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SCANDAL|The beginning of our second chapter set in our own place
masterpiece_mabataki - Music Natalie - SCANDAL's 『Masterpiece / Mabataki』 Interview INaJdHO

SCANDAL will be releasing their new single 「Masterpiece / Mabataki」, their first single in two years, eight months.

The first work that will be delivered from their private label "her" that was established at the end of last year is SCANDAL's first double A-side single. The song 「Masterpiece」 that they debuted live last year is a punkish number that loudly conveys their new start, and the second song 「Mabataki」 is a city pop-like love song that extols a soft atmosphere. Having two songs at opposite ends of the spectrum, the quartet will once again show their pride of being Japan's leading all-girl band.

This Music Natalie cover story features close coverage of a day in the life of SCANDAL. We snuck in to the studio they visit every week, and we conducted an interview with SCANDAL after they finished a meeting at a cafe. We had the quartet, who cannot hide their excitement about the activities that'll start in earnest from here on out in a new environment, talk about the process leading up to the launch of 「her」 and the thoughts they put into it, as well as the production of their latest work.


A day in the life of SCANDAL


masterpiece_mabataki - Music Natalie - SCANDAL's 『Masterpiece / Mabataki』 Interview N3XUwAE

Once a week, on the same day of the week, at the same time, the four members of SCANDAL always go to the studio. HARUNA picks everyone up in her car and heads to the studio. The studio is always reserved for two hours, and during that time they have sessions, bring in new song ideas, and/or place their instruments. They spend those two hours talking away and doing whatever they like.

masterpiece_mabataki - Music Natalie - SCANDAL's 『Masterpiece / Mabataki』 Interview G9Vbvlu
masterpiece_mabataki - Music Natalie - SCANDAL's 『Masterpiece / Mabataki』 Interview HbHuAgS

Up until a few years ago, SCANDAL would often go to the studio for live show rehearsals before a tour. At some point they remembered "goofing around in the studio," and it is now incorporated as one of their weekly plans.

They keep in touch and decide a few days before what they'll be doing in the studio. On this day they had a session with songs from popular bands who have appeared at the same festivals as them. SCANDAL says this about this studio work: "It feels like our groove is enhanced by meeting once a week at the same exact time every week and having conversations in a space with just the four of us." They can share new ideas while they're fresh, and it seems like it keeps the band healthy.

masterpiece_mabataki - Music Natalie - SCANDAL's 『Masterpiece / Mabataki』 Interview TtXYYSh
masterpiece_mabataki - Music Natalie - SCANDAL's 『Masterpiece / Mabataki』 Interview E7ysGi2
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masterpiece_mabataki - Music Natalie - SCANDAL's 『Masterpiece / Mabataki』 Interview C8wNYWR

When time's up, they put away their instruments and jump back in to HARUNA's car. When they arrive at a favorite cafe of theirs after being driven by HARUNA, they catch up with each other and ask, "What did you yesterday?" After that, HARUNA drives each of them back home. SCANDAL―who celebrated their tenth anniversary with its original members, and who celebrated the tenth anniversary of their major label debut―spends two hours a week as just the four of them.

masterpiece_mabataki - Music Natalie - SCANDAL's 『Masterpiece / Mabataki』 Interview Ygitv9I

SCANDAL's interview


By establishing "her," it seemed like "The four of us can still do this"


──SCANDAL celebrated its 10th anniversary as a band two years ago in 2017 [Note: That anniversary was actually in 2016, though...], and celebrated its 10th anniversary being a major label band last year in 2018.

masterpiece_mabataki - Music Natalie - SCANDAL's 『Masterpiece / Mabataki』 Interview 9PZwigg

HARUNA: The two years of "10 year anniversaries" coming in succession marked a new chapter for us―rather, it was a huge thing for us to feel that we reached one big milestone. Because that was there, I think it led to the establishment of our new private record label 「her」.

──You debuted the song 「Masterpiece」, one of the songs on the new release, early during your 「SCANDAL TOUR 2018 "Kanshasai"」 held last November. Not only were you immersed in your strong emotions towards your 10th anniversary, you were already moving towards the future.

RINA: That's right. Last year we took a break from appearing at festivals and only had a few chances to be out in the spotlight. That might be why it made us think, "What are we doing?" While we were getting things ready for 「her」 behind the scenes, we had been making songs the entire time. It was a year the four of us got together and did a lot of inner activities.

