, which I then passed on to Mr. Hara. That's how it was.

 

Addy: Wow. Then, did the chorus "Fu~Ah~" come out during the session or something?

 

Natsuko: No, that "Fu~Ah~" is the same as the chorus of "1960" (the fourth track).

 

Addy: ...Oh man! I was wrong.

 

Natsuko: Hahahaha (laughs), Actually, yes. Listen to the song again with that in mind? I don't know but I think "1960" came first.

 

Addy: It goes into "Helluva" very quickly, doesn't it?

 

Natsuko: Yes. Why? Because, after "1960," I said I wanted to do a song with this kind of intro, and I made it. This one.

 

Addy: Oh, I see. So "1960" was written first...

 

Natsuko: Yes, yes. Ogu wrote "1960"." And then it ended with "da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-dan...

 

–They both sang, "Deh, deh, deh, deh...!"

 

Natsuko: Yeah, yeah (laughs). It’s G (chord). We didn’t know what kind of song we wanted to make, but we said, "This is the kind of intro we want for the next song..."

 

Both of them: (laughs)

 

Natsuko: We’ve never done it that way before. That kind of rhythm is something I grew up with in new metal and heavy rock. But I've never done it in masdre. It's like it's bouncing. I knew I wouldn't be able to put a song on it, and at that time, Ogu said, "It would be cool if we put some poetry on it, I think Taigen would fit in”. He came up with the idea.

 

Addy: Ogu-san is doing a great job!

 

Natsuko: Really! And it happened to be after I met Taigen in Kobe, didn't it? I met Taigen at Helluva Lounge(Club in Kobe). That's how we came up with the title "Helluva". Because of that connection, I was able to contact Taigen immediately, and he said, "I'd love to do it. It was decided pretty quickly that he would do it.

 

Addy: Yeah... It's cool, isn't it?

 

Natsuko: It Is so cool. I really like it too. Ogu said, "I felt that a hip-hop rapper was not what we’re looking for”. He wanted someone with the nuance of a rock band vocalist rapping, but with a more neutral voice.

 

Addy: Ah, yes, yes...I see.

 

Natsuko: And Ebina-san is also neutral, right?

 

Addy: He's big, though (laughs).

 

Natsuko: Big (laughs), but like a fairy? Not macho. Masdre, we have no limit, but I think it's an area that should be protected. In Ogu's opinion.

 

Addy: That's clear. You have a clear idea of what you want to do, and you've been able to work with people who are suited for it.

 

Natsuko: We’re lucky. We really are..

 


 

[Getting off track - there are three members of Masdre, but…]

 

Addy: ...I don't know. But is this the first time for you to have guest musicians for a Masdre’s recording?

 

Natsuko: First time. ...No! Ogu and Naruto (Naruto Ishii) were in the 1st album. ...Oh, that's right...that's right.

 

Addy: Well, I guess it's a totally different experiment between that one and this one.

 

Natsuko: Totally different.

 

Addy: I don't think Masdre is a prolific artist... I don't think it's a matter of making more and more songs, in terms of number or pace.

 

Natsuko: No, we don't.

 

Addy:I interpret that, though, because I'm really looking for conviction in my work. I don't mean that the more prolific one is the better, but it's just the nature of it. It's not that (Masdre) is introverted, but I was thinking that you have something that you value and you don't let people step into it delusionally.

 

Natsuko: (laughs)...! Now I thought you had it right.

 

Addy: Oh, really? Did it sting?

 

Natsuko: Well, yes.

 

Addy: I think you have something you want to protect that you’re not rejecting, but "...you can't get in that easily, you know?" Like that. Also it’s like, "you're holding it very dearly in private"? I think that was in your character. So this is a really big change. You welcomed a song from someone else (laughs).

 

Natsuko: It's really true...

 

Addy: Of course, the main reason is the desire to create something like this, but it's also because we have become a band that is comfortable doing that, isn't it?

 

Natsuko: That's right (laughs). Up until now, we've probably been interested in doing something with someone...but we didn't have the capacity to welcome them. But I don't think it's okay for everyone though.

 

Addy: Of course, of course! (laughs)

 

Natsuko: Ebina-san and I have known each other for a long time, but Taigen, we just met him but it's not like that. I have a hunch. I had a gut feeling that Taigen was definitely someone I had a connection with.

 

Addy: Timing, fate.

