ROCKIN' ON JAPAN 2007.05 (Interview)

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Interview translated by Teo, from half-banana and Uchihamel


The interview started with the interviewer, Komatsu Kaori (小松香里) asking YUI what is her date and place of birth.

She was born in 26th of March, 1987 (or Showa '62), in a town named Koga (古賀). Her family moved to Shinguu (新宮町) before she entered primary school.

YUI can't remember what was the very first memory she had in this world, but she remembers that when she grew slightly older, she caught a little wild boar by mistake. Taking a bug catching net, little YUI saw a puppy-ish animal along the river. She went near the animal and 'bashhh' captured it. She realised that it was a little wild boar after she brought it back. YUI thinks that not many kids managed to capture a wild boar, hence it was a very precious experience.

Another naughty incident by little YUI will be running away from home for the first time. Her grandmother stays very near, so little YUI stuffed a lot of sweets in a backpack, and left her house after saying "itte kima-su!", riding on a tricycle. Some old woman spotted her in front of a supermarket, and questioned YUI's mother. Her mom replied:" I saw it, it seems dangerous." Which means that little YUI was riding uphill, and a lot of big trucks coming downhill. It seemed that back then she was riding towards the wrong direction, used the opposite lane instead. YUI herself admitted she was really naughty back then. She just wanna try how it feels like running away from home without knowing that it is actually a sad thing.


The interviewer asked whether YUI went to her grandma's house frequently or not.

She answered yes, her grandma has a dog, sometimes YUI will take it for a walk or something. It's name is Gonta, she named it from a commercial song back then.

Family members.

Her family consist of her mom and YUI only. As for her father, he was not around anymore (NOTE: Doesn't mean that he was *ahem*, just...not around ) when YUI was roughly 3 years old. That's why when she moved to Shinguu there were only 2 of them.

Her father.

She doesn't really remember anything about him because she was only 3, not even his face nor voice. On the other hand she was kinda curious what kind of person he is, or whether he is cool/ handsome. It seems that her father likes to sing, her mom too but her mom is kinda shy singing in front of people. YUI said that she never heard of her father's singing voice but she thinks that she kinda inherited his 'loves to sing' gene.

When she started to sing.

YUI said that she started to sing after she realised that she likes to listen to songs. She prefers listening, hence she will remember the song, and sing it out naturally. Yea, by nature (Teo doesn't know how to explain lol). When she was small, she will imagine the scenes based on the lyrics she heard, just like everybody else. From example the song 'Sotsugyou Shasshin' (Graduation Picture) by Matsutoya Yumi, even she was still a little girl, she was able to picture the scene in a classroom with desks, in a sunset, things like that. Mainly because that she listened to it quite often.

YUI's impression of her mother when she was small.

YUI said that since her father is not around anymore, her mom always busy working and seldom around at home. YUI always eat alone adequately (?), nothing special. Something like spaghetti, YUI (I think) will buy these inexpensive stuff and 'cincai' make her own meal (laughs). She will even eat the cabbage in it's entirety (imagining YUI eating a BIG uncooked cabbage while watching TV...).

Speaking of cabbages, when YUI was small, as she was eating the whole cabbage, till the end some broccoli looking thing 'appeared' (I think she means the pith). "Ah there's broccoli inside the cabbage!" YUI: I mistaken it back then (laughs). I was too surprised, "ah it tastes even better! WOW!" as if I discovered something really big. But now think about it, broccoli and cabbage are 2 different things, I was wrong. Even myself made such weird assumptions.

Because of the busyness, YUI also never have the chance to have a vacation.

When she was asked whether she will envy her friends when they told her about their trips, she thinks that as a kid, there must be some 'jealousy' going on. However, if she tells her parent about it, they might feel sad about it. As a child, somehow she knew that she should not say such things, that's why she never mention about it.

Another 'famous' question, her dream when she was in kindergarten

When YUI became secondary school student, she saw her picture book when she was back in nursery school. Everyone's hand prints, plus her own hand print which printed during her birthday. "I missed the time in nursery school~" and brought back all the memories. In the [My dream] section, other girls wrote "Wanted to be a florist" "I want to open a bakery".

But little YUI wrote "I wanted to be that uncle who sells Takoyaki." The people who bakes and sells takoyaki in a van or something. The secondary school YUI wondered what's wrong with little YUI since she can't be a boy and laughed about it. (this is getting confusing)

Then dear YUI changes the subject. YUI: When I was small, I once told my mom "Give me an elder brother" before too (laughs). It's completely impossible yet I didn't really get it back then. It's should be alright if I put 'I wanted to be takoyaki seller', but why I added 'Uncle" in it instead? (laughs) Maybe it was because I saw some uncle making takoyaki alone all the time, kept on making it, all alone, to make us delicious takoyakis. He seems lonely, maybe I included 'uncle' it's because that I had the urge to help him. I really wanna know why I wrote this too (laughs).

