Interview with Kagrra

interview - 09.01.2007 08:00

JaME was able to interview Kagrra on December 18th, 2002 before their concert in Osaka.

In 2002, JaME had the opportunity to hold an interview with the visual kei band Kagrra, who were very unaware of the attention they received from overseas at that point. Kagrra is a band that fascinates visual kei fans greatly and apart from their very beautiful and traditional appearance, their original music style also has a great effect on their popularity.

The group was very excited to receive an interview from the faraway continent of Europe and before their concert at the Shinsaibashi Muse Hall in Osaka, we spoke with the five members of Kagrra.


Your music is very exceptional. Thank you for having this interview with us. Do you intend to promote yourselves throughout Europe?
The band: Thank you very much for your interest in our music.
Izumi: I am very glad to know that there are people outside Japan who are interested in our music.
Nao: Wow, this is brilliant! Thank you for working with us.
Isshi: Thank you.

Could you please introduce yourselves one by one to us?
Akiya: I am the guitarist of the band, Akiya.
Shin: I am also the guitarist, Shin.
Isshi: I am Isshi, the vocal.
Nao: I am Nao, I play the bass.
Izumi: Izumi, drummer of the band. Thank you.

How long has the group been together?
Isshi: For 3 years?
Nao: It was back in 1999 that we formed the band.

How did you come together to form this band?
Isshi: To start with, Izumi was the group leader, Nao and I wanted to join the group. But then we were missing two guitarists.
Shin: And it was just from here that we started to play together.

The group name Kagrra, really draws attention. In Japanese, "Kagrra" means ‘the music of God’. Does this have an impact on your music and direction?
Isshi: No, the name was merely chosen because it sounded good. But there is not much connection with the music of Gods. A Japanese name is chosen because we are Japanese and wanted to give an impression that our music is very oriental.

What makes the style of your music so unique? Are there any inspirations in particular when composing the music? [There was a minute of silence while they looked at each other]
Nao: Wow. [Laughs]
Shin: Are all the questions like this?
Isshi: Is this the most difficult question? Well, with whatever that is expressed in our music, it is just purely a Japanese style.

What about images? Or any religious view? Any type of Japanese mythology or history?
Isshi: Yes, it is true that when I am writing, I do have images in my mind. And as regards to religion, you can say that in all kinds of direction, The East can be a sort of religion for us. On the other hand, when I write the words, it is from my point of view when I am trying to express any type of religion.

The song lyrics are often very old Japanese, and many of the kanji are not used these days anymore. They are very fine lyrics, are you the one who write them?
Isshi: Yes, I write the lyrics.

The words are great. Very well written. Did you receive any special type of education for such splendid writing?
Isshi: [Laughs] No, not particularly.
Shin: There is someone who gives him help, and that person is called Shin.
Isshi: Don’t say that! [Laughs] I love reading books. I find it very beautiful. So when I compose I always have a scene from an old epic. Right now I am reading Kyougoku Tadahiko. It influences me so much.

Is this the case with everything? [Shin and Izumi exchange glances]
Shin: Oh, not me definitely. [Laughs]
Nao: It is more delirious with him.
Izumi: Let’s just say it is clear that what he writes is interesting, but sometimes I don’t necessarily understand the meaning of the words used. For example, I can feel it in the music but to explain what is written exactly, I am very bad with it.

What do you see beyond your music?
Isshi: Peace? [Laughs] There is so much going on right now. And we have the advantage to show what we are passionate for: Music. In our societies nowadays, not many people will have the time to understand and to know what is going on around us. From our point of view, society is becoming worse and worse everyday. And we can express this through our music, even if it means evil had to be included in it.

What part would you wish to play in current society?
Isshi: It might be a little exaggerated. But it is true that with our music, we would like to decrease the evil in the world bit by bit everyday. And if we can use our music to awaken the very small amount of serenity in young people’s hearts, then we have achieved our goal.

Akiya, do you think the same too?
Akiya: Yes, if our music can truly influence young people to stay away from commiting crimes, then I will be very happy by this effect.
Izumi: There are too many people nowadays who live without a dream. But with our music, we would like to change that, so everyone can hold a dream.
Nao: I agree with the others. If our music can play a small part in contributing to the improvement of society, then this will be great. And it will undoubtedly be the reason which will push us to continue and give motivation to the ones who listen to our music.
Shin: Same for me, choosing music to express my view. And for those who are not sure about their lives ahead, I truly hope our music can help them to find their way. This would be great. And as for those who choose to commit crime, I would like to help them with our music, which might just be able to divert them from the dark path.

What interests you at this moment?
Akiya I am very anxious about the situation between Iraq and the USA right now. Iraq has one of the strongest weapons for destruction, while the USA holds some of the even more terrifying weapons. Eyes for eyes, teeth for teeth. I would like to find a peaceful solution as soon as possible. Japan is just stuck between the 2.. I truly wish that Iraq would find peace soon once again.
Shin: For me, however, international relations do not interest me that much. In only Japan, there is much shocking news. This morning, I watched TV and this man wanted a remarriage after having killed his own wife and children. I was so shocked when I heard that!
Isshi: It is the economy of Japan which worries me the most. The economy is degrading so much that right now, we are at our lowest. And because with such a difficult economic situation, people are less likely to spend their money and in a way, it affects us. So I would just like Japan's situation to be rectified soon.
Nao: For me it has to be the environment.
Izumi: I wonder who can save this world. A man? A miracle? It is degrading more and more and becoming more rotten everyday. And the fact that human beings are becoming more unbearable and intolerable frustrates me too. Thinking about all this really upsets me.

And does Kagrra, hope to help this world?
All: Definitely!!

