Interview with ASAGI

interview - 31.01.2018 00:01

And when you look up to the Moon, please think of me. Because I think of you!

As Japanese history and lore have always been of interest to ASAGI, vocalist of visual kei band D, it comes as no surprise that he chose to infuse his first solo album MADARA with these aspects of Japan. In an interview with JaME, ASAGI answers a series of questions about the stories behind some of the songs on MADARA.

Congratulations on releasing your first solo full album MADARA! What inspired you to create new stories through the songs on the album by putting your own spin on Japanese traditions and history?

ASAGI: Thank you very much. When I saw the full moon floating on the night sky, I remembered "Taketori monogatari" and thought "Let's create stories only Japan can have." And then Gekkai no miko was born. I was always interested in Japanese traditions, history and lore, so this is from where my world has expanded.

What are some of the themes and messages you wish to convey through MADARA?

ASAGI: Lately, even if you are born and raised in Japan, there are fewer and fewer situations in which you can experience The Old Japan. That's why I would like this amazing culture to be known more in the world. "MADARA", which I used for the title, means that regardless of color or shape, due to the existence of individuals with their own personality, the balance is preserved. Also, when you combine my (name) "ASAGI" and "MADARA" you'll get "ASAGIMADARA", which is the name of the butterfly (translator's note: parantica sita). The album's last song ASAGIMADARA became a strong, emotional song.

Lead track Gekkai no miko is based on "Taketori monogatari". Why did you choose to base the lead track of MADARA on this particular tale? Does this tale have special significance to you?

ASAGI: In the past, when I created the unit called KOCHOU, we also had a song entitled Taketori monogatari, but this time Gekkai no miko is about the descendant of Princess Kaguya. It's a story of a boy who admired the Earth in his childhood and finally grows up and comes to the Earth. The Moon is what everyone on the Earth is able to see, am I right? And because we can see the same Moon we can feel that somehow we can share our feelings with other people around the world. I love the Moon, so I have been attracted to "Taketori monogatari", which has connections to the Moon and nature.

What are the differences between your interpretation of "Taketori monogatari" and the original "Taketori monogatari"?

ASAGI: Well, my story is about the descendant of Princess Kaguya from "Taketori monogatari". Princess Kaguya goes back to the Moon, but I can't agree on that. Overcoming the objection of everyone and everything around, I go to the Earth by my own will. Of course, a welcome committee will come from the Moon, but I'll send them away (laughs).

Who designed the outfits you and the band members wore in the music video for Gekkai no miko? Do the outfits have any special symbolism?

ASAGI: I gave the image of the song to the person in charge of designing D's stage clothing and he designed my outfit too. I am the "Child of the Moon' (said as "Gekkai no miko" in Japanese), so my outfit is a "Prince of the Moon" 's outfit. The band members are black rabbit escorts who came along with me from the Moon. Their outfit is armor but the helmet parts are shaped like a rabbit’s head! Pursuers sent from the Moon use different colors; they are white rabbits.

Youtou gyokuto is a track found only on the regular edition of MADARA. What kind of sounds can we hear in this song? Which traditional Japanese tale is this song based on?

ASAGI: Youtou gyokuto is the name of the sword kept by the "Child of the Moon". According to Japanese beliefs, there is a rabbit on the Moon and a crow on the Sun and this song is based on that story.

The final track on MADARA is titled ASAGIMADARA, which is a combination of your name and the title of the album. What is this song about? Why did you chose to write the song's title in katakana instead of kanji?

ASAGI: It was fine with me to write the title in kanji by combining "ASAGI" and "MADARA", but I thought it's not really catchy if I left it that way. Both "ASAGI" and "MADARA" have different functions, but when combined I wanted them to create a good chemical reaction. I wanted it to be the cherry on the cake, so I wrote it in katakana. "ASAGIMADARA" is an existing butterfly, but he is traveling. A fleeting butterfly reaching the destination of his journey, which took him a whole lifetime to reach. It's a story about the big life of a small creature.

How did you go about selecting your guest musicians for MADARA?

ASAGI: The guest musicians are people of whom I thought "I totally want this part to be played by him!" when I was writing songs. Among them are my older colleagues whom I looked up to for years, musicians living in the same times as I, and younger musicians whose music I look forward to from now on. All of them are amazing artists, so I am really happy they accepted joining my album.

Please tell us about one or two interesting incidents that happened while you were working with your guest musicians on MADARA.

ASAGI: I have been a fan of LUNA SEA's SUGIZO and Shinya since I was a teenager, so for me it (working with them) was an amazing experience. I brought the CD and SUGIZO signed it and wrote my name, so it became my treasure! I listened to lots of very interesting stories and had a really happy time.

What are some themes or concepts you'd like to explore in future releases?

ASAGI: I am interested in the culture of other countries. Traditions and cultures, national outfits, singing voices and musical instruments of those countries, of those lands! There are so many that even if I had the whole of eternity, it wouldn't be enough to learn it all.

Lastly, please leave a message for JaME readers.

ASAGI: It's ASAGI! Thank you very much for reading my interview. There are no borders in music. Everyone born on the Earth, let's love music! And when you look up to the Moon, please think of me. Because I think of you!

JaME would like to thank ASAGI and avex entertainment Inc. for this interview opportunity.

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