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Friday, July 27, 2007

Halcali in What's In? (1)

Here's the first part of the interview that appeared in the August 2007 issue of What's In magazine. I'll try to get the rest of it up soon (including pictures). Here we go then...

*******************************

-This is the first album we’ve had in a while

HARUKA- I’m glad we could finally put the third album out at last. But unlike previous releases, trying to decide what order to put the songs in was incredibly difficult this time.

YUKARI- Because the putting together, and production of our old albums was all handled by O.T.F. We didn’t have them this time, and the songs were just written and recorded separately one by one by a lot of different people. So when we had to put it all together at the end it was like “There’s a lot of songs that fade out isn’t there?” or “These songs don’t really go together that well”. So we just sat down and talked about it, eventually deciding on a track list that made the album move along in ‘waves’, balancing slower songs with more up tempo ones.

-This is the first time you’ve been involved in the creation of an album in this way right?

Y- Yes, so it was a lot of fun. But at the same time, putting it together really gave us a true taste of the pains of life (laughs).

H- Compared to our other albums, this was by far the most difficult to make.

- Comedian Kendo Kobayashi makes an appearance on the first track Doo The Hammer. It’s funny that his (a male) voice is the first thing you hear when playing the album.

Y- Yes, it is (laughs). Speaking personally, this track, the first on the album, is one that I really pushed myself to try hard on. Kobayashi's voice should hopefully giving those people who try it out in record shops an interesting first impression.

-So, you press the start button, and…

Y- “What? Who's this guy?!” (laughs) But what he says really sums up the whole meaning of the album in a nutshell.*1

-Compared to your previous albums, was there any real changes or differences with this one?

Y- We wrote a lot more of the lyrics this time. On the last album it was just Utamaru’s Wakakusa Dance, but this time it was like “should we write some more?”, “well sure, why not?”.

H- We contributed to the lyrics of 4 songs this time.

Y- Even though a long time was spent in total on getting the whole album finished, we were hardly given any time at all to finish writing the lyrics. We nearly blew a fuse trying to meet the deadline. Haruka was even having dreams about it.

H- I was crying “I can’t write it! I can’t write it!” in my sleep.

-There seems to be more emphasis on singing (over rapping) on this album.

Y- That’s right. And a lot more of the singing was recorded live too, like on Doo The Hammer, Fessu and Tougenkyo for example. That’s probably because there were only a few producers from the 'hip hop village' working on this record. As a result, I think this one’s probably a bit easier to listen to, or maybe it has a more intimate sound than the others.

-The title track (Cyborg Oretachi) is really powerful.

Y- I think out of all the songs we’ve recorded up to now, this one has the fastest pace.

- And we can hear you two playing guitar for the first time too.

Y- Haruka goes first, I’m second. Hayashi-san said to us suddenly, “Just pick up a guitar and give it a go”, to which our response was “er…what?!”.

H- We said “but we can’t play!” but he just said “yes, I know” (laughs)

-So even though you just hit it at random you managed to fit in perfectly with the rhythm of the track. It sounds like a miracle (laughs).

H- Yeah, but I’m just happy that our very first attempt at playing the guitar got released to the public! I don’t think I’ll be doing it again though, I think I'll just keep it as this one, precious experience (laughs).

-The song Halcali Michi really shows your determination to be involved in the songwriting process. You wrote the lyrics for the rap part of this song.

Y- This is probably the song we wrote most seriously for. Ramrider said to us “You have some problems or worries in your life don’t you? Write about those,” and I thought “Well no, not really…”. I had a pretty hard time writing it.

H- The theme of the song we were given felt quite big. We were told to think along the kind of ‘Even if you hit a wall in life, you just have to keep on trying’ lines with the lyrics. But we’ve never really had any experience with anything like that. We’re the type of people who just wouldn’t notice the wall in the first place and would just sail right past it.

Y- Lyrically, in the end I suppose the content of the song is kind of an approximation of where Halcali is right now. I’ll turn 20 on the day the album is released, but the song was written on a night when we were both 19, and as well as being the actual last track, it was the last song to be finished for the album, so it also has the feeling of wrapping everything that we’ve done up until now up. It carries a ‘We’re going to continue to keep giving it our all, but at the same time we don’t know what’s coming up next’ kind of meaning.

