ORESAMA is a male-female music duo exploring a new style of J-pop. Hideya Kojima writes the tracks while vocalist Pon provides the lyrics. They are known for performing ‘Wonder Drive’, the opening song for the 2017 spring anime Alice & Zouroku, and ‘Trip Trip Trip’ for 2017 summer anime Mahojin Guru Guru. MANGA.TOKYO were lucky enough to interview them on behalf of their increasing number of fans around the world. We asked them to tell us how they create their impressive music and to share some behind-the-scenes stories.
‘We chose the name “ORESAMA” because we wanted to be imposing at least on stage’
-Are you two normally a bossy type, as your duo name ‘ORESAMA’ (a first-person pronoun for people who are overly self-confident and arrogant) suggests?
Pon: Not at all. On the contrary, we chose the name ‘ORESAMA’ because we wanted to be seen as imposing at least on stage. Neither of us are bossy at all offstage.
-So, you mean that on stage you are…
Kojima: I hope we give off that self-confident aura on-stage because there is a chance to enjoy an extraordinary experience and to have a moment of self-insight there. We want to feel like that for just that time.
– The ‘ORESAMA’ personality is good providing that you can switch it on and off.
Kojima: People around us would struggle to deal with us if our ‘ORESAMA’ switch was on all the time. [laugh]
-You released two anisongs consecutively; ‘Wonder Drive’, which is your new debut song and the opening to Alice & Zouroku, and ‘Trip Trip Trip’, the opening song for Mahojin Guru Guru. I’ve heard that you got some considerable reactions from overseas.
Pon: That’s right. We get comments from many countries on YouTube and Twitter. I also got a message from a Korean person saying, ‘I’ll come to your release party.’ I also met someone who came from the US to see our live show. We’re delightfully surprised by all of them.
Kojima: Although I can’t understand every single detail, every time I read comments from overseas, I feel that they’re supporting us with each word they use, which make us feel really happy.
-Are you conscious about overseas listeners when you create music?
Kojima: To be honest, I’m not at this moment. What I want to create with ORESAMA is ‘quality J-pop.’ I listen to a variety of overseas music which I admire and am under the influence of. However, I take creating music with an excellent melody seriously. I think such music would attract more attention abroad. I’m conscious about creating the ultimate J-pop music with ORESAMA.
‘Because Pon expresses the inner self of a protagonist straightforwardly, I think female listeners feel a particular empathy for our songs’
-I’ve heard that ORESAMA operates a clear division of labor system.
Pon: Firstly, Kojima composes the music and I choose one which I like and write lyrics for it. Occasionally, I write lyrics first, and he composes music for them.
Kojima: We are both comfortable in this way. Although we discuss some minor interpretations, we believe in each other and respect each of our sensibilities. Therefore, things go smoothly when we work on the music separately.
-What sort of impression do you have of the world within Pon’s lyrics?
Kojima: Whether it’s commissioned work or not, she is naturally good at expressing herself with lyrics. I can relate to her lyrics, which transcend gender. Considering the response of our listeners, I’m sure they feel the same.
Because Pon expresses the inner-self of a protagonist straightforwardly, I think female listeners feel particular empathy towards her songs. Furthermore, she is good at expressing herself with lyrics rather than sentences.
-There are subtle differences between lyrics and sentences, aren’t there?
Kojima: She is brilliant at utilizing the subtle differences in her lyrics. I focus on melodies when I compose music, and not only is she excellent at providing lyrics that emphasize them, but also the lyrics themselves are fantastic.
-She can write lyrics that bring out the charm of the melodies you create.
Kojima: Exactly. I think she consciously chooses words which bring out the best from the melodies.
Pon: I understand the importance of word choice. For instance, I may choose to use sugoku instead of totemo [N.B. two words that both mean ‘very’, with the former having a stronger nuance and being less formal] because it delivers the exact meaning and sounds more powerful when sang with a particular melody. I try to use words which become lively to sing both in meaning and sound.
-What do you think about the music Kojima composes?
Pon: His music captivates us. The first 5 to 10 seconds are the most important part of the music; they have to impress the listeners. We stream music nowadays, and many songs are forgotten easily. Kojima knows that, so he composes music which can impress the listeners at the very moment they start listening. When I write lyrics, I choose a piece which grabs my attention immediately from the music he has composed.
-You choose music you are attracted to. Do you mean not all his musical compositions get your lyrics?
Pon: I write lyrics for only the pieces which grab my attention.
Kojima: Not only does she not write lyrics for all my music, sometimes she doesn’t even reply when I send it. In that case, I start over. Her response to my music is easy to understand. [laugh]
(Next Page: ‘How I express my music within a space of 89 seconds, while grabbing the listeners’ attention.’)