10 Years Walking to Earnestly Confront Music, and Playlists From Five Respecters of Yonezu
Kenshi Yonezu debuted on May 16th, 2012 with his first album "diorama." To commemorate the 10th anniversary of Yonezu's debut, Natalie.mu has put together this special feature: a chronology summarizing his activity in those 10 years and our interviews with him from those times, a mini-interview with the man himself, and playlists of his work selected by artists who pay respect to Yonezu: Ayase (YOASOBI), syudou, Keina Suda, Masaki Suda, and Vaundy. We look back on Yonezu's last 10 years, never fearing change and steadily continuing to walk, establishing a position as a preeminent internet-born artist, and growing into a musician that represents Japan.
First album under his real name of Kenshi Yonezu, "diorama," released. Across every song, he was responsible for all lyrics, composition, arrangement, performance, and mixing, and the artwork and music videos were also created by him alone.
Go Go Ghost Ship
In 2012, Kenshi Yonezu was already receiving strong support in the internet scene. Starting by posting Vocaloid music to NicoNico Douga under the name "Hachi" in 2009, he released one hit after another, including "Matryoshka," "Panda Hero," and "Close and Open, the Rakshasa and the Corpse." He had become a Vocaloid producer who represented the scene. His first album under the Kenshi Yonezu name, "diorama," included not a single one of those popular Vocaloid songs, used his real name, and had him singing all the songs himself. Making not only the lyrics, compositions, arrangements, and mixing, but even the illustrations and videos himself, it took nearly 2 years from conception to completion. Daring to separate from the Vocaloid scene he called his "home" in the interview after release, challenging new ground by revealing his physical self, Yonezu's career began.
Announcement of the release of first single Santa Maria by UNIVERSAL SIGMA.
Santa Maria music video released. He personally appears in it, and it also features a handmade storybook.
First single Santa Maria released. Accompanied by supporting musicians for the first time, it marked his first studio recording.
Santa Maria interview
MAD HEAD LOVE music video released.
MAD HEAD LOVE
Poppin' Apathy music video released.
Second single "MAD HEAD LOVE / Poppin' Apathy" released. At the same time, his 2010 [and 2009] albums released as Hachi, Bouquet and Burial at Sea and OFFICIAL ORANGE, received national releases.
MAD HEAD LOVE / Poppin' Apathy interview
New song under the Hachi name, Donut Hole, posted on YouTube and NicoNico Douga. Released on streaming November 13th.
In 2013, Kenshi Yonezu had his major debut with the single Santa Maria. To Yonezu, who had worked all by himself up to that point, even making a whole miniature world with "diorama," this was also a declaration of his determination to make music out in the open and with the involvement of others. With this song, Yonezu acquired a clear will to make pop songs with a universal beauty and have them reach listeners. It was a turning point he described as "a major change in my approach to expression." Starting with Santa Maria, he attempted recording with a band, and for the creation of the single "MAD HEAD LOVE / Poppin' Apathy," he had not only guitarist and old friend Hiroshi Nakajima, but also bassist Yuu Sudou and drummer Masaki Hori. These three have become longtime members who accompany him at shows to the present day.
Announcement of the release of his second album YANKEE, and his first concert.
Living Dead Youth music video released.
Living Dead Youth
Eine Kleine announced for use in a Tokyo Metro TV commercial.
Eine Kleine music video released. Received attention for hand-drawn animation by Yonezu himself.
Second album YANKEE released. With the album's title, he expressed being a "migrant" from NicoNico Douga to the J-pop scene.
WOODEN DOLL music video released.
First one-man concert "Last Homeroom" held at Tokyo UNIT. His first show, in front of 550 fans.
December 2nd ~ 11th
"Last Homeroom: The Sequel" held.
Eine Kleine, released in 2014, brought on Koichi Tsutaya as an assistant arranger. It marked the first time inviting in an external producer, after Yonezu had consistently self-produced ever since starting out. In part from having a song used for a Tokyo Metro ad campaign, receiving special notice as his first song to be part of a collaboration, YANKEE placed second in the Oricon weekly album rankings. Besides the album being a hit, he had his first one-man concert in June, and his first tour in December, making this year a big turning point in his career. Though not proactive about concerts at first, Yonezu's experience performing physically on stage and facing an audience surely served as fuel later on.
