Exclusive interview with Charlotte in Brazil

interview - 02.12.2007 12:00

JaME got the chance to interview the visual kei band in Brazil about their first time playing overseas.

While responsible for organizing the band's photoshoot taken at Cristo Redentor (a famous place in the city of Rio de Janeiro), the Brazilian JaME team had the opportunity to sit down with the members of the visual kei band Charlotte for an exclusive interview about their concerts of November 10th and 11th, performed in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, which was the first time the band performed abroad.

It was a hot, sunny Wednesday and everyone was tired, but still very excited when talking about the event.

It's a huge pleasure to be here with all of you. We'll be asking some question about the concerts and the Japanese visual scene. First of all, could you please introduce yourselves for our readers who may not be familiar with your band?

Kazuno: We are Charlotte. Eu sou o vocalista, Kazuno (in Portuguese: I am the vocalist, Kazuno).
Ruka: We are Charlotte. Eu sou o baixista, Ruka (I am the bassist, Ruka).
Takane: We are Charlotte...
Kazuno: There's no need to say "Charlotte" anymore. (laughs)
Takane: Eu sou o baterista, Takane (I am the drummer, Takane).
Mitsujou: Eu sou guitarrista, Mitsujou (I am the guitarist, Mitsujou)
Touya: Eu sou guitarrista, Touya (I am the guitarist, Touya).
Kazuno: In Rio (laughs).

Why did you choose the name Charlotte?

Kazuno: Only for its sound. One time we used to listen to Charlotte Church, we thought the name sounded okay and we ended up calling our band that.

So there is no special meaning?

Kazuno: No (laughs).

A lot of visual kei bands have been performing concerts in Europe and America for some years now. Being a major band and having your work already recognized in Japan, had you ever thought about receiving an invitation to play overseas?

Kazuno: Yes. Since many bands were already invited to play overseas, we were expecting something like this. The only surprise was to play in Brazil.

Did you know anything about Brazil before playing here?

Kazuno: Only the most famous things, not all the details.

How was the experience of visiting Brazil?

Ruka: A sequence of surprises.
Kazuno: As there are many differences compared to what we're used to in Japan, we are surprised about a lot of things. But besides that, it has been a lot of fun and everyone here is really nice.

You've done two performances in our country, did anything surprise you about them?

Kazuno: Even though they’re in the same country, just like Tokyo and Osaka are both in Japan, the public reaction in both places is different and that was very interesting.

Through your career we're able to see that various backstage moments are recorded and put in the DVDs as very funny extra stuff. Are these moments important for creating the band image?

Kazuno: Yes, they are. Not only the concerts, but also the memories of living other moments with happiness.

Do you intend to use the shooting of your concerts in Brazil?

Kazuno: Yes, we would like to show them somewhere. In Japan.

You've chosen a "school theme" for the band. Why exactly did you make this choice?

Kazuno: At the time in Japan there was no band using the school theme. And in Japan, because school is somewhere that surely many people go to, we thought it would be easier for people understand the messages of the songs. It was to create an identity for the band as well.

A personal question! What kind of student were you?

Kazuno: I didn't do bad things, but used to hang out with the people who did them.
Ruka: I was a delinquent (laughs).
Takane: I used to study very seriously.
Mitsujou: I was always late.
Touya: I was very good person (laughs).

An element always present in your concerts is the 'furitsuke' (choreographies). Who creates them?

Kazuno: First, I make them. If I have some doubts, I ask the other members for help. But as they only make weird suggestions, I end up doing everything (laughs).

Do you expect the overseas fans to follow the furitsuke as well?

Kazuno: If it is to enjoy the concert of a Japanese band, it'd be interesting if they do it. But even if they don't, if they are enjoying the concert, that's what matters.

What is the process of composing songs in Charlotte?

Kazuno: Previously, first we did all the instrumental part together, and then we put the lyrics and melody. Lately, because we want to make a lot of songs, each member creates and presents his own, and after that we combine it with everyone else's and decide how it'll be.

Many bands, when play overseas, try to get rid of the 'visual kei band' stereotype. Do you feel comfortable under that denomination?

