Text Interviews » History of See-Saw

Translation of the History of See-Saw.
Thanks to oolong for the translation!

How many people on earth think of “Swimmer” of See-Saw when they see the name “See-Saw” ?
Most of younger generation must have learned See-Saw through TV animations “NOIR” or “.hack//SIGN”. I should add that many of them might think of the ending theme of “GUNDAM SEED “,which is currently on air. In fact this ending theme “Annani issyo datta noni” hit the Oricon charts at number 5 in its first appearance, and it showed that the name See-Saw began to spread widely.

By the way, what does “the See-Saw of ‘Swimmer'” mean? To make it out, you have to go back more than a decade.

When Kajiura Yuki was 15 years old, a band “15 SAND” (Ichigo sand) began with six high school girls including Ishikawa Chiaki’s elder sister. Later Kajiura Yuki, who had not yet been the member of them when they had put together the band, joined them as a keyboardist. And then Ishikawa Chiaki joined them at her sister’s invitation “Won’t you sing at our live just once?”. Thus the predecessor of See-Saw was born. That “just once” eventually continued until their graduation from university. Though they temporarily suspended their musical activities because of job hunting, they restarted band activity out of eagerness. While working as office worker, they had experienced a lot of lives and competitions. And though their professional debut came up, they gave it up because they were heading in different directions. The three members ―Kajiura Yuki, Ishikawa Chiaki, and Nishioka Yukiko(Bass) ―held a live in July 1992 under the new name See-Saw, and fully started musical activities as See-Saw. “Swimmer” was their debut single released on July 25, just one year after that.

A swimmer begins to swim very hard toward his/her dream that is on the edge of sea horizon. It was thought that they saw themselves ― who were about to swim toward their dream as professionals ― in the swimmer.

“I had made only choral songs before, so I came to want to make band-like songs, and I wrote ‘Swimmer’. I didn’t take the range of vocal into consideration, so it ranges a little over two octaves, and what’s more, it changes key. I think only she was able to sing it.” Kajiura looks back on those days. She also says the fact ―the songs are born, inspired by Chiaki’s voice ―is still same as before.

(Kajiura) “I am very inspired by the impression that I feel when she first sang a song I had made, and ( I am very inspired by ) the moment something wonderful was born. I guess her voice will go well with the melody, and my world expands. I think such impressions are my energy and driving force to make songs. Those are very pleasure experiences. Attracted by Chiaki’s voice, I write songs for her voice. I feel like so even now.

On September 26, 1993, they released their first album “I HAVE A DREAM” that starts from “Swimmer”. The following year ,1994, Nishioka left the band in order to concentrate on writing activities in April, and See-Saw became two members, Kajiura and Chiaki .

On October 26, they released a mini-album “See-Saw”. This album expresses them as large as life ,so that we can get at the reason why they named this album after their band name.

At that time, Chiaki said
“I decided to take off my ‘helmet of thinking too much’. A helmet protects me against enemies, but I can’t also get out of there. I thought I wanted to ease myself instead. I thought ‘Music is pleasure, so I should take things easier.’ then I got to be able to relax and I felt like I began to see what we were looking for.”

Her stance seems to be unchanged after her activity under the name “Somari” ,and even now.

Chiaki adds. ” I tend to go the wrong way when I put too much effort into things. Even if I am told ‘See-Saw has a great situation now, doesn’t it?’, I’d rather like to view ourselves objectively, thinking ‘they are great’. I think that’s better for me. It’s also better for me that I don’t think I should sing hard,― though I’ll do it seriously― and don’t overstrain myself. Even if See-Saw gets inactive, it’s good that we act together again if an opportunity offers. I’m easing myself in a good sense. I guess that led me to good directions.

One year and half after their debut, each of the members of See-Saw, which became two from three, launched solo-activity after releasing their final single on February 1, 1995. The title, which makes us foresee their future, was “mata aeru kara”(’cause we can meet again).

