Interview with ariel makes gloomy

interview - 27.06.2018 10:01

Four parts of the whole.

At the beginning of last year, the Japanese music scene saw the rise of an unusual project titled ariel makes gloomy. Four members — keyboardist/vox player Ishitami, guitarist Toshiaki Wada, bassist Yusuke Seki and drummer Yusuke Sasaki — create unusual, memorable music which combines many genres.

After the release of their second EP oxymoron, we decided to get to know the band better and talked with the musicians about art, the inspiration behind their two releases and asked them to share their dreams.

Hello! Thank you for the interview and congratulations on the release of your second EP. Since many of our readers might not know you yet, first introduce yourself, please.

Ishitami: We are ariel makes gloomy, not a band, but a project consisting of four components. Our goal is to create a sound that only the four of us are able to make.

We are often asked "Are you really not a band?" We can clearly answer "No." Each of us has our own vision, our own approach to creating music. Exactly because we are a project, we can keep freedom and creativity, expressed with songs. Perhaps it is easier to understand if you perceive our work as a "processing" of the sound that a band of four members could create.

The name ariel makes gloomy sounds grim and mysterious. Why did you decide to choose this one?

Ishitami: There is really no deep meaning behind the title of the project. ‘Ariel’ has many meanings. For example, in Shakespeare's play "The Tempest" the spirit of the air is called Ariel. We like the word ‘gloomy’, it can be translated as ‘melancholy.’ This is how the name of the project appeared.

Your work doesn’t fit into any genre: the music combines pop elements, rock, post-rock and many others. Did you originally plan to play at the confluence of several musical directions or was your unusual sound born during the experiments?

Ishitami: We did not adhere to any genre from the very beginning, and the approach to creating tracks is constantly changing. We draw inspiration from the melody, drum rhythm, bass or guitar part, and then in the studio we modify the tracks, by reviewing what was born by itself.

It's not like a trial and error approach, we do not plan anything in advance. Perhaps we just communicate with sounds. For us, this is a natural approach, there is nothing unique here.

Yusuke Sasaki: Right from the start we decided that we will not create songs of only one genre. I like that each of us has the opportunity to prove ourselves. I believe that as long as all four of us are composing music, it will have its unique style. I'm not afraid if the songs are different from one another.

Toshiaki Wada: We initially did not want to stick to any genre when creating songs. Sometimes we can try to ‘destroy’ the atmosphere of a composition, sometimes we keep it untouched.

Yusuke Seki: As a bassist, I have certain genres in my head. However, we often create songs not even thinking about what style they are of. What you call ‘unusual sound’ is born at the trial and error stage, when I use my favorite style of play. This is what characterizes me.

How would you describe your music in one sentence for those people who have not heard your songs yet?

Yusuke Sasaki: We want our music to be listened to without prejudice. We create what only the four of us can create, not focusing on a certain audience or situation.

Ishitami: We will be happy if you listen to our music and send us your feedback. We don’t have a mindset to always play in the same style in order to attract its fans. We will be happy if you just listen to our music and enjoy it.

carbonium, your first release, has an interesting feature — its four tracks, despite the different atmosphere and dynamics, are not perceived separately. It felt as if it’s one large, whole composition. Please tell us more about the work on the debut release. How did you get this effect, and did you even want to make it?

Yusuke Sasaki: To tell the truth, none of these songs was created specifically for carbonium. We just pick up tracks, and as a result, it seems to me, there was a strange sense of wholeness, and the release shone in new splendor.

Yusuke Seki: We didn’t intend to create a whole work. However, despite this the music, which four of us made, intertwines and creates a whole world, a space. This is ariel makes gloomy. It is important for us that in the end we get our own sound.

Toshiaki Wada: I don't think that we planned to create a whole piece. This is just the natural result of our team work. It was important for me to express my feelings and dreams through sounds. I try to find the best approach to each song, so I don’t really consider this release the whole piece.

Ishitami: We didn’t specifically pick up tracks based on the name of the record. Whilst choosing from the available tracks, we chose those which, in our opinion, will please the listeners the most. The result is a complete work. If those who listen to it feel this way, then we are happy about it. Probably, our efforts and dedication have created a sense of wholeness.



oxymoron, your second EP, features much more electronic elements. This is especially noticeable in focal point. What inspired you while working on the release? What artists influenced the sound?

