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The new start for An Cafe, with the release of 'Sennen Dive'
Formed in 2003, they underwent member changes in 2007, and gained fame both in Japan and abroad by going on world tours. They went on hiatus on January 2010 after giving a live performance at Nippon Budokan, and resumed their activities in April 2012. In summer 2015, they had their long-awaited major debut with Being, inc's new label, 'White Cafe'. For the lead song, the music was composed by Tokunaga Akihito (doa), lyric written by Ooguro Maki, with Hiraide Satoru and Konagawa Takahiro as producers . Collaborating with these well-known creators, An Cafe made their fresh start. Appearing for the first time on Vif, An Cafe's all 5 members will talk about their ambitious new single, 'Sennen Dive'.
It's like he's got a screw loose (Takuya)
Q: Since it's your first time appearing on Vif, please introduce the person beside you.
Teruki: I'll introduce our vocalist, Miku. In An Cafe, he's the person who always does everything he has to do, and think about things faster than anyone else, and as a working partner he's the most reliable person. I respect him as a vocalist, and since I've been (working) with him for a long time, I think we wouldn't have been able to handle a lot of businesslike things if not for him.
Miku: Our guitarist, takuya, is the youngest of the five of us, but is also the biggest. He's like An Cafe's centre of gravity, and he always thinks about guitar. I really respect his musical aspects and sound-making, and I think he's a guy who really likes music.
takuya: Our keyboardist, Yuuki, is different from other people, or rather, it's like he's got a screw loose (laughs). If you spend time with him, (you'll find that) he's really interesting. He has a unique way of thinking, and even if you're always with him you'll still find him mysterious.
Yuuki: I think our bassist, Kanon, has a very defined gap between his usual, calm self and his persona on stage. Even when I see him from behind his movements always look so cool, and I really respect him.
Kanon: Our drummer, Teruki, is like the mother figure of An Cafe, the one who would scold us. Even when he's tired and not in the mood to do anything, he would still pull us, like, "Hey, what happened? We have to decide on this thing".
Q: Is there anything which makes you realise that you've gone major now?
Teruki: Our staff now are the pros among pros, and they give a lot of detailed advices.
Miku: They demand high quality for each and everything, and I think their attitude of not letting out anything unless it's a 100 (mark) is amazing. If we can't convince them with what we had made, they will return them. I'm glad that our major debut is with Being, inc. They always give back more than what we propose, so there's nothing to complain about, on the contrary we have to absorb a lot of things and catch up with the staff.
Teruki: I also feel that for our photos. The designer already has a clear concept in mind, (the cameraman) takes a photo he's aiming for, and that's it. There is no waste of camera shot.
Miku: Here, preparation is really important. Instead of hit-or-miss, the real photo shoot was planned in detail. We learn a lot from them.
This song made me believe that, "After we waited until the time is ripe, this is it!" (Miku)
Q: You entrusted the lead song of your major debut single to other people. Tell us how it started.
Miku: It was a suggestion from our staff. I think, it's a good opportunity as it will blow us a new wind. Since now we're in a major environment which has a wide range, we wanted to do a different thing.
takuya: I guess we need to put a new spice (in our music), so I think it was a really good opportunity.
Yuuki: Til now we've had other people done the arrangement, but it was the first time we entrusted all of it to other people. I couldn't predict what kind of song would come out, so I was really excited.
Kanon: The first time I heard about it, I thought it was for the coupling song.
Miku: Why would we request other people to make coupling song!
Kanon: Because they said, "As a trial.." But we had talks about what kind of song we want as the lead song, and when we listened to the songs that they gave us, there were so many songs which matched our concept well. So I thought, then I'll be in your care.
Miku: They composed many songs for us, and I felt sorry for them. All of them were really good. Even though there were no filler song at all, we had to pick one. (out of them), there was a song which made me believe that "After we waited until the time is ripe, this is it!" right away.
Q: When you announced that you will release your major debut single in this way, how did your fans react?
Miku: We've received some negative opinions about it, but I think they are also right. But I think of it as a present for our major debut, specially made for us. Because, Ooguro Maki-san wrote the lyric for us, and great people were willing to share their wealth for us. So we have to take care of it.
Q: How was the recording?
Teruki: While we wanted to put our style in it, we also got out from our shells and experimented in things that we never tried before, including in our music play. Hiraide (Satoru) san is different from other arrangers. Before we started recording, the drum sound was already something that I had never heard before. Sometimes, when listening to the CDs of various musicians I thought, how did they record this. And, it's like he (Hiraide) provided me with the answer.
takuya: It's been (handled) professionally even since song composing phase, and it was full of stuffs that I didn't have (in me) so it was a lot of fun. The directions were so detailed, and sometimes it was harsh, but I became strong because of it.
Yuuki: They put he arrangement for me, and there were synth patches I had never heard before, so I really learned a lot from it.
Kanon: Hiraide-san was both our arranger and engineer, and he's the type who likes to does everything by himself so I thought I should learn something from him. When I asked, "What do you use?", he said, "I just use common equaliser and combo". He's amazing. I want to see him work from up close again in the future.
Q: Was there any approach that the usual An Cafe wouldn't take, or had never thought of?
Teruki: I think there are many such (unusual) elements in 'Sennen Dive'. Firstly, it was unheard of An Cafe to make a lead single song have this rhythm like zundanzunkudanzundanzukudan. I used to that when I just started in a visual kei band, but since then my drum playing had become calmer. I'm excited that now I can play more heavy drums again. Like, won't this be awesome on live performances? Maybe our fans were worrying how quiet our first major song would be, since it was provided by veterans, but in a good way, this betrayed their expectations.
Miku: Personally I think there isn't much An Cafe-ness in this song. It's simply cool, and it's like they provided us with something new that we couldn't make until now. We might have wanted something like this, but we couldn't have made it ourselves. I feel great to be able to sing something like this.
Q: How did it feel like to sing a lyric written by Ooguro Maki-san?
Miku: It's the best. Even my mother wouldn't believe me. Only after I showed her a picture I took with her (Ooguro Maki), she said, "Ah, it was true. Do your best" (laughs). There are many things I wouldn't have thought out, like words, the dividing of the notes, the way to apply the lyric, catchiness, and I learned so many things from it. I want to be able to apply what I've learned here in our future songs.
Q: Other than that, was there any other new things that you could feel?
takuya: Each and every sound was taken really well, even though it's not that it's full of synth, but each sound is thicker now so it resulted in a really substantial song. I want to make it as a standard for our future songs.
Kanon: In 'Sennen Dive' there is no repetition, even if one chorus. But because the first and last words are the same, it doesn't feel complicated. It flows smoothly and is easy to remember. Usually if you make it too difficult, people might not remember the melody. But it's really easy to remember all 5 lines of the chorus of this song. I think it's amazing that they could make this kind of song so effortlessly.
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Translated by Val. Original interview here