interview text by Reiko Arakawa
photography by Akira Kitajima
Blossoming like flowers, a noxious aroma, the maverick adorns
FLOWERS, his first solo album releasing as Der Zibet celebrates its 10th anniversary, has turned out to be a collection of song covers. Numbers which transcend nostalgic melodies to become overtures of recklessness and devolution, which paint the sadness and emotion found in the originals even more vividly; these songs are no longer mere covers but now a part of ISSAY’s unique eccentric world. ISSAY himself will tell us all about the songs in this album including episodes involving the celebrated guest artists who participated.
I liked Keiichi-san’s unique sense of individualism and worldview
―― Why did you decide to release a solo album this time around?
ISSAY (I): Rather than a solo album, it was more that I wanted to make a cover album like this one. About a year ago, I thought about whether I should do this with Der Zibet, but I felt that if I was going to make such an album, doing this solo would make it easier for people to accept.
―― Have you had this idea in mind for a long time now?
I: It came to me about 2 years ago and since then I’ve been working on it. When I jokingly made a passing remark that maybe I’d like to give it a go, they quickly set it all up to let me do it (smiles). They’re such a nice record company, aren’t they?
―― (Smiles) Ask and you shall be given, right? So, what are your thoughts on the album being entirely made up of covers?
I: When I decided to do covers, I had a few songs in mind that I wanted to sing. I felt that I should pick an album’s worth of songs which allow me to bring out my own personal characteristics and worldview. Because there’s no reason for me to sing songs I don’t like, right? Say, for example, this particular song remains calm whichever way it goes, but when I sing it, it becomes something else… The idea of bringing out those aspects is where I started from.
―― Are all these songs you recorded songs that you’ve listened to in the past?
I: Nope, there are also tracks that were picked from songs which I listened to for the sake of this album. [My choices are] limited if I’m only going to pick songs that I’ve listened to before, aren’t they? I didn’t even like Japanese music all that much in the first place. So I gathered all the staff and said, “Bring me all the songs you want me to sing!” (Smiles). We collected a tremendous amount and then selected the songs from there.
―― The stance in this album is completely different from Der Zibet’s… Is there a bit of a hobbyist element to it?
I: Nope, I think it’s the same as what I do with Der Zibet, just with a slight change in methodology. It’s not a hobby or anything like that. I’ve released 10 albums with Der Zibet thus far, right? So, I’m releasing another work in the same league as that, just that this time, it so happens that this is in the form of a solo project.
―― After choosing the songs, did you agonise who you were going to do which song with?
I: To start, when we came up with the plan to execute such a project, it was key to answer the question of, “Who should we nominate as producer?” That was what I discussed with Ichikawa-kun (from Ongaku to Hito) who is also named as one of the producers of this album. So, then, he asked, “What about Suzuki Keiichi-san¹ (Moon Riders¹)?” Keiichi-san is a person with his own unique sense of individualism and worldview, and I like him too but I don’t think anyone would’ve thought that Der Zibet would team up with Keiichi-san, right? I thought it sounded interesting so… We met and had drinks, and I decided, “I want to work with him!” So next, [we had to decide on the performers], and once Keiichi-san gathered his acquaintances, that was quickly decided but I felt that if we went with that, [the album] would be steeped in Keiichi-san’s style. I wanted to work with the young musicians of this era… Because I was thinking that I wanted to hear the reckless and daredevil style of playing that those kids have, you know (smiles). So we were caught between these two options, but after much discussion, this is the line up we settled on.
―― And the arrangement of the songs are dependent on the participating musicians for each song?
I: Nope, they’re largely arranged by Keiichi-san. Except for Itoshi no Macks which was arranged by Nozawa Daijirou-kun² (D.I.E.²) and Hana ga Saite which was arranged by ex-Real Fish³ member Fukuhara Mari-chan³.
The antagonist in The Silence of the Lambs, “the dead”… One half of the eerie²⁰ type
―― So, next, please tell us about each track (the names in parenthesis after each song title refer to the songs’ original artists).
