世界で活躍するグローバル・リーダーを bimonthly (隔月ごと）にYGCでインタビューしていきます。全て英語でインタビューが記載されていますので、是非最後まで頑張って読んでいきましょう！
その後、レコーディングディレクターとして数々のアーティストの音楽制作を手掛け、これまでたくさんのアーティストを成功に導いてこられました。今までに制作に携わったアーティストはPerfume、きゃりーぱみゅぱみゅ、CAPSULE、手嶌葵、SMAP、椎名林檎、E-girls、平井堅、坂本龍一、渡辺貞夫、古澤巌、One Voice Children‛s Choirなど、ジャンルを問わず多岐に渡ります。
2020年には、ヒーリングミュージックを中心にした音楽レーベル「Holos Music」を立ち上げ、癒し、メディテーション、睡眠などの為の音楽アルバムを多数リリース。また統合医療としての音楽の効果を研究。音楽療法として効果を実感できる「Holos Music Therapy」もスタートされました。
- You are a world-renowned music producer. What kind of music did you listen to in your childhood years? Also, what kind of things were you interested in as a child?
As a child, I often stayed home alone, during which I would watch movies on TV while my parents worked late into the night. I remember when I was in second grade that I watched an old movie, “The Glenn Miller Story” that featured a jazz musician. I was very moved by it and began liking the music. It was a time when you turned on the radio, you could hear jazz music play every day. You could say that I began to appreciate music because of my love for jazz.
Other than music, I collected stamps, made plant specimens, compiled rocks, assembled bonsai trees, rode bicycles, and so on—I pretty much took interest and was absorbed in all kinds of things. When I found something interesting, I would look it up at the public library and with plant specimens, I would make pressed flowers from plants that grew along the wayside. I think I was resourceful in that I would entertain myself without spending any money. Years of nurturing and acquiring such miscellaneous knowledge is what I believe came in handy in my adult life.
- You are involved in a wide variety of professions in the field of music. What do you enjoy the most in that realm?
This may sound a little technical, but my favorite part of the music production is the process of “vocal editing.” It is the process of selecting the best parts of a singer’s recorded voice and song and joining them together to refine it into one beautiful song. As a producer, my job is to maximize the value of the artists and works of art that I produce, deliver and sell them to interested parties, and monetize the contents. Vocal editing is a delicate, elaborate process that involves correcting the pitch and at times editing the consonants and vowels of the voice separately, controlling sound to the nearest 1/100th of a second. I often get carried away as I carry out this process, thinking to myself that I will maximize the artist’s value and create a masterpiece!
- You have created songs for TV and radio commercials since you were a university student. What triggered you to do this?
I do not exactly come from a financially well-off background and thus did not receive proper music education as a child. It was not until I was in high school that I began to learn guitar at Yamaha (Yamaha Music Foundation), and from that time on, I was allured with not only playing, but also composing and arranging music, especially in the field of commercial song productions. If I had the chance, I even wanted a career in an advertising agency. As my guitar skills improved, I was invited to play with many semi-professional members. Later, I had the opportunity to form a band with one of the members at a TV station. I expressed my interest in creating songs for commercials and advertisements, and the station offered me a job in that area. In due course, I started making connections with advertising agencies, and I guess you can say that the rest is history! To confess, I still have trouble reading and writing musical scores, but commercial songs are generally short with only 15 seconds. As long as I had some ideas in mind, the songs I composed just came out naturally, and that is where the fun was.
- You have produced many talented artists who are not only popular in Japan, but also abroad. Can you tell us the secret behind their success?
