Maya Rock & Read 45 Solo Interview
Looking back on 2012, I want to ask what’s your outlook for next year, but first, how do you spend your youthful days?
Maya: Well, first of all, I came here thinking about what I should talk about. We finished a long tour and we’re not recording right now, so my feelings have calmed down. Late yesterday night I was reading my past interviews in Rock & Read.
I remember, last time you had also read your interviews.
Maya: Yes, I re-read. I haven’t had a place where I’ve had such a long personal interview, so I was honored. I consider these interviews precious opportunities as well. So, that’s why I always reread, every time I have an interview coming up. But this time, when I was rereading, I focused more, than I have before, on I was actually saying. I’ve been interviewed by you (Rock & Read) three times before this. Looking back through everything I did, I thought, “Ah, I see!”
(Laughs) “I see!” What do you mean?
Maya: Well, I have nothing to say (laughs).
(Laughs) So it’s like, “I talked about space, about love, about how to live happily.” Is that it?
Maya: Right. The first time I spoke about my past, but I don’t know what part I should talk about. So, I try avoid talking about it. I wasn’t lying, everything printed was what I said, but there was still a sense of self-censoring. As I did more interviews I self-censored less and less, that’s how I came to the conclusion, I have nothing left to talk about.
So, in three interviews you were naked?
Maya: Yeah, I was able to articulate a lot. Especially, the last interview, right before we had our Budoukan live. The speed at which I opened up was amazing. Looking I was like, “Ah, I said that,” but it sounds like it wasn’t me. I was really enthusiastic (smiles).
You certainly talked about love enthusiastically.
Maya: The reason I reread is not to make sure past and present don’t conflict, I think it’s ok for them to conflict. You would think, “That time I thought this way, but I don’t know.” Or “Now I think this…” When you reread, but after I reread, I didn’t have those thoughts at all (laughs). I don’t think I changed at all. So, if the back numbers are available for purchase, I hope you put them in the footnotes (laughs). These days, new people are getting to know us, so back numbers would a good text book for them. People from other bands understand what I mean, there are things we only tell this magazine. Anyway, last time I spoke enthusiastically.
Stop that, please speak enthusiastically this time too (laughs). First of all, in 2012 you had your first live at Budoukan as the finale of your 5th anniversary tour, on January 8th. After that did your feelings change?
Maya: Change…? It’s true, that at the time, I was aiming or Budoukan, but once I was there, I realized it wasn’t important. It was flatter than I expected. I knew the live itself would pass in a flash, but the road to Budoukan was the important part of the story. So, the feeling hadn’t changed that much. Well, it was our first time at Budoukan, so for part of my performance I was a bit stiff (nervous), I saw it when I watched the video.
The first half, I felt you were nervous.
Maya: Ha, you got me. I was like that at our first time at Shibuya Kokaidou. At Budoukan, my mind was calm, but I’m like that at new venues. That day I wasn’t that impressed, but now that some time has passed, what I think simply is: performing at Budoukan and what I had to do to get there completed me. That time, I felt like the live went smoothly. I’m not saying I was burnt out, but Budoukan ended a chapter in our story.
The story from LM.C’s creation to Budoukan is one chapter?
Maya: Yeah, but it’s a well-made story. When I was rereading the interviews up until now, I realized, I like LM.C after all. Does that seem weird? (laughs)
(Laughs) You’re being one of LM.C’s fans.
Maya: Yes, completely (laughs). Our 5th anniversary at Budoukan ended, but it’s not like the after a festival*(this is an expression that means to feel lonely in Japanese). But I wasn’t lonely, I was calm. It’s not that I was lonely but in daily life there’s a moment when the songs and memories we’ve made up until now come to my mind. After that we released singles and albums and went on a tour overseas and domestically for 6 months. Meanwhile, I was vaguely thinking about LM.C. In a previous article I read, I said: “LM.C isn’t just a band anymore; it’s not just our ensemble anymore; it’s more of a universe.” When I thought it over, I was convinced.
