‘Eye Love You’ Theme Song ‘Ikuokukonen’

Omoinotake, a three-piece band whose music is fresh, groovy and emotional, is rapidly attracting new fans. Their newest release is “Ikuokukonen,” the theme song to the TV series Eye Love You, released digitally on January 24. Billboard Japan talked to Omoinotake about the story behind this new song.

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On January 24, you’ll be releasing your new song, “Ikuokukonen.” How are you feeling?

Leo Fujii (vocals and keyboard): We devoted a long time working on the song, so it feels great to finally be able to share it with the world. I’m really excited to see everyone’s reactions.

As you mentioned, you wrote this as the theme song for Eye Love You. 

Tomoaki Fukushima (bass): The show depicts this contrast between Yoon Tae-Oh (played by Chae Jong-Hyeop), a cheery and up-front guy, and Yuri Motomiya (played by Fumi Nikaido), a woman trapped by her past.  Depending on the scene, you can empathize with either one of them, and the show really makes you think about whether you can truly understand what people feel in their hearts.

Hironoshin Tomita (drums): Each character in the show is unique and beautiful.

What part of the show did you focus on when you wrote the song?

Fukushima: In writing the lyrics, I thought about the fact that we can’t see into other people’s hearts. No matter how much you love someone — no, in fact, precisely because you love someone so deeply — there’s a lot you can’t say to them. I wanted to reflect that in the lyrics.

Fujii: The show has its bright, poppy side, but also a wistful side, and I wanted to express that in the music, which I did through the melody.

I think that even among your existing repertoire, this song is especially catchy. What led you to write a song with this kind of feel?

Fujii: When you work on a TV series tie-up song, they release a teaser before the show actually comes out, right? I thought a lot about about that teaser. I wanted the song to make an impression just from hearing the chorus during the teaser.

I see. Ryo Konishi, who does your horn arrangements for your live shows, also helped on the arrangement of “Ikuokukonen,” right? I’m sure that he was able to help bring out some more highlights of the song.

Fujii: “Ikuokukonen” has a cheery melody, but the lyrics are wistful. That gap, between cheery and wistful, can be pretty big for some people, so the song was a difficult one. Konishi arranged the horns for our live shows last year, and we had a lot of trust for him because he’d done such a great job on arranging both our upbeat and our downbeat songs. I think he added a lot of color to the happy feel of “Ikuokukonen.”

Did you try anything new during the recording process?

Tomita: Konishi came to the recording sessions, too. He showed us all how to get into the 16th note groove. That made it easy for us to decide what kind of beat to use. Of course, actually doing it was still quite a challenge (laughs).

So it was a tough order for you, too (laughs).

Tomita: Before we started recording, Konishi said “Today’s going to tire you out.” When we started recording, I found it incredibly hard to achieve the feel that Konishi was going for. I had to take what I’d kind of been playing by ear before and get it down exactly. It required a ton of concentration, and it really was tiring. Konishi was like, “See? I told you it’d tire you out” (laughs). But it gave me a lot to grow on. I can use what I learned on other songs, too, besides “Ikuokukonen,” and what he taught me changed the way I interpret rhythm.

Fukushima: One of the unique things about the song is how the tempo drops way down during the chorus. That means that the rhythm and the groove totally change, too. That was hard. We have other songs with tempo changes, but I think the tempo shift in “Ikuokukonen” may be our biggest.

How was it for you, Fujii, as the writer of the song?

Fujii: Konishi was there with us in the actual recording, so we were able to bounce ideas off each other, like “How about using a phrase like this?” Normally, we’d just play the phrases we’d practiced before coming to the recording studio, and then we’re done. But this time, we were writing new phrases and changing arrangements right there in the recording. I found the process really stimulating. We did a lot of recordings of the main vocals, using Konishi’s ideas. We used double tracking, stacking up layers of the same melody, and that created a distinctive feel. I think we recorded six tracks of the main melody. It was our first time doing double-tracking, and when we mixed the tracks together, it produced a richer, fuller sound. Konishi’s ideas, like his double-tracking idea, were interesting and a lot of fun.

So the recording was full of new discoveries for you. What was the inspiration behind the song’s name?

Fukushima: The title was the last thing we decided on. We chose the title to reflect the desire to share your love across unimaginable distances. Originally, we were going to name the song “Ikusenkonen,” which means “Thousands of Light Years,” but there are actual stars and black holes thousands of light years from Earth. We wanted to go with an unimaginable distance, so we changed it to “Ikuokukonen,” which means “Billions of Light Years.”

Eye Love You, for which “Ikuokukonen” is the theme song, is an international love story. If you don’t mind me asking a question that’s not about the song itself, what’s your experience with the international community been like?

Fukushima: On our own YouTube videos, we get a lot of comments from people in other countries.

Fujii: Yeah, that’s right. I think the comments that make me the happiest are the ones that say “They are underrated.” We’ve always gotten comments that we’re underrated and we need to spread our wings more, and they’ve always made me happy.

Fukushima: Looking at YouTube analytics, our videos also get a lot of views from overseas viewers. I think it’s partly because we’ve written anime tie-up songs.

What aspects of your music do you think resonate with foreign audiences?

Fukushima: I think a lot of our foreign fan base discovered us because they were anime or TV show fans. I think our songs resonate with them, and also that our songs are well-matched to the shows they’re used in.

Fujii: Also, popular music hasn’t been very melodious lately. We’ve always tried to make really melodious music, so I hope overseas fans of Japanese anime and TV are like “this is real Japanese melodic music. The melodies are great!”

This interview by Azusa Takahashi first appeared on Billboard Japan

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