Anime Expo is the largest anime convention in North America, bringing together fans of Japanese anime, pop culture, fashion, and music from all over the world—so naturally it was the perfect setting to host the panel Conversation with Yoshiki.

Held on July 2, YOSHIKI attended as a Guest of Honor to meet his fans and talk about a few of his many projects such as X Japan, THE LAST ROCKSTARS, and composing music for anime such as Attack on Titan. Last but not least, he unveiled the cover art for his new song REQUIEM, illustrated by Yoshitaka Amano.

Two legends join forces

In truth, the fun began even before YOSHIKI’s panel. Scheduled immediately before Conversations with Yoshiki was a panel with Yoshitaka Amano, a visual artist who has worked on an incredible range and variety of projects. He may be best known for his illustration and designs for the Final Fantasy series, Vampire Hunter D, Gatchaman, and Casshern, among numerous others.

At the very end of that session, YOSHIKI made a surprise appearance so that they could announce their collaboration together. As YOSHIKI tells it, they had been discussing possibly doing a project together around a year ago, but then discovered by pure coincidence that they had been invited to Anime Expo on the same day, and that was how the project began.

Yoshitaka Amano and YOSHIKI reveal their secret collaboration

The artwork he created for REQUIEM re-imagines YOSHIKI as an angelic figure with stylized wings. Cradled between his hands is a rose that represents his mother’s spirit.  Amano said that he created the piece while listening to YOSHIKI’s music and when asked how he wants people to feel while looking at the artwork, he responded, “However they want to feel”.

When describing the painting to the audience, YOSHIKI said he was “So happy. It makes me want to cry, in a good way”.

The masterpiece created by Yoshitaka Amano for YOSHIKI ‘s “REQUIEM”

YOSHIKI’s heartfelt homage

The song REQUIEM is written for YOSHIKI ‘s mother, who passed away in May of 2022.

With a gentle smile on his face, YOSHIKI recalled the devastation he endured at the loss of his mother:

I went to several doctors. Can you stop my tears? Are there any medications or anything? They said “No, no medication can stop your crying”. So then eventually as I started playing the piano, I just started writing a song like “Wow, my tears are somehow becoming memories… Okay, I’m gonna start writing songs”. So that’s the song called REQUIEM. It’s still in progress, I just filmed the new versions yesterday, or day before yesterday, in Tokyo, on TV.  I cried a lot.

"Requiem" at Music Day 2023 on Live TV. YOSHIKI performs for his late Mother unreleased song.

Halfway through the video of YOSHIKI’s REQUIEM performance, a clip played on-screen behind the superstar, showing him with his mother. He shared the story behind that photo. It had been taken at the time when he composed the 10th anniversary piano concert for the Emperor of Japan and had been invited to the palace. He had asked if he could take his mother, of course. Adorably, he talked about how she had been so nervous that she asked YOSHIKI, “What happened?” and he responded, “Well, I composed the piano concert for them. You told me I could do it!”.

Avengers, Assemble!

In addition to talking about REQUIEM and the stunning artwork by Yoshitaka Amano, YOSHIKI ‘s panel went on to cover a variety of other projects.

In 2017 he planned to appear at Anime Expo for the screening of his documentary We Are X, but unfortunately was unable to make it due to his neck surgery.  He briefly touched on the topic of his health, keeping the subject light by joking that if he needs any more surgeries, he’ll ask to add some sort of lighting to make him look like Iron Man.

Speaking of Iron Man, the panel host switched topics to THE LAST ROCKSTARS, a band that he assembled, much like the Avengers. The superband, consisting of members YOSHIKI, HYDE, MIYAVI, and SUGIZO, released two singles and performed in Tokyo, New York, and Los Angeles earlier this year.

While YOSHIKI didn’t have any big announcements to share, he did let slip that he had been recording with THE LAST ROCKSTARS just a few days prior to the panel, so fans can keep their fingers crossed for something to look forward to in the future.

YOSHIKI’s musical journey in the anime world

Being at Anime Expo, there was no way he wouldn’t talk about anime. YOSHIKI named Astro Boy as one of his favorite anime from when he was growing up. He also touched on some of the music he had composed for television anime and movies, such as Red Swan, an earlier collaboration with HYDE, created for the third season of the Attack on Titan anime series.

"Red Swan" (Attack on Titan anime theme) - 進撃の巨人 Official Lyric Video YOSHIKI feat. HYDE

When asked about how he goes about composing music for these stories, he said he is very detail-oriented for each project. When he wrote Red Swan, he did a lot of research while watching the show. He knew that some people thought the song would be too slow or too much like a ballad, but he wanted to write something that people could sing about life.

Groundbreaking world tour

YOSHIKI also talked about his upcoming World Tour with Orchestra “Requiem”. He shared with the audience that he’s been practicing piano every day, and in addition to his rock music, he revealed that he had a chance to DJ recently.  In YOSHIKI ‘s own words: “It was cool”. All that said, he is thinking about possibly including the drums in this tour, mixing it up with his classical piano. He wants to try something that no one has done before.

This tour will include performances at Tokyo Garden Theater (Tokyo), Royal Albert Hall (London), Dolby Theater (Los Angeles), and Carnegie Hall (New York). It will be the first time a Japanese artist has headlined at all of these historic venues. You can check out a trailer for the world tour below:

"Yoshiki Classical World Tour with Orchestra 2023 REQUIEM". ワールドツアー2023"レクイエム"

X Japan’s long-awaited new song

Switching gears, the panel host asked YOSHIKI about his band X Japan. After a dramatic pause, YOSHIKI confirmed that X Japan’s first new song in eight years, Angel will be released on July 28.

YOSHIKI shared another vulnerable moment with the crowd as he explained the meaning behind the song:

I wrote this song when I was in New York, looking at all those skyscrapers. Then, you know, I had—not completely in the past—I had a death wish. Kind of strange. But, you know, since my father took his own life when I was a kid, I always had this kind of thing. It was like, if I could fly from the skyscrapers, just jump off the building or whatever, can I go to your place?  So that’s kind of… dark. At the same time, that’s how much I miss you.  That kind of song.

While X Japan’s version of the song won’t be out for another few weeks, they played a video of Angel YOSHIKI ver. for the fans gathered at the convention.

This song marks the first time YOSHIKI sang on TV, and though he has played drums and piano to crowds of thousands of people over the years, he was quite nervous about singing. Having always been surrounded by amazing vocalists, he was too shy to sing himself in the past. He told the crowd gathered at Anime Expo that on the TV show where he sang, he was dedicating the song to his mother, so he thought to himself, “You know what? I can sing”.

You can watch the clip below to hear YOSHIKI ‘s beautiful singing voice for yourself.

YOSHIKI sings 1st time on TV for his Mother ”Angel YOSHIKI ver” New Single "X JAPAN ver" out July 28

Unforgettable fan interaction

The panel ended with a short Q&A session, which descended into a bit of good-natured chaos. The first question was a request for an autograph, and the second question ended with everyone wanting to get into a selfie with YOSHIKI!

Always ready to please his fans, YOSHIKI walked down the runway that remained in the room from the Anime Expo fashion show that took place earlier that day. Fans swarmed to the front of the stage for the chance to be that much closer to their idol.

YOSHIKI takes a selfie with his fans

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