Interview with LAVANS

interview - 01.23.2018 19:01

Up-and-coming visual kei band LAVANS discuss their latest single, their international ambitions, and the importance of love and bonds.

While LAVANS is a relatively new visual kei band that just formed in April 2017, the members are already eager to make their mark overseas. The band, which consists of vocalist NANA, guitarists Rei and Natsu, bassist Kousuke, and drummer Isamu, has made strong efforts to connect with fans from all over the world since its inception.

JaME had the opportunity to interview LAVANS shortly before the first qualifying round of the JAPAN EXPO ROCKS contest, where they were competing for an opportunity to perform in France. While they were not able to advance to the final rounds of the contest, they have made it clear that they will continue pursuing opportunities to perform overseas in the future. Read on to learn more about their concept, their latest single, and their goals for 2018.

We've heard that "LAVANS" comes from the words "love" and "bonds". Why did you decide to use those words in your band name?

NANA: In Japanese pop, there are a lot of lyrics that talk about love and bonds, and we also think that the love and bonds that tie people together are indispensably important. We wanted to show in our music that love and bonds are always there beside you, so that’s why we chose those words to make our name "LAVANS".
Rei: We wanted to become a band that is loved and a band that can deliver love so we decided to make love itself our concept. Natsu then came up with the idea of bonds and when we fused them together, we got "LAVANS".
Natsu: More than just conveying our music as LAVANS, we wanted to treasure "love" and "bonds" as universal and unchanging as they are, so we chose to make our name from them.
Kousuke: We decided to make a band that placed importance on love and bonds.
Isamu: Because we wanted to treasure love and bonds!

How would you describe LAVANS’ sound to someone unfamiliar with your music?

NANA: We use vocal melodies that showcase Japanese pop culture, as well as taking some inspiration from hard rock for the riffs and guitar play, and fusing it with a visual kei outlook to create a very unique sound.
Rei: The songs themselves are based on the many diverse music genres like of rock, pop, R&B, hard rock/heavy metal, anime songs and vocaloid songs, but always display our chosen themes of love and bonds.
Natsu: We place a lot of importance on the singing, so we would really like you to listen to that in particular. Personally I’d also like you to focus on the guitar parts!
Kousuke: Even if you don’t have any interest in visual kei, I think our songs are easy to listen to.
Isamu: Our songs are easy to listen to whether you’re young or old!

What is your songwriting process like? Do you have one main composer, or is creating new tracks more of a group effort?

NANA: Usually the guitarists Rei and Natsu make the songs for us.
Rei: Natsu and I make a demo and then the members add colour to it for us.
Natsu: Our guitar squad make the songs.
Kousuke: The two guitarists make the songs.
Isamu: The composers Rei and Natsu bring the song demos to the studio and then we all arrange the songs together!

Are there any artists that have had a strong influence on your style, as a group or individually?

NANA: T.M.Revolution’s Nishikawa Takanori, SID’s Mao, and GRANRODEO’s Taniyama Kishow have all influenced me.
Rei: Matsumoto Takahiro, DAITA, and SUGIZO.
Natsu: GRANRODEO’s e-ZUKA, Ohmura Takayoshi, and Fujioka Mikio.
Kousuke: There are certainly a few, but they’re a secret!
Isamu: There are a lot but I wonder how much they’re expressed in my own style? Personally, I was really influenced by X JAPAN!

Your songs all seem very catchy and upbeat. What made you want to form a visual kei band, as opposed to a more conventional rock group?

NANA: When I thought about forming a band, I was listening to a lot of visual kei and really admired the up-tempo beats and lovely make-up, so I thought I’d start a visual kei band.
Rei: The appearance and sound of visual kei bands is so cool and I really wanted to become a great band like that!
Natsu: Because there was a special charm and fascination to the music in the visual kei scene.
Kousuke: Because we all liked visual kei.
Isamu: Well, originally we all liked visual kei and visual kei’s take on the world!

If you had to describe each member of the band’s personality with one word, what would you say?

NANA: Rei → a true artisan, Natsu → nice guy, Kousuke → strong leadership skills and doesn’t mess around, Isamu → crazy and weird, but he’s the most passionate of us all.
Rei: NANA → serious, Natsu → nice Straight Man (Translator Note: the serious partner of a Japanese comedy duo), Kousuke → way too amusing, Isamu → natural airhead.
Natsu: NANA → airheaded, Rei → stoic, Kousuke → the most interesting, Isamu → the biggest idiot.
Kousuke: NANA → mysterious, Rei → serious, Natsu → kind, Isamu → super airheaded.
Isamu: NANA → airheaded, Rei → kind, Natsu → fast-thinker, Kousuke → amusing.

Are there any activities or hobbies besides playing music that you are especially passionate about?

NANA: If we have a long break, I like travelling or relaxing by playing computer games.
Rei: Alcohol and bar-hopping.
Natsu: Watching anime.
Kousuke: I’ve been reading a lot of business and economics books lately.
Isamu: I’m really hooked on phone games!

Your latest single Kizuna just came out on December 13th. What inspired this song?

NANA: To beautifully express the formless idea of "bonds", we used the concept of "sharing a moment with anyone who looks up at the same sky (Starry Sky)," and "creating links between stars (Constellations)". The MV also takes inspiration from starry nights.
Rei: It’s about the bonds tied between us, our fans, the staff and everyone’s families. When we thought about those things, those melodies just kind of flowed forth.
Natsu: We made the songs whilst imagining our bonds with the people that we hoped would listen to Kizuna for us.
Kousuke: The inspiration behind it was that we wanted to treasure our bonds with the fans that are supporting us.
Isamu: I’m sure it was that we wanted to treasure the bonds between us and all of the people around us.

