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Japanese Artist, ØMI Discusses “You (Prod SUGA of BTS)” & New Music

Japanese Artist, ØMI Discusses “You (Prod SUGA of BTS)” & New Music

Japanese Translation Below

On December 13th, ØMI released his digital single “SHINE.” ØMI, whose lead song “You (Prod. SUGA of BTS),” has been attracting attention from both domestic and international fans. We asked ØMI, who says that “music transcends borders,” to talk about his thoughts on music and his activities in the global market.

Congratulations on the release of “SHINE”. “SHINE” is the 12th single from your solo project, but you changed the name of your solo career in February 2021. What was the purpose of the name change?

ØMI: My solo career itself started in 2017, and from the beginning I was thinking of making music that is not bound by borders. I liked music without boundaries, and I also wanted to do music on a global scale. That’s why I asked Afrojack, a world-renowned DJ with whom I had a close relationship, to produce the sound. I changed my name to ØMI when I started CDL entertainment in earnest, but it didn’t change what I wanted to do or the concept of my solo career. The name I was using until then, HIROOMI TOSAKA, was not very familiar to people overseas. My friends, producers, and fans overseas have all called me “ØMI” since the beginning, so I decided to change my name to something easier to understand.

So, it was a way to prepare for a more global integration.

That’s right. It’s not just the enthusiasm like “I’m definitely going to make a hit overseas” or “I’m going to challenge overseas!” I believe that music transcends national borders, and it would be more correct to say that I simply want people all over the world to listen to the music that I love to make.

The song “You” produced by SUGA of BTS, gave you the chance to become much closer to the way you envisioned your solo career.

Yes, That’s right. Originally there was a relationship between the production companies LDH and HYBE, and the chairmen were talking about creating new entertainment. However, the COVID-19 disaster made it difficult for them to physically travel back and forth between Japan and Korea, so they were unable to make any concrete moves. When I heard this story, an idea came up in my mind: “If that’s the case, why don’t artists do something interesting together?” I really like SUGA’s solo music and the music he has produced. I had also been checking out his collaborations with overseas artists. I felt that I could really relate to his view of the world, and that it was in line with what I was trying to express in the “ANSWER” series. It was just when I was starting to work on “ANSWER… SHINE” production, so I made an offer to him, and he gladly accepted. This was how the song “You” was born.

Of course, your idea is also reflected in “You (Prod. SUGA of BTS)”, isn’t it?

Yes. Before production, I shared the message I wanted to convey with SUGA-san. Based on that, I sent him a playlist of about 10 reference songs, saying, “I have this image in mind,” and when he heard it, he immediately sent me several demos saying, “This is the image I have in mind.” One of the demos was “You”.

The speed of communication sounds very fast.

This is how artists communicate with eachother in all countries. No matter which producer you work with, there is always the question, “What kind of music do you want?” It’s always easier to make a playlist and convey the nuances than to explain verbally. Music transcends borders, after all (laughs).

That’s for sure (laughs). The song “You (Prod. SUGA of BTS)” was on various charts, and it reached a wider audience than ever before.

I’m really grateful. I can only be grateful to the people all over the world who have loved this song and helped it spread. On the other hand, it is SUGA-san who has opened the door to my work. I believe that his fans all over the world have helped to make it possible for us to reach as many people as possible.

I want to continue to communicate my unique style of music both in Japan and abroad.

Do you feel that the number of international listeners has actually increased?

Yes, “You” is full of reactions from people overseas. I feel that people from all over the world have responded to it.

I think you’re getting closer to what you envisioned for your music career, and with the increase in overseas listeners, you may have expanded your concept of solo projects.

To tell you the truth, I don’t think that I should change the way I do things because the number of overseas listeners has increased or because I have charted on Billboard. I think it would be better if people continue to look at the style I’ve been working on, rather than adapting the way I write songs to the trend of global hits. I think the reason why Japanese music hasn’t gone global is because overseas listeners haven’t had a chance to learn about Japanese music. The song “You” was introduced to a lot of overseas listeners by SUGA, but if you look at the music market in Japan as a whole, unfortunately there is no way to approach the global market.

Overseas people who like Japanese culture know about Japanese artists and idols, but there is not much of a mechanism in terms of “becoming well known” in the global market. Now that I have made my music known, I would like to continue to show my style.

