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SCANDAL | The charm of "Ivory" unraveled via four solo interviews
Music Natalie - SCANDAL's "Ivory" Solo Interviews Pc-header




SCANDAL has released Ivory, their second single of the year.

The title song is a midrange number featuring lyrics and music by MAMI, as well as main vocals. With Kouhei Munemoto, who participates in the production and live performances of various artists as a sound producer, as an arranger, the sound is simple yet feels warm and spacious. The B-side track is an acoustic version of "Ivory."

This feature includes four solo interviews with HARUNA, MAMI, TOMOMI, and RINA. Through the production anecdotes told from each person's point of view, we will three-dimensionally unravel the charm of "Ivory."




Music Natalie - SCANDAL's "Ivory" Solo Interviews Index1

Realizing that they were able to produce one monster-class song thanks to their tour



―I [the interviewer] attended "SCANDAL MANIA TOUR 2021 request" at Zepp Haneda. You guys were having so much fun.

That's right (laughs). There were also so many emotional moments at the same time, so there were a ton of times we felt like crying. By standing on the stage again, we realized that our hearts were being whittled down during the time when we couldn't play concerts like we wanted to. So, even though things aren't completely back to normal, we're so happy that we were able to feel that concerts have returned.


―You also released "eternal" in March. What were the responses like?

We didn't think it would be a song that could dominate venues so much. It's a song filled with new things and our determination as we celebrate our 15th anniversary, of course, so although we were performing it confidently, it being able to change the excitement of the venues so much is something that was beyond our imagination. We produced a monster-class song.


Music Natalie - SCANDAL's "Ivory" Solo Interviews Photo01

Simply getting people to think a song is good is good enough



―As for new things, your new song "Ivory" is unlike any single you've ever released. What's more, MAMI is on lead vocals for it.

We had a desire to do something fresh with the song that would follow "eternal." Then, at the end of last year, MAMI gave us a demo of her playing and singing to her own accompaniment, and when we were working on it in pre-production, we started feeling like, "This song is great, isn't it?"; "I want the fans to listen to this next." Just because it's a song for a single doesn't mean that it's right for me to sing it, and this time we had MAMI do lead vocals as a new challenge. More than being worried about what people would think of it, it was fine with us to simply get people to be like, "This is a good song."


―That exact feeling is the opening lyrics to the song: "Nothing is always absolutely so - Give it a try - Messing up is scary - But there's no need to worry."

Ahahaha (laughs). That's definitely true. If you think about it, SCANDAL hasn't been doing things that fit into one box, and it's important to occasionally do things that seem fun with fresh feelings. I'm glad that we made this song like that, too.


―Why did you ask Kouhei Munemoto to work on the arrangement?

At the pre-production stage, we had completed a sound that just the four of us came up with. However, since this is our 15th year and we're releasing something physically, we wanted to make it a special song. So, we asked Munemoto to add something aside from our own essence. Though Munemoto has a tremendous presence as a keyboard player, he's also a person who is kind to other artists. That's why we've always wanted to work with him.


―Did you work on the arrangement together with Munemoto?

Yes. We arranged it in the studio together. It was a lot of fun. He perceived what our atmosphere is as SCANDAL and arranged it with subtraction in mind from the start―or rather, he was able to come up with many ideas for phrases that would fill in the gaps well. Also, we had Taichi Ohira, whom we had worked with when we debuted, direct the harmonies for the first time in a long time.


―The harmonies are included throughout the whole piece, aren't they?

That's right. Though MAMI does lead vocals, my harmonies come forth with the same amount of passion (laughs). Also, the voices of the other members are included at the end, which makes it sound a little gospel-esque. I think they're harmonies that are quite worth listening to.

Music Natalie - SCANDAL's "Ivory" Solo Interviews Photo02

Empathy gained by singing about one's self



―HARUNA, are you the one playing the electric guitar in the intro?

Yes. Since the song started off from a demo of MAMI playing it acoustically, MAMI will be the one playing the acoustic guitar and singing during the recording as well as concerts. So, it naturally turned out that I'd be playing the electric guitar. I usually do rhythm guitar, so it was quite refreshing for me to play the guitar riffs.


―From your point of view, what kind of vocalist do you think MAMI is?