What can you tell us about the coupling tracks REVOLVER and Kimiiro?

NANA: REVOLVER is a song about the instability of society and the antithesis to people’s quarrels. Rei sent us an example demo and title, and as soon as we listened to it, we decided on what imagery it evoked but kept the title because we liked it. I think it’s an incredibly cool song. Kimiiro is written from the point of view of a young girl in love. It was the last song we completed for the single and I think it turned out really well.
Rei: REVOLVER is a song that I made, so I really thought about the visual kei rock theme and used those riffs that are important to me. I think it’s a pretty cool song.
Natsu: REVOLVER has solos for every part so it’s really worth listening to. Kimiiro is a song that really gets the crowd going at concerts.
Kousuke: REVOLVER is a song we often play at concerts, so it’s actually my favourite song. The fact that there is a solo for every part really stands out. Kimiiro is really upbeat and has a catchy high point to it, so I think if you listen to it you’ll enjoy it. Don’t just listen to Kizuna; please listen to the other two songs as well!
Isamu: They’re both really upbeat, but REVOLVER has solos for each instrument, makes you jump about, and has a really cool guitar riff! Kimiiro is a song that’s really easy to listen to because it has a high-spirited melody, but it also has an unexpectedly impactful sound! Personally, I love them both! (laughs)

You’ve released Kizuna, as well as your other singles LOVELESS and Rain, digitally worldwide on sites like iTunes and Spotify. It is a little unusual to see a Japanese band so focused on reaching a worldwide audience so early in their career. Have you been receiving a lot of messages from foreign fans?

NANA: We’re receiving messages from all over the world from people that support us. Thank you very much!
Rei: We wanted to become a band that wasn’t just popular in Japan, so I‘m happy we’re blessed with this kind of environment. Thank you for all your responses.
Natsu: We’re getting messages from foreign fans on Twitter and Instagram, as well as messages that they’ve bought our CDs.
Kousuke: We are getting lots of messages! Thanks! I really want to do a concert abroad soon!
Isamu: I’m really thankful for all the messages we’re getting from foreign fans! In the future we really want to be active in the overseas music scene!

You are competing in the JAPAN EXPO ROCKS contest for the chance to perform at the Paris convention JAPAN EXPO. Have you been to Europe before, or would performing at JAPAN EXPO be your first time there?

NANA: I haven’t been abroad, so it will be my first visit to Europe.
Rei: It will be my first time. I really want to go, and I really want to interact with our European fans.
Natsu: I haven’t ever been to Europe, so if we do win the JAPAN EXPO, I want to visit Paris.
Kousuke: I haven’t been to Europe, so if we get to perform there it will be my first time.
Isamu: It will be our first time in Europe! If we win, I want to perform at the European JAPAN EXPO!

Is there anything specific that you want to see or do in France, if you get the opportunity to perform at JAPAN EXPO?

NANA: I want to try real French food.
Rei: I want to shout about love in the middle of France.
Natsu: I love Disney so I want to go to Disneyland Paris.
Kousuke: I want to see the Louvre Museum.
Isamu: I want to eat delicious food, drink delicious alcohol, and go sightseeing! But most importantly I want to perform there!

Are there any other countries you would like to perform in, if the opportunity arises?

NANA: I would like to do a tour that goes to places like America, England, and Germany.
Rei: Personally, I really want to do a concert in Helsinki.
Natsu: I want to go to all the countries I haven’t yet seen, but I particularly want to go to Europe and America.
Kousuke: If we get an offer, I’ll go anywhere.
Isamu: I want to perform in many different countries!

As the year is just starting, do you have any goals for 2018? (Aside from going to JAPAN EXPO, of course.)

NANA: In order to get more people to know about us, I want to go on tour in Japan as positively as possible.
Rei: We’ve got our 1st Anniversary Tour in May, so I want that to be a success.
Natsu: I’d love to do a concert abroad if there’s the chance, even if it isn’t with JAPAN EXPO.
Kousuke: I want more people to know about LAVANS, and to listen to our songs. I think we’ll be having a lot of releases and concerts in 2018!
Isamu: My goal is to achieve all of the goals we’ve set ourselves!

Finally, to end the interview, please leave a message for JaME’s readers.

NANA: Thank you for taking an interest in LAVANS and reading this interview to the end.
Rei: Nice to meet you! I’m Rei from LAVANS. I’ll be really happy if more people get to know us because of this interview. We’ll definitely come and do a concert in Europe one day, so until we get there please listen to our music and prepare yourselves for a lot of fun. I promise you we’ll hold the greatest concert ever.
Natsu: Nice to meet you. I’m LAVANS’ guitarist, Natsu. I’m going to try my best to get LAVANS’ songs and visual kei recognised around the whole world. Please support me.
Kousuke: Nice to meet you. I’m LAVANS‘ bassist, Kousuke. I wonder if we have piqued your interest in LAVANS a little? I really want to do a concert in Europe soon! I can’t wait until the day I can meet you all! Thank you!!!
Isamu: It’s a pleasure to meet you. I’m LAVANS’ drummer, Isamu! Thank you for reading this interview! If you got to know us because of this article, I’ll be really happy! We’ll definitely do a live abroad one day! Come and see us!

JaME would like to thank LAVANS and Gan-Shin Records for making this interview possible.

The video for Kizuna can be viewed below, and you can also listen to all of LAVANS' current releases on Spotify.

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