S Cawaii! / ShufunoTomo Sha

Scans shared by ayufan.com.


Private ♡ Ayu

This spring, she is welcoming the 15th Anniversary since her debut. “Rather than just celebrating, I want to spend this year returning favours to the fans and thanking them”. With such feelings in her heart, ayu starts off this commemorative new year. In this issue, she answers everyone’s “I want to know!” with feelings of “Thank you”, with a series of Q&A sent in by readers determined to find out more about the “ayu now”, as well as a personal song-by-song review of the much-anticipated latest original full album.

Quote: I can welcome my 15th year because of all the support from my fans. “Thank you” from my heart


Ayu’s Q&A
Only for S Cawaii!!

Q1: Any things you have been doing to help maintain your style?
A: Exercising, pressure training, yoga, muscle training and more.

Q2: Do you run to maintain your figure?
A: I don’t run outdoors, but I do 2-hour sessions on the running machine at home.

Q3: Which part of your body do you like?
A: My tummy.

Q4: Do you usually eat breakfast?
A: I don’t~

Q5: Do you cook?
A: I do, surprisingly ♪ I’m quite good at it, actually (laugh).

Q6: Do you order delivery?
A: Definitely not

Q7: Do you like meat or fish?
A: Fish, I guess.

Q8: Any food you’ve been obsessed with lately?
A: Oden.
(Misa’s note: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oden)

Q9: Any must-haves in your oden?
A: I know I answered fish just now, but beef sinew is a must-have in my oden (lol).

Q10: What is your favourite ice-cream flavour?
A: Chocolate mint ❤

Q11: What would you want to have for your last meal on earth?
A: Curry and ramen just popped into my head immediately (laugh).

Q12: What kind of alcohol do you like?
A: Wine.

Q13: Which 3 things occupy the biggest space in your house?
A: Dogs, clothes, shoes.

Q14: What do you do when you have insomnia?
A: I always try to keep awake.

Q15: What is the first thing you do every morning?
A: Set my alarm to ring 5 minutes later, then go back to sleep.

Q16: Are you a morning person?
A: Extremely not, especially at the moment of waking (laugh).

Q17: What do you look like when you sleep?
A: I don’t wear pajamas. I’m the type who doesn’t like wearing anything to sleep (laugh).

Q18: Any favourite movies recently?
A: “midnight in paris” was good.

Q19: Where did you watch that?
A: At the cinema!

Q20: Have you visited convenience stores lately?
A: Yes. I bought Haagen Dazs.

Q21: Do you host all-girls’ parties?
A: Do I look like I do??

Q22: What are must-have items in your bag recently?
A: I don’t carry bags or purses around~ So I just have my phone, lip cream, and credit card. Did you think I’d answer “make-up pouch”?? (laugh)

Q23: Out of all the countries you’ve visited, which is your favourite?
A: I like Europe.

Q24: Where would you like to live?
A: If I could, probably L.A.

Q25: I wish to speak English as well as ayu, how should I study?
A: It’s best to make friends with native speakers.

Q26: When did you get your ears pierced?
A: At a wall in Daiei supermart in my hometown, when I was in elementary school. I tried to pierce it with a safety pin, but I wasn’t strong enough, so I used the wall to help push it through (laugh).

Q27: What was your nickname when you were a child?
A: Aa-chan.

Q28: How were you as a kid?
A: Fashionable yet introverted?

Q29: Describe your current personality in one word.
A: Optimistic.

Q30: What is ayu like normally?
A: Different from how everyone imagines me to be.

Q31: What are you thinking of now?
A: Can I speak honestly? I was thinking of what to have for dinner tonight (lol).

Q32: Which is your favourite season?
A: Summer. But I like winter too~

Q33: Do you have any special talents?
A: I can remember things almost immediately. I have quite a good memory.

Q34: Anything you are bad at?
A: I can’t remember people’s names. That’s the only thing I’m bad at.

Q35: What makes you most excited?
A: When I eat something delicious.

Q36: Which would you never give up on: eating, sleeping or having fun?
A: Eating & having fun.

Q37: Any song which you have been humming lots recently?
A: I don’t hum it out loud, but the LINE Bubble and LINE POP song keeps running through my head.

Q38: What’s that?
A: It’s a tune from a game. I’m No.4 among all my friends now ♪

Q39: Are you obsessed with that lately?
A: Correct!!!

Q40: What do you do lately that helps heal your soul?
A: Playing games (laugh).

Q41: Any moments of happiness recently?
A: When I get a high score (lol).

Q42: Which place calms you down the most?
A: Home.

Q43: What is your life motto?
A: I don’t subscribe to any, so pass!

Q44: What do you want most now?
A: These days, usually time.

Q45: Have you felt jinxed before?
A: There were times when everything went perfectly during rehearsals, but the main show was a total failure. So I always hope that rehearsals never go too well~

Q46: What is your treasure?
A: My fans.

Q47: Anything happened recently that made you think “I’m awesome~”?
A: The moment when I successfully cooked a roast beef.