To preface here, I do not consider myself to be that successful. In comparing famous artists from overseas the coverage and presence of Japanese artists are still very small. Having said that, taking an example of an artist that I significantly took part in producing, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, I believe it was momentous that we envisioned her presence in the U.S. market from the onset of her debut in 2010. It was also a time when Japanese pop culture, Harajuku culture, in particular, was gradually gaining recognition and popularity, and American discount stores were launching its themed fashion brands. Kyary Pamyu Pamyu was a huge Harajuku icon at the time, and we were convinced that we could capitalize on this trend by designedly creating colorful and slightly eccentric outfits along with onomatopoeic lyrics that could be enjoyed by many regardless of any language being spoken. It was also happenstance that the popularity came from being tweeted by influential artists such as Katy Perry. If there was a secret behind this success, I would say that we were strategically aware of the American trends from the beginning.
- When was the first time you worked abroad? In the professional music world, how different are things between Japan and the world?
The project I worked on about 20 years ago in New York was probably my first major assignment overseas. I was in New York to complete the production of a song for an artist I was producing at the time and commissioned a mix engineer known for working with Madonna and other artists to finalize the vocal edits. The mix engineer praised my editing skills and was amazed with the precision of my editing but finalized the piece with a very “American” taste that I could have never assembled. I realized then that English speakers and Japanese speakers fundamentally have different ears in processing sounds as they hear disparate sounds in everyday life. Generally speaking, English has a higher range of frequency in sounds than Japanese. I then perceived that the mix engineer was able to pick up and even mix breath sounds such as “f” and “sh” that I as a Japanese speaker could not catch. The end creation truly was incredible!
Whether this “American” taste would be a hit in Japan was another matter. Most often, the general public does not listen to every single note in detail. It is no doubt that music from overseas is dazzling, but to be able to sell and be a smash hit in Japan, it is necessary to adapt the music to the sensibilities and needs of the Japanese people. As the disposition of a language changes, so does the preference of music. This epiphany also led me to realize how much I lacked perception of “localization” in my own profession as a producer.
- To be able to live and work abroad, how should the younger generation prepare themselves?
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to meet a very famous artist from the Middle East and listen to his music. There was an incident that I regrettably was unable to fathom the appeal of the music. But at the same time, it made me realize that no single thing in this world can be felt as “good” or satisfying by all 7.5 billion people in the world. That is where “localization” comes in. Even if you aspire to work abroad or engage in things globally, I think it is essential to first establish in your mind what and where exactly you want to take things on a global scale. Even in the U.S. alone, the culture and customs differ between the coastal areas and the Midwest. I also believe that it is critical to grasp all necessary information of the area (country) you want to work and live in and to accept and understand all that before taking action.
- What do you think of the education, in particular the English education, in Japan?
I do not think that English education in Japan is practical enough. What’s vital for English is how much exposure you have and how accustomed you are to the language. I think it’s important not only to listen and watch, but also speak out and try to communicate with others at the risk of making mistakes or not even understanding them. I think it is also great to have opportunities to communicate with native speakers from as early an age as possible. Today’s technologies in online communications and the advancement of translation tools allow us to pursue English learning to a greater extent than in the past and there are Japanese creators who thrive in this world without being able to speak a word of English. However, I myself have experienced frustrations many times due to my lack of English ability, so I know firsthand the significance of being able to freely express my thoughts directly in English. Being able to speak English opens many doors and certainly enables communications with a large group of people outside of Japan.
- Can you tell us what plans and prospects you have for your next project(s)?
I am in constant search of ways to make Japanese music a hit worldwide. In the days when CDs were considered mainstream, Japan’s music industry was pretty much a recluse from the rest of the world: Japanese people would buy CDs of songs written and composed by Japanese people, and that was enough to establish a market of 100 million people. The standard of music now, however, is streaming. The unit price per song for streaming is much lower than that of a CD, so unless a single song is played hundreds of times, it would not even equate to the sale of one single CD. As such, the market will no longer be viable if we are to only deal with the Japanese market and thus, it is indispensable for the world to know the allure of Japanese music if we want to carry on in this industry. We’ve come to a defining moment of whether we can incorporate the unique essence of Japan into the music, differentiate it from other types of songs, and make it a hit. An American producer once said to me, “Japan is a country with a long history—perhaps there are some clues behind the history.” I’ve actually been reviewing Japanese history dating back to the Jomon Period to search for any strand that could be useful. Recently, an anime production that successfully blended elements unique to Japan and its history became a worldwide hit, and it would be ideal to also see the music industry follow in their footsteps.
