Monthly AE
  • February 2018
    95 Reputation
    So now that we have access to Monthly AE in English, why don't we post some info from the interviews and what not? This month is an interview with Reni, and there are some interesting bits about Momoka and the members' feelings while she was leaving. It's a really enlightening interview, and Reni seems pretty candid about herself.

    -This is the first Monthly AE since Momoiro Clover Z became a four-member group.
    So much has happened in such a short time, every week has felt like a month. Time just flew between Ariyasu announcing her graduation and her last concert in Makuhari Messe. However, it’s been crawling by since then. Until the concert, I guess we were all just focused on getting the thing done. That’s what we felt we had to do—we felt very strongly that we had to do what we could to make the MONONOFU accept what had happened, that we had to do this and that thing to get that acceptance from our fans... On the 21st, Momoclo became a four-person group. Now we’ve all had a chance to recover, to decide that we’re going to look to the future, to leave a lot of complicated feelings behind in Makuhari Messe. The week was just so packed...

    -I remember that in one of your previous interviews for Monthly, you said, “Because my feelings are now linked to those of the people around me, I sometimes have a bad time myself.” I have to admit I felt a little worried about you.
    Hmmm... Well, this is something I believe myself, but I’ve gotten a lot stronger mentally compared to just a little while ago. I tended to overthink a lot of things until recently, but these days, I’m determined to stay strong as much as I can. Of course I’ll keep adjusting myself to the people around me, but I feel like I’ve found a kind of center, something like the way I want to live, something that helps me not forget myself and keep myself in focus. When Ariyasu left, of course there were all sorts of ideas in my head, so many thoughts—including some that were quite painful. But I suspect that compared to before, I now get back on my feet much faster. I can make that sort of switch much faster than I used to.

    -Was there something in particular that helped you become stronger?
    It happened more gradually... in a way. I think part of me finally realized that the overthinking I was doing wasn't doing me any favors at all. It just made me tired, and my tiredness had a negative influence on the people around me too. I realized that none of my bouts of overthinking had ever led to any real results. And I drew my conclusions, I guess?

    -That does sound like it makes sense... No matter how hard you ponder something, you just end up thinking in circles.
    Up to now, that awareness never really led to anything for me, and I didn't manage to resolve anything. In the end, the solution is inside of me. I’m the only one who can really do something to help myself. So I started thinking that maybe it would be less tiring if I just stopped worrying—if I focused on staying strong instead of overthinking things. I’m also making things easier for myself this way, because I’m letting myself focus more on a lot of different things. I thought, it’s such a waste, all that time I spend with my mind wandering aimlessly.

    -Did you ever try to imagine what Momoclo would be like as a four-member group?
    Yes, a bit.

    -Is it the way you imagined it? The reality.
    What I imagined was something different. But that doesn’t mean different in a bad way. It feels fresh, somehow? I’m not sure how to put it into words. I hadn't thought that there would ever be only four of us. We all have our own characters, our own positions on stage, our own roles. I thought that if one piece of that puzzle disappeared, it would have a huge impact on the group, even if the individual people got through it okay. It could throw off the balance of the whole thing. After all, that’s how it goes with many things in life, not just Momoclo.

    -Yes, I agree.
    But now that we really have become a four-person group, it feels like we’re even more united? It was the same when Akarin left. Everyone feels like they’re facing in the same direction. Being forced to clear this hurdle might have helped us. Helped all of us confirm again what direction we were facing in, I mean.

    -That’s something you never really get to do unless something gives you that little push.
    I get the feeling that we’ve gotten more considerate of each other, that we’ve all gotten a lot more understanding.

    -That’s something that happens precisely when everyone finds themselves in the same difficult situation. You realize that you’re not the only one feeling like this—it’s everyone.
    This is going to sound a little bad, maybe, but I’m starting to think that we’re really okay in the end. Thinking like that is what going forward really means, perhaps.

    -We all have our own lives, and they're long but also short at the same time. We have so many options.
    Yes, we all have our own lives. But while you have your own life, it’s not just your life when you're part of a group. That is what the recent events really made me feel. What I was reminded of. That we need to brace ourselves a little, emotionally.

    -The recent events made me keenly aware, again, that Momoclo is really amazing. Amazing in the sense that it’s a group that can cause such a firestorm on television and online when a member leaves. It’s a strange way of saying it, but...
    There are tens of thousands of people who respond when I say one word. Some of them are sad, but there are also people who get really happy because we’re doing a live show. So I really feel that whatever I do, I don’t want to make people sad. I think everyone in Momoclo feels the same way. Whatever happens in the future, I want to talk about it properly with my own words. For the sake of our fans, and for the sake of the group. Some things can have an impact not just on your own life, but also on that of the group, even on the lives of your fans. I’ve seen those tears with my own eyes. There are people who have overcome all sorts of heartache to come and support us, and also people who say, sorry, I have to take my distance a bit.