Is ØMI going to be more proactive in communicating to the world?

Yes, I am thinking about it. There is no doubt that the time has come for music to enter the global market. However, there are still very few Japanese artists and production companies that are working on this. That’s why I think I have to take an approach with a global perspective in mind. If it’s not the COVID-19 disaster, I’d like to perform in Taipei and other overseas cities again, and I’d like to visit the people who got to know me through the song “You”. However, it is currently difficult to do so immediately. So, as part of that, I’m holding auditions for my own project to create a girl group that can be globally active. Again, with the help of HYBE LABELS JAPAN in the music part, I’m aiming to create a group that can work both in Japan and overseas.

Maybe it was because of the experience of creating “You (Prod. SUGA of BTS)” that made you to increase such activities. As for your solo project “CDL entertainment”, “SHINE” was also released on December 13th.

“SHINE” is like the theme song of “ANSWER…SHINE”, which contains “You”. The timing of its release is back and forth, but in terms of the timeline of the song’s world view, it flows like “ANSWER… SHADOW”, “SHINE”, and then “ANSWER… SHINE”. The song “SHINE” connects between “ANSWER… SHADOW” and “ANSWER… SHINE”. You can feel this in the lyrics too, so please pay attention to them.

The sound is an EDM style with a touch of early ØMI.

That’s right. It’s a mix of not only current EDM, but also elements of 80’s music, which is my favorite, and I think it shows my own style. I can’t categorize this song into a specific musical genre, so I’d be happy if you could consider this as “ØMI’s genre”.

Being the color of the producer is my way to express politeness.

“SHINE” is a self-produced song. Is there a big difference between producing for other artists and self-producing?

That’s exactly what I did with “You” produced by SUGA, I think it’s important to be in the color of the person who produced it. I’ve done enough in my own field to know who I am, what I want to express, and the music I want to make. What’s interesting about being produced is how you can be dyed in the other person’s colors. By being produced, I am able to show them a side of ØMI that I could not create on my own. For “You”, my fans may think “I’ve never heard a song by ØMI like this before”, including the music video. I think it’s a real pleasure to have someone produce a song for me, and I think it’s polite to be in the producer’s color. However, there are also difficulties. I’ve worked with BloodPop and Yellow Claw in the past as a member of the J Soul Brothers III, and I felt that it was difficult to match their colors because of the high level of their music. With experience and knowledge which I gained in the past, I’m now doing my solo activities so I think I’m growing little by little.

We can’t wait to see how you grow even more, ØMI!Lastly, please tell us what you are thinking about the future of ØMI.

First of all, after “ANSWER… SHADOW”, I will continue to deliver my music with “ANSWER… SHINE” and “SHINE”, so I hope you can look forward to them. In addition to being a performer, I would also like to work as a producer, not only for myself, but also for the Japanese music and entertainment industry on a global scale, something that only I can do. Please look forward to my various activities as well.

ØMI – You (Prod. SUGA of BTS) – Official Music Video –

ØMI – SHINE (Official Music Video)

12月13日、デジタル・シングル「SHINE」をリリースしたØMI。前作『ANSWER… SHINE』のリード曲「You(Prod. SUGA of BTS)」をBTSのSUGAがプロデュースしたことがきっかけとなり、国内だけでなく海外ファンからも注目を集めているアーティストだ。「音楽は国境を超える」と語るØMIに、楽曲に対する思いやグローバル市場での活動について語ってもらった。



ØMI:ソロ活動自体は2017年にスタートしたのですが、当初から国境にとらわれない音楽を作ろうと考えていました。そういった音楽が好きだったのもありますし、グローバルに音楽活動をしたいと考えてもいまして。そういった経緯もあり、もともと親交があった世界的に活躍しているDJのAfrojackにサウンドプロデュースをお願いしたこともありました。『CDL entertainment』を本格始動させていくタイミングで名義をØMIに変更したわけですけれども、やりたいことやソロ活動のコンセプトが変わったわけではありません。それまで使っていたHIROOMI TOSAKAは、なかなか海外の方に馴染みがないというか。海外の友だちやプロデューサー、ファンの方もみんな“ØMI”と当初から呼んでくれているので、よりわかりやすい形に名義を変更しました。




