She won the grand prize at a music contest and made her professional debut. She goes to a top-rated university and has played competitive tennis at a national level. A singer-songwriter with an illustrious background...But wait, something is a little off...
"I'm sloppy and shy," said Aoi Yamazaki self-deprecatingly. When she opens her mouth, it's a confession time about her bungles and blunders. Well, that's her charm, and her life has been full of down-to-earth episodes.
Yamazaki was born in 1993 in Sapporo. During her first year at high school, she won the grand prize at Music Revolution, Yamaha Group's songwriting competition, chosen from about 5,400 contestants.
The celebrated lyricist Yasushi Akimoto praised her lyrics, for which she was awarded the special judges' prize. She made her debut in 2012 and released her first album "Aoiro" (Blue color) from Victor in January this year. She now attends Keio University's Faculty of Environment and Information Studies.
Gambatte ne. Soreshika nai kedo itsudatte matte iru kara.
(I wish you all the best. I have only this to say, 'cause I'll always be waiting for you.)
It is a line from her second single "Tsuyoku Naru Hito" (Becoming a stronger person), which is the last track on her first album. She wrote the song when her longtime doubles partner in soft tennis at middle school decided to attend a high school with a competitive tennis program after graduation.
Traditionally, J-pop songs that are widely received tend to be excessively idealistic. "Your dream will come true if you believe in it." "If there's love, then surely..." "Our hearts are connected despite the distance." Such songs provide a boost of positive energy.
But this song by Yamazaki dares to say, "I have only this to say," giving away true feelings that need not be spoken. In fact, she did not dedicate the song to her former doubles partner. She just wrote down her feelings.
"I'm not the type who can say things to calm someone in distress. Even in a song, 'gambatte ne' is about the only thing I can say. But I wanted to make it known for the record that I was supporting her with the warmest feelings," she said.
In an attempt to convey their feelings, people tend to become long-winded and elaborate in their speech and writing. Alas, the distance between their feelings and their words grows greater and greater.
Yamazaki's songs are murmurs from her heart. She looks at things calmly from a distance and carefully searches for words without any elaboration.
"I'm not thinking about soothing someone else's pain or patting someone on the back. It would be nice if, through my writing and singing about what I feel, someone started feeling kindhearted, and as a result, that person became kind to another person, or if my song evokes memories of something to someone," she said.