ASCA is getting much of attention for her “Chain” (released on 26th February), the opening theme song for “Darwin’s Game”, a TV anime (animation) now on the air. She had made her major debut in November 2017 with her single CD, “Koe” (literally meaning “voice”) and released her first album, “Hyakkaryoran” (literally meaning “100 songs in their full bloom”, where usually “songs” should be “flowers”) in November last year. Offering a one-man concert tour in Tokyo / Nagoya / Osaka, etc., she has engaged in energetic activities since then. She has already grasped the heart and mind of many fans with her impactful voice and outstanding expressiveness. In 2020, in addition to her release of “Chain”, she is planning to offer “ASCA Live Tour 2020 -Ka / Cho / Hu / Getsu-“ (literally meaning “Flower / Bird / Wind / Moon, or four natural phenomena considered to signify elegance), a concert tour to be held at 5 venues nationwide from April, with her boosted momentum (the final concert of the tour to be held at Liquid Room, Ebisu, Tokyo). Furthermore, it was just announced the other day that the collaboration of Takanori Nishikawa + ASCA would be in charge of the opening theme song of a TV anime, “Shironeko Project, Zero Chronicle” (Shironeko literally meaning white cat) to be aired by various broadcasting stations such as Tokyo MX from 6th Aril 2020. She will tell us her hope / aspiration inspired into her new song, “Chain”, where many of her fans are anticipating her leap this year.
I’ve created “Chain”, successfully, because of my avid fans.
Q: Your new single CD, “Chain” is now on the air with much of popularity as the opening theme song for TV anime, “Darwin’s Game”; what is your first impression around the story of the anime?
A (ASCA): At the time I was offered this chance, I hadn’t read its original manga (cartoon in the book); I read all of its volumes first. I just couldn’t stop and have finished reading its latest volume. Then, I first thought about what “mindset” (emotion such as hope / aspiration) I should inspire into it, in humbly singing the opening theme song. The story goes like this: its hero (a boy), Kaname, will get involved in “the game” (killing game) in an irrational way; he was alone at first but will have a lot of friends. This line has greatly impressed me. I myself offered my first one-man live concert in April last year; it was my second anniversary in November since my debut, when the number of my fans was ever on the increase; I indeed felt that I had been supported by my staff members. Then I was given the chance around “Darwin’s Game” and I instantly empathized with its story. And I wrote lyrics of the song with “Kizuna” (literally meaning “bond”) as its theme.
Q: Understood. Thus, you used the key word, “Chain”. Convinced. It was rather easy to inspire your emotion into an “upper” sound like this, wasn’t it?
A: Mr. Ryosuke Shigenaga, who composed for the song, has supported me since my debut, well knowing the sound range where it is easier for me to sing and my ways of singing. Thus, there was no uncertainty around its sounds at all for me. Moreover, the rhythm and ambience has been so fitted for “Darwin’s Game”; when the song first overlapped the anime’s opening images, I thought it was one with a “formidable momentum”. I’ve heard that Mr. Shigenaga also composed after he’d read all of its original volumes, where he might’ve started to approach the worldview of the anime.
Q: What are responses from your fans?
A: I’ve publicized my comment: “I’ve created Chain (written its lyrics), successfully, because of my avid fans”. A fan(s) who listened to it knowing my such comment has given me a review, “I can’t stop shuddering for my joy!” While “Chain” had been disseminated to the world prior to sales of its CD, I am glad that those who listened to it had thoroughly understood the implication of its lyrics at that point of time.
Q: A CD comes usually with its “lyrics booklet”. For such distribution / webcast it is the song, only, that comes, right?
A: Right. There is someone who even listened to the anime’s opening theme song, took dictation of the lyrics and uploaded them to Twitter…, which I am really grateful for.
Q: Your lyrics have words that will really encourage people, and many must have been sympathized with them. In view of “Kizuna”, I even feel the “power” to fight on together, in it.
A: At the time of my debut, many of my lyrics included “Lonely Fighter” or something like that. But this time, in writing out the lyrics, what I came up with were fans that backed me; thus, it was a good timing for me to work on words of “Chain”, too.
Q: Which means it didn’t take much time for you to complete your work?
A: Words I hoped to convey and phrases I wanted to use naturally came out… I couldn’t even stuff all of the desirable words into it. Such experience was my first one, as I’d had hard time squeezing out words for songs.
Q: The reason why your words for Chain have got such a momentum may lie in episodes around your fans and lyrics; your live concerts around the song will probably be welcomed big time.
A: To tell you the truth, I had a concert tour before such dissemination in advance, where I sang it live to my fans in it already. The first stage was held in Osaka; fans there were “perfectly” synchronizing with it.
Q: Already, “perfectly synced”?
A: All of them fully enjoyed it, thankfully, as if its sound source had been leaked (known already). I was really moved by it!
Q: When one is sung for the first time, fans usually don’t know it, trying to listen to it on their feet.
A: That’s what I’d imagined, but I received hotter responses than I had expected. So, I am looking forward to coming live concerts, too.
Q: Songs coupled with it are also very cool and we can’t miss them. How did you approach the second one, “Ikareta Sekai Daro Kamawanaize” (literally meaning, “I don’t care because it’s a crooked world anyways.”).