 

Natsuko: Masdre is a band with three members, but it would not have been possible without Howie and Hara, whom I mentioned earlier. This work would not have been possible without them. And...as I told Mr. Ebina when I asked him to sing, we are not standing on our own, are we? We don't exist on our own. We are all included, so I guess we wanted to embody that.

 

Addy: I see.

 

Natsuko: It’s like,  "We are not just us. We are all of us." (laughs). How can I put it...under the name of Masdre, there are not only the three of us, but also many other things that are attached to us. I think we have gradually become aware of this...I guess we have been able to become aware of this through these albums (1st to 4th), but now we have finally become more confident and can properly rely on others. There are a lot of things we can't do on our own, and by doing something with someone else...it's like adding layers.

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Addy: Layers, yes, yes.

 

Natsuko: You mentioned it the other day. When we first started, I think we were more confined. ...Basically, we are a group of gloomy people (laughs). You know? We're doing all this fancy stuff, but...

 

Addy: Well, I understand. 

 

Natsuko: I know, right? We’re gloomy, aren’t we?~~ (laughs). But as I meet more and more people, I am able to open up more and more, and I am able to take off my armaments more and more. It's not the end of the line, but it's not the end of the line either... I really feel like I've become aware of that. Now, with everyone's support.

 

Addy: When you think about it, each of the 9 songs in this album has a different production background and identity as a song, but when they are all put together, it really is like a documentary about a certain person. Each song plays a role in the psychological portrayal of a certain person. I heard before that Ogu wrote "1960" from he first encounter with Masdre, from the atmosphere and image of the scene at that time.

 

Natsuko:That's right.

 

 

[6. Ashes]

 

Addy: Following the previous album, this one has Ogu's vocals.

 

Natsuko: A hangover song.

 

Addy: (laughs), I thought, "Yes, that's a hangover song..." But it was very refreshing as a song., and this is also a very important point in the album.

 

Natsuko: Except for the final overdub and background vocal recording, the recording of "Ashes" and "Just" was the last part of the recording process, but neither Ogu nor I had finished the lyrics until the day of recording.

 

Addy: Oh, that's right! On the day of recording?

 

Natsuko: Yeah. And we both finished the lyrics on the train to Mr. Hara's studio in Osaka, so there was some synchronization. And when I read the finished lyrics, I found that although the word choice and background were different, the lyrics were about the same thing.

 

Addy: Wow! The rate of synchronization is amazing.

 

Natsuko: Sometimes I wonder if Ogu and I are twins. I had goosebumps when I saw this episode.

 

Addy: Wow.... I think it's amazing, but I don't find it surprising at all. Looking at the two of you, Nacchan and Ogusan.

 

Natsuko: I see!

 

Addy: Yes. It's like twin souls.

 

Natsuko: I see! I thought I was the only one who felt that way!

 

Addy: Really? I think there are quite a lot of people who feel that way about the two of them. And when I read their lyrics again, I realized that although their lyrics are not exactly alike, they may have a lot in common.

 

Natsuko: I understand. I don't think we are alike, but I think our perspectives are very close.

 

Addy: Oh, yes! It's true that we are very close in terms of perspective. The two of you.

 

Natsuko: Yes! We are not alike, are we? We are very much alike in some ways, but... (laughs)

 

Addy: Yes, that's true. I was thinking about that too... (laughs)

 


 

[7. after the rain]

 

Addy: What about "After tha rain"?

 

Natsuko: I recorded this one with a voice recorder a long time ago, and used it. In my mind, this song and "Birds and Rhythm" are a pair. Originally, We wanted to have a break between "Ashes" and "Birds and Rhythm" (during the production process of this work). I suggested a few ideas...from something in the demo stage. We were looking for something, found it, and used it.

 

Addy: Yes, yes. I think it's very effective in the flow of songs.



 

[3. MELT / 9. Just ]
 

Addy: The third song "MELT" and the ninth song ", The lyrics were written by Nacchan and composed by Masdre. How did you guys do this?

 

Natsuko: I wonder how we did "MELT". We made an intro riff for that one, too...I remember that we talked about this song. It's like “Queens of the stone age meets KORN”. The song was all done in the session. We even played it live in a kind of cosmic language without any lyrics at all.

 

Addy: Yeah, I think I've seen that before. Song came first.

 

Natsuko: Definitely song came first. [Just] had song first.

