Lately Shimizu Shota has been captured by a genre of music called “new jack swing” and has included influences of that in his new single, “Mada Owaranai.” He talks about smashing his old image, and finding his potentiality with his own two hands through this new release.
Interviewer: “Mada Owaranai” is very easy to get into, someone might find his or herself humming it without even thinking. But this type of song is quite rare for you, isn’t it?
Shota: That’s true. For a long time I’ve loved new jack swing. In the beginning of the song I sing “Mada owaranai” and then drum kicks in. That kind of drum sound and rhythm is definitely a symbol of new jack swing. If you think about artists who represent that sound, definitely Bobby Brown, but there are Japanese 90s singers who also did this. But I think nowadays there’s no one doing it, so I though, ironically, it’d be fresh to do a song like this. However, I was a little hesitant to make the song into a single.
Interviewer: What do you mean?
Shota: There is an easy Shimizu Shota pattern that I could follow, but “Mada Owaranai” is totally different. “Shimizu Shota” the artist is a pretty big image that I typically follow. And it’s important for me to preserve that image, and I think it’s necessary for people to get a good feeling from my songs, but… I thought I’d get tired of doing this if I didn’t insert a song that was different from what I had been doing all along. For example, if I took the easy way and followed the pattern, even if I made 10 good songs, I’d be repeating the same image over and over, people would lose interest in Shimizu Shota’s music, and if there are songs that are the polar opposite of what I’m usually doing, the normal songs seem even better. So the timing was perfect for me to release this type of song.
Interviewer: This is a song one can enjoy with their entire body. When this is done live, it’ll certainly be fun, right?
Shota: I’ve really been into live music, and I’ve been doing a college campus tour lately, so I think this would be a great song to do with a live band. It seems like a song that I would’ve done before my debut… it’s a very free song. I made this without really thinking about it being a single, and with the feeling of stretching myself out to make a song that’s different from the others I’ve put out in the past, I feel that I’ve taken the stance of a challenger. Without protecting my image, I feel I’ve kind of become the challenger who smashes his current image. I think this feeling is very important, but I wonder if I’ve damaged the image I’ve created… I think if you listen to this suddenly, it’s quite strange… but I used the phrases that only I use, so if you carefully listen, you can hear the Shimizu Shota-ness of the song.
Interviewer: The message is very positive in the song. The progagonist, who continues on even if there are difficult times and keeps going forward, is quite amazing.
Shota: This is a song for those who are currently trying hard in their daily lives. There are a lot of songs that support those people who are having hard times and who are depressed, but I thought there were no songs for those people who are in the midst of going for it and trying hard. So, if I could make a song like that, a melody and arrangement like a soft wind was necessary, and that, along with the new jack swing style in “Mada Owaranai” is just right, I think. New jack swing definitely has a certain style, with the kind of painful chord progression, but in the end it’s invigorating and happy. I think that’s the power of new jack swing, and I think it fit the theme of the song quite well.
Interviewer: Friendships, thinking about where you belong, the future… for each person it’s a different situation, but everyone has the experience mentioned in the song.
Shota: There are a lot of people who think the song is about me, but it’s actually about the image of a full-fledged adult in Japanese society. They enter society, and finally start to understand things little by little, but they also stumble and fall, and bad things come about. Without being able to look back, and even though they can’t see the goal, they continue forward. They might feel lonliness, but they go out in society, with friends, and though they might be frazzled and tired, they are happy. And I wrote this song wanting to hold those people and say “You gotta keep going!”
Interviewer: The song has a really strong message. It was important not to take it too seriously though, right?
Shota: Basically, if someone hears the music and the rhythm and they think “this feels great!” I will be happy. I want people to listen to this song, and start to groove while walking, and be fulfilled with the euphoria of the new jack swing style.
Interviewer: The coupling song has quite a floating, pleasant sound.
Shota: I want to do this song live too! While it’s simple, if you listen it’s a song with a really good feeling. I was really moving to the beat while
making this. It was really fun!
Interviewer: How did this song come about?
Shota: I actually made this song about two years ago. I really love making tracks, no matter what the genre is. I do a lot of stuff that would be a pretty radical departure from what “Shimizu Shota the artist” is. I make a lot of songs without really thinking. From hardcore hip-hop to bossa nova, and once I was in the middle of making something and I wanted to include a bit of electronica and house. So I was able to make this really feel-good track. Basically, I don’t remember where the theme and message came from, haha. I think now I’m doing really great things. Right now, I definitely couldn’t say the words in this song, it’s too embarrassing. But at that time, I was thinking something in my own special way, and I wrote it, and I think the catchiness is great, so I released it without changing a thing from two years ago.
Interviewer: It’s definitely a sweet song, and it gives the impression of being in love with love.
Shota: Haha, this is an analysis that I’ve made now that I’m older and have a more cool mindset, but I think it’s a song about being foolish. Having an unrequited love is certainly a delusional time, right? For example, imagining yourself in a cozy situation with the one you like… thinking about that a lot is pretty stupid right? Haha. So this song has a lot of wild delusions in it, and of course those delusional times see high
tension. And this song is the personification of those foolish times.
All three songs on Shota's new single (Mada Owaranai, Dream of Love, YOU&I (Acoustic Version))