What else YUI asked besides asking her mom to give her an elder brother.

YUI: We were watching TV, and there was Sumo wrestling going on. I was really small back then, when I saw the Sumo wrestler, I remembered that I asked "Will milk come out from those boobs?" (laughs) I have said something extraordinary isn't it.“明明是男人,爲什麽?” ("He is a guy, but why?"), that's what I thought back then. Like any other parents, I think they just gave normal answers. I find it very funny about it now I thought about it, seems surreal. "Nah, I don't think that milk will come out from those boobs." They said something like that (laughs).

おっぱい (oppai) normally used by kids to refer breasts.

Primary School

Asked YUI whether she likes study or not back then.

YUI's drawing

YUI answered that she was not really good in studies, she prefers making things, that's why she likes art classes, where she can make things and draws stuff. She thought of being an artist/ painter back then too simply because that she likes to draw. Sceneries, looking at animals or anything and draw it. When she's free, somehow she will bring around pencil and starts to draw.

In primary school YUI joined knitting club because she likes to make things. But apparently she always forgot to bring certain things. And she joked for being such useless kid. She likes handicrafts too. She learned a lot from her grandmother who's really good at it.


YUI seemed to like sports too. When she was in primary school, she'll play dodge ball, plays kickball during rest hours, it was fun. And she remembers that when the snow causes the class to stop, everyone will play snow battle or something. It was pretty interesting since Fukuoka rarely snows. It was a great class. Apparently kickball in Japanese is foot baseball

YUI's presence in the class.

YUI said that she considers herself the quiet one, because she was not the ones who talked much or made a lot of noise back then.

Whether YUI had a crush on anyone.

She can't really recall any of it, she might have liked someone back then. However, she didn't make any moves or what so ever. Even if it's so called 'first love', that person wasn't really the ONE. Some might said it was their nursery school's sensei, but YUI cannot recall any of them. She thinks that perhaps she didn't really understand what is kakkoii (cool) or whatever at that time (laughs).

Whether YUI feels that she still continues to sing, naturally.

YUI spent most of her time alone at home back then, so somehow she will sing out the songs she heard from CDs or in the radio, and time just went by quickly. Maybe by doing this she was able to distract herself from the loneliness. She can't remember what she sang mostly but since she really liked to memorise the lyrics and sang it back then, she remembers that she memorised a lot of it. When she entered secondary school, YUI remembers that often herself will recall back all the lyrics and wrote it down.

Any stuff she enjoyed doing around that time.

Plays soccer with neighbouring kids when she went back home. YUI said that a lot of them practicing soccer, and they were really good. It was really interesting. She played soccer in a park just in front of her house in Shinguu. A very big park for soccer playing. You can hear the voices of the kids playing around. YUI lived kinda far from her primary school, about 30 minutes of walking distance. Not many girls stayed around her area, a lot of boys though. Because of that, YUI thought that it was a normal thing for her playing soccer with the boys.

Extra info: The paparazzi of a tabloid magazine named FLASH EXCITING interviewed YUI's neighbour back then and the neighbour kinda confirmed her story about her playing soccer with the boys lol. And in Marquee (Volume 55) interview, YUI said that she would like to play soccer if she have the chance to become a boy for a day.[citation needed]

During midsummer, it was really torturing walking back from her primary school. 30 minutes walk was so intense, as if the journey back to home never ends. YUI will either walk back alone or with some of the girls staying nearby. When somehow no matter how far they've walked and still couldn't reach home, they will start to think things such as: "If somehow we can fly, it should be great ain't it? And we will reach home sooner for sure."

Since YUI always mentioned her favourite place is the beach of Shinguu, the interviewer asked whether she went there often to play when she was small.

YUI answered yes. She likes to collect seashells and stuff. And, they will have this 'clean your region' battle thing going on, everybody went to the beaches and forests to clean it up, collecting the rubbish and then YUI went home happily with a bottle of juice. She used to do it quite often. Since it was an annual practice, she will have that 'summer has come' feeling each year.

We all know that dear YUI loves reading, what about the YUI when she was in primary school?

She liked places such as library but she didn't really read that much. That time horror stories were really popular. YUI: I will take a peak at these stories, close the book immediately when I read something really scary (laughs). Even though it didn't really showed on my face, surprisingly I was scared (laughs). With such character, I was kinda a troublesome kid. I won't scream out 'GYAA-!' or anything, but deep down I was really afraid (laughs).

So there isn't really that much 'overflowing feelings' from you?

Nope, I think. I don't get angry or something that often too.

This explains the 'lack of expression' from dear YUI =P

Not even crying out 'Waa-' when feeling sad?

Yea, nope. Ah but when I was in lower grade, I tried real hard to clean up the class and when I was going to take out the rubbish, someone did me a favor and helped me. Not sure why but I was kinda mad about it. Mad as in, I felt that "I've tried so hard to gather it! Just let me finish it myself!!" (laughs) Well, only by that much.

