Sisters Rei and Aya of BRATS were kind enough to answer our questions on the eve of the release of their highly anticipated album Karma. Notably, an album title that suggests the actions they have taken up until now will decide their fate. Before the two sisters from Tokyo were old enough to drive a car, they toiled with musical direction and commercial image. Until finally becoming a powerhouse of hard rock fused by their talent and genuine selves. With that, they tap into a raw, punk vibe that bursts with an aggressive sound and chaotic harmony. Now we catch up with them since our last chat at Animé LA to learn about their evolution and out how they’re working through the global pandemic.


Both of you have had quite the journey in your career and development as musicians. How has the sound of BRATS music evolved from being “reborn” in December 2016 to now with the new album “Karma”?

Rei: I think we’ve become a completely different band after being “reborn”. We were able to create our own goals, raise our technical level, and express ourselves in our own way with complete freedom.

Aya: Compared to before, we’re much more in sync with each other and with the other musicians we’re working with. Our sound is heavier too.

Indeed, there are songs on the album that are intense but indicate vulnerability. Speaking of being in sync among musicians, we are in a year where musicians are grappling with the coronavirus pandemic. What was the most challenging part of recording in these difficult times? What did you learn about yourself during this time?

Rei: Because we had to suspend recording due to COVID-19, it was difficult at first to keep our motivation up. We realized the importance of concerts and recording because we were unable to do those things. I can’t live without having music as a place to express myself. I would die.

Aya: Most of the rhythm parts were finished before COVID-19 affected us, so I think the the guitar and vocal parts were under more pressure. Personally, the most difficult song for me to perform was Toge—I really wanted to put all of my emotions into that recording. The self-quarantine period made me realize more than ever how thankful I am to be able to play music.

For sure, these days anyone who is in lockdown or social distancing, we have been feeling isolated and looking for a connection. Much like the latest song “Forget me not” which has those intense and raw emotions. How do you feel when you express such powerful feelings through your music?

Rei: It’s important to me to show that there is truth in dark emotions, too. We can’t just be girls showing “nice” things all the time. We all have different passions inside us, and I want to express every emotion honestly, even the ones that aren’t what you’d normally share out loud.

Aya: In sort of the same way, the intense lyrics and the emotions of the song affect the way I play it. When you’re really feeling the energy of a song like this, it goes all through your body even to your fingers, and that changes the technique of how you play. The key to playing this song is staying close to these emotions.

Yet on a positive note, you got some nice feedback this year with the contributions for the “Ms. Downer (Fan Version)” music video. How did you react to the video submissions from the fans?

Rei: I think it came together in a really fun way, and it brought some positive energy to everyone during the COVID-19 self-quarantine period. I was happy to see our fans enjoying themselves with the song.

Aya: It was an idea that our producer came up with, and at first I was worried if anyone would make a video, because it was such a stressful time. But now I’m so glad we did it. We received strength from it as well.

BRATS-Karma-Interview-2020-Aya-5

“I really wanted to put all of my emotions into that recording” – Aya on Toge

Now back to the album, you have four versions for fans to choose from with limited editions including a band score. What songs do you look forward to seeing other musicians covering on YouTube? Do you have any advice for them?

Rei: Hmm, I’m not sure which one I’d like to see first. I’ll be happy to see anything that gets uploaded by fans. I want to see which songs they’re most passionate about.

Aya: We worked hard making the score for the bass guitar, so I’d like to see covers for all our songs!

Recently, you performed three shows online with limited live audiences and worldwide livestreams. What was it like doing a performance under those conditions?

Rei: The live concert on September 13 felt weird because it was our first time performing without an audience. At that time, I thought about how I could connect with whoever was watching, but in reality, I can never think too much when I’m singing. I just focus on myself and expressing my true feelings. When we didn’t have an audience, I imagined seeing myself from the perspective of the audience who would be in those seats and watching through the camera. It brought out feelings I’d never experienced before.

Aya: It was such a new experience for me. Without a live audience, I think we relied on each other more to keep our energy up. But it was still fun as always. I knew people were receiving our music from maybe “anywhere”, so it felt unlimited.

