Interview with Aoi Before Japan Expo

interview - 27.06.2008 22:00

An interview with rock artist Aoi, discussing his current and previous work, along with his upcoming performance at Japan Expo 2008.

In mid-June, JaME was able to meet with rock artist Aoi in Japan for an interview in order to get to know him better. During the interview, he discussed his debut album, his work with BOUNTY and his solo work, along with his upcoming performance at Japan Expo in France! The convention will take place July 3rd - 6th; for further details about his upcoming performance and autograph session, please check the J.E.'s LIVE HOUSE at Japan Expo 2008 article for details.

Could you please introduce yourself?

Aoi: I'm Aoi. I'm active as a solo vocalist, and also part of the band BOUNTY.

You've been a part of BOUNTY since March 2007. How did you meet KAZUYA (ex. FANATIC◇CRISIS)?

Aoi: KAZUYA was a senior in the same management office that I use, and when I was working as a solo artist, someone asked me, "Why don't you work with KAZUYA?" I met with him and then we decided to work together.

You met him one year ago?

Aoi: Yes. It was in March of last year.

Did you hit it off immediately?

Aoi: I'm not sure that we hit it off immediately, as I didn't know about the activities and songs of FANATIC◇CRISIS which was KAZUYA's former band, so before I met him, I listened to songs KAZUYA made for other artists, and I imagined how he would be.

Aoi, you have always been a vocalist, haven't you?

Aoi: Yes. Always solo.

Then you met a guitarist KAZUYA, and decided to do a unit with him, right?

Aoi: Yes.

How is your relationship when it comes to working in the studio?

Aoi: We don't say things like "let's do this" or "let's do that." Usually our feelings for music fit each other very well. As for making songs, in our case, KAZUYA mostly composes songs on to which I put the lyrics. We know each other well enough to know what we want to do. So we don't explain things to each other like "I want to make it like this," or "Please do this because I want to make it like that."

So, does KAZUYA like the lyrics you create after getting his demo tapes?

Aoi: Yes. He often says they are quite good.

Do you both work together in a studio?

Aoi: Yes, but also with Tohru who was a member of FANATIC◇CRISIS and an arranger of my solo work. We work mostly in a group of three.

Your solo work holds elements of gothic music; What inspired you to adopt this influence into your solo career?

Aoi: Well, I didn't consciously decide to do that. It just happened that the elements that I liked and wanted to stand out were gothic.

In your solo work, you write lyrics and make music, right? Is there any difference between playing with KAZUYA in a unit and your solo activities?

Aoi: I'm not really conscious of the difference between BOUNTY and my solo activities, but BOUNTY is what was born when I work with KAZUYA, so it's a kind of mix of our feelings and characters, while my solo work is originally mine, I think.

When you make songs in your solo work, do you start with melodies, or guitar phrases? Or do you write lyrics first?

Aoi: When I work alone, I make songs from anywhere really. For example, if the lyrics come first I can write them really quickly, or if a melody pops into my head then I go with the melody first, so I start in various ways. There is no order, so I start making songs as I like.

Do you compose by using a guitar or a keyboard?

Aoi: I compose in a number of ways.

When you compile lyrics, do you find that you take inspiration from the world around you, are you influenced by personal matters in your life?

Aoi: Rather than getting inspiration from something, I feel like it just comes to me. It's like when I don't think about anything, then it comes suddenly. With lyrics, it's like that for me. I compose songs starting from wherever I want to, but I think the starting place comes from me's complicated. I don't think that I get inspiration from things.

Are there any times like when you watch TV, that you are stimulated by social problems and write about your anger toward society or anger that you experience personally? Are your images vague? Do you imagine pictures?

Aoi: Yeah I imagine pictures or images. The images of the songs are also their characters and feelings, I think, but I often imagine them.

When do you have these types of images? Is it when you are not doing anything and relaxing?

Aoi: When images pop into my head or come to me, I feel like they really come down on me. You might think it strange but the things I think are good don't always take form, as I can't record all the time, even if I think they're good at that time. There are many cases where I get good images but I forget them.

Many people use their cellular phones to record them.

Aoi: I don't like that so much. If I lose them, I think it's their fate to be lost. And if I could make the same thing at another time, I think it's also fate that I meet them again. That's how I do it.

So it's not like "I'll start making songs from now?"

Aoi: I sometimes do it like that. I can make them sometimes when I try to.

You have announced the upcoming release of your debut album on June 25th. How long have you been working on this album roughly?

Aoi: The dates when the songs of Veil were created are all different because I made it from a collection of songs that I keep.

Do you mean there are old songs and new ones?

Aoi: Yes. There is Alone and GHOST IN THE SHELL in Veil, which were made quite a while ago, and I played them at one of BOUNTY's lives. When I was going to do a live as a solo artist, I felt like they fit in there so I brought them into my solo work.

So you can't easily say how long you have been working on it?

Aoi: No, I can't.

Around what time did you decide to release your solo album? Did you do your solo activities at the same time as the activities of BOUNTY?