Secondary / middle school

You studied in local secondary school?

YUI: Yes. It was a coeducational school. School uniform were those normal sailor school uniforms, and we will wear light blue-ish uniforms during summer.

Did you join any club activities?

YUI: I joined track-and-field club in first year because I enjoyed running. However, I was not really good at those human relationships kinda stuff, quited after wards. I participated in long distance running and long jump. I really liked to do long jumps, it was very interesting. Then when I entered second year, I thought that if there's anything I would like to do in school, somehow it will be fun. So I joined basketball club. But, since I only started it during second year, it was difficult to become real good at it isn't it.

YUI: However I think it mostly because of the existence of human relationships. I have always been real....suck at fitting in myself, couldn't really get along well. But in second half of first year, I participated in both school club and played badminton at the same time. It was only around 300 yen per month, so I joined. That side was more fun instead. I went there really really often up until I graduated from secondary school. Twice a week, such as Wednesday and Saturday, started around 3 pm. With the thought of wanting to know more and more about badminton, in between practices, I managed to improve myself too day by day. (<- not sure correct or not)

Do you have any people you were in fond to in secondary school?

YUI: Somehow I think I had. Maybe this person? Might have thoughts like that. But I didn't do thing such as letting that person know or made any positive actions. I think I only did things such as for some reason watching him wherever he went. (<- again, not sure, weird)

How were your interest in music turned into around that time?

YUI: I guess I spent a lot of time with it. Plus, for singing, I just sang whenever I wanted to (weird). I started to write down poetic verses since third year, might have something to do with my interest towards music.

At first you just write down things you've heard, then you started to write down your own words isn't it.

(Very difficult to translate this part...)

YUI: I think so. When I was in third year, somehow I started to talk more with my mother, she once said that when she was in primary school, her sensei praised the poems that she wrote. When I heard it I thought:" Ooo...I shall try to write it too then.", and started to write. Well I always liked to recall back lyrics and write it down, that influenced me as well, perhaps because of these influences writing has turned into a smooth process. I felt as if I'm writing diaries, continue writing it everyday. I had no idea what I was writing at all. Of course those poems written in the beginning kinda stinks (laughs) I think, yea. Once started somehow I just couldn't stop, continue writing it till now, without any sense of discomfort. I guess. (<- I kinda translated word by word, hence the weird flow *swt* )

That, in the beginning has nothing to do with music?

YUI: Yea. At first singing was just singing out songs, things like that. However, I will write down things in a notebook, and rewrite it neatly too. Or write down things that came into my mind. Even when I moved from Fukuoka to Tokyo, I brought along all the notebooks in case I wanna have a look at it again. The amount just get more and more. Since I moved to Tokyo it increased by a lot too. The ones I've wrote when I came to Tokyo were included in my songs also. When I see it I can recall back what I felt at that moment. Even though I didn't think further when I was writing that time, I think I was able to readjust (rearrange my feelings) myself from it.

Do you still remember the very first CD you bought?

YUI: I remembered that it was Yaida Hitomi's CD, album...which mixed in between red and orange-ish colours. A uncle I know said that he's gonna buy me one CD, I couldn't really decide which to buy. After listening to a lot of it, picked Yaida Hitomi's CD and told 'I want this!', because the album was in Japanese, maybe easier to understand, and seemed like a good choice. Yea. Since it was the first CD I own, I was really happy about it, listened to it very often too. And memorised all immediately.

Any other things you enjoyed when you were in secondary school?

YUI: It was still badminton that I enjoyed the most. Entered contests, even joined tournaments for a couple of times. It was really fun. It was fulfilling indeed the time during practices, even when I practiced alone hitting along the walls was fun. I enjoyed serious trainings too. Aiming at the suttlecocks vessel and hit, defeating it as a practice. During summer, it felt great after sweating and returning back home riding bicycle in the night. Really refreshing (laughs).

High School

In the second half of secondary school, I'm sure people around will start to think about their futures and paths. How about you?

YUI: For me......I couldn't foresee how will it turn out at all, I think I became really anxious about it. And then came high school entrance examination. It was quite difficult to travel back and forth as well. So, since I heard there are places with so called distance education system and it's cheaper, I have decided on my own to take distance learning. However deep down I still hope that I can attend high school. That's why I only said it at the very last minute, after I have decided on distance learning. Of course parents will let you attend schools for sure, it is not money related or any other matter, because they kinda have this feeling of sending you there. Even though I was the one who suggested that, I kinda had the feeling that they wanted to send me there. Because I knew that, I chose distance education system. But I still wanna go, I thought. Hence, I entered a private girls high school.

You decided to attend school at the very last minute, why is that so?

