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SCANDAL talks about why they were able to let their true selves show in their 15th year
Rolling Stone Japan - SCANDAL's "MIRROR" Interview 81d81f0860d93ae61333d3087825e2cf

15 years ago, four girls who attended a dance and vocal training school unexpectedly formed a band. Traversing down an unexpected musical path, SCANDAL walked alongside their fans while overcoming many hardships and conflicts due to their peculiar origin story, and have reached the point where they feel that they're currently "the best they've ever been."

In this interview, we traced the changes in the emotions of the quartet while unraveling the feelings contained in their latest album MIRROR that they were able to produce more naturally than ever before. Please take a look at SCANDAL's real and heartful human drama.

―You celebrated your 15th anniversary on Aug. 21, 2021, and released your 10th album MIRROR on Jan. 26, 2022. How do you feel about being able to reach this point?

HARUNA: Just being able to do this for 15 years with the same members makes us very happy. We also feel blessed that we feel that we're the best we've ever been in 15 years.

―What, for example, makes you feel that you're the best you've ever been?

HARUNA: Now we can work more like regular human beings. Up until now we had been very wrapped up in it all and in a hurry—or rather, we continued working while rushing a lot of things. But due to the pandemic, each of us were able to reflect on ourselves and became able to play music as mature women in their thirties. That's a big thing for us.

―It's now possible to work in a more natural state, then.

HARUNA: I think it's the same for everything. It's like that for recording, and especially for our live performances. We can finally stand in front of our audiences and speak our own words and behave in our own way. Until now there was a part of me that had worked hard to create a persona called "HARUNA of SCANDAL." I felt that it would be difficult to continue playing music as SCANDAL in the future [if I kept up that persona], but it was pretty hard to stop. However, the pandemic made me stop and reflect on myself, so that I could reveal my true self.

―When you show your true self, you may be scared of how the fans will react. What was it like for you, HARUNA?

HARUNA: I felt that showing my true self conveys my feelings better. The more I tried to make myself sound good during MCs, the more I often felt that things weren't being conveyed. But when I started to do my best to make my feelings reach everyone, even if I'm not good at it, I felt that the fans had come to accept that.

Rolling Stone Japan - SCANDAL's "MIRROR" Interview 3e8d0be1e44c220594e27646290977d0

―RINA, you're nodding next to her—do you feel that same kind of change?

RINA: Watching HARUNA from the back as she talks, I really feel that she's opened the door to one kind of freedom, and that we're alive and breathing naturally on stage. Because of that reliability, the other three of us have more freedom, and I think that we really can live naturally while creating music and expressing ourselves. That's why it's not about us "transforming into band-mode"—it's that music is part of our lives.

―I see. How would you answer if I asked you what kind of band SCANDAL is?

RINA: They're a super-unique and super-free band (laughs).

―It took you 15 years to get to that point.

RINA: That's right. There was a time when we wanted to keep being the people that we desired to be, and of course we still have the mentality of wanting to live up to those expectations, but we've realized the importance of wanting to play and make music true to ourselves, just as much as that. MIRROR is full of songs we wrote while cherishing that. Having reached a 15-year career with all of us in our thirties, the feeling of "wanting to play music for a long time, and wanting to create music that we can keep expressing for a long time" got stronger. That's now manifesting for us in a lot of different aspects.

Rolling Stone Japan - SCANDAL's "MIRROR" Interview 03b094b31b3265305673b46b7da3e38d

―I think the song "Ivory" that MAMI does lead vocals on is the perfect embodiment of a natural song. MAMI, what kind of impression do you have of SCANDAL right now?

MAMI: During the pandemic we celebrated our 15th anniversary and played an anniversary concert at Osaka-Jo Hall. When I thought of how we're overcoming another wall and heading towards an unknown world, it too made me want to play music that we as a band can continue to play in the future. A lot of things may happen because we're women, but I thought that it'd be great if we had songs that we could sing and perform even if those things happen. I wanted to record these moments of ours.

―I see.

MAMI: A lot of things were difficult when we weren't able to do what we wanted, but there were also a lot of things that we could do our own. I felt positive about it, and when I thought about making that into a song, the melody and lyrics for "Ivory" naturally came to me as I was just living my life. I think being able to write a song like this is related to my age and career. This was at the same time when we had paused due a lot of things, and it seems like we were able to make a song like "Ivory" because we were able to work in a very natural way. I think that can be said for any of the songs on MIRROR.

MIRROR may reflect the results of each band member confronting SCANDAL and music exactly as they are, and as human beings. TOMOMI, what do you think?