1、Akazu no Fumikiri (Inoue Yousui⁴)
[あかずの踏切り / Railway Crossing Which Never Opens]
I: I decided to do this song because I thought, “Wouldn’t it be interesting to play this song as a rock tune?” Let’s do a flamboyant rock song! So I did it with the intention of making it this album’s forward⁵. And we also decided to introduce a deep dark backing chorus (smiles). We didn’t decide on which song to put that in, but Keiichi-san put it in this one (smiles). Along with that, you know, we had members from The Mad Capsule Markets⁶ taking part as the rhythm unit but we let them do things their way. I think you’ll get it when you hear the song, but their spirit of rock really comes at you hard. That, and KEN-chan⁷ played some great guitar for me. You know, KEN-chan’s solo got an OK in one take. Before he started, he asked, “How do you want me to do it?”, and I said, “Hm, right, it’d be good if you’d just go crazy on the guitar.” And that’s precisely what he did.
2、Itoshi no Makkusu (Araki Ichirou⁸)
[いとしのマックス / Macks, My Love ]
I: This was a song that I didn’t have input. Someone mentioned, “Well, there’s this song…” and in the beginning, I didn’t know what to do with it. It was a good song, but I couldn’t figure out what was a good way to do it, then D.I.E.-chan said, “Don’t you think it’ll be cool to do it in the style of rock ‘n’ roll with electronic programming?” So after discussing with him, it became an extremely bloodthirsty song; Tokyo’s bloodthirsty sound (smiles). I wanted to bring out something akin to the madness of the modern man… The protagonist in the original song is a somewhat zealous person? Someone like the antagonist in the movie The Silence of The Lambs? I wanted to try and become that sort of guy. Right when D.I.E.-chan took part [in this project], he was also working with hide-chan⁹, wasn’t he? And when I mentioned, “I’d be so happy if hide-chan would play his guitar for me in this song,” he actually did it (smiles). I was so happy.
―― If there were no vocals in this song, we wouldn’t be able to tell what it’s supposed to be, right?
I: At first, we had distorted vocals here. But the normal vocals which we used were actually even heavier (smiles). You see, since all of it was noise, the distorted vocals actually sounded cohesive on the contrary and they could be heard properly. … Could it be that Macks actually refers to one’s other self?
3、Yoru to Asa no Aida ni (Peter¹⁰)
[夜と朝のあいだに / Between Night and Day]
I: This one probably just came to me one day, I think. I thought, “Wouldn’t this song be fun to do?” It’s just a question of how we’re going to arrange it. I thought it might be interesting if we brought it into British dance rock. And after discussing it with Keiichi-san, this was how it turned out. Adding on to Keiichi-san’s programming, Tomomori-kun¹¹ also joined in with his guitar playing.
―― Have you listened to Peter before?
I: Yeah, and I knew of this song beforehand too. I have the CD version of the album which has this song, and seeing that Nakanishi Rei-san¹² wrote the lyrics… what an amazing perspective¹³. During those days, you could really get a strong sense that the lyrics were definitely written by a poet. Because, you see, this song was a sellable one, wasn’t it? Besides, pop tunes of those days, you don’t put words like “the dead (死人 / shibito)” in the lyrics, do you? (Smiles).
―― (Smiles) You normally wouldn’t.
I: But it’s cool. The lyrics are just so good. Because it truly is the embodiment of aestheticism… This tone suits me so I want to try doing this! That’s how I felt. But right until the very end, the staff kept telling me, “You’re getting far too into it so lay off” (smiles).
4、Kanashikute Yarikirenai (The Folk Crusaders¹⁴)
[悲しくてやりきれない / Unspeakable Sorrow]
―― Isn’t this song a surprisingly true-to-original rendition within this album?
I: Mm～m… It may be so in terms of the world [of the song], but it’s quite heavy, you know? If you listen closely. But I do think that it does sound like the most honest track. Although, it was tough, this one. KEN-chan⁷ played something really cool for me on his 12-string guitar too, and everyone was allowed to do as they pleased. For the rhythm unit, we had Sotoyama-kun¹⁵ from Tipographica¹⁵ and our HAL-chan¹⁹. We had our first keyboardist, Fujiwara Mahito¹⁹ taking part on keyboards too. Once I decided that I was going to do this song, I became very attached to it. You could say that I rarely get the chance to sing such a miserable song; it’s actually very similar to my worldview. This misery is… not something I often bring out, though. You know, this song, isn’t its tempo slower than the original? Singing like, ‘uuugh, I’m sooo tired’ (smiles). And each note is long. Notes aren’t long with DZ¹⁶, are they? That’s why it was so exhausting. It was so unspeakably painful (smiles).