──Why did you originally decide to launch a private label at this time?

MAMI: 「HONEY」, the album we released last year, gave us confidence that we made something really good, and since we reached the chapter of [being a major label band for] ten years, we all thought, "So what should we do now?" The four of us shared the same feelings of simply wanting to be more excited and to do something new at that time. At first it was a vague thought we had, but as we entered the studio once a week and got together to hold meetings, I think around last summer......or so, the idea of establishing a private label came up naturally. If that was to happen, it was possible our freedom would greatly increase and we would be able to do something new again, so we started to move specifically from there.

TOMOMI: It's because a "We want to update ourselves" mood had always been flowing through the band. That's why, when we talked about that, all of us had the same motivation to be able to get there.

──You announced the establishment of 「her」 during last year's Christmas live show on 12/24. It's been about three months since then; is there anything that establishing your label has brought to the band?

RINA: We went with the word 「her」 so that you could automatically tell it's a label launched personally by an all-girl band, and it feels like that made us see big themes for our future again. Rock bands generally have a cool; sharp; strong image to them, but it's possible to also express sweetness and softness as women in a band. Since that's a strength and delight of being an all-girl band, we as SCANDAL want to focus on that.

──It feels like you've renewed your readiness as an all-girl band and have strengthened your resolve.

MAMI: Yes.

RINA: That's why we thought, "The four of us can still do this." It felt like our future as SCANDAL extended further.

masterpiece_mabataki - Music Natalie - SCANDAL's 『Masterpiece / Mabataki』 Interview NVwByUW

──But SCANDAL has been doing very well so far. Like, since you also have a solid style you've built up, you haven't really felt that worried about the future.

RINA: But we've always had feelings of wanting to improve. Looking back on it now, after releasing 「HONEY」 in 2018, there were times when production did not go well. We couldn't really write anything like our newest "special move," or, rather, a "strong song."

MAMI: That's right. It doesn't mean that we were in a slump since we could write songs themselves, but they all tended to feel like they were "part 2"'s of our past songs. We weren't satisfied with that.

RINA: Those songs somehow took shape because we've been a band for 10 years, but none of them broke through. It's because we could only make hazy songs that were like, "It seems like we could keep going, though" that it felt like we needed to completely change how make music. Thinking about it now, we may have hit a wall at a good timing for the band.

──On the other side of that, you were also confident that, "If we're together, we should be able to produce even better songs. We should be able to aim even higher."

MAMI: That's right. Even if they were songs we weren't satisfied with, they could certainly exceed our past songs. But, we constantly felt like we should be able to be even better.

HARUNA: Yeah. I think that's probably the confidence we've accumulated over the past 10 years.


「Masterpiece」 is a song that the current SCANDAL should be playing


──Was your new song 「Masterpiece」 born after the production of your album 「HONEY」?

MAMI: Yes. The melody itself was made about a year ago, but at that time it had a completely different arrangement from its current state. I didn't really like that arrangement, so I put away for the time being. I'm the type who, if I don't get it right the first time, basically won't want to do it anymore. Even though everyone was saying, "That song you made earlier was good, so why not try one more time?", I was stubbornly like, "No, I don't feel like it now" (laughs).

RINA: Because of that, we're a band who has zero songs stocked up (laughs).

masterpiece_mabataki - Music Natalie - SCANDAL's 『Masterpiece / Mabataki』 Interview 842iCQJ

MAMI: Even though I should be able to stock them up, I throw them all away (laughs). But everyone, including our staff, liked this song, so I started to feel, "All right, for a change I'll try it again." Since that was when we were also all discussing 「her」, I was like, "If the band is renewed, then I too will be renewed," and got rid of my weird stubborness (laughs).

RINA: You became flexible (laughs).

──What kind of arrangement did it originally have?

MAMI: It felt formal and used strings. Other than the main focus being on the band, it was something completely different. So, we talked about arranging it once more, but since I couldn't change it myself no matter what, I entrusted it to the arranger Keita Kawaguchi-san. Kawaguchi-san has watched over the past SCANDAL as well as the current SCANDAL, so I had faith in him and asked him to do it.

RINA: When we heard the completed arrangement, we were like, "That's so cool!" and all got excited. When we order an arrangement, we tell them what timbre and configuration in lots of detail, but he really went beyond that and made the greatest arrangement.

