ー I'm always surprised by the high quality of your entertainment whenever I watch you on tour. On how many levels are you involved in the production ?Since I became a solo artist, I'm more free to do what I wanna do. I am surrounded by a wonderful staff that work on what they can to make my crazy ideas come true, and it's always very fun, but... To me, it's not even close to what I'd like it to be. I'm pretty far from the image I would like to convey.
ー What do you mean ?If I could clearly have an idea of it, I would be able to convey it properly, but maybe because the things I imagine in my head are weird, or maybe because I'm bad at explaining with words, it's really difficult for me to describe it.
Every time I decide the details of a tour, I know exactly what kind of mood I'd like to give to the tour set, without thinking of the arrangement or the production details. It's just straight from my imagination. Therefore, they let me do what I want with what they can so I can be satisfied, but there are much more things I'd like to do as Suzuki Airi. What I'm doing right now as a solo artist is not even close to the things I imagine in my head. I feel like the flow of time is quicker than me. For example, my throat started to get used to 2 hours live only after the PARALLEL DATE tour.
ー Of course, it's difficult to do everything alone.
My throat really had a hard time at first. I thought that splitting the lyrics between members was such a great idea (laughs) Because it allows you to rest your throat naturally. We weren't obliged to sing the whole song by ourselves and were able to express the meaning of the song together. That's the great point of a group. That's why it was so hard during my Budokan live, and that it started to settle after the PARALLEL DATE tour. However even though my voice stabilized, the technology I use during my lives isn't enough yet. In a lot of ways, I had to start thinking about everything from zero with my solo career.
ー Does the dancing feels different too ?
There were many songs in °C-ute where we had to express ourselves with the choreography, but we always stopped to dance when we were singing our parts. So it gave us a feeling that the singing part was different than the dancing part, but now I have to do both together. Because I don't have any way to check on my performance during the live, I have to spend more time to check that everything is perfect during the rehearsals, or look back at my performances at home. I had to change my way of thinking about everything.
ー Your tour feels a lot like a musical, or a real show.
Because while treasuring everything I've learned as a Hello! Project member, I want to try completely new things. I've always said I'd like to do entertainment, and to me, my tours are a way to make that dream come true. I've made "PARALLEL DATE" and "Escape" so they tell a story, but...
ー But ?
I want to try so many things (laughs) Except for my tours, for example during my bus tour, I made an acoustic live in front of a camp fire. I want to try that kind of things too. What I'm doing right now is a type of entertainment that pleases the fans that follows me since my Idol days... So, consciously, I put around 70% of cute performances. But I'd like to find a greater balance of my various sides.
ー You also said something like this in our past interview last year. You're being careful about balancing everything right, but there's a part of you that wants to be more agressive with it, right ?
That's right ! After one year as a solo artist, isn't it right to change everything that's left from my Idol days ?
ー So you're thinking about this.
I do. There are many ways to qualify an Idol. The image of a japanese Idol is somebody very cute, but nobody expect this all the time for K-POP Idols. I think that's because there is a feeling of respect towards the past japanese Idols who were very much appreciated. I'm still singing songs from my time as °C-ute or Buono!, and my behavior and my hair is the same, but that's maybe what concerns me the most.
ー It's bothering you (laughs) But I'd really like to see more of what you can give now, without using the excuse that you're trying to find a balance between the solo artist and the past Idol you were. I believe a part of you really wants to become more classy and cool.
Did you read my mind ? (laughs) Please support me for this ! I turned 25 this year and I'd like to be more adult. However I'd like to say that I'm keeping my Idol roots. I lived my Idols days without being too much conscious about myself. I think that helped me to stay positive. That's why I believe now is the time to make more challenging appearances, costumes, songs and works.
ー Your image is also pretty different when you're talking during the MCs.That's the only part of myself I can't change (laughs) I can't simply end a live by just saying "Thank you". I think the encore talks style is what I will never change.
ー Anyway, you've already planned your future strategy, haven't you ?As I won't be able to do anything as long as I don't raise my own potential, I need some time to fire up my spirit.