Like your saying good things?
Maya: Yes. I was talking about the earthquake (Touhoku quake) on March 11th, last year (2011). I said that: “Even with the disaster I want LM.C to stay LM.C; I want Maya to stay Maya.” That’s a very Maya thing to say. I think that guy is cool. (Laughs) As I’m reading this article I see as Maya of LM.C’s article. I saw that interview like an outsider, the person here is just one of his fans.
So…a representative of fans, then speak.
Maya: Well…my view of Maya switches from moment to moment. During a live the view of the fan is, “If Maya performs this way, it would be cool.” Or sometimes I don’t think way at all, I’m just Maya. That’s how I switch, but today I’m completely cheering as a fan (Laughs). In the 5 years that I’ve been doing this, I was able to put my thoughts into words, and I could also put them into my music. I genuinely think our band is cool and there have been a lot of times when I was rescued by LM.C.
For example, have you been encouraged by your own lyrics?
Maya: Yes, I have. Depending on the time, different lyrics encourage me. Sometimes, I’m encouraged by one phrase of lyrics, other times it’s by a memory of a live. So, various things.
Have you ever had a regret about a live or music? For example, when you do a live at a huge venue like Budoukan, do you ever think “I should have done that this way…”
Maya: In terms of that, I’ve never had regrets (laughs). That’s just my nature. For example, at a live I’ve thought, “The song order should have been this way…” But I don’t necessarily regret it, and after all of that I use this experience for the future. There’s only happiness, no regret.
Is that different from the idea that once something is over regret doesn’t help?
Maya: After all, because we have futures, you can connect to it. This is just my impression, but maybe regretful people, stay regretful. Almost no one thinks about how they can make use of a mistake in the future. People vaguely regret, and in the future when they try something they fear pointlessly. That’s the image I have. This isn’t limited only to musicians. Regret becomes a fear that doesn’t exist.
It becomes traumatic.
Maya: Yes. It’s just experience, that’s all. Of course, it’s better to not have an experience you don’t want, but if you happen to have a mistake or problem you may want to think, “If this is the case next time I’ll want to do it this way so it’s more fun.”
At Budoukan you started to sing “The LOVE SONG” acapella, and you made mistakes in the first verse, and how about those mistakes?
Maya: Ah, I did (laughs). That day, on the second song, I dropped the microphone loudly, “Oh my god, I’m so embarrassed.” I that thought at first, but if I had thought about it too much, the third song wouldn’t be fun. And besides, the audience doesn’t care about my mistakes as much as I do. As for “The Love Song”, I got an idea at the beginning of the song.
You suddenly started singing acapella. I’ve heard that even Aiji didn’t know you were going to adlib.
Maya: No one knew, not even myself. During the MC before that song, I got the idea (laughs). Because of the cheering and applause, I couldn’t hear the count (for the verse), so I went into the wrong measure. I was like “What?”
So, that’s what happened. You certainly didn’t look like you panicked.
Maya: I didn’t panic about that. By the time, I sung that song, I’d completely gotten used to Budoukan (laughs). Looking back now, I realize I don’t have to suddenly start singing acapella.
Besides, it was your first Budoukan.
Maya: It’s crazy, when I think about it (laughs). Throughout our first time at that venue, we gradually got used to that atmosphere, rolling that is the LM.C way.
Indeed. Earlier we talked about this, this year you went around to different countries on tour, South America, Europe, and Asia. Yesterday I also reread your blog, before you go on an overseas tour, you always return home. Is that to see your family’s faces before you depart?
Maya: Yes, it is.
Is it the kind of feeling that a pilot or stewardess might have before their flight?
Maya: I don’t go back home because something bad might happen. More simply, I just want to meet my family. Well, perhaps I’m thinking that way, unconsciously.