    -I’m sure there will be people who become MONONOFU again as a result of what happened.
    Yes. That’s why I, personally, felt that I really want to continue. Always.

    -Ms. Momota often says in interviews that “So long as Takagi stays Takagi, Momoclo will be just fine.” Of course Ms. Momota isn’t the only one who thinks so. We all do. I don’t say that to put pressure on you—you simply are a rock for everyone.
    (laughs) What I want to say to everyone is, “You can stop worrying!” Everything is fine.

    -Everyone should just be quiet and follow after you. (laughs)
    Exactly. As long as no terrible or really unimaginable things happen, we’ll be just fine.

    -Nobody knows what the future brings, but in the end, we want all Momoclo members to have fun and be happy. I think that’s something the staff and the MONONOFU can all agree on.
    Thank you very much.

    -You usually don’t believe me when I say this, but your singing really is getting better and better. Maybe that’s a bit presumptuous of me to say.
    No no no!

    -I noticed that during live shows, you’re carrying some extremely important parts of songs now.
    You know, I think that compared to before, I’ve really learned how to enjoy listening to music. I listen to a lot of different genres now. When you hear how good other people are, you want to be like them! The way I felt up to now was more that however well you try to sing a Momoclo song, it’s so high and busy, you might as well not try very hard. (laughs)
  • February 2018
    95 Reputation

    -I feel that very keenly when I’m getting in the mood during karaoke and try my hand at a Momoclo song. Then I think, “How are they singing this while dancing at the same time?” (laughs)
    That’s our songs. (laughs) And it’s why in the beginning, I always thought, let’s just sing with all I have. But now I feel a bit differently. I think a lot about FOLK MURA. You know how Mayor Sakazaki and Ms. Izumi often sing Momoclo songs? Listening to them makes me think, “Wow, I didn’t know you could sing a Momoclo song that well.”

    -It shows you how many different ways of expression there are, right?
    Right, right. I think, “Oh, you can also sing it like this” or “If you sing this bit more softly, it actually sounds really good.” So then I think, if I’m going to sing anyway, I want to get better, even if only a little. I’ve become really convinced of that.

    -It’s a kind of craving, but a good one.
    My solo concert last year also played a big part. Everyone was praising me! People often assume I’m the sort of person who gets better out of spite, but that’s not true at all. (laughs) I want to be praised. I’m only human!

    -You’re only human! (laughs)
    I mean, when people say my singing isn’t great, that also makes me want to get better. But I think that when people praise me, I feel happy and more motivated to keep working hard. So when people praised me after that solo concert, it made me think, “I want to become a better singer.”

    -But when people tell you “It was really great,” you always say something like “Really...?”
    It’s hard to believe it when people say that. (laughs) Maybe it’s my lack of confidence showing. Anyway. I tend to get nervous inside, and that’s something I really want to work on this year.

    -I see.
    That’s my goal now. Last year’s goal was “Don’t forget any more lyrics.” I know the lyrics to our songs, I remember them, but I got a little traumatized when my head just went blank during the Valentine event. That might actually be the most traumatizing thing that’s ever happened to me. The lyrics problem was stuck in my head all year last year.

    -I didn’t know that...
    When I feel anxious about something, I just blurt it out. I’m incapable of suffering in silence. I’ll go, “I wonder if it’ll be okay,” and then when someone says, “It will, don’t worry,” that’s all it takes to reassure me. One day, I ran into someone in my neighborhood who happened to be a former DJ. He’s an artist, and he works as a DJ on the side.

    And I asked him for advice. He said, “It’s okay. Worrying about it like that won’t help. If you forget them (the lyrics), just sing “I forgot the words” in time with the melody. Or just hum something. Just do anything, really. It’s best not to forget any lyrics, but so what if you do? A lot of people will think it’s just cute.” When he said that, I felt like a load had fallen off my shoulders. Like maybe it wasn’t so bad. There’s usually no teleprompter when we do a live show, so I get really worried, but hearing those words made me feel a little better. Inside, I feel like I’ve solved the lyrics problem. So this year, I want to focus on not getting too nervous. (laughs)

    -Did you know that Ms. Tamai once said, “When I get nervous, it doesn't help, it just makes me do worse. I’m jealous of Takagi because she can turn her nerves into strength.”
    What?! No way!

    -Everyone is good and bad at some things.
    I’m someone who can’t not be nervous. Trying not to be nervous would be impossible!

    -We’ll get another solo concert from you this year, on March 9th. Is there a theme or somesuch for this year?
    No! I focus too much on one thing when there’s a theme... I’d rather be free to sing the songs I want to sing. I’m hoping to put a personal touch on it that way. We went with a different title every time up to now, but this year, I decided to just go with “Marugoto Renichan 2018”.

    -That’s very nice, we get to see all kinds of “Marugoto Renichan” every year.
    I think that last year, I could do the things I most wanted to do, really put myself out there, become more carefree. I’ve also gotten used to things, that’s probably a factor too.