TOMOMI: Our impression of the song also completely changed, thanks to the arrangement. I think it's become a song that the current SCANDAL should be playing. For the instrument recording, the groove was very easy to make since we had performed it several times on last year's 「Kanshasai」 tour. We made the sounds close to the atmosphere we have for our live shows. We're also doing a lot of experimenting, like making it so distorted that you don't know where the outlines are.

masterpiece_mabataki - Music Natalie - SCANDAL's 『Masterpiece / Mabataki』 Interview RGj79Yi


A word we can use pleasantly


──The lyrics for 「Masterpiece」 were written by RINA, and its content is fitting for the band's new start.

RINA: Until now, I was trying not to write songs that pumped out too much of our story. That's because I wanted us to keep being a band that you could understand and enjoy no matter when you started listening to us. However, I thought it was unnatural to ignore the 10th anniversary of our major label debut and the establishment of our private label―basically, who we are now. So, I wrote the lyrics with the intention of making it the song that would start off SCANDAL's second chapter. It felt like we were able to remake a debuting song once more.

──The positive message that's almost refreshing feels like it perfectly fits the word "debut." But, it's also a word that you can put a spin on because you've stacked up a 10-year career.

HARUNA: Yeah. After all, we definitely couldn't write a song called "Masterpiece" at the time of our actual debut (laughs).

masterpiece_mabataki - Music Natalie - SCANDAL's 『Masterpiece / Mabataki』 Interview AUyrSkv

RINA: It's because it means "an excellent work." Now that it's a word we can use pleasantly, it turned into a punk song that's also rounded in a good way. I hope it'll create some spectacular scenes at upcoming shows.

HARUNA: Singing this song makes it feel very fresh. It's because it's a new song where we've kind of broken down what's been piled up―rather, we can see what we've cleared it away in a good way. However, we felt a unique feeling of tension when recording it. That's because it's also our first single in a while.

RINA: After all, it's been two years and eight months [since the last single]!

HARUNA: That's right! Also, it's our first single from 「her」. That's why I put all I had into singing it. I think it turned out to be a really good song because it took more time than usual to record.

──So, this single is a double A-side one. The other song 「Mabataki」 is a city pop number with a girly atmosphere to it. It feels like there's a great meaning by including this song with the abrasive rock tune 「Masterpiece」.

RINA: That's right. We thought that it'd be possible for the four of us to also make a more personal, girly song by having something crowned with the word 「her」. Since we had an image of wanting to make a double A-side single with a cool song and a cute song, I tried writing a world that leaned towards being very cute. I'm really happy because it really feels like I was able to give shape to one of my favorite types of songs.


Singing 「Mabataki」 at 10% power


──The lyrics and music for 「Mabataki」 were both written by RINA.

RINA: Yes. I thought having a song with content that was a little more vague than usual would be good, so I wrote the lyrics as if having the song end on the note of, "So, what happened to to this love?" The ending isn't clear by only vaguely thinking in their room at night of the person they love. I personally really like having rounded words to express that vagueness, so I think that my preferences came out quite a bit (laughs).

──Being able to depict that kind of world is something unique to all-girl bands, isn't it?

HARUNA: Yes, we think so.

──MAMI did the arrangement. It has a very nice sound that makes you feel the breadth of the band's musicality.

MAMI: Thank you very much. That makes me happy! As I had a rather clear image of what RINA-chan had in mind, I made it while we exchanged fine details. We usually use driving drums that are relatively close to a raw sound, but this time we chose to go with techo and dance music-like sounds. We overlapped two or three different sounds of the kick drum and were conscious of making sounds that didn't exist. I think I was able to try various things while inserting sounds that felt comfortable.

──The way you constructed it is completely different from 「Masterpiece」.

MAMI: It is completely different! The way we recorded the music was completely different too.

RINA: It's really fun to be able to do a completely different approach as one band. This song features TOMOMI on lead vocals.

masterpiece_mabataki - Music Natalie - SCANDAL's 『Masterpiece / Mabataki』 Interview YhEnjUa

──It feels like it's been a while since TOMOMI has sung.

TOMOMI: Since it had been a while, I was able to sing with a very fresh feeling. Like in the past, after HARUNA and I each sang the entire song, I also enjoyed the task of dividing the parts up like a puzzle. Since this is a soft song, I first sang at about 30% of my usual power. But when I was told, "Maybe make it a little gentler," I ended up singing at 10% power (laughs).