Flowerwall music video released.
Third single Flowerwall released.
Flowerwall used for Nikon D5500 "This is My Single-Lens Reflex" commercial.
April 1st ~ 28th
Concert tour "Flower Fall" held.
August 2nd ~ 28th
First performance at a summer music festival. Appeared at "ROCK IN JAPAN FESTIVAL 2015," "RISING SUN ROCK FESTIVAL 2015 in EZO," "MONSTER baSH 2015," and "SPACE SHOWER SWEET LOVE SHOWER 2015 -20th ANNIVERSARY-".
Unbelievers music video released. The song was first revealed at a music festival, before the video.
Fourth single Unbelievers released.
Fluorite music video released.
Unbelievers used for Mizuno WAVE ENIGMA 5 TV commercial.
Third album Bremen released. Achieved a triple-crown on the charts. At the end of the year, received an Excellence Album Award at the Japan Record Awards.
Metronome music video released. The first music video since Eine Kleine to feature hand-drawn animation by Yonezu.
Performed on the first day of RADWIMPS' multi-band tour "RADWIMPS Placenta."
In 2015, Yonezu continued to actively do shows, with a tour in April and his first appearance at an outdoor festival in August. Revealed on one such music festival stage was Unbelievers, released in September as a single. This song, attempting an electronic sound brimming with exhiliration without guitar, uses the word "we" in its lyrics, making it his first song to express a clear intent to speak for the feelings of listeners, and take on the duty of pulling people along. The album Bremen, which also included Unbelievers, earned first on the Oricon weekly album ranking and Billboard weekly ranking. In November, he took an invitation from his adored RADWIMPS and made his first appearance at a multi-band event. With a hearty amount of concerts and releases, it was a year of steady and rapid advancement.
January 9th ~ February 12th
Concert tour "Town Musicians" held. A total of 14 shows at 10 venues.
"uP!!!NEXT ~Kenshi Yonezu All Night~" held.
Participated in Universal Studios Japan's 15th anniversary Overkill Collaboration. Contributes a remixed illustration of Snoopy, and collaboration merch is sold.
Performed at Spitz-organized event Shinkiba Sunset 2016. Yonezu covered Spitz's "Spider."
July 22nd ~ September 25th
Number Nine announced as theme song for the Louvre Museum special exhibit "Louvre No. 9 ~Manga, the Ninth Art~". A special illustration was displayed at the exhibit. At this time, he had his first meeting with manga artist Daisuke Igarashi, and they became acquainted.
August 14th ~ 28th
Performed at summer music festivals "ROCK IN JAPAN FESTIVAL 2016," "SUMMER SONIC 2016," and "SPACE SHOWER SWEET LOVE SHOWER 2016."
LOSER music video released. Before being released on YouTube, the video was first shown projected on the wall of a back-alley building in Shibuya. The location was hinted at in the form of a riddle, and fans who solved it gathered at the spot. In the video, which marks his meeting with choreographer Tomohiko Tsujimoto, he made his first attempt at dancing, drawing much attention.
Fifth single "LOSER / Number Nine" released. Starting with this, releases began coming from Sony Music Labels.
LOSER / Number Nine interview
Contributed lyrics and vocals to Yasutaka Nakata's "NANIMONO (feat. Kenshi Yonezu)", written as the theme song for the movie Nanimono. He also appears in the music video.
November 23rd ~ December 8th
Concert tour "Howl" held. A total of 5 shows at 4 venues.
Published his first book, Monster Encyclopedia.
In 2016, Yonezu boldly attempted a number of new collaborations. For the Louvre special exhibit "Louvre No. 9 ~Manga, the Ninth Art~" held from July to September, he had a special illustration put on display and created Number Nine as an official theme song. In the music video for LOSER released in September, he tried dance for the first time. The dancer and choreographer who did the choreography for this song, Tomohiko Tsujimoto, would go on to give him private dance lessons, making this meeting a cornerstone in Yonezu's unique bodily expressions on stage and in music videos. In October, working with Yasutaka Nakata, they announced the theme song for the film Nanimono, "NANIMONO (feat. Kenshi Yonezu)." Providing lyrics and vocals, it was also his first experience contributing to another person's composition. 2016 was an ambitious year of seeking greater creative possibilities from collaborations in new domains.