Q48: What is one thing which you must do everyday?
A: Pressure training.

Q49: Anything that’s a trend amongst ayu and friends now?

Q50: What is one thing which you cannot stand in this world?
A: Bugs!

Q51: If you were a guy, would you want to marry ayu?
A: I will. Please note that I answered that immediately (laugh).

Q52: If you could be someone else for a day, who would you be?
A: One of my dogs.

Q53: What would you do if you had a week’s break?
A: I want to go someplace warm~!

Q54: If you could return to the past just once, when would you return to?
A: I don’t wish to return.

Q55: Any make-up item that you can’t do without?
A: Lip balm.

Q56: Any recommendations for beautiful skin?
A: My skin condition is great after I started pressure training. My complexion improved as well.

Q57: What’s the next hairstyle you’d like to try?
A: I’ve been changing it slightly all this time, but I’d like to return to long blonde hair.

Q58: What’s your personal fashion style like recently?
A: I’ve been going for rehearsals daily, so I’m dressed in sweats all the time.

Q59: What would you like your 15th Anniversary year to be like?
A: A year of returning favours.

Q60: If you could have a catchphrase for 15th Anniversary ayu?
A: It’s embarrassing, can I not come up with one? (laugh)

Q61: Anything you’d like to challenge in your 15th year?
A: I wish to continue facing challenges, without holding back.

Q62: What memories do you have of spring break?
A: Eh? Spring break? I’m bad at talking about my school days…

Q63: What’s a good place to go on a date during spring?
A: I don’t know, you tell me!

Q64: Any habit of men that makes your heart throb?
A: When he is working hard… Is that a good answer? (laugh)

Q65: What makes you fall in love?
A: I can’t explain, but I feel that because it’s love, it can’t be helped.

Q66: What is ayu-chan like when she’s in love?
A: I think I become like an open book (laugh).

Q67: Anything that your lover says that makes you happy?
A: I’m not telling~ Pass!

Q68: What do you do when you’re feeling depressed?
A: Feel totally depressed and fall to the very bottom, then bounce back up quickly.

Q69: Recommend an ayu song that can motivate the listener about love.
A: But I have so many sad songs~ (lol).

Q70: What do you do to make yourself seem attractive?
A: Just be yourself.


ayu explains every song on “LOVE again”
Chapter 4 of the 5-month consecutive release project which started last year, original full album “LOVE again” is complete! An album appropriately opening the curtains on her commemorative 15th Anniversary, we got ayu herself to introduce all the songs in this special issue!

Firstly, “Wake me up”, which received loud cheers when it was performed at Countdown Live as the opening. It’s a really cool song.
“I love every track in the album, but I really love this song ♪ I’ve kept this song for quite a while actually, always thinking that I’d like to use it someday, and when we were producing mini-album “again”, I just felt “Now’s the time!”, and this song was awakened. The lyrics didn’t come from my personal self. Instead, this is an unusually easy to understand, standard “Hamasaki Ayumi” song.”

“Hamasaki Ayumi” has always been likened to a sandcastle, even in the past. However, you have never lost to any storm. How about the 2nd song, “Song 4 u”?
When this was released in the mini-album, many people expressed their love for it, and many felt that it sounded like an old ayu song. However, every one of my songs is so much like me, so I don’t understand when people say that a song resembles me at any pont in time, in any way (laugh).”

You have quite a number of sad songs. This album has “LOVE”, a word associated with happiness, in the title, so isn’t this quite a depressing thing? Especially for “Missing”.
“It was love at first listen for me with this melody, and I just felt that “Missing” is a “very beautiful song”. And because of this, I felt some stress at writing the lyrics, and I took care to search for a compromise that suits both myself and the song. So that was my task.”

I see. How about “SAKURA”? I felt that this was a song that could only be created by ayu, after this period of 15 years.
“Yes. I wouldn’t have been able to create this song in my 20’s. This song is another one which had been lying around, already arranged and ready to go, but I just felt that it wasn’t the time, so I’ve held it close to me, waiting. Many songs in this album share this same story as well.”

It’s a title that reminds us of spring, but the song is not about stuff like “I want to do ~ in this season of sakura” (laugh).
“Ahaha. Those who expected that must have gotten a shock when they heard the song. If I may say so, listen to it alone on a quiet night, and you may hear my message… I guess.”

How about “Melody”, which just received a new PV?
“For me, “Melody”‘s PV left a deep impression. It wasn’t the first time that I did a one-shot PV, but it’s the first time that we’ve mobilized so many people, and employed set changes… I was amazed when the director said “OK” that I just squatted there, unable to move. And when I finally came to myself, I found tears flowing down my cheeks. The making-of clip has that too, so please check it out.”

The DVD this time contains 15 tracks of PVs and makings-of, a super volume. So, skipping the instrumental, we have “Bye-bye darling”. This one sounds like a deep song too, judging by the title (laugh).
“Ahaha. You are free to interpret it your own way, but I’m sorry to say that this song is not about love! (laugh) The recording for this song was done really quickly. The chorus parts were recorded super quickly too, so much so that the staff and I were all amazed. I felt a familiarity, like I’ve always been singing this song… I sometimes get this feeling, it happened with “MOON” too.”

