Interview with Japanese Rock Band SCANDAL, New Album「MIRROR」Available Now (in English and Japanese)

This summer, the amazing Japanese rock band Scandal trekked to the United States for their own headlining summer tour for the release of their 10th full-length album 「MIRROR」. Unfortunately, the band had to cut their tour short half way through as the members of the band caught COVID and returned their homeland Japan. Towards the beginning of the tour, Fresh is the Word was able to correspond with the band via email and get their thoughts on the new album, creative inspiration, and the relationships within the bands. Even though the tour was cancelled, no need for this interview to go to waste. Hopefully, they make another trip to the USA soon!

The visual aspects of Scandal (album artwork, music videos, etc) are very fashionable. What are some of your fashion inspirations for the band in general?

毎回そのアルバムから湧いたイメージを言葉やリファレンスの画像を集めて、今まで一緒にや ってきた信頼できるアートワークチームと相談しながら決めていきます。(Scandal)

With each album, we collect images of the phrases and references that come to mind and discuss them with the art work team of whom we trust very well. (Scandal)

What are some of your fashion inspirations for the new album「MIRROR」?

タイトル名の「MIRROR」にインスピレーションを受け、反射だったり、映し出された何か、と いうようなイメージで提案しました。(Scandal)

Taking on inspiration from the title “MIRROR”, we came up with an image that reflects and brings into perspective. (Scandal)

How do you keep a band active for 15 years and 10 albums? How do you stay motivated and keep the ideas for new songs and albums fresh?

本当にパズルが上手く合わさった感じで…〝この4人だったから〟としか言いようがないんで すよね。自分たちとしては毎日を当たり前に積み重ねていったら15年経っていたという感覚な んですよ。だけど、それが奇跡的なことだということには気づいています。(TOMOMI)

It’s as if we are perfect puzzle pieces…there’s no other way to describe it besides saying that “because it’s with us four.” For us, we’ve been simply spending time and living our daily lives and 15 years just flew by. However, we also understand that this fact alone is almost a
miraculous thing. (TOMOMI)

How do you personally keep a band active for over 15 years? How do you keep this band as a family together?

一人ひとり違う性格や個性、得意不得意を理解して、認め合った上で、それぞれが役割を果た して活動が続けられていると思います。良い距離感を保って、お互いがリスペクトし合えてること、これは奇跡的なことで、このチー ムだから出来ることだなと感じています。(SCANDAL)

We believe that by understanding and accepting our individual differences in personality, quirks, strengths and weaknesses, and fulfilling each of our roles is what allows us to continue our band. Maintaining a good distance and being able to respect one another is truly miraculous, and is something possible only with this unique team. (SCANDAL)

How would you describe your relationship with your fans? What do you want your fans to feel from your music?

今回は特にコロナ禍で海外のファンの方と会う期間が空いてしまいましたが、ずっと熱量を絶 やさず応援してくれていて、心強かったし日々の支えです。国内外問わず、私たちのファンは 音楽だけではなく私たちのパーソナリティを理解してくれてるように感じます。大切な仲間で すね。(RINA)

It has truly been a minute since we’ve been able to see our fans abroad due to Covid, but they continuously supported us along the way and that has been reassuring and is what kept us going. Regardless of where they come from, I feel as if our fans understand not only our music but also our personalities. They are truly important companions to us. (RINA)

How did all the members in the band deal with the pandemic? and how did that go into the creation of「MIRROR」?

ずっとライブを軸に生きてきたから、それがなくなった時に〝時間はあるのに音楽が作れない 〟という状況になってしまったんです。どんな音楽をやりたいのかも分からないし、今どうい う言葉を使うのが正しいのかも分からないし。それで一旦全部ストップして、〝毎日生活する だけでOKと思おう〟と切り替えることにして。メンバーにも2カ月半くらい会わなかったし、音 楽を作らない時期も数カ月あったんですけど、そこで初めて時間をかけて自分たちと向き合う ことができました(MAMI)

Because we had always centered ourselves around the ability to perform in concerts, losing that opportunity quickly turned into a situation of “having enough time but not being able to make music.” We didn’t know what kind of music to go about with, nor understand what would be the appropriate words to use. So then we decided to stop everything, and switch to “a lifestyle where simply living is good enough.” I didn’t meet up with any of the members for about two and a half months, and even stopped creating music for a couple of months. But this instead created sufficient time to reflect on ourselves. (MAMI)

How would you specifically personally describe each of the members of Scandal?