TOMOMI: Because this was made during the pandemic, we wanted to convey the sort of things we should be expressing in this situation. Like, how should we put on live performances, and what we should be doing so that people can have fun without vocalizing? We really thought about a lot things we never had to consider before. We didn't get any clear answers to that, but even though we didn't, we thought about how the music we—who don't have the answers—are creating right now is beautiful. Though we don't have any messages that reached a conclusion, I think this is an album that is able to reflect our current situation, and a work that gives us hope to continue playing music for the next 5, 10 years.

Rolling Stone Japan - SCANDAL's "MIRROR" Interview 1b9cd2d59646606cc897a081bb4307d2

―The other day I interviewed Goto of [the comedy group] Yonsentoushin, who is a big fan of yours, TOMOMI. He said that when he was a student and didn't have a place to belong to, "SCANDAL brought me back to life. No exaggeration—they really did save me."

TOMOMI: That makes me really happy. To think that we supported him that much...makes me most happy. We get a lot of messages every day from fans who aren't able to join a circle of friends or those who have uncommon worries, which makes me proud that SCANDAL's music reaches those kinds of people. I think it's because we've accepted everything about ourselves. We had a lot of hang-ups, but we've accepted ourserlves and have been around for the past 15 years, so it would make us happy if you could see and support us. It would also give us courage and confidence. We're grateful.

―SCANDAL isn't a band that made your debut filled with self-confidence, and there was a time when you were viewed from a biased perspective—that's why you were fighting against the difficulty of acting like yourselves. But the fans who responded to you overcoming those barriers were saved by you. That connection put together the story leading up to your 15th anniversary. The bigger picture is hard to see, isn't it?

RINA: I think I'm in the majority in terms of sexuality, but there are moments when people aren't able to like what they like, or when a majority vote is taken at school, and I was always in the minority. When the opinion of the majority passed, I thought, "Why don't you listen to the opinions of the minority?" That's how I spent my time as a student. I've had a lot of experiences like that since I was little, but ever since I started playing in a band, I've been able to express my feelings with music. I too feel saved by the band and our music. Because I can understand the feelings of those in the minority through my experiences, I always want to keep in mind that there are different kinds of "normal." I want to tour while telling everyone that you're the best exactly the way that you are.

―That feeling is reflected in SCANDAL's songs, isn't it?

RINA: I think all of our songs are studded with those elements. At first we were unintentionally working in a state where we didn't fully understand ourselves, but we gradually started to understand our dispositions and personalities on our own. We're making this kind of music now that we understand those, so there are tons of fans who have experienced feeling lonely due to being in the minority. Every time we feel that, we think that what's on the inside is being conveyed, and that we'll keep shining a spotlight on those fans. It also helps us out.

―HARUNA, how do you feel about the relationship between SCANDAL and the fans?

HARUNA: There were times when I wasn't confident that we were being "SCANDAL." The reason is that I was enrolled at that dance and vocal training school before SCANDAL formed and thought I would keep going down that path until I suddenly became a person in a band. That's why I've been worried about the differences between me and those in bands close to me. Even if I try to do something that's like the ideal picture of a band member I've drawn in my head, it doesn't feel right. I continued to feel really down from not being able to do that. However, there are fans who will follow me even if they see me like that. They sympathized me with even when I was feeling down but continued onwards while thinking that there may be something good that'll happen one day. We're around right now because they felt sympathy... We're nothing but grateful for it, and we want to make sure to help out those people.

―Since your formation was unique, you might have felt out of place in the band scene at first and therefore not be accepted. That might have made you feel bad and made you worry about what to do. However, I think those who understood SCANDAL the most were your fans. Therefore, you want to make sure to help them out.

HARUNA: Because we're a band that has taken such a unique path, I'm sure there are those who felt a little embarrassed to be a fan, or maybe those who liked us but couldn't say that they do. That's why, from here on, we'll accept ourselves for who we are and be confident in ourselves so that all fans can proudly say that they like SCANDAL.

―When a famous Japanese bandsman told Western music fans that they liked THE YELLOW MONKEY when they were a student, they were made fun of. The [artist's] fans got mad at that, so after listening to all of the Western music that those other people liked, they bluntly said, "THE YELLOW MONKEY really is the coolest band in the world." SCANDAL probably has a lot of cool fans like that, I'm sure.

RINA: We think they're really cool.

MAMI: On our radio show we have a segment called "Life Before SCANDAL" where the fans tell us what bands they used to love before SCANDAL. So many different bands were mentioned such as The Rolling Stones and The Beatles, as well as THE ALFEE and Seikima II. Doesn't that mean that our fans had felt that SCANDAL was similar somehow to those great bands? When I think about it, I think that we're a strange band (laughs), but I'm glad that fans who listen to all kinds of music have accepted us. Although it's not the same as the THE YELLOW MONKEY story, it's really encouraging to think that people can finally say that they like SCANDAL!

