西山宏太朗 Debut mini-album “City”
Is there a song or artist that has helped you in your life so far? Nishiyama: I’m a H!P artist, but I’m S/mileage’s “Tachia Girl”. I had just entered the office, and there weren’t many jobs, and sometimes the hobs I got didn’t go well. At that time, I was saved by the lyrics and melody that can be very positive, and girls’ lively singing voices.
So, what does music mean to you, Nishiyama-san? Is it naturally there? Nishiyama: No matter how hard it was, music pushed me back. There have been many such things in the past, and I am sure there will be many more in the future. At the same time, music helps me create the mood for my life. Low! Project (H1P) reunited. I still listen to Hello! Project songs a lot. By the time I graduated from the training school, I started listening to Takashi Fuji’s songs. Fuji-san made his own disco-style songs, but after listening to them a lot, I fell in love with this genre.
The songs on “CITY” seems to have had a big influence on you. Nishiyama: Yes, now I’m completely obsessed with city pop (laughs). Recently, I often listen to songs by artists such as Awesome City Club and Friends Lucky Kilimanjaro, who are suitable for the night in Shibuya. Also, I really like Aoi Teshima’s songs. That singing voice has a taste and atmosphere that only Teshima can give. I often listen to it when I want to relax, such as when I get home from work and slowly soak in the bath.
Once again, congratulations on your artist debut. Nishiyama-san, what kind of songs have you listened to so far? Nishiyama: When I was little, I used to listen to the kind of songs they played on TV. When I listened to a song on the radio that my parents listened to, I thought, “This song is good. I wonder who’s singing it.” By the way, the first artist I fell in love with was Morning Musume. But at the time, all my friends were Morning Musume (laughs). I was enjoying my music life according to my surroundings. In middle school, I started listening to singer-songwriter YUI-san’s songs, and on the other hand, I was invited by a friend who was an ORANGE fan to go to a festival. Even after entering junior high school, I met a lot of artists and listened to music of various genres. I also met her. I also did it together, but I could tell that “I guess you listened to my song beforehand”. Her enveloping voice made it a perfect closing song for the album.
I heard that you filmed a MV for “Time Machine” as well? Nishiyama: It was a great honour to be able to make a MV following “Stella in the middle of the day!” It’s a lyric video that fuses my handwriting with my walking around town. I want to create a rough atmosphere, so I use a single camera to shoot me walking around town in plain clothes. I think that you can enjoy the video with a different atmosphere from “Stella in the middle of the day”, so please take a look!
It’s a little early, but if you were to release your next album, what would you like it to be? Nishiyama: Well, I would like to sing a song with a strong digital element. This time, too, I processed my voice, strengthened the echo, and did a lot of other things.
Will you compose your own songs someday? Nishiyama: Well, if you have the opportunity, you may want to raise it in the sense of “challenging”. But now, I want as many people as possible to listen to the work “CITY”. That’s all. Nice to meet you! Thankfully, I had the opportunity to write many notes. By writing the lyrics, I can spend more time on each song, and I think my love for the song has deepened accordingly. In that sense, I truly feel glad that I wrote the lyrics.
Regarding the lyrics, was the part you use your head different from the column “Adam and Eve and Koutarou Nishiyama” serialized in the “Seiyuu Grand Prix” magazine? Nishiyama: I agree. I can freely decide the theme of the column, but I had in mind that each song had its own theme, and I had to stick to it. That fight was pretty tough. But on the other hand, I sometimes feel like, “I’m the one who sings, so I don’t care what happens…” (laughs). Thinking about it made me feel a little better. If I were to provide lyrics to someone’s song, I think I would be really nervous. This time too, especially when I submitted the lyrics for “Chiki Poo Hour”, I was so nervous that “Are these lyrics really going to be accepted?”
What was the reason for Reina Ueda to ask you for the last song, “Time Machie”? Nishiyama: She belongs to the same agency and is also a label mate, and in fact the music director was the same as mine, so the connection was great when recording.
