An exciting and full of energy performance was brought to HYPER JAPAN Summer 2017 in London last weekend! Thanks to the modern electronic trio, REOL, we had an excellent time at HYPER JAPAN! After the show on Saturday, JROCK NEWS were lucky enough to sit down with these elegant and stylish people to have a chat about their history, past and new music, and also their future plans.
Before we move on, please note that REOL as a unit of three is written out with capital letters, while “Reol” refers to the lead singer.
You’re a unit consisting of different expertise, vocalist Reol, music composer Giga, and movie creator Okiku. How did you guys meet?
Reol: We found each other on the internet about five years ago, back when we were all doing our own separate things. We found out about each other through the video website Niconico (similar to YouTube) when watching and enjoying each other’s work. So I was listening to Giga’s music, Giga was listening to my vocals through my cover songs, and Okiku was creating music videos which we both found very intriguing! I ended up initiating contact through Twitter, and it all sparked from there.
Since each member of REOL has their own expertise, what is your process in making all these components fit together?
Reol: I tend to write the lyrics while the music is created as a group effort. Giga arranges the music and Okiku is then able to direct and create a fitting music video. We try not to step on each other’s toes and work on our own parts only.
You recently signed to the record label TOY’S FACTORY and also released your major debut album SIGMA (Σ), has it created any major difference in your musical career?
Reol: Music… is now work. [laugh] We’re able to make a living out of it. Back in the days when we started collaborating together, we were only students, so it was a massive life changing opportunity.
Before you signed to TOY’S FACTORY, you used illustrations as your avatar to keep your identity hidden. A lot of utaite (vocal cover artists) seem to be doing the same, but recently established utaite finally revealed their faces (like nano, alfakyun., kradness and more). Now you’re one of them too! How does it feel that so many people are able to recognize your face, not just your avatar?
Reol: At first, I only made music as a hobby while being a student, because of that, it wouldn’t really be appropriate for me to show my face publicly. I didn’t know if I wanted to pursue my career as a musician at that time. Now that I’m signed with TOY’S FACTORY, we decided we would reveal our faces and open up all those opportunities that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to take part of.
Some of Reol’s past avatars.
You mentioned music being only a hobby at first. How was the transition going from a hobby musician into a position where you are able to make a living from? Wasn’t there a huge contrast coming from a studio environment to an actual live performance setting?
Reol: Music came to be my hobby when I was in elementary school (second grade), back when I started playing the trumpet. I’ve been performing live in front of people with my trumpet and piano before, so the transition was quite natural for me. Once my interest in classical music started to fade in high school, I instead started to perform in bands as a vocalist. All of this created a seamless and natural transition for me.
Speaking of live performances, how was the show which you just finished performing? The response from the fans was crazy! The audience chanted and sang along energetically throughout your entire performance!
Reol: Yes, the audience had a great enthusiasm and were really energetic! I prepared an English speech for my MC, although my mind went blank during the live show and I totally forgot what to say. I continued by speaking Japanese instead and tried to communicate with the audience, even though not everyone understood what I said, they still tried to listen to what I had to say which I’m grateful for.
Your song Give me a break Stop now was very well received tonight, what was the biggest inspiration for the song? What message did you want to convey with it?
Reol: When I feel down, that’s usually when I get into the mood of making music. I haven’t really explored too much in the area of frustrations and anger that I feel, so Give me a break Stop now is a song for me to convey my frustration towards the world or even just small insignificant things.
How about the visual aspects of things?
Okiku: Eh? I can’t come up with anything in particular really.
Okiku: Well, I wanted to make a music video which was memorable, not only one where Reol’s face was simply just shown.
The music you produced in the past had a bit more “band approach” to it in terms of instruments, but the current REOL focuses on EDM. What made you decide on this approach?
Reol: My approach in music changed when I met Giga. I was unaware of the so-called “desktop music” genre at the time (where synthesizers and Vocaloids are typically used). He introduced me to a lot of it and gave me recommendations. Since we decided we would work together, we tried to incorporate his elements as well.
You all have a background tied to Hatsune Miku, whether you covered Vocaloid music before, utilized Vocaloid in music production, or made videos for Vocaloid-related music. In what way has Hatsune Miku’s popularity impacted how Japanese music is perceived globally?
Reol: Do you want to answer this Giga? No?
Giga: [Silent giggle]
Reol: Oh well… [laugh] For me at least, through this persona people have been able to portray an unlimited amount of characteristics to Hatsune Miku. She’s not tied to any anime or specific setting that poses any kind of restrictions. This makes it possible for anyone to connect through the medium of “Hatsune Miku”. I think for this reason it’s quite understanding that her growth in popularity around the world has been able to spring to life.
We were told by HYPER JAPAN they found your music through our website, we’re really happy to be able to take part in your international success! Do you have any plans on continuing expanding outside Japan? If yes, how are you planning to do it?
Reol: We don’t have any future plans on performing abroad at the moment, but we would like as many people to enjoy our music regardless of where they live, that itself would make us really happy. We’re happy to receive any invitations from overseas.
That is a bit sad to hear.
Reol: Unfortunately, that is the case since we don’t know our schedule so far ahead. We recently performed in Korea, and I personally performed in Shanghai about two years ago. The audience in Japan tend to be quite shy, seeing the energetic fans abroad was a real contrast compared to at home. If the opportunity arises, I would definitely want to go back!
So any other plans that lie ahead for REOL?
Reol: Right… What plans do we have? [laugh]
You tell me! [laugh]
Reol: We never expected such a great outcome as this when we first started, I’m very grateful for this. All we can say is that we will carry on making good music for all our fans out there.
Since we are in London right now, we’re curious to hear if you’ve been here before?
Reol: Nope! This is our first time!
What was your first impression?
Reol: I really like the climate here, it’s great! We also noticed people here eat a lot of potatoes, while at home, our staple food is rice.
Yes, we do eat a lot of potatoes here! Are there any Japanese dishes you would like to introduce our readers to?
Reol: Ah! I really like nasu no agebitashi (なすの揚げ浸し “deep-fried eggplant in light broth”)! And I really like jagaimo no shouyuni (じゃがいもの醤油煮 “boiled potatoes in a starchy soy sauce”).
Giga: Hm… Steak… Ah, wait that’s not it, Japanese food, right?
Reol: [Laugh] Yes, what Japanese food are you currently in fond of?
Giga: Tonjiru (豚汁 “Japanese pork and vegetable in miso soup” perfect for cold winters, but it’s currently July right now).
From left to right: Nasu no agebitashi, jagaimo no shouyuni, and tonjiru.
Before we call it a day, could you please give us an explanation for this mysterious promotion photo series (seen down below) which you guys used during the release of the album SIGMA? We are dying to know!
Okiku: [Surprised] Huuuh?
Reol: [Laugh] Yes, we will gladly explain it. I tried to kill Giga, but he survived and returned the favor by attacking me instead with a daikon (radish) while biting a leek.
Okiku seems to be standing there calmly though?
Reol: Yes, because she’s the true murderer here! It only looked like we killed each other, but in actuality, it was her all along. [laugh]
Giga: Precisely, that’s how it went down.
Okiku: Yeah, something like that.
While the unit’s future plans are still unknown, we can’t wait to see how they will grow both musically and as individuals! We truly hope to catch their future live performances in the very near future and relive the joy and fun we experienced during their live shows in London! We want to thank HYPER JAPAN and REOL for giving us this opportunity, we hope you enjoyed our silly talk with the trio.
Buy at CDJapan
Buy at CDJapan