―SCANDAL's 10th album MIRROR was released in 2022. You mentioned earlier that it consists of songs that were born because of how SCANDAL is right now. What made you decide to title it MIRROR?

RINA: The title wasn't really decided until the last minute. But when we put together the words that popped up over and over again during meetings to decide on the title, somehow what the four of us were picturing were the same. "Light," "softness," "femininity" that we feel; "kind but strong." We had always been thinking about what kind of title it would be if we put that all together. Ultimately, when we had a meeting where we were like, "If we don't decide right now, we won't make it in time," the word "MIRROR" popped up. We've been reflecting on ourselves a lot; reflecting on the times that have changed drastically and responding just right to them; and thinking about ideas like throwing a counterpunch and occasionally bouncing back—an album born amidst that could only be called MIRROR.

Rolling Stone Japan - SCANDAL's "MIRROR" Interview 51ec1180e02769844d3eae049b25b559

―I see.

RINA: When we gave it that title, I wrote the lyrics for the title song "MIRROR" with the intention of using the images that came from our many discussions. So, we finished the album as if foreshadowing it, saying, "This was what we wanted to say and do."

―What was your impression of the album when it was finished?

MAMI: I think it's a mysterious album. Until now, we had always wanted to make songs individually and have lead vocals sung by the person who wrote them, as well as composing and writing lyrics in different combinations. However, as we talked about previously, I think it's interesting that the songs produced by each of us have more individuality that ever before due to all kinds of things that have happened in the last few years. We didn't try to cram it full to make it rich in variety, but naturally and inevitably there happened to be a collection of such unique songs. Even though we didn't aim to make this album, it's like a collection of songs that we've been looking for from the start. It felt natural to follow up three singles with an album, and it feels like you're reading a diary of the production period for this album. In that sense, it's a "mysterious album."

―How would you like this album to resonate with others?

TOMOMI: People might still be worried that we put the current state of affairs of the world on this album. Even so, I hope this will be a work that'll make you think "I can just be myself."

―Please tell us what you'll be doing after releasing MIRROR. You'll be holding a world tour this year. What kind of year would you like it to be?

HARUNA: After celebrating our 15th anniversary, we're looking forward to "continuing on" after making this album. Before that, we couldn't irresponsibly say that we'll "continue to be a band forever." We didn't know how long we could continue doing this as women who are over 30 years old. However, while we were playing our anniversary concert at Osaka-Jo Hall, we vaguely thought, "We can still do this." We feel that we've been able to to keep SCANDAL going for a long time because we can be our natural selves, which makes us very happy. We don't really see us doing different things in the future, and we're simply excited that we're likely to be able to keep going for a long time. Also, we're happy to be able to play concerts not only in Japan but overseas as well. It's very on-brand for SCANDAL.

―It's not as if a new member will be joining at this point in time, but it's a very happy thing to mentally be like, "It's the rebirth of SCANDAL," and to be in a state of "We can still keep doing this." To put it in extremes, from here on out it can be regarded as your actual start.

HARUNA: I think it took us a long time to get here (laughs), but we didn't know if we could reach our current state unless we continued on. But if we had quit before that, I would have regretted it for the rest of my life, and I think I would have lived feeling hazy all of the time. So, now that we've reached the point where we feel that we're currently the best we've ever been, I think that I lead a very blessed life.

―I think it's a really great story. On the other hand, no members are thinking, "No, I think it's about time for me to leave...", right?

All: (laughs)

RINA: There's no such thing as leaving for us (laughs). We don't want to change the members, and I don't think we could do that. The four of us will go as far as we can go together!

Rolling Stone Japan - SCANDAL's "MIRROR" Interview Fbef2ccdbb872c4eb28993cde9145b17 Rolling Stone Japan - SCANDAL's "MIRROR" Interview 03b094b31b3265305673b46b7da3e38d Rolling Stone Japan - SCANDAL's "MIRROR" Interview C3572f58ae2125edaa75a686580947f3 Rolling Stone Japan - SCANDAL's "MIRROR" Interview 44c6c5fce2b7e888c2a8a9fe39432666 Rolling Stone Japan - SCANDAL's "MIRROR" Interview 9de8f9b9ae73479aa055392358093cfb Rolling Stone Japan - SCANDAL's "MIRROR" Interview FKBluoda-MAYLB8y

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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
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