As someone who was watching, I did have fun. Thank you so much for delivering those performances. Finally, though you haven’t been able to tour as much this year, how do you plan to keep a strong connection with your fans in Japan and overseas?

Aya: I’d like to keep our connection going through social media and live streams.

Rei: There’s no way to predict how things are going to go in the future. Until we can play again for our fans, we’ll keep practicing and creating new music. I wouldn’t know what else to do.

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“I was happy to see our fans enjoying themselves” – Rei on the submissions for Ms. Downer


We want to thank Resonance Media for making this interview possible, and BRATS members Rei and Aya for taking their time to answer our questions. Their new album drops today, September 30, so go check it out.

Karma

Type A
CD
  1. Forget me not
    Forget me not
  2. Toge
  3. No more No more
    No more No more
  4. Excuser
    エクスキューザー
  5. Fate
    Fate
  6. Ms. Downer
    Ms. Downer
  7. Jigyakusei Loop
    自虐性Loop
  8. Kimarigoto (Version 2020)
    決まりごと-Version 2020-
  9. Lost Place (Version 2020) [2018 album track Re-Mix]
    Lost Place -Version 2020-(1stAL収録曲Re-Mix)
  10. Doudatte Yokatta (Live Version 2020) [2018 album track]
    どうだってよかった -Live Version 2020-(1stAL収録曲LIVE)
  11. Kimarigoto (Live Version 2020) [2018 album track]
    決まりごと -Live Version 2020-(1stAL収録曲LIVE)
DVD
  1. Forget me not (MV)
    Forget me not (MV)
  2. No more No more (Live/2020)
    No more No more (LIVE/2020)
  3. Ms. Downer (Live/2020)
    Ms. Downer (LIVE/2020)
  4. Excuser (Live/2020)
    エクスキューザー (LIVE/2020)
Buy at CDJapan Amazon HMV
Stream on Apple Music Spotify Google Play Music

Karma

Type B
CD
  1. Forget me not
    Forget me not
  2. Toge
  3. No more No more
    No more No more
  4. Excuser
    エクスキューザー
  5. Fate
    Fate
  6. Ms. Downer
    Ms. Downer
  7. Jigyakusei Loop
    自虐性Loop
  8. Kimarigoto (Version 2020)
    決まりごと-Version 2020-
  9. No more No more (Live)
    No more No more (Live)
  10. Ms. Downer (Live)
    Ms. Downer (Live)
  11. Excuser (Live)
    エクスキューザー (Live)
DVD
  1. No more No more (MV)
    No more No more (MV)
  2. Jigyakusei Loop (MV)
    自虐性Loop (MV)
  3. Ms. Downer (MV)
    Ms. Downer (MV)
  4. Toge (MV)
    棘 (MV)
Buy at CDJapan Amazon HMV
Stream on Apple Music Spotify Google Play Music

Karma

Limited edition with music sheet
CD
  1. Forget me not
    Forget me not
  2. Toge
  3. No more No more
    No more No more
  4. Excuser
    エクスキューザー
  5. Fate
    Fate
  6. Ms. Downer
    Ms. Downer
  7. Jigyakusei Loop
    自虐性Loop
  8. Kimarigoto (Version 2020)
    決まりごと-Version 2020-
Goods
  • Music Sheet
    Music Sheet
Buy at CDJapan Amazon HMV
Stream on Apple Music Spotify Google Play Music

Karma

Limited edition with music sheet download
CD
  1. Forget me not
    Forget me not
  2. Toge
  3. No more No more
    No more No more
  4. Excuser
    エクスキューザー
  5. Fate
    Fate
  6. Ms. Downer
    Ms. Downer
  7. Jigyakusei Loop
    自虐性Loop
  8. Kimarigoto (Version 2020)
    決まりごと-Version 2020-
Goods
  • Music Sheet download link
    Music Sheet download link
Buy at CDJapan Amazon HMV
Stream on Apple Music Spotify Google Play Music
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