She's a completely different type from me. I don't know if this is the right way to say this, but I think she's a vocalist who seems to have a blunt and very emotional voice. There's also a playfulness and uniqueness in the way she sings. I also felt this during recording, but I think instead of deciding on how she sings something, she sings it according to what she's feeling at the time. So, even if we do a bunch of takes, she'll never sing the same way more than once. Well, MAMI's singing takes are basically good to go in just one shot. That's because from the start she'll be like, "We're totally good to go with this," and do a persuasive take.


―How did shooting the music video go?

In order to use our performance scene in slow motion, we shot it at 2x speed. That was pretty tough. Since it was so fast, it made us feel like, "Huh, was 'Ivory' this kind of song?" and we performed it like a punk band (laughs). It was hard at first due to not being able to keep up with the chord changes, but in no time we naturally got used to playing it at 2x speed - that was interesting.


―It seems that music production [for other, new songs] is currently underway.

Yes. The songs that were created during the pandemic are age-appropriate and also give off the impression that they're a bit more intuitive. There are many songs that spell out what we're thinking about, rather than writing it for someone.


―Just like "Ivory."

Yes. Even if we make songs like that about ourselves, we were able to learn with "eternal" and "Ivory" that other people sympathize with them, which will seemingly have an big impact on album production. We've been thinking recently that don't need to overly shoulder feelings such as wanting to encourage someone.

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Music Natalie - SCANDAL's "Ivory" Solo Interviews Index2

Accepting your troubled self



―How did your "SCANDAL MANIA TOUR 2021 request" fan club tour go?

They were simple music club performances with everyone standing, clapping, raising their hands up in the air, and moving their bodies to the rhythm, so although there were a lot of restrictions, we were able to give a performance close to our concerts from before the pandemic began. All the venues were super intense!


―The setlists were based on your popular song poll, and for the first four performances, the song "Koe," which you sing lead vocals on, was #1. It stayed at #2 for the remaining performances.

It's thanks to the passionate support from those who support "Koe." Since "Koe" was #2 in our previous popular song poll five years ago, I think those who weren't satisfied with the result did their best this time (laughs). I'm truly thankful.


―And now you have the new song "Ivory" that'll make those "Koe" supporters go crazy again. It's a midrange number with lyrics, music, and lead vocals by you.

This song was made while in the bath. It's a product of chance―or rather, I didn't aim to make it at all. To tell you the truth, I hadn't really been able to write songs since the pandemic started. There have been times like that in the past, but since this was the first time that it had gone on for more than a year, I think I was feeling like, "I'm done; I give up" (laughs).


―Was there something that made you break free from there?

Rather than breaking out, I ultimately realized I was worrying about the same things I'm always worried about. I continue to worry in the same way as I do about music as well as my own complexes and lifestyle. When I realized that, I was a little surprised and laughed. I'm sure I knew that I'd continue to live my life while worrying about those things.


―I think that means that you were able to accept your troubled self.

That's right. Then everything made sense. I felt like I was able to affirm myself and I felt relieved. Then this song came out naturally like a soliloquy.


―How was this song born in that way received by the members?

Everyone gave me good reactions. I truly do apologize, but I never thought about encouraging others with this song (laughs). Regardless, the other band members really sympathized with the lyrics I wrote. At that time, I was very confident because I thought, "This song can be someone's song." In regards to one's self, and the song.

Music Natalie - SCANDAL's "Ivory" Solo Interviews Photo04

Recording face to face with HARU



―Given the way the song came about, it seems inevitable that you would be the one to do lead vocals for it.

Everyone really liked it when I sent them the acoustic demo of it. They were like, "This is really good!" Of course, I was surprised since I didn't record it with the intention of doing main vocals for it, but when everyone was like, "MAMI will sing this," it sat comfortably with me and convinced me. I always have a desire to take on new challenges, so at any rate, I approached the recording of it feeling like, "Whatever happens, happens!" (laughs).


―I think the vocals are very wonderful. The thoughts contained in the song are emotional and direct.

