Currently, as part of the boom that has swept the Japanese idol world, it seems a large number of creators have found ways to become involved. Here, where music, work, performances, artists, as well as fans have become connected in a multitude of areas, we can see the high quality work coming out of a number of different fields. Additionally, with so many people embracing these fields, there’s also the fact that they also have the benefit of witnessing the latest, cutting-edge culture as part of experimentation. So here we’d like to highlight some of the creators that have contributed to the idol business.

So for our first volume, we’ll be looking at lyricist Ameko Kodama. Since high school she worked on the lyrics for the character Copink* from Shizuoka Asahi TV’s COPINK!SS!., and currently she’s in charge of writing lyrics for Hello!Project (Hello!Pro)-related tracks from ANGERM and Country Girls, as well as Yumemiru Adolescence. In this series we’ll be interviewing each creator, and today Ameko Kodama was kind enough to talk about her backstory on becoming a lyricist, how she writes lyrics, and so on.

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– First of all, I’m curious about what made you want to become a lyricist.


During my second and third years of high school I sent in a novel I had written for a publishing company’s literary prize, and while I was caught up in the middle of that, an old acquaintance of mine who was the producer for COPINK!SS! sent me a “How’ve you been?” kind of e-mail. When I told him what I’d been up to, he asked me if I’d be interested in writing a song for the Kopink* character of the show. Then as I became more involved with writing pieces for Copink*, I received multiple offers from different people, and here I am today.


– Wow, I had no idea that kind of thing could happen like that. So you decided to capitalize on the chance.

Actually, I didn’t have any intention of doing it like that at the time. I went about it more passively… As far as Hello!Project’s music goes, every now and then when I would be walking near Tower Records in Shibuya, the radio director with me would be like, “I heard Kazumi Namba is doing his ‘Idol 36 Bou’ corner, so let’s go and see,” and and when we went there Maokoto Hashimoto from Upfront was there, and was like, “You’re a lyricist? Let’s work together, then!”


– Was that because Tsunku♂ was ill at the time?

It was before that. Upfront was working with Hello!Pro and LoVendoЯ, along with Bitter & Sweet; actually it was right after their debut, so he was like, “Why don’t you go over and see about working on the music production with them?” so that happened and then… But for about a year they didn’t really use any of my stuff, or it was a irregular process where Mr. NOBE would fix what I had submitted and have Bitter & Sweet sing it. But the first work that was completely passed on directly from me was ANGERME’s “Otome no Gyakushu”.

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– So there was a little competition thing?

I’m not really sure about that, but… Just when I was thinking I couldn’t put out anything decent, they used “Otome no Gyakushu”. I’ve talked about it in other interviews, but I working hard writing another song, and didn’t really put much effort into “Otome no Gyakushu”. People might interpret that as me being lazy about my work, but I didn’t put much thought into it, so when it got picked I was like, “That’s the one you went with?!” (laugh) It happens quite a lot like that.


– It might be bad if that got out.

It would be. Country Girls’ “Itooshikute Gomen ne” was planned to be the Country Girl’s indie debut single, and luckily I was able to take it easy. However, I wrote both of the A-side lyrics, and they barely fit the schedule… It was like, “Ah! I forgot about the project. Please forgive me!” (laugh) I wrote both quickly in the span of about one or two days, I think. I just went with my intuition so… (laugh) Well, we’ll just say it was one day. (laugh)

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– So you wrote both in one day. (laugh) How do you write your lyrics?

I write them by hand, on paper. Usually I write while I’m cooking.


– Really?! So say, you have a knife in your right hand and a pen in your left?

Oh, well while I’m cutting I’ll be completely tuned in to the demo track, listening for the composition and the melody.

– Yet you don’t cut yourself?

(holds out a finger with a bandage on it) I do. (laugh) So I cook boiled or stewed dishes a lot. First I listen to the demo while I do all the prep, and after I’ve memorized the composition, it’ll be time to do the actual cooking and that’s when I start writing. I’ll write anything with a firm sentence structure like a novel or things that need a lot of concentration at my desk, but with lyrics if you sit there thinking about it too long it doesn’t work. So I write without concentrating too hard.


– When you write lyrics, do you just write what first pop into your mind?

That depends on the song. At first I would come up with a title and then go from there, but now when I do that it throws me off, and it feels like I’m trying too hard, so I decided to stop doing that. If I come up with one immediately on the first listen I’ll jot it down, or if something pops into my head during the chorus, A melody, or B melody, so it really depends.

– So now you mainly write by listening to the song first?

That’s right. Occasionally I’ll experiment by writing the lyrics first, but in general the melody comes first, and then I’ll match the lyrics up with it.

– So the melody shapes the words?

For me, I’d say it usually does more often than not. If I hear a vowel-like sound I’ll go with that, or place a lot of focus on if it sounds good or not when sung.


When you divide the work into lyrics and composition, there’s a chance that both will go in their own direction, or clash or be all over the place, so…. I match the lyrics up with the melody, or if there’s already an arrangement, I’ll envision that arrangement as I write.


– The steps that go into creating a song can really be all over the place.

With Hello!Project it really is, and many times things are decided on the spot. No doubt the Japanese mind is different with each encounter, like the proverb “Treasure every meeting, for it will never recur”. (laugh)

– But even then, I get the feeling that they’re made keeping each of the worlds created by ANGERME and Country Girls’ in mind…

…How she writers lyrics for Hello!Pro songs? And read about her calm passion as lyricist in full!
…ハロプロ楽曲の作詞はどのようにしているのか、また雨子さんのスタイルや作詞に対する想いを、是非最後までご覧下さい。

Related Links
Ameko Kodama Official Site : http://kodama-ameko.com/
Ameko Kodama Official Twitter : https://twitter.com/kodamameko
Pinkiss official site : http://www.satv.co.jp/0300program/0095pinkss/
See Pinkiss related videos with English subtitle on Tokyo Girls’ Update : http://tokyogirlsupdate.com/?s=pinkiss

Photos by Mime Soga
Translated by Jamie Koide

Author
Toshiro Arai
Toshiro Arai

A producer of website "TOKYO IDOL NET", which "photography" and "idol" is its concept. He also writes for Tokyo Idol Project, and so on.

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