Birthday: November 8, 1971
Blood type: A
No Way to Hollywood song sample
Hide and Seek
- Solo and with LOVES! -
NOW is the time! (2008)
LUCKY ME (2007)
Born Beautiful (2004)
NEW LIFE (2003)
- Seagull Screaming Kiss Her Kiss Her -
Red Talk (2002)
Dying For Seagulls! (2002)
Future Or No Future (2001)
No! No! No Star 2000 (2001)
No! No! No! (2000)
Pretty In Pink (1999)
Sweet Home (1997)
It's Brand New (1997)
Pink Soda (1996)
Give Them Back To Me (1996)
Swallow Up (1994)
Seagull To Hell (1993)
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Aiha Higurashi Interview
Founder of the vividly named group "Seagull Screaming Kiss Her Kiss Her," Aiha is doing double duty these days releasing both solo work and music with her new group, "Aiha Higurashi and LOVES!" Their latest album "NOW is the time!" has proven to be another fan favorite with Aiha's characteristic mix of edgy lyrics and emotional guitar rock.
So come say hello to the artist who lives her life by her own motto of "Don't rush if things go wrong. Just wait and see. Your time is going to come!"
On January 30, 2009 Aiha Higurashi was kind enough to give an interview to Andrew from J-Pop World. All photos courtesy of Aiha Higurashi with credits to YU-CO and tchkao.
Let's start out with your latest news. What does your group Aiha Higurashi and LOVES! have planned for the first half of 2009?
Well, we are making songs for the upcoming album. And I am working on recording some solo songs at the same time. As a band, we are going to do as many shows as possible and hopefully start recording soon.
Anything new going on with your LOVES! band members Takahiko Akiyama or Keishiro Iwatani?
Keishiro is also an engineer so he will be supporting ZAK, who is a talented and famous engineer. Keishiro is gonna be busy with LOVES! and is the assisting engineer. Takahiko Akiyama is also a talented drummer and he has a progressive band called FRESH! They released an album last year. He is very eager to do many shows as LOVES!
Your latest album, "NOW is the time!" was released last year. Can you tell us a little about recording the music?
We recorded those songs in just 3 days! It was amazingly tight but smooth, too. Our members, especially Kentaro, are good producers. KC was busy with recording and playing guitar at the same time.
We were writing the songs since the middle of 2007. And I kept some songs in my pro tools. I was so energetic at that time. Recording was so much fun, but doing paperwork was a nightmare! I had to fill out so much stuff for downloading, publishing, etc.... I never want to do it by myself again!
I like every song, but My slits is my fav. The sax playing really matched well with that sound. Accidentally is our hit also. Kentaro's bass and KC 's digital synth bass make me jump!
No Way to Hollywood is an irony to so-called celebrities, because in LA there are still so many poor people.
The title song NOW is the time! sounds like a message to yourself. Is this the case?
Yeah, that is correct. I am a person full of spontaneous ideas and I am trying to be more free, as much as I can be. And if I thought "NOW!" then that would be "THE TIME!" even though no one else said so.
You recently had to spend some time in the hospital. How are you doing now?
I had been hospitalized since January 16th. It was my second time to get in an ambulance. I got sick but as I was told by the doctor, there was nothing too serious. It was pancreatitis, but I don't drink much now, so even my doctor couldn't figure it out. But I am ok mentally and physically.
Let's take a trip back into your past. Can you tell us a little about your hometown and childhood?
I was born in Denenshouhu, Tokyo, I spent 10 years there and then moved to Shimokitazawa, where my parents live now. I love Shimokitazawa, but my school life there was actually pretty horrible and miserable.
What childhood memories stand out the most?
When I was 4 years old through 9, I liked to draw trees. I did a lot of drawings. But when we had to move, I had to change schools. Then I was picked on for 5 years till junior high.
What kind of student were you?
I was a good student and not shy at all. I was always the happy one, till the middle of junior high. Then I stopped going to school because I had been picked on for so many years. Then I changed school 4 times. Finally I found a good high school.
How did you first get involved in music?
I was taking piano class, but I hated it... My family loves music. When I go back home my parents were dancing all the time to Jazz. My father is a famous copy writer so he is a different kind of father. I liked Monkees and American Graffiti so much that I wanted to make a band. I started to play drums at first, and I even bought a drum set.
How did the vividly named group "Seagull Screaming Kiss Her Kiss Her" come about?
After high school I started Seagull but with different members. We were sort of making cute pop music but my first partner quit, so I flew to London and NY to study at university.
