Interview with Kameleo

interview - 25.09.2015 10:01

In a marathon interview, JaME gets to know visual kei quintet Kameleo, from members' habits while on tour, to their thoughts on the future of visual kei.

As a band, Kameleo has done a lot of wacky, cool things and is well known for its boundless energy. How would you introduce Kameleo to new or overseas fans?

HIKARU: We're a free-spirited band. A band that tries to put music first before anything else.
Daisuke: There are more free-spirited bands (not musically but as people) but this is Kameleo.
Takashi: We're not just a band. Since all five of us sing, dance and do everything, we don’t conform like a rock band would in the wide range of entertainment.
Kouichi: (in English) Nice to meet you! I am a Japanese entertainer!!
Takeshi: We're Japanese visual rock band idol comedian entertainers.

There are times when you all sing during performances. Would you ever consider making Kameleo an idol group?

HIKARU: More than saying I'd want to be an idol group, the components of an idol group are the same as a rock group. But actual idol groups aren't bad at all.
Daisuke: No, but if the opportunity came around, yes.
Takashi: It's like a weapon, incorporating the good parts of an idol group into a band as an asset. But we couldn't bear being idols.
Kouichi: Not at all. I'll try talking to my mom about it.
Takeshi: Since with an idol group, there's not a face you can compete with, so you use your individuality as a "weapon" to be able to answer 01.

When considering a new concept for a song, album or PV, what’s the process you and your team go through to make it a reality? Have there been times where you start with an idea but end up with something completely different?

HIKARU: For songs, it depends. Before the lyrics and a story or theme is set, the melody has to have a kind of impact, and then the story can go from there onto anything we’re into. When we start to arrange songs, we'll power-up by going with the first idea--and that's something that happens a lot.

Daisuke: I think there's a lot. When an idea hits, we'll try it out.

Takashi: The first thing we initially come up with definitely always changes. From there, we slowly build up a concept and combine everyone’s ideas, so I think it ends up being better in the end.

Kouichi: First, make the melody. Second, decide a concept and write lyrics based upon the feeling of a song. Third, make a PV. Of course, the initial image and what we end up going with is completely different!

Takeshi: For the PV, it's each of us contributing and supervising to shape the direction of our ideas. I think that from the start, there's not really much of a difference.

Kameleo's Devil-kun has an eye-catching concept of the members with a darker side. In your words, can you explain the meaning behind it, and why you decided on such a concept?

HIKARU: Within the story, "Devil-kun" is a "businessman from the depths of hell" who makes an appearance onscreen, and in the first verse, is described by "myself". I think that everyone falls at some point; they're deceived--and that's the concept.

Daisuke: In Japanese, there's a word for “being possessed” that also means "giving into temptation". Someone can have a weakness in their heart, and from that...just writing it out and imagining it, it's scary! But even so, we made it.

Takashi: First off, people do try to convey to listeners through music and it's also a must to think about the appeal that the music has to the heart. Listening to hard words that you wouldn't usually hear and singing to them, young listeners can feel this pain and so--on purpose--the pop-like character, "Devil-kun" was made possible as an incredible way to appeal to listeners. Now, of course the lyrics are just hard to explain so I can't give an answer on that. It's taken as for each and every person, they could think of escape or being captured; or take it as a warning and be free.

Kouichi: I thought of the everyday phrase: "One cannot have pleasure without pain." So for the sake of our life of when we're older, we'll put our whole energy into it and do our best!

Takeshi: Without fail, continuing to lose to the whisper of the devil and the hardships and regret that come with that. But being able to sense a "devil's whisper" means you've won. And creating an opportunity like this as Kouichi made, but together we've abandoned it. Yeah, that's how we do songs. We're good at failing, but we'll create a funny concept and Kouichi's image ends up being even better.

When promoting Devil-kun on YouTube, you went with an unusual but entertaining way by uploading short talk segments titled, Devil-kun Shouten that loosely relates to devils or demons. What made you want to promote the single in this way, instead of the usual routine of uploading teasers, promoting on social media and the releasing the full music video?

HIKARU: It wasn't that the regular way of promotion wasn't interesting. It's just fun.
Daisuke: It's just that it seemed interesting!

Takashi: Seeing it in full, listeners get the chance to take the devil by the hand. Devil-kun Shouten lets fans have more interest in Kameleo but that wasn't the plan. There's been so much interest in us abroad, too.

Kouichi: Only just for when the PV was uploaded, we tried doing "shouten".* Laughing is important for your health.

Takeshi: We've still got a ways to go but people can't take their eyes off of us. It's not normal but when it comes down to it, doing things like this helps get us noticed.

*”Shouten” is a genre of Japanese comedy.

Not only with Devil-kun but tied to other releases, Kameleo's outfits are always visually appealing, to the point that you can’t take your eyes off them. Who comes up wih your outfits? How do you decide what to wear for a show or in a PV?