Isshi, when you are singing, it often gives the impression of a conversation between a man and a woman.
Isshi: Yes. It is precisely what I try to do. Thank you very much. It was in college that I began composing. My parents liked music since I was very young, so I was always involved with it.

What are the themes for some of your songs?
Isshi: Different stories. I like to look back at ancient Japanese stories. Today not many people do such thing, but for me, I enjoy composing them and then singing them. I will try to illustrate the images in my song which came across while reading these stories.

Are you the only one who write the lyrics?
Isshi: Yes.
Akiya: It is the melody parts which occupy us. We would compose our instrument part and then Isshi would be composing the words. We really count on him and rely on him for the completion of the song.

Why have you never written in English like many others do?
Isshi: Imagine Americans began singing our songs because it was written in English. It seems ridiculous. And if a Japanese began to sing in English it doesn’t seem natural at all. So for me, all the songs are written and sang in Japanese. It is what I like and this is the best for me.

Is Akiya the only one who likes other culture other than Japanese?
Akiya: Yes. I am Japanese, so in theory I like Japan, but I only listen to foreign music. I am a great fan of The Beatles. But the music which I like seemed to have disappeared during war time in America. But I must say that was a splendid moment in music history. All the wars stopped for an hour because of a concert.

People often say that Kotodama is the essence of Kagrra,. What do you think about that?
Isshi: For me all Kagrra, songs are very special. Right now it is Kotodama. During concerts, Kotodama brings together the Wasensu (Japanese essence) and all the fans imitate my dance moves. They dance with me and I find it great. Therefore it is more well-known.

What do you wish to convey with the title Kotodama?
Isshi: It doesn’t necessarily carry the original meaning of Kotodama. Whereas it is written so the meaning is ‘The words of love which are painted by the heart’.

In the album Gozen the title is written in Romanji. Is there a specific reason for this?
Isshi: This time we have a new concept. For if we wrote the word in Kanji, the meaning can be easily understood. However if we wrote it in romanji, people will ask ‘Which meaning of Gozen could this be?’ and it would give us much more freedom when composing. If we use the romanji, we have the whole of the mystery around the word for us to explore.

Were your trading cards written in English?
Isshi: Yes. We thought this was a good choice.

Which Kagrra, songs do you prefer?
Akiya: I like them all. Because I really concentrate on each of them, so I like them all.
Shin: I also like them all, but I have a particular liking for Kotodama, Stestunara Kotoba and Hyakkiyakkou. Because they are our older stuff, and when I play them in a concert I truly enjoy myself.

What type of Western music do you like?
Akiya: I watch quite a lot of TV. Right now I like Britney Spears, and I have interest in all kinds of music. I try to keep up to date.

Isshi?
Isshi: For me, there is an actor whom I like right now, I think his name is Vincent Garot? I also like Anzen Chitai (a Japanese group from the 80s). And as to which Kagrra, song I like, I like all of them, but especially Gozen right now. When composing the songs it was like a suffering for all of us.
Shin: I also like Gozen a lot.
Isshi: Gozen, with all 10 songs.

What is Gozen? On the CD photograph, it seems there is a Cross with Jesus Christ on it.
Akiya: Oh yes, that’s true. How come I didn’t see it this way before?
Isshi: Actually, the drawing on the CD represents the immortal design of Gozen. There are no religious connections.

What influences you to be involved in the music scene?
Akiya: All my influences have come from movie or video game music. Also, I played the piano since kindergarten. And when I saw Luna Sea on TV for the first time, that is when I began playing guitar. I found this so brilliant and I thought ‘Wow, I have to continue with the guitar.’
Shin: I was also influenced around that time, especially by the songs which I heard during lives. The first live I ever went to was Luna Sea’s and I loved it so much I had to start the guitar immediately.
Isshi: For me it is also around that same time. What influenced me most was Sada Masashi and Anzen Chitai. For wording of songs, it was from my grandmother who continuously told me ancient Japanese stories and myths.
Nao: For me is was CCB, an old Japanese group.
Izumi: I was a fan of Gargoyle. I really liked indies music during college, it was then that I began learning the drum.

What about religion? Is there any religious reference in your music?
Akiya: Me? No, there is no specific religion.
Shin: Me neither. My parents have religious beliefs, but not me.
Isshi: I love Buddhism. I don’t worship it, but I just simply like it. I like the images, the statues of Japanese divinities.
Nao: My family and I are members of Sokka Gakkai, so that attracts me a lot.
Izumi: Me too, I am Sokka Gakkai too.

What do you think when there are foreigners attending your concert?
Akiya: I find it great. I love it.
Isshi: I love it too. Previously, someone mentioned that we will be able to have a live abroad. I wonder what the outcome will be. Do you think that we would be really successful?

What if we ask you to come and perform a live in France?
Akiya: Thank you, but it is necessary to see the manager. But we would really like to take the chance.
Shin, Isshi: It is very clear that we would love to do it.

You have already had a tour abroad?
Isshi: Yes, last year we had a live in Hong Kong. It was super. When arriving in the airport, the fans were all excited! They even tapped on the bus window and called out my name. It was very impressive.

Did you do anything other than just performing?
Isshi: Um.. I did do some shopping.

Do you have a final message for your overseas fans?
Akiya: To all the fans, it would be great if we can share our music with the rest of the world.
Shin: I am very happy that people in France know our music too, it really touches me. Thank you.
Isshi: I would love to be loved by everyone. I hope we will have many fans who can truly appreciate our music.
Nao: We would love to help the whole world with our music. So for all your help I would like to say Thank you very much.
Izumi: I don’t know how much people like our music, but still I would like the world to know there’s a group called Kagrra, and we make brilliant music. Thank you very much and we will meet soon!

Thank you very much to everyone.
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Kagrra, 2000 - 2011



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