Sakamoto Shintaro Plays: Irregular 「Love」


After 2 years and 2 months, Sakamoto Shintarou has finished his third album, 『Love if
You Can』! Supporting members include:OOIOO’ bassists, AYA and Nakano Yoshie;MOCKY’s drummer, Suganuma Yuta; marimba player Ishihashi Eiko; sax and flute player Nishiuchi Tetsu; and a 3 person female chorus. Long time Sakamoto works’ engineer, Nakamura Soichiro, has returned. And through rich instrumental pieces and lyrical content, the album’s theme is “LOVE as seen through a microscope”. Sure enough an intriguing pop music sound has been realized!?

I feel like there’s a more physical type of “LOVE” that’s not sung about very much. For example, growing out your nail and healing injuries and the such. –Sakamoto


–With your previous album 『Let’s Dance Raw』, there was an odd musical substance that was there and not. A groove and energy that etched out the album’s theme of ‘the world after the extinction of humanity’. With your new album, 『Love if Possible』, even though it’s brimming with a minimal pop flow, it furthers a hard to express musical world that surpasses your previous album.

Sakamoto: My overall way of making music hasn’t changed since last time. I make simple demo tapes of songs I create with my guitar. Once I get a few songs lined up, I pass them off to my members. As we rehearse and our performance gets stronger, we start recording. That type of flow. This time though, acoustically I left out all piercing sounds and amassed mid-ranged sounds. And with drums too, the last album had a dead, machine like resonance to it. But with this new one, we recorded sounds from around the room. That’s to say, I wanted a nuance of people performing.

–Could you tell me a bit more specifically about that nuance?

Sakamoto: We used vintage instruments and tested out different types of old mics while recording. But I told the members to perform with the spirit of an all girls band at a school festival. Not a smooth and seasoned performance, but a performance that requires effort and energy because of a lack of familiarity and experience. I imagined a joyful sounding creation, but in the end, whether or not that nuance is picked up on ……..

–While sound and lyrics supplement each other, it was your characteristic style that has risen within the industry. This time around, what about that correlation?

Sakamoto: In regards to lyrics, it kinda felt like I went back and looked over everything up until now. Then I simplified my words and aimed for lyrics that would expand my image. I reduced sound and number of notes, and each note used became stressed and a focal point. It became organic. I wanted to shape that type of image. At first though, I wasn’t sure if it would end up just being a foolish creation. But the finished product was more than what I had predicted. There was a heavier and more complex texture to it. I don’t even know how it turned out like that. Sakamoto Shintaro’s album, 『Let’s Dance Raw』

–The previous album was similar, but you intentionally created a lifeless sound and at its foundation, a consistent flow of emptiness and hollowness was projected.

Sakamoto: Yeah, even if you call it lifeless, it’s definitely not particularly relaxed. I was aiming for a softness while maintaining a feeling of nervousness and tension. With my last album, I think I unfortunately made it overly serious in a scary way. And so, with my next album I decided on happy and fun. But yeah, as much as I tried, it got heavier and eventually the finished product is what we have now. From my perspective, this is probably my limit for using fun expressions and the such. Even if I tried harder, it’s not going to happen. I definitely reconfirmed that I can’t do light and bright.

–The last album was cold for sure, but I listened to it for the first time in a while, and their were robots and a child chorus. More than my original impression, I again felt a manga like fun. But, this time around more fun was incorporated than with the last album?

Sakamoto: Yeah. The last album came out gloomy I think, but recently I listened to it again in a real long time and have to say that it’s lighter than I had thought. This time I incorporated fun but this time it feels overwhelmingly heavier. How did that happen? It’s no joke, yeah. If『Let’s Dance Raw』sounds light, then 2016 is going to be heavy?

–The state of society’s sense of occlusion is further progressing. And amongst all of that, you released an album with the theme of “LOVE as seen through a microscope”.

Sakamoto: Lovers, love, and peace. Philanthropy and love of humanity. Spiritually huge “LOVE”. None of that. I feel like there’s a more physical type of “LOVE” that’s not sung about very much. For example, growing out your nail and healing injuries and the such. If you look through a microscope, immune cells healing injuries type of thing. You probably wouldn’t call that “LOVE”, but what if you dare tried to grasp that as love? That type of thing.

–Regardless of large or small, the idea of you offering up a theme of “LOVE” is quite the exception. Or that’s to say, I think it’s a challenging piece.

Sakamoto: Yeah, and that’s specifically why it’s difficult to create. This time the aim was way too subtle and even I got to the point of not knowing.

–It’s safe to say that you fine tune notes and lyrics while creating your songs, right?

Sakamoto: Once the lyrics are finished, they’re typically set. But if I think of something afterwords, I may make subtle adjustments. I may also go over the overall sound, overdubbing, and mixing, etc. It’s just, I’m not sure about current trends, but that result leaves me feeling like I’m left with a song that’s far apart from being a new release.

