Interview with Cullen Omori about “The Diet” |



Interview with Cullen Omori about “The Diet”

Cullen Omori

元スミス・ウェスタンズのカレン・オオモリが、2作目となるソロ・アルバム『The Diet』を完成させた。典型的なポップ・ミュージックのストラクチャーを意識して制作された前作『New Misery』(2016年)とは異なり、ジョン・ケイルやジョージ・ハリソン、70年代のアート・ロックの影響を糧に、複雑なコード進行や構成の練られたコンポーズが披露されているのが今作の特徴。シカゴからロサンゼルスに拠点を移し、ルーニーの元メンバーでマルチ・インスト奏者のテイラー・ロック(エミット・ローズ、ニュー・ポルノグラファーズetc)との共同作業のもと、ソングライターとしての成熟をかたちにした作品になっている。「僕の音楽におけるゴールは、誰かを侮辱したり不当に利益を得たりすることじゃなく、最善を尽くし続けるということだけなんだ」――今回の制作の背景について、メール・インタヴューで話を聞いてみた。

――前作の『New Misery』以降、今回のニュー・アルバム『The Diet』の制作に至るまでには様々なネガティヴな出来事、トラブル(※失恋、交通事故etc)に見舞われることがあったと聞きました。ただ、そうした経験が、あなたをより強い思いで音楽へと向かわせた部分もあったのではないかと想像しますが、この2年半はあなたにとってどんな時間でしたか。


――前作『New Misery』の収録曲のなかにはスミス・ウェスタンズ在籍時に曲作りが行われていたものもあったということで、そう意味では、心境として今回の『The Diet』がカレン・オオモリにとって正真正銘のソロ・デビュー・アルバムである、という言い方もできるのではないかと思います。今回の『The Diet』はあなたにとってどんなアルバムになりましたか。フィーリングの部分で、今回の『The Diet』を作る上で大事にしていたこととはどんなことでしょうか。

Cullen「『New Misery』にスミス・ウェスタンズの古い曲を持ち込んだりはしていないよ。だからこれが“1枚目”の公式アルバムじゃない。ただ、この盤で自分の立ち位置がわかったし、『New Misery』以上の激しい衝動を刻むことができたと思う。僕が人生において唯一知っていたバンドであるスミス・ウェスタンズを抜けて、そのメンバーとでは一緒にやることができなかったことをただやっただけなんだ。『The Diet』では自分の音楽へのヴィジョンをより整然と表現することができたと思う」

——I’ve heard that before “The Diet” come out, you have encountered some troubles while making “New Misery”. Do you consider that as a good experience as you go along the way of pursuing your music? What do you think about the past two and a half years?

“ I don’t know if I’d necessarily consider them a positive influence in my music since a lot of these problems and misfortunate events made me almost want to give up and stop playing music. It’s hard when something you love and give your life to continues to disappoint. But I guess that’s the name of the game and something I accepted long ago when I started making music. The last 2 years have been about a lot of change, and more times than not that change that has been impressed upon me.”

——There are a few Smith Westerns songs included in “New Misery”, and that means “The Diet” is going to become your official debut album as Cullen Omori, right? What did you think about and how did you feel while making “The Diet”? What is the most crucial thing to you?

“ For “New Misery” I didn’t carry over any old songs from my Smith Westerns sessions; so it’s not the “first” official release. It’s more that I found my footing on this record and I was able to get out the more intense impulsions on “New Misery”. Coming out of a band, the only band I’d ever known, there were things I wanted to do just because I wasn’t able to do them before. On “The Diet “I feel I use a more measured hand in executing my vision for my music. “

――今回のソングライティングに関しては「ヴァース、コーラス、ヴァースとか、ラウド、クワイエット、ラウドといった典型的な曲のストラクチャーを避けたかった」そうですね。実際、対照的にポップ・ミュージックとしてのストラクチャーを意識し、ヴォーカルやコーラスが楽曲の前面に立てられていた前作『New Misery』の楽曲と比べると、『The Diet』の楽曲は複雑なコード進行、奥行きを感じさせるコンポーズが魅力であるように思います。今回のソングライティングにおいて、具体的に試みられたアイデアやアプローチとは? また、それを行う上で難しかったこととはどんなことでしたか。


――今回の『The Diet』は元ルーニーのテイラー・ロックと共にレコーディングが行われています。かれとの馴れ初めについて伺いたいのですが、ミュージシャンとしてのかれのどんなところに惹かれたのでしょうか。また、彼との共同作業でもっとも刺激的だったことはどんなことですか。


——Speaking of the process of songwriting, you were trying to avoid the stereotype of the repetition of “Verse, Chorus, Verse; Loud, Quiet, Loud” right? In comparison with your previous album New Misery, the songs from The Diet are more complicated and attractive with the progression of the chorus. How did you approach that specifically? Was there anything difficult for you while trying to accomplish that?

