Interview with SKY-HI

interview - 01.11.2017 00:01

SKY-HI won't let you down.

2017 has been a busy year for singer-songwriter and rapper SKY-HI, filled with a steady stream of releases and many live concerts. Later this month, he will perform in the USA, France and the UK as part of his SKY-HI Round A Ground 2017 world tour. Ahead of these shows, JaME digs deep into SKY-HI's music in an interview.

It’s been four years since you released Ai Bloom / RULE, your major debut single as SKY-HI. Do you feel like your approach to making music or performing has changed since then?

SKY-HI: From around the time I made my major debut, I decided to become an artist as a singer-songwriter with a rap style because I believed it would help me keep performing in this music world. The decision led me to be able to make beats, add melody lines and write lyrics all by myself. I used to make my music by rapping with a beat maker at a studio the way most of the rappers do. Adding to that style I was starting to be able to make a disco sound and pop songs on my own at my studio. Ai Bloom was one of the original tracks I made in that way.

Your music takes on a lot of different directions – you have aggressive rap tracks, more upbeat pop songs and you also have emotional ballads. If you had to recommend one song to a new listener to show them the essence of SKY-HI’s music, which one would you choose and why?

SKY-HI: It would be Marble because it conveys the "pop-ness" of my music creativity in the best way so far. By the way, in Japan, almost all genres are required to have a pop taste and I think that's a trend. Also, with that song, I think I was very successful in giving out my message to the world, and this has also been supporting me a lot. I hope I will keep creating better ones.

What inspired you to start rapping?

SKY-HI: I was listening to American hip-hop music a lot as I grew up, and one day I was struck when I happened to come across a Japanese rap group called rhymester performing their super cool performances on TV as I'd never seen such cool Japanese rap artists. That was kind of how I started forming a group of two with the guitarist from the band I was in then.

How do you go about writing your lyrics? Is there a technique you use to get yourself started?

SKY-HI: Not really, but when I make songs, I try to keep the message in one sentence and keep that as a bone structure of the song and I grow the rest of the songs. The overall image of songs sometimes comes as a moving image in my head and at other times I get it as something like a formula.

How did you feel about making the transition from a group with so many members to a solo performer?

SKY-HI: It's more like the other way around. I started off as a solo artist, then joined AAA as a member, so my music style didn't get changed much by that.

You recently released a collaborative work with Czecho no Republic and you are featured on MIYAVI's upcoming collaboration album. How did these collaborations come about, and what was it like working with those artists?

SKY-HI: I'm having a very good time with my career as I get many collaboration offers and opportunities from rock culture. Each of the artists makes their songs in different ways and that motivates me a lot for my own creativity. For me, making music together is the best way to get to know great people and I really enjoy it.

Are there any other artists from different genres that you’re interested in working with?

SKY-HI: There are a lot! For J-pop artists, Tanaka Yasutaka and Tachibana Keita from w-inds, and Yonetsu Gensui and so on. Also, I'm a fan of HOCUS POCUS and I have been exposed to the French music making scene lately, so I would love to collaborate with French musicians and artists in the near future.

Speaking of collaborations, you also released a digital single called RAPSTA with SALU in August, following up on the album you released together in 2016. What has working with him been like, and can we expect to see more collaboration between the two of you in the future?

SKY-HI: SALU is a great artist. I like him a lot as a best friend as well as a good rival and also I'm a fan of his work. We both share similarities and affect each other with our own uniqueness. One thing we have in common is the aggressiveness for trying to become a better performer every day, and that gives us a good vibe.

You released two new singles titled Marble and Bitter Dream digitally worldwide in October. What can you tell us about them?

SKY-HI: Marble is about the greatness of mingling with and accepting each other. Through everyday life, we encounter different perspectives of others and sometimes ones that are very hard to accept and may lead to tragedies sometimes. However, if all of us think, look and act in the same way, that won't give anything new and it'd be damned boring. We're all different, and we also have multi-layers of personalities within us. Each of us possess uniqueness and make the world a colourful place. Accepting differences and loving people around us is the key of living and in order to do that, we have to start by loving ourselves. World news such as the one where a white-supremacist group demonstration killed people in Southern USA inspired me to be loud to convey my messages across the world.

I made Bitter Dream with a musician I met in Los Angeles. Without knowing each other well, we just winged it with the vibration, flow and energy. We tried to get to know each other through the music making process. I don't like the way "dream" is described just simply as a brilliant, great and sweet thing. If you truly want to be at it, there would be bitterness and sourness in achieving the goal. Including all of this, I think it's what truly a dream should be.

Recently, it seems like you're releasing a lot of music very quickly. How do you keep your energy level up with such an intense schedule?

SKY-HI: I've been going through rough patches recently, and making music and performing on shows are almost the only things that give me living energy, so it's natural for me to keep being in a creative mode. Please advise me on a good way of overcoming this hard time, though.

Is there anything in particular you’re excited to see or experience during the upcoming overseas dates of your Round A Ground 2017 tour?

SKY-HI: It'll be a great experimental tour for me to try many new things. Also, I'll be working with local musicians and performers, so that's another thing I'm excited about. To be accepted and liked, I'll give my best performance. It'd be wonderful if I can get to create music together with the local musicians.

What can fans expect to experience at your overseas shows?

SKY-HI: My rap performance, singing along to the piano that I play on my own, performance with dancers and more, to entertain the audience. I also do performances like drama performances where I have the dancers dance according to what my rap says. It's been well received in Japan and I'm curious what kind of reaction I'll receive during overseas shows without Japanese lines and I'll try to create a good vibe without speaking.

What’s the best way to enjoy a SKY-HI show?

SKY-HI: Please come as your natural self and watch the show. Enjoy the show however you like because I'm simply too happy to meet you from where I'm performing on stage. Please enjoy your SKY-HI experience.

What’s next for you after your world tour?

SKY-HI: As the finale of this tour, I'll have shows in Japan and there I'll try to have a dualistic performance as a hip-hop solo performer and an artist with a full band. I'd like my fans to enjoy the contrast.

Please leave a message for JaME readers.

SKY-HI: Thank you very much for your full attention to my article. I won't let you down for knowing SKY-HI through JaME by keeping making great music, and I hope I'll remain in your memory somewhere and hope this bond would grow even stronger. Thank you!

JaME would like to thank SKY-HI and avex entertainment Inc. for this interview opportunity.

Marble is available for download or streaming via:

iTunes -
Apple Music -
Spotify -

Live digest footage:

Music videos:

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