Aoi: Yes. I did both at the same time, but I first released the solo work of my first single, VISION, in December last year, then BOUNTY released the internet-limited single on February 14th this year, so I released work alternatively rather than simultaneously.

What have you personally found to be the most challenging aspect of recording Veil?

Aoi: It's "putting my soul into it." I know it's different from real flesh and blood as for its reality, but I have an image that each song has a story, and they connect one after another and are covered with a veil. I just wanted to release the character of each song very well.

You also do the art direction for the CD jackets.

Aoi: I do it for both my solo and BOUNTY's work.

Where did the image of EDEN come from?

Aoi: The image of this song is that a man and a woman can't help loving each other even if they know it will lead to their ruin....and I'd been thinking of an EDEN trapped in a bottle. The image is like a bond where they can't love each other normally. As in, they hide their feelings in their minds and that is their EDEN. Loving each other is happiness and they feel paradise there........ I wanted to express this.

Did you talk a lot with the designer who made the objets d'arts on the CD jacket of EDEN?

Aoi: Yes. Originally I could make a clear image of the Eden put in a bottle, so we talked a lot about how the Eden was an island, or a paradise, or a fairyland that could be expressed through objects.

Did you do the art direction for your next album Veil, too? What kind of images did you use there?

Aoi: It's set like a story wrapped in a veil. I feel myself within this image, too. As in, I'll release Veil as my first album, which is not my everything. I want to express numerous things in different ways from now on, and I'll keep making songs, so it means a "You'll open my veil and take a peep at me."

In comparison to your solo work, BOUNTY's music appears to concentrate on soft and hard rock influences. Did you opt for a more gothic approach to your solo career to separate yourself from the group, or is the gothic style an approach you're more comfortable with?

Aoi: BOUNTY released an album, Tribal, in which I wrote almost all of the lyrics and KAZUYA composed the music, so it's the work that we all worked on together. I just drew out the feelings the songs had, so it was simply what was released by our cooperative working was different from what is coming out in my solo activities, I think. It could be made just by our cooperative working. While we made the album Tribal, I could know the aspect I myself didn't know.

As a relatively new artist in the industry, what do you personally think is the most important aspect to becoming a successful musician?

Aoi: I always think I want to be "flat." If I stick to something all the time, I have no other choice but to run with it in both good and bad meanings. I want to express what I want to and shape it properly. If I could present what I do to different people and it's accepted, it's a success, I think.

Do you mean that your expression is not only music but also other artistic aspects?

Aoi: Yes. But I think people like artists don't make things for evaluation from others. For example, a ceramist breaks the work he doesn't like. My feeling is like that. I want to be "flat" all the time and want people to see what I deem to be good. If it reaches various people, and if my work is good, that's fine, I think.

Can you see what kind of people you want to send your work to?

Aoi: I think it would be to people all over the world. Before, I watched a TV program and a worker at a zoo said, "I just want to make the animals I take care of happy." His explanation that he can't protect animals all over the world or raise them, but at least wants to make animals that are around him happy, has stayed in my mind. I really feel that, too, in that I want my work to reach the minds of different people, while I know it's impossible to reach all of the people in the world. I'm happy if there are some who listen to my music and they become happy and cheerful because of it.

Do you have anything you want to challenge yourself with from now on?

Aoi: I listen to various kinds of music, and I've been thinking about making an album that incorporates different musical elements from all over the world.

What kind of music do you listen to?

Aoi: Lots; I can't name them all. It would include ragtime and kecak, which is noise composed only by noises. If I was born in those countries where this music comes from I could make something that was very global...

You listen to a wide range of music. Is that reflected in your work?

Aoi: I'm not sure. As I said before, songs just come to me, so if my work does reflect the music I listen to, it's not something I'm aware of.

Despite only having released your debut solo single in December 2007, you have already managed to secure a performance in France. How does this achievement make you feel?

Aoi: This is my first time to do a live overseas, which is at Japan Expo. I am not really too conscious about the fact that I'm playing in France or anything like that, and I feel like I want to be "flat." I feel like it doesn't matter where I stay when I send messages to people, so I just want to enjoy the time doing a live together.

Do you have any expectations for the concert and is there anything in particular that you would like to offer the European audience?

Aoi: There are many things, such as culture, but to enjoy something is a commonality between all countries. I don't ask for anything, but I just want to enjoy together. I want them to receive my message.

If your visit to France proves to be successful, is there a possibility that you'll return to Europe for a tour?

Aoi: I really want to go there again. To France, of course, and to different places, so I really want to return.

Do you think something would change in you?

Aoi: I think so. It's a very wonderful opportunity to see what I only see in books, actually in front of me. People living there consider it everyday life, and when people living in France or Europe come to Japan, they think the same kind of things as me. I think there is so much stimulation just like that.

Please give a message to JaME readers.

Aoi: It hasn't been long since Aoi came into the world, and memories we have together and time we've spent together is not long, but I want to share our feelings and make memories with you. I'm very happy if my work touches you in any way.
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