(miss)understood interview from TeamAyu magazine translation - Ayumi Hamasaki Sekai
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Old 23rd October 2020, 07:07 AM
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truehappiness truehappiness is offline
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(miss)understood interview from TeamAyu magazine translation

Translated by remove-mom over at the AHS Discord!

Here we took a look back on 2005 and spoke about the coming year of 2006, and, of course, we asked about the new album "(miss)understood," to be released on January 1.

Q: Firstly, we'd like to ask you to reflect on your 2005...
ayu: Even before I went to the Asia Song Festival in Korea in November 2004, I was already looking ahead to the upcoming MY STORY tour and taking auditions for new dancers. I performed to the Asia Song Festival with new dancers, old dancers and the same band members as always. After that, we went full steam ahead into the Countdown Live, and then began rehearsals for the MY STORY tour soon after the year began... That's why, strictly speaking, in my own mind the years of 2004 and 2005 are connected to one another, and 2004 itself continued up until the MY STORY tour.

Q: I see. You certainly would feel that way.
ayu: If I look back on it, I certainly do, but I think my dancers and all the staff concerned would share that feeling. I think it was amazing how everybody was able to maintain their focus throughout that period. That's also why I had such an enormous sense of fulfillment and accomplishment regarding the MY STORY tour.

Q: The reception to that tour certainly was favorable.
ayu: But after running through everything at such a high speed, right after it was all over, I was overcome by a feeling of emptiness. That's why 2005 felt like it began in June for me, soon after the tour was over, when I went to Hawaii for the shooting of "fairyland."

Q: So Hawaii was the starting point of your efforts to dispel that feeling of emptiness.
ayu: Yeah. Oh, speaking of, the setlist for the Kouhaku Uta Gassen (hereafter Kouhaku) has already been announced, hasn't it?

Q: That's right. It was revealed just the other day.
ayu: This will be my first time performing something other than a ballad at Kouhaku since I first appeared there with "Boys & Girls." Everybody is probably surprised by my unexpectedly picking "fairyland" when it's a summer song, right? There were probably a lot of people who thought I'd go with a staple ballad like "HEAVEN" or "Pride" given that it's my last appearance on TV (on a music program) for the year. But I didn't think "HEAVEN" was the right choice for bringing this year of 2005 to a close, personally.

Q: You can add one more person to those who were surprised... (bitter smile)
ayu: The thought of singing "fairyland" at Kouhaku is really fun and fresh to me! Because it's the first time I can appear with my dancers at Kouhaku thanks to it being an uptempo track. Additionally -- and this applies to everything, not just my music -- I'm always thinking of how to do things differently to how I've done them up until now, but in this case there was also the factor of my having worked in consultation with the NHK staff for both the set and the production, for which we kept the PV in mind, so I feel a little bit like my wish has been granted.

Q: It sounds like your eagerness to perform "fairyland" at Kouhaku is the kind of thing that may have a profound impact on the Ayu of the future...
ayu: I think so, too. Because "fairyland" is the song I started 2005 with, in my own way. That's why I also wanted to come full circle and end 2005 with the same song.

Q: Your single "Bold & Delicious / Pride" came out in November 2005 to decidedly mixed reception, didn't it? In all honesty, did that not make you feel a little uneasy?
ayu: I didn't feel any uneasiness or hesitation about it when I started working on it and I don't feel any now. Everything I do I have my own reasons for doing, and there's always a basis for it in my own mind when I go ahead with something. To be a bit more specific, this kind of song was something I'd always wanted to do, but I had certain constraints upon me that stopped me from doing so, and I also felt afraid to and lacked the necessary self-confidence. Now, however, I'm in a position where I feel like it's possible, and the environment around me is one that permits me to go ahead with it. The result of those two things put together is something that holds its own meaning -- that result being "Bold & Delicious / Pride" -- and I believe that will be connected to what I continue to do heading forward, as well.