Toshiaki Wada: We didn’t draw inspiration from anything specific. We just wanted to create tracks with an interesting sound. Perhaps, you'll find something fun in the music, but the lyrics of the songs are sad. I tried to reflect this in guitar solos.

Ishitami: Each of us has their own source of inspiration, but we were not going to disclose it in the songs. By the way, it applies to any of our tracks. From the tracks that we already had, Wada picked the tracks with the most complex sound. When I was composing the keyboard part, I wanted to achieve Moog synthesizer sound, but at the same time to keep the balance with the guitar. In addition, we planned to highlight drums and bass. The track came from a combination of these elements.

In the second EP you mix several musical genres again. To fans of which genres would you recommend oxymoron in the first place and why?

Yusuke Seki: I’m not sure what genre can be the reason to listen to our music, but we will be happy if you like at least one of the four songs. And then, perhaps, you will be interested in ariel makes gloomy.

Ishitami: It's hard to choose a specific genre. I have no idea what kind of genre it should be. It's hard to explain ... When I listen to music, I do not think which genre it is. I'm just listening to music. Therefore, I would be glad if you just listened, without thinking about such things.

Since many of your overseas listeners don’t speak Japanese, what kind of stories should listeners expect from oxymoron?

Ishitami: We often write not about what we want to say at this moment, but about what we have experienced, something that always exists within us. Therefore, oxymoron doesn’t have a single history, but, probably, these four compositions can be compared with the time of day:

focal point - noon
twilight - evening
gradation - night
place before dawn - morning.

Who in the project is in charge of music and who usually writes lyrics? Or does each of the members at any time add something to the track?

Ishitami: We make everything together. We are all composers and do not name a specific author. We’d be glad to hear your thoughts on that.

The Japanese music industry is very competitive. Especially if we consider young bands that do not play in popular genres, but try to follow their own path. What kind of difficulties can the newbie face? Which of them did you experience personally.

Ishitami: Any music is unique in its own way. We don’t think ours is something special. We didn’t experience any particular difficulties. It’s important for us to continue to create music, the process of its composition is important.

Yusuke Seki: Perhaps something will happen that we don’t expect, but in order to always be ready for any tests we must be honest in case of our creativity. It would be great if we could continue to create music that will be loved by listeners.

You surely have more songs than you have released. Please, tell us how do you pick songs? At what point do you feel a particular track is ready to be released?

Yusuke Sasaki: One of our strengths is a combination of different styles. We wanted it to be reflected in the album. Therefore, we selected songs so as to keep the balance.

In all your promo photos you hide your faces. Is there any special meaning behind it?

Toshiaki Wada: We want to produce nothing but music, and we want it to be listened without any prejudice.

Yusuke Sasaki: Music is the most important thing to us, not faces or names.

Tell us about your dreams as a group of musicians and individually.

Ishitami: For us the greatest happiness is when you accidentally hear ariel makes gloomy somewhere and like it. We want to continue to create music that only the four of us can compose.

Toshiaki Wada: Compose music as long as possible.

Yusuke Sasaki: I hope we can continue to work with this line-up as long as possible, and that in the end, we had a lot of listeners.

Yusuke Seki: I want us to have a lot of listeners. And I want to hold an overseas concert.

Perhaps there is a question that you would very much like to answer, but no one asks you. What is the question and how would you answer it?

Ishitami: To be honest, for us the main song on oxymoron is twilight. However, to our surprise, according to Spotify stats it is focal point.

twilight reflects our music better, it’s easily perceived even though we have worked on this one for a long time. That's why for us this is the main track and it will be great if we could make an MV for it.

Note: The interview was held before the release of the second MV, which was actually for twilight.



Thank you for your time! We wish you good success with your music. Please, leave a final message for JaME readers.

Toshiaki Wada: It’s an honor for us if we have overseas listeners. We’d be happy if our music will become a part of your life.

Yusuke Sasaki: Thanks for your interest in Japanese music and for reading the interview with ariel makes gloomy. You might not speak Japanese but we will be happy if you enjoy our music.

Yusuke Seki: Thank you! We have only two releases but we will be glad if you listen to them and find something interesting in it.

Ishitami: We are inspired by the fact that overseas listeners are interested in our project. We read all your comments. Please, keep supporting us in future.

carbonium and oxymoron are available for streaming at Apple Music and Spotify.

JaME would like to thank ariel makes gloomy and ROCKBELL - Bellwood Records for this interview.
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