On this page, we’ve published a solo interview from Kashiyuka of Perfume. As a long-time big fan of m-flo, what does she think about their music and personal stance? We sat down with Kashiyuka to talk about the appeal of m-flo from her perspective.
The first song I heard was “come again”
Wah, I don’t know where to start! This kind of interview is a first for me.
We thought we’d talk about how you see m-flo today. To start, when did you discover m-flo?
The first time I heard them was in 2001, when LISA-san did their vocals. When I went to the actors’ school [in Hiroshima, where Perfume studied singing and dancing], we sang “come again.”
As part of a music recital or something similar?
Yes. We did a performance project in a group of six people where two people sang, two people rapped, and two people danced. A~chan was in that group too.
Did you sing?
I danced. I can’t remember what part A~chan had, maybe the rap. At first I practiced the rap as well, but it was really hard. I thought, “I can’t understand what this person is saying!” (laughs)
VERBAL-san’s raps have a considerably high degree of difficulty.
They do. I was still in my first year of middle school and I didn’t know how to pronounce English, so I’d write it all out in katakana and do my best to practice the fast parts. That was the first time I encountered m-flo. Though at that time I just listened to the songs without knowing who was doing them, that it was three people ― I didn’t know about any of that.
Was that how you came to like m-flo?
Yes, “come again” was what got me to listen to their albums, and I really liked their “loves” era [when m-flo collaborated with a number of vocalists after LISA's departure] also.
What songs do you like in particular?
I really love Hinouchi Emi-san. I was introduced to her through the m-flo song she did with Ryohei-san, and I became a fan of her from there.
That’s “Summer Time Love” (m-flo loves Hinouchi Emi & Ryohei) [released in 2006], isn’t it? I believe Perfume had already made their major debut at that time.
Right. My first or second year of high school. I listened to it all the time at home.
VERBAL-san is kind, Taku-san is passionate
You seem to get together with the pair from m-flo nowadays also. Was it through a TV show or maybe a festival that you were able to meet them?
No, I had a lot of near-misses at work. We never interacted, and even if I happened to see them somewhere I’d think “oh, there’s VERBAL-san” from afar. So it’s only recently that we’ve actually been able to greet each other. Since last year, I think.
How does VERBAL-san come across to you?
I think he’s a gentlemanly type. He’s kind and always looks after the people around him, and it really impresses me that he always puts himself on the same level as everyone else even though he has such a high profile.
And what do you think about Taku-san?
I met Taku-san before VERBAL-san. That day, Taku-san was really high-spirited and called out “Kashiyuka-chaaaaan!” to me (laughs). When I answered “yes,” he said, “Let’s do something fun!” But even as I was thinking “What does he mean by something fun?”, I answered, “Okay!” (laughs)
That’s a good story (laughs).
But Taku-san is really passionate about things, and I think he’s someone who’s always considering how to change or improve upon something. He’s able to communicate assertively with people in many different industries, and even in places like Twitter he talks passionately.
So you could say he’s like a reliable elder to you?
Like someone I admire. He was cool when I first discovered him in 2001, and even now he’s always been cool. I think that’s amazing.
I always listen to an album all the way through
What impression do you have of m-flo’s music?
They’re always ahead of everyone else. They don’t create what’s popular now, but they set the stage for the next trend or something like that. I always feel that they take what’s current and connect it to the next thing.
Have you heard their latest album SQUARE ONE?
Of course! It’s way cool! Ugh, it’s great! When I listen to it on the train, I get caught up in the music and my body starts moving, so everyone watching me thinks I’ve turned into a weirdo (laughs).
No, no, I think that’s a natural response (laughs).
As well, I feel like a lot of the songs are about relatable topics this time. “All I Want Is You” and stuff is like that, and I think a frequent theme in the album is how the songs are sung in a fun way even when they have this kind of sad feeling that grips your heart a little. Miguel-kun’s song [singer Miguel’s track “Shoushuuriki no Uta” is sampled in m-flo’s “Sure Shot Ricky”] and others are really fresh. Like, “It goes from Miguel-kun to dubstep!” (laughs)
Even as they bring in new things, m-flo always shows us something only they can do.
I agree. Besides, don’t all of m-flo’s original albums tell some kind of story? I think including a narration that can carry that kind of storytelling is something only m-flo can do.
Listening to the album as a whole, you can see a kind of story come together.
If you listen closely, you’ll realize, “It’s all tied together.” That’s why I can’t listen to it on shuffle.
Do you often listen to albums all the way through?
Yes. Maybe I feel like that because of my work in Perfume, but I think there’s a reason behind how the songs in an album are ordered. There’s a reason the first track is the first track, then the second track comes and brings the third, so the fourth track is there after those — it’s like that. The creator’s feelings are absolutely a part of that, so I always listen to an album all the way through. I feel the same about any album. I even want to hear my own albums exactly from the beginning.
I get the impression that many people of your generation are the type to download only one track and listen, however.
It does seem like not many of them listen to the whole album. From the standpoint of someone who does music, it’s a little sad. Of course it’s fine to think things like, “This is getting popular now, so I’ll give it a listen,” but I hope that more people will take that as a start and listen with feelings of love and value towards the music.
In that case, do you have very strong feelings about CDs?
I think so. I don’t buy online very much, only if I can’t find something or I have to hear it right away, but I like to buy in-person at the store as much as possible. Even if I don’t know much about the artist, often, when I look at the album art and listen to the previews in a CD shop, I end up thinking “I like this album” and buying it. If it’s an artist I like, I want to own the album all the more. Even when it comes to what’s inside the lyrics booklet, it’s different from person to person, isn’t it? How the lines of lyrics are divided, how they’re spaced and things like that. There are pictures that suit the image of the album, and even the CD itself is designed a certain way. If I think about it like that, I always feel an affection for physical CDs.