Are the two songs similar?
“Many of my songs were composed by Hoshino Yasuhiko-san. Beginning with “A song for ~”, Hoshino-san has been providing me with songs for a long time. I find it easy to pen lyrics for his songs, and easy to sing them too. By the way, Hoshino-san is always there during recordings to give me vocal direction and instruction.”

Which song did you have the hardest time with on this album?
“”snowy kiss”. Wow, the recording itself almost destroyed my mind (laugh). Komuro Tetsuya-san’s songs are really tough~. I really love them, but it takes a long time before I can make them my own. There’s just so many notes involved, so it’s sometimes hard to fit words in. Sometimes, I try switching the key so that it’s easier to sing, but then the trademark beauty of Komuro-san’s tracks will be lost. A song shines most brightly when it takes all my effort to sing it. Many songs are like that. However, these songs are worth doing because they’re challenging. The next song “Sweet scar” is a old track by DAI-chan. The recording was, in contrast, the smoothest process. When I was recording this song, I remember Hoshino-san saying “Such a regret~, it’s such a good song~” (laugh). I received lots of messages from fans that they really love this song.”

Many lyrics from this album feel like letters written to someone. Is this the case for “Sweet scar” too?
“Yes. I wrote this song with that intention from the very beginning.”

What is the main difference between these “letter songs” from this album and your old tracks?
“That the songs are no longer directed at myself, I guess. It’s like there’s a clear recipient for these songs now… In the past, many of the songs ended up being messages written to myself, about issues like conflict and determination. However, I have set myself aside this time… That’s how it is.”

Your 15th Anniversary is “a year of returning favours”, so is that why your lyrics are directed at others aside from yourself?
“It’s really coincidence that the two ended up happening at the same time. When the album was nearing completion, I felt satisfied, thinking “I see, so that’s how things have fallen into place”.”

With the crazy schedule of the 5-month consecutive release project, there’s not much time to spend reflecting on the 15th Anniversary too (laugh). Shall we leave that to the end, and talk about “petal” first?
“It’s a mysterious song, like “marionette”. The song and lyrics are different from ayu’s usual style, so much so that the production staff were amazed. However, the lyrics are not strange for the sake of being strange. When I heard the song, things just fell into place, and I managed to pen the lyrics almost immediately.”

How will you perform such a song on stage? I’m really interested to find out…
“Look forward to that ♪! (laugh)”

Alright. So, please tell us more about “untitled for her… story 2”.
“When I first heard the song, I felt that it was really beautiful and gentle… An interesting incident during the recording was that everyone present was in tears when I was singing, so I ended up recording the song with no instruction and direction from anyone (laugh). This song is a private message to someone, and the person I am now just needed to write those lyrics and sing this song… That’s how I feel.”

What about “Gloria”? This one is a legendary combi with Hoshino-san too, right?
“This song has been the director’s baby for the past 6 years, and it finally made its way into the album this time… When I first heard the song, I remember feeling really nostalgic. The song just felt “right” to me, so no matter if years had passed, a good song will never lose its appeal. Moreover, when I was penning down the lyrics, it felt like the final puzzle piece was being fitted in, and it was just perfect for me now.”

As if it had been waiting for your 15th Anniversary?
“I truly felt that.”

The last 2 tracks! “Ivy” is really popular among the fans.
“This song received the most feedback out of all the tracks on “again”. This is another “letter song”, so that explains the lyrics. This may even have been the one that set off the chain of “letter songs”… I was really focused during the production process, so I felt that this self which I’ve been over the past few months got reflected in the album. This applies to all the songs on this album. I haven’t felt this way since “MY STORY”. During that time, I wanted a complete break from the past, so I worked on making the album my personal turning point. This album was the same too, just that I didn’t plan for it to be. So just what does it all mean? I’d like to find out too (laugh).”

The last song “You & Me”, which started the whole craze… S Cawaii! got to cover the PV filming then, and we were also planning the present campaign, and commemorating the fact that you’ve set many new records. Our editing department is really glad to have gone through it all with you (laugh).
“I know! The song has a strong image of midsummer, and though I’m rehearsing for Countdown Live now, I’ve inserted this song into the setlist. The dancers were amazed at how we can have such fun with this song even in winter (laugh). I had fun too, and get excited whenever I hear this song.”

That’s true! So, looking back on all 13 tracks, excluding the instrumentals, what has this album become for ayu?
“When I was arranging the tracklist, I had exciting and bubbly songs like “You & Me”, and ballads like “Ivy”, so I thought it would be tough to put them all together. However, I managed to string them together beautifully, so I guess this is really “my story” (laugh).”

I don’t think any of your past albums managed to express “Hamasaki Ayumi” and “ayu” so well.
“I’m relieved that I was able to distill myself into this album, for this 15th Anniversary. Now, I still have the great task of putting up a tour, but I will run through this 15th Anniversary with all my might!”