On Smash Hit ‘Dai Zero Kan,’ Latest Tour – Billboard
Animated film FIRST SLAM DUNK was a resounding success in Japan, grossing over 12.2 billion yen at the box office (as of March 21, 2023). Due to its success, the film’s ending theme, 10-FEET’s “Dai Zero Kan” has remained in the top 10 of the Billboard JAPAN Hot 100 song chart for 12 consecutive weeks.
Japan billboard spoke with TAKUMA, vocalist and guitarist of 10-FEET, about the thoughts he put into creating the film’s theme song and music, his experiences working with director Takehiko Inoue, his co-composer Satoshi Takebe, and more. Monthly series of articles dedicated to outstanding artists and contemporary works.
Your “10-FEET ‘Collins’ TOUR 2023” started on January 16th. How excited are the fans and how motivated is the band?
For about three years, entertainment wasn’t what it should have been, so now it seems like all that pent-up excitement has really come to the fore. I think there are fans who are having fun thinking that live performances are possible again, and there are others who come to concerts more passionately – more impulsively. It feels like the live performance scene is back.
Has your attitude towards live performances changed due to the pandemic?
It’s been three years since people could actually stand shoulder to shoulder on a show. I’m sure there are people who think, “Is this really normal?” So we need to play music and put on really powerful shows that sweep away those fears and tensions. I think if we succeed, we can turn these fears and tension into drive and excitement.
It’s been about three months since the film’s release. FIRST SLAM DUNK came out. What was the reaction around you?
Several old friends contacted me again and it was great.
Looking at the comments on the music video, it seems like there are listeners all over the world. What do you think about the fact that your music went beyond Japan and reached people all over the world?
The lyrics are almost entirely in Japanese, so I find it strange that people listen to it outside of Japan.
It was in the top 10 of the Billboard JAPAN charts for several weeks. I think it shows that he brought you a lot of new listeners.
I’ve heard a lot of people say they’ve never heard of us before, or that they’ve heard one of our songs for the first time, and that’s a great honor. We have been playing music all this time in the hope that many people will hear and enjoy our music.
You had several other potential theme songs such as “SLAM”, “Blind Man” and “Shinkaigyo”. Why did you decide that “Dai Zero Kan” is the best fit for the theme song?
Personally, I think all of them would be great. We presented the crew with eight or ten songs as potential themes. However, each time the director and music director said the song didn’t fit their image for the film. Then, one day, a musical group asked us for music for one of the scenes with the Sleeve. So we renamed “Odanshi” (the song that later became “Dai Zero Kan”) to “Rukawa Odanshi” and sent it. (Laughs). Director Inoue said that “Rukawa Odanshi” was like a bolt from the blue. It looks like both the music director and the music producer said, “That’s it,” too. We made some additional changes to the arrangement of “Rukawa Odanshi” and that’s how it became the “Dai Zero Kan” that we have now. I didn’t originally plan for “Dai Zero Kan” to be sung by 10-FEET or as a solo song, so I just wrote it the way I felt without thinking about it. I wrote it right after the pandemic started and I just wanted something really danceable and hardcore.
For a while, it was in the top 20 of Billboard JAPAN’s “TikTok Weekly Top 20” for weeks at a time. Looking back, what do you think of how it was received?
We’re lucky that the movie made the catchy tune popular on TikTok. I think the key part of the melody of the chorus is its rhythm. For example, in “Scatman” the melody and rhythm of the “ski-ba-bop-ba-dop-bop” part is really unique, isn’t it? Ever since I first started playing in a band, I’ve always liked those rhythms and melodies that if you hear them all day, you’ll remember them for the rest of your life. That’s why I was able to take such a rhythmic sensibility from Western music, write lyrics in Japanese, and create more original music with 10-FEET. I think that the rhythm together with the tempo of the text is about 90%, and the melodic elements make up the other 10%.
I understand. I would also like to ask you a little about the accompanying music. When you wrote the music, did you intend to express the feelings of the members of Shohoku and Sannoh, or convey the feeling of the game itself from a more objective point of view?
As for the music, I thought about how to express the concept of Inoue’s film in a musical form. For example, when Inoue asked me to write music to use when Kohoku was on edge, I wrote what I envisioned as music that would embody being in the middle of a crisis. Then when I played it for Inoue, he expanded on his concept of the scene, saying, “The feeling of Kohoku being in crisis really feels good, but in this scene, Sanno also goes on the offensive. Sanno are not just villains, they are a really powerful and cool team. So this scene is also an exciting scene in which Sannoh hit the attack zone with all his might.” So then I would come back later with new music and say, “I think that’s the feeling you’re looking for. What do you think?”
On “Slash Snake”, the snare drum sounded like dribbling.
Sound designer Koji Kasamatsu edited the music I provided. For example, snare drums often occupy the same frequencies as the voices of people – the lines spoken by the characters. I think he paid a lot of attention to where the snares would be heard, adjusting their volume, levels, EQ, range and such. In rock and music like ours, you will often hear snare drums all the time, but he did a great job of correcting and editing those elements. If there were scenes where the trap was in sync with the dribbling, it would have to be related to Kasamatsu’s magic.
In the film’s climax, the scene where “ZERO’s Double Crutch” is used is highlighted by how he uses “stillness” and “movement” for various effects.
I think there should be a lot of switching between when the instruments are really packed and when they’re sparse, when the sound really pushes you and when it’s more open, when it’s quiet, and when it makes a dramatic, floating impression. It was my first time making this kind of music, but no matter how long it took, it was never a chore. It was time consuming but also extremely useful, so I created and presented a lot of music.
So, this was your first experience of writing random music.
This time I wrote music for SLAM DUNK, this is a manga that I really liked. If I were asked to create music for a film adaptation of a work that I was not yet familiar with, I would like to check the original on which it was based, film adaptation, TV adaptation, anime adaptation, and the like. . I would like to really internalize this story – make it a part of me – before writing music for it. I don’t have the experience yet of starting from scratch with a production team and creating a result using my own feelings. If given the opportunity to do so, I would love to try it.
When you were making music with Satoshi Takebe, was there any direction or discussions that stood out to you?
He really was a wonderful teacher. I was a little nervous, thinking that if I got too excited and responded passionately, I might come across as rude and I would make him angry or upset. But Takebe took the lead, saying, “You should talk more.” He started by creating an environment where I could speak freely, and since then we have been able to really exchange ideas.
In conclusion, what do you hope to do in 2023?
In 2023, I want to go back to basics and study music again from scratch, relearn musically. If you’re always working with music, you may overlook this passion and impulsiveness. I really want to bring those feelings back to the fore.
—This interview by Tatsuya Tanami first appeared on Billboard Japan.