“THE INTERVIEW” 01-1 and 01-2 (DiGiFES interview with Ayumi Miyazaki)

The Korean Digimon fansite DiGiFES (now defunct; not to be confused with the official yearly Japanese DigiFes events) had a section titled “THE INTERVIEW” that contained interviews with staff involved in Digimon production. The first interview, held with Ayumi Miyazaki, was posted on June 26 and July 4, 2015.

(01 Ayumi Miyazaki | 02 Genki Yoshimura | 03 Kenji Watanabe)

A singer for previous Digimon anime OSTs. His major works include “brave heart” (Digimon Adventure), “Break up!”, “Beat Hit” (Digimon Adventure 02), “The last element” (Digimon Frontier), etc. He actively works as a composer as well as being a singer. In 2012, he produced a concept album, “CRITICAL SCREAM”.

–Hello! Thank you for agreeing to the interview. Can you introduce yourself, please?
Ayumi Miyazaki (referred to below as M): Hello to all Korean Digimon fans! I’m Ayumi Miyazaki!
I had a really fun time at the end of last year1, so thank you so much!
We’re all connected through Digimon. From now on, let’s walk towards the future together!

–At the end of last year, you gave us a wonderful live show at the DiGiFES offline event. Thank you so much for agreeing to our offer so readily.
This may be a little abrupt, but how was last year’s DiGiFES?
I was singled out as a pro singer from Japan and became acquainted with the Korean organizers who went to Digimon fan events. I decided to take on the request of “we would like you to become a bridge between Japan and Korea”, but I had a lot of anxiety. I wondered how popular Japanese anime was in Korea…“I wonder how well people know my songs?” I thought.
But that anxiety went away in the blink of an eye. When all the fans in Korea sang with me in Japanese, I thought, “maybe I’ve become a bit of that bridge after all.”

–In just that moment, regardless of nationality, everyone in that venue came together as one!

About Digimon

—So, on that note, Miyazaki-san, we would like to ask you about your involvement in Digimon.
Firstly, please tell us how you became involved in the first Digimon series.
M: The president of an acquaintance’s firm asked me, “There’s a record company looking for a singer for an anime, so why don’t you apply?” And that ended up being my opportunity.
Sixteen years ago, unlike now, there were people around me who were opposed to the idea of “singing for an anime”.

–Is that so…But eventually you came to have sung something that was famous around the world, so that must have surprised those people.
Next, has there been anything recent in regards to your Digimon-related activities?
For the past few years, several times a year, and at the invitation of the above-mentioned event planners, I’ve participated as a guest in Digimon fan events.
Last year, it was decided in advance that there would be a fan event on August 1, and it was difficult for me because I had an offer for an official event2 after that.
As a result, after my live show in Shibuya, I rushed to Odaiba, and it was rather fun being like Daisuke and Ken in Diablomon Strikes Back! My heart was pounding as I was stuck in traffic!
Other than that, I’ve had routine performances in Brazil, and in Peru last year I appeared as a last-minute substitute for Kouji Wada-kun.

–You were a secret guest in last year’s official event! We remember being surprised, too.
We would like to ask you about the insert song you’re responsible for in the work announced at the time, Digimon Adventure tri. In last year’s DiGiFES offline event, you said, “if they call me, I’ll sing, I want to participate,” and now you’re participating just as you’ve said.
I was a little confused when I first heard about it. “Is it really right to have me sing it again?”
Despite what I said at DiGiFES, I had the feeling that I wanted to pass it down to a new generation. Although it’s a rough-around-the-edges song I sang without knowing anything sixteen years ago, and although I may be a more experienced singer than I was back then, that song’s been circulating all around the world and you can’t match up to the momentum it built up at the time, so I was worrying while thinking that.
But I’m sincerely grateful that I have the opportunity to sing it in this way now.