5、Koi no Hallelujah (Mayuzumi Jun¹⁷)
[恋のハレルヤ / Hallelujah of Love]
I: This song, you know, the original is just such a typical popular song, isn’t it? You could say that it packs a punch; it’s cool, isn’t it? I didn’t need any input within myself for this song at all, but when they let me hear the song, the moment the vocals started coming in right after the intro, I said, “I’ll do this!” The lyrics are great too. These are also written by Nakanishi Rei-san¹² but it feels like they clearly say what needs to be said; I really love these lyrics. So the main challenge was, “How do we simplify the stereotypical popular song vibe that the original melody had?” (Smiles). This was the very first song that we recorded as a band, you know. Until then, we had been recording with programming. We had KEN-chan⁷ and Hoshino-kun¹⁸ on guitars, Sotoyama-kun¹⁵ and HAL-chan¹⁹ as the rhythm unit, and Fujiwara Mahito¹⁹ on keyboards. Ah, you know, it was amazing to have everyone doing whatever they wanted… It made me wonder what would happen.
―― So, which part is played by KEN-chan and which by Hoshino-kun here?
I: The noisy wailing parts are by KEN-chan while Hoshino-kun’s playing some unknown riff above that. The guitar solo battle that happens in the middle is really fun. I thought that was the best part. Hoshino-kun’s solo comes in, and after that, KEN-chan’s solo starts but the absolute magnificence of each of their colours! Anyone who hears it will understand this well. And Atsushi-kun¹⁸ participated in the finishing touches.
―― Call it a duet or a chorus, it’s somehow not the usual kind of ‘strange’, is it?
I: It’s the eerie²⁰ type, isn’t it (smiles). This song is the most potent of all in the album!
6、Toki ni wa Haha no Nai Ko no You ni (Carmen Maki²¹)
[時には母のない子のように / Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child]
I: This is one of the songs I wanted to do from the very beginning. Through Keiichi-san’s programming, he managed to make it feel as if I’m singing in a frigid, sub-zero location. I asked him to, “Please make it feel like you can almost see a tundra.” And I was wondering about how I should sing it, and Keiichi-san was the one who proposed the idea of whispering.
―― What about this song made you want to sing it?
I: This song, be it its melody or its lyrics, it’s all so good, and you can really tell that the lyrics were written by a poet (Terayama Shuuji²²) too… And that sense of indifference? I don’t think that’s something that can be evoked in this present era. Considering all of these, I did this song while wondering in the back of my head how it would turn out if a man were to sing it, though. I guess part of the reason behind why I wanted to sing it is because I really loved the song too as a child, for some reason.
7、Asa Made Matenai (The Mops²³)
[朝まで待てない / I Won’t Wait Until Morning]
I: This one, I was wondering whether we could find a rock song to include… and while we were looking, I happened to stumble upon it.
―― When the Mops was active, what other kinds of bands were there aside from them?
I: Group Sound²⁴ (GS²⁴) right? Or did GS start after them? That was the psychedelic era, right?
―― Somehow, when I hear such a band’s name, memories of TV shows from back then come to mind, but wasn’t there OX²⁵ and other bands like them too?
I: They were GS and a fainting band²⁵ (smiles). Though, you know, I did think about OX. But when I heard Asa Made Matenai, I felt that I could modernize it and possible make it oshare-rock²⁶. When I asked Keiichi-san whether he could arrange it to make it sound like a Roxy Music²⁷ song, this was how it turned out. For this song, we again had KEN-chan⁷ and Hoshino-kun¹⁸ on guitars, the two members of The Mad Capsule Markets⁶ as the rhythm unit, and Kurihara-san²⁸ (now, VIBRA HORNS²⁸) who was previously a part of Der Zibet’s horn section played the saxophone for us. Then, the deviant violin music in the interlude was beautifully played by SUGIZO, while we had 2 women singing the backing chorus. Because I said I wanted to try having female backing vocals (smiles). I wanted the women singing backing vocals to this miserable man’s singing because after all, we’re making it sound like Roxy Music, and once we did that, I really loved it. But I sang it in a distraught manner (smiles). Distraught in the sense of, “If I can’t see you, I’ll die.”
