- Date of birth: October 2, 1978 (Libra)
- Blood type: A
- Birthplace: Fukuoka Prefecture
- Favorite Female Entertainers: Keiko (Globe), Rie Miyazawa, Seiko Matsuda
- Music Influences: As a child I listened to rock music (Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple), influenced by a relative. Now I like listening to soul music such as Babyface and En Vogue.
- Favorite Actors: Nicolas Cage, Rie Miyazawa
- Favorite Movies: The Bodyguard, Betty Blue, Leaving Las Vegas
- People I Respect: People who have things I don’t have
- People I Dislike: Liars, people who don’t say hello
- Favorite Food: Biscuits (maybe my staple diet!), cakes, chocolates, kimchee (Korean marinated cabbage)
- Favorite Things to Read: buy most of the fashion magazines. Modern-language translations of the Manyo Tanka poems are especially interesting. Poems of Natsuo Giniro, Mitsuo Aida, etc.
- Lessons: Piano, Japanese calligraphy (fifth rank), abacus calculation, Japanese flower arrangement, Kumonshiki study system
- About My Lyrics: “I like to try to view my own and my friends’ experiences objectively, and put my honest feelings into words. If I write when I’m low, it will be a dark song, but I don’t care. I want to be honest with myself at all times.”
To be honest. To be myself. This is easy to say, but difficult to do. Nowadays the world is full of greed and lies, and most people just stand aside avoiding trouble. But some people do strive toward their dreams and try to be themselves. Such people shine and make the rest of us willing to support them.
Ayumi Hamasaki released her debut single “poker face” on April 4, 1998. Ayumi chose to be an artist to express her true self and feelings, and took a trip to New York in the summer of 1997 to take vocal lessons. “Going to New York promised me nothing in terms of becoming professional. I just had to believe in myself,” she says.
A debut as an artist… how could she succeed as a professional singer? What would she have to do? With no answer to these questions, Ayumi flew to New York full of anticipation and fear. Sensitive as she is, Ayumi not only developed her skills as a vocalist, but also developed mentally by coming across fresh ideas unknown in Japan and by watching the self-confident behavior of New Yorkers. “To tell the truth, I was very anxious at first. But I was encouraged by the sight of young children living earnestly, and valuing themselves honestly without hesitation. In New York, I made many technical achievements, and moreover, I grew stronger at heart.”
Now mature both as a vocalist and a person, Ayumi started writing lyrics as soon as she returned to Japan. Her style is to view her own and her friends’ experiences objectively, and to write about them in her own honest words. In “poker face,” she writes about strength within sorrow. “At first, the song was about a weaker girl,” Ayumi remembers. “But you can cry anytime, and I wanted to smile at those sad, lonely moments. I rewrote the lyrics over and over, and finally finished the song the day before the vocal recording.” Starting with this debut single, Ayumi has written all the lyrics of the songs she releases. The lyrics won’t include fake thoughts or even flights of imagination. As Ayumi says, “I don’t want to lose myself or lie to myself. I don’t feel much stress about being myself. It’s not difficult for me. It’s just being natural. Being true to yourself isn’t something you strive for.”
The music on “poker face” is produced by Yasuhiko Hoshino (composition) and Akimitsu Honma (arrangement). The track is done in a pop style that captures the essence of the 80s sound. Its melody blends seamlessly with the world described in Ayumi’s lyrics, and sweetly embraces her lonesome touching voice. “When I received the song’s tape, I thought ‘What a difficult song!’ When I made a trial recording with the first lyrics (before rewriting), I hated it. But with the current lyrics, I could feel the song at once… and could sing it better than any other song I had tried. My voice came out naturally and the song became so much mine that I forgot I’d thought it was difficult.”
Brilliant vocal technique perfecting difficult songs. Talented lyrics of honest feeling. Ayumi’s rise has just begun. Look for her to soon make a name for herself as a top artist.”
Written circa 2000/2001 and originally published on Ayumi Hamasaki’s (now dormant) official English site.