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Anyway, off to the interview!
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Ogura Yui and Ishihara Kaori; the active seiyuu duo-unit—YuiKaori. Since May 2010, after their debut, they have constantly been publishing many songs and now they have completed a new single titled “Intro Situation”. It’s their first appearance on Natalie. This interview will be centered around the new single; about their stand as a duo-unit and also about how they deal with the music as individuals.
A Summer pop-tune song from the two who were born in summer;
—It is said that ”Intro Situation” is “YuiKaori’s first summer pop-tune”, but as the two of you were born in August. Does summer have a special meaning to you?
Ishihara Kaori: It absolutely makes me thrilled whenever it [August] comes! I don’t have to think about “What will I do when summer comes?” since the first half of the college year has ended and after will be a long holiday (laughs). Not to mention that it will be bright until evening [the sunrises earlier and sets later], so I have an impression that summer would be fun!
Ogura Yui: Since I have an image of my birthday being celebrated in summer, I’m really looking forward to it from now on (laughs).
— Lately, there aren’t any straight forward love song titles for YuiKaori’s singles, right? You continued with songs that sent a message of support to people, and a few striking novelty pop songs.
Ogura: Aah, that’s true. It might be a while since then.
Ishihara: Now that you say it, it might have even been longer than since.
—Did you plan to sing it differently, since it’s a love song?
Ishihara: The song has a summer feel to it. Since it’s a love song, we sang it while thinking of having those feelings. So we sang as straightforward as we could.
About “The raised expectations.”
— What kind of impression did you get when you first heard the song?
Ogura: It was right after we finished our previous single, “LUCKY DUCKY!!” (8th single, released in April 2014), we were told that “the next one will be a summer song”. We were also told that “After a while, This time, it’ll be with Shunryuu-san”, so I thought about it a lot. Since the expectation was higher, at first I was really scared to listen it (laughs). But after listening to it; it was a really wonderful song that I overcame the weight of the expectations, and wanted to get to [record] the song immediately.
Ishihara: The Staff said that, “It’s a summer song, it’s not the ‘everlasting summer-type’ song. Instead it was a solemn, but refreshing song.” After that, I tried listening to it, and it’s my favorite type of music, and thought, “Yay!”
Ogura: A long time ago, before our debut (as YuiKaori), we released a CD titled 「Koi no Overtake」. It was the first song we sung that was by Shunryuu-san.
Ishihara: Since he had known us for a long time, we feel really relieved by that (laughs). He definitely goes to our live performances, too!
—Have you heard a story regarding Shunryuu-san talking about your singing style?
Ishihara: I don’t think he ever told directly. But he told us a long time ago, “Because the two of you have a straightforward voice, you have to take advantage of it.”
Ogura: We don’t talk about it recently, so I’m quite curious on what he thinks of us now. (laughs)
—Regarding Shunryuu-san’s songs; it seems that it’s because he has known you two a long time now, that’s why he knows how to raise the difficulty [of the songs] slowly, as if you were climbing the stairs and leveling up.
Ishihara: Ah, he did say that! “I will gradually raise the difficulty.”
Ogura: He did say something like that for our first album, Puppy, released in September 2011. “This time, the difficulty will be higher.”
Ishihara: In Puppy, I had a solo song titled “Magic Starter,” it was by Shunryuu-san. That time he said, “I made it really difficult, I’m sorry.” (laughs). But then, he said that, “If you can reach this part, the rest will follow, so do your best.” He really raised the difficulty little by little, and we always clung onto that kind of progress. It was as if he silently gives us trials [in singing].
Ogura: Sometimes he will tell us about what the trials were, but that usually happens when the recording has already finished (laughs). He’s really thoughtful.
The two who shared both fun and tough times
—Well then, how was the recording this time?
Ishihara: Since we’ve been doing this together for a long time, so I already know such things as “this part should be song this way, I guess?” I was able to finish without many struggles.
Ogura: The song from our 2nd Album, Bunny; “Tsubasa ni Naru yo” had a higher difficulty, but because of that, we were able to sing Intro Situation quite smoothly.