Do you mean if something happens in an unknown country, you’ll never see each other again?
Maya: Right. In that sense, I’ve been thinking that way. I don’t know what happens where.
That said, you’re not prone to worrying. That’s an interesting point.
Maya: It’s different from worry. If I’m thinking that way I won’t have fun. However, my parents are also getting older, and anything could happen at any time; I’m prepared for that. I always meet them that way. Actually, they’re pleased every time I meet them. So, I want to go as much as I can. I want to meet my parents, siblings, and others as much as possible.
Your blog, features your feelings towards LM.C, that includes your fans, and your love for your family and Nagano.
Maya: That’s right. So, it’s normal to think about family that way.
No, there are many families that are not close due to various circumstances. Right?
Maya: True. People’s relationship with their parents can vary, but in my family, we’re close. We’re a rare family type. A long time ago, I thought the way our family is, was normal. I think I’m lucky, so I’m grateful.
So, your family comes every time you have a live in Tokyo. Your whole family.
Maya: They come. Well, everyone will die someday.
Earlier you used the world “Prepared.”
Maya: Well, when I became an adult, I started thinking that way. It’s different from (the idea) we need to meet because we’re going to be separated. But vaguely we just know…between last year and this year my grandfather and grandmother both passed away. Around New Year’s, during the Budoukan rehearsal was when my grandmother who cherished me the most passed away.
Is that so.
Maya: I only mentioned to the people close to me. I kept going back and forth between Budoukan and Nagano, I didn’t even tell the Live Members. If I told them everyone would worry about me. So, for a while I didn’t tell them.
Back and forth between Nagano and Tokyo.
Maya: That’s right. Looking back farther, just before we started LM.C, in July of 2006 my dog died. (LM.C’s name comes from that dog.) “www.lovely-mocochang.com” My lovely dog, Moco, is this URL. Since then, the switch of my life changed.
So, that was when you first experience a close death?
Maya: That’s right. I hadn’t lost any close relatives since then. That (referring to Moco’s death) was big. Although, she was just a pet.
Not just a pet. How old was Moco at the time?
Maya: She was almost 9. She died from illness. After watching her from birth to death, I wondered “What is it to live?” It was a very busy time, but I spoke to the director and he told me, kindly, “Go home.” So, I went back to Nagano, and the whole thing about Moco’s death shocked me so much, and made me regret. I should have experienced death at an earlier age.
Why did you think that?
Maya: It wasn’t only the sadness, it was, “I was hoping to go through this earlier.” It was too much. On top of that, we’d already decided to go with the name: LM.C (Lovely Moco-chang), which included her name, and we were working on so many things for our debut in October. So, it was like fate to me.
So LM.C was born and at the same time Moco passed away.
Maya: Right. That was a shock. My mother especially, really cherished Moco. So, when I saw her sad, I felt a lot complex things. Then we debuted, and I was talking about my dog a lot in interviews. But I couldn’t tell them she actually wasn’t in this world anymore. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to say it, it just never occurred to me to mention it. Only a few people knew about it. After exactly 5 years, last July during my birthday live, was when I finally told my fans that she’d passed. With those things and the things happening these days, I’ve been reminded that someday everyone will die.
So, when your grandmother passed away during the Budoukan rehearsal, it was also fate. Perhaps, your Grandmother would have come to your live?
Maya: Right, at the time she was already in a bad condition, so I felt she probably wouldn’t be able to make it, but when Budoukan was planned, she said, “I want to go.” Even in her generation, Budoukan and NHK are well known. So, when I was on one of NHK’s program, I told her. So, after those experiences I just have be happy.
“In life, you don’t have time to do extra things. So, you don’t have time to be sad or look back.” So, your philosophy on happiness, was shaped by your experiences.
Maya: Yes, that’s right. So, usually your parents pass on before you. Basically, I always think about it. I’m really prepared.
Your parents are fine right now, yes?