–With your previous album you presented the minimum level of positivity when handling oneself. What about this time? Have you stepped further into that?

Sakamoto: I suppose so, yeah. I wasn’t trying to say anything in particular, it’s just that feelings from everyday life simply came out. I can have fun under that type of situation. I search for sounds and notes that give me drive. That all basically leaves me bored, but while I was trying to distinguish this fine line of「if I had this then wouldn’t that be cool」, I discovered what I needed, and it somehow all took shape.

–Talking tracks, with the 8th track, “Foolish Situation”, you sing about your sense of rock . . . Or rather, rock that outsiders would approve of. Rock that has broken through with ridiculous levels of force.

Sakamoto: Rock is just that, but generally there really aren’t that many people who interpret rock like that type of music, yeah.

–You have consistently distance yourself, but the sense of basic rock is on par with religion where making offerings on stage is still main stream, right.

Sakamoto: More of a break through, piercing feeling. Seriously a ridiculous level of breaking through is what I feel rock is and that type of rock is still cool I think. Sakamoto Shintaro’s single, “Don’t Know What’s…”

–From there there’s the 9th track “Disco Is” and the dance music you sing about. There seems to be a tolerance of disco culture that shares a commonality with “Foolish Sotuation”.

Sakamoto: Yeah. Both songs have a strong and deep feeling of idiocy. I feel like within a vacuum state, I stumbled across something really good.

–If I were to say it in an easy way to understand, threateningly forward focused J-Pop and its overall message’s polar opposite world, is there help for that genre of foolish and deep music?

Sakamoto: That type of vacuum state becoming embodied is a thorny path. Even if I try to aim for it, I can’t do it. As much as I am aware of it I take my distance and withdraw. I’m not sure if it comes out in this album, but I’m drawn to that music and want to try to make it myself. Because that type of music exists, I think it raises my spirits. But, we just spoke about that a lil while ago, but trying to express and communicate that intention. . . lol. But yeah, that’s kinda of like my motivation to create. Once I finish a song, it’s up to people to listen and feel as they will afterwords.

–Once, you experienced catharsis through fuzz peddle, guitar rock and that roaring sound. While following the minimal pop sensation and that superb nuance, as expected, what part of that did you want catharsis and which parts didn’t you?

Sakamoto: Now when I finish creating, I check it out from various angles. If I can think to my self, 「hey, what’s this now!?」then I know I did a good job. Subtle nuances, sharp notes. Only explainable chords are out. How’s the mood, etc. Subtle details like that. I’m not playing a style of music that no one has listened to before. Through performing and note balance it turns into normal music. Or dance music. Experimental music. It takes you in different directions. This album isn’t rock, and definitely isn’t hard to make music. However, I feel like it may be slightly music that people are very familiar with.

–And so, as a listener, this album will impress in a good way.

Sakamoto: Yeah, looking back after some time has passed, they understand what type of album this is.

–Do you feel that those albums that hit big later on mostly become your personal best records?

Sakamoto: That happens from time to time. I listen to anything now, but I feel that I jump from new music to new music too much and at that time I don’t fully appreciate what I’m listening to. After a few years have passed and I listen to those songs again, I think more deeply about the content. On the other hand, being able to listen to anything without limits is the same as not being able to listen to anything at all I feel.

–This album is coming out on CD, LP, digital, high res and cassette. Are all formats coming out at the same time?

Sakamoto: Nowadays people listen to music through computer speakers and headphones, but I want them to try and listen through stereo speakers or at a club. I think that even listening to it loud, the way music is being made now is that there are things your ears won’t pick up on.

–So, if you listen through a good sound system, then you can dig in deeper and appreciate more?

Sakamoto: In the 80′s gated reverb was the trend and much loved. And then the 90′s rolled around and it became abhorred. That was the music making trend during those generations I feel. But none of that has anything to do with me. I just do my best and that’s all I can do.


【Sakamoto Shintaro’s 『Love if Possible』】
July 27th, 2016 (Wednesday) Release
First Edition: ¥2,600 + tax
Double CD Set, Regular Edition: ¥2,600 + tax
First Edition only Paper Jacket/Each 2 Disc Set/Install BONUS CD included
1. Love If Possible
2. Tournament of Macho Men
3. Another Planet
4. Purging The Demons
5. Like an Animal
6. Feeling Immortal
7. Others
8. Foolish Situation
9. Disco Is
10. Presence
All Songs Written & Produced by Sakamoto Shintaro
■LP(Vinyl):zel-016 (1 Disk Set/mp3DL Card Included)
Price:¥2,600 + tax
Distribution: JET SET
■CT(Cassette Tape):zel-017
Price:¥2,130 + tax(scheduled to go on sale through zelone records’ web shop and
record shops)
■Digital:iTunes Music Store / OTOTOY / レコチョク
■Hi-Res: OTOTOY / e-onkyo / mora