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Billboard Japan - <Us and Music Vol.24> SCANDAL - Living true to ourselves is the axis of the band
front-page - Billboard Japan - <Us and Music Vol.24> with SCANDAL Top

Since 2007, Billboard has hosted "Billboard Women in Music (WIM)." Each year, the Woman of the Year award is presented to an artist who has made significant contributions to the music industry and empowered women through her work. Starting in 2022, Billboard JAPAN launched a project featuring "women in the music industry" from a unique perspective, and as part of the project, it has been developing a series of interviews focusing on women: "Us and Music."

The guests this time are the four members of SCANDAL, who will be performing at 【Billboard JAPAN Women In Music vol.1】 on November 3 at Hibiya Open-Air Concert Hall. This year, on the band's 17th anniversary, they are also challenging the Guinness World Record for "Longest running rock band with the same musicians (female)." From their current state of mind, you can sense the importance of facing oneself, regardless of whether one is involved in a band or in music, and the core strength that comes from doing so.

We're proud of being an all-girl band

front-page - Billboard Japan - <Us and Music Vol.24> with SCANDAL 01

──You will be performing at 【Billboard JAPAN Women In Music vol.1】 on November 3 at Hibiya Open-Air Concert Hall. Please let us know how you feel about the offer.

HARUNA: This year is a very important year for us, which includes our 17th anniversary and us going for a Guinness World Record, and being invited to this wonderful event makes us happy, first of all. Because we've always been a band that values being women, we think that this event is perfect for us.

RINA: We'll be working out the details of our performance later on, but I hope we can present our current selves as is, including our new song that will be released in October. Also, like HARUNA said, the concept of the event is linked to what we feel, so we want to make it a performance with a message while enjoying the music.

──I'm very much looking forward to your performance at the concert now. You mentioned that you value being women. Specifically, how has being women affected SCANDAL's activities?

RINA: In our case, especially at one point about 10 years ago, people often said to us, "You guys transcend the realm of all-girl bands," or, "You're not an all-girl band—you're a full-fledged rock band." I think those were said as compliments, but we felt really uncomfortable with them at the time. When we confronted that feeling, we realized that we really like this genre of music, without any sense that being an all-girl band made us superior or inferior. We had a positive view of being an all-girl band, so when we were told that we had "surpassed being an all-girl band," we couldn't take it as a compliment.

TOMOMI: It was around that time that we began to think that it'd be nice if everyone could enjoy the music of a band, made by women, in a more flat way.

front-page - Billboard Japan - <Us and Music Vol.24> with SCANDAL 02

We have been living our lives in our own way - As a result, we have found a way to express ourselves as an all-girl band

──Until I met you all, I thought that there was no need to call you an "all-girl" band, or that you might be uncomfortable with the idea of being called an all-girl band. So when I heard that you like and are proud of the "all-girl band" genre, I realized how faulty my thinking was. What do you like about [being an all-girl band]?

TOMOMI: We had a chance to play concerts overseas during our indie label days, and at that time the four of us wore matching school uniforms. Because of that style, I think that the local people saw all-girl bands as a part of Japanese culture, like anime and manga. When we were interviewed in the US, we were asked, "With the four of you being women, why didn't you form a dance group instead?" I think the reason why that was said to us was because EDM was popular at the time, and all-girl bands must have been rare in the US then. We felt fresh and positive about being categorized as such.

RINA: Band booms come and go from time to time, and it depends on the country. I also think that in the midst of these waves, we have been able to keep the door open for 17 years to girls who want to play an instrument or be in a band. Including that point, our identity as an all-girl band is something we've always been proud of.

MAMI: For us, being an all-girl band is more about living in our own way, rather than liking the all-girl band genre and doing it for its own sake. A band was the best way for us to convey via songs the messages we experience in our everyday lives.

front-page - Billboard Japan - <Us and Music Vol.24> with SCANDAL 03

──I heard that you met at a music school where you studied vocals and dance, and that the instructors arranged for you to start playing instruments and form a band. At that time, I think there were fewer female-only bands than there are now. How did you feel at the beginning?

RINA: We felt challenged to start playing instruments we had never played before, and we also felt the technical difficulties. However, there was also the joy of being able to do things that the other students hadn't done, and the pleasure of gradually becoming able to do things we hadn't been able to do before. We were the first all-girl band at the music school we attended, so there was that special feeling as well.

HARUNA: I always liked music and wanted to go to that school and stand on stage with singing and dancing, but I didn't have much luck there. I was a senior in high school at the time and was wondering whether I would go on to college without fulfilling my dream, or whether I should start looking for a job. I felt that I did not want to miss this chance. I might have felt discouraged if I was on my own, but because I had three others with me, I was able to continue to have fun and things felt fresh every day.