When I was in NYC I saw so many shows and movies. I finally became friends with the Sonic Youth and Jad Fair and other great artists. Those incidents changed my mind quickly. I liked learning different languages so I went to the university to learn linguistics... But you know, I became an artist instead.
When did you decide to make music your career?
I never "decided" to be a musician. I just felt that I loved music so why can't I make my own music? That is what I thought at first, so I wrote some songs by humming. I bought a 4-track recorder and started recording. I never played guitar before, so I bought a $200 guitar--and I'm still using that guitar as my main guitar!
After I got back from the US, I decided to reform the band members. I asked friends who barely knew how to play bass and drums. I wanted to grow together and that meant a lot. We were in the studio almost every day to do sessions. That gave us tightness as a band.
How difficult was it for the group to get established and tour?
Fortunately my friend's boyfriend was a popular artist so I gave my demo to him. He liked it and he passed it on to an indie label. So in 5 months Seagull got our single released.
It was like... sooo speedy. I couldn't stop making music and doing shows. I wasn't interested in a major company. I wanted to go do a US Tour, so I booked everything by myself. With friends in the US we did a first and second tour, and finally we found an agent and then we did 6 US tours.
During those tours we got a bunch of major offers. We signed to Trattoria, which Keigo Oyamada Cornelious owned. After Seagull broke up, I went solo and got a contract with Sony. Just before that, YUKI from ex Judy and Mary asked me to write songs for her. So I gave her 6 songs.
What is RAVOLTA?
RAVOLTA is the hip hop track maker tuccie and my unit, which I am working on. Since 1998 we haven't actually released anything yet, but we are writing songs now. This year is going to be busy!
What did your family and friends think of your dreams?
I don't know, but I have manic depression and more stuff so I think they hoped that I could keep going on making music and doing shows to encourage myself and other fans and people.
What type of impact has manic depression had on your music and career?
My problem is not just simply manic depression, but more symptoms occur.
I think as an artist I am almost lucky to have this sickness. I am very open about this and music helps my mood and feelings. Sometimes I get out of control... I see something you don't see... hallucinations... but even the fear brings something new.
But, well, of course it is not easy to handle, so I need to take a lot of meds. I gotta live through it, anyway.
How have you learned to deal with it now compared to when you were younger?
When I was younger I didn't exactly know what my problem was, so I would take the wrong meds and I thought I was crazy. I couldn't talk about it to anyone. So I never said I was taking meds and when I had a panic attack I cried and hurt myself alone in my house. But now, I am better diagnosed and I don't care if I am crazy or not. So you could say I am open and optimistic!
Do you think it has given you a greater appreciation for life and stability, or is it just one of those things you have to deal with?
Well both. If I was always totally healthy, I would never have thought about death and life so closely. Always there is a chance for death, and also a chance for life. Those ways of thinking changed my life and affected the songs I write.
Getting back to your time with Seagull, what were some of the most memorable performances you did?
Well, Fuji Rock Festival and Rising Sun and of course the US tour was so fun, but each show is very fun. When I was pregnant I toured the US and Japan--that was so memorable--my belly was getting bigger and my daughter was kicking my belly from inside every time I played guitar!
What was it like writing and recording music with the group?
When we met ZAK he was like a magician. We just played naturally and the way he recorded was a miracle.
Do you still keep in touch with the other band members?
Yeah, drummer Takape and second drummer Arakawa-kun.
What did you learn about life and yourself from the experience?
Being in a band is fantastic and there is always magic waiting to happen.
In 2002 you decided to start your solo career and later started the group LOVES! How different of an experience was this compared to your time in Seagull?
When I started Seagull, no one could really play well. And we grew up together through those 10 years. I learned a lot. And now we are all adults, each has something else to do besides the group. But we all know what LOVES! should be, so when we get together, we are so tight.
In 2004 you released your first solo album, Born Beautiful, and toured throughout Japan. What are some of your lasting memories of those days?
Well we did a lot of stuff with a backing band. I was on TV, radio, and had to go to Kobe once every two weeks for a year and a half. But that was fun! Unfortunately I was too sick all those years. Because of my depression and mania, I gained weight and lost weight repeatedly.
You traveled to the city of Kobe for your radio hosting? Where all did you host?
Kobe and Sapporo, and internet radio. Kobe and internet radio was fun!
Do you have any desire to do more radio hosting in the future?
Yeah! Very much!
In 2005 you released your second solo album, Platonic. How did its music differ compared to your earlier works? Do you have a favorite song from it?