*************************************************

As usual with these kinds of interviews, the content was quite light (good to see them unafraid to get some of their own complaints out there though), but I wonder if Yukari didn't inadvertently get to the core of the problems I have with this album; namely that it's missing an 'O.T.F' type figure to guide it. Now, this didn't need to have been O.T.F specifically (although that would have been great obviously), but it was crying out for someone to sit down and take the Total Produced By credit, to say to all these random producers who are floating in and out of the studio "OK, the song after yours sounds like this, and the overall mood of the album is going to be like this, so you might want to write your song a little bit more like this".

What happens when there is no one around, from the start, who has an idea for the album to guide everyone who will work on it is what happened on Cyborg Oretachi- a bunch of dislocated material with no real focus and almost no continuity between tracks. This is the heart of Yukari's problem- you simply cannot make an album in this random, aimless way and expect the results to be in any way decent or cohesive.

Personally, I thought they had the perfect post O.T.F candidate who could fill in those Total Produced By shoes already in i-dep's Hiroshi Nakamura. His recent b-side contributions to Halcali's back catalogue would make a great mini-album in themselves- 'forward thinking' while still retaining an idea of what made Halcali so great in the first place.

Like Yukari, I don't know what's coming up next for Halcali either, but I really think they need another 'O.T.F', badly.


*1 Here's what Kobayashi says:

これは「心の中のハンマー」についてのSTORY
つまり「想像力」についての大切なMESSAGE

This is a story about the hammer that is in our hearts
In other words, it’s a message about the importance of the power of imagination.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Novaforever said...

Ahh thank you so much for the translation! I think this interview had a lot more content than their interviews normally have. It was kinda of nice to see that they saw and recognized the same weak spots in Cyborg Oretachi that everyone here has been pointing out. It makes me feel better about it, if they know what was weak then they can try and change it for future releases.

I'm still sitting on that interview I found. Turns out to be much harder than I thought as there is a lot of kanji (plus I also misplaced my kanji dictionary somewhere...). Maybe I'll be able to get scans and someone else can translate it.

Oh and by the bye... I've been looking around for a way to contact Sony or Epic Records. I haven't been able to find much of anything. Anyone know something I don't?

Thanks again!

10:53 PM

 
Anonymous johnny said...

thank you for translating and posting this!

3:04 AM

 
Blogger jariten said...

nova>
That's OK! Don't worry about it. If you can get the scans up though, great! By contact Sony, are you just looking for a general email address or something more specific?

johnny> thanks! I've just got back from a few days in Hong Kong so hopefully I should have the rest up soon-ish.

7:01 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really, some of the new tracks are fucking phenomenal. Endless Lover's Rain, DO[-O] the hammer, etc were fantastic.

HOWEVER, some of the songs were too slow on the uptake; It's PARTY TIME takes too long to transition and plays on the chorus too long, LOOK seems to have a lot of filler and segments that are in the "radio format" sound which don't really add much to the song (straight before the chorus) and actually detract from it somewhat.

Tougenkyo is excellent, Tip Taps is yeah.. good. "HALCALI 19 yrs" is also, but i love Fessu De Ouissu.

So, to surmise; LOOK is boring, It's PARTY TIME takes too long to jump into the party-like bits (and can make the song seem to drag.

Also, fire whoever markets HALCALI at the moment, they're doing an awful job by switching their image and sound so much. They need to really just speak for themselves in quality and take heed to their input (their last songs they made or had collab with really seemed more natural because it was THEIR material.)

Also, quit it with the other shitty singer plugs. They SUCK, and at best are background singers.

Seriously; why people like Gackt, the man-lover should be slapped towards HALCALI. Also, why the fuck is crappy american rap so popular on the Oricon these days? Eminem, 50 Cent are as talented as my colon.

Cyborg Oretachi = 9/10 (Get rid of crappy background singers on some songs)

Still, Ongaku No Susume = awesome.

5:14 PM

 

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