“ That philosophy came from me wanting to not make a hybrid of what I wanted to hear and what I thought people wanted to hear from me. So when you use those framings for songs you get something that is familiar and people can digest it easier. On this album I really didn’t care about connecting with an audience as much as I did with just writing the songs I liked. Which in some cases results in linear songs that don’t repeat and bridges within bridges on the album. “

——I know that you worked with Taylor Locke(vocal&guitar of Rooney) for the recording of the album. Were you familiar with him before? How is he attractive to you as artists? Do you remember anything exciting happening while working with him?

“ I had never met him before and wasn’t a fan of Rooney. I remember seeing there music videos play on the VH1 morning block as I got ready for middle school. He approached me after I played an acoustic set in LA that I kinda was cajoled into doing for a friend. I was really pissed about the whole situation and I thought the new songs, which was all I played, sounded bad but afterwards he came up to me while I was having a cigarette and that’s how we started working. “

Cullen Omori

――前作の『New Misery』においては、スミス・ウェスタンズの活動休止中に働いていた職場のラジオで流れていたというヒット・ソングが、あなたがポップ・ミュージックを意識して曲作りをする上で大きな動機づけになったと記事で読みました。あるいは、インスピレーションとなった音楽として、ロキシー・ミュージックやポール&オーツ、ケイト・ブッシュ、スパークスやサム・スミス、アデルの名前も挙げられていた記憶があります。では、今作についてはいかがでしょうか。曲作りにおいて参考になった、あるいはいい影響をもたらしてくれた音楽を教えてくれますか。






——I’ve read an article which suggests that you came to pop music mainly because you happened to hear this hit pop song on the radio while all the Smith Westerns activities were suspended. And you had been inspired by musicians such as Roxy Music, Paul & Oates, Kate Bush, Sparks, Sam Smith, and Adele. What is it like for you right now? Who is your biggest influence right now?

“Definitely John Cale of the Velvet Underground. Those first 3 solo records of his are solid gold. “

——So you have moved from Chicago to LA, right? Did the change of location affect your creative process? What is LA to you?

“ I’m afraid to really say whether the environment in which you are writing changes the music. I mean you could move to a totally different part of the same city and it might affect you more than a move across the country. I live in Laurel Canyon which is a super storied 60’s – 70’s music neighborhood that basically any one that makes music now has been priced out of for the past 20 years maybe more. I have a really unique living situation where I live in this one car garage sized back house that I can make loud ass music in and come and go as I please: and of course its cheap. “

——Besides you and Taylor Locke, were there also other musicians participated in your recording? If there were, would you please let us know their names?

“ Yes, there was a cast of different people that came and went while Taylor and I worked on the record. The engineer for the record was this amazing musician and engineer named Kyle. My friend who plays guitar in Fatal Jamz, Andreas Cary, was really great to have on the record. My brother Cameron also played bass on most of the record. It was cool to be back in the studio with him again since we hadn’t worked on music together since Smith Westerns broke up. “


Cullen「曲の意味をリスナーに押し付けないということが不可欠だと思っていた。自分の考えを押し付けすぎたら、歌詞のミステリアスな部分をぶっ壊してしまうんじゃないかな。歌詞の中に出てくる人物は僕じゃないし、少なくとも曲を書き始めた時はそういう想定はしていない。ソングライティングではいくつもの試みを試していて、『New Misery』の時にもそれはちゃんとできていたと思う。『On The Diet』では自分のパーソナルな問題や仕事の問題を親しみやすいラブソングに昇華することができたしね。歌詞を書いている時は自分の精神状態以外に何かテーマがあるかなんて到底わからないけど、このアルバムの歌詞は元カノとのことで自分の感情がどういう状態だったかを示すロードマップになっているかもしれないね」

――タイトルの「The Diet」にはどんな意味が込められているのでしょう。このフレーズによってあなたが伝えたかったフィーリングとは?

Cullen「このレコーディングの過程で、演奏してくれた他のミュージシャンたちを第一に考えたいと思った。『New Misery』の時は一人で手に余るほどのことをコントロールしたがっていたけど、自分のエゴを押しのけて、音楽をよくするためにコントロール欲を抑えることを学んだんだと思う。ツアーがぽしゃって、長く付き合っていた元カノが去って、他にも様々な問題が一度に噴出したから、曲を書く前にダイエットみたいなことになっていたんだ。つまり、幸せに飢えていたんだよ。その経験がアルバムの歌詞をより良いものにするための糧となって、相対的には正常値に戻ったってところかな」




Cullen「“Natural Woman”と”Four Years”。どちらも多分わりと直接的に自分のことを書いた曲で、元カノとの交際についての曲。女の子たちはいつだって僕を捨てていくんだよね」

――この『The Diet』が湛えている美しさ、力強いまでの感情表現、溢れ出るようなドリーミーでノスタルジックな感覚とは、いったいあなたのなかのどこから湧き出してくるものなのでしょうか。

Cullen「あからさまにノスタルジックなものにはしないよう気をつけたかな。古いレコードが持っている親しみやすさと、ちゃんと作られている感じが好きなんだ。その感じを自分のクリエイティヴの中に取り入れたかった。ジョン・レノンの” #9 Dream”の中にある夢見心地な気持ち良さが最初の発着点だった。でも同時に、これまでの中でも一番歪でヘビーなところがあるレコードだと思う」

——What is the main theme of the album? How did you deal with the lyrics and narratives? There are many love songs included and they have depicted various emotions in an implicit way. It almost feels like you are explaining the profound meaning to the listeners.At the same time, you seem to leave it up to each person.

