Translated by Jun F
Continued from Part03
So, who is the most suitable singer for a 30-second commercial?
–Considering from many perspectives, I had a sense that Aira Yuuki-san would be a good fit.
I had some connections with Yuuki-san before long. On some occasions, I had made the kicker for her debut on the Lantis label–a producer was looking for a new singer, and I knew of Yuuki-san’s existence. After all, I took between the two persons. Maybe it might be better to describe it as something like a matchmaker for an arranged marriage.
Anyway–My image of Yuuki-san was a singer with a gentle vocal and a sincere personality, and for the commercial, I was looking enthusiastically for a gentle voice to express Violet’s 30-second world. Many singers have those voices, but the one that immediately came to my mind was Yuuki-san’s voice.
Shortly afterward,I contacted Yuuki-san.
I told her there is a novel called “Violet Evergarden”, and we are going to make a 30-second commercial. And that we’re preparing to create a song for the footage. I also told “Violet Evergarden” is a work that I wanted to present not only in Japan but also in the world, so the song had needed to be sung in English. I can’t remember the specific nuances that I had said to her, but I do recall that the reply from Yuuki-san was undoubtedly a willing acceptance.
Then, about composition.
A variety of songs had arrived, which all of them were absolutely impressive, and could feel the hard effort they had put in. Furthermore, due to the high degree of flexibility I had placed of the order, there came was a wide range of variations. We shared these candidates among the staff and exchanged opinions. At this point–for the first time–the image of Violet’s music the team had in each others’ mind had revealed at last. After these discussions, we managed to narrow it down to three songs.
Regarding these talks, we concluded to keep the song image simple this time. That is, the songs were decided to be sung simply with a piano. Since all three songs were made with percussions or other various rhythm instruments in the demo stage, we asked the composers to leave the song to the piano accompaniment only. Then we could finally decide the suitable one. By simplifying the accompaniment, it could make the melody emphasize–that was our aim.
Thereby, the song was chosen eventually, and that song did later became “Violet Snow”. The composer was Satomi Kawasaki.
Next was an arrangement.
The piano-only arrangement, which I asked her to make experimentally, turned out to be much more better than I had imagined. So we decided to go ahead with this approach. The arrangement was like only to show the example of “what a piano version might be like,” so It was simple as it could be, but that made the melody even more appealing. I asked Kawasaki-san if she could make the arrangement as well. She readily agreed. There, I told her that I am not longing for an arrangement of super-techniques; instead, I focused solely on bringing out the magnificence of the melody.
Then, the lyrics.
As for the lyrics, I had decided to go by nomination, not by competition, as I wrote in Part 3. The lyricist needed to be fluent in English and Japanese, and also needed to be able to develop a secure and strong love for this piece.
After much deliberation with those perspectives, we eventually nominated Ms. Emi Nishida.
Of course, we have had her read the original story and explained what we require for the expression. And then we came out to this question—whose point of view the lyrics should be?
—One point I asked her was that this song might not be about a specific individual’s thoughts on Violet, but rather it would be a piece of lyric that had bundled people’s feelings of whom involved with Violet.
So, going back to the question—the point of view was to be “of all the people involved in Violet.”
That can be from the perspective of a character who is actually involved with Violet in the story, or it can be of the each and every reader who read the novel.
—Incidentally, when talking about the “point of view” with a lyricist, I sometimes ask them to write it “from a god’s perspective“. It’s not in the first or second person, nor from anyone’s point of view, but God‘s sight. Just like if he/she was watching people from the sky.
As for this time, at first sight, the lyrics of “Violet Snow” may feel god-eyed, but they’re not. It was the viewpoint of every single person who has touched girl Violet. This was why it had to be able to feel a lot of personal feelings in the lyrics.
Since Violet has the power to make people better, everyone involved with Violet is sure to have feelings of appreciation for her. Regarding this, I wanted to include those touches of wet sentiment in the lyrics.
Also, it needed to give a sense of gratitude for Violet, of love, of feelings that you can’ t leave her alone because of her vulnerability, …which carries high humidity. It had not to be like a blunt commentary on saying, “Let me describe the character of Violet!” or something like that. It had to be a lyric that expresses Violet by conveying in words the emotions of the people who touched Violet.
Though it was only 30 seconds, I had a strong sense that the lyrics will be enough to convey.
(Violet Snow now exists full-size, but at the time there were no plans for a full-size production, and the main idea was to make only a 30-second song.)
With these in mind, I asked Nishida-san to create the lyrics. And I also told her that if she would read and understood the story “Violet Evergarden” enough, it could naturally lead to such lyrics. Therefore, I advised her to digest the novel deeply.
Then after a while, the lyrics came up.
“Violet Snow” was the title.
I was thrilled.
There surely does not exist an impression of “snow” in the Violet Evergarden, but she brought “snow” to the title. What’ s more; it was Purple snow. Of course, everybody knows such color is naturally not existing, but analogizing the character of Violet to snow was a wonderful concept. Violet’s innocence had likened to snow. It made sense more than anything.
Now songwriting & arranging, lyrics were all in place. A very simple, but beautiful musical foundation was created.
The next task was “singing'”.
A song sung by Aira Yuuki.
Nishida-san showed up for the recording to check the English pronunciation of the song. Indeed Yuuki-san herself had worked hard to prepare for this. By Nishida-san monitoring each song’s pronunciation and Yuuki-san trying various ways to put emotions in the notes at the same time, the recording was completed. Since it was a 30-second song, it didn’ t take that much.
But in that, we had recorded twice.
At the first take, we had Mr. Ishidate listen to it and had interacted with our opinions with him. Would it be better to sing with a little more nuance? And if so, how shall we proceed?….We discussed things like that. With that exchange in mind, we proceeded with take 2. Since we had to put in very delicate nuances in the second recording, Ishidate-san had come to the recording site to make directions. We discussed it as well and recorded the songs accordingly.
Ishidate-san adjusted the song with a very detailed direction. As Ishidate-san already had the images and songs in his mind, it was crucial to bring them even a little closer to that ideal framework. No one had yet seen Violet Evergarden made into a film, so it was essential to follow the guidance of the person who had the only completed image in his head.
Yuuki-san responded to our minute requests in detail and sang with a clear understanding of the project’s intentions. The image of Violet Evergarden filled with tenderness was brought to life by Yuuki’s singing voice and efforts.
Finally, the 30-second video was accomplished.
Meticulously drawn typing scenes, floating letters, a girl caught in tears, and heroism as she breaks through the glass… This 30-second film is filled with the fascination of the story of Violet Evergarden.
Now, at last, it was to be revealed to the public.
However, we decided to bring this video to the world in a unique way.
Continues to Part 5