Q: You went to New York to shoot the single "Bold & Delicious / Pride." This is addressed in the PV Report on pages 8-9 as well, but at that time, things felt quite different to the way they'd felt up until then. The method for shooting and the way you went about things -- to give a more concrete example, the staff you were working with were all foreigners...
ayu: I genuinely had so much fun! Of course I place a lot of trust in the staff that I normally always work with, and there are things that I wouldn't feel comfortable doing anything with anybody else, but I really feel that as I worked with other people for the first time (the foreigner staff in New York), they were revealing new aspects of myself that I didn't even know about.

Q: So there were things you were unaware of while you were working in your normal environment as normal but that you came to understand better through working with the staff over in New York. Of course that's something you would've experienced behind the scenes, but given how different the imagery and the videos are to what we're used to, I can't help but feel like that change is something that is conveyed through the songs as well.
This might be a difficult question to answer, but what is New York to you?

ayu: New York to me... is a place that really stirs up excitement within me. I was living there before my debut, and at that time it was an important place where I learned a great many things, and my most recent visit there was when I was shooting the jacket for my 5th album "RAINBOW," but at that time I really wasn't fond of it in the least... At that time I didn't really understand what I was doing, and yet I feel like I was dashing forward single-mindedly. I couldn't really make anything out, let alone the road ahead of me, and yet I was running... So considering those feelings, I really didn't enjoy New York at that time. In fact, after that, I was avoiding it for a long while. But now, I feel like if I go there, I might understand things. I might become aware of them, and I might even discover something new. It's not that I'm going out of my way to "return to where it all began" as such, but perhaps I just wanted to experience something for myself in going there after those years away from it.

Q: I see! In any event, let's move on to your new album. First of all, let's start with the reason behind "(miss)understood"...
ayu: When I was thinking of a title for the album, I thought it would be good to choose one that held a variety of meanings within itself. So when I was looking into different words, "understand" (= rikaisuru (TN: rikai = "understanding")) and "misunderstood" (= gokai (TN: gokai = "misunderstanding")) stood out to me... My first impression of those words and the impact they had on me were quite strong. But at first I was hesitant and I wondered if it would really be okay to go with that, and right up until the deadline I was looking into alternatives and considering other titles, but there wasn't anything that I felt was better. Looking back on it, you could say I'd already decided on "(miss)understood" from the very beginning, subconsciously.

Q: I want to ask you about the two different jackets as well. You're covering your face on the CD+DVD version, and on the CD-only version you're giving us a smile.
ayu: With the CD+DVD cover I thought "this is the one!" and decided upon it the day ater shooting. Even though you can only see my eyes. (laughs) But you can tell that it's Ayu! So I really like that. Also, (for the pictures) I thought it would be good to go with a natural appearance, a look that didn't feel like it'd been set up specifically for the purpose of a photoshoot. The pictures came out spontaneously, from moments where I was just chatting with somebody else. And the CD photo isn't me smiling because I'm having my picture taken, but rather a natural smile that happened when I was just laughing, and I thought that was better. I was in the middle of laughing and the picture was taken with a "click" and all. That picture, as well as the CD+DVD one where I'm covering my face, are pictures the likes of which I haven't really had taken. But you know, I don't really like the way I look when I'm smiling naturally. The picture of myself that I have in my mind is one where I'm expressionless. That's just how I see myself. An image where I'm smiling doesn't really come to mind easily... So I think that going out of my way to use these kinds of photos is quite a bold move for me.

Q: So your mental approach has changed -- evolved, even? Or perhaps Ayumi Hamasaki herself has changed? I'm sure there are various meanings and intentions that you had in mind with them, but when I saw the two jackets, the first thing I thought of was the difference between a straight pitch and a curveball. By the way, I wrote this on the Team Ayu homepage's Message Corner as well, but I think smiling really suits you. There are images of you smiling in the web-only CM on the Team Ayu official homepage.
ayu: I hope everyone will see that.