YUI: When I was in secondary school 3 year, I think it was from a soccer player, in a magazine or book or something, his comment was in it. "We have to cherish encounters when we are still young, and it's important to talk with as many people as possible." was written on it. He is a very famous person, and has this persuasiveness. That really fired me up. Meeting up with different people, it is important after all. I thought. It's like, having that interest towards new encounters or something. I thought it will be a real waste if through distance education system, I lost the chance to involve myself with people. Hence, when I said "I want to attend high school", in me I have decided I will pay the school fees myself, as a condition. If it's distance learning, on the contrary, I think I might earn more if I just work for a little bit. But if I went to normal schools, I understand that just paying the fees will be not enough for sure, and I think it will be difficult. Hence, even before entering high school, I started to look for part time jobs. Then I began to work in a Chinese restaurant nearby my house. I felt that I tried real hard to memorise things, because I entered this busy place immediately, without knowing anything or any practice. After a while I started to go music cram school, on the other hand since I frequent to city more than hometown, I began part timing in the city. Being able to get travel allowance was another reason. That was why I think I worked in the Chinese restaurant around half a year. but I gained really valuable experience from it. Such as how to deliver, mainly on serving customers. In school there was such thing as forbidding over working, and we have to submit a form regarding part timing. But if submitted I will be restricted to just twice a week or something. That was why I kept silent. "I've managed to enter, based on this let me in , please", because I said that, and just entered.

Attending high school at the same time, doing part time almost everyday, physically it was quite tiring isn't it.

YUI: Yea. But, going to school using my hard earned money, I think it's a wonderful thing. Plus it was fulfilling, mentally. Because of that, I'm gonna get perfect attendance prize for sure! Filled with that spirit, I treated schooling seriously and enjoyed it.

In the mean time, regarding music, and your future things like that, what, and how you thought of it?

YUI: I didn't even have enough time to sleep. Roughly 1 or 2 hours per day. It was quite a blurry period of time (laughs). I felt because of that, the time for me to think of these things gone slowly. I remembered that when I was in a packed train 5 or 6 in the morning, I wished to make a bed here and sleep on it (laughs).

1 or 2 hours of sleeping time consider really impressive.

YUI: It was quite...a great feeling, I suppose (laughs). But my main goal was: Going to school, wish to treasure every encounter I have, and, looking at the adult world and gained new experiences through part timing, motivated me a lot as well. However among all these, mostly were a bunch of difficult stuff. After considered about what I thought and my worries seriously, I was able to look at things in a new perspective. And realising that I must work harder. I got a lot of criticisms when part timing, it was inevitable but, through that, I realised that we cannot wait for assistance from others forever, or having the thought of waiting people to spoon feed you everything. We have to take responsible on every action we made. That's what I felt the most. I really learned a lot from that place, one thing by another. There were a lot of great people around me, I think I have learned a lot on how to be a better person as well.

Quitting School

YUI: Of course there were times that I spilled tea on customers too. Then a lady whom I respected that time came and said:" Go ahead and do something else instead ya." while lowering down teapot, apologised to the customer for me. I always think that they are wonderful grown ups, when seeing such figure from behind. I was motivated by such consideration, kindness, too. I thought of wanting to improve myself even more, hence I tried my best in just about everything, with utmost effort as much as possible. To me, that time turned out to be quite a beneficial period.

But- having only ~2 hours of sleep, means almost no free time, right?

YUI: That's true, yea.

The time during classes or recess will be...

YUI: I ended up sleeping most of the time.......Instead of communicating, I felt asleep. It was such a waste right? Too many things just need to be done. And...because of not having much time, I even stopped singing songs as well. Besides, I realised it by chance. "Ah, I don't even sing these days..." I started to have such thoughts. I'm sure from there, "Ah, I really wanna sing." Such simple emotion was born, and gradually these feelings were accumulated to a certain extent. Passing through paddy road, on my way home by bicycle after finished part time, I would lean on the telegraph pole, taking off one side of earphone, listened to the music, and sang along. After doing so every time, it relaxes my mind. While thinking along that I really like music after all. Yea things like that somehow calms me down. Because of that, when I happened to think of my future, things like perhaps there isn't any music path came to my mind. When I thought of that, somehow I would feel as if a gaped hole opening in my heart.

Continue living that way might be the reason you decided to quit high school. But how was it like the whole process?

YUI: Well, something like that, because of living in that way laid quite a burden physically, or around end of high school first year, one day my cold went bad and admitted to hospital. It was pneumonia by the way. All of a sudden my time was less occupied after entering hospital, because of that I had more time to think. It was about two months. On that time, the feeling of "ah, I want to do music after all" grew even bigger.

On the way back from high school, every day as usual I would stop by musical instrument store, looking at some band recruiting members poster thing, always thinking of joining. I like to look at guitars too. I have contacted those who recruiting members before as well. Actual meeting with them and asking them about it was around twice. However, maybe I was too young in terms of age, plus I thought that it would be difficult for me, I never received any follow up.

