Saturday, September 13, 2014

Translation by: Gise - CoMYVz Crew

MIYAVI’s new single 「Real?」  has been released.

For the single’s title track, MIYAVI has worked together with famous American producers Jam & Lewis. The powerful synth bass, backing vocals and guitar riff work together in harmony to form an uplifting song.

This time Natalie spoke to MIYAVI and Terry Lewis from Jam & Lewis trough skype. What do these famous producers think of MIYAVI?


First of all Terry, please tell us how you got to know MIYAVI.

Terry: An agent from Japan told me “I have this amazing artist with a crazy guitar playing style”. He then sent me a few links to MIYAVI’s videos and I watched them all at the time.

What did you think of it?

Terry: If I wasn’t into it I wouldn’t have watched them all! Either way MIYAVI has so many works (haha). Then when MIYAVI had a show in LA I went to the venue to watch. It was a wonderful live and MIYAVI is a perfect artist. There were people of many different races in the audience and the fact that everyone enjoyed it left an impression with me.

MIYAVI: Thanks. Terry also got to know a lot of my old songs like from my indies era (haha).

Terry: For me the live performances were amazing more so than the records.

MIYAVI:  Jam & Lewis are legendary producers so to have one of them come see my show and even come backstage afterwards is a great honor to me.  And yet when I actually met them they didn’t come off as “famous producers”, they were very humble but as people who just loved music very much. I’m talking about their attitude towards music and their way of life. Exactly like a teacher. Ah by the way how old are you?

Terry: I’m 57.

MIYAVI:  Right. Even so Both Jimmy (Jimmy Jam. A member of Jam & Lewis) and Terry worked until dawn. They honestly love music and you can sense how much they enjoy it.

Terry, what did you think when actually meeting MIYAVI?

Terry: I felt like he carried the same things in his spirit. So even though it was the first time we met it brought me in the mood to share my inspiration. Which reminds me, I was introduced to a video of a Japanese guitarist by MIYAVI.

MIYAVI: Takanaka Masayoshi’s work right? 「Nijidensetsu ~THE RAINBOW GOBLINS~」

Terry: Right. We shared what we knew in that manner and it felt really fresh. I find that kind of fresh feeling very important.

You built up a connection of mutual encouragement?

Terry: Yeah because if I don’t experience that I won’t start anything.

MIYAVI: Of course I too learned a lot from those moments with Terry. It’s the same with other musicians,  but writing a song together with Terry was an incredibly valuable experience. When we were recording we repeated the takes over and over again, and an incredible amount of thought was put into it… Even though I thought I was at my limit, we’d still do it (haha).

Terry: Hahahaha (Laughs). Don’t say that (haha). Well there are people who are fine recording something in one or two takes, but there are also people who need some time to warm up and get accustomed. MIYAVI is the second kind of person. The process of creating nice things while repeating something is important too.

MIYAVI: Even so I enjoyed myself, and anyhow working together with a legendary producer like Terry I got to learn so much.

Terry: We both learned a lot. That’s why I can’t wait for the next project.

MIYAVI: Ah by the way we finished the 「Real?」CD.

Terry: It’s finished? Show me!

(Facing the CD at the computer to show it)

Terry: Looks great, it’s very nice.

MIYAVI: Also, I played the song at a TV broadcast with the famous Japanese group SMAP (Fuji tv’s SMAPxSMAP) recently and everyone seemed to like it. It was interesting!


What process did you go through when making the song?

Terry: We were worrying whether people that listened to the final product would get it… I'm joking, but seriously, but time was not on our side. MIYAVI isn’t just a musician; he’s also a father and a movie star. He’s very busy. So we really only had a few days of working together, after that the work was basically very scattered.

MIYAVI: Yeah. The schedule was really strict, because I also had to do promo for the movie.

Terry: And at the same time he had a vacation planned here with his family for about 2 weeks. If he cancelled that his family would be disappointed (haha).

MIYAVI: Being a dad is tough (haha). But still, I’m very grateful I was able to work hard in between.

Terry: We worked hard for MIYAVI’s sake, because we really liked him and his music. So I liked doing it from the start.

MIYAVI: First when I brought the demo, I thought we would change the melody and composition more, but Terry respects the artists a lot. The lyrics were in English so I had help from Terry, but he made sure the theme and the image I had really came out.

Terry: The song was really easy to make. The time we did it in was crazy (haha).

MIYAVI: And with the sound, Jimi also added the keyboard and talk box, and he added a female singer as well. It created a really great atmosphere in the end. Thanks to that it didn’t become commercial but I was able to express something more artistic. I think it’s a song that shows a new part of me, while keeping in touch with the “MIYAVI” sound up until now.


Terry when you first heard the 「Real?」demo, what kind of approach did you plan to take?

Terry: It’s the same with everything I produce but first I think about what kind of thing the artist wants to do. MIYAVI is a person with a lot of individuality, so knowing what he wanted to do, I didn’t want to change a whole lot about it to make it come alive as much as possible. Like making the best of his style and his strong points.

MIYAVI: I see.

Terry:  And as a result his current fans will like it too, but if possible I also want them to get a new person with this song. I dealt with the job with that in mind.

So you had built a very strong relation of mutual trust?

Terry: Yeah. But that isn’t just the case with the relationship between the artist and the producer, you could say that about any human relations. You have to start with trusting each other.

MIYAVI:  I agree.

Terry: And to do that we have to open up our hearts first. You can’t do that when you don’t have the kind of connection where you can show each other your weaknesses. Even when we started working there was no constraint or hesitation. That’s why it’s important to have the kind of relationship where you can say “Ah that part was horrible” and laugh about it together. I think that’s the first step, but of course with MIYAVI it was like that from the first time we met.