ー You think you need to skill-up before. When you released your first album, you talked about the "chameleon" as your image, and said you wanted to show all kind of sides of you. Did that goal shaped up ?
Because I wanted to be a chameleon, I was able to meet a lot of people, and while I was doing this, I think I came to see what is the true Suzuki Airi. All the branchs of me are starting to become a single tree. After one year, I think I'm at the point where I have to decide clearly what direction I want to take from now on.
ー Releasing a single is a great start.
Releasing a single is tough. It was fun doing an album because I could put any songs I'd like, may they be dance songs or band songs, but your image as an artist will define itself with a single, so I took a long time to think about it. I think both songs, "Escape" and "IDENTITY", defines me the best.
ー Two axis, the dance songs like "Escape" and the band songs like "IDENTITY".
For now, it's defined like this. To be honest, I think I should really try to do more dance songs. I want to dance. There are many times I have to pick the songs I'd like to do, but the more I listen, the more my preferences gets bigger and the more I want to try.
ー What would you like to try, for example ?
Songs with short melodies. Also, dancing to band songs that people may think there's no need to add a choreography to. I'm thinking about what may be fun to do. For example, "DISTANCE" was super cool, but "Escape" reflects my feminity.
ー Your feminity.I want to treasure the fact I'm a woman. Since my °C-ute days, I believe it's a part of me I can't throw away. There are many people who are naturally sexy, and it's not my case. That's why I express my feminity with my hair or my make-up. I'm trying to express the softness and the smoothness of a woman.
ー You already talked about that feminity and the fact you're trying to build your body for it. Like the fact that for your songs, it's not good to be too thin.
It's pretty different from my ideal body though. DISTANCE made me debut with a very different image and it was so fun, but it feels different when I dance to it now. All of the dancers I admire, or the dancers who are specific to one genre are kinda boyish, but I realized that it wouldn't work for me.
ー The fact that most of your dances are focused on the legs and that you're using your waist, is a pretty different approach from your Idols days too.
That's right. Since the °C-ute disband, I started to gain weight easily. I tried a lot of things to understand the reason why, but it's said that if you train your back muscles, the view of your back will become very nice and you'll lose weight. During the "Escape" promotion, I was always singing the same songs so I couldn't really focus on the dance and went to the gym to train my back muscles. I would use the running machine while listening to Utada Hikaru's greatest songs medley and try really annoying model walks (laughs) Then I tried to dance to °C-ute's "Jinsei wa STEP!" and "Otoko to Onna to Forever" while straightening my back. Then I did "Midnight Temptation". The next day, my back muscles were hurting so much (laughs) That's why I noticed I never used my back muscles.
ー It feels that different ?
It is. When you're focused on singing, you don't really think about your posture.
ー You really like to analyze a lot of things.
I do ! Even though it's details that only I can know about. I did that in a private gym so when people would come I would stop the music and pretend I was using my phone (laughs) It would've been so embarassing if somebody watched me do this. But that's why we've decided to rent a dance studio for °C-ute's day and dance to our old songs. We talked about doing the most difficult setlist we ever did in 3 hours.
Instead of doing it alone, we should do it at 5. Because our dances are focused on the 5 members formation, it increases our movements, and becomes a better exercise.
ーIt's funny that you thought of doing the most difficult setlist.
It's great isn't it ? We're all spending daily lives where we don't dance a lot, so there are times when we really wanna dance. But unfortunately our schedules don't match and I don't think we will be able to meet during September. That means we're all busy and it's a bittersweet feeling. Anyway, Hello! Project songs are great to get back in shape. I realized that dancing to my old songs is a better way than gym to lose weight. And dancing to my own songs is now even more satisfying.
ーThat's maybe because you've tried new things since the disband.
It was a start from zero, and the number of things I have to think about also increased. I'm a positive person, but there are times where I feel really down at home.
ーAbout what ?
I tend to compare myself to others. There were many new challenges for me this summer and I realized that there are many things that I can't do myself. I'm really bad at telling others "That's frustrating" or "I can't do it", and I've been raised as to never cry during these moments, but now I start to cry in front of others. It was that kind of summer.
