Interview with Kagrra, During Their European Tour

interview - 10.04.2008 08:00

Kagrra, had a spare moment before their concert in Helsinki to tell us more about the band's music and its members.

This summer the band Kagrra, toured Europe. We met up with the band for an interview in Finland, where they played the second concert of the tour. The interview started out with three members: vocalist Isshi, guitarist Akiya and drummer Izumi.

Hi, we are from JaME. Kagrra, is known for wearing kimonos on stage and for your authentic Japanese style. Did you try different styles before finally settling with the current one? Have you ever considered changing your style?

Isshi: We started out by leaning solely towards traditional Japanese style. We haven't thought of changing our style before, but it would be fun to try out a black metal style, changing our looks as well as our music.

Who composes the songs you make?

Isshi: Akiya and Shin do most of the work, but we all work on some of them together.

How did the idea for your videoblog show "Kagrra, no Su" come about?

Akiya: Nao comes up with the ideas.
Isshi: But we also work together on it, all five of us.
Izumi: Most of the ideas come from Nao but we all have the chance to influence the way our show is run and made if we want to. It's a fun thing to do. If Nao comes up with a new idea he shares it with us all at once.

What made you choose the instruments that you play?

Izumi: My friend got me interested in drums, that’s how it all started.
Akiya: At first I worked as a keyboard player but because my old band had an incompetent guitarist, I got frustrated and took his position.
Isshi: I tried everything! I tried to play guitar, bass, drums and even a keyboard but I sucked at all of them so I finally decided to become a vocalist. What intrigues me about singing is that you can’t be bad or good at it, you can only be eccentric or original.

Isshi, what kind of a music background do you have? Have you ever taken any singing lessons?

Isshi: In my entire life, I only had one week of singing lessons. (laughs)

Your songs are used for TV series and movies. What does that feel like?

Isshi: Some people think of us positively because of them and of course we are very happy and feel honoured that our music is a part of them.

Izumi, you have designed the layout for some of Kagrra,’s blogs and seem to work a lot with computers. Could you tell us more about this?

Izumi: I like designing and creating layouts a lot. Generally speaking, I really enjoy visual beauty and that's why I do the layouts concentrating on the aesthetical side of them. I’ve also designed guitar picks and with them I am able to create more detailed beauty; a different kind of beauty.

Out of all of your songs, which are your favourites?

Isshi: (thinks for a long time) There are so many of them...

Which one is your current favourite?

Isshi, Akiya and Izumi: Uzu.

How did you end up using female back vocals during your live perfomances?

Isshi: The reason is simple: a dazzling female voice brings more beauty to our songs. The main theme in our songs is beauty and their main purpose is to sound enchanting.

Your band leans on Japanese culture very strongly. Are there aspects of Japanese culture and traditions that you don’t like so much? (At this point Isshi leaves us to get his make-up done and guitarist Shin and bassist Nao join us in his place.)

Akiya: Japanese traditions differ from Western culture a lot. I know one bad thing about our culture which is very strong and common in our country: the fear of standing out. A typical Japanese person does what everyone else around him does and people’s uniqueness and eccentricity tend to be hidden. I think that’s kind of sad.

Are you going to celebrate your 10th year anniversary?

Nao: Firstly, we’ll perform in the PS COMPANY anniversary event that’s being held at Nippon Budokan in Tokyo and all of the other PSC bands will perform with us.
Izumi: When our band celebrates its own birthday, our dream is to have a concert at Tokyo Dome. (laughs) You’ll see.

Nao, you appear in the magazine "ARENA37℃" from time to time. What else has this project brought you other than publicity?

Nao: Besides publicity I have been able to partly execute and show the readers things I would want to do on my own.

Your newest album is called Core and it’s written in romaji only. You usually write all of your song and album titles in kanji, so why is that?
Nao: Writing with kanji is part of the style we represent. Kagrra, is rock music mixed with traditional Japanese culture and kanji represents the latter. Our newest studio album Core would be "kaku" in Japanese and written in kanji it wouldn’t look very pretty. And also, the way it is written, people who know Japanese might get a negative image.

How did Kagrra,’s members meet each other?

Nao: It started out with me, Izumi and Isshi being in a band together which disbanded later on. After the disbandment, the three of us thought of starting a new band and we put a sign up on a record store’s wall searching for members. Akiya and Shin had just left their previous bands, so they joined us.

Have you had time to develop any kind of impression of Finland during your stay?

Nao: Unfortunately we haven’t been able to see much since we arrived here this morning. Though personally, I'd quite like to live here! (laughs)

JaME would like to thank the band and its staff for making this interview possible. Pictures by Maija Haka.
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