HIKARU: When listening to the songs, we and the stylists think about the outfits. We envision what we'd be like when performing the song, and go from there. Later, the members decide on their favourite idea. The outfits are important, but it’s just as important to be pleased with the publicity shots and PV. We break down what everyone likes and in the end, unify one idea together.

Daisuke: It's HIKARU's idea. We decide on a theme and make arrangements for about ten outfits. Then those are distributed among the members.

Takashi: We pull ideas for outfits from the "world" of the songs, and wear them. The flashy kinds of outfits though, are ones we pick over stylish outfits.

Kouichi: The members talk with our stylists and decide on something.

Takeshi: Often HIKARU comes up with our outfits. For PVs, we'll use our interpretation of the lyrics for outfits to wear. But for our plain regular clothes, we wear whatever we like.

Your web show "Kame Channel" looks like a lot of fun to film. How much planning goes into an episode?

HIKARU: For Kame Channel?
Daisuke: About three days.
Takashi: Planning is done by our bassist, Kouichi, who takes a considerable amount of time to think about it. There's no script rehearsals or chances for a retake. It's all live.
Kouichi: It takes around two hours.
Takeshi: Filming takes one to two hours, but before filming can happen, Kouichi is at a family restaurant, deliberately playing computer games while 8 million hours are going by.

You have recently been on your nationwide tour THANK YOU 47 ~WE ARE KAMELEO!!~. What’s been the most gratifying thing about going to each and every prefecture?

HIKARU: I'm happy that our fans have been able to meet us. So saying "Tomorrow, I'm also gonna do my best!" at lives towards those who've come, shows that kind of appreciation. I'm not usually this excited.
Daisuke: I haven't said it much at the venues but after giving 120% and leaving the stage, the audience also gives 120% through their smiling faces while yelling out. Seeing those happy faces and hearing them yell makes me happy. I'm so sore the next day, though.
Takashi: The fact that in places we'd never set foot in, people were waiting to see us.
Kouichi: Being able to meet fans from all over the regions. I'd love to do a world tour too, someday soon.
Takeshi: Being able to see our fans from across Japan, and to laugh and cry with them.

When on tour...

What things can't you live without?

HIKARU: A pillow. I need good sleep and if there's none, I bring my own.
Daisuke: When there's no seven-spice mix, it's a bother. On this tour for the Nagoya-ken live, next to the livehouse, seven spices was being used with love!
Takashi: Mac.
Kouichi: Soy sauce. Salt. Mayonnaise. RAAA.*
Takeshi: Salt.

*RAAA is a Japanese brand of beer.

Your favorite restaurant to stop at?

HIKARU: There's lot, actually.
Daisuke: Denny's.
Takashi: Whichever region we're in, that restaurant.
Kouichi: Fuji Soba.
Takeshi: Sukiya. The limited time unagi dish during the summer is the best.

The restaurant to stop at in the middle of the night when you’re desperate?

HIKARU: Jonathan's in Matsuya, Nakau, Yayoiken. All these chain stores have tasty food.
Daisuke: Denny's.
Takashi: I don't go out in the middle of the night.
Kouichi: Going with this image, I don't go out in the middle of the night. Because we're visual kei.
Takeshi: Jonathan's, because it's nearby.

The bes, local ramen restaurants?

HIKARU: Tokushima Ramen was pretty good. Next would be a ramen place in Sapporo: Tsubasa Ramen. I really recommend going there.
Daisuke: Ichiran.
Takashi: Sugakiya, that used to be in Nagoya.
Kouichi: Suehiro Ramen.
Takeshi: Ichiran.

When you walk into a convenience store, the first thing you grab for is...?

HIKARU: Pudding.
Daisuke: Orange juice.
Takashi: Shopping basket!
Kouichi: A shopping basket.
Takeshi: Manga.

What helps you relieve stress before a live?

HIKARU: Stretches and muscle training. Afterwards, I'll do vocal warm-ups.
Daisuke: Doing laundry and ironing and somehow, when I need to feel refreshed, I'll do stretches too. Then I feel refreshed.
Takashi: Being stressed is unbearable (it's in my nature) so before a live, I’ll work on image training for myself.
Kouichi: Taking a bath before a live is relaxing.
Takeshi: I don't really get stressed, but if I do, I'll eat.

Fun things to pass the time when stuck in traffic?

HIKARU: Composing songs on my laptop. When we're travelling between cities on tour, that's when a lot of song-making happens.
Daisuke: Repeatedly listening to rakugo.
Takashi: I'll read books on my iPhone.
Kouichi: Thinking about my life plan for until I'm 50. And I'll re-think my plan too.
Takeshi: As always, I'm constantly falling asleep.

If something goes wrong, how do you deal with it?

HIKARU: I try to change my point of view and work out whatever was wrong. If I'm really into it, a lot of the time I'm helpless but there's little to be done about it.
Daisuke: Until the time that it's running smoothly, I'll put up with it.
Takashi: If I don't run away then I'd face the problem. Big wall or small, I'll break it down little by little until I can climb over it.
Kouichi: I'll endure and think about coping through it, then take action.
Takeshi: If it’s the middle of the night, I’ll wait until morning, walk to a family restaurant, eat a morning set and feel refreshed.