High concentration of German flair in the bloodstream, Taisho-era romanticism, and “I cried”
8、Toki no Sugiyuku Mama ni (Sawada Kenji²⁹)
[時の過ぎゆくままに / As Time Goes By]
I: I really wanted to focus on popular Japanese songs this time around, so I was looking for good songs in that genre. Since then, I wanted to sing this song. Regarding Julie²⁹, he’s got other songs too but I wanted to do this one the most. I love this sense of decadent emptiness, so I asked for it to be arranged in a way that fostered it even more (smiles). For this song, we have Sotoyama-kun¹⁵ on drums and Kin-chan (TAKASHI³⁰) from DIE IN CRIES³⁰ on bass. Playing guitar here is KEN-chan⁷ and on keyboards is Fujiwara Mahito¹⁹. Oh, right, yes, for this song, I said, “Let’s max out the concentration of German flair in the bloodstream and do this!” The original version of this song is really really good, isn’t it? That’s why I have no choice but to simplify it. But if we cover it as it is, then it’ll just stay the same, yet if we over simplify it, it would just turn into a parody too… That’s why we spoke about this a number of times together. As long as we can bring out the key element which is a sense of dreary European decadence, it would be a success, you know, that concentration of German flair in the bloodstream (smiles). “The ashes of death raining down on a city lined with buildings made of stone… and I’m standing there alone.” That’s the kind of arrangement we ended up with. Or should I say, “A man in the early 20th-century Shanghai”? (Smiles).
9、Yoimachi Gusa (Awaya Noriko³¹)
[宵待草 / Evening Primrose]
I: I wanted to sing this song. But everyone disliked that. Both the lyrics and the melody are really good, though, aren’t they? Everything is said in those 3 lines. Although, I think from the second chorus on, it was by someone else later on. In the beginning, I only knew the first chorus which was sung by Ayawa-san³¹, but these lyrics which were written by Takehisa Yumeji³² are complete and whole as they are. They’ve even got a touch of Taisho-era romanticism.
―― It’s the most domestic song of the album, isn’t it?
I: It’s got a vibe unique to that era, right? And adding to that is the sense of loneliness that was already present in the original song. In hindsight, all of that was enhanced through Keiichi-san’s arrangement, wasn’t it? It’s just that I initially thought that this might be a difficult song, but after trying to sing it, I realised it really wasn’t all that hard.
10、Hana ga Saite (Jacks³³)
[花がさいて / Flowers Are Blooming]
I: This is probably the greatest track in this album. During song selection, I couldn’t decide on which Jacks song to sing, but Keiichi-san said, “Hana ga Saite is a good one, isn’t it?”, and when I went home and gave it another listen, I ended up crying.
―― But this song has left the impression on me that it’s the most relaxed one in this album.
I: That’s true, it’s straightforward, isn’t it? I also didn’t feel that the melody in this song was anything too difficult. It’s weird, this melody. Adding on to that, I’ve never sung at this tempo before so I was surprised, too. Recording vocals for this song was the most difficult but both Keiichi-san and I were really really into it, so I dug deep and sang. The arrangement of the string septet and Fukuhara Mari-chan’s piano was great too.
11、Seaside Bound (The Tigers³⁴)
I: This, you know, it came to mind the moment I thought of making a cover album. Like, “Ah, wouldn’t it fun if I were to sing dark surf rock” (smiles). Because, well, isn’t the song originally surf rock? I thought it might sound great if we did it with the violent sounds that we have these days. Because everyone’s twisted, right? In this song.
―― Even though you gave us a melancholy sound with Hana ga Saite (smiles).