Perfume fans will like m-flo
Hearing you talk about them, it’s easy to recognize your love for m-flo.
After all, it’s because I’ve always listened to them since I was a child. But I wonder what people younger than me in this day and age think about m-flo? Like people in their teens.
When I posed that question to VERBAL-san, what with it being five years since their last album, he said, “Maybe they think m-flo is a copy of K-pop.”
Oh, no! This generation is terrifying (laughs).
Even amongst Perfume’s fans, there must be people who don’t know m-flo very well.
Maybe so. But it makes me feel like, “Even though they have such good music!”
Then, maybe with you recommending them here, it might be the birth of a new generation of m-flo fans.
It might be. But I hope everyone will start to like them! I think Perfume fans probably will. Also, I hope they’ll go back and listen to their older albums without stopping at SQUARE ONE. Before I did this interview, I tried looking back at their past works. It was really unbelievable. My heart felt like it’d burst (laughs).
I want to incorporate cool things into our own performances
Incidentally, what similarities do you think there are in m-flo’s and Perfume’s music?
Hmm, I wonder. Like treating everything as sound rather than putting lyrics first and foremost, and stressing how things sound. In Perfume’s songs as well, Nakata [Yasutaka, Perfume’s producer]-san chooses words pronounced in a way that will sound cute when sung by girls. Like this word will sound good when you put it up against this noise. That might be a common feature.
And both groups create their music with the knowledge that it’ll be heard by a wide variety of people. It’s very surprising, it doesn’t feel like they only care about those who already know them at all.
Yeah, as opposed to only working within their own genre, their music is definitely more like an introduction to that world. Like the gateway into listening to things like electro and techno. But it’s not like it’s just light stuff, it’s more like their own unique standpoint on it. So it’d make me happy if that could be an opportunity for people who don’t know about music like dubstep to start listening to it.
Do you also like dubstep?
I like it. I’ve gotten to like it again lately.
What are some artists you like?
I’ve been listening to Skrillex now. He started out in a hardcore band when he was around my age, if I’m not mistaken. Though his style of dubstep is somewhere between hardcore and electro. I also like James Blake and Modeselektor.
When you listen to other artists’ music, do you think of it as a reference for when you’re on stage with Perfume?
I don’t listen to everything like it’s all study, because it’s most important to me that I have fun listening to it, but sometimes I think “what would it be like if Perfume did something like this?” as I listen. We’re using projection mapping on our JPN tour right now, but the projection mapping in Skrillex’s live shows is really cool. I’m intrigued by the thought of who’s behind it. The mapping I watched in a Chris Brown performance on YouTube a little while ago had movement in it too, that was great. Having the chance to incorporate things I’ve seen and thought were cool into our own live shows in some way or another is something I think about.
Nakata-san talked really excitedly and surprised me
Do you often go to m-flo’s lives and events?
I went to m-flo’s “BONENKAI” event last year [on December 22nd, 2011 at ageHa]. The whole DJ booth was LED, it was so cool. I was surprised they were playing songs from SQUARE ONE then already (laughs).
That’s in the DVD of the CD + DVD edition of the album.
Ah, it is! I want to watch it!
It’s valuable footage for those who couldn’t make it.
I want everyone to see it. I talked about this with Nakata-san then, but even though it’s their first album in five years and m-flo hasn’t been active in some time, it’s incredible that their popularity hasn’t waned and they can still get the crowd going without a hitch. Nakata-san was talking really excitedly about how it’s so cool that they’re not stuck within their own generation, that they’ve got their own specific style — it surprised me.
I think Nakata-san must like m-flo too.
As a creator, there must be aspects he can relate to.
It’s really great. And everyone can sing m-flo’s songs.
Rather than listening to them simply because they were popular back then, there are a lot of people who hold m-flo’s music very close to them personally, don’t you think?
Because those songs carry a lot of personal memories from back then, of course. When you listen to them, your feelings and things from that time come rushing back. I think music is beautiful in that way. It’s not just some ordinary noise, you can gather your memories and hold on to them through it.
The secret of m-flo’s popularity
Looking at it from your perspective, what do you think is the secret to m-flo’s popularity?
Mmm, probably that they don’t try to win the appeal of this generation. I wonder if it’s okay for me to say that (laughs). But I think that rather than shifting to meet trends, they think about what’s best for them to do and what they’re capable of doing as themselves, then work to reflect that. They don’t imitate or follow anyone else, they keep the same stance they’ve always had and do things in their own style. I think that’s something really cool about them. Because I think after doing that for so long, there must be some fear that comes out.
You have to make some mistakes for things to go well, so that can be scary, and I think we start to feel afraid to be forgotten in this world. But it seems to me that m-flo doesn’t dwell on all that and looks further ahead, thinking about what they should do.
But I feel that Perfume continues without adapting themselves to the times as well.
Do you think so? But we have more chances to connect with our audience than m-flo does, so the times, or maybe I should say what’s popular or what the audience wants to see that day is something we have to think about. For instance, if we’re doing a live, the tour we’re on now is our first in two-and-a-half years, so we have to consider whether or not we should make things easier to understand for those who have become our fans since then and such. But if we focus too much on that, it’ll get boring for our old fans. We made an appearance at GO! FES recently, but there were more people seeing us for the first time at GO! FES than at our usual summer festivals, but then there were also a lot of people who wanted to get a “festival” feeling from our performance... we think a lot about all those little things, always.
But m-flo looks further beyond that than we do, and I think they consider a lot of things. They consider it, but they don’t waver, and they don’t show that they’re thinking about it. Despite everything, they hold on to their own ideals and style effortlessly. I think that’s truly incredible.
Source: Natalie.mu (translated by me).