That feeling of wanting to make music raised when I was in the hospital, was accumulated as well, and in some way it became stronger. Hence, I was thinking of maybe I should quit school or something. Plus, I was having problem, financially. No matter how hard I tried to pay the school fees, it was still not enough, and kept pilling up more and more. That worried me too. If I were to put my utmost effort into something at any rate, only the feeling of wanting to make music can make me stronger. If that is the case, since it is impossible for me to swing both sides for sure, thus when it comes to the time when I have to decide which one I really wanted to do the most, of course I felt more towards the feeling of wanting to pursue music.

This is gonna be the first time I talk about...I once participated in one, small audition thing. I think I saw it in commercials or something and I had no idea how big the scale was. That thing was small, and I happened to come across it. I joined it before I was admitted to hospital. I was informed that I entered final stage when I was still in the hospital. Since I was already getting better, I requested for permission to go out, and went to that final audition. I really thought a lot about whether I should pursue music or not around that time, hence if I failed that audition, I will give up once and for all. It wasn't because that without the talent, no matter how you tried it will still remain meaningless, since this is a serious matter...that was how I thought. Even though I was still recovering, I sang in the audition and guess what, I won the competition. Because of that, I had this proof to persuade my parents, maybe I should try to work on this, such feeling came to me as well. And that started to motivate me. If it wasn't for that audition, maybe I would just quit from there. After discharged from hospital, I thought of trying my best in the path towards music. Definitely it wasn't because that I was told that I have the talent but, they could sense that I had this strong urge to pursue music, hence it turned out that I wanted to pursue the music path after all.

Around that time you still haven't start writing original songs, right?

YUI: Yea I didn't write any original songs. I didn't even have a guitar. That time I sang Japanese songs.

Music Learning

And that boosted your confidence, don't you think? Something like there's no such thing as zero possibility after all.

YUI: That's true. It made me to be able to think that, it's not zero. Since that was around end of high school first year, a great timing I supposed. Hence, I can persuade my teacher easier on quitting right here. Of course my teachers gave me a lot of advices too, they were really worried. "I don't know much of this since I took the normal path, but I never heard of people taking such path and debut or something." They used to say this to me.

Did your mother say anything?

YUI: She thought that since I have decided so, that shows how mentally prepared I am, and somehow she could feel my strong enthusiasm. She didn't really say anything harsh, instead of disapprove, "If you really wanted to do this, just move forward with the path you have chosen." she said something like that. Even if she didn't say anything, I could feel it.

Even if you have prepared yourself on pursuing music path, I think there must be a point when you started to think: What specific move shall I do next. How was it like?

YUI: It is true that I have those days worrying over all these things. I had absolutely no idea on where should I move forward, it was as if I could see nothing but darkness ahead of me. And then, I had the chance to watch a street (live) performance. That encounter was bianco nero's (ビアンコネロ) live performance. Up till then I seldom went to the city area, and I never even watched any street performances before.

There is a girl friend of mine, who always goes to see bianco nero's live. When I asked her to tell me if there's anything going on, she told me that there is a live on that day. Hence, for the first time in my life, I took a bus from Hakata Station, kept on asking where is the actual place I should alight while getting off from the bus. That girl guided me and said, "This way, this way." At there, I saw musicians standing on the street to perform for the first time. I listened to the voice and guitar live in an extremely close range, I was really moved.

I talked about this incident quite often, after the live finished, I approached bianco nero. Due to the fact that I was moved by their performance, of course, my curiosity, and thinking that "It's now or never!" Since I couldn't really see any other paths, I guess at that moment, I would like to ask about it as much as I could right on the spot. Hence, as usual, I started with "Konbanwa" and tried to talk to them, I can still remember that I asked them something like, "I really wanted to pursue music, what should I do?" Up to that time, I kinda knew that there are these vocational schools available, I thought I couldn't attend because I didn't really go to high school and all. Then, "It's not vocational school, there is a music cram school if that's what you meant," they told me. After that I had a little more extra time, but I also started to show up in bianco nero's lives, I got the chance to know people from music cram school. And then this person noticed me and said something like, "Well then, bring that girl here." That was the starting point.

Finally, I could see which direction I should be heading towards to, I was able to see what needs to be done. However, I never thought that I would receive this much help from them. That encounter was really important. I think that opened up the possibility for me to step into the music path, yea. Because of that, I started to attend that music school, and since I went to the city area, I changed my part time job too. If I recall correctly, at first I worked in a Japanese restaurant which serves lunch meals. I thought, if it's on lunch hours, time wise it shouldn't be a problem. By putting a microphone looking thing on my ear like this, there's this thing which will make 'beep' sound right? That was really amusing. If pressed excessively it will be-be-beep non stop *laughs* I began my music school life, while receiving transportation allowance from that restaurant.

How often did you go each week?