Because I have a blunt voice, it's hard to tell any emotional ups and downs. So, I was aware of singing it emotionally so that it'd get exciting towards the latter half of the song. Also, since I'm singing together with HARU enough that it's like we're doing duet vocals, we made sure to match the way we sing and inflect. We were in separate booths but had them set up so that we'd be facing each other and could see one another, so we were able to record it together while watching each other.


―What part did you value when it came to arranging?

I thought that any sounds that would be included aside from ours would be a keyboard, so via HARU I asked Munemoto to help out. I barely gave him any orders, but Munemoto put in the elements I wanted. Even when recording he'd ad lib in various phrases. In the end, it was completed through exchanges such as, "Let's make use of this," and "Maybe this isn't necessary." Working on it was fun.

Music Natalie - SCANDAL's "Ivory" Solo Interviews Photo05

Creating "Ivory" to give her peace of mind



―By the way, what does the title "Ivory" mean?

Since the song was made while I was in the bath, it's a word that was chosen from that atmosphere. The slightly dark lighting and high humidity blur your field of vision, and cloudy mirrors make it feel like you can't see everything. The overall color and scene are "ivory." Also, the reason why I'm singing while in a bathtub the music video is because this song was made in the bath. The other band members suggested to me, "Why don't you sing while in a bathtub?"


―Were you able to come out of your slump by creating this work?

No, it hasn't changed that much (laughs). By making "Ivory," I used up all of the emotions that make up the basis of the song, I felt refreshed, and I have peace of mind. So, I've been thinking that I need to start things over and take in many things. As I've been interested in skateboarding recently, I'd like to ride a skateboard around where I live and get some input. COVID's still sticking around, but I want to make bright and happy songs in the future.

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Music Natalie - SCANDAL's "Ivory" Solo Interviews Index3

A tour that expressed SCANDAL, who is not bound by genre



―How was your "SCANDAL MANIA TOUR 2021 request" fan club tour that was held with live audiences in attendance?

I was so happy we got to hold it because it had been such a long time since we last toured. Although the audiences can't yet vocalize, we thought, "This really is what we want!" I think everyone was probably singing along in their heads, and when we perform concerts, we can really hear those voices! I think that's a human ability not yet known (laughs).


―The setlists that reflected the results from the fans for the popular song poll were also interesting.

We held a popular song poll five years prior, but as time passed the number of our songs grew and the rankings changed quite a bit. Personally, I'm very happy that the songs across of all our eras are ranking evenly. SCANDAL hasn't continued to stay in one genre, and the atmosphere of the songs can differ quite a lot depending on the era. Regardless of that, the results of the poll this time tell us that we're loved across all of our eras. That gave us a lot of confidence, so we were filled with gratitude. Because we were able to do a 15th-anniversary archive in a sense with this tour, we hope you can see the latest us with our performance at Osaka-Jo Hall (SCANDAL 15th ANNIVERSARY LIVE「INVITATION」) on August 21st.

Music Natalie - SCANDAL's "Ivory" Solo Interviews Photo07

Weaving what they have cultivated so far with their latest selves



―Your new song "Ivory" released as a single features lyrics and music by MAMI. What was your first impression of it?

When she sent the demo to us, we thought that it's like her own soliloquy. We get together for meetings every week, and it feels like MAMI turned what we talk about then into a song. It felt like it really helped us out by making a song about something we all have in common.


―How did you come up with the arrangement?

The demos that MAMI usually sends us are rather polished up, and many of them are in their finished form. However, since she sent us "Ivory" in its acoustic form, we were really excited to be able to arrange it in any direction. We had Munemoto help with the arranging, and it was a lot of fun to find the best balance while exploring various directions together.


―What direction did you see in that?

We wanted to keep the sound simple and make it a song that extrudes vocal harmonies throughout it. We asked Taichi Ohira, who helped out until midway through, to participate and direct them. Ohira is a genius when it comes to making harmonies. There are a few tricky parts, but he made it sound cool. We talked with him about making it sound a little gospel-esque and asked him to give shape to it.


―It's been a while since you've had a song with vocal harmonies.

That's right. It used to be our standard in the past, but doing it now feels fresh (laughs). In that sense, it's a very strange song. Although it's a new kind of song we've never released before as a single, it also feels a bit nostalgic. It feels like everything we've cultivated so far and our latest selves are happily interwoven.