Q: Yes. Whatever way you look at it, this is a kind of first attempt of yours. I'm really looking forward to hearing what kinds of impressions people say they get from it. And the other day you wrote on the homepage, "what kind of thing did you see in this album? Light? Darkness? Or something else?"
ayu: Of course, I see both of those things as the one who made the album, but forward-facing listeners might see the light side of the album, and others still may feel a kind of darkness exuding from it... which one do people feel? Or maybe there are people who feel both of those things as well.

Q: There are quite a few songs with considerably deep lyrics, too. The titular track "(miss)understood", "criminal" and "Pride", for instance.
ayu: That's right. The lyrics of the songs toward the middle of the album are quite... (laughs) But that's my area of expertise, so...

Q: Lastly, I want to ask you a question that I saw in the Message Corner. What is being said in the background of "Ladies Night"?
ayu: Well... how should I put this (laughs). It's not necessarily that what's being said in the background has any significant meaning. You could say that we were just playing around with words. I just went with what I liked the sound of. It seems like there were a lot of questions similar to this! I've gotten a lot of them in person as well.

Q: Indeed. That's why I wanted to make sure I asked you about it as well! Now, just one more thing. I want to ask you what you hope for from 2006, but I get the feeling that if I do you'll tell me that you're not wishing for anything in particular. (laughs) So I'll ask you what you want to do in 2006 instead.
ayu: I've been saying I want to go surfing, but my staff wouldn't let me because they say it's too dangerous, so... (bitter smile) Hmmm... I wouldn't mind going in a private trip around the world. Also... I want to see my own lives from the perspective of the audience!

Q: Those two things seem like they'd be quite difficult to make a reality...
ayu: The trip around the world is something I'd do by plane, not by boat! I mean, ships are quite scary... (laughs) If you start sinking, you have nothing but the ocean around you, so...

Q: Huh!? But isn't a plane crash just as scary given that you're high up in the sky and all...? (laughs) Well, what about in terms of your work?:
ayu: I want to visit the rest of Asia (for work). Because I haven't really done so recently. And I'd really love to perform live in front of the people of Asia!
Some very interesting insights about the B&D/Pride single along with the reasoning behind the covers/booklet!

Last edited by truehappiness; 23rd October 2020 at 07:13 AM.
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Old 23rd October 2020, 11:44 AM
Deep snow Deep snow is offline
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thank you so much for this truehappiness and remove-mom! the interview sounds like a conversation between friends. I love the insight it reveals from ayu's worldview—some of which are the things I'd always wondered about Bold & Delicious and (miss)understood.

I'm glad that she was unfazed with the "decidedly mixed reaction" to Bold & Delicious. she sounds like a person resolute about finally getting to do what they like, no matter what people say, and I admire that.

also, the (miss)understood album photos! I remember when they came up a lot of people (including myself) remarked how 'awkward' her smile looks on the CD-only jacket—turns out she was in the middle of laughing! I really disliked the booklet photos when I first saw them, but then I saw that they were "candid" photos taken by mikajohn throughout her stay in New York. considering how much fun she was having re-visiting the town, it was no wonder she liked these pictures so much that they deserved to be on the booklet!

I love reading this so much. thank you again.
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Old 23rd October 2020, 03:21 PM
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Evolution7/4 Evolution7/4 is offline
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^She wanted to show off her fresh veneers too !

Loving these interviews thank you!! I really liked the part about NYC since I live here and have watched it change. I can relate to how one has a love and hate relationship with it.
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Old 27th October 2020, 01:21 AM
DavidChaiLatte DavidChaiLatte is offline
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I'm always thinking of how to do things differently to how I've done them up until now
Wish she kept up with that mentality esp after 2010
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Old 28th October 2020, 01:44 PM
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Yoake Yoake is offline
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Thank you for this translation. It's very interesting to plunge back in the past and read her mind at that time.
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Old 12th March 2021, 06:24 AM
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plainity plainity is offline
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i love this interview and (m)u a lot... id like to learn more about that era since its my favourite album too
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Old 15th March 2021, 12:16 AM
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thinkingoutloud89 thinkingoutloud89 is offline
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That remark on ladies night is so half-lied lol. It was already in the demo and she just didn‘t question it.
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(miss)understood, teamayu, translation

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