Music video for "orion," ending theme for the anime March Comes In Like A Lion, released.
Sixth single "orion" released.
Music video for Peace Sign, opening for the anime My Hero Academia, released.
Seventh single Peace Sign released.
Peace Sign interview
One-man concert "RESCUE" held at Tokyo International Forum Hall A.
Sand Planet released online as the theme song for Magical Mirai marking Hatsune Miku's 10th anniversary. His first new song as Hachi in 4 years.
"Gray and Blue (+ Masaki Suda)" music video released. This song was created after Yonezu himself made an offer to Masaki Suda.
Gray and Blue
Fourth album BOOTLEG released. A packed album featuring the likes of Masaki Suda, Elaiza Ikeda, and Daiki Tsuneta (King Gnu, millennium parade, PERIMETRON), and even including self-covers of Fireworks and Sand Planet.
November 1st ~ December 24th
Concert tour "Fogbound" held. A total of 20 shows at 15 venues nationwide.
Spring Thunder music video released.
2017 was a full-blown onslaught from Kenshi Yonezu. Successful releases of anime themes - in February, the March Comes In Like A Lion ending theme "orion," and in June, the My Hero Academia opening theme Peace Sign. With October's DAOKO x Kenshi Yonezu theme song Fireworks for the movie "Do You View Fireworks From Below, Or From the Side?", he had a long hit on his hands. The Hatsune Miku Magical Mirai 2017 theme song Sand Planet made under the Hachi name also prompted much discussion. The album BOOTLEG released in November served like an aggregation of all the various tie-ins and collaborations Yonezu had worked on. With Gray and Blue, he realized a duet with Masaki Suda by bringing it up himself, and for "fogbound," Elaiza Ikeda participated on vocals. With 爱丽丝 (Alice), Daiki Tsuneta (King Gnu, millennium parade, PERIMETRON) assisted with the arrangement, and Margarette Hiroi (88Kasyo Junrei) and Takuya Yao also took part. For the second time in a row, he earned first on the Oricon weekly album rankings, and BOOTLEG achieved sales surpassing his previous album. With such high acclaim, he came more and more to be known as a representative of the Japanese music scene.
One-man concert "Fogbound" held at the Tokyo Budokan. Masaki Suda, Tomohiko Tsujimoto, and Koharu Sugawara appeared as guests.
Music video for Lemon, theme song of the TBS drama Unnatural, released. Yonezu's first theme for a TV drama.
BOOTLEG wins first prize in the 10th CD Shop Awards 2018.
Eighth single Lemon released.
LOSER used for a Honda Jade TV commercial.
Lemon recognized by the Recording Industry Association of Japan as the fastest song to reach 1 million downloads in history.
(NHK) 2020 Support Song project begins. The grade-schooler unit Foorin is born, singing the song Paprika, with lyrics, composition ,and production by Yonezu.
Lemon used for the SoftBank commercial "Shiratoke Mystery Train." The commercial features the Lemon music video, and a version where the name Kenshi Yonezu is misspoken as "Genshi Yonezu" is also created.
TEENAGE RIOT used as the theme song for GATSBY's "GATSBY COP" series of commercials.
Flamingo music video released. Before its release on YouTube, it's unveiled at an event in front of Hachiko in Shibuya called "F/T Secret Base."
Appeared in Sony's "WF-SP900" commercial, his first appearance in a commercial.
Theme song of the TBS drama Unnatural, Lemon, receives Theme Song Award from Tokyo Drama Awards 2018.
One-man concert "Flamingo" held at Chiba Makuhari Messe International Exhibition Hall 1-3.
TEENAGE RIOT music video released. Unveiled during the "Flamingo" concert on a background monitor.
Ninth single "Flamingo / TEENAGE RIOT" released.
Flamingo / TEENAGE RIOT interview
BOOTLEG earns the honor of Best Album at the 60th Japan Record Awards.
Appeared as a special guest in The Weeknd's first Japanese performance, "The Weeknd ASIA TOUR LIVE IN JAPAN."