Kazuno: Yes.
Ruka: We don't see any problem in that.
Kazuno (asking to Touya): Can we call it visual kei? (laughs)

You are the first visual kei band to go to South America. Being ahead of a growing market like this, do you have an impression you'd like to share about the position of the visual kei bands?

Kazuno: There are many similar Japanese bands, so I think that creating their own identity would be interesting. Besides, I believe that if the Japanese bands don't try harder, they will not be able to keep up with the Jrock fans worldwide. The fans overseas are more enthusiastic about Jrock than the fans in Japan, so the bands should follow that determination.

It is a local custom to take your camera to a concerts and take your own photos. Even after asking for not doing this, it happened. How do you feel about it?

Kazuno: Charlotte, being the first Visual Kei band to play in Brazil, it was tough, at beginning. It would be nice to let people have fun freely, as they are used to. But in Japan, pictures, videos, bootlegs, taking from normal devices or cell phones, are prohibited. In Japan we don’t see it as doing or not doing something for the artist, we just cheer for them at a distance.
In Brazil this relation seemed closer. We know that's impossible to force this Japanese rule in Brazil at once, but we would like for Brazilian fans also to think about Japan and respect something that might trouble us. That way, we would play with much more enthusiasm. Also, if this keeps going on, it would be harder to bring Japanese bands to play in Brazil in the future.
That's why we think that this would be hard to get right straight away, but if people slowly understand that by absorbing the good points in both the Brazilian way and Japanese way, the bands’ concerts in Brazil will be even better.

Still there are only a few stores working with Japanese original products in Brazil. Many fans could only know about and get interested in Charlotte by music downloaded from internet. It's like this in almost all Western countries. How do you feel about it?

Kazuno: Is this kind of download illegal over here too?
Kazuno: Times change, so we don’t know if there is much we can do about it. But we do think that Japanese bands should start sending CDs to sell in Brazil. If the bands achieved that and, with easy access to the CDs, Brazilian fans didn’t buy them, it would be a huge loss, economically speaking, for them. This also happens in Japan and it's very sad that it isn’t controlled.

Last year Charlotte surprised everyone saying you would disband in case all your concert tickets weren't sold out. Can you tell us more about that? Was it only a joke?

Kazuno: Yes. It was true. (everyone agrees) And, speaking about it, some people who wouldn't make it to the concerts because they live far away, even they bought the tickets to help.

Recently you came on stage while a song of the Johnny's artist Yamapi (Daite Senorita on Stylish wave) was playing. Are you Yamapi fans? Or was it just for fun?

Ruka: Johnny's!? (laughs)
Kazuno: Not Yamapi especially. We choose groups with artists who dance to come on stage to.
Ruka: And by chance we chose Yamapi.
Kazuno: For example, we also like V6. Many people who dance.

What are you musical influences? Oriental and occidental?

Kazuno: Japanese, Luna Sea. Not Japanese, Bon Jovi.
Ruka: Japanese, Luna Sea. Not Japanese, Mr. Big.
Takane: Japanese, The Blue Hearts and not Japanese, Aerosmith.
Mitsujou: Japanese, Tube. Not Japanese, Extreme.
Touya: Japanese, Luna Sea. Not Japanese, Mr. Big.

Do you have a special memory of a moment in this trip to Brazil?

Kazuno: The fans are amazing!
Ruka: The meat is very good.
Takane: The enthusiasm of the concerts.
Mitsujou: The kindness of the Brazilians.
Touya: The enthusiasm of the concerts and the street vendors (laughs).

JaME is a international website and we've been following many bands all around the world. Would you like to play in another country if you're invited?

Kazuno: We would like that.
Ruka: To play in other countries.

Is there any song in particular that you'd recommend to someone who just got to know about Charlotte?

Kazuno: Mmm...
Ruka: There are many.
Kazuno: There are, right? All of them! (laughs) Each song has a different feeling, so, all of them.

Please could you leave the Brazilian fans a message?

Kazuno: We will work hard in Japan to come back to Brazil once again, so please cheer for us. That's it... more or less. (laughs)

Thank you sincerely for this interview

Charlotte: Thank you.

We would like to thanks Charlotte and NERVE, especially Kuma-san, for letting us have this interview.
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