Music Natalie - SCANDAL's "Ivory" Solo Interviews Photo08

The atmosphere came out naturally like a single stroke of a brush



―What were you particular to include in regards to the bass?

I basically tried to keep the bass super simple. Since it's truly a soliloquy-like song, the sound in the background shouldn't be too noisy. However, I tried to change the rhythm a little, and tried to come up with a way so that I wouldn't be playing it plainly.


―MAMI's vocals really stand out, don't they?

Isn't MAMI's singing really great? (laughs) I really like it. The song itself has an atmosphere that came out naturally like a single stroke of a brush, so I think she only sang it a few times when we were recording. Although we made it while considering a bunch of things, this time we felt like we were naturally guided to shape it in this way, including the sound. We hope the fans like it.


―The music video that matches the atmosphere of the song is also wonderful.

Thank you very much. For the scenes where each member is shown one by one, the other members were directing them from behind the camera. Stuff like, "Smile a bit," or "Try looking sad." I've never shot something while being looked at so hard, so this might be the most embarrassing that's happened to me in the past 15 years (laughs). Although it's a bit embarrassing, I think our natural expressions were brought out.


―With the creation of "eternal" and "Ivory," do you see any developments on the horizon?

I wonder... But it feels like we made one line with these two songs, so we do have a desire to connect that to the future. It's hard to put into words, but I think the two songs have the same breadth. Also, both have sounds that resonate comfortably in everyday life. This is the sound that we've reached after going through this pandemic when we couldn't play concerts, so I think we should incorporate it more as our standard.

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Music Natalie - SCANDAL's "Ivory" Solo Interviews Index4

A tour showing "a SCANDAL everyone wants to see"



―First, please tell us about your "SCANDAL MANIA TOUR 2021 request" fan club tour.

I'm so glad we were able to finish it. Last year we spent most of that time unable to play concerts, which is at the core of our lifestyle, so we were extremely happy to have audiences right in front of us. It was a tour where we were able to play each note carefully while feeling an energy that can only be felt live.


―The setlist for each performance was reflective of the popular song poll being held online. For every performance, the top 10 songs in the latest rankings at the time were performed.

Ever since our 47-prefecture tour in 2017, it's become standard for us to perform concerts with a different setlist each time, but this time we asked the fans to choose their favorite songs. It was interesting that there were differences between each performance. While doing this tour, we really wanted to show "a SCANDAL everyone wants to see," so it was the correct answer to do it in the form of a request concert. We were really happy that the rankings surprisingly consisted of a mix of new and old songs.


―I'm sure you're interested what the final results of the ongoing popularity poll will be.

Right. You can vote until August 15th and we will then be announcing the final results at our concert on August 21st, so we'd like everyone to look forward to that.

Music Natalie - SCANDAL's "Ivory" Solo Interviews Photo10

Including a heart-pounding feeling of not knowing what'll happen in the future



―SCANDAL's new song "Ivory" is now out. How was this song created?

MAMI was like, "This melody popped into my head. What do you think?" and sent me a voice memo of her humming it recorded in the bath. It was really catchy and I liked it, so we decided that we'd all give it shape. Actually, the period of time after we made "eternal," we were quite worried and were like, "What would be the right song to follow it up with?" We wanted to do a song with a mellow tempo, but we couldn't see a concrete image of it at all. That's when MAMI sent me this song, and in a way I got the impression that the exact situation of us not having an organized image as a band was made into a song (laughs).


―The lyrics have a strong, positive message of, "Even if the answer's not clear, just have fun doing what you love."

That's right. That heart-pounding feeling of "What will happen from here on?" while not knowing the correct answer and being unsure comes forth in the lyrics. And, I think that matches both us right now, of course, as well as what's going in the world. A song that really helps out the listener without being intrusive at all is very kind. The melody and the lyrics are both really good.


―MAMI's singing is also very natural since the song includes her personal feelings.

It's because it's a song that embodies MAMI's personality exactly (laughs). Also, it being our 15th anniversary is a big thing, as well as us wanting to do things we've never done before. That's why we decided to release a song with MAMI on lead vocals as a single.

Music Natalie - SCANDAL's "Ivory" Solo Interviews Photo11

More supple and more natural



―Kouhei Munemoto participated in the arrangement.