YUI: It was like, I went there everyday after finished part time job. I didn't have my own guitar, so I borrowed my friend's guitar and played with it, things like that. From there I sort of trying to do different covers and so on. I got all excited by just strumming the open strings. "This is amazing! What a beautiful sound!" I can remember that I was really touched by it. And when I saw people around me seemed to enjoy their guitars, the sight of them playing guitar happily, it really got to me. Instead of teaching, telling someone that "I can finally play the F chord, how does it sound?" while strumming the chord, and getting replies such as "It's awful," we had more of these mindless chatters. And in the midst of all that, I could feel myself wanting to learn more about music, becoming better at playing the guitar, and I was really happy. As such, one day, when someone from the music school said that he was giving me a guitar, I was elated. Having my own guitar made me feel very happy. That person also said to me “Should you lose interest in music someday and neglect it, I will be asking for that back”. And so I brought that guitar home. When I was going to practice at home, the sound of the guitar was loud, so I figured that I would not be able to practice at home. Instead, I went to places such as the paths in the rice paddy field or the seaside to practice the guitar. Doesn’t the body of the guitar feel a little chilly, or cooling? Or it could also be due to the fact that I played it during winter, I’m not sure. But I think I definitely became accustomed to this coolness over time. This allowed me to calm down. I felt secure too. Gradually, I became better at playing the guitar, and probably as there were many people around me who were composing their own songs, I naturally thought of trying it out too. As such, I started by attempting to create a melody in accordance with the chords. Before then, I had no idea that this was the way in which tunes were composed, so when I learnt of it, it had quite an impact on me. I was extremely thankful for being able to gain such knowledge. I would first strum a chord, and then somehow affix a tune that gave me a good feeling to it. Then as I went along, it gradually became a melody that was reflective of my own style. From there, I worked on the finer details of the song.

The first song that you ever composed was “Why me” am I right?

YUI: Yes.

What was the process of composing that song like?

YUI: As it was my first time trying to match the lyrics to the melody, it was pretty much trial and error. It was rather difficult indeed. I think I approached some people for advice, but I tried to match the lyrics to the melody in my own way. At first, the lyrics of ‘Why me” was entirely in English. Halfway, I changed the lyrics to Japanese and sang it. Upon completion, that special feeling of having a song which belonged to me just felt very unbelievable, and I was simply overjoyed. From then on, whether I was at home, or in a vacant room at the music school, I worked a lot on compositions. I was in contact with music every day, yup. And so, I composed 2 to 3 songs based on my feelings. Rather than saying that I got the hang of things and knew which direction to go in, it seemed more like I composed melodies based on the chord progressions I liked and so on, and in this way, more songs were created.

Even now, you said that you are not familiar with things such as fashion, or other more girly stuff, but are there no other things which have caught your attention?

YUI: I don’t think there was any. I do read books now and then, but besides that I don’t think there was anything else. Music was really enjoyable and so, in a good way, I was totally engrossed with it. I was happy that it (my music knowledge) was slowly taking shape.

Around when did you begin your street lives?

YUI: If I’m not wrong, it was after I composed “Why me”. It was to train my courage (to perform live in front of others). Other artistes such as Bianco often did street lives, and had their own following of fans. And so I was allowed to perform the opening act during their lives. It was truly good training for gaining courage. As it was my first time performing at a street live, I did not have the slightest idea about how it would be like, my mind just went blank and I could not even play my chords properly. However, Bianco was just next to me playing their guitars, and also sang the chorus along with me, so somehow I managed to get through my first ever performance like that.

Approximately how many people were present at that live?

YUI: I think there were more than 20 people. They were all spread out in front. That’s why I was really nervous. But as they are all Bianco Nero’s fans, the atmosphere felt warm, so I was less worried about making mistakes. After that, when Bianco Nero performed at summer festivals or at temples, I would go along with them, and then perform a song for the opening act. And after singing, the uncles who came to the summer festival would approach me for an autograph. At that point of time, I recall simply writing my full name in kanji on their backs (lol). I was thinking if it would be okay since it meant ruining their t-shirts (lol). Those were good memories, yes. When I first started out doing solo street lives, I chose the spot where I first watched Bianco Nero’s live. That time the 4 of them were sitting cross-legged on the ground and playing their guitars, and now it was my turn to do the same at that spot. Everything began from there. Bianco Nero appeared dazzling when I first saw them, and as I kept wondering to myself what they were seeing and what sort of emotions did they have while singing, when I performed solo street lives it really held a special meaning for me.

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I was told “Should you lose interest in music someday and neglect it, I will be asking for that back” when I received my guitar.

… At the beginning, back in the past when people randomly stopped or just walked by, I was nervous, and didn’t know what was what. However, halfway through I began to calm down and sing more smoothly. Should the performer of the street live be nervous, people who would stop to listen will end up not stopping, thus with the thought of creating a relaxing and pleasant atmosphere in mind, I managed to calm myself down. Then, it was like one person would stop to listen a while, and then maybe another person would stop too. That was how it was like. There were people listening every now and then, and at times people who also performed street lives would chat a little with me when they pass by on their way home, like “Oh you’re doing a live today?”