For the 69th NHK Kouhaku Uta Gassen, performed on a live broadcast from the Otsuka Museum of Art in his hometown of Tokushima, singing Lemon. On the same program, Foorin also performed Paprika, and DAOKO performed Fireworks.
Since his major debut, Yonezu had stated his desire to "make universal pop songs" as one of his objectives. 2018 was the year where that truly came to pass. After finishing his first performance at the Budokan in January, the TV drama Unnatural for which he wrote Lemon as a theme song began to air. The song immediately had a major impact; it was used for a SoftBank commercial, the music video surpassed 400 million views, and it sold a combined 3 million digital/physical copies, becoming a record-breaking hit that swept all kinds of yearly charts in 2018. Furthermore, in July, for the (NHK) 2020 Support Song project, he wrote the lyrics for, composed, and produced Paprika, sung by the grade-schooler unit Foorin. In October, he held a one-man concert at Makuhari Messe, and released his single "Flamingo / TEENAGE RIOT." In December, he even had his first performance over live broadcast, performing from the Otsuka Museum of Art in his hometown of Tokushima as part of the 69th NHK Kouhaku Uta Gassen. With the release of generation-defining pop songs, it was a breakthrough year for his stardom. Not only did he display brilliant work, with Flamingo, remarkably, he attempted to break new musical ground in a way that incorporated folk music.
January 19th ~ March 11th
First arena tour "When Your Spine Becomes Opal" held. 16 shows at 8 venues, with over 170,000 attending.
As an additional show for "When Your Spine Becomes Opal," performed in the Shanghai Mercedes Benz Arena in China. This marked his first overseas performance.
Performed an additional show for "When Your Spine Becomes Opal" at the NTU Sports Center in Taiwan as well.
Announced providing Ghost of the Sea as the theme song for Daisuke Igarashi's animated film Children of the Sea.
Composed Spot the Difference for Masaki Suda, which is used as the theme song for the TV drama Perfect World.
Ghost of the Sea music video released. First shown at "Projection on the Sea."
Ghost of the Sea
Ghost of the Sea released on streaming. Cover art drawn by Daisuke Igarashi.
Ghost of the Sea interview
Surprise unveiling of theme song Horse and Deer for TBS Sunday show No-Side Game.
Paprika self-cover released. Used for NHK's "Songs for Everyone."
Horse and Deer music video released. First shown at "Projection in the Mirror."
Horse and Deer
Tenth single Horse and Deer released. Sets a personal record of 412,000 sales on the Oricon weekly rankings for September 23rd. Takes overall first place on Billboard Japan.
Horse and Deer interview
September 13th ~ November 2nd
Horse and Deer "Traveling Giant Jacket" project carried out. Horse and Deer was played at the Rugby World Cup in Japan, hyping up the crowd.
English lyrics version of Paprika created. "Foorin team E" is formed
Horse and Deer awarded Best Drama Song in magazine Weekly The Television's 102nd Drama Academy Awards.
After its Kouhaku performance, Lemon continued to be a long hit in 2019. While putting on larger-scale performances from January to March with his first arena tour and first overseas shows in Shanghai and Taiwan, he also made further efforts in music. Ghost of the Sea, theme song for the animated film Ghost of the Sea released in June, was another important song in his career. According to Yonezu, who encountered the original manga by Daisuke Igarashi as a teen, making this song felt like a major achievement. The orchestral arrangement was done by Yuta Bandoh, and this meeting would lead to more assistance with arrangement in the future. Also, Foorin's Paprika released last year became a social phenomenon among children, and in August he released a self-cover of it. In September, he released Horse and Deer as the theme song for the TBS Sunday show No-Side Game. With instances such as being played at the Rugby World Cup, it had a wide reach that even echoed into emotional moments in sports. Spot the Difference, the song provided for Masaki Suda released in May, was also a hit, and Suda made his first appearance at the 70th NHK Kouhaku Uta Gassen with it. Paprika won at the Japan Record Awards, and Foorin and Foorin team E appeared at Kouhaku. Furthermore, "Kite," written for Arashi, was first performed at Kouhaku; all sorts of songs worked on by Yonezu took the world by storm this year. As for Lemon, it made waves on yearly charts for the second year in a row, took first on Billboard Japan two years in a row in a historic first, and set a Recording Industry Association of Japan record for the fastest song to hit 3 million downloads - an astounding result.
