Part of what makes Yagami Toll!!
Translation: Lola

Arai Yumi
-First album [Hikou-ki Gumo].
-Second album [MISSLIM].
-Third album [COBALT HOUR].
-Fourth album [The 14th Moon].

When did you first hear her music?
The first time I heard Arai Yumi was during an air check on the radio. I was probably in my first year of junior high.
It was around the time her single 'Ano hi ni kaeritai' (1) was on the top of the charts.
The first time I heard 'Ano hi ni kaeritai' I was aware that wow, she created a new kind of music with this single you know. In those days they called her a radical. But I personally thought she was a genius!! I recognized her talent instantly. When she debuted in 1972 she went by her maiden name Arai Yumi but that was only for about four years from 1972~1976 because after that she got married and became Matsutouya Yumi. So anyway I began listening to her once I heard 'Ano hi ni kaeritai'.

Which album really left an impression?
The second album [MISSLIM] especially. All of Arai's works are dark you know. It has this amazing underground feeling. Now I know how she did it but at the time I thought it sounded like a demo tape, like it was done with that sort of feel to it. But then her second album [MISSLIM] possessed a lighter pop feel compared to her first album [Hikou-ki Gumo] and I knew right then that this was something new in music. I didn't listen to this album when it came out, it was actually a little bit afterwards. Around the time when I had first bought the third and fourth album, I ordered it after buying the fourth.

Tell us about Arai Yumi-san, the person.
Of course I think she's a revolutionary when it comes to being a female Japanese singer and songwriter. Moreover Arai Yumi's a genius. Her writing debut was at age fifteen. She played backup piano as a session musician when she was 16~17. Then I think when she was around 18 years old she was approached by a record company to release something. But even though she was produced by Kamayatsu Hiroshi (2), her debut single 'Henji ha iranai' (3) was a flop and didn't sell. So before these albums she had one failed single see. Anyway, she didn't even manage to sell a thousand copies of her single so now that record is super rare. Then she tried again with an album, it was like a second debut. But with her first and second album she never really got a break, still she kept trying and finally, she got her break with her third album.
What's amazing too is that Yuming (4) had other great musicians do backup vocals for her. And that really helped draw attention to her voice.
First, there was Yoshida Minako-san I think, then, Yamashita Tatsurou-san (5). Hosono Haruomi-san (6) and Onuki Taeko-san (7) too. These people all sang in the chorus for Arai Yumi. In those days see, there weren't that many superior musicians around. So because of that, those who were superior sort of stuck together. And all the people who established the core for the Japanese pop scene were all around Yuming. So I'd say it was rather inevitable that she found such success. In any case, Arai Yumi will forever remain a part of me much in the same way The Beatles will as I said last time.

Notes: (1) Rough translation, 'I want to go back to that day'.
(2) Also known as "Monsieur" Kamayatsu. He is somewhat of a legend in Japan, and had many hits with his band 'The Spiders'. Now he and some former members of that band have formed a new group called 'Sans Filtre'.
(3) Rough translation, 'I don't need a reply'.
(4) Yuming is Arai Yumi's nickname.
(5) Singer/songwriter and record producer whose musical style was influenced by 1960s American pop and rock.
(6) Also known as Harry Hosono. He is most famous for being a member of 'Yellow Magic Orchestra', aka 'YMO'.
(7) She was part of the band 'Sugar Babe' along with Yamashita Tatsurou. Since 'Sugar Babe' broke up in 1976, she has enjoyed quite the successful solo career and in addition to being a songwriter she is also an author.