The future...

What’s the best part about being in Kameleo?

HIKARU: We can play a wide range of music. Having that kind of freedom in Kameleo is so fun.
Daisuke: The good and bad things together create empathy. One person who is in a negative mood can create tension, but together, we can go at it head-on with a positive feeling--especially in our music--and be able to smile.
Takashi: If I can't do it alone, I know I can do it with the other members and push out with five times as much power, and even more than that.
Kouichi: We're also fans of Kameleo; of ourselves.
Takeshi: Defying everything and without being broken, being able to make music. Because the members and staff are thinking like this, Kameleo has fans.

When you released Shisakuhin。 back in November 2011, did you think Kameleo would come this far?

HIKARU: Of course I thought we'd be able to do the things we planned on doing. I think it was the band itself not doing it. And I even planned on going even higher! (laughs)
Daisuke: I didn't think so.
Takashi: I thought we would, but I thought it would be more testing for us.
Kouichi: I didn't think so either. But now that it's like this, I'm always anxious!
Takeshi: I completely thought no, we wouldn't. And how far we'd go wasn't certain, but we're weren't lucky yet.

What have been some your greatest successes over the years? Are there things you'd want to re-do, or rediscover?

HIKARU: The timing of Kameleo's formation and our strategy.
Daisuke: If I have to choose, boldly playing the guitar I'm using now and be a big hit!
Takashi: Compared to the year before last and now, doubling the amount of intense lives.
Kouichi: Being able to do a nationwide tour of Japan’s 47 prefectures after four years. I'm grateful.
Takeshi: Kameleo's start.

Visual kei is an ever evolving genre. Where do you see visual kei in the future?

HIKARU: It feels like it's slowly coming to an end.
Daisuke: I think it'll continue to be more popular.
Takashi: For a number of years, visual kei will evolve until its end but right now, I think that change is happening. For a "new" visual kei band to take off, the older but good bands would need to also maintain a presence.
Kouichi: Decreasing birth-rate and aging population.
Takeshi: For better or worse, I think it won't change. So long as some amazing guys don't emerge. I think we shouldn’t be in it at all, really. (laughs)

Where might Kameleo fit into a new era of visual kei? Do you see Kameleo evolving into something new, too?

HIKARU: Continuing to be at the forefront, always. More than visual kei, I find it important to establish an image and particularly a genre for Kameleo.

Daisuke: I don't know yet, because there isn't another band that dances while singing like us. With the increasing number of bands and being able to fit in, I think it becomes clear: it's never been made! But something new could come out, naturally.

Takashi: Trying to fit in wherever possible --I'm not thinking about that. Like pushing the boundaries of visual kei and the possibility of making music that’s even bigger.

Kouichi: Not visual kei, but ”Kameleo-kei”. A band that’s the creative kind is what I'd like to become.

Takeshi: Without "fitting in", I wonder if Kameleo has made a new kind of visual kei. But there's a voice of denial and I think I’d do best to get a sort of evaluation. When there's no pros or cons, that's the end. So for a new kind of visual kei, Kameleo will do its best to not only be creative, but to create a new genre.

After such a serious question, tell us a good joke or pun.

Daisuke: This is being written by staff.
Takashi: Right now, I'm at home alone, and my computer is sitting on the chair but I'm kneeling on the floor, eating yogurt and writing this one-handed.
Kouichi: A man sees a snake and asks him “Hey you, are you an evil snake?" The snake replies "Yes I have.”
Takeshi: Hanage!!* At Kameleo lives, both fans and I yell this out. (laughs)

*”Hanage” is Japanese for "nose hair".

Lastly, if you were reborn, who or what would you be in the next life?

HIKARU: If I could, I’d be reborn as a good looking guy.
Daisuke: I want to become wheat.
Takashi: Just once, I'd like to try being Lady Gaga.
Kouichi: An alien.
Takeshi: I'd be a sportsman who'd get a lot of attention. Ah, that's wrong. Someone who could make dreams come true. I love sports.

Do you have a message for our readers?

HIKARU: Thanks for reading all of this. Please check out Kameleo's music; we'll do our best to be able to meet everyone, one day soon.
Daisuke: Please look out for Kameleo!
Takashi: Japanese music is getting a wider audience overseas and with that, Kameleo might pique more interest. We'll do our best to do a world to your someday soon!
Kouichi: I think coming to Europe for a live someday soon would be great.
Takeshi: Please try searching for "Kameleo" online, and please try to reach out [to us]. Even if you think Kameleo is an annoying band, we're just showing our smiling faces and spreading happiness with our music. Please look out for us.

JaME would like to thank Kameleo for this interview opportunity.

New editions of Kameleo's web show "Kame Channel" are regularly uploaded to Danger Crue Records’s YouTube Channel.
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