ーYou became that weak !
I realized that it's okay to show my feelings that way, but for many days I thought "I don't have any talent", "I suck" and felt bad. As a Hello! Project member, I had many senpai who didn't show any negativity so I always looked up to them and promised myself I would never show it either. But in reality, I cry a lot (laughs) It's so stupid.
ーIt's okay to show you're a human, too.
It's so dull. It's a bother when I start to cry in front of the staff and such.
ーYou're crying after your lives ?
There are times when I do, but most of the times is during the MCs. I was able to replace Yaguchi Mari for a short time on her show on AbemaTV, but I felt that it was very difficult to promote people and make them talk about themselves and that I couldn't do it properly. For example, it's because you're asking great question that there'll be a great article. If the MC don't do a great job, the program will be bad.
ーYou're thinking way too much (laughs)
I know it's bad... My mother tells me all the time. I realized I'm really similar to my father, on a lot of points. My father is the type who feels really down because of himself. He's checking his ranking during the competition and feels down when it's not as great as he thinks, but I'm that type too.
ーIt must be really difficult to participate in "Kayo The NIGHT". There are many Idols you're meeting for the first time, and you have to be great enough to let them show their potential and charm points.
Yaguchi-san is great for this. I really want people to understand how great of a senpai she is.
ー"Escape", including the covers of the CDs, is a product which shows a grown-up Airi.
It's because since lately, I've started to realize I'm performing with dancers. I couldn't really perform proudly during the "DISTANCE" era and I felt sorry for them, like as if they were added to the performances, and it couldn't be helped.
ーDid you change your opinion on it ?
The dancers and the band mates are what makes me a solo artist. I'm just so grateful to them. I owe them a lot.
ー I feel like the Suzuki-san I see now really started to realize a lot of things and is embracing her true self.
That's what we talked about with my manager the other day. Because of my experience with the drama "I-Turn", I realized I haven't done many jobs which let me express my feelings until now. That's maybe the reason I started to show my true feelings. During my tour, I was allowed to cover wacci's "Betsu no hito no kanojyo ni natta yo", and during the tour final I cried while singing. It was a first for me but it felt really good. More than performing a song, I'm singing it with my own feelings. That's a feeling I never want to forget. I think that's the biggest difference with the Idol Airi.
ーI think the fact you're showing your true feelings may help people from the same generation or age.
I think so too ! At first it was very embarrassing to show lyrics I've wrote, but I'm not ashamed anymore. There are many things an Idol needs to think about to shine, but I'm starting to think I don't have to care about these anymore.
ー"IDENTITY" is also a part of Suzuki Airi.
At first, I really wanted to have a hit song that would exceed "Hatsukoi Cider", because it's the song where people gets most fired up during my lives. But that's a Buono! song, and I wanted my own song for this.
ーThat's why you asked Shihori-san, who made "Hatsukoi Cider".
Because she made a song specifically for a solo vocalist, it really feels good when I perform it. I didn't really want it to have an Idol sound. I really think it's a song that I'll be able to sing for a long time, and that will become a center song of my lives. The "Hatsukoi Cider" history can continue on its own.
ーIt's being performed in a lot of places.
There are many people that performs it with a different style than Buono!. I think many people started to know this song because of these others performances. I'm really grateful.
ーOn the coupling track, there's a song which has finally been recorded, but you still have many songs which aren't officially recorded too.
I performed enough new songs during the "PARALLEL DATE" and "Escape" tours to make an album. I really want to release them quickly.
ーBut you may feel like you want to move forward, too.
Of course. That's why I want to release an album quickly, so I can focus on writing something myself. I want to write something with my own words. In one year, I've learned that it's okay to ask for help if you don't know something, and that it's alright to show my humanity.
ーA performance at Yokohama Arena has been decided for next April.
I want to continue being like this until the YokoAri performance, but at the same time I'd like to surprise the fans with something new. For my next Zepp tour, I'd like to make casual performances instead of a show. I still don't know how everything's going to turn out yet though. Because there are many things I still want to do, I'd like people to come to see me during my various lives.
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