Did you feel that you were taking a step closer to your dream of doing music if you continued performing lives like that?

YUI: At that time I was simply thinking of the present, I just thought of improving my guitar playing skills.

So this means that you had no serious thoughts on wanting to debut?

YUI: That’s right. I was not thinking about that yet. When I was just beginning music, I went to an audition that the people at the music school recommended me, and talks about debut began. I was simply doing things which I liked hence when it developed into talks of debut I was very surprised.

That audition was Sony’s SD Audition right?

YUI: Yes, that’s right.

It is an audition where many musicians make their debut, did you not think of anything related to that?

YUI: Not at all at first. Up till then I was not aiming to debut, but it was more like there happened to be an audition, and I went as part of the music school. At the audition I sang cheerfully as I usually did. As the talks went on should I say, rather only towards the end did the actual feeling and realization of debuting dawn upon me. I began to think about more things. During that time, I took an airplane for the first time and came to Tokyo for the first time too. The people at the music school were worried about me so they accompanied me. My thoughts were like ‘there are many people here after all’, ‘the buildings are really tall’ as I walked around looking upwards. And if you carried a lot of luggage with you, scouts would approach you. Though since I had this sort of image in my mind, I was not too surprised in a way like “So this is what Tokyo is like!” But as expected, going to an entirely unfamiliar place and meeting people you don’t know was a little unnerving. I went to this hall where there were a lot of people from the record company, and a final assessment was held. I got permission to perform in my usual style and sat cross-legged while playing the guitar. Although I was instructed to perform 2 songs, I sang a bit of a third song. I did the songs the way I did during my street lives. That is why instead of expecting some kind of response from the audience, I treated them as if they were casual listeners who stopped by to listen to my performance. Since I was really nervous, I recalled how I did my street lives, and decided to perform in the same way. Memories of how amazing Bianco looked when I first saw them surfaced, and I wanted to reproduce that same feeling in my performance. Instead of 2 songs, I did 2½ songs. The song “I know” was a song which I composed a little while back, and since it was a song full of hope, I wanted for them to listen to it, hence I sang just a teeny bit of it. But as I was kind of afraid that they might be annoyed at me for singing more than 2 songs, I quickly left the place after that before I got told off or something (lol). I left without making eye contact with anyone.

When and how did talks of debut take on a more concrete form?

YUI: There wasn’t exactly a detailed notification that I was going to debut. Rather, after discussions with the record company, I began to do a lot of compositions. So it was like I sort of saw that coming.

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… For quite a period of time I was in Fukuoka working on song writing, and it was then I began to think that I might be debuting. When I was told to go to Tokyo, since there were many things which I was not familiar with, my feelings was a mixture of uneasiness as well as anticipation. Therefore, I spent quite some time considering about things.

Moving to Tokyo

As a result, you had to go to Tokyo several times a month in order to prepare for your debut am I right?

YUI: Yes. A lot of preparation was in progress. I took the plane to Tokyo, and then switched to the monorail. When I viewed Tokyo from the monorail, it gave me a sense of disbelief. The scenery of Tokyo as seen from the monorail left quite an impression on me. And so after that I started song writing again. …… But I think I was doing so without any distractions. Instead of saying that I was overwhelmed with emotions, I was really able to concentrate working on compositions.

You brought along the tortoise and goldfish that you were keeping when you moved to Tokyo?

YUI: That’s right. About a year or two before I moved to Tokyo – or perhaps longer than that? I bought them myself. They have lived really long haven’t they? Like my tortoise for example, it has grown so unbelievably big (lol). Even now I still wonder how much bigger it can get. I had to come to Tokyo several times a month for work and when I got the confirmed news that I would be moving to Tokyo the thing that I naturally thought of was how to bring my tortoise and goldfish along as well (lol). It seems that there was some discussion about that issue. Though I only heard about that later. My pet tortoise and goldfish which I so naturally and wilfully brought along to Tokyo are so pitiful (lol). In any case, during the later period in Fukuoka, in order to concentrate on music, I was not staying at my house, but living alone. I focused on song writing in that place. As it was a place which belonged to us, I guess that is why I naturally thought of bringing them along (to Tokyo).

How was it coming to Tokyo and interacting with the people in your current label company and all sorts of people?

YUI: I think I was definitely nervous at first, and so I ended up keeping quiet most of the time, or either I could not really communicate well with them. But when my debut song “feel my soul” was confirmed as the theme song for drama airing during the 9pm slot on Mondays, days where I had to work with the drama producer began. Of course, the decision for the Monday 9pm slot was made before my debut, so that period was really crazy, but in a good way. Those days I had to work with the drama producer, and create several A melodies within a day. For the last time, I met up with the producer in a spacious conference room, bringing with me my guitar as well, and spoke with him for 4 hours. Based on my understanding of that discussion, the final version of the song was created. It was the first time I wrote a song in that way, so from the beginning it was really rough, and I was totally caught up with it. Because there were a lot of things which I could not understand clearly. All the struggles, exploration and trial and error were attempts at trying to see which one would actually be suitable. Coupled with the fact that I had to suddenly debut based on such a large scale project. Although for a brief period after my debut I continued performing street lives, there were a lot of things going on, and I think it took me some time to completely rationalize and comprehend everything.

