Kenshi Yonezu/Hachi - Every Day

Billboard Japan, May 30th, 2024 (Original Article)

The "Defiance" of Only Being Able to Be Yourself, Put Into Kenshi Yonezu's Georgia Commercial Song "Every Day"

We conducted an interview about Kenshi Yonezu's new song, Every Day.

Every Day is a track written for a Coca Cola Japan Georgia commercial, a repeat collaboration following up LADY, released in April last year. The song leaves a strong impression with its energetic melody set to a bouncy rhythm.

From the opening line of "Every day, every day, every day, every day, I've just been doing the best I can, and yet," to the catchy melody that accompanies "Disappointing Monday, crowding-out Tuesday, fever-catching Wednesday, tangled-up Thursday," this song sings of days that are by no means going favorably. We asked what sorts of thoughts went into its creation.

— Every Day is used for a new Georgia commercial, but did you write it after being approached with the offer?

Kenshi Yonezu: That's right. After last year's, I took on a successive request to do a song for a commercial, and started making it because of that. That said, the tagline for the commercial was the same as last year: "The everyday can be quite dramatic." I remember thinking it was tricky to write a different song for the same theme.

— LADY, also written as a song for a Georgia commercial, was released about a year ago. That commercial continued to be aired for a long time; what sort of place does that song occupy for you?

Yonezu: Certainly, I had never really written a "morning song" until that point, so that was a challenge for me. Also, a lot of musicians in my orbit told me they liked it. I had this feeling like "is this a song that appeals to musicians?" I don't know why it is, but I was happy to have all these people compliment it.

— Naturally.

Yonezu: I'm not sure if these things are related, but the other day, I was talking to a musician I'm acquainted with, and we discussed how enthusiasts think, for instance, it's more pleasing the longer the written name of a chord gets, or when you pack a song full of sevenths and ninths and diminisheds and augments. I can understand that pretty well myself, but on the other hand, I fundamentally like and want to make poppy, or, you know, easily-understood things. I'm constantly thinking that packing in chords all the time and complicating your songs can be dangerous. Perhaps it's a song that made me feel the need to skillfully fight against that.

— According to Billboard Japan's per-nation global charts, which rank Japanese songs that have become hits in each nation around the world, LADY seems to be particularly popular in Korea. It seems to have a unique outreach abroad among your body of work; do you think there's something special about it?

Yonezu: That's right. I can't even imagine what it could be, myself. I wonder if maybe it's the strength of the chords. They're able to put in many years of work, say. But I can't really give an answer off the top of my head.

— In making this song, were you thinking about how to differentiate it from LADY?

Yonezu: That I was. I didn't want to just make a song that was like "LADY 2." And yet doing all sorts of things, trying out songs with fundamentally the same mood, that's what it kept becoming. Thinking "this isn't quite it," I wrote and scrapped, wrote and scrapped, over and over again. This came at a time when my workload was pretty intense too, so I started thinking "what am I even doing...?" In a sort of desperation, I spent all my days groaning in front of a desk and not taking a single step away from it. Feeling like, "What am I doing day after day? I mean, I feel like I'm working pretty hard..." From there, I had the thought "I can just make this into the song."

— I see. The song begins with the line "Every day, every day, every day, every day, I've just been doing the best I can, and yet" - so this was an honest shout from your own heart.

Yonezu: That's right. It had an energy like my soul screaming out.

— When LADY came out, you said that "malaise" was a keyword there, yet this song is different, with more of an exciting, uplifting mood in comparison. How did it come to be that sort of song?

Yonezu: I've entered my thirties, and my thoughts and feelings have been changing in various ways. Upon turning 30, it felt like the chairman for The Game of Life came down and was like "This is what your 30 years of life have been like. Well then, please carry on." Like I suddenly got shown a bunch of stats. If I look back on my life thus far, there are things I've done my best at and have resulted in success, but there are also places where I've failed. Some aspects of me have grown up greatly, while others haven't grown in the least. Seeing that, I felt a sense of resignation that however much I struggled, however hard I worked, I would only be myself. To put it in a good way, I accepted it; to put it in a bad way, I became defiant. Part of me was purified by it, yet that said, it's not like it's made me able to do things I couldn't, so there are still difficulties before me. That being the case, more and more I started to feel "there's no time to be gloomy about it."

— I see. You can only be you.