I: Actually, I wanted to close off the album with Hana ga Saite. (The album’s) second half is quite something, right? It steadily comes at you, doesn’t it? What if someone commits suicide? That was the kind of conversation we had, you see (smiles). I said that’s just how those types of people will be so it doesn’t matter, but they said, “But it’s still bad!” Those who feel like dying after listening to something like [Hana ga Saite], you shouldn’t die, you know? It’s those who listen to something like this and don’t feel anything at all who I wish would die (smiles). Then they said, “It looks like we may have to have some form of salvation!” and made me laugh in the end, so we made the decision to add this song in 11 seconds. For those who wish to listen [to this album] in its true order of tracks, I think it’s best to just put this [Seaside Bound] song anywhere else and after Hana ga Saite, slot in FLOWERS, the B-side to the single.
―― This FLOWERS is a Der Zibet song and you’ve given the album the same name too. Is there any reason for this?
I: FLOWERS, well, to start, it wasn’t a song which made it to the list of candidate songs but during album recording, I was thinking about the album title and I thought “FLOWERS” felt like a good one. With the implied meaning of [each song being] individual flowers. And right after that I just suddenly wanted to do FLOWERS too.
―― Right now, listening to all these songs that I used to hear back then in these versions, I’m surprised by the fact that such sad songs used to be played at home.
I: That’s also a thought I had during this round of recording but you know, there’s also a difference in lyrical interpretation. This along with the vibes unique to that era… Were these songs done back in that era, it wouldn’t come across that strongly, and things like that… This can be applied to any song, but, you know, it comes from us expanding the emptiness, the loneliness, those parts of the songs to their maximum possible range when we redid them this time. I think if you listen back to the original versions, it’ll be very easy to tell that the interpretation for some of the songs are very different.
―― And lastly, did you rediscover anything about yourself during the production of this album?
I: As expected, I thought that this is definitely the only thing I can do after all. Like, I thought, in the end, I’d end up like this (smiles).
【List of guest musicians participating in FLOWERS】
Producers: ISSAY, Suzuki Keiichi (Moon Riders), Ichikawa Tetsushi (Ongaku to Hito)
Akazu no Fumikiri [あかずの踏切り / Railway Crossing Which Never Opens]
G: KEN (ex Zi:Kill), Hoshino Hidehiko (BUCK-TICK)
B: CRA￥ (THE MAD CAPSULE MARKETS)
Ds: MOTOKATSU (THE MAD CAPSULE MARKETS)
keyboard: Fujiwara Mahito
chorus: SHIN-YA (REDIEAN:MODE), Kiyoharu (Kuroyume), KEN-ICHI (Valentine D.C)
Itoshi no Makkusu [いとしのマックス / Macks, My Love ]
manipulate & synth: I.N.A³⁵
co-producer & keyboard: D.I.E
Yoru to Asa no Aida ni [夜と朝のあいだに / Between Night and Day]
G: Tomomori Shouichi (RITZZ)
manipulate: Doki Yukio [土岐幸男]
Kanashikute Yarikirenai [悲しくてやりきれない / Unspeakable Sorrow]
B: HAL (DER ZIBET)
Ds & percussion: Sotoyama Akira (TIPOGRAPHICA)
keyboard: Fujiwara Mahito
Koi no Hallelujah [恋のハレルヤ / Hallelujah of Love]
G: KEN, Hoshino Hidehiko
Ds & percussion: Sotoyama Akira
keyboard: Fujiwara Mahito
chorus: Sakurai Atsushi (BUCK-TICK)
Toki ni wa Haha no Nai Ko no You ni [時には母のない子のように / Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child]
manipulate: Doki Yukio
Asa Made Matenai [朝まで待てない / I Won’t Wait Until Morning]
G: KEN, Hoshino Hidehiko
keyboard: Fujiwara Mahito
violin: SUGIZO (LUNA SEA)
saxophone: Kurihara “HEIKA” Kiyoshi (VIBRA HORNS)
chorus: Mashiro Megumi³⁶, Takezawa Atsuko [竹沢敦子]
Toki no Sugiyuku Mama ni [時の過ぎゆくままに / As Time Goes By]
B: TAKASHI (DIE IN CRIES)
Ds: Sotoyama Akira
piano: Fujiwara Mahito
Yoimachi Gusa [宵待草 / Evening Primrose]
manipulate: Doki Yukio
Hana ga Saite [花がさいて / Flowers Are Blooming]
strings arrangement & piano: Fukuhara Mari
G: KEN, Hoshino Hidehiko
programming: Fujiwara Mahito
chorus: Suzuki Keiichi
¹ Born August 28, 1951, Suzuki Keiichi is a Japanese musician, singer, songwriter, and record producer who co-founded the Moonriders, a group that became one of Japan’s most innovative rock bands. He is known to audiences outside Japan for his musical contributions to the video games Mother (1989) and EarthBound (1994), both of which have been released on several soundtracks. More recently, he has composed film scores including The Blind Swordsman: Zatōichi (2003), Tokyo Godfathers (2003), Uzumaki (2000), Chicken Heart (2009), as well as Takeshi Kitano’s Outrage trilogy.