“ I think its imperative that I don’t try to force my meaning of the songs onto the listeners. If I went out of my way to let the listener know what I’m trying to communicate I think it ruins some of the mystery of the lyrics. I’ve never been a lyrics guy or at least I didn’t start off as one when I started writing music. It took me multiple attempts in SW and even “New Misery” to get it right: or my version of what I thought was right. “On The Diet” I wanted to wrap up all my personal and professional problems and cloak them in the familiarity of a love song. I don’t know if there is a theme other than its a representation of my mental state at the time of writing it. The lyrics of the album could be a road map to my emotional state as well at times notes to my ex girlfriends. “

——What does the title The Diet mean? What kind of message and feeling do you want to express through the title?

“To me this recording process had me taking a back seat to other musicians we brought in to play. During the “New Misery” sessions I very much wanted to be solely in control, or as much as I could handle, and I think I learned to push my ego down and limit my control issues for the betterment of the music. Also I think that I went on a diet of sorts before I started writing the songs because I had my tour implode, my long term girlfriend leave me, and a host of other issues all flair up at once. I guess I was on a diet from happiness. And I think it was climbing back to a place of relative normalcy that I used to help feed the lyrics of the album. “

——Do you see political correctness appearing in your own creations as it is in all kinds of fields? Are you conscious of that? Are the lyrics some sort of reflection of the awareness of the problems you want to point at?

“ I started making music in my late teens and had started doing interviews and press when I was 20 so I’ve always been aware of saying something that can get you in trouble. I think with social media everyone is on a stage and depending what they do they can be called out for it. For my music my goal is to never insult or profit off of someone and I do my best to keep that a constant. “

——What is the most significant song so far and why? Which song is the one that you are most proud of as a songwriter and why?

“ Natural Woman and Four Years. Both are probably the only songs that aren’t in a roundabout way fully about me. Both were songs written about and to some degree for my ex girlfriends. Girls are always dumping me. “

——All the songs in The Diet are illustrating this dreamy and nostalgic atmosphere with overflowing emotions and feelings. Where did they come from and how did you capture them?

“I try to not make it overtly nostalgic. I like the familiarity and craftwork of these older records and I like to warp them to make them come into my orbit. A good starting place for that kind of dreaminess in the record is the John Lennon song #9 Dream. But I also think this is my most distorted record and at points heaviest record Ive done. “

Cullen Omori



――MV“Happiness Reigns”のテイストがとても好きです。キッチュでありながらクールであるというのは、ただクールな作品をつくるより難しいと思いますが、ディレクターのSarah Struninとはどのような話し合いをしたのでしょう。




——Would you please share some music that you consider as beautiful?

“ The new Alvvays record is a van favorite of mine. I also been re-listening to the first two Coldplay records which are great even thought I might not want to be caught listening to them. “

——I appreciate the music video for Happiness Reigns a lot. It must be very difficult to be seemed chill but cool at the same time as a piece of work. Would you share the concept of this? And Would you share the process of how you collaborate with the director Sarah Strunin?

“ It was a great experience, A lot of the concept for the video was overseen by Sarah. So Sarah definitely deserves the praise on this one. “

——What kind of impression do you have for Whitney now?

“I just saw Max when I went back to Chicago recently. We went to the bar to drink beers and watch the World Cup at like 9am. It was a good time. “


Cullen Omori
『The Diet』
(Big Nothing / Ultra Vibe)
1. Four Years 2. Borderline Friends 3. All By Yourself 4. Happiness Reigns 5. Master Eyes 6. Quiet Girl 7. Black Rainbow 8. Natural Woman 9. Millennial Geishas 10. Last Line 11. Queen 12. A Real You

Cullen Omori
Cullen Omoriは米シカゴのインディ・ロック・バンド、Smith Westernsのフロントマンとして音楽活動を開始した。Smith Westernsは2009年、HoZac Recordsよりアルバム『Smith Westerns』でデビュー。2011年にはセカンド・アルバム『Dye It Blonde』を Fat Possum Recordsよりリリース。このアルバムがPitchfork 他から高い評価を獲得し、ビルボードのチャートにランクインする等、大きな成功をおさめる。2013年にはサード・アルバム『Soft Will』をMom + Popよりリリースするも、2014年、バンドは解散。Cullen Omoriは一時的に音楽活動からは離れるも、その後、Sub Popと契約。Shane Stoneback(Cults、Vampire Weekend、Sleigh Bells他)のプロデューによるデビュー・アルバム『New Misery』を2016年の3月にリリースした。
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