–This time, in regards to your Digimon activity, we’d like to ask about things you aren’t usually asked.
Firstly, when you sang “The Last Element” at the time of Digimon Frontier, you were active using the name “Ayumi”. Was there a particular reason for this?
As I wrote earlier, the word “anisong3 didn’t exist, and it was an era when the act of singing something exclusively for an anime (and not as a partnership) was not considered as useful as it is now.
As you may know, after I got my big break as a songwriter and producer, because I’d sung in Digimon, my agency producer of the time made the demand of me, “I want you to change your name for when you sing songs for anime.” It was in the sense that it would be a big problem for a composer’s image.
So I, who was a stubborn person, was boasting that I absolutely wouldn’t change my name, and as a compromise I reduced it to just “Ayumi” and left it in katakana4. But for me, it was a disappointment…
Since people who were both “anisong singers” and “J-pop composers” didn’t exist at the time, I remember the amazement I got from the people around me.

Digimon 10th ANNIVERSARY -The Bridge to Dreams-

–In Digimon 10th ANNIVERSARY -The Bridge to Dreams-, you wrote and sung a song by yourself, “Beyond the Memories”, and you even composed character songs. In what circumstances did you come to participate in this album?
In the sense that “it’s a Digimon song that I was able to make as I liked”, it’s a song that’s become very important to me.
For the character songs, it was the director’s intention to respect my career as a creative writer.
Incidentally, when I was involved in Digimon, I was only the “singer”, strictly speaking, and in “Beyond the Memories” I didn’t play any of the musical instruments. I have friends who have been important to me for many years, and I leave it to those top-notch Japanese musicians to play the instruments while I participate only as the “singer”. It’s a little difficult to understand, but it’s one of my “nitpicks”.

–I see. In regards to “Beyond the Memories”, such an important song to you, is there any message you want to tell people who listen to it?
No matter how old you are, when you reunite with the memories of being with your friends and family, aren’t there times when you look back and think about times when you were in love, or the fun times, or the sad times? As you get older, you might forget even those nostalgic memories, but I think that during those times it’s okay to stop your weak self and think things like “ah, if I could go back to those fun times…”
When I look back on the times of my childhood when I was being spoiled by my father, mother, and sibling, why I’m the way I am now, and how I make contact with other people, I think it’s good to think that way.

–When do you feel like you want to go when you go “beyond the memories”?
If I were to go “beyond the memories”, I want to go back to when my father was alive.
Now that my songs are circulating all around the world, I want to know what kind of things he’d say, and I’d definitely want him to listen to them.
But that said, I’m having fun and living my life to the fullest right now, and keeping yourself fixated on the future is what reality is.

WE ARE Xros Heart! ver. X7

–In 2011 you participated in the vocals for “WE ARE Xros Heart! ver. X7″, so in what circumstances did you come to participate in this song?
Takayoshi Tanimoto-kun asked me in person at my record company. He told me Kouji Wada-kun was also returning and that it would be out of place to not have the original singer of the insert songs.
There were many wonderful colleagues, and they were very happy people.

–It became your first time returning to Digimon music in a long time. How did you feel?
Of course, I was very happy.

–Then, in addition to the questions from before now, are there any interesting stories you remember from your work in Digimon music?
During my first Digimon event, it was supposed to be at the Tokyo Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi (a department store), but although I was initially scheduled to be singing on the first floor in the toy department, because it was too noisy there, they hastily moved it to the rooftop under the scorching sun.
Agumon and Togemon appeared on the stage, and while I was singing excitedly, Agumon and Togemon were spinning around. Afterwards, it looked like the Agumon was going through something harsh, and I was feeling guilty. I uploaded a picture of that day to Twitter!
After that, during the second time I’d met Kouji Wada-kun, I remember being surprised because we were wearing the same shoes.

