Interview with SUGIZO at Japan Expo
While in Paris with X JAPAN, we talked with SUGIZO about his work with X JAPAN, solo activities, his new single and more.
Thank you very much for meeting with us for an interview. It’s not your first time in Paris, but what do you think of Paris so far?
SUGIZO: Last time, I came here for Juno Reactor, right? Back then I couldn’t see any of the city, no views. I was too busy, I just came, played the show and left. This time I'm so happy I can feel more of Paris, the Parisian air, sunshine, it’s so beautiful. It’s so exciting for me to be here, it's very inspirational. I like French culture, movies and all the event venues like this one.
If you have time, are there any places in Paris that you would like to visit while you’re here?
SUGIZO: Today? This time? Just my hotel (laughs). Yesterday afternoon, I don’t know why but my condition wasn’t good so I slept all day.
A few days ago X JAPAN started its world tour in London. How was this performance?
SUGIZO: I was so excited. The United Kingdom is the music capital for us. I think almost all Japanese musicians like UK music. We played at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, which is a holy place for us. So many musicians have performed there. It was a big pleasure for us. The audience was so good, in its attitude, in its feeling. It made us so happy and so excited.
Today you participated in a conference for X JAPAN at the Japan Expo. Is that something you enjoy, participating in conferences and Q&A sessions?
SUGIZO: I really enjoy it but, you know, the mood is always too relaxed and therefore lazy and bad. We had such a large audience in France, it's so fantastic. I felt their great energy.
How do you feel about the world tour, what are you most excited about?
SUGIZO: This is the first time for me to play for X JAPAN in Europe. It’s very special. For X JAPAN, we had so many things. We've made plans for Paris before but we kept running into problems. Finally, we can play here, tomorrow. It’s so good, I am so happy. I have played in Europe many times. X JAPAN is really special to me. Every time I played for X JAPAN I felt that our music and our feelings has no border.
You’re in LUNA SEA and X JAPAN at the same time. What is the difference for you? Do you feel the same way in each band?
SUGIZO: Sometimes I feel kind of different but other times I feel the same. For example, I created LUNA SEA, LUNA SEA's music is my style. It’s more comfortable than X JAPAN. The music of X JAPAN is a big challenge for me. But LUNA SEA and X JAPAN are important bands for opening the gate of the Japanese music scene, so in that way these two bands are quite similar. Each project is different but at the same time each project is similar.
Do you feel the same on stage during X JAPAN and LUNA SEA’s shows?
SUGIZO: I can’t explain because now it’s kind of natural to me. Each band, each show is so comfortable to me.
Yesterday you released a new digital single called Miranda featuring MaZDA. Can you tell us what this single is about and who is ‘Miranda’?
SUGIZO: Miranda is a satellite of Uranus, you know the solar system? The sound is progressive ambient electro with my violin. This song is very beautiful and psychedelic. Any time I have inspiration from space, any stars, any planets, yes, usually it is Miranda. It is one of the satellites of Uranus.
You worked with MaZDA on this single, who has worked with you before. Can you introduce MaZDA to us and tell us why you chose to work with him?
SUGIZO: We started to work two years ago. He’s a genius and also a trackmaker. He’s an innovator of the psychedelic-trans Japanese music scene. Usually, I create my song using my computer, and he is a very good adviser to me for music arrangement.
How were the composition roles divided between the two of you?
SUGIZO: Usually first, I make my own tracks and after that I pass them to him. He changes it, then sends it back to me. It is an exchange. But he composed Miranda, and after that I arranged the melody and guitars, so this time was different compared to how we usually work.
Why did you decide to release Miranda as a digital single?
SUGIZO: From 2009, I started to release my singles digitally only and not on CD. Now, I only do this because I don’t want to make too much garbage because it is an energy problem and a problem for the ecological system. It is very important that the music culture changes in this respect. I think we need CDs for albums, not for singles. Digital copies are easier to manipulate. It is my opinion that making CDs for singles is useless.
Seeing as you haven’t released a new album in a few years, do you have any plans to release a new album?
SUGIZO: Yes. Currently I'm working on my new album. I am working on it this year. I started this album project two years ago, but I was too busy with Reboot and the world tour to finish it. And the disaster of March did not help. I think I will release it in October or November.
In March, you collaborated with Ryuichi Kawamura and m.o.v.e for the single oveRtaKerS. How did such a unique collaboration come about, and what was it like to work with m.o.v.e?
SUGIZO: I recorded it last December, a long time ago. Before we recorded together, Ryuichi Kawamura worked on it. It was a nice work and I'm very, very proud. m.o.v.e has a very strong image for their music and this made it easier for me to work with them. It was a good creativity moment.
In April, you released a personal book called SUGIZO: Half a Stormy Lifetime of a Man Loved by Music. On your Facebook blog you explained that it was unusual for you to give such a personal view on your private life. What are some of the reactions you received on this book?
SUGIZO: So many people told me it was good. I never imagined such great feedback about my private life. My life is kind of weird, so at first I didn’t want to make this book, but people convinced me to do it. I changed my mind and tried to do it. Now I don't regret it, but making music is easier for me than writing. I am just a musician.
Is there a possibility for an English or other language release of the book?
SUGIZO: I want to do it in English if possible; I would like to touch many countries.
How about releasing it in other languages?
SUGIZO: Why not in French (laughs), Chinese, Spanish, Russian .
What are your plans for after the X JAPAN world tour?
SUGIZO: After the tour I have my own recording to do. This summer there is a big festival for X JAPAN in Japan. In September X JAPAN has a South American tour. In October we'll be planning LUNA SEA's charity show for the Japanese earthquake. I’ll be planning my own tour after that.
What about S.K.I.N?
SUGIZO: Since we started S.K.I.N I've been so busy but I don’t want to give up the project. You know, now Shinya is with GACKT, MIYAVI is busy too, I am a crazy guy but to think it will be possible. YOSHIKI is busy too. Someday we should restart S.K.I.N, that’s just my opinion. Four years ago we couldn't find a bassist.
What about Ju-ken?
SUGIZO: He is a very great session player, but session players are more interested in money. And he is casual. For me, YOSHIKI and MIYAVI money is important, but does not come first. We really need an artist more than a technician. Of course I respect his work, he is very professional. But for S.K.I.N we don’t need a session player so it is very difficult.
Finally, please give a message for our readers.
SUGIZO: First, I really want to say that I really appreciate all the fans, all the people that gave us great courage after the earthquake. I really appreciated that. They made us feel that we are not alone. It's a huge problem, and from it we've found really important relationships with the rest of the world. I really need the support of my fans around the world. I've been interviewed by JaME many times and it’s a great pleasure for me. I hope we continue to get along well and that our relationship strengthens. We really need you. We can give you very good music and good spirituality, good dreams. Thank you! This time so many fans gave us a lot of courage. I’m so happy. Right after the earthquake, Japan completely changed. Of course you know Fukushima’s problem... it's the same as Chernobyl. There has always been anxiety in Japan about radioactivity, but with music we can move forward. Now I’m so happy I can play in Paris tomorrow because people give us such great courage, and this time I really want to give that courage back to them.
JaME would like to thank SUGIZO and Takeshi Asai for making this interview possible.