The exciting interview with Japanese Visual Metal continues with this being the second part. If you haven’t yet, make sure to catch up with part 1 right here.
We’ve invited guitarist Mana of Moi dix Mois, vocalist KAMIJO of Versailles, vocalist ASAGI of D, and vocalist Sono of Matenrou Opera, presenting a round-table discussion.
For this segment, the members take turns recounting their collective experiences from performing together on the “Japanese Visual Metal Tour”.
Could you tell us how you felt being able to perform with these four bands together?
ASAGI: I honestly feel like we would not have been able to do this if not for these four particular bands. While we all have our individual worldviews, there are mutual aspects as well. Because we feature those mutual aspects in “Kyousoukyoku ~Tanbinaru Kettou~”, I feel like this song has become something big. When it comes to lyrics and worldview, my usual style is to construct it by myself—I don’t usually write my lyrics together with someone else. So due to that, I don’t think this would have been possible if not for these four artists.
It is because we are able to respect one another that we can create together. I’m so glad KAMIJO got us involved. Since we’re going on hiatus too, I had the impression that we were able to cram in everything that we wouldn’t be able to if not right now.
KAMIJO: I’ve once again become keenly aware of Mana’s greatness. He embodies a strong sense of neutrality, right? He’s very warm but at the same time, there are moments when he’s extremely cold, that’s visual kei isn’t it? That’s why I watched his stage performance, thinking again how I need to truly watch and learn. Of course, there were many moments where I not only could learn but also felt a sharp impact from D and Moi dix Mois. This tour was truly stimulating. I think I want this to become my encouragement for Versailles, my solo works and all of my activities.
Sono: My impression of this tour was that it’s definitely not a usual collaborative event. I think it’s typical that fellow bands clash with the idea of winning over the others when multiple bands perform at the same show. I certainly had that feeling with this event too, but by the time I’d gotten up on stage, that feeling had turned into wanting this to succeed, because all the fans were incredibly welcoming.
The atmosphere wasn’t stiff. Maybe it also had to do with the energy that we emit as a band. Not only that, but also how the fans became friendly with each other as a result of exchanging words sparked by their love for similar music. I really felt that in my skin, that this tour has been a really great experience.
Mana: Before the live performances, KAMIJO and the others would say things like “Mana-sama has arrived”, I thought it was a little formal. However, once the tour started, everyone was lively in the dressing room and would be chit-chatting, and I also casually jumped into some commemorative photos [laughs]. I didn’t imagine myself being in those types of photos where you go “yay!”, but now and then, Sono posts one of those pictures [laughs].
Seeing those photos, I think the fans were also able to feel a joyful atmosphere. I think that through social media, we were able to convey that all the fellow bands were having fun together, rather than being in a tense environment. With that vibe, I felt it became an event with a strong sense of unity.
It seems you were able to clearly feel the fans’ support for all the bands. Please tell me about the appeal of every band that you felt anew while touring together.
KAMIJO: Firstly, during the tour, I had the opportunity to have in-depth conversations with each member of Moi dix Mois, and we talked quite a bit. Their resolution and admiration for Mana regarding their own roles is truly wonderful, so I thought I had to observe and learn from them. Taking that in, I strongly felt the value of the members. Moi dix Mois is Mana’s solo project and yet, I think their bond is wonderful.
As for D, ASAGI and I have a lot in common. ASAGI is the one I spent the most time on the phone with this year [laughs]. Actually, the phrase in “Kyousoukyoku ~Tanbinaru Kettou~” that goes “even without words, so long as we can hold each other’s hands” was actually included based on conversations with ASAGI. While we were talking, we would often tell each other “you don’t need to say more. I get it”. And from there, the phrase “even without words” came forth. When I wrote that down, I thought Mana doesn’t usually say much, so everything can be encapsulated with these words. Therefore, my emotional connection to that part is very strong, and I’m glad I was able to write such lyrics.
And as for Matenrou Opera, all the members are incredibly cute [laughs]. I got especially close with the guitarist Yusuke and he poked my thigh[laughs].
KAMIJO: Well, because he said “I’ve spent more time watching you in music videos than talking directly to you”, so I felt there was a large wall between us. Because I wanted to reach out more, I stuck out my thigh and he started poking it [laughs]. And so, we’ve become friendly at last…or something [laughs].
I’ve known Sono the longest from all the members in Matenrou Opera, but since I enjoy spending time with all of them, I think they’re all very cute [laughs].
Sono: I’ve already seen countless Versailles performances, but their formation during concerts and the way they charm their audience is amazing. They captivate every inch, down to the tips of their fingers, presenting everything beautifully. I’ve been studying it the entire time, so with drummer YUKI as well, I’m glad I was able to see this scenery here again from the side of the stage.
As for Moi dix Mois, I’ve only ever heard them from CDs, so I was really shocked that their performances were this aggressive. But there was beauty too, it’s a really unique worldview and I learned a lot.
For D, we held an event together quite recently, so I’ve watched them from the side a lot. I think the power which they pull from the audience is amazing, especially for the finale. I thought ASAGI’s spirit was formidable [laughs].
