Interview with Affective Synergy

interview - 10.06.2017 20:01

Affective Synergy brings you orthodox visual kei.

Barely over a year since Affective Synergy (AS) settled down with its current line-up, the visual kei rock band will already be expanding its reach overseas with a two-date Asia tour with RAZOR next month. Ahead of the tour, the band members spend some time giving thoughtful answers to JaME in an interview.

How did the three of you come together to form the band?

Ao: We’d been under the same label before. After that, Lin started AS as a solo project, and the beginning for me was doing support vocals at shows in the past.
Mahiro: AS was previously Lin’s solo project, and I had been doing support since the beginning. I’ve always done bands with Lin, but last year he asked me to join AS, so here we are now.
Lin: Truthfully, I knew them from quite some time ago, so the timing was perfect and I was thinking I wanted to do a band together, so I invited the other two. These members had done shows with AS before, so it seemed like making music could go really smoothly (laughs). Mahiro and I have been in a band together in the past, too.

Lin, you’re the former guitarist of Chinese visual kei band Lilith. What are the similarities and differences between working in a Chinese visual kei band versus a Japanese visual kei band?
Lin: In China, I really started from zero so it was pretty difficult. There wasn’t really a clear concept of the indies scene, so compared to Japan it’s like there are few people with a goal to be an artist or a professional. The environment surrounding bands wasn’t in place, and even doing shows there weren’t other visual kei bands. During rehearsal, fans would come inside and without a curtain to divide things, fans could see everything as we did the setting. Eventually, not just the band members but the staff would all have to go to the venue. There are no ticket agencies, so we had to make the tickets ourselves and it was really difficult (pained laughter). The players were rockers on even a spiritual level, and there were a lot of people with really high technical skills. The fans were also wildly enthusiastic! The number of presents we received was incredible.

The scene in Japan is ripe, so I think it’s a really easy environment for bands to operate in. The venue staff all do their jobs professionally, so it’s easy to concentrate during shows. There are a lot of bands so it’s generally competitive. There are a lot of disbandments, and you don’t really know what you’ll wake up to tomorrow, but that’s how the Japanese scene is. The cycle is fast.

What’s the story behind your band’s name “Affective Synergy”?

Lin: I thought it’d be good to choose a band name with English words even if it’s difficult, so I contemplated words that can be abbreviated and aren’t anywhere else and those were the words that came to mind. "Synergy" is a term from economics; in Japanese we say “soujoukouka”. The idea behind it was the hope that people would listen to our music and feel a synergy with it. There are a lot of Japanese people who can’t read it, so I just tell them to please call us AS instead (laughs).

You released three singles earlier this year. Please tell us about the first one, Shiawase na sekai. What inspired you to write this song?

Ao: So they’re asking what the theme of Shiawase na sekai is.
Mahiro: It’s a song that Ao composed, but it’s a song with the theme of “war” so the bass part is expressed with an especially wild phrase.
Lin: The song itself was pretty much already finished, so I put a lot of emphasis on creating the guitar sound and playing it.

The second single is monologue. What did you want to express with this song?

Ao: Just like the song’s name, it’s a monologue. It's a monologue loaded with the hope that it would be good if things turned out this way.
Mahiro: This song's key point is its bright melody of the hook, and the base line also pops quite a bit. It seems like a song that could become representative of AS as a band.
Lin: It’s like Mahiro says, we made it with the goal for it to be a representative song for AS. I rocked the guitar with the kind of melody I'm well known for. I was also very particular about the sound, but I took great care in arranging the song.

How about the third one, Hakanasa to kyoki ni maichiru hanabira? Are there any interesting things you can tell us about this song?

Ao: This is just between us, but the composition of the song changed several times and surprisingly it took the longest to make.
Mahiro: This song is our most difficult song. Before recording it, we’d played it live but at that time we added various arrangements, and it became what it is now. It’s a song that will undoubtedly continue to grow together with us as a band.
Lin: The time it took to make this song was a personally difficult time, and at that time I had seen a movie called “Inferno.” In the movie, there was talk of Dante, and an image of something like hell came up. I saw that and I expressed all the sadness and anger I was feeling through the sound of the song. At the very, very end, there is a crying guitar solo that you hear in the background, but I think I was able to play it emotionally.

Your song In the Dawn was used as the ending theme for “Hitori no shita the outcast”, an anime that aired on Tencent last summer. How was the experience of making an anime theme song like?

Ao: I only sang the song, but the sensation of hearing my own voice come out of the TV was surreal.
Mahiro: It’s a song from when [Affective Synergy] was Lin’s solo project, but because of the addition of Ao’s vocals, it gained a peculiar impression. It’s a song from long before, but it matches an anime ambience in a strange way.
Lin: That song is pretty old; it was recorded on the last album I did as a solo project. The theme is breaking dawn. More accurately, it has a meaning that’s about going towards the dawn. Various events occur in life. Good things, bad things. Fun things, sad things. Painful things come one after another, and from time to time there may be moments when you want to just give up on life. But, eventually people have to keep on walking. Every day repeats. No matter what happens, the next day will come. We hadn’t performed this song live before, I thought that we’d seal it away and take it to the grave. And then, we had an anime offer and they chose that song. To match the song, the ending animation has Houhou (one of the characters) gazing at the daybreak. I was happy that there was a need for our song.
Mahiro: Oh, that’s right!
Lin: Yep (laughs).

Are you already working on any full-length album or new songs? If so, what can you tell us about it? What themes or kinds of sounds will there be?

Ao: We’re at the stage of making new songs. There’s nothing I can particularly talk about yet. It’s a secret.
Mahiro: We’ve already started our next work. It seems as though we might go forward showing AS’ more aggressive side. Please expect big things from us.
Lin: I’m always making songs. Making songs is a cycle of creating and discarding. I think we’ll be able to reveal it before long!

In your endeavor to break into overseas markets, have you ever felt the need to change your music to suit the tastes of overseas fans?

Ao: I don’t think there’s anything in particular that needs to change musically, but I think that writing English lyrics is important.
Mahiro: I don’t think it’s necessary to match overseas [musically], but I want to go forward pursuing music which I can personally believe sounds cool.
Lin: I like American metal music so I would often listen to it. I think I put metal core style phrases in my music often. AS’ music is orthodox visual kei, so maybe the reception overseas is good (laughs). It’s like as a composer, I want to put out music that other people think is cool!

After your upcoming shows in China and Taiwan, which other countries would you like to perform in?

Ao: America.
Mahiro: In any event, after Asia is America.
Lin: There’s nothing but to go to America (laughs).

Please leave a message for JaME readers.

Ao: By all means, please experience Affective Synergy’s music. I think you’ll definitely like it.
Mahiro: Thanks for reading! Let’s meet sometime at a show!
Lin: I think there are a lot of people who are hearing of us for the first time. It would make me happy if you learned that there are visual kei bands out there in Japan like this. We’re AS (laughs)!

JaME would like to thank Affective Synergy and Chaotic Harmony for this interview opportunity.

Shiawase na sekai, monologue and Hakanasa to kyoki ni maichiru hanabira are currently available for purchase at major retailers in Japan, as well as internationally via iTunes and Google Play.

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