— When you sing the lyrics as if they were your own words, how did you work around it to make it have a personality like it was you in the situation? Did you stick with the heroine’s point of view? Or did you make a distance to some extent [thinking outside of the box]?
Ishihara: For me, I didn’t stick to the heroine’s point of view. When the scenes came out, I could understand it better by seeing it from afar compared to the heroine’s point of view.
Ogura: For me, I usually stick to the heroine’s point of view. First, I imagine how the story would be and something like “I will apply this heroine in this story.” I imagine the scenes and the feelings inside my head, so I could draw out a conclusion that the heroine might be singing this way or that way. It’s quite close to what I usually do when voicing in an anime.
— Whenever you look at the frame of the story in your perspective, does it being a profession take a big part on how you perceive it?
Ogura: I suppose that’s true, too. That’s why my nature and tone of voice changes depending on the song, unconsciously.
— It’s interesting, because the two of you have your own perspectives, but you can be in unison like it’s natural.
Ogura: Maybe because we already understand and know that if one “Will do this,” the other “Will do that.”
Ishihara: Yeah, it certainly is like that.
— It’s interesting how the both of you could understand each other that much. It certainly a relationship one could be envious of. It would be understandable if you were a band that is like childhood friends, but you have other activities beside this unit.
Ogura: We’ve been always together, as if we were really childhood friends. We both share both fun and tough times together (laughs).
Ishihara: We ate the same food as well (laughs).
Ogura: We have overcame mountains and valleys of challenges together after all, understanding each other is like a natural thing now.
— Compared to your early days, has your perception of the lyrics of a song changed since then?
Ishihara: On my early days, I was desperately thinking about where should I put the accent. In the end, I wasn’t able to learn it, and ended up forgetting about understanding the lyrics. Eventually, putting your feelings into is more important than just having skills… I realized it around this time (while pointing to “Kimi no YELL” from all of their works that has been arranged in chronological order on the table). It took me a while (laughs), but since then, I’ve always been thinking on what stance [style] to put my feelings on while singing.
Ogura: For me, I desperately tried to live up to the expectations that everyone told me. Slowly, I learned how to sing, thanks to my voice acting jobs. Like how to put a playful side to my style of singing, and gradually doing it in a way I would like it to be. “I want to try it like this,” or something like that.
—When was your turning point?
Ogura: Hmm, maybe it was around “Shooting☆Smile” (4th single, released in April 2014). Because on “Puppy”, I already enjoy singing by that time.
“YuiKaori singing [About] Privilege, Responsibility, and Ambition”
— As for the coupling song, “MIRRORING DESIGNS”… it’s a really snappy dance music, even if it’s you two, cutesy ladies sang it, it feels like a song about privileges and responsibilities.
Ogura: We didn’t expect that we would be singing a song about “Ambition” for a YuiKaori song. (laughs)
Ishihara: I thought about it, ‘Privilege, huh…” At those times (while pointing at their early works), it was a word that I couldn’t really imagine singing about. So I thought, “Finally, we’ve reached up to this point, too!” (laughs). Because until now, we’ve never done a snappy dance music-like song. I was worried if I can sing it properly with a switch turned on or something. I thought, “So I can sing a song until my energy is up to this point,” I feel like I found a new field.
Ogura: Since we’re both born in summer, we were told that the aim is to create a more mature melody. Because we thought that it’d be nice to let ourselves out, which hasn’t happened until now, we really enjoyed singing it. Besides, the two of us really like dancing. So when we thought that we will really shine while dancing with this song, we look forward to singing it in our live, too!
— A little while ago, when I was asking about how you do your planning on singing a song, these two songs are really different with each other. How did you handle the switch?
Ishihara: For “Intro Situation” I was seeing it from afar [outside the box], but for this I thought that I should sing it closer to how I usually am. It wasn’t too intense, but it’s an emotion that I also have inside myself. So I decided to put my personality in it while thinking on how to sing it.