² D.I.E. is a Tokyo-born keyboardist and studio musician who started out as hide’s (X JAPAN) support member since the beginning of his solo career and later became a member of “hide with Spread Beaver”. He was a support member for DER ZIBET, performing live with them and in their Homo Demens album in 1990, then a support member for GLAY between 1994 and 1998. Between 2002 and 2004, he joined LOOPUS before officially joining PATA’s (X JAPAN) band Ra:IN in 2007.
³ Formed in the early 1980s, Real Fish, led by saxophonist Hiroyasu Yaguchi, is a unique band of up-and-coming and talented musicians in which four of the six members (Toda Seiji, Fukuhara Mari, Watanabe Hitoshi, and Tomoda Shingo) also perform as the modern techno-pop band SHI-SHONEN. Their sound, dubbed “stateless instrumental pop,” also had its own unique musicality that didn’t fit into the conventional pop framework.
⁴ Inoue Yousui is a Japanese singer, lyricist, composer, guitarist and record producer, who is an important figure in Japanese music. He is renowned for his unique tone, eccentric lyrics, and dark sunglasses which he always wears.
⁵ As in the attacking player in football, hockey, or similar sports.
⁶ The Mad Capsule Markets is a Japanese band which formed in 1985 and were active until 2006. With Kyono Hiroshi (vocals), Ueda Takeshi (bass), and Miyagami Motokatsu (drums) making up the core members, the band became known for their experimental style, which melded various kinds of electronic music and punk rock.
⁷ Zi:Kill was a Japanese visual kei rock band active from 1987 to 1994. The core members were vocalist Tusk, bassist Seiichi and guitarist Ken.
⁸ Born on 1 August 1944, Araki Ichiro is a Japanese actor, singer, music producer, novelist, magic critic and card magic researcher. He made his debut as a singer in 1966.
⁹ Famed ex-lead guitarist of X Japan who passed away on 2 May 1998, Hideto Matsumoto, better known by his stage name hide was a Japanese musician, singer-songwriter and record producer. He joined X Japan in 1987 and started a solo-career in 1993.
¹⁰ Ikehata Shinnosuke is a Japanese singer, dancer and actor. Peter is his stage name when he appears on TV variety shows and musical revues. Always seen dancing in tight clothes at dancing clubs, he adopted the stage name at sixteen years old after his style of dress and dance which was said to resemble Peter Pan. One of Japan’s most famous gay entertainers, Peter’s androgynous appearance has enabled him to often play transgender characters and he often appears on stage in women’s clothing.
¹¹ Born on 13 January 1966, Tomomori Shouichi is a guitarist who has supported and produced many artists and live shows. Between 1984 and 1985, he was a member of AUTO-MOD, before moving on to REBECCA between 1986 and 1987, then joining Kinniku Shōjo Tai in 1987 and 1998. His band and support-hopping found him working with De-LAX, Himuro Kyosuke (ex. BOØWY), Otsuka Ai, among many other artists.
¹² Nakanishi Rei is a Japanese novelist and songwriter. He won the 122nd Naoki Prize. He first worked on translations of French chanson songs, but while on honeymoon he made the acquaintance of Yujiro Ishihara and became a Japanese popular song writer (歌謡曲, kayoukyoku). He is one of the main lyricists in the world of post-World War II Japanese popular songs.