I received an old photo album from the Digimon music producers as a Christmas gift. The Digimon are so cute. I’ll be in Korea from tomorrow on, so I’m getting more and more fired up. pic.twitter.com/ZBjFarPKjr
–Ayumi Miyazaki (@Ayumi__Miyazaki) December 25, 2014

”brave heart” as the passport to the world

–We’d like to hear more about that incident at an event! Speaking of which, you did say that “‘brave heart’ is my passport to the world” at the DiGiFES offline event. We’ve heard that you’ve done a lot of similar overseas performances like that. How many countries have you been to up until now?
For now I’ve only been to Brazil, Peru, and Korea. In July I’m going to Costa Rica, and in December to Ecuador.
So my “passport of brave heart” still has a lot of blank spaces in it.

–Of the countries you’ve been to, which do you particularly remember?
Korea, of course. I’d like to go back, although not in the December cold (laughs)!
Korean people are very warm and kind, so I was very comfortable.

–Thank you (laughs).
Please tell us about things other than Digimon. For instance, what kind of activity you’re participating in as an artist. Please introduce them.
I’m a lyricist, composer, and producer for various artists.
In Korea, I’ve worked with artists such as “K” and “T-ARA”.
I often write music for Johnny & Associates. I’ve also written things for anime such as NANA, The Prince of Tennis, Doraemon, etc.

The culmination of Ayumi Miyazaki’s albums, CRITICAL SCREAM

–Recently, through mail order via the DiGiFES website, people were able to listen to your album CRITICAL SCREAM. It was also sold at the DiGiFES offline event. Do you have something like “I want you to notice this part of the album!” for anyone who’s listened to it up until now, and for anyone who will be listening to it from now on?
It’s made under the pretext of “a fictitious anime soundtrack”, but I think when you’ll listen to it, you’ll think “I wonder what kind of anime this is a soundtrack for”.
This is my culmination album, with the famous Minami Takayama-san of Detective Conan and Kiki’s Delivery Service, the famous Rikiya Koyama who played the role of Kogoro Mouri, the best musicians in Japan, and a New York-based engineer who’s won a Grammy Award several times.
The concept design and picture was by Yoshihiro Iwamoto-san, who’s worked on manga versions of things like Mega Man X. I think you can even enjoy just looking at the CD illustration.
Regarding the songs, it’s a real illustration of my ability as an artist. No matter which song it is, it’s a very important song I’ve been bringing up in the works for many years.

–I see. Each and every song is a wonderful song! Where can fans who want to buy the album buy it?
You can buy it on Amazon and the iTunes Store!

–It’s been a long interview, but we’ll have to end it soon. Please tell us what activities you have planned for the future.
First, there’s Digimon Adventure tri. With a new “brave heart”, I’ll fly around the world!

–We hope that you’ll be able to fill up your “passport of brave heart” with many countries! Finally, please say something for the fans in Korea.
From now on, let’s continue to have a brave heart together. And let’s continue to evolve towards the future together. Gamsahamnida5!

Translator's notes
  1. “The end of last year” = Refers to a Korean event called “DiGiFES 2014″, which included an offline event on December 28 at the Boramae Youth Center in Seoul. The event included video screenings, a merchandise and Kenji Watanabe art exhibition, TCG and creative workshops, a talk with two voice actors from Digimon Adventure and Digimon Adventure 02 (titled Power Digimon in Korea)’s Korean dub, a talk with Genki Yoshimura and the revelation of the contents of the drama CD in the Digimon Adventure Blu-Ray BOX, and a concert from Ayumi Miyazaki. []
  2. The Korean translation notes that the “official event” referred to is the 15th anniversary Digimon Adventure event, where Digimon Adventure tri. was first announced. []
  3. Anisong” = A word that encompasses anime-based songs as a whole, and has come to be considered its own genre of sorts. []
  4. The credits in “The Last Element” refer to Miyazaki under the name “Ayumi” in katakana (アユミ); in his actual name, “Ayumi” is written in kanji (歩). []
  5. Gamsahamnida (감사합니다) = Korean for “thank you very much” (left untranslated in the text because it was written in katakana in the original). []

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