Ogura: If I were to compare it to our the other mainstream songs we’ve been singing until now, this song describes a mental state of someone who stands in the front stage [part of the mainstream] on a daily basis, or something close to that. With a determination that I don’t usually show, I thought that I should do my best to not lose [to this song]. I sang it while looking back to my experiences up to now.
— It is rare to sing about “Privilege and Responsibility” in melody, after all (laughs). I’ve heard it, and it’s really hooking and very catching!
Ishihara: That’s actually my part, then the first time we got the lyrics, we didn’t know who would be the first to sing. And I thought, “So it’s me, huh~?” (laughs).
—Was it difficult to sing a different song from the usual?
Ogura: I was hoping to pratice more than usual, but when I took the recording first, my feelings didn’t really flow into the song. When I sang the sabi (Chorus) of the song, it started going well. The a melo (verse) was a little too hard for me, so I couldn’t sing it well. But I was told that the sabi (Chorus) should come first, I recorded it first, before recording the a melo (verse) and the b melo (second voice); that way my feelings came along properly. (See: Eurobeat Mechanics)
Ishihara: As for me, I did the recording early in the morning, so unexpectedly, my tension was going up (laughs). At first I felt like just using my usual voice, they said that it sounded nice on my first try. So we recorded it soon after.
—You’ve been releasing singles in a faster pace lately, in less than three months in between. It’s been a while, isn’t it? It’s like YuiKaori is on the attack now!
Ishihara: Ah~ That’s true. Maybe it’s majorly influenced by Yui-chan becoming a college student, too. You have tests for the first term, so it’ll be difficult from now on, you know?
Ogura: Is that so?
Ishihara: Since everyone will only talk about how “Tests are awful, aren’t they?” (laughs).
Ogura: That’s true, a little while before, I always thought “Recently, I haven’t met with Kaori-chan~” However, lately we always meet each other. Like the other day we just had a shoot, and now we already have another (laughs).
Ishihara: We also had a live last February, from then on we’ve always been together. We were having fun on the rehearsal, and until now, I’m still in an extended festive mood because of it (laughs).
—If one were to see the making video of “Intro Situation” that was uploaded on YouTube, they will definitely understand what you meant by being “in a festive mood” (laughs).
Ishihara: I was thinking that I should be careful of my physical strength between the shooting, for the second half… but I ended up exerting more energy. I was really tired on the second half of the shoot. (laughs)
—You will hold a birthday live in August. Has the contents been established?
Ishihara: Not yet. The other day, we happened to see the hall for the live, (Tokyo, AiiA Theater), “It’s such a wonderful place!” We were both really hyped.
YuiKaori’s other-self introduction
—It’s the last one. Instead of self introduction, could you do an ‘other-self introduction’? Please introduce each other.
Ishihara: I think, Yui-chan has been more calm, recently. I’ve always seen her level-headed on the surface when she’s working, but I thought that her usual self is always on the loose (laughs). She’s punctual, but she always tears the snacks’ wrapping papers sloppily (laughs). She has a lot of unexpected sides to her. We’ve been together for a really long time, but I always discover something new and react like, “So you do it like that!?”
Ogura: She always says that with a laugh!
Ishihara: Because it’s weird, you know?
—Well then, on the contrary, how is Ishihara from Ogura’s point of view?
Ogura: Compared to before, Kaori-chan has become a lot more like an adult lately (laughs). A sudden change occurred at one point, you know? Now she can firmly convey her thoughts, and since she became a college student, her fashion has become adult-like too. But her weirdness will always be very weird.
Ishihara: You know, Yui-chan always laughs at me when I’m getting angry.
—Is her angry face interesting? Or the atmosphere is interesting whenever she becomes angry?
Ogura: I wonder?
Ishihara: Maybe it’s because I shut up whenever I’m angry~
Ogura: We always laugh when we’re together, but whenever we get angry, we’ll be silent. Because I do the same thing when I’m angry. But whenever I see Kaori-chan getting angry, it’s really fun. It’s because her anger wakes me up, it’s helpful (laughs).
Translations: Orihara Rurei
Translate Check/Proofreading: Takahashi Satsuki
Source and Photos: Natalie Power Push