¹³ Here, he said, “凄い世界” which literally translates to “amazing world” but I felt that “perspective” made more sense than “world” without needing to think too much. The chosen translation is, admittedly, a bit of a stretch from the original word itself and I’m making this choice in relation to the word “世界観” (worldview/perspective).
¹⁴ The Folk Crusaders, also known as simply Fōkuru, was a Japanese folk group, popular in Japan in the later half of the 1960s.
¹⁵ Tipographica is a Japanese progressive/free-song ensemble which formed in 1986 and disbanded in 1998. Their conceptual sound, based on jazz with elements of industrial music, attracted attention, and they released their first album, “Tipographica” in 1993. Sotoyama Akira is a Japanese jazz drummer who joined them in 1989.
¹⁶ He used a short form for DER ZIBET (deruji), so I shortened it to DZ.
¹⁷ Mayuzumi Jun is a Japanese singer and actress who released many popular hits in the late 1960s with her unique, punchy voice. Her best known songs include “Tenshi-no Yūwaku”. She won a Japan Record Award in 1969, and won the inaugural Yamaha Popular Song Contest Grand Prix at the Nemu no Sato Indoor Hall, on November 5, 1970.
¹⁸ As in, BUCK-TICK’s Hoshino Hidehiko and Sakurai Atsushi.
¹⁹ As in, DER ZIBET’s bassist, HAL and keyboardist Fujiwara Mahito.
²⁰ The word he used was 魑魅魍魎系 (chimimouryou kei). 系 (kei) as in “visual kei”, and 魑魅魍魎 (chimimouryou) is a word/phrase that can be used to refer to Yokai. It specifically speaks of monsters of the mountains and monsters of the rivers. The term originated in China roughly 2,500 years ago in ancient chronicles such as the Zuo Zhuan. It refers to various kinds of obake and things changed into yōkai.
²¹ Carmen Maki is a Japanese musician with a career that spans the mid-60s right up to the present day. Her musical career began in the late 1960s, releasing a few folk music records, then blues with the group Blues Creation. In the 1970s, she formed the rock band Carmen Maki & OZ. She then turned to heavy metal, releasing a solo record in 1979 with the participation of drummer Carmine Appice, then forming the bands LAFF and 5X in the 1980s before stopping her career in 1984 due to health problems. It was 10 years after that when she finally returned and resumed her career by releasing solo works.
²² Terayama Shuuji was an Japanese avant-garde poet, dramatist, writer, film director, and photographer. His works range from radio drama, experimental television, underground theatre, countercultural essays, to Japanese New Wave and “expanded” cinema. Many critics view him as one of the most productive and provocative creative artists to come out of Japan. He has been cited as an influence on various Japanese filmmakers from the 1970s onward.
²³ The Mops are one of Japan’s best known “group sounds” bands, particularly noted for their psychedelic period. The group was founded in 1966 by high school friends Mikiharu Suzuki (drums), Taro Miyuki (guitar), Masaru Hoshi (lead guitar) and Kaoru Murakami (bass), playing mostly instrumental rock ala the fabulously popular Ventures. Suzuki’s older brother Hiromitsu joined in later and became the group’s main vocalist, sharing the job with Hoshi. Much was made of the band being Japan’s first psychedelic band, and they are sometimes credited as pioneering new studio effects, or at least introducing them to Japan. The band also performed with lighting effects, and sometimes blindfolded, supposedly to simulate the influence of drugs. Despite being widely considered a psychedelic band, their original songs were more garage band sounding.
²⁴ Group sounds, often abbreviated as G.S. or G-sound, is a genre of Japanese rock music which became popular in the mid to late 1960s and initiated the fusion of Japanese kayōkyoku music and Western rock music. Their music production techniques were regarded as playing a pioneering role in modern Japanese popular music. Group sounds arose following the Beatles performance at the Budokan in 1966, and was strongly influenced by British beat music of the 1960s. Group sounds musicians included the Tigers, the Tempters, the Spiders, the Mops, and the Golden Cups.
²⁵ OX is a group that debuted in 1968, during the heyday of Group Sounds (GS). It was called the “Fainting Band” because its members and fans fainted at times.