Arena tour "HYPE" began.
To avoid the spread of the novel coronavirus, the "HYPE" tour's Sendai and Mie shows were announced to be canceled/postponed.
To avoid the spread of the novel coronavirus, the "HYPE" tour's domestic and overseas shows were canceled/postponed to September or October.
Announcement of the writing of new song Shock as the theme song for MIU404, dual-starring Go Ayano and Gen Hoshino.
Lemon wins first place at the 2020 JASRAC Awards.
Shock music video released. Before release, Yonezu's YouTube channel thumbnails were all changed to "404 NOT FOUND," and the release time of the video was given via Morse code. This campaign drew attention for its link to MIU404.
Arashi's 58th single Kite, composed by Yonezu, was released. With this release, Arashi set a record with their first single to earn 1 million sales.
Announcement of a simultaneous global virtual concert in Fortnite, which boasts 350 million players. Alongside this, the cancellation of the rescheduled HYPE tour shows was announced.
Provided Stray Sheep for Otsuka Pharmaceutical's new Calorie Mate commercial, "Some Things Never Change." He appears in person in the commercial.
Fifth album STRAY SHEEP released. Became a million seller a week after release, and broke 2 million sales soon after. Stayed in first on both the Oricon weekly album rankings and Billboard Japan Hot Albums for four weeks straight, and placed in 46 yearly rankings for 2020. Received many awards, such as the AAC Award, Forbes' Asia's 100 Digital Stars, and the Art Promotion Minister of Education Newcomer Award.
STRAY SHEEP interview
On the same day as STRAY SHEEP's release, all his released songs up to now, including songs as Hachi, were released on various streaming services.
Campanella music video released.
Virtual event "STRAY SHEEP in FORTNITE" held in the battle royale game Fortnite. Marks the first Japanese artist to participate in such an event, it gathered attention as a foray into virtual concerts.
Collaboration T-shirts with Uniqlo UT received an advance release in North America. A giant advertisement for STRAY SHEEP was displayed outside the Uniqlo on 5th Avenue in New York.
Collaboration items with Uniqlo UT went on sale at 25 Uniqlos around the world, including in Japan. Lines formed at each location, and they quickly sold out.
The campaign done for the release of the Shock music video received a Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications Award in the ACC TOKYO CREATIVITY AWARDS Media Creative Division.
Canary music video released. Directed by Hirokazu Koreeda.
Shock used in an Apple Music commercial. The video turns Yonezu's STRAY SHEEP cover and artwork into an animation.
The world saw drastic changes in 2020 due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. The arena tour started in February unavoidably had to be canceled, and amid his disappointment, Yonezu dedicated himself to making an album. In July, he released the theme song for the TV drama MIU404 Shock, and in August, his fifth album STRAY SHEEP. In addition to numerous hits released in the past 2 and a half years, the album also featured new songs such as Canary (with a music video directed by Hirokazu Koreeda) written during the long stay-home periods of the pandemic, which strongly reacted to the chaotic state of society. Seeking ways to connect people while unable to properly come in contact, he held a global virtual event in the game Fortnite in August, as well as collaborating with Uniqlo UT to sell products globally. He demonstrated ways of sharing experiences in new ways amid the pandemic.
Half-Dreaming announced as the new theme song for Nippon TV's "news zero."
After making a hit with STRAY SHEEP, praised for "revitalizing the quiet pop scene," and earns the 71th Art Promotion Minister of Education Newcomer Award for the second year of Reiwa.
STRAY SHEEP ranks 7th in the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry's yearly "Global Album All Format Chart 2020," the highest of any Japanese artist.
STRAY SHEEP declared a First Prize Album (Red) in the 13th CD Shop Awards 2021.
Announcement of Pale Blue, written as the theme song for TBS drama Rikokatsu.
Lemon wins 3rd prize in the 2021 JASRAC Awards, winning two years in a row.
All of Kenshi Yonezu's music, including Hachi songs, begins streaming on TikTok.
Pale Blue music video released. The release time was announced on social media via a "Pale Blue Letter."
Eleventh single Pale Blue released. The preorder bonus fragrance came bundled with a surprise second "Pale Blue Letter" with a message that appeared if put in water. It sold 156,000 copies in its first week, and ranked first in the Oricon weekly single rankings for June 28th in its first appearance.