Maya: They’re fine. But I have to be prepared, otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to move forward.
Unconsciously, you’re preparing for that time. So, that’s why you go home a lot.
Maya: That’s why I naturally go home. But, I don’t feel obligated, I’m not going (home) to be a good son. To me, if I’m happy living, that’s the best way to be a good son, I think.
To parents that’s true. Being well is best.
Maya: Even if you’re not happy, at least your living, isn’t that good enough? That’s what I think. I don’t want to push myself too hard to do something for them.
So, before you went on a world tour, your family said “Take care and come back safe,” When they saw you off?
Maya: Yes. We’re always in touch. Whether I’m on tour overseas or in Japan, my mother sends me meaningless emails (laughs). When I don’t reply, she gets upset and says, “You don’t respond to my emails but you update your blog.” (Laughs). So, I say, “Oh I’m sorry.” I receive emails that I don’t know how to respond to. So, I just reply, “Okay.”
(Laughs) What kind of content in the mail confuses you?
Maya: It’s like, “Today this happened. Nagano was cold.” (Laughs) So, I say, “Ok.” (Laughs).
You’re mom’s cute. I think she emails you to know if you’re ok.
Maya: Right. Well going back to the earlier topic, my parents lost their parents, right? I wonder how they would have felt. Their parents did not die from disease or accident or under the average lifespan, so I think they felt calm. Because of their age, I think they are going to think about the end of their lives. In that sense, because I’m also getting older, I’ve been thinking how we can live happily together.
Maya: By the way, I’m called “Maa-tan.” (Laughs) Originally, My Grandma called me “Maa-tan” when I was little. My family started copying that, and it stuck. In Nagano when we eat together or walk in the street, they call me in a loud voice, “Maa-tan!” That’d make me speechless. As months and years pass, and my parents get older, perhaps calling their son “Maa-tan,” will be cute. At my age, it’s the most sensitive time to be called a nick-name (laughs). Recently, “I want to keep coming to Maa-tan’s lives,” has been coming in my email. “Ok, well, I’ll keep doing lives.” I thought.
Have they come to your world tour?
Maya: They always say they want to go overseas. This they also wanted to come to France.
That’s good, right? They can also see “Maa-tan’s” live, they can go sightseeing too.
Maya: Right. I’m happy. At the same time, I’m prepared for the sad things.
Because they’re important you, you think that way. You’re afraid of losing them.
Maya: So, when it comes to that, I’d feel that way for my parents and others. I don’t like it, everyone’s getting older (laughs). Just 3 days ago, I was thinking about what if Aiji died. Just to myself (laughs).
You’re thinking, if your senpai died, you’d be alone?
Maya: That’s not it exactly, but I was thinking about what kind of feelings I’d have, and that I should prepare. It’s not that that preparation is serious, but how can I best communicate with him now. When I entered middle (junior high) school, my homeroom teacher had a story, that still stays with me. Long ago, that teacher bumped into his student in front of a convenience store. Because the student was a delinquent who did not come to school, the teacher yelled, “What are you doing?” He let out his pent-up feelings to the student. That day they went (to their own) home. So, that student that night, or the following morning that student had an accident on his bike and never came back (he died). Because of that experience, he was telling us to treat people like it’s the last time we’ll see them. I was around 13 then, and I’m finally starting to understand those words more. So, that’s what I think preparation means. It doesn’t mean that you have to hug all the time when you say goodbye, but that it always feels that way.
The lives are also like that. Each live is Ichigo Ichie* (is an expression that means “Treasure every meeting, because it will never occur again.”), you never know when you’ll meet again.
Maya: Yes, I think that’s true.
So, before you were saying, whatever you do in your life in your life is happiness. That’s why you came to this conclusion.
Maya: Well, various things happened, so that’s why I’m saying that’s the answer. Happy words are easy to say (laughs), but I want to keep my happiness.