Yonezu: Lately, I feel there are more people becoming conscious of such things. A while ago, there was the phrase "parental lottery" going around, with even people like Michael Sandel talking about it. The environment you were born into, your genetics, the funds your parents have - your aptitudes and abilities are to an extent defined by these things. I get the impression there's been an increase in people recognizing that. But I think "even so, there's nothing to really be done about it, right?" Things like my talents, capabilities, and personality are partly decided by luck, and even if I experience some difficulty in life, there's no taking anything back at this point. Even if we're able to revise society in the future, nothing can be done for us who are alive right now. I believe that's a truly alarming thing, but if you ask me "what should we do, then?", I can only give a brutally honest response: speaking for myself at least, you just have to recklessly give it your all. Even if your capability to work hard may itself be a talent, you still just have to do it. Whether it's school, or sports, or whatever, repeat it every day until your hands are numb. If it's soccer, keep kicking the ball, if it's studies, keep writing notes. If you have no social skills, go to a social place. Repeat the tedious simple things day after day. Even if they had no meaning, repeat them. Do the best you're able to do. If we're calling that "effort," then only effort can save you from hell. It really is a blunt statement, but my answer to how to live in that brutally frank reality is "just do it anyway."

— So a kind of defiance served as the motif for this song.

Yonezu: That's right. Every day is largely the same things on repeat, yet all I can do is defiantly say "but this is my life." An end-of-your-rope defiance, a desperate bravado. It's that sort of feeling.

— Making the song, were there any parts that gave you lots of trouble, or where the appearance of a phrase felt like it opened a way forward?

Yonezu: The first line, for sure. "Every day, every day, every day, every day, I've just been doing the best I can, and yet..." I wrote that part in desperation. From there, I was almost like an automatic secretary, smoothly tracing the rest from there. I thought I'd push through by brute force, and make it that kind of song. The chords also basically follow a single looped pattern; I didn't spend ages fussing over things, instead letting momentum carry me forward at a good tempo, then coming back.

— The song has the line "Disappointing Monday, crowding-out Tuesday, fever-catching Wednesday, tangled-up Thursday." I can think of a number of other songs that list the days of the week like this, such as Avicii's "Waiting For Love." But those songs generally describe Monday to Thursday as depressing, while Friday liberates you to the weekend.

Yonezu: That's certainly true. The Cure's "Friday I'm In Love" is also that sort of song.

— Yet the fact that this song goes "And then Fri-Sat-Sun, they're so along the same lines that it goes without saying" was amazing to me. The combination of that sort of stoicness, defiance, and total desperation with the uplifting energy of the song really struck me.

Yonezu: That might be an instance of me "losing my temper." Perhaps it has that in common with "Bye Now, See You Someday!", but there's something fun about just throwing a fit, and I think some things can only come of openly putting that out there. But, well, it's still true that it's liberating to get to Friday. I'm not just moping every day in my own life, and do also have fun days off where I can let off steam and drink. But does that make a huge difference to anything, ultimately? Not so much. There's parts of myself I can't defy, so I feel like I have to firmly grapple with them.

— The second verse starts with the phrase "I look steadily at my hands." I imagine this is quoting Takuboku Ishikawa's "A Handful of Sand": "I toil on and on, work on and on in earnest, yet my livelihood can never be easier. I look steadily at my hands." Bye Now, See You Someday! also had a lyric quoting Santouka Taneda's "Drizzling, into drizzling mountains, I enter"; what was the intent behind this instance?

Yonezu: I didn't have any intentions, but maybe doing a quotation at the start of the second verse is a thing I'm into right now. Though compared to Bye Now, See You Someday!, quoting "I toil on and on, work on and on in earnest" in a song about a repetitive life of working every day felt like less of a leap, and more like an almost too perfect fit. Still, that sort of frankness seemed to fit the song.

— Following that, the second verse's "Is it pointless? Is it worthless? Is it passé by now?" having a rap-like rapid-fire quality also felt like a notable point of the song. What sort of aim did you have with this?

Yonezu: I'm not too sure myself. Just, I let out everything about my life in that moment, all the feelings and sensations, and this is what turned out. I truly did write it like an automatic secretary, so there was a lot that I only noticed afterward. Even the Takuboku quotation came out just like that from me thinking the "jitto" had a good sound.

— Understood. By the way, in your LADY interview, you said coffee was your current fascination. What would you say it is these days?

Yonezu: My current fascination? Well, it's gotta be coffee. Coffee remains wonderful still. It's like my way of seeing the world has changed since starting to like coffee. It's nothing major, but even just walking around town, I feel like my eye stops on coffee shops more.

— So starting to drink coffee has changed your daily life?

Yonezu: Drinking coffee is incorporated into my daily life as a routine, and I think of it as a sort of carrot on a stick Because when I make music, I really am just sitting at a desk every day, thinking "What should I do? Should I do this?" So when it's not going well, I can drink some coffee, and maybe it'll clear up my mood a bit. It's kind of like that.

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