Photos: Tammi Tan & Louis Teo
Video: Teng Siew Eng & Lye Yuk Sing
Ayumi Hamasaki has quite a notorious history of withdrawing from activities she doesn’t like: from her short-lived acting career to pre-debut singing lessons, she has opted out of things she just couldn’t enjoy.
That is why it wasn’t hard to believe the Empress of J-pop when she told reporters at yesterday’s a-nation press conference, “If I really wanted to quit [music], then I think I would already have done it – that’s my character.”
But there she was, a veteran of the turbulent showbiz industry (she celebrated her 15th anniversary last year), here in town after 12 years to headline tonight’s concert, which also features Japanese hip hop duo m-flo, Taiwanese heartthrob Aaron Yan and a few others. “I guess I can’t picture my life without music!” she declared.
While the songstress acknowledged her tendency to abandon endeavours as part of her nature, she does have her regrets, such as dropping out of school at the age of fifteen (she did not elaborate on her reasons why). Because of this, she has a message for all school-going folk out there: “Just enjoy it and don’t give up!”
Speaking of school, Ayumi shared an interesting titbit about her younger self: believe it or not, the doll-like, trendsetting diva, exuding glamour in an ornate, form-fitting dress, revealed that she wasn’t a girly girl back then. In fact, she was “a tomboy”, “a strange kid” and “liked to be alone”.
Those days are clearly way behind her. In addition to making waves with her tunes, Ayumi is known as a style icon who has pioneered trends across Asia. And even with more global competitors like K-pop coming into the picture, she remains unfazed.
“I want to stay true to my own lyrics and image; I don’t care if something is trendy or not,” she said.
Verbal and DJ Taku of m-flo must be glad that they didn’t bow out of student life early, because that’s when the former classmates started making music together, marking the beginning of their 15-year partnership.
According to Verbal, it all started when Taku was working the DJ decks at a high school dance. Then, when the scheduled rapper didn’t show up, he took over. “It was very impromptu, but we really got along and the rest is history.”
What followed next for the cool twosome was a long, illustrious period of chart-topping productions and cool collaborations with the likes of Kumi Koda, Namie Amuro, and BoA. Their latest album, Future is Wow, was released in March this year and features Ayumi, BIGBANG’s Taeyang and more.
So what’s next for them? “Honestly, we don’t really know,” Taku confessed. “We just go with the flow.”
“When we love something, we just go for it. We get bored very quickly,” Verbal deadpanned. “Right now we have this dance music vibe, but the next album could sound totally different.” (To which Taku quipped, “It could even be a bossa nova album.”)
Whatever it is the future holds for them, their love for music will be what drives them forward. “We gain more experience and knowledge, but passion is the most important, and to me, evolving means loving music the same way we did when we were in high school,” said Taku.
a-nation Singapore show details
Date: October 18 (Saturday)
Venue: MasterCard Theatres @ Marina Bay Sands
Ticket prices: S$248 (Premium), S$198, S$158, S$138 (excluding booking fee), available on SISTIC