Interview with YOSHIKI in Brazil
Before X Japan's first show in Brazil, YOSHIKI discussed the band’s world tour, as well as his inspirations and expectations from their visit to Brazil.
I'd like to ask about the band’s musical style. Many people debate whether it still fits in the visual kei style or if it’s post-visual kei, or some other style. How does the band view its musical style? I know this question about a label does not always delight the musicians, but… How do you view the X JAPAN style nowadays?
YOSHIKI: Well, when we started the band, the problem was we didn’t belong anywhere. Because we were playing very heavy music, we were wearing tons of make-up and crazy outfits. So we couldn’t belong anywhere, so we just created our own genre. That eventually became visual kei. But visual kei is more like a spirit, it’s not a music style or, you know… I think it is a freedom about describing myself, a freedom to express myself, that’s what I believe visual kei is. Whenever people categorize us, we are fine, but we probably are visual kei.
Currently you’re finishing a new album and at the same time doing a world tour. With the culture shock of different audiences, how does this influence the band’s new work?
YOSHIKI: We are very lucky to be touring around the world, and we feel so lucky to be here in Brazil. Well… We are a little bit tired, I think… I hoped that the others could be here today, but they are taking a rest, but I’m not. (laughs) So… I just feel so lucky to be doing all these things.
After a long time without doing performances with the band, did you have any difficulties with adjusting to the other members after the reunion?
YOSHIKI: Yes, before we decided to reunite our band, we had to fix our friendship first. So, a band is more like a family. It is not just that we all get together and play, we have to share a lot of time together. What we did was fix our friendship first, then we reunited the band.
hide composed a lot of songs. How was the composition of the new songs in the reunion without him? The new influences… How did you make do without him?
YOSHIKI: Well, composing with him was just a part of, you know, the time we lost. It’s like I said before, a band is like a family, so we spend a lot of time touring, in hotels, in airplanes, in trains, in cars or eating together. So all those time we share was very hard to let go, we miss that. Sometimes as a band, the majority of the time we spend is not working; it's just, you know, gathering around. Well, I don’t know what to say… He was more contributing to the arrangement part. hide composed some songs as well, but… sometimes when I compose new songs, I think about how HIDE would do this arrangement. Even TAIJI we lost recently. Both, HIDE and TAIJI are still in our heart and spirit. We try to be positive, not negative.
How does SUGIZO contribute to the composing?
YOSHIKI: Well, he is always our friend. I've known him almost twenty years, so it was so natural for him to be part of X JAPAN. Then, as you know, each member has a solo career, including myself. So, he fits very well.
And for the composing?
YOSHIKI: Composing? Yes, actually… He wrote a song. I hope we can include his song in our new album. We are seeing if we can do it or not. Also even for the new song I wrote, he is writing a solo. So I really worked well with him. Ah! Also he plays violin and I play the piano, so we kind of do other versions. We also mixed that.You will probably see it at tomorrow’s show.
Art of Life is a song that is different from the others in X’s repertoire because it is almost half an hour long. When did you feel that you were ready, as an artist, to compose a song that magnificent? And from where did you get the inspiration for both the lyrics and the melody?
YOSHIKI: Well, that song is almost thirty minutes long, so it’s very different from any - not only X JAPAN’s - songs. (laughs) Longer than any song in the world, I guess. I mean, who plays a thirty minute song on the radio these days? (laughs) The reason I wrote the song… I guess actually they didn’t believe when I recorded it. I asked them, “Why does a song have three, four or five minutes?” The music should have more freedom. Then I said, “If I write a thirty minute song, can you guys try to play it on the radio?” and they said “Sure!” (laughs) Ok, then two weeks later… I took two weeks to write that song… So, then I said, “I wrote a thirty music song” and they freaked out. (laughs)
And from where did you get the inspiration for the lyrics and the song?
YOSHIKI: The inspiration for Art of Life? Well, X JAPAN’s songs - some of them are not fiction, they are just like my real experiences. So, I just drew from my emotion. You know, I used all my pain, and happiness… I put everything into the lyrics. So, for Art of Life I just started thinking about my own life, what I’ve been through. Because I was very… I don’t know how to put it… I was suicidal after I lost my father. I didn’t want to live, so I didn’t know how to survive. If it weren’t for the music, I probably would not be here. Instead of just doing crazy things, I just write song after song, lyric after lyric. So, probably that song… It’s hard for me to say, but it saved my life…
What is your opinion about the evolution of Japanese music since the time of the band's creation, especially in Brazil?
YOSHIKI: It’s great! I didn’t think about that fifteen years ago, ten years ago. Recently I also got on Facebook and Twitter, so I get a lot of messages. Well, about fifteen years ago, we had a press conference in New York, and we signed… I think it was more than fifteen years ago I guess… We signed with Atlantic Records. That time, a journalist from… I shouldn't even say… he said “Why did you come here?” He meant: “You don’t even speak English.” That time I didn’t speak at all. (laughs) Also before I step up and run, he asks me, “How do you think Japanese music will look?!” And I said “Music has no boundaries.” And after all those years, we are touring around the world. And also the music has spread across the internet. I think Japanese music is very unique, because we have influence from the West and also the East. So I think it’s about time that music won’t come only from West, but also from the East. Japanese music can be pretty popular in the world. I’ve been believing that for a long time, and it’s started happening. This is very amazing!
Have you received many messages from Brazilian fans?
YOSHIKI: Yes, mainly through my Twitter, YoshikiOfficial. When I communicate with my Brazilian fans, their reaction is the biggest in the world. It’s awesome! And because of that, I cannot wait to come to Brazil. I’m very happy with so much love!
Do you have any Brazilian influence in your music? Do you know any Brazilian band or music? What do you expect from the audience, who is definitely different from Americans and Japanese? Do you think it will be different playing in Brazil?
YOSHIKI: Well, first of all, I want to get some Brazilian influence from today! I mean, It’s my first time here, so I would like to learn as much as I can. I want to enjoy this town as much as I can, and I want to enjoy the people as much as I can. So from today, our music will be influenced by Brazil. Tomorrow’s show, we expect something we've never experienced, something very memorable. Something very, I don’t know, historical.