Collected translations of Maaya Sakamoto news, essays, interviews, and articles


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Recording Engineer, Masashi Yabuhara

Part 3 of 12 in a series:
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This month’s guest is Yabu, who has been by my side since I came out with my debut single. A natural silent type, my first impression of him was kind of scary, but in reality he’s not scary at all, and has a calm, smiling personality.

He’s so calm that the other day when I asked him, “When’s the last time you got angry?” it sounded like it was so far in the past that even he couldn’t remember.

And of course, with his exceptional ears, Yabu is a crucial partner we can’t live without during recording.

Two years ago he celebrated the birth of an adorable baby, and around that time the conversation in the studio was always about whether it would be a girl or a boy, and what the name would be, as we all anxiously awaited the announcement. As it turned out, the name I proposed was actually used by Mr. and Mrs. Yabuhara! So I’m their baby’s godmother. Neat, huh? Plus the day before his baby was born, I had a dream of Yabu holding the baby in the yard outside his home as he sat on a swing. How’s that for a premonition?!

With such a deep bond between myself and Yabu, there’s no way I could not interview him.

1) What do you normally call Maaya?

Maaya-chan. Right when we first met, I did call you Kōkōsei-chan [“the little high schooler”] in secret.

2) What was your first impression of Maaya Sakamoto (and when did you meet)?

So given the time, I remember your high school uniform. We first met during the Esca[flowne] recording, so looking back I guess it’s the same as Ms. Inoue. Right, back then…

3) Share one of your “Legends of Maaya Sakamoto”.

Right when we first met, there was Ms. Kanno giving you a crazily impossible chorus to sing. While I was busy wondering how things would turn out, you nailed it after just one or two practice runs.

Both the singer and the instructor are something special.

4) Something about Maaya Sakamoto that bothers you or you want her to stop doing?

Nothing personally. But—and I think I’m not the only one with this opinion—when you form that golden triangle of girl power with a certain composer and a certain director and get to chatting in the studio, there isn’t a level on the volume knob that will let me hear music over your conversation.

5) If Maaya Sakamoto were a color?

I wonder if you’ve seen Apple’s Mac OS X? That’s the idea, but I wonder if that makes sense.

6) If she were an animal?

If I had to compare you to something, it would probably be the kind of clear, gentle river where you might find wasabi growing.

I’m sure that comes from my impression of your voice.

7) Your most favorite Maaya Sakamoto song?

I knew you’d ask that, so even though I imagine I’ve listened to each song over 200 times in the course of production, I went back and listened to them all over again. I don’t think I can make a sound judgment anymore, so going by time, I generally like everything from “Grapefruit” onward.

8) There’s a lot to her, but if you were to sum up Maaya Sakamoto in one line?

She makes every staff member into a fan.

9) What big things do you anticipate for Maaya Sakamoto’s future?

It’s not like she’s just staff, so I imagine she’ll steadily expand her reach.

10) Please put whatever you’d like in a message to Maaya Sakamoto.

Thank you for coming up with a name for my child.

Masashi Yabuhara

Has participated in nearly all of Yōko Kanno’s and Maaya Sakamoto’s songs.
He has also worked often with Round Table, Little Creatures, and Haruo Kubota.
His animal fortune is a sheep. He loves cars. He loathes shiitake [mushrooms].

Maaya Sakamoto’s Response

Hehe. This was simply packed with all sorts of things that made me burst out laughing. I can practically hear Yabu’s voice speaking through his sentences! This is what I mean by looking cool and detached at a glance, but actually way, way inside his heart he’s secretly bursting with emotion. Uhaha.

I had a birthday recently, and everyone at the studio prepared a cake and sang happy birthday for me. When I saw you singing along with everyone else I was astonished!! Everyone else couldn’t stop talking about how that was the first time they had seen you sing. Having that gap is really what makes people charming, isn’t it?

And about question #4, when that “golden triangle” is formed, we certainly do cause quite a ruckus. So much that it goes through even the thick, soundproof doors in the studio. It’s so loud you wouldn’t believe it’s just the three of us chatting. And all while you’re right there, working on downmixing. Sorry about that, Yabu. But you and I both know that you’re really paying attention to every, single, word! Teehee. You probably know all there is to know about anything and everything…. Looking at it that way, you’re the most informed of anyone in our project.

Ahh, I’m so glad nothing weird was revealed in this interview. Oho!

Part 3 of 12 in a series: