The image that I have of “CITY” is a place where people with interests gather. The lead song “Mahiru Doki no Stella” was released early, how was the reaction from the people around you and the fans? Nishiyama: Thankfully, it’s been well received. People say things like, “That’s a perfect song,” and “You started playing city pop.” I was very happy.
And the debut mini album “CITY” has been completed! First, please tell us what the concept of the album is. Nishiyama: The theme of this album is “one day” from morning to night, and each song has its own time axis. As the time changes, the atmosphere of the song changes, and I think that it has become a work rich in variety that allows you to enjoy its individuality.
Interesting, where did the idea come from? Nishiyama: When the production team asked me, “Do you have a theme you’d like to work on?” I thought it would be interesting. When I told them that, the production team also said, “Actually, we were thinking the same thing,” and submitted a proposal. I was surprised and happy to find that they were all facing the same direction.
Regarding the title “CITY”, what kind of image comes to mind when you hear the word? Nishiyama: There are a lot of privately-owned shops, and it’s like a town where each of them has their own special products. And it seems that people who love things that match the land are gathering.
It looks like a row of skyscrapers. Nishiyama: No, if anything, I imagine a sophisticated yet warm space rather than an office district.
Were there any specific requests from Nishiyama-san regarding one song/ Nishiyama: As I said earlier, each song has its own time zone. So, I told the composers what I had in mind, and they were selected in a competition from among the submitted songs. It was my first experience, and it was a really luxurious experience.
Normally, the beginning of an album is the heart of the listener. However, the first song, “Soto de Hikari ga Odotte iru” is a quiet song that gently creates a world. Nishiyama: It’s not like I was aiming for it, but when I put the songs together, it just felt right.
Kodama Ameko-san, who oversaw writing one of the lyrics, has written a lot of songs for idols in Haropguchi. Nishiyama: That’s right! The team also said, “Let’s have Kodama-san write it,” and it was realized this time. When I read the lyrics for the first time, the sadness and loneliness of the morning were conveyed to me in a very good way. The imbalance of everyday life is really good. I think it’s a great song to listen to when you wake up in the morning.
On the other hand, “Yokohama Swing”, written by Ryohei Mastsufuji, is a lively song. Nishiyama: In this song, I walk around the city of Yokohama, and Ryohei-san walked around Yokohama around four times to create it.
The exchanges between foreign toursits and Chinese restaurants that are inserted between songs are also interesting. Nishiyama: The person from Chinatown was played by Yusuke Shirai-san. Shirai-bushi is really bursting (laughs), so I’d like you to pay attention to that as well.
Nishiyama-san oversees writing the lyrics for three songs this time, “Chiki Pooh Hour”, “Tobikiri no Yoru wa Koko Aru” and “Time Machine”. First, the title of “Chiki Pooh Hour” is of course fun, but the lyrics are really fun. How did you come up with this? Nishiyama: Hahaha, I was working during the period of self-restraint due to the corona crisis, but I thought that there were a lot of people who thought, “I have to accomplish something” and “I have to grow in some way”, and instead felt pressured. So, on the contrary, try doing nothing and find something you want to do there.
That’s also a message. Nishiyama: The moment you immerse yourself in the city through music is irresistibly pleasant.
The other two songs are about the night. Nishiyama: Not only because I like the nighttime, but also because there are few sounds in the night song, so I was advised that it would be perfect for beginner songwriters. It’s true that the development of the song itself isn’t too big, so it was easy to write.
Are there any parts in the lyrics that reflect your own memories? Nishiyama: There is no such thing as everything exactly as it is, but when I wrote the part about “eyes hidden by bangs” in “Tobikiri no Yoru wa Kokore aru”, my bangs were growing out, and the headwind was blowing. The moment my vision became clear, I felt like, “I’m cool today!”
And the “Time Machine” that decorates the end. It’s about nostalgia, but does Nishiyama-san also have the feeling of wanting to go back in time with a time machine? Nishiyama: Now that I think about it, I realized that we no longer get together late at night to play in the park in the next town or hang out with friends in front of a convenience store for no reason. I feel nostalgic for that kind of thing, and I want to enjoy it again. Also, when I chose this song, I noticed that there was a chorus one octave higher, so I decided to ask Reina Ueda-san from the same agency and same label. I was longing for a duet, but I never thought it would be realized in such a form.
What is the appeal of city pop from your point of view, Nishiyama-san? Nishiyama: Hmm… When I listen to it, I feel like I’m stretching myself, or rather, I feel like I don’t need my lame self. It feels great to be immersed in the city through music. I think it’s attractive that it makes me think that I’m fashionable when I listen to it.
How did you into this kind of music in the first place? Nishiyama: I like Takashi Fujii-san, and when I was chasing the music and club events that Fujii-san makes, I ended up with a slightly nostalgic sound like a disco, and from there. On the other hand, I also like tofubeats and chill music, so I wanted to aim for modern city pop.
Are there any influences from Hello! Project? Nishiyama: Yes because the lyrics of Tsunku-san’s songs are original and have subculture elements.
The songs from this album will be unveiled for the first time at “Ore Para Presents Ore Sama 2020”, which will be held just before the release of this issue. Nishiyama: Yes, I really love these songs, so it would be nice if I could sing that love to everyone.
Did the regulars contact you when you decided to appear on the big Hinoki stage? Nishiyama: Kenichi Suzumura-san contacted me saying, “Congratulations!” on the day of the official announcement. Also, Takuma Terashima-san said, “Nice to meet you!” on LINE (laughs).
Based on this album, do you have any hopes for activities like this in the future? Nishiyama: I can’t help but wonder what kind of chemical reaction will occur when this “CITY” reaches everyone. After feeling that, I want to think carefully about the future.
Thank you. Lastly, please give a message to your fans. Nishiyama: It’s an album filled with all the things I want to do, and I’ve put a lot of love into it. I will do my best from now on, so please give me your warm support!