Pale Blue interview
Shinigami music video released. Based on a classic rakugo program, he played the performer and the shinigami himself. Filmed at Shinjuku Suehirotei.
Interior goods brand REISSUE FURNITURE established. Room fragrances with aromas based on songs announced.
August 28th ~ October 3rd
"Pale Blue Melt" pop-up shops selling gelato inspired by the song opened nationwide. It was also sold online.
The "Pale Blue Letter" campaign done for the release of the Pale Blue music video received an award in the 2021 61st ACC TOKYO CREATIVITY AWARDS Division 5.
In March 2021, Kenshi Yonezu turned 30. Faced with still no sign of a resolution to the novel coronavirus, he tried new experiments of experiencing songs through smell and taste, as a way of enjoyment even when staying home. Between Pale Blue, a head-on attempt at a love song, and the rakugo-motif Shinigami with an attention-grabbing video of Yonezu dressed as a storyteller, he ambitiously sought to break new ground in musical expression.
Provided POP SONG for PlayStation's "A World Without Play | Play Has No Limits" commercial. He appears in the commercial, and undergoes a transformation. The video and song had an advance release on PlayStations.
New song M87 announced as the theme song for the movie Shin Ultraman.
Reveal of the illustration of Ultraman serving as the cover of M87.
First arena tour in 2 and a half years, "Transformation," announced.
M87 music video released. Went on streaming the same day.
Twelfth single M87 released.
POP SONG, written for a PlayStation commercial and released in February, fostered much discussion not only for its tricky composition style, but the impactful visuals Yonezu brought to both the commercial and music video. The idea to have a bold transformation was his own. On March 18th, M87, written as the theme for the movie Shin Ultraman, will release. Starting in September, he'll hold his first arena tour in 2 and a half years, "Transformation." The title is a motif shared by both of these new songs released in 2022, but no doubt it also represents his stance as an artist who has believed in always changing. It makes one realize anew that as he continues to walk into explored territory, you just can't take your eyes away.
Q. With it being the 10th anniversary of your major debut, what thoughts do you have looking back on the music you've released throughout your career?
A. While taking a dance lesson the other day, the song provided was, unusually, one of my own. Though I really dislike listening to my old songs, I figured a time like this would be the time to do so if any, so I paid close attention, and reflected on how I had been doing this and that back then. Thinking back on it, I've changed an incredible amount in these ten years. I've always done the thing I thought was best at the time. And I've keenly felt how the present moment exists as the result of many twists and turns. There are probably things I definitely wouldn't have done now, and there are also things I can relisten to and be like "so this song really was this good." These ten years feel like an instant looking back, but I can sense the fact that I've always been earnest in my own way.
Q. You have an impression of always challenging new things, shedding your old self, and steadily changing as you repeat the process.
A. That's true. I'm continually changing, and I'm not at all where I imagined I'd be as a child. I think I've lived an interesting life, and part of me even wants to praise myself. Basically, I'll continue to give it my all.
Q. I get the impression you've changed due to your meetings with those around you and those you create with. What has your interactions with others brought about for you?
A. It might not be good to say things like this, but I want to always feed on other people's talent. So I think all my life, I've unconsciously chased after people who have things I don't have. By interacting with and making things with those people, the context they've built up through their lives gradually seeps into myself. And with that, my life slowly shifts once more into a totally different direction. I can't help but find it pleasing. Though of course, it's not like it's just me feasting away; I want to keep having the sort of relationships where we can say "you can take a bite right around here." I feel meetings like that have, luckily enough, put me in a good place. I'm incredibly grateful to all kinds of people.
Q. Lemon was a major hit as a song, but what do you think of as the biggest occurrence in the past 10 years?
A. From an outside perspective, I'm sure Lemon looks like the turning point, but there is a part of me that finds that doesn't really click, like "ah, I guess it's this." Of course it's a song I was incredibly confident in, but I didn't think it would catch on to that degree. To me, the moments where the things I want to express get updated are major occurrences. In that sense, my interactions with others certainly were a major influence, so I think Ghost of the Sea, the first song I made with (Yuta) Bandoh-kun who I now create music together with, was a wonderful song in which I was able to update and do things I wasn't able to before. I never in my life considered trying dancing, so I'm also glad I was able to meet (Tomohiko) Tsujimoto-san through LOSER. I imagine that those sorts of meetings with people at pivotal times in my life, and the music I was then able to create as a result, would be the most major events.