 

Addy: Are most of the songs that were not written by Nacchan written by Natsuko written by Nacchan written by Natsuko first?

 

Natsuko: Yes, that's right. On the previous album, I was more concerned with "making the best use of the songs. I think I got tired of singing well.

 

Addy: Yeah, yeah. I think it's something just right. The feeling of the songs from the last album to this one. You sing well where you should sing well.

 

Natsuko: Yes, yes. I originally wanted to be in a band rather than singing, and as a result, I started singing, so maybe that's part of it. There are songs where Ogu takes the lead, and instrumentals. It's fun.

 

Addy: I really enjoy hearing that from the album and live performance.

 

Natsuko: It’s good. So, all the songs for which I did not write both lyrics and music, the songs are made first.

 

Addy: The lyrics were good, too. As for "Just," I thought it was a My Bloody Valentine song.when I first listened to it. What does it sound like? “Only Shallow"?

 

Natsuko: I'm so happy to hear that (laughs). That was exactly my first image of the song. I brought the idea to them and said, "I want it to be like My Bloody Valentine. But for a while, when we finally started working on it, it started to sound like the Deftones.

 

Addy: (laughs)

 

Natsuko: But then I thought, "...it's not Deftones, it's something different! So we went through quite a lot of trial and error. At first, there were no sequenced synth sounds. When we were almost done, Ogui said, "How about synths? I said, "That sounds great!”I was thinking it would be cool if we could include some kind of beam-like sound, and then Ogu made the synth’s sequencing data and brought it to us. I said, "That's great! Then, I made a (singing) melody from the synth sounds, and then the lyrics were made.

 

Addy: Uh huh

 

Natsuko: I added the intro at the very end. That reversed sound. We had originally talked about making this song as the last tune on the album, so we wanted the feeling of being last. I suggested that. We did a lot of things in that order, and it ended up the way it was. Well, the starting point was My Bloody Valentine anyway (laughs).

 

Addy: It's been exposed.

 

 – Both of them laugh

 

Natsuko: I'm glad, though. It's getting through to the audience. I wanted to do something mid-tempo and heavy stuff like that.

 

Addy: I feel like, with this being the last song on the album, it kind of throws me off in a good way. I think you definitely made a great album this time, but I don't think it's your peak at all. It's an achievement, but it's a passing point. The fact that this song is placed at the end of the album makes it feel like it's a "to be continued" song.

 

Natsuko: That's how I wanted it to be. I wanted it to feel like it was never finished.

 

Addy: Don't worry. It's not finished at all.

 

Both of them: (laughs)

 

Natsuko: That may be quite intentional. The way it ends, too. The lyrics are also in that kind of unfinished image. But I'm glad to hear that the lyrics are conveyed that way.

 

Addy: Well, I am. You know? I don't think I'm representing the fans (laughs), I'm just saying that as an individual, I felt that way.

 

Natsuko: But isn't it great that there is even one person who feels that way?

 

Addy: ...I guess so. Just one person is amazing, but when you add up to tens of thousands of people, it's amazing, isn't it? It really makes you tremble, doesn't it? It gives me goosebumps to think of it not in terms of numbers, but in terms of "one person at a time.

 

Natsuko: I really do. It really is impressive.

Album title and jacket art by Ai Kozaki

Natsuko: Originally, I was going to use "Dramatic" as the album title. And, this is a bit off topic, but I asked Ai to illustrate the album [Ai Kozaki drew this picture after listening to the rough mix, not the finished version], and that picture came back to us.

 

Addy: That was also very unexpected.

 

Natsuko: It was, wasn’t it?

 

Addy: I thought like, "What?

 

Natsuko: Yes, I was surprised when I got the first picture back. Of course, I was impressed by the wonderful drawings, but as I had decided to use "Dramatic" as the title, I was like, "Oh, yeah! But then I thought, "Wait a minute. I thought, "But wait! I decided to listen to the album one more time. And when I listened to it all the way through, that picture felt so right.

 

Addy: Yeah right.

 

Natsuko: Right? And I thought, "Oh my God, this should be an Album cover!" I thought. But I thought that the title "Dramatic" was not the right one for this picture, so I asked the members to let me think about it after I received the picture. I listened to the album several times, and the one that came to mind was "Awakening: Sleeping".