From HARUNA
MAMI・優しい。器用。
TOMOMI・優しい。マイペース
RINA・優しい。繊細。
MAMI : kind, skillful
TOMOMI : kind, goes about one’s way
RINA : kind, sensitive

From MAMI
HARUNA・堂々としてる人。思いやりがあり冷静で記憶力がいい。
TOMOMI・多趣味。おしゃれ。こだわりが一番強いかも
RINA・努力の人。目標ややりたいことが常にあって、すごいと思う
HARUNA : Someone who’s determined. Is very considerate of others, calm and has a good memory.
TOMOMI : Has multiple hobbies. Is fashionable. Probably has the strongest sense of preferences towards certain things.
RINA : Is a person of effort. I’m amazed and admire how she constantly has some sort of goal in mind.

From TOMOMI
HARUNA・ピュア
MAMI・二面性
RINA・頑張り屋さん
HARUNA : innocent
MAMI : two-sided nature
RINA : a hard worker

From RINA
HARUNA・素直な頑張り屋さん
MAMI・知らない面がたくさん出てくるユニークな人。
TOMOMI 空気を明るくしてくれる楽しい人。
HARUNA : An honest hard worker.
MAMI : A unique individual with many unknown faces.
TOMOMI : A fun individual who lightens the atmosphere.

How has been the response from your American audience to the new album?

DMなどのメッセージで受け取っています。フィジカルでも購入してくれたり、しっかり届いているなあと思います。(TOMOMI)

We receive many messages such as DMs. They’re making physical purchases, so I believe it’s been reaching them well. (TOMOMI)

What is it like to tour the USA in the past? and what’s your thought about your upcoming USA tour?

まだデビュー前、日本でもツアーをしたことが無かったのにも関わらず初めてのツアーがアメ リカだったことです。 どこの会場もお客さんが快く私たちを受け入れてくれて感謝しかないなと思っています。街をゆっくり歩いたり海の方に行ったり久々のロサンゼルスの空気を満喫したいです。(MAMI)

Prior to our debut, our first tour was in the United States despite not having done one in Japan. Everyone at each venue welcomed us with open arms, and we had been grateful the entire time. I’d like to take the time to explore the town, go towards the beaches, and enjoy Los Angeles since it’s been a while. (MAMI)

Is there anything you are excited to do when you get to the USA for your tour aside from playing the shows?

ワールドツアーではMCで簡単な挨拶などを現地の言葉で話すことが多いですね。あと、お客 さんの反応の違いがめちゃくちゃ面白いんですよ! 日本では、手を挙げたり振ったりするタイ ミングが綺麗に揃っていて、お客さん同士がお互いを意識しながら合わせようとする気持ちが 日本の心だなぁと思います。でも海外では、そんなことお構いなしに、自分が感じたように動 くの(笑)。手を挙げる方向が上か横かバラバラなんだけど、そのあべこべ感が楽しくてエネ ルギッシュに見えるんですよね。(HARUNA)

During our world tours, we often try to do basic introductions in the local language through the MC. It’s so funny to watch how each fan reacts differently! In Japan, the timing of when everyone raises their hands and waves it is in perfect sync, and I feel like them considering one another to try and match these timings is the true heart of a Japanese. But abroad, everyone just moves as they feel (lol). The hands are all going in different directions, but that unevenness is what makes it look fun and energetic. (HARUNA)

What is the theme of the album「MIRROR」that you would like to convey to your fans?

コロナ禍で制作したということもあり自分達の私生活から生まれた感情を曲にしたものや、年 齢を重ねてきたからこそ歌えるような曲が多く出来上がったと思います。
バンドマンとしての、そして1人の人間としての今の自分達を鏡に映し出すように改めて自分 達と向き合って出来たアルバムです。(HARUNA)

I feel like many of the songs that were created came from the genuine feelings in our individual lives given the COVID pandemic that was going on during the album’s production. Other songs include those that we were finally able to sing because of the life experiences we’ve had throughout the years. It’s an album that was created to reflect us not only as band members, but also as an individual person in our current state. (HARUNA)

Since its launch in November 2015, Fresh is the Word has been a documentation of for sorts for music/pop culture journalist Kelly “K-Fresh” Frazier, as they journey through their love of music and pop culture, as well as using this platform to share they growth on topics important to women, people of color and the LGBTQ community through the artistic lens of pop culture. As an ever evolving podcast, K-Fresh is going back to his roots focusing more on the music artists they are passionate about from the past and present. From the classic hip-hop artists they grew up on, to the new faces of dance, and from the metal bands they’ve long appreciated to the indie pop artist stealing their heart, Fresh is the Word aims to tell the stories of those who need their contributions to music known, while also exposing their audience to the next artists to watch out for (sometimes before they blow up!).

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About the Author

Kelly "K-Fresh" Frazier
Kelly "K-Fresh" Frazier has been an online advocate for Detroit hip-hop, electronic, and rock music for over a decade now. As a tastemaker in the Detroit scene, he writes about the city's music and culture through various forms of social media along with publications both here in Detroit and internationally. Outside of writing, he is a well-respected DJ within the city who has played numerous gigs in many of Detroit's most legendary venues