Since we wanted to include keyboards, we asked Munemoto for help. The arranging went very smoothly―we went into the studio together and each easily doled out ideas. It was a lot of fun.


―What did you have in mind when recording the drums?

Because the song starts with drums, I thought about doing a phrase while being aware of a catchiness that makes an audience excited the moment the beat starts. Also, I wanted to make the drums not too weak yet not too strong, so I was a bit particular about tone.


―The exquisite, perfectly balanced mood, which is neither too weak nor too strong, feels the same as "eternal," although the direction of the sound is different.

I agree. We of course like songs with solid atmospheres, but right now we want to value suppleness. Recently, we've been very conscious of playing sounds that aren't too far from our usual selves, and music that expresses who we are. This time we were drawn by the taste of lyrics written by MAMI, so I feel we were able to make it more naturally.


―Did the band as a whole recognize valuing that kind of mood?

Yes. That always comes up when we enter the studio. We still like intense, sharp songs that gets things going at concerts, and we don't mean to eliminate them altogether, but if we consider that the band will be together for a long time, we'd like for everyone to accept songs that reflect our current phase. We really want to add more expressive for that right now.


―You've already made two singles in 2021, but it seems that SCANDAL is still working hard on making songs.

We've been working on songs for an album for some time now. From "eternal," we're not just sticking to those typical sounds you hear in bands―we're actively incorporating computer music and also trying out tracking bass, so our next album may have that kind of atmosphere. When we performed "eternal" at a festival a little while ago, it was accepted more than we thought it'd be. That gave us a lot of courage, so I think we can keep trying out all kinds of things.

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Music Natalie - SCANDAL's "Ivory" Solo Interviews 39iLxaW

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 2015.4.25 HELLO WORLD @ Paris 4.26 London 4.30 Essen 5.15 Chicago 5.20 MEX 5.22 LA 5.23 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 2018.9.5 Special Thanks @NY 9.7 SF 9.9 Anaheim 9.12 MTY 9.14 MEX 9.16 TX 2022 KFTD @Paris - London - Berlin - Toronto - NY - Anaheim - Dallas - Atlanta
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Andy666

Andy666

Mainstream Artist
Mainstream Artist
"Since the song was made while I was in the bath, it's a word that was chosen from that atmosphere. The slightly dark lighting and high humidity blur your field of vision, and cloudy mirrors make it feel like you can't see everything. The overall color and scene are "ivory." Also, the reason why I'm singing while in a bathtub the music video is because this song was made in the bath. The other band members suggested to me, "Why don't you sing while in a bathtub?"


Wow a bit deep thought from Mami, too why the song called Ivory. MAMI heart

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etwee

etwee

Shiroten Performer
Shiroten Performer
About the MV— TOMO says "For the scenes where each member is shown one by one, the other members were directing them from behind the camera." That's real interesting because those shots are really impressive, they really seem to bring out the strong personalities of the members. For me this is the best MV they've ever done. There are so many subtle touches in it that support the music, the lyrics, and the spirit of the band in this time, this time that we are all going through together

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BMC

BMC

Caless Student
Caless Student
This song is incredibly emotional. I had a really tough week at work and reading these interviews along with listening to the song has really hit me hard. I absolutely love this song, it is so lush and beautiful. Reading what their thoughts were while recording and especially Mamichan's state of mind while coming up with it really really resonates with me.

Couple things I found rather interesting about the song and the MV...

Rina mentions her choice of tone on the drums and I finally noticed it listening again today. The tone of her snare in just about every other song is crisp and satisfying. However, this song her snare has really soft sound and feel to it. Really matches the feel of the song well. It almost feels like her snare is caressing the song as it progresses.

The other thing I found rather interesting was the choice of format for the MV. 4:3 aspect ratio instead of 16:9. Also matches the feel of the song quite well given this has a low-fi and mid-tempo feel to it. Would have been interesting if they had shot the video on actual film like Super8... and the image of Mami singing in the bathtub is *chef's kiss* perfect.

Anywho.. thanks for the translations! Happy



Brian from Atlanta. Band-Maid: MISA/Akane Scandal: Rina/Mami
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