How was the reaction of those around you when your debut as an artist was decided? Nishiyama: I received a lot of “Congratulations”, but I felt strange inside myself. I was thinking of becoming an artist as a step forward to a new challenge for myself, so I honestly didn’t think of the word “auspicious”. However, when I received words of congratulations from various places, I was reminded once again that “being able to make a debut is truly a wonderful thing”.
By the way, what was your parents’ reaction? Nishiyama: I guess my parents didn’t think I was doing a proper artist activity. At first, the reaction was curt, like, “Oh, that’s right,” but when I showed them the music video for Mahiru Doki no Sutera, they were surprised and said, “It’s serious…” (smiles)
What is the concept of this mini album? Nishiyama: The theme is “one day”, and each song has a “time zone”. First, after deciding the time period for each song, I took the production method of thinking about the detailed situation for each song. It’s an image of… “Time passes from morning to night in the other of recording.”
Among the songs on the album, you have attempted to write the lyrics for 3 songs yourself. Nishiyama: I just debuted as an artist.
Track 1: “Lights are dancing outside” Nishiyama: 6:00 am I ordered with the image of “summer heat”. The image is that the song is on top of the BGM that is playing in the café, and the melody line that makes you think that the music is complete is characteristic. The lyrics were written by Kodama Ameko-san, who has written many songs for Hello! Among the lyrics, my favourite phrase is “Fish are swimming on TV”. Isn’t there an idiom that uses fish that say, “I have the eyes of a dead fish?” In my case, the image of a “lifeless fish” reminded me of people living their lives indifferently every day. Do you feel like you’re looking at a negative scene through the TV? Nishiyama: From the last lyric, “I feel like I’m going to mee you, I have a premonition,” it’s not bright, but I feel like I can see something sparkly somewhere, and it’s like watching a movie. It makes you feel like you are there.
Track 2: Stella in the middle of the day – We uploaded the MV for Track 2 from 11:00 to 14:00 ahead of time on the web, and it was great to see so many people watching it. I feel that the charm of the song is spreading more and more, with people uploading it in the form of “I tried singing” or “I tried playing” on SNS. ORESAMA’S Pon-san oversaw writing the lyrics, and the staff suggested, “Would you like to ask Pon-san to write the lyrics?” I like songs that suddenly come with unrealistic lyrics. Even if it, you can see production that led to city pop everywhere, so I thought it was perfect. I want to listen to ORESAMA’S version of “Mahiru Doki no Stella!”
Track 3: Chiki Pooh Hour – 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm. I think there were quite a few people who were overwhelmed by the pressure of “I have to accomplish something because it’s a time like this.” I was one of those people, but I concluded that “I won’t do anything until I find what I want to do.” Then, I realized that I was tryning to live my life to the fullest, thinking, “Maybe I like cleaning and cooking.” I oversaw writing the lyrics for this song, and I wrote the lyrics with the message “Isn’t it good to start from nothing?” The word “Chiki Chiki Poo” doesn’t mean anything, but when I thought that it fits the theme of the song itself, I felt like my horizons expanded. I think it would be fun if you could replace the time spend lazing around and doing nothing with a cute “Chiki Poo hour”. By the way, I would like to aim for a buzzword with this word (laughs).
Track 4: Yokohama Swing – 16:00 to 18:00 Jazzy, it’s a very comfortable song. At the stage of writing the song, the Olympics were still scheduled to be held this summer, so I thought it would be interesting if there was a song that could guide the audience from all over the world. Don’t you think so? “I would appreciate it if you could set the stage in my hometown, Yokohama!”, and I was accepted. We asked Ryohei Matsufuji, the lyricist, to tour the streets of Yokohama. Since I’m living in this age, when I followed the lyrics on “Google Earth”, I was able to tour Yokohama. It is also recommended as a walking coure, so please enjoy the city of Yokohama while listening to music!
