Interview by Miriam Cadoni
When real life loves to you impede you, remember to be resilient and completely rely on music and writing because, after all everything will be fine. With this sentence, I wanted to express my happiness in having achieved one of my dreams and interviewing Japan’s SCANDAL was one of those. In the last 10 years, SCANDAL proved to be not only one of the best Japanese band to be known in overseas territories but also they proved to be some trendsetters.
Actually, besides X JAPAN, I don’t remember a Japanese band that impacted so vastly in the Western culture as them. As every band, even the all-girls alternative rock band was heavily hit by the COVID-19 pandemic which led to the postponement of their American tour and to an upcoming and special live streaming gig on the 21st August. Let’s read together what the leas guitarist and singer HARUNA told us about it. Enjoy!
Additionally, I would like to remember you that the ticker for their big live streaming event are still available here: https://livefrom.events/scandal/
Hello HARUNA, welcome to Femme Metal Webzine. How are these precarious times treating you and how are you managing with it?
I think it has been very important for us to keep interacting with our fans through our podcast and Instagram live, even during the lock down. I try to relax, not rush, and be considerate about the people around you, such as my band mates, family, staff and friends.
As a band, we are continuing to make new music, but we’re focusing on communication, so that we can really understand each other and our needs during this time.
For the readers that still are not familiar with SCANDAL, would you mind to introduce how you girls got together?
We met at a Dance school in Osaka when we were teenagers. We had never played any instruments at that time, but one of our instructors at the school suggested that we come together as a band. So the idea wasn’t really ours, but since then, we’ve continued to work very hard and I am very proud of who we’ve become as a band.
I, HARUNA am the oldest in the band and I am on vocals and guitar. MAMI plays lead guitar and she is 2 years younger than me. Tomomi is the same age as MAMI and she is our super cool bassist; youngest in the band, Rina, is on Drums.
Back in February 2020, you released your ninth album “Kiss from the Darkness” via JPU Records, what can you share about its general production?
“Kiss in the Darkness” is the very first album released from our own label “her.” Each of us wrote songs on the album, so the fans could enjoy the different “colors” of each member.
We think of “her” as our very own “Atelier,” so we wanted to really showcase the different colors of our imagination. You can find a wide range of sound, from acoustic to more innovative sounds.
According to the press release, “Kiss from the Darkness” will also be released via your private label, “her”, how did it come about and so far, have you noticed any improvements in the band’s business ?
We started “her” on our 10 year anniversary as a band, and I think it was a time for us to re-think and re-evaluate who we are and where we want to go in the future. It definitely provides a sense of safety when you know you have your own place, knowing that we can go wherever we want to.
I am not sure if there is a big difference on the business side, but I feel like we have gained a much closer relationships with the crew/staff and we can be more free and flexible in our creativity.
If compared to “HONEY”, “Kiss from the Darkness” sounds much more personal. Why?
Oh, really? That’s interesting! For us, “HONEY” also had a lot of personal songs, but the biggest difference between the two is that we created and released “Kiss from the darkness” from our own label. I think this might be a big factor in it feeling “more personal.”
Also, personally, I didn’t write any songs on the album “HONEY” because I wanted to focus more on expressing the conceptual aspects of the album through singing. But maybe you felt each of our personalities come through in the new album because I was back to writing, so all four of us created some songs on a new album.
Out of “Kiss from the Darkness”, there were released 4 singles: “「A.M.D.K.J.」”, “Masterpiece”, “Fuzzy” and “Saisyu Heiki Kimi”. Which one of these is your favorite, why and which was the challenging one to record?
That’s tough because I love all the songs and for different reasons! “Master Piece” is our very first single from “her” so it’s very special to me. “Saishu Heiki, Kimi” is super fun to perform on stage, and “A.M.D.K.J.” got a really positive response from our fans. And “Fuzzy” is a very personal story for us, so it’s also one of my favorites.
I must say though, “Fuzzy” and “Saishu Heiki, Kimi” were definitely challenging for us because we didn’t really know the direction that SCANDAL was heading in when we created those demos. So, it wasn’t as smooth as other songs and we thought we might not be able to release them. But once we started “her” everything sort of fell into place and we were able to release the songs!
SCANDAL is one of the few Japanese bands that managed to have an overseas successful fan base. How did this happen?
We’ve never really thought or talked in depth about it, but I think we were one of the first rock bands, sporting our school uniforms at the time, so I think maybe that had to do with it.
I mean, it’s pretty unique! But, like I said, we don’t really think or talk about it. Our main focus is to simply create music that everyone in the world can enjoy!
The pandemic COVID 19 forced SCANDAL to postpone their US/World tour. How has this event personally impacted you and how is the situation in Japan?
I’m not going to lie, all of us felt pretty lonely when the lockdown started, because we all live alone in Tokyo and we couldn’t see each other. Fortunately, Tokyo lifted the restriction and we’re slowly getting back to normal, however, it’s still an uncertain and stressful time.
We all love to perform live, so the hardest thing for us was that we aren’t able to be on stage. We are discussing and brainstorming alternative ideas to make live shows happen in a safe and enjoyable way, so hopefully we can see fans in person very soon.
On 3rd June, you have released your first home-recorded song “Living in the City”, what can you tell us about that song? And how was it recording it in remote?
Our bassist Tomomi wrote this song for the album “Kiss the darkness” but we all felt it didn’t quite fit with the album concept. However, we thought this was the perfect song to express our feelings during lockdown. It was definitely a challenge to record remotely. We used pre-programed sounds, but the guitars and vocals were recorded remotely.
We also used our smartphones to record the spoken part of the outro. We decided the overall theme, but we actually recorded the talking separately, so we were very surprised that it actually sounded like we were having an actual conversation!
In July, it was released as your last single “SPICE”. What can you tell us about the song and how the collaboration with MARZA ANIMATION PLANET was born?
We were involved from very early stages of the “XPICE” project, so the vision for our song was very clear and we were able to execute it the way we wanted to. The song itself turned out very powerful, so we are looking forward to performing it live!
So, HARUNA, we’re almost at the end and with this please be free to say hi to your overseas fans and your readers. Thank you so much for this interview.
We are in a pandemic and it’s easy to go to negative place. However, we think it’s an important time to re-think what we can do for ourselves and others, and with this, we can move forward.
As a band, we want to continue to support everyone through our music. We hope to see you all online for our very first worldwide livestream convert on August 21st! We promise to put on our best show for you all!