I see. How do you think about your death? Do you feel like you’ll make people around you sad? Or, do you have a fear of death?
Maya: I think my death affects me the least. In terms of anyone who’s living and hasn’t experienced death, that will be very frightening experience for them. Because death is an unknown, I cannot put the fear into words. But, if you die you have nothing. In the end, death is something that affects other people. Whether it’s by sickness or accident, the person who dies is gone and feels nothing. That person’s death only exists in other people. If they were ill, people think “They’re in pain,” or “They’re suffering.” Even if they die peacefully, people still long for them. Naturally, the would have lovely feelings. So, I think in some way my death isn’t my business. For that reason, I’m living the way I want to. That’s the image I want to leave behind.
So, you don’t believe those who’ve died have regrets, or that they’re watching over you? Or that the body dies but the soul remains.
Maya: I don’t. I’m not religious. So, religion is mostly born from people’s fear of death. Religion is well thought out. I think about the people around me. It’s none of my business (laughs). Before I sleep, I imagine “What if that person died…” I have to be prepared, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to to get through it.
From your public image, I can’t imagine you thinking about those things. Maybe your fans already know your thoughts, but it’s surprising. You think about death deep, but you still talk about the universe and happiness, that’s profound.
Maya: Is it profound? (Laughs) The other day during the live events in Osaka, I was speaking during the set change, and seeing ourselves from a distance I realized LM.C has that kind of image. I don’t know how to put it, like we have fluffy thoughts (laughs). They (the audience) were like, “Here’s two strange guys!” I think that’s ok. I have that feeling, like I said, but they can know my true feelings eventually or they don’t have to know. When they read this interview, some will think, “This is what Maya is like.” And that’s fine with me. We’re not a band that’s just happy and wants to deliver a positive message with those feelings within it. Naturally, some people will get a chance to know us, and others won’t. For that reason, it’s more interesting.
Speaking of Life and Death, on this tour your longtime friend had a baby, right?
Maya: Ah, my elementary school classmate.
In our last interview, you made the shocking statement that you wanted to have a child (laughs).
Maya: Isn’t that a natural thing?
No, no. Because you’re “Maa-tan” that’s why it’s shocking.
Maya: Well, maybe for my parents it’s shocking. They want to see Maa-tan’s child (laughs). Conversely, I want them to live long enough to see my child. It’s like my duty. They really want to see a child.
Did they actually say they want to see their grandchild’s face?
Maya: They actually said that. I have an older brother, and he says he’s getting married, but that hasn’t happened yet. I’m hoping he does soon (laughs). Then, my parents would start a different life.
With that in mind, 2012 was a year where you experienced a lot, and though a lot, yes?
Maya: That’s right. In these 5 years, I’ve felt many things, learning and applying what I’ve learned over and over. Perhaps there was no time to take in the things I received. I feel like, this year, I’ve been organizing the experiences I’ve had up ‘til now. Also, last time I talked about how I felt we would be going somewhere unknown in our 6th year, but now, I really feel like we are. All the same, 5 years is easy to look back on. It’s good that we could close out that phase (referring to Budoukan). Now we’re thinking about the next 5 years. It’s like life, one day the end will come to our band.
So, before you go to sleep you think about that, the end of the band?
Maya: I haven’t recently, but I was thinking about it several years ago. A while back we had our Tour Finale at the large hall in Nagano, where we used to go often. While I was MCing I blurted out, “If we ever have a breakup live, this where I want to have it.” The fans were taken back (laughs).
I bet they were.
Maya: I have a responsibility as the one who said that, I didn’t mean it that way. That’s the point, where I have to spend more time explaining. That lead to the things I said about everyone dying. Not everyone may be able to take that positively, but if keep sending the message (that the end is a bad thing) and the words pile up, then something will change. “I want to have our breakup live in our home town.” Just saying the result of my thoughts can convey everything.
If you say it that way, they might think your breakup is close.