- Who do you respect as a global leader?
There are so many people whom I respect, but to name them in particular, it would have to be Toshio Suzuki of Studio Ghibli and Jun Murai, an emeritus professor at Keio University, famously known as the “father of the Internet” in Japan. Mr. Suzuki gave me the opportunity to learn his music production of a theme song for a box office hit anime film, Tales from Earthsea (Gedo Senki). I very much respect Professor Murai for his international presence and abundance of information and ambitions, not to mention his warm, friendly temperament. Others would be producers specializing in various fields at Yamaha, whom I fortunately had the opportunity to work with, and I was able to learn from the best of each of them, so to speak.
- Is there a way you can change society for the better through the power of music?
I believe there are two ways to change this. One comes from the effects and utilities of a sound. A sound always has some effect on the mind and body of the listener. An example would be when listening to high tempo music, we tend to want to dance; a song with a minor chord tends to make us feel somber. I truly believe that it is even possible to apply such effects to improve mental health in a medically assisted way. If all goes well, this could perhaps make an impact on our bodies physically as well. My profession also involves music therapy, whereby my current focus is on research for such possibilities.
The other one is the inherent power of music. This comes from artists’ passions or messages of the lyrics. This is epitomized by John Lennon’s “Imagine,” which indeed influenced the spirit of people around the world and is still sung to this day: This truly is the power of music, influencing the psychology of people through performances and songs. A song with a profound message can be the essence to changing the world in a positive way.
- Please share your message to the younger generations who aspire to become future global leaders or who aspire to become change-makers.
By seeing the successful people around me, I myself have come to discern that what is important is to imagine what you truly want to be and not be reserved when developing your own imagination. If you speak out your thoughts and imagination, others may deny it, but inside your head, you are free to think whatever is on your mind, and no one has the right to contradict that. Let your imagination run wild and think, “I am going to become a big leaguer and surpass Shohei Ohtani!” It is okay to think big and act bold. When you have clear objectives and goals in mind, your mental sensors start to work naturally, and an opportunity will present itself!
- You authored the book, “Why is Your Job Boring? (Anata no Shigoto wa Naze Tsumaranainoka)” (Wani Books) and I felt that your message was to change negative things into positive ones. In order to do this, I think you need an open, flexible mind and have the audacity to take risks. What should the younger generation be conscious of in actually putting these things into practice and carving out a future for themselves in this country?
In reality, people sometimes tell me that no matter how much they imagine their ideal selves, it never works out. Nevertheless, I do believe that it is important to maintain a positive mindset for as long as you possibly can, and those who can continue to think positively and persist are the ones that succeed. This is surprisingly difficult to keep in mind, and when ordinary people think about things, it is quite natural for them to think negatively. Simply put, when you are engaged in something you enjoy doing, you tend to have positive, happy thoughts—why not immerse yourself in that? Whether that is the world of anime or YouTube and you discover something fascinating there, how great is that? At any rate, I believe it is meaningful to see many different worlds while keeping a focus on what you love.
- 中脇雅裕さん ご著書紹介『あなたの仕事はなぜつまらないのか ～人生が500倍楽しくなる妄想力～』(ワニブックス)
A world-renowned music producer, Masahiro Nakawaki—who has produced songs for famous artists such as Kyari Pamu Pamu and many others—enlightens how to construct a “successful mind.” A book of pointers for an exciting life where the key to enjoying your daily work life and honing your creative power is your imagination! It’s well worth a read!
「あなたの仕事はなぜつまらないのか ～人生が500倍楽しくなる妄想力～」 「ワニブックス」