MIYAVI: There were a lot of surprises with Terry as my producer. It was fun and I could feel he had a lot of respect towards the artists. Thanks to Terry I was able to figure out in which areas I wasn’t completely there yet, like my groove, that’s why I could rely on him. I don’t think I would’ve been able to create something new with someone I couldn’t rely on and trust. Because we got to know each other this time, I would like to try to create the image of ‘MIYAVI’ together from nothing, like painting a picture.

Terry: I would love to do that.

MIYAVI: And then I also want to play the bass. Because I play the guitar.


MIYAVI: Terry also recognized the importance for me to use Japanese.

Terry: MIYAVI is an artist who has the merit of having people around the world listening to him, so I want him to sing in different languages.

MIYAVI: But eight years ago I really couldn’t speak any English, even now it isn’t easy to sing in English. As long as I can convey want I want to in my lyrics, the language they are in doesn’t matter, but Terry said it was ‘part of MIYAVI’s originality’ and encouraged me to insert Japanese phrases into the English lyrics.

Terry: Any language is fine, but when you use a different language with English listeners from around the world will get into it I think.

MIYAVI: Like Spanish? I also really like French. The French have a lot of respect for the Japanese culture as well, because even when they didn't understand everything they were able to accept it as art.

Terry: You should prepare a lot of dictionaries (haha).

Terry, what do you think MIYAVI’s greatest weapon is?

Terry: MIYAVI is obviously a great guitarist, but that’s not all. His personality is stronger than anything. And there are a lot of things he can do. Not just guitar but he showed a lot of things. My opinion is that MIYAVI’s performance in the movie is just the start his expansion.

MIYAVI: I see.

Terry: And he should show his diversity more during lives. Wouldn’t it be great if men and women of all ages came to his shows? He should show his more spiritual side, I think a performance where he’d show his humanity to everyone would be great, because you are well liked by people. Look MIYAVI is an amazing artist. Guitar isn’t his only appeal.

MIYAVI:  My singing? (haha)

Terry: Yeah. You can sing and dance too. With the guitar it adds to your performance. That’s why I think it would be great if you could show more sides of yourself and show your charm as a person. Because the you on stage is incredibly charming. Like Prince. I have this image of a performance with dance and a play and such. It’s important to bring out a hit song too, but that’s not the only important thing as an artist.  Prince didn’t release many hit songs in the USA, but more than that, because he was able to present himself so well, he’s become a legend, and I think you are the same way MIYAVI.

MIYAVI: Right… You’re making me think about it a lot. But that is my road as a musician… Or perhaps I should say it’s a part of it.

Terry: Yeah. And it’s also a part of being an artist. Right now in the USA the people in the audience take pictures and videos and no longer enjoy the moment. It’s part of this age, but I feel that experiencing the moment is also a part of music.

MIYAVI: That’s the message I wanted to convey with 「Real?」. “Enjoy the moment”. I felt like I had to make the most of the time I talked on Skype with Terry. You have to be grateful for each moment. He has taught me a lot.


MIYAVI: Thank you for today!

Terry: MIYAVI doesn’t make hit songs, he makes hit albums. He has to make an album where the listener feels like being taken on a journey when listening from beginning to end. Like “Where would he be taking me along to?”… That’s why he has to think about his ‘destination’ and create an album with that direction in mind. It’s important he creates a work where the listeners feel satisfied after listening.

MIYAVI: Like a several course meal.

If Terry were to produce MIYAVI’s album, what kind of album would you want to create?

Terry: Well, I wouldn’t be producing it all by myself, I’d want to choose artists who’d want to work together with MIYAVI.

MIYAVI: That would be great.

Terry: Perhaps I should say MIYAVI is an artist who requires a lot, because he is someone with a lot of different aspects.

MIYAVI: Is that a good thing?

Terry: Incredibly good. That’s why I’d select the best people for each song. It’s necessary for people to be open minded about different people. I want to end up making an album you can enjoy like a full course meal in that shape. MIYAVI isn’t a simple person you can produce with just one person.

You show a lot of appreciation for MIYAVI.

MIYAVI: You really do.

Terry: MIYAVI has a strong vision inside his mind; he’s a person who can see it all in his head. He should express himself with confidence.

MIYAVI: Yeah, I didn’t realize how important it is to express myself without reservation, It’d be better if I just did the things I think are right. I’ll do what I think sounds good while enjoying the moment. This is something I learned from Terry as well. Of course until now I’ve given my all but I might have been holding back at some point.

Terry: There’s no restraints. If you’re not convinced it’s fine to ask to do it again. There are things only the artists can hear right? Other people don’t get it, it’s your sound. If you want to express that sound, you should only do it the way you want to. It’s best to let yourself be guided by the music while doing what you want to do.

MIYAVI: I’m sure everyone is looking for music like that right?

Terry: Right. Because all people are imperfect, nobody is looking for perfection. And also, it's no good to leave by following other's directions either.

MIYAVI: Yes, it doesn't do to let others decide who you really are. We get a lot of information, but all of that isn’t necessarily real, it’s only our own sensations which are real.

I look forward to your work together after this single.

MIYAVI: Terry said he also really wanted to continue working together, and I too really want to pursue working more and more together.

Terry: I should probably put on some sunglasses because MIYAVI’s future is so bright (haha). I wonder what happens if you play 「Real?」 in front of everyone. I’m sure they’d get really excited. Isn’t that real?


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