ØMI:そうですね。もともとLDHとHYBEというプロダクション間のお付き合いはあって、新しいエンタメを仕掛けようという話を会長同士でしていたようです。ですが、コロナ禍で物理的に日韓を行き来することが難しくなってしまって具体的な動きはできなかった、と。その話を聞いたときに、「それならば、アーティスト同士で面白いことをやれないだろうか」とアイデアが浮かびました。僕、SUGAさんのソロ楽曲やプロデュースした楽曲がとても好きで。海外のアーティストとコラボしている作品もチェックしていました。さらに、彼の持っている世界観にすごく共感できるし、『ANSWER』シリーズで僕が表現しようとしていることにも通ずると感じてもいました。ちょうど『ANSWER… SHINE』の制作に取り掛かるタイミングだったので、当たって砕けろでオファーをしてみたところ、快く引き受けてくださり「You」が誕生したというわけです。

――もちろん、ØMIさんのアイデアも「You (Prod. SUGA of BTS)」に反映されているのですよね?




――間違いないですね(笑)。そんな「You (Prod. SUGA of BTS)」は様々なチャートにも名を連ねていましたし、これまでよりも幅広い方々に届いた作品です。








ØMI:はい、考えてはいます。今音楽をやる上で、グローバル市場に出ていかなければならない時代が間違いなく来ています。ですが、そこに手を付けている日本のアーティストやプロダクションはまだまだ少ない。だからこそ、僕はグローバル視点を意識したアプローチをしていかなければならないと思っています。コロナ禍でなければまた台北など海外でのライブをしたいなとも考えていますし、「You」という楽曲を機に知っていただいた方々の元へも行きたいです。ですが、現状すぐには難しい。そこでその一環として、僕自身のプロジェクトでグローバルに活躍できるガールズグループのオーディションを開催しています。ここでもHYBE LABELS JAPANさんに音楽の部分で協力をいただいて、国内外問わず活動できるグループを目指しています。

――そういった活動が増えたのも、「You (Prod. SUGA of BTS)」の経験があったからこそなのかもしれませんね。ソロプロジェクト『CDL entertainment』としては、12月13日に「SHINE」もリリースされました。

ØMI:「SHINE」は、「You」が収録されている『ANSWER… SHINE』のテーマ曲のような楽曲です。リリースのタイミングが前後しているのですが、楽曲の世界観における時系列で言えば『ANSWER… SHADOW』、「SHINE」、『ANSWER… SHINE』になっていて、「SHINE」で『ANSWER… SHADOW』と『ANSWER… SHINE』をつないでいるイメージです。歌詞にもそれが感じ取れる部分があるので、ぜひ注目してみてください。





ØMI:それこそSUGAさんプロデュースの「You」もそうだったのですが、プロデュースしていただいた方の色に染まるということが重要だと考えています。自分のことや表現したいこと、作りたい音楽は自分のフィールドで十分できていて。プロデュースされる面白さは、相手の色にいかに染まれるかということだと思うんです。プロデュースしていただくことで、自分だけでは作れないØMIの姿を見せられるというか。「You」に関しても僕のファンの方々は、「今までこんなØMIの曲きいたことない」とミュージックビデオ含めて思ってくれているかもしれないですよね。そういった新しい部分を見ていただけるのはプロデュースしてもらう醍醐味だと思いますし、プロデューサーの色に染まるというのは自分の中では礼儀とも考えています。ただ、大変さもありますよ。以前、三代目 J SOUL BROTHERSでブラッドポップやイエロー・クロウと組ませてもらった楽曲があるのですが、レベルが高い分彼らの色に染まる難しさも感じました。そういったグループでの経験や知識を持ってソロ活動をやっているので、少しずつ成長はしているかもしれません。

――さらに成長されるØMIさんの姿が楽しみです! では最後に今考えているØMIの未来像を教えてください。

ØMI:まずは『ANSWER… SHADOW』から引き続き、『ANSWER… SHINE』、「SHINE」と僕のエンタメを示し続けていくので、楽しみにしていただけたらと思います。そして、プレイヤー以外にもプロデューサーとして自分のことはもちろん、日本の音楽やエンタメ業界に対してグローバルかつ僕だからこそできることを仕掛けていきたいと考えています。そちらの活動もぜひ期待していてください。

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