Sakamoto says You's 'A Very Private Night' is not a rip-off

Singer and songwriter You Hee-yul [ANTENNA MUSIC]

Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto said he believes Korean singer and songwriter You Hee-yul’s “A Very Private Night” has “similarities” to his piece “aqua” but does not think “it is on the level of requiring any legal actions to protect my piece.”

Antenna Music, the label founded by You, released a statement on June 20 that includes Sakamoto’s response to the recent claim that You “ripped off” Sakamoto’s song “aqua.”

“I appreciate my fan who reported the incident to me and Mr. You’s honest intention to speak publicly about the song,” Sakamoto said. “I can see great respect for my composition. I have some pieces that I have obvious strong influences from Bach and Debussy, whom I love, respect, and from whom I have learned a lot. I don’t mean to put myself on the same level as Bach and Debussy, so please don’t get me wrong.”

Admitting that the two songs have similarities, You issued an apology on June 15, a day after the label received a message via Instagram complaining that You’s song is a “rip-off.” Antenna Music said it instantly reached out to Sakamoto and said it received a response back and is “disclosing the content to show how the incident has been resolved.” You said in his apology that he’s a longtime fan of Sakamoto and has been influenced by the music.

Sakamoto continued to say that “every creation is influenced by existing arts. It would be great and appreciated if you could put five to 10 percent of your originality into it. That is my long-term opinion. I am still trying my best to raise my originality percentage on every music I create, which is challenging. But that makes the art beautiful, I think.”

It Music Creative, a company operating Sakamoto's social projects in Korea, also released a statement on June 20 saying that they became aware of the incident as “someone from Korea sent us a YouTube link claiming “someone ripped off your song ‘aqua' a while ago.”

“Ryuichi and our team checked it immediately and confirmed the ‘similarity’ between the songs. However, from the music analysis point of view, the melody and the chord progression don’t suggest it is a ‘rip-off,’” the label said. “We often receive similar reports and claims by fans worldwide, so we look at each case closely to determine if we need to take any legal actions. As we said, we don’t think we need to take any action against Mr. You’s composition for the above reasons. We think Ryuichi said it all.”

Yoo was scheduled to release an LP of eight tracks, including "A Private Night" this month. Yoo said that the release of the LP has been postponed indefinitely and that issues such as credits for the song will also be sorted out.