Who: Japanese pop diva Ayumi Hamasaki, 36
The pint-sized 1.57m beauty proved her staying power in the fickle industry when she marked her 15th year in show business last year.
The reigning empress of J-pop has sold 50 million CDs and counting since her debut in 1998. According to Japanese music chart Oricon, her album sales hit the 50-million mark in 2012.
The model-turned-singer had numerous No. 1 hits on the Oricon charts throughout her career. Her first album, A Song For XX (1999), stayed at No. 1 for five weeks and her follow-up offering, Loveppears (1999), also topped the charts.
Netizens and the media are, however, abuzz over the decline of her recent album sales in the sluggish recording industry. Her 15th full-length album, Colours, performed comparatively poorer than her previous efforts – it sold about 39,000 copies in the first week of its release in July and debuted at No. 5 on the Oricon chart.
Still, the singer continues to make the headlines. Her latest shocker involved her second marriage to a 26-year-old American medical student in February. She was previously married to Austrian actor-model Manuel Schwarz, 32, for 12 months before they divorced in the United States in 2012.
Hamasaki will be in Singapore for a second time since her first performance 12 years ago at the MTV Asia Music Awards. She is part of the line-up at the A-Nation concert on Oct 18, the first time the long-running Japanese summer music festival is held in Singapore.
She tells Life! in an e-mail interview about married life and her music video collaboration with the club DJ persona of the mouthless character Hello Kitty.
Congratulations on your recent marriage. How do you juggle married life and work?
The secret to work-life balance for me is to be able to prioritise (my work and marriage commitments) clearly.
The tough part is having to travel between Japan and Los Angeles. That means jet lag is a constant problem.
You celebrated your 15th anniversary in show business last year and recently released your 15th full- length studio album, Colours. What keeps you going ?
I can’t picture a life without music. That’s how much I love it. I love songs. I love singing. That’s all there is to it.
You co-starred with DJ Hello Kitty in the music video for your single, Feel The Love (2013). What was it like shooting the music video with DJ Hello Kitty?
Having Hello Kitty in my video was a real blast. I don’t know if it’s okay to say this, but Hello Kitty was really friendly as well as a total professional. Of course, she can’t speak.
If you weren’t a singer, what career would you have chosen?
I often get asked this question, but I really can’t imagine myself doing anything else. However, even if I had led a different life, I’m sure I would be doing something I love for a living. I don’t last long doing something I don’t enjoy.
You look so youthful for your age. Can you share your beauty and fitness regimens and diet?
My secret is to always moisturise and keep warm. Feeling chilly is a woman’s worst enemy. And of course, I laugh a lot. That’s my biggest beauty weapon.
When I’m on tour, I get my chef to make me macrobiotic meals (made of high-fibre, low-fat foods) thrice a day.
For exercise, I love to do yoga, ballet and aerial training with a special programme tailored for my physical condition at any one time.
How does it feel to be back in Singapore to perform after more than a decade?
I’m really excited. It’s my second time performing in Singapore. My first time was at the MTV Asia Music Awards in 2002. But I’m sure there will be many people who have not seen my performances or heard my songs live.
My live performances are not just about the songs themselves – they are also about how I translate my music into a stage performance. That’s important to me.
My performance in Singapore this time will be no exception. I will be bringing my band, performance team and dancers with me. I’ll be showcasing electronic dance music tracks from my latest album, among others, so I’m really looking forward to having a great time with everyone.