After selling more than 50 million CDs and achieving numerous chart-topping hits in her successful singing career, Japanese pop diva Ayumi Hamasaki confesses she has one regret in life - dropping out of high school.
"I was kind of a tomboy, and I liked to be alone. I was a strange kid. I'm not sure if you guys know, but I quit high school early. That's really one of my regrets. I want to say to all students out there, just enjoy (your time in school) and do not give up," says Hamasaki in fluent English at a press conference in Singapore on Friday afternoon.
Hamasaki, 36, is performing here at Saturday's A-Nation concert at Marina Bay Sands, the first time the long-running Japanese summer music festival is held in Singapore. It is only her second time here for a show, 12 years after singing at the MTV Asia Music Awards.
The reigning queen of J-pop is unfazed by the fierce competition from global music acts, especially in light of the Korean wave. "I don't really care if it's trendy or not. I (stick) to my own style," says Hamasaki, who got married to a 26-year-old American medical student in February.
Besides, she adds, music is her life.
"If I really wanted to quit, I would have already done so. I'm still here. I can't picture a life without music."
Also on the A-Nation line-up are Japanese acts m-flo, Sonar Pocket, Generations and Wagakki Band.
Joining Hamasaki at the press conference at Marina Bay Sands' Sands Theatre were hip-hop duo m-flo, comprising rapper Verbal, and DJ Taku Takahashi.
The two attended the same international high school in Tokyo and reminisced about their student days. Taku, 40, gently pokes fun at his partner, saying: "Verbal was always talkative, just like his name. He was always saying funny, and he still does so."