²⁶ Oshare (オシャレ) means cool or fashionable. It may sound similar to the sub-genre in Visual Kei known as oshare-kei (オシャレ系), but I’m pretty sure that this oshare rock (オシャレ・ロック) he speaks of has nothing to do with that.
²⁷ Roxy Music was an English rock band that was formed in 1970 by Bryan Ferry—who became the band’s lead singer and main songwriter—and bass guitarist Graham Simpson. Although the band took a break from group activities in 1976 and again in 1983, they reunited for a concert tour in 2001, and toured together intermittently over the next few years. Ferry frequently enlisted band members as session musicians for his solo releases.
²⁸ VIBRA HORNS was part of a Japanese hip-hop band called VIBRASTONE. Chikada Haruo, the band’s MC, who established the hip-hop label BPM in 1985 and pursued the possibilities of Japanese-language hip-hop under the name of “President BPM,” formed “Vibrastone” in November 1986 after leaving the label. The band was characterized by Chikada’s radical lyrics and a high level of musicianship by OTO of JAGATARA and other strong musicians. In the studio, the band also employed scratch and sampling techniques but mainly played live instruments. Kurihara “HEIKA” Kiyoshi was a member of their horns section, VIBRA HORNS.
²⁹ Sawada Kenji is a Japanese singer, composer, lyricist and actor, best known for being the vocalist for the Japanese rock band The Tigers³⁴. Nicknamed “Julie” because of his self professed adoration of Julie Andrews, Sawada prospered greatly as a singer, songwriter and actor on Japanese popular culture in the last three decades of the Shōwa era. At the end of the 1960s, he had great success as the lead singer of the band The Tigers. After the breakup of The Tigers and another project Pyg, he began his own solo career.
³⁰ Formed in 1991, DIE IN CRIES was composed of Kyo (D’erlanger) on vocals, Shin (ex: The Mad Capsule Markets) on guitar, TAKASHI (ex:The Ace) on bass, and Yukihiro (ex:Zi:Kill) on drums. Following their breakup in 1997 the members all went on to play in other bands. The most prominent and well known of these is most likely Yukihiro who was recruited to play for the popular band L’Arc-en-Ciel. Kyo, Shin and TAKASHI all went on to form Bug, with Shin later leaving to play for Spin and Creature Creature, solo project of Morrie of Dead End, which originally featured Tetsuya of L’Arc-en-Ciel and currently features Sakura, whom Yukihiro replaced when he joined L’Arc-en-Ciel.
³¹ Awaya Noriko was a Japanese female soprano chanteuse and popular music singer. She was dubbed the “Queen of Blues” in Japan.
³² Takehisa Yumeji was a Japanese poet and painter. He is known foremost for his Nihonga illustrations of bijin, beautiful women and girls, though he also produced a wide variety of works including book covers, serial newspaper illustrations, furoshiki, postcards, and patterned washi paper.
³³ Jacks were a 1960s Japanese psychedelic rock group who released their best known studio album Vacant World in 1968 which was famously banned from Japanese airwaves due to lyrical content. The band did not enjoy general popularity during their active years, but after the breakup of the band, they came to be highly regarded as pioneers of Japanese rock music.
³⁴ The Tigers were a popular Japanese band during the Group Sounds era in the late 1960s. The group featured Sawada Kenji²⁹ as their lead singer, and were signed by Watanabe Productions. The group was first named “Funnys”, and was formed in 1966. They changed their name to “The Tigers” on their first TV performance on 15 November 1966. They appeared in several Japanese movies in the late 1960s. On 24 January 1971, The Tigers held their last concert, The Tigers Beautiful Concert, at the Nippon Budokan. After The Tigers broke up, Sawada formed the first Japanese supergroup, Pyg, in 1971 and later moved on to a successful solo career.
³⁵ I.N.A (Inada Kazuhiko) is a Japanese music producer, composer, arranger, programmer, recording engineer, musician, manipulator and DJ. He has worked with X, hide, RIZE, Zilch, T.M.Revolution, VIVID, vistlip, and ONE OK ROCK among many others.
³⁶ Mashiro Megumi is a Japanese vocalist. She is a member of the rock band Hicksville.
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