ASAGI: I’ve definitely put a lot of spirit in the finale [laughs].
Sono: You did [laughs]. I had to be in the dressing room for a bit during the finale and I watched you for a long time on the monitor, but even through a monitor, you were terrific. I’m glad I was able to see you like that.
ASAGI: Until the tour started, the leaders often gathered, so even during live performances, I found myself watching the leaders.
Versailles is an outstanding band, with KAMIJO’s significant presence. He properly brings out what he has cultivated on stage, and considering KAMIJO’s position as JVM’s producer, everything he thinks about and values in his daily life comes out on stage. It’s not a facade, it’s KAMIJO’s humanity, it’s the profound emotions he invests in the project. These aspects resonate directly with the audience, creating a deeply impactful performance that feels entirely authentic.
As for Matenrou Opera, I think that Sono is fantastic at singing. This time too, his high-tone vocals were so clear, it was amazing. The condition of the band he has assembled, and their sense of unity too, are wonderful. It’s great how they changed up their setlist for each concert, and the structure of their finale with the quiet opening felt very mature as well.
Sono: No, no, not at all [laughs].
ASAGI: It’s because we didn’t do a single ballad as D [laughs].
As for Moi dix Mois, Mana alone is super cool. He appeared in “Mad Tea Party” once, and I had the opportunity to share the stage with him in a session. However, standing together again, the experience was even more profound than before. I loved it back then too, but making music and going on tour together, the way I love it now is different from then, because I came to understand Mana’s greatness. As such, my admiration towards him is deeper now—it was a truly moving experience.
Mana: As for my impressions of everyone, starting off with Versailles, I’ve known KAMIJO for about 30 years now, although we haven’t really done any concerts together. But now, standing on the same stage together, while my memories came back of the KAMIJO from 30 years ago, I was incredibly moved that he’s still in a band like this, and we’re standing on stage together.
Matenrou Opera is very visual kei [laughs]. Sono’s high-tone vocals feel very German. Because I listen to German metal as well, my impression was that it closely resembled that of [the German power metal band] Helloween.
I felt a very thrash metal element in D. They also use a mysterious musical scale and I personally felt some Kerry King [the guitarist of the American thrash metal band, Slayer] in there?
ASAGI: I write a lot of the guitar riffs as well, and because I write them on the keyboard, the scale becomes a bit strange.
Mana: Is that so? It kind of felt like Kerry King; because there’s a lot of peculiar usage of sounds that I can’t quite put my finger on, and it has become a distinctive feature. Isn’t there also a song with a chorus that has these very low “Zoi! Zoi!” vocals in it? When this song starts during a live performance, the excitement goes up! I love death metal and Slayer, so it gets me pumped!
When I heard that song, I wondered how you achieved those vocals and when I asked the instrumental members about it, they told me it was your natural voice [laughs]. I was really surprised because I thought you’d altered the sound of your voice for it. This impression has stayed with me.
You’ve already shared quite a few anecdotes, but could you tell us about any memorable incidents during the tour?
Mana: There are a lot, definitely. Sono was always really fast with his preparations, so he’d just be walking around aimlessly [laughs]. I initially thought he might be doing TikTok or something, since he always walks around with his camera. But it turned out that wasn’t the case, but rather, he was just taking a lot of photos. Sono was always roaming the hallways as if taking commemorative pictures was his job…or something [laughs].
And after a while, I heard this amazingly bizarre voice. I thought it was the voice of a large siren [laughs]. Seth was in our dressing room, and it wasn’t Sono’s high voice, so I think it must have been KAMIJO’s or ASAGI’s.
KAMIJO: It was the both of us [laughs].
ASAGI: Inside the room, there were two hidden wolves howling [laughs].
Mana: So it was the two of you [laughs]. It was incredibly loud, and because I didn’t notice your arrival, I was really surprised [laughs]. Were you preparing your throats?
KAMIJO: Yes, we were.
ASAGI: I’m learning from a professional opera teacher, he’s taught me that before a concert I should prepare my throat and howl, or really, I should do it whenever I can.
KAMIJO: I’m so sorry for scaring you [laughs]. The impression that’s stuck with me is at the Nagoya show when Versailles and Matenrou Opera were dropping in, 11 people had gathered in [D’s drummer] HIROKI narrow single room [laughs].
ASAGI: That was nuts [laughs].
KAMIJO: I don’t really get it, but I guess everybody wanted to be together [laughs]. Some members are really busy, but I suppose that doesn’t go for everyone, it was pretty rowdy [laughs].
Sono: I saw a bottle of whiskey appear from somewhere at the end.
KAMIJO: It’s because one of the Versailles roadies had suddenly gone and bought whiskey. He opened it, gave everyone a glass. We drank it together, and Sono was an unparalleled drinker [laughs].
Sono: I don’t have any memories of whatever happened after that bottle appeared [laughs].
Everyone: [Big laughter]
KAMIJO: After the Osaka show had ended, although D’s schedule didn’t align with it, we went out for dinner with the other three bands. And like that, I ended up chatting with Seth until seven in the morning straight. It seems Seth overslept after that [laughs].