A: Saku, who composed, like Mr. Shigenaga, has been long involved in productions with me. Saku has accompanied my tours, where we had a conversation, “We need songs to sing together with our fans, screaming”. Then, we decided to produce another song coupled with “Chain”.
Q: This song has a good momentum. You were seeking for something like that at the time, right?
A: I released my first album, “Hyakkaryoran” in November last year, when I felt I was successfully done with a job of mine, as it had been my dream to disseminate my first album since long before my debut. Then, it’s been like my second stage since the time (November), where I want to enjoy more and be adventurous with so-called music.
Q: The reason why I can sense strengths in its rhythm, ambience and among all lyrics is that it expresses your such mindset, right?
A: Frankly, 4th February this year falls upon the third anniversary since I came over to Tokyo (from countryside). Three years ago, there was no prospect at all of my making a debutant in the showbiz world; I just showed up in Tokyo, alone. Some told me, “It is impossible for you to become a star.”; some said, “Such a dream would be just frustrated.”; but I had a “revolting spirit” to “do what I have aspired to, not minding such words at all”, which I still hold. Among my fans, too, there are many striving to make their own dream come true. I’d be more than happy if I can scream with them on songs, for which I’ve written lyrics.
Q: “Ikareta Sekai Daro Kamawanaize” has embraced such a “revolting spirit” of yours.
A: Correct. I want those who told me, “It is impossible!”, to listen to my songs, where the one who insisted on that most is my own father. Honestly.
Q: Oh! But is he backing you now, right?
A: Not sure. I’ve still got what I have to do and prove… My father has never come to my live concert. But I’ve heard that he is at least checking magazines and radio broadcasts, etc.
Q: Then, he may read this interview article. Well, one more song. The third one, “Don’t Disturb” has a different taste among all the songs recorded. Does this mean you want to challenge a variety of types of songs?
A: This song, like “Ikareta Sekai Daro Kamawanaize”, reflect a mindset that if you can enjoy yourself, it’s ok. Of course, I want to expand types of songs I can handle, in the coming future.
Q: Your live concert tour featuring the new single CD will be held in coming April. What does the tour title, “Ka / Cho / Hu / Getsu” mean?
A: I have applied a four-word phrase like this to all of my one-man tours held. The title of the tour I held at the end of the last year was “Hyakkaryoran”, the same as the one for the album, where a word, “songs”, is used instead of conventional “flowers” (both having the same pronunciation in Japanese).
Q: That’s cool!
A: As to “Ka / Cho / Hu / Getsu”, because the tour this time will begin right in “spring”, I have been looking for a key word related to spring. Then I glimpsed at the word, “Ka / Cho / Hu / Getsu”. This has a meaning to enjoy the beauty of the nature, where I want to enjoy my live concerts together with my fans (the character of Ka or flower part has been arranged to one that looks and sounds more “radiating” with the meaning kept). On my tour last year, I felt I’d found what my life should be there for, really moved. Thus, I hope to turn my tours into ones where everyone, or anyone, can enjoy to the fullest.
Q: You have already offered “international” live concerts; for this year, you will participate in “AnimagiC 2020” to be held in Rosengarten Manheim from 31st July to 2nd August. What are your international fans anticipating?
A: It’ll be my first time to go to Germany, but I have already joined events in various countries. But honestly, the number of international live concerts is far smaller than that in Japan, yet, where my fans overseas rather “welcome me big time”, like, “I have long waited for you”. Perhaps, there are some who don’t know me yet, but anyways they welcome me warmly, or even with a “fervor”. It’s not like I will have to entertain them; but it’s like they will entertain me instead… I am really moved every time I offer a live concert overseas, for this reason.
Q: You for sure will have such experiences! Go enjoy yourself!
My recommended spot in Japan: Tokyo Tower
If I’m to recommend one spot in Japan, it should be “Tokyo Tower”. Tokyo Tower is like a barometer of mental growth for me. A ballad, “Kono Melody Ni Nosete” (literally meaning, “along with this melody”), included in my first album, “Hyakkaryoran”, is one I’ve written lyrics for and I did so especially for my fans for the first time, which do contain a word, “Tokyo Tower”. Why do I love Tokyo Tower so much? As my parents’ home is located in Aichi Prefecture (several hours from Tokyo, not so far, not so close), I’ve frequented Tokyo since my high-school days. But I was not readily successful in my activities, looking up at Tokyo Tower in a time of anxiety, when I felt that Tokyo Tower was overwhelming me, as if telling me, “It is utterly impossible for you.” Recently, however, I felt even warmth around it, which may be due to my mental growth, as I am doing what I can do best in Tokyo. Nightly lighted Tokyo Tower is impressive; I often get inside of it. Souvenir shops in it somehow make me feel nostalgic; the tower as a whole makes me relaxed. As it is a building that has existed for a very long time, it might’ve been watching and guarding me, like that.
[Interview / article by Atsushi Kaie]
Single CD, “Chain”
Produced by Sony Music Labels inc. / SACRA MUSIC
Normal CD (CD only)
1,200 yen (+ tax)
To be on sale on 26th February 2020
12th April 2020 (Sun): Heaven’s Rock, Saitama Shintoshin, Saitame
18th April 2020 (Sat): Club Fleez, Takasaki
24th April 2020 (Fri): E.L.L, Aichi
25th April 2020 (Sat): Live House Banana Hall, Osaka
29th April 2020 (Wed, national holiday): Liquid Room, Tokyo