It might not be necessary to state the activities of See-Saw after that. Chiaki released a mini-album “magnolia” under the name “Somari”. Kajiura aggressively produced OSTs of movies, games, and animations. Now that she is a composer in the spotlight.Especially the OST of TV-animation “NOIR”, which she made in 2001, hit the Oricon charts at number15 in its first appearance. She used Chiaki on the insert song “Indio” as a vocalist, and that led to restart of See-Saw.

“When they talked about the insert song, I had a song that would match that scene very well, and I thought only she would be able to sing it. Then I contacted her and asked ‘Won’t you sing it?’ , and she replied ‘All right.’ I didn’t think much about revival of See-Saw then. I felt much more joy of acting with her again.” Kajiura says.

Chiaki says that she sang as See-Saw after an absence of 7 years, but she was able to become “Chiaki of See-Saw” quite naturally.

(Chiaki) “Though I had sung as Somari and so on, my voice turns into “Chiaki’s voice of See-Saw” when I sing as See-Saw. I don’t know even now whether I’m playing “Chiaki of See-Saw” or this is my all, my voice turns so when I sing Kajiura’s songs. I find myself singing, going back to that time and that place.

In 2002, See-Saw took charge of all openings and endings of TV-animation and OVA “.hack//SIGN” at an ardent request of the director Mashimo Kouichi, who is also the director of “NOIR”. “. “obsession”(May 22, 2002) became long-selling, remaining in the charts for 18 weeks. Following “edge” (July 24, 2002) was number 30 in the charts in its first appearance. Furthermore, as I wrote at the opening, “Annani issho datta noni ” (Oct 23, 2002) hit the charts at number 5 in its first appearance.

Their long-awaited new album “Dream Field” is going to be released on February 21, 2003. That includes the songs from “Indio” to new single “Kimi ga ita monogatari”(released on January 22, 2003, the opening theme of “.hack//Liminality vol.3. )

“Compared to the album 10 years ago, I guess this album is rather somber or dark because this includes a lot of conceptual songs such as opening themes and insert songs. But what we do is basically unchanged. I want listeners to listen to the melodies and want to play with the choruses. That’s same as before.” Kajiura says.
(Kajiura) “It’s bad that only I am enjoying myself. It’s also bad that only Chiaki is enjoying herself. It’s my basic premise that See-Saw is what both two of us are enjoying. For this, I think I must responsibly enjoy myself first. I think it is most important that I’m keeping on burning something like my desire, not to starve it.

Chiaki was always facing a microphone, feeling that desire(style of the energy) when she was recording the new album.

(Chiaki) “Anyway, I get very serious when a song is right in front of my eyes. I can dedicate myself to singing because there is someone to understand that. I have big energy here (pointing her finger at her heart) all the time. In bad case,for example, that energy turns into anger. In good case, I get happy like an American. So I used to run 10 kilometers the day before a live. My energy sometimes comes out that much. I sometimes failed to lead my energy to proper direction. Now Kajiura’s songs are right in front of me. Much more energy is needed to sing them. I think every day is wonderful because I can dedicate to it. I’d like the listeners to feel that energy from the album.

Finally, I ask Kajiura “What is See-Saw for you?” and she replies
“See-Saw is my starting point. I don’t want to think of getting it out of my life plan. Even if there will be an absence of some years, even if I become 60 years old, I want to meet her again somewhere and ask her “Let’s give it a try again!” In this way I want to put See-Saw somewhere in my mind. This is my dream.”

“I have a dream kawaranai hibi no naka ni chiisana yume sagasituzukeru…”
(I have a dream. I keep on searching for tiny dreams in regular daily life…)

This sentence is written on the jacket of their first album “I HAVE A DREAM”. See-Saw began to swim freely with that album, and after 10 years, they are about to take a step into new “Dream Field” now. And, only they know what is seen on the edge of horizon.