Mana: Yes. I had to call him [laughs]. I didn’t think he was going to come to the lobby, so he apologized when I called [laughs].
Everyone: [Big laughter]
Everyone seems really close. For this tour, along with having an audience where lots of them were in gothic lolita and cosplay, I could really feel the enthusiasm of the fans. How did you feel about that?
KAMIJO: We can’t persevere on music alone. Because expression is infinite, I give a warm welcome to cosplay. I really want people to come in all kinds of manners to our concerts. I’m really happy because of that.
Sono: I thought “I want to wear something extravagant too” [laughs]. Seeing the effort of the fans, I thought that if I were to wear something extravagant too, I could increase the fun for Matenrou Opera fans even more.
KAMIJO: Wanna borrow my costume? [Laughs]
Everyone: [Big laughter]
ASAGI: I could tell the attendees were having a lot of fun, but in Japan, there’s quite a conformity pressure. Consequently, unique individuals often stand out. However, overseas, they’d say “you’re different, that’s nice”, for sure. We’re all different people with unique tastes as well, we do what we want. The fans who empathize with that wear their own favorite fashion to express themselves, I think that’s very wholesome. Personally, I hope people can wear what they want without having to care about what others think, and listen to the music that they like; it brings me joy when I see others having a good time.
Mana: As I have my own fashion brand “Moi-même-Moitié”, people have a tendency to wear it at Moi dix Mois concerts, but it’s not like fans have to wear it just because they’re attending a Moi dix Mois concert. I would like people to freely wear it whenever they fancy. So, I’d like them to wear it to various band performances, I’d love it if people wearing it popped up at different concerts like flowers.
It doesn’t seem like you feel pressured by people who prefer simpler costumes at all, but one of the charms of visual kei also seems to be the extravagance of the audience. My other impression was that there are a lot of overseas fans.
KAMIJO: I’m really glad about that, too. Because we’ve had COVID-19 here for a few years, we haven’t been able to go overseas at all, but we’ve seen a lot of fans come over here. That’s why I think it would be great if we could go overseas sometime around the second half of next year, so we’re discussing a couple of things right now. I really want to make this happen.
Sono: I’m really glad there are fans coming over from overseas, I feel like we have no choice but to go as well. Matenrou Opera haven’t really been able to go. We sporadically go once every few years, and then we stop for another few years… this happens a lot. We hear a lot of voices coming from Europe and Mexico, so I’d really like to go if we can find the right timing.
ASAGI: The atmosphere in the venues was fantastic in every location during this tour. And I also have the impression that there were a lot of overseas fans. Maybe it’s their enthusiasm? I’m really happy that they came all the way to Japan to see us. When I went abroad with D, I felt the intensity of the fans firsthand, it was great. So while there’s certainly something wonderful about performing in Japan, having our music reach overseas in this day and age is one of the reasons I’m glad I’ve continued making music.
Mana: In my teens, I gained a lot of influence from overseas artists, and now I really feel like we’re gaining recognition even overseas as “Japanese Visual Metal”. When I was younger, I was always yearning for what was overseas, but now, I strongly think I want to fight with our own music overseas as the pride of Japan.
That’s reassuring to hear. Now, this tour turned out to be something wonderful. Even with the challenges with D and YUKI’s situations, I believe there are a lot of listeners who are hoping for a continuation of “Japanese Visual Metal”.
KAMIJO: I think with “Japanese Visual Metal”, we’ve been able to create something that fits within just one category this time. I think this will remain the case in one way or another; no, I want it to remain. YUKI is retiring, and D is pausing activities, but feelings are forever. Although it will differ from how it was this year, I wholeheartedly hope that there will be another day when we can once again sing “Kyousoukyoku ~Tanbinaru Kettou~”.
ASAGI: I also hope for a continuation. After all, we received such an enthusiastic response. I agree with what KAMIJO said. Even though the shape might change, I hope it can continue.
Mana: Over the course of these four concerts, the distance between us has gradually diminished. At the Osaka show, told ASAGI “come over more”, and he really did with all his might [laughs]. It was like… “You’ve made it this far?” [laughs]. I’m was really happy about that, and the distance became smaller bit by bit. During the final at Zepp Haneda, I greeted everyone on my own and suddenly everyone came running over. I thought, “Huh? But I didn’t ask anything?”, still, everyone suddenly formed a circle on stage. That was truly heartening. Forming a circle was not at all planned, and when we all faced each other, I felt a sense of unity. It was genuinely wonderful.
Sono: I definitely want to continue with “Japanese Visual Metal”. With our guitarist Yusuke starting visual kei after getting to know Mana, it really is a miracle. Being able to perform on this stage, giving shape to “Kyousoukyoku ~Tanbinaru Kettou~” as “Japanese Visual Metal”, and the tour finale turning into something beautiful really is a miracle. Thus, if it’s possible, I think I really want to do this again.
Powered by: club Zy. and Vijuttoke.
Interviewer: Murakami Takayuki (club Zy.)
Original article: https://www.club-zy.com/contents/643995