Interview with Yousei Teikoku at Lantis Festival Las Vegas

interview - 02.13.2015 19:01

The Fairy Empire alights on American soil for a third time, and JaME was there to find out what prompted their latest incursion.

As part of Lantis' two-day Lantis Festival Las Vegas event, the esteemed "anisong" (anime song)-centric label brought gothic metal masters Yousei Teikoku in addition to a swarm of other artists to Otakon Vegas. JaME sat down with Her Highness Yui and her contingent of bandmates to find out why the Fairy Empire has set its sights on the West.

First of all, please explain Yousei Teikoku to readers who may not know the group.

Her Highness Yui: A difficult question. Whence should I begin? Foremost, I would say we are a metal band with one vocalist, two guitarists, one bassist, and a drummer.

Lantis Festival Las Vegas marks the third time you've performed in America. Is there anything that has surprised you when performing in America?

Her Highness Yui: Something surprising? Ah, our first American ceremony, at PMX in California... the stage was some sort of pedestal but twelve centimeters high. At that time, the group was but Tachibana and myself, and we didn't even have a guitar.

Tachibana: It was just the keyboard.

Her Highness Yui: The keyboard, yes. So it was the two of us, a keyboardist and a vocalist, and the audience consisted of... ten people.

Manager: There were more than that.

Her Highness Yui: Were there?

Manager: There were about 100 people.

Her Highness Yui: Ah yes, there were about 100. Anyway, the acoustic system from which our backing music was to be played was.... a CD player.

Tachibana: A portable CD player.

Her Highness Yui: A portable CD player. A CD was placed inside whence our backing music came. Whenever the music ceased, a beeping sound would issue forth from the speakers. So I asked, "Can we not do away with this sound?", and they replied "we'll just mute it whenever the sound comes up". I then told them that I wished not for any disturbances upon our ceremony's commencement, and that we would purchase a new device on our own. They told us, however, "no, no, we got it to work!". After such vehement reassurance, we deigned to believe them... but when the ceremony began, we were once more beset by that incessant beeping!

Tachibana: It was still there. It was a real problem.

Her Highness Yui: Even as we performed, we were plagued by that sound. Though it was our first time in America, it's a rather terrible memory.

Tachibana: The fans were great, though.

Her Highness Yui: They were, weren't they?

Your new album Hades: The other world has been described as a "full volume album". To that end, please explain what sorts of songs are included.

Her Highness Yui: Well, this is our first best-of album released in about four years. In that interval we did release a fully original album, but there was no best-of album in that time period, so the oldest track comes from... about four years prior to now. The very first song is completely new. Most of the songs, however, are songs composed in collaboration with various anime and games.

Yousei Teikoku is known for making music combining a variety of genres. What do you feel are the strengths of this approach?

Tachibana: The main strength would be the ability to make whatever music you want people to hear. More than that, however, it's smart to be able to express what you're trying to say in a variety of ways.

With the release of your new song Hades: The end, you now have three different songs with "Hades" in the title. What sort of meaning does "Hades" hold for you?

Her Highness Yui: "Hades" is... let me see... things such as inner rage and hatred, the unsightly emotions held within that one does not normally wish to bring to the surface. The sentiment, however, is that these, too, can become a kind of power.

Hades: The end was actually composed and performed a while ago. What made you decide to release it now?

Her Highness Yui: Why, I wonder?

Tachibana: The time had come.

Her Highness Yui: Yes, the time had come. It seems.

Artists from many different genres are categorized under the "anisong" label. What do you think it is about anime songs that garners so much love from fans?

Her Highness Yui: I myself have long pondered this very question. If, for example, anisong were considered a genre, it would consist of all manner of styles, from rock to metal to pop. "Anisong" refers to the coming together of all those styles as a means to promote anime and games through music. Because of this, would not anisong attract those who listen to a variety of genres? Such is my reasoning.

In addition to anime, your band, particularly Tachibana and Nanami, has done soundtrack work for games. What are some of the differences between composing a soundtrack and, say, an opening theme?

Tachibana: When it's for a game, the most important thing is the game's image. If you're able to get that across, then the player will really empathize with what's going on. It's also great to be chosen for a job where I can make songs with so much feeling to them.

Nanami: There are some differences between a soundtrack song and a regular song, so when I do soundtrack work I'm careful to make the songs very "Yousei Teikoku-esque" despite that.

In 2014, you were busy with all sorts of new releases and performances. What kinds of things does 2015 have in store?

Her Highness Yui: It shall be wonderful year (everyone laughs). Our newest album, Hades: The other world was released in the twelfth month of last year, and a corresponding tour will be held two months hence in March.

Your Highness, fashion is a very important part of your image. From where do you draw your inspiration?

Her Highness Yui: Hm, ideas... To me, fashion is a way of life. Of course I'm concerned with looking my best, but... when thinking about the word "Hades", my primary concern was expressing through fashion the myriad ugly emotions locked within.

Since Lantis Festival is an anime song event, please give our readers some anime recommendations.

Tachibana: "Love Live" (everyone laughs).

Her Highness Yui: Is that it?

Nanami: "Dragon Ball".

Her Highness Yui: "Utena".

Gight: "Angel Beats".

Shiren: "Stein's Gate".

Manager: Gight?

Her Highness Yui: He said "Angel Beats". (in English) Nice boat. ...Ah, that's different.

You are one of the few Japanese bands with an all-English Facebook page. What made you want to reach out to international fans like this?

Her Highness Yui: Hm... well, metal is something that emerged overseas, so I felt that we as a metal band should also direct our attention abroad.

If you could have a performance anywhere in the whole world, where would you like it to be?

Her Highness Yui: Well, there are so many places, but Europe comes to mind. We would of course also like to visit parts of America in which we have yet to perform, as well as other places around the globe.

What is your favorite thing about America in general?

Her Highness Yui: Everyone is quite cheerful.

Tachibana: It's a friendly place.

Nanami: This is a very vague way of putting it, but America has a sort of "rough" feeling that I enjoy.

Gight: There seem to be a lot of very friendly people. We all said the same thing, huh... (everyone laughs)

Shiren: As far as things outside of music, everyone seems very easygoing. It seems like a carefree place to live.

Lastly, please leave a message for our readers.

Her Highness Yui: Though we are mainly active in Japan, we would very much like once more to be invited overseas. We look forward to the day of our meeting.

JaME would like to thank Lantis, Otakon Vegas, RESONANCE Media, Amuse USA, Lynks International, Include Inc, and Yousei Teikoku for this interview opportunity.
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