Maya: They would worry. So, I thought it didn’t convey that, yet, that’s why it’s a challenge. To exaggerate what I said, I want to die at that venue in my hometown, that was my pure feeling.
You say whatever your thinking.
Maya: I do (laughs). But what I say and what I do will be my experience. I don’t want to make my experiences useless. These 5 years weren’t. I was reflecting more this year.
Right. But listening to your new song, “Double Dragon,” it has a certain energy, after 6 years I think you’re back to a more aggressive sound.
In LM.C’s first song, “Rock the LM.C,” you sang, “We choose the way, but not the means.” Right? I wonder what your strategy for 2013 is.
Maya: Ah, “Double Dragon” comes coupled with a new arrangement of “Rock the LM.C.” The lyrics changed a little, we made as the 2012 version. After I sang the old lyrics again, I felt strange. If it was now I wouldn’t write this way.
“Yesterday’s mistakes, don’t matter. Tomorrow’s concerns, don’t matter at all.” Those lyrics have energy to blow off.
Maya: I want to meet myself from that time.
(Laughs) I don’t think you’ve changed much.
Maya: Haven’t I? We haven’t done anything new for the tune of “Double Dragon.” The expression of the words looks different, but and the subject of the song, and style of the song have not changed. With LM.C’s history up ‘til now, I believe what we’re doing is good. The style and feelings of “Rock the LM.C” is included in “Double Dragon.” In terms that, I feel like I met the old me in that song. I’m hoping that this article, will I the be me I want to meet next year, and the year after that. I don’t know what today’s message is. Maybe I like myself too much (laughs).
No, no, I think it’s good!
Maya: Oh, by the way, recently I’ve started getting interested in singing.
What? You haven’t been interested until now?
Maya: To be honest, I haven’t been (laughs). In the middle of last year, I became interested. I gradually became interested, until then, I was uncomfortable with me, the singer. I had an excuse in saying that I was originally a guitarist, but now it’s not that period anymore. Simply, I’ve become interested in singing. This is changing.
So, do you have more desire to sing a specific way?
Maya: Yeah. I have a goal for singing, it’s like: Finally! (laughs)
Finally, were you waiting? (laughs)
Maya: No, I wasn’t waiting either. (Laughs)
Before, you were saying you wanted to have 5 years’ experience. You piled up various things, so you have self-confidence.
Maya: Maybe that’s right. I think a lot about singing, so maybe I’ve gained some room. I didn’t think this day would come (laughs). But at last (reminiscing). It’s good that I changed without anyone saying anything. No one gave me advice saying, “It’s better to do it this way…” I had the chance to think by myself. I thought it would simply be fun for myself and the audience if I became more skilled at singing. Oh, am I talking too much?
(Laughs) It’s okay!
Maya: I started thinking about that at a live. At some point, I thought, if the people who don’t have sight (the blind) come to our live, what would we do? That was also one of the triggers. If that’s the case, then I’d need to sing better. At that time, the older the lyrics were, the more likely I was to forget at the live. But, the people in the audience, may think I wanted to hear that line, I would think that way as well. That’s what I was thinking about.
In your 6th year, a lot happened? With all that, as LM.C, and as the vocalist, Maya, is it like your new phase has started?
Maya: I guess so. At the previous tour in France, someone came using a white cane (for the blind). After the live that day, I heard about this (the blind person), from the PA person. I thought, “This can happen.” So, we talked about that person, “Even if he can’t see, maybe something resonated with him in our music.” I hope those good feelings reach people. So, in conclusion, it’s the live. I want to keep singing for my life (with all my effort). Surely, I, myself, will probably be saved by LM.C and spend my life with it. The more I do the more I think that way. When I started the band, I didn’t imagine thinking that way. That includes my interest in singing.
That’s a good story.
Maya: I said I didn’t have anything to talk about anymore, but I’ve gone on longer. I can’t stop talking. (laughs)