I began writing this short piece back in April 2019. Just realised it was half-written and languishing in draft format. Better late than never.
SCANDAL’s second phase.
It felt like not much had happened with the band from the middle of last year following an album released with (just) ten songs, one of which had been out in the form of a single and a best of record, as they did not seem to be doing a festival circuit. It was only after the short 感謝祭 tour celebrating their 10 years debut with Sony that it was announced at their Christmas show in Tōkyō that SCANDAL had formed an independent, or private label as they would put it, aptly named her, under the Victor record label.
As an avid music listener for all my adult life, I superficially know what an indie music label is. For one, it is not Sony, Warner or Universal. Being in an indie label can be better for the artiste from the royalty perspective. The artiste can have more say in what they produce or the artistic direction they would like to go. The drawback is, though, the relative lack of finances that can drive the artiste’s career if they are signed to a major label. Nevertheless, I believe the option of having more control of their creative output and managing a better return are what drove SCANDAL to make this jump.
Some fans were worried as this step of leaving a major may seem regressive. I also had some concerns as to their material recorded when they were with Sony as, for one, I don’t think they can buy the rights easily at this juncture. There were a few things that we as fans noted in the weeks after leaving Sony – how their official videos were taken off YouTube, and their music were not on streaming services like Spotify. However, we didn’t have to wait that long before things were back to normal.
Another potential area that was a tad worrying was tie-ins with other media, namely film, anime, TV dramas and the like. Not that SCANDAL had an abundant amount of tie-ins in the past with Sony (opening/ending themes in BLEACH and Fullmetal Alchemist as examples), but I have seen some bands signed to Sony that has 80% of the track listing of an album tied in to some thing or other. This concern was luckily unfounded with the release of Kiss from the darkness in which the lasses had their first anime tie-in for a long while with A.M.D.K.J. as the closing theme for the yōkai-filled anime, ゲゲゲの鬼太郎. Also, the first track of the record, Tonight, is SCANDAL’s first ever foray in the J-drama world, as it is the end credit theme for the night time (read: adult theme) TV Tokyo drama, 来世ではちゃんとします (lit. I will do it properly in the next life).
Worries aside, the freedom of the band’s song writing, music styles and outward appearance as individuals and as a group are notable. I have to admit that I did initially wonder if the image projected in HONEY (their last record with Sony) was perhaps a tad exploitative by the label, as opposed to the lasses independently wanting to show off their own freedom of expression, but looking at material released by her, namely the Vol.1 magazine that came with the マスターピース single, it is likely the latter .
As for other tie-ins, it is good to see that collaborative links with fashion names as well as Fender is still there for the band. Also, as an indie label, I would hope that her manages to reach out and sign new acts. It will be an exciting period for the band if/when they do so. And why not – we have seen SCANDAL’s impressive songwriting/production chops with the likes of Katahira Rina’s Party and Suzuki Airi’s STORY.
I quite like the new SCANDAL as they have really grown to be the band the want to be. Here’s to see what greater heights their her label can bring these lasses to. Ganbare!
That’s all that is left of the big recording companies now.