Addy: I see...as expected...! It's interesting to see the evolution of Masdre by looking at the successive jacket paintings by Kozaki san.

Future Outlook

Addy: Now, could you tell us about your vision for the future? Do you have any visions, or rather, any ideas of what you would like to do in the future?

 

Natsuko: We just came back from England, right? That was a big deal for us. The "I'm the only one left behind in UK" incident [Natsuko was the only one who could not leave the country on the scheduled departure date due to a positive PCR test result] was also a big one. .... You know what, I felt anxious and uneasy for the first time in a long time, not only about being left alone in London, but also about ArcTanGent, which is said to be a so-called "math-rock festival," although there are not many alternative rock bands like us there. When you went to the site the day before the festival, you thought, "We don't belong here, don't we?

 

Addy: You thought like, "Are you okay? 

 

Natsuko: Yeah, I was like, "We're not math-rock at all...aren’t we? And we wondered,  "Aren’t we going to be accepted at all...?" then I felt nervous before the show for the first time in a long time

 

Addy: Really?

 

Natsuko: I thought that it wasn’t good. But when we appeared on stage, it wasn't like that at all. The audience was there, and so were the fans. Before that, when we were preparing for the stage, I talked with the people who came early to the front and waited for us. And I thought, "Oh, let's do it for them today. Let's go for it! I can do it!" I told myself something like that. And then more and more people came...! Before we even started. I was like, "Oh, my gooosh!”

 

Addy: Oh, wow!

 

Natsuko: I'm singing in Japanese, and they don't understand what I’m saying at all, but... they just started to resonate with me. I was so moved by it. I don't know how to describe it...it was like a new feeling, a feeling I didn't even know I had. Plus, there were times when I was the only one left behind. I don’t now what to say, but It was like something had opened up that hadn't been open for a long time…

 

Addy: Like a door that had been closed has opened?

 

Natsuko: Yes, yes. I have that feeling. It's vague though.

 

Addy: Does that mean that it's something you weren't even aware of where it was until now? Or is it something that has been sealed away for a long time?

 

Natsuko: That’s what I don't know yet.

 

Addy: I see. That's interesting.

 

Natsuko: But it is certainly new to me now. I'm going to go through this kind of experience, maybe make music again, and then go through this kind of experience again, and make some music again. I would like to repeat this process with the three of us in the future. I think that's what we would like to do. As far as future prospects go. I don't have any big ambitions. Oh, but by the time we release our next album, as I said in the interview with SPICE... "we want to be a band that can play on a huge stage at overseas festivals.

 

Addy: I'm looking forward to it!

 

Natsuko: Ha-ha-ha-ha (laughs)

対談10.jpg

Addy: My passport has been expired, so I'll renew it!

 

Natsuko: (laughs) keep the passport! You know, I just want to do what I want, where I want. I want to make choices that feel good. Things that excite me when I imagine them. One of them is to play in a huge place overseas, and to be a band like that.

 

Addy: Well, you guys will be!

 

Natsuko: Ho-ho-ho...(laughs) Yeah, we want to be. I didn't have such a clear image before, but I think it's pretty clear now. We want to be like that.

 

Addy: I think it's because you can see the connection, you can see the path, and you think, "This is the right way to go”, I guess.
 

Natsuko: Maybe that's true.

 

Addy: If you're going to make a Masdre documentary film or something, it's a little late for that, but if you want to make one, hurry, now! You should start. Really.

 

Natsuko: (laughs) It's still a little while, it's going to go on. As long as my body lasts. Heh heh heh.

 

Addy: I hope you'll keep at it forever and ever.

 

Natsuko: That's true. I want to do it. I want to! It's good to be able to say, "I want to do it!

 

Addy: That's true.

 

Natsuko: I don't think I would have felt this way in the past.

 

Addy: You're really living life to the fullest.

 

Natsuko: (laughs) Even the writer we met (from SPICE) said to me, "Well, you’re dream-filled!”

 

Addy: You have nothing but dreams. But it's not a soft dream, I think.

 

Natsuko: Yes, it's not a pipe dream. If you magine clearly, you can make it come true.

 

Addie: That's what Benzie (ex. Blankey jet city)said! What you can envision will come true.

 

Natsuko: Oh~ (laughs)...yes, because I can visualize it. Now.

​-Fin-

Translated by Kuritez from Arakajime Kimerareta Koibitotatie