──In the first place, I wonder why are there so few women in bands compared to men.

RINA: A band can't be formed by just one person, after all. So when a band consists of only women, there comes a time when each of their life stages change, such as having a child. Even if they don't have any, their bodies themselves change in their 20s and 30s, so I think they run into the problem of physical and time difficulties even if they have the energy. In this sense, the hurdle may be higher for women than for men.

TOMOMI: That's right. If you give birth at different times, you'll have to pause your activities for years. That's why I respect artists who continue to play music while raising children. I think it's a difficult task.

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HARUNA: Considering that, in our case, maybe we were lucky that we formed early. Because we started our activities early on, we can reach a point in our life stages where we've continued on to a certain extent and are ready to change.

RINA: In that way, there was a time when we had the same worries as women who work at companies about balancing our careers and personal lives. The way we make music has changed as a result of us wondering how we can live happy and enjoyable lives.

HARUNA: Yeah. There was a time when we made a lot of up-tempo, flashy songs that would get people excited at festivals and concerts, but we began to think, "Is that enough?"

MAMI: Facing our own lives and future as women had an impact on our production. I think that was a very good thing.

──Do the four of you ever talk about or share such changes in mind?

MAMI: We don't have the chance to regularly do so, but we often have the opportunity, such as during interviews like this right now, to confirm each of our opinions and think, "That's right." Also, things like that naturally come up when we write songs. I think our shared view has always been, "We just want to have fun for a long time and keep the band healthy and honest, both physically and mentally."

TOMOMI: With that shared view, I feel that we are able to share in our daily conversations the desire to update and renew ourselves each time.

Important things to keep us going for a long time

──Little by little, I've begun to see how difficult it was to keep going for 17 years. How has SCANDAL been able to continue for so long? What's your secret?

MAMI: I often write lyrics and music, but when I'm stuck, I talk to the other members and they give me hints to make up for the missing elements. It does feel like each member makes up for what each of us lacks.

TOMOMI: It may be that the teacher who first approached the four of us had a discerning eye. We fit together perfectly like pieces of a puzzle, enough to wonder, "How did they know we'd work together so well?"

HARUNA: Also, the four of us didn't give up on playing instruments at the end, so we're still competitive and have plenty of guts (laughs). Maybe that's what the teacher saw in us.

RINA: That's true (laughs). After 17 years, our arrows are still pointing in the same direction. We spent a long time worrying about our direction. We've really tried a lot of different things, not only in regards to music and performances, but also in terms of outfits. Oddly enough, in those situations we all agree as to what will or will not make things more exciting.

TOMOMI: There was a long period of time when we had trouble finding our direction, but we got out of it before we knew it as we tried different things. I think we were probably struggling to become something we weren't. We wanted to fit into some box, but I guess it became easier once we stopped doing that.

RINA: Also, our motto is "Tell it until it gets across." It doesn't matter if it's rough or uncool—just convey everything on stage. Once we got into that mindset, we were able to escape that struggle.

front-page - Billboard Japan - <Us and Music Vol.24> with SCANDAL 05

HARUNA: We've also learned that there are some things that can only be conveyed by continuing on. That's why the music we express is changing more and more. What we can only do now is valuable, but in order to continue for a long time, we want to play music that we can continue to feel comfortable playing even in our 50s.

──What exactly do you think "long-lasting music" means?

RINA: The BPM, tone, and then the lyrics. There is a line for what is okay or not for us now.

HARUNA: We want to use the words of our own lives as lyrics, not just the band's mentality. I think the depth of the band's personality comes not only from what is visible on the surface, but also from the words that come out of our daily lives and our inner selves.

RINA: Having been at this for so long, we felt the importance of taking a pause once, which happened during the pandemic. At that time, we thought that any way of life could be music. Perhaps it's due to being a band since we were young that it's difficult for people to recognize us as adult women. Everyone remembers the first time they see something, right? That is why we are determined to express who we are right now in our words and music. By being like that, I feel that we'll be able to enjoy our band life more in the future.

front-page - Billboard Japan - <Us and Music Vol.24> with SCANDAL Main-min


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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 - 水戸 - 東京 2018 Special Thanks @NY - SF - Anaheim - MTY - MEX - Dallas 2022 MIRROR @Toronto - NY - Boston - Atlanta 2023 UU @ 福岡 - 東京 08.21 Sekai Ichi 2024 LUMINOUS @ 名古屋 - 横浜 - 大阪 - 奈良
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