    -Are there things you want to do this year?
    I was wondering which instrument I want to try my hand at... Last year, I promised I’d tackle the ukulele, so I hope I can manage that.

    -Your solo concerts always have such a peaceful atmosphere. A ukulele would be just right for that.
    You know, I’ve entrusted all of me to my fans because I really trust them. Take “Sora no Curtain”. It starts out quietly, and I get so nervous on those first bars that sometimes I can’t breathe quite right. But when I sang “Nandemonaiya” at last year’s solo concert, I was going to start out singing with just a piano and got really worried that I’d mess up my breathing again. But then I looked out at the crowd and saw that sea of purple, and it really was so reassuring for me. It was one of those times when I got really surprised at myself. “They’re all here for me!” (laughs)

    -That’s incredible!
    There’s a Takagi that the MONONOFU have brought the surface, in a way.

    -It is reassuring, isn’t it? Seeing all those purple light sticks.
    It really, really is. At that moment, I thought, “I’m actually not that nervous!” And it’s the fans who made it possible for me to relax like that.

    -You also did a solo concert in Okinawa. You really perform in a lot of different places...
    That’s right! I really do! But I think it’s important to get experience by doing a lot of gigs. Just getting used to it is so important. Having all those positive experiences makes me a better performer.

    -There’s the solo concert, the 10th anniversary live show... You’re going to have a busy year.
    Yes, it’s really something. Ten years ago, I wouldn’t even have imagined that Momoclo might get this big one day.

    -If only you could tell this to the you we saw in “Momoclo UNDER” (SDP).
    I know, right? I was thinking “This is impossible” while drawing up a schedule that was all I’d ever dreamed of. (laughs)

    -What sort of future are you dreaming up for yourself today?
    You know, yesterday on AbemaTV, Heisei Nobushikobushi (Mr. Tokui) said, “I think people are at their peak in life when they’re forty.” That’s really been on my mind lately. I also imagine that forty would be the age that I’ll enjoy the most. Around thirty or forty, you have some degree of life experience, you’re emotionally stable, and you’re at the point where you figure out a balance between what you want to do and your work. Of course my goal is to always do what I’m doing now, I might even be incapable of doing anything else...

    -Ms. Takagi, I think you could do anything you put your mind to.

    -But it’s true that forty might be the age where you’ve broken away from the all-powerful spell of youth, where you can become free.
    Something happened recently that left an impression on me. I was lining up to use the bathroom, and a cleaning lady was cleaning the stalls one by one. Every time she finished a stall, she called out “Next, please” to help the line move forward. Most people just walked into a stall without saying anything. However, the lady in front of me—and old lady of about seventy, with this very dignified bearing—turned to the cleaning lady and said, “Thank you.” And it struck me. People who have it all together are people who can are able to voice words of greeting and gratitude. And I thought, I also want to become that kind of person.
  • February 2018
    95 Reputation

    -It’s so important to put things into words instead of just thinking them.
    Yes, that’s what I thought.

    -Let’s become amazing old ladies together! I look forward to it. (laughs)
    No! No, no!

    -This is our last topic, but I’m really looking forward to the 10th anniversary concert. What sort of things are you thinking now?
    I’m worrying, hmmmm, how will it turn out? That one time when we got to perform with KISS, I was impressed by the size of it, the size of Tokyo Dome. And I immediately get nervous when we’re at a place that I’m not familiar with, so I want to focus on not letting my nerves get the best of me. A 10th anniversary concert isn’t easy to begin with, and a live show in Tokyo Dome also isn’t easy. That’s why I want to make this a great experience. I want it to be something I can look back on with pride. I feel very strongly that I want to give the fans there, who will have been sticking with us even though we’re a foursome now, an experience that exceeds their expectations.

    -Don’t you think the fans will be feeling that you are the one who took them all the way to Tokyo Dome?
    No no no, it’s the other way around, the other way around! The fans are the ones who have taken us there. Think about it—no matter what amazing venue you sing in, if the people don’t show up, it’s not a proper live show. It’s just a kind Parents’ Day at school. Especially these days, I’ve come to think that while some venues are obviously great, it’s the people who are great, not the places. And that’s true no matter where we perform.

    -What matters is not the location, or the size of the venue...
    Exactly. Even if the venue is small, the fans are so enthusiastic that you don’t even think about the size of the place. Before, part of me was happy when we were somewhere bigger or more famous, but that’s a bit different now.

    -Maybe you’ve become more focused on your interactions with fans and your performance, rather than on the size of things?
    Exactly. I just want to put everything I have into making sure that the fans who come all the way to see us have a great time. I want to give back to them. That’s all I want now.

    Interview and text: Chihiro Nishizawa
  • vimoralvimoral
    February 2018
    2557 Reputation
    Thanxs for post the interview :)