Isshi - Never Fading Flower

file - 07.10.2011 11:01

“...And if you're not sure if you have the courage to take the next step forward towards the future, remember my voice."

Isshi was born on December 7, 1978 in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, well-known because of its beautiful castle. His parents really liked music, so it accompanied him since early childhood. Inspired by artists like ANZENCHITAI or Masashi Sada, he began composing in college. At first he wanted to learn to play a musical instrument – he tried the guitar, bass, drums and even keyboard. However, he didn’t do well and he decided to became a vocalist instead. Singing fascinated him because "you can’t be bad or good at it, you can only be eccentric or original.” At the age of twenty, he founded a band with Izumi and Nao, which they called CROW. Soon after, the new band signed with the KEY PARTY label.

Since then, the band's career, as well as its vocalist, began to develop. In 2000, the band signed to PS COMPANY and changed their name to Kagrra — after going major they added a comma to it — which better conveyed their style called "Neo Japanesque.” This term referred to the word "wa," which meant Japanese aesthetics and traditional customs which were derived from former traditions and after transformations survived till the present day. The band expressed it both visually and musically. For example, the musicians performed in costumes modelled on kimonos and they included traditional instruments like the koto in their music. However, to Isshi, "wa” simply meant being Japanese and being proud of being Japanese.

Kagrra, consisted of really great musicians. Their music stood out because it wasn't just an imitation of someone else's work but was created by the members themselves from absolute zero. So, according to Isshi, even with the passing of time, it'll never lose its unique color, and those who listen to it once will never stop. These words were not only for Japan, but the whole world too as the band toured overseas a few times, presenting visual kei and Japanese culture in that way. "In that sense our music will never vanish, right? I think that for me, for the other members and the fans, Kagrra, will forever be an important thing,” Isshi said in one of his interviews.

Kagrra, also stood out in the Japanese music scene because of their lyrics that were written by their vocalist who was very fascinated by traditional Japanese culture, and perfectly expressed band's concept. Isshi's lyrics, considered by many to be excellent, were often written in old Japanese language and featured kanji characters which are not used any more, and that kind of details added some uniqueness to Kagrra,'s songs. It's more impressive when you take into account that Isshi had no education in that direction. According to his band mates, he was a real kanji otaku and in entries posted on his blog, he often included a new kanji character for his fans to decipher.

Isshi's works were mainly inspired by books, which he absorbed in large quantities. He once said, "I love reading books. I find them very beautiful. So when I compose I always have a scene from an old epic.” He loved the traditional Japanese stories his grandmother always told him during his childhood, especially those about Japanese demons and monsters because according to him, most of these legends were based on real facts. This interest was also reflected outside of his music, as Isshi wrote his own stories in similar style.

Isshi was deeply immersed in music all the time. He even spent his free time listening to various bands such as HELLOWEEN, Queen and ANZENCHITAI, or watching music DVDs. He considered the opportunity to express himself through music a privilege. In his opinion, people nowadays are too busy to understand what is happening around them and they can't see that the world is becoming worse everyday. This is what he wanted to convey in his music. He wanted to use his songs to reduce a little of the evil in people. He said in one of the interviews: "(...) if we can use our music to awaken the very small amount of serenity in young people’s hearts, then we have achieved our goal.”

Unfortunately, Kagrra, lasted only ten years. After slowing their releasing pace and problems with Isshi's throat, it was announced in March 2011 that the band had stopped its activities. The musicians themselves didn't describe it as a "disbandment," but rather a "demise." As Isshi explained, it wasn't caused by any disagreements in the band. He and the other members had during the past ten years created what Kagrra, had become and felt that they had reached their limits. Thus, they felt they weren't able to create anything new that way.

Soon after, Isshi returned to the music scene with shiki∞project which made its debut live on April, 1 2011. The singer also released a single called Rasasakura. Unfortunately, on July 25, shocking, unexpected information was revealed: a week before, Isshi had fallen into eternal sleep in his home. He was 32 years old when he passed away. At the request of his family, only his family and closest friends could take part in his funeral, but fans were able to say goodbye to their favourite musician during meetings on 28 and 29 of July in Tokyo Ebisu Act Square. One of the former Kagrra, members, Nao, wrote on his blog: "Isshi, please watch over me. Please watch over all of us."

According to his band mates, Isshi was full of enthusiasm for what he did and liked the company of like-minded people. He also felt a need to ensure that everybody around him was happy. He wanted to be loved by everybody and hoped that fans would fully appreciate the work of his band and that they would want to stay with him forever. He admitted at the same time that fans were also very important to him. Isshi was very direct and full of optimism and he had passions considered by others as quite strange, like collecting figurines of Buddha. He loved dogs, and always had a few.

Isshi once said, "Death is the beginning of eternity." This special person, who was Kagrra,'s vocalist, won't disappear quickly from the memory of his fans for sure, but will stay in their hearts forever.
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