I don't know... sickest time... I like Mermaid and Naked Sun and Living Source. It was meant to be... I usually do self production, so I wanted to be cooked by other artists. I asked my friend's artist "cook me!" Hahaha!
After my second solo album I was stressed out with commercial orders, so I decided to make a band again. That is Aiha Higurashi and LOVES! We got out of Sony, so now we are free and I own my own label. But I think we are going to sign with another major label soon.
Can you tell us how you first got together with Takahiko Akiyama and Keishiro Iwatani?
I met Takahiko Akiyama (AKY) when I was looking for a back up band for my solo work. He used be in a band called "Downy." After Trattoria, the record label changed their name to "Felicity" so I knew people in this label. Downy was on that label.
One day I went to see their show and I got amazed and shocked by their play. So I asked all the members except vocal boy to join my project. They got excited so we became like a band. After our 1st album I was still making songs with AKY in the studio. He always encouraged me about my works and he was very cheerful and we enjoyed making music together.
I was introduced to Keishiro Iwatani (KC) by my manager. He was so young! But a nice boy and a perfect performer for my 2nd single tour. So I met them while I was doing my solo. After I decided to form a band, I changed members 3 times. Finally I got back to AKY and KC because they knew what I liked and I realized what I needed was them. Not only technically, but they have the same tastes.
While we are recording demo songs for Lucky Me, AKY brought in Kentaro Nakao (KTR). I knew him when he was in Number Girl and also I asked him to write songs in the studio with AKY before he joined in. Hiroshi Nakamura is FRESH!'s sax player. I like horns and I like James Chance so it was me and AKY's idea to bring him in.
Now that Kentaro Nakao and Hiroshi Nakamura have joined in, we are a 5 person group. Good thing is all the members do something else, so they can always bring LOVE! some fresh air. 5 is tough though--I have to ask 4 people's schedule and reserve studio time. Hahaha!
What type of musical style did you want to create with the new group?
I like NYC Punk Rock and New Wave stuff. I wanted to challenge something new, to do what no one ever does. But recently I am thinking, writing more pop songs would be a good idea, too.
How did the writing and recording of your 2007 album Lucky Me compare to your earlier group projects?
Not a big difference. I write songs by humming, as usual, and we do a lot of sessions to cut out non-useful phrases. Well, we do a lot more sessions than Seagulls. So we create songs together.
Who are some of your favorite performers?
Keigo Oyamada, Sean Lennon, Kaki King, group INOU, Mass of the Fermenting Dregs. James Chance, Richard Hell,Yoko, Kahimi Karie...
Aside from music, what type of things do you do to have fun or relax?
Playing with my daughter, doing yoga, reading books.
Can you share a little about your daughter?
My daughter is 9 and entering the 4th grade this spring. She likes to read a lot and she sings in a kid's band in school. When she was born, I got divorced. I got depressed for 10 months. I had to spend some time with my mom and dad because I couldn't take care of my daughter alone. But after 10 months, me and my daughter moved to an apartment and started living together.
She was so cute and bright, always singing or talking! She is always helping me by just being alive. I realized that I managed to release myself from what people think Aiha should be. I become more gentle and relaxed.
What has been the most surprising or rewarding thing about raising a child?
Kids always are energetic and full of strange and spontaneous ideas! Everything she does is funny and great! Her existence is my treasure.
Can we get a peak into the romantic life of Aiha Higurashi? What things do you enjoy doing on a date?
My boyfriend is doing his clothing brand DEVOCHICA. So we do window shopping together and see what's going on in town. We go to movies, or we just rent videos and chill out...
What traits do you look for in someone you would date?
Someone who likes kids, music, art and movies. I like short height and a skinny boy.
If you could go back in time and give yourself some advice when you were just starting out, what would you tell yourself?
Do whatever you like and think of--and don't rush if things go wrong. Just wait and see. Your time is going to come!
What advice would you give another hopeful musician just starting out?
Do what you want!
Do you have anything else you want to bring up or comment on?
Up coming shows are March 1st at Shimokitazawa Basement Bar with YOMOYA and Toddle. April 18th at Roppongi Super Deluxe with Mass of the Fermenting Dregs and DEVOCHICA (Hotta Tchkao's show). Please come and see us!
Do you have a final message to all your fans?
Our 2nd album "NOW is the time!" is on sale now and you gotta check it out! Also you can download them through iTunes or other downloading companies.
For more info checkout Aiha Higurashi and LOVES! official site and MySpace page. Leave your comments about this interview and read what others had to say at the following link: Interview Comments