After all, everything happened within such a short span of time isn’t it.

YUI: Yeah in the blink of an eye. I guess I felt a little fearful at that time too. But I think that fear was in a good sense. After all, since I was in a position where I totally couldn’t grasp an understanding of the current situation, there must have been a certain amount of insecurity and uncertainty about where it would all lead to.

The theme song “feel my soul” for the Monday 9pm slot is a song which illustrates YUI-san’s emotions when you moved to Tokyo, and it is about searching for a ray of light in the darkness. To start off your major debut song with the phrase “I’m tired of crying”, what sort of feelings did that contain?

YUI: It was like a lot of pent up emotions from experiencing so many different things. I think that’s precisely what it was about. I think there are many factors involved, but a part of it would probably have to do with the seemingly impossibility of doing music in my future ahead back then when I was a first year high school student, and that was really saddening. It felt like I had nothing in my life.

What was the most important reason which made you decide on coming to Tokyo and make your major debut?

YUI: ……… Firstly, I wanted to be a filial child to my mother. I’m sure that feeling was in me. For instance, to talk about something more practical, when I entered high school there was surprisingly quite a sum of money set saved for that. There were such things. There was somewhat a feeling that I wanted to be filial. As I was always seeing her working hard (to support the family). And also, there was a part of me which genuinely loved music. Bianco Nero and everyone else also gave me much support so I decided to do my best.

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Even if I get lost, music teaches me a lot, and saves me. I think that was what kept me going, guiding me.

YUI: … Plus, Bianco Nero went to Tokyo about a year before me so I thought “Bianco Nero is in Tokyo too, so let’s do my best!” and that kind of made me more reassured. To have someone you are close to around definitely makes you more reassured. At first, I was feeling a mixture of anticipation and uncertainty but after moving to Tokyo, it became a sort of mental preparedness. Or determination. As such, I was ready to advance forward, and that was how it worked out.

In YUI-san’s songs, even when there is a lot of darkness, loneliness or sadness, one will always strive towards that ray of hope. Which part of you do you think made you write such songs?

YUI: To not allow oneself to get defeated by that situation. When it seems that you are about to be defeated by the situation of things, if you do not have strong will, you will be defeated. To put it generally, hope. In order not for whatever circumstances to overcome you, you need to have strong will. Without it, you will definitely be unable to overcome various things. After debuting, many people are now listening to my songs, but hitting sales at a certain number is not my final goal. Even if there is a set target, upon achieving that, it becomes a new starting point. That was what I kept in mind as I went along. But there were definitely many times where I was saved by music. “Music is something which I cannot live without” is something which I said before debut but it still holds true now. Even if I get lost, music teaches me a lot, and saves me. I think that was what kept me going, guiding me.

Tomorrow you are finally turning 20. How would you describe your 19 years of life?

YUI: ……… As usual, music plays an extremely vital part in YUI-san’s (jokingly referring to herself) life, yup (lol). It has influenced me a lot.

That seems very true indeed.

YUI: I think so. Seeing that I was so obsessed with music. Though without doubt there was much hardship and trying times. Yet, precisely because it is something that I love which enabled me to overcome all obstacles and be where I am today. Up till now I have been carving a path by myself, so from now onwards I hope to continue doing so as well, while receiving support from the many people around me or new acquaintances, and moving forward positively with a strong will.

The album「CAN’T BUY MY LOVE」is an album containing numbers with musical diversity, as well as a cheerful track which expresses gratitude towards one’s teenage years even though it consists of hardship. I think this album is reflective of how YUI-san will be in the many years to come, believing in music as well as things dear to you as you progress in life.

YUI: Yup. Right now, I feel very blessed to be able to do music. I hope to be able to continue doing music for a long time, and will give it my all in order to achieve that. I hope to work hard and show a truthful side of myself to everyone. In addition, I want to be able to excite people, put a smile on their faces and also make people say “Oh this is interesting”. I want to take on new challenges and enjoy my 20s.

Your determination to do so won’t be swayed

YUI: If it does, I will speak about it. And get encouragement, yup. But I think by going to watch more live performances, and recalling about how touched I was when I first watched a live, I will gain new inspiration. And also not wanting to change, in a good sense. (not being obstinate, but sticking to one’s own beliefs) I don’t want, for example, going to live houses to become part of my job. I have always loved music, so I hope to keep that touching memory of watching a live for the first time in mind as I go along. I also wish to learn many things from many people.

I see. Thank you very much for today.

YUI: Thank you very much!

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