Ever since my first proper interaction with his music buying the album BOOTLEG, I've liked his songs that always show off novel and bizarre ways of playing with sound. I see him as a good rival who stimulates me, and at the same time, an invaluable good friend who I can discuss my thoughts and opinions with without a care.
The thought of "I want to see the world Kenshi Yonezu sees" is why I started in music.
In 2009, as a middle schooler, I found Yonezu-san (then named Hachi) by way of NicoNico Douga. From the moment I first heard one, I could tell his works had an overwhelming charm unlike anyone else's, and at the same time I wanted to know just what the nature of that charm was.
To that end, I started by listening to many of his songs. When studying, when going to school, when eating, even putting off sleep to listen to just one more. I learned the lyrics and how to sing them. I checked out all the music, movies, and books he recommended. I even imitated his fashion and way of speaking. Wanting to understand his viewpoint as a composer, I started making songs myself.
And before I knew it, I had quit my job to live doing music. Thinking back, that's really all my life was. Though I still don't know the true nature of that charm, there's one thing I realized recently. I think the feelings I felt for him were not some kind of reverence or love, but merely yearning. For my playlist, I selected songs that would serve as a digest of that life of mine.
I'm honored to have been contacted for this project. With pride that we're alive in the same era, I intend to put my all into my own music and kick some ass!
Yonezu-san's music feels timeless, never fading in color.
I chose songs that, as a listener of his, I couldn't possibly go without mentioning.
▽Go Go Ghost Ship
My first experience with his music.
Though I listened to his Hachi songs as well, I remember being shocked to learn after the release of "diorama" that they were in fact the same person.
The affinity between the melody and words, and the weight that gives them, is tremendous.
I was done in by the balance of logic and melancholy.
▽Sand Planet (+ Hatsune Miku)
When I first heard it, I was unable to keep up all with the gimmicks and humor, so plentiful I couldn't write about it all here.
It's a deeply emotional song for me as someone involved in Vocaloid culture.
I felt the purity untouched by dirtiness, and the stormy mental state beneath it, were simply beautiful.
Congratulations on your 10th anniversary, Yonezu-san.
Thank you for always hearing me out on all kinds of things. Let's drink again sometime soon!
Because I like the subject (classic rakugo).
I'm an actor, after all, and I can sympathize with the universal imagery. Because it makes me feel "so Kenshi Yonezu is human too."
03. Horse and Deer
This song sticks in my memory; when I first heard it, it felt as if time had stopped, and I was incredibly overwhelmed.
04. Let's / Isn't It
It feels like deliberately not using proper language. Lyrics like a child using words they learned incorrectly. To have that over a rhythm is unreasonably cool.
05. Cranberry and Pancakes
A song I unconsciously start humming.
When it's playing out around town, it feels so I good I want to hum along. To the point that I learned later on that it's a Kenshi Yonezu song. Like "Let's / Isn't It," I like the way it uses words.
I think Kenshi Yonezu the artist is the king of standards. Like Luffy from ONE PIECE saying "I'm gonna be king of the pirates," Kenshi Yonezu at one point saying "I'm gonna be king of the standards" left a strong impression on me. Some years later, he truly is a mainstay, and I think he really is like a pirate king.
And Kenshi Yonezu the human is a very passionate and kind person. I think if the world were full of only people with sensibilities like Kenshi Yonezu, maybe there would be no war and everything would be peaceful.
Kenshi Yonezu-san is unmistakably an essential person in my musical history.
I think he was unquestionably the one to show the strength of being a singer-songwriter in the internet era. Since Yonezu-san's appearance, I've been able to witness the evolution of his music and the changing of eras to accept it. The sense of the sound and melody makes it feel like an attempt to represent the perfect shape of something in his head, and I think the feeling of unreality gives listeners the feeling of floatily being brought into his dream.
Out of them all, his second album YANKEE especially is exceptional.
I selected melodies that do just that, inviting you into Yonezu-san's dreams.