Track 5 Tobikiri no Yoru wa Koko aru – 19:00 to 21:00 It’s a song that can be called “The City Pop.” “Can you sing?” The pressure was considerable. During this, the staff encouraged me, saying, “Why don’t you try it?” It’s the first time I’ve tried writing the lyrics for this song, but the lyrics for verse 2 didn’t come out easily… It was a lot of work, but I think I managed to come up with something that I’m satisfied with. The phrase “sapphire” just popped into my head, but when I looked up the language of stones, I found out that it also means “faithfulness”, so I thought, “Let’s put it in the lyric!” I wrote a slightly dramatic story in which a normally sincere man starts playing with fire. I put in the lyrics the excitement of going out to a night picture with a friend or lover. It’s a very fast-paced melody line, and if you listen carefully, you’ll be able to hear the hustle and bustle of the city, so please enjoy it in a relaxed atmosphere.
Track 6 Time Machine – “Time Machine” and “Tobikiri no Yoru wa Koko aru” are songs that I would like you to listen while immersing yourself in the afterglow. Ueda Reina-chan joins in the chorus, and it sounds like we are doing a duet in the chorus. Since I made my debut as an artist, I wanted to do a duet someday, but when the song she chose happened to have a female chorus part, that wish suddenly came true…(laughs). Although the title of the song is “Time Machine”, it is not a strong desire to “go back to the past”, rather a small request like “I want to go back to yesterday and do this.” “Enamel bag” is an image of the bag I used for club activities when I was a student, and I tried incorporating a phrase that makes me feel a little nostalgic. There may be many. I simply rephrased “Cola” (laughs). But don’t you feel that just changing the way you say it gives it some meaning?
An ideal day’s schedule – The day before the date changes, I go to bed before the date changes, and after getting plenty of sleep, I wake up at 7:00 in the morning. After that, I eat a very standard breakfast (Western style) such as fried eggs and sausages, watch a variety show that I recorded before, and then make a bento and go out. The season is… late summer. We rented a car and went to the sea where we could feel the coolness of the wind and had an exciting lunch time. After that, I enjoy shopping and go home around 15:00. Then I enjoy “Chiki Poo Hour” at home (laughs), and then go out to eat with my friends for dinner. A delicious fish dish would be nice. Also, I don’t drink much, so when I come home slightly intoxicated, I play games slowly in my room, take a long bath, and go to bed in a relaxed state.
What’s the best thing that happened to you recently? Nishiyama: By making my debut as an artist, I was able to reunite with the editors, writers, cameramen, and other people I’ve worked with. I absolutely love the feeling of “creating a work together”, and I’m happy to meet them again at the interview.
What kind of clothes do you like? Nishiyama: Recently, I’ve been interested in clothes with a sense of sheerness, such as mesh material. Depending on what you wear inside the mesh, the image will change considerably, so I realized that it is convenient to be able to easily change the look (laughs).
What were you doing the day before yesterday? Nishiyama: I ate cold udon and felt the summer. After that, I went to work, and when I got home, I played games. Animal Crossing: New Horizons has never been more addicting. I kept my “island” clean so that I could show it to others (laughs).
What are the recommend spots in Yokohama? Nishiyama: It is a water bus called “Sea Bass”. From the boarding area near Yokohama Station, you can enjoy a small cruise while looking at the beautiful scenery at Yamashita Park and Yokohama Chinatown, including the Yokohama Landmark Tower.
What kind of love story do you like? Nishiyama: Rather than a story in which a clumsy main character struggles to connect, I prefer a work that honestly conveys his love. That’s right…. Happiness is conveyed straight. When I see a couple walking in the city, I feel happy even here.
What is your favourite season? Nishiyama: Even if you let things get out of hand for a bit, you can feel like, “It’s okay to blame it on summer.” I think there are a lot of people who sympathize with me (laughs). It makes me want to go outside and I love it. Also, every year, I eat a lot of seasonal foods such as curry with summer vegetables and chilled Chinese noodles!