RINA: (laughs). It was really fun because we went in a different direction than usual, like, "Not energetically; conservatively!"

──HARUNA, did you also sing at 10%?

HARUNA: I did (laughs). I'm really glad that we recorded vocals for 「Masterpiece」 on a different day. It definitely would have been impossible if it had been on the same day.

MAMI: We recorded the vocals for 「Mabataki」 after first recording the music. Besides, we got a little sleepy since we had eaten. I think that influenced the song in a good way (laughs).

TOMOMI: We sang it around 10 pm. We were singing while feeling airy (laughs).

──It's a song that depicts one girl's personal feelings, but it's also fun to sing it with two people.

RINA: Yeah. Therefore, a dreamy-like atmosphere comes out in it a bit.

HARUNA: It's fun being in SCANDAL since two songs at opposite extremes were born. Girls' appearances change depending on the day, right? Like, "I'll wear these clothes today," or "I'll do this kind of makeup today." Being able to enjoy that feeling as a band is one of the best parts of SCANDAL―I thought again through this production. Two songs that express the multifacetedness of girls turned out to be the perfect first work, and one that we're proud of, released on 「her」.


Aiming the fan club tour towards "MANIA" while feeling summer gradually set in on the nationwide tour


──You have your 「SCANDAL MANIA TOUR 2019」 fan club tour that starts at the end of March, and then you'll start your 「SCANDAL TOUR 2019 "Fuzzy Summer Mood"」 nationwide tour that starts in June.

MAMI: First, we'll have a pretty manical, interesting setlist for our fan club tour. So, we want the "MANIA" people to look forward to it.

HARUNA: We're planning all sorts of things (laughs).

RINA: Then, in June is our first tour of the new era. I think it would be nice to have a feel-good tour while feeling summer set in gradually amidst ambiguous temperatures when the seasons change.

──That's exactly like the title (laughs).

RINA: Yes (laughs). Our fan club tour also hasn't started yet, so we'll be working the content out from now, but we hope to deliver something solid as a band while having a structure that's more self-directed. We want to make sure to convey our current mood.

HARUNA: We're also going to the area of Obihiro for the first time. It'd be great to get more new comrades.

MAMI: I think it's also great that this is a live house tour. We're going back to the basics―rather, it really feels like we're starting again from here on out.

TOMOMI: Our environment has changed and we're feeling very excited right now. It feels very fresh, so we hope to keep holding on to that the entire tour. It's been like that since we first formed, but since we've headed towards something that makes us excited and seems like fun, we want to always keep chasing after new things.

masterpiece_mabataki - Music Natalie - SCANDAL's 『Masterpiece / Mabataki』 Interview QNdfOce

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Thanks so much for checking out our translations! Please consider donating if you'd like to continue supporting us and our work!

masterpiece_mabataki - Music Natalie - SCANDAL's 『Masterpiece / Mabataki』 Interview KTaQ9Ti

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2011.7.3 AM2 2012.3.28 SCANDAL vs BUDOKAN 11.3+4 QAT Tour @名古屋 11.10 Happy MUSIC Live 2012 2013.3.3 SCANDAL OSAKA-JO HALL 2013 2014.6.1 HNL Ekiden & Music 2014 6.2 Fan Meeting 2015 HELLO WORLD @ Paris - London - Essen - Chicago - MEX - LA - Anaheim 2016.1.12+13 PERFECT WORLD 5.21 Welcome Fan Meeting 5.22 HNL Ekiden & Music 2016 5.23 Farewell Fan Meeting 8.21 SCAFes 2017.7.14 47 Prefecture Tour @茨城 7.15 水戸 7.17 東京 2018 Special Thanks @NY - SF - Anaheim - MTY - MEX - Dallas 2022 MIRROR @Toronto - NY - Boston - Atlanta - Chicago - Anaheim - Dallas - Berlin - London - Paris
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Shiroten Performer
Shiroten Performer
Thank you for your translation work. Very cool interview. I am exited to see new stuff from SCANDAL. As a Mami fan, of course I would like to see a song with Mami in the vocals.

masterpiece_mabataki - Music Natalie - SCANDAL's 『Masterpiece / Mabataki』 Interview RUlExeI
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Shiroten Performer
Shiroten Performer
This interview really makes me want to hear the original version of "Masterpiece".

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