Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Jimi interviewed by: Xio


This time, Xio had some questions about the "scene"--WHATEVER THAT MEANS.

Xio - 1. Is there a social stigma around the visual scene? What does the general public think of the scene? Also, how well-known is it among the general public? Does most any young person in Japan know about vkei or is it only really known by people who follow music closer?

Jimi - From what I gather, most people are at the very least aware of the term. Most music-savvy people will be able to recall a few much older VK bands from that boom period--Luna Sea, Glay, Shazna, and the like. If it wasn't hugely major then no one knows. In terms of any social stigma, I feel like it's viewed, on the surface, as a superficial genre of boys with egos putting looks and popularity over musical ability.
I'm going to agree with that sentiment, insofar as I think that myself and the several earnest fellow VK musicians I've had this discussion with are merely trying to put on a good show and help some lost lonely young people have a cathartic experience and make some friends in the process.

Some people will certainly turn up their nose at the mention. I mean, there certainly is a lot to make light of. I know one girl who saw X on TV when she was a small child and they scared her and she just can't view Visual positively. That's fine.

And in any case, even the "bigger" VK acts we think of in today's scene--Nightmare, Gazette, Alice Nine, et al--are still only really known/paid attention to in the visual scene.

I think I'd sum this up with: those who know about it, know about it.

Xio - 2. A silly but popular U.S. fan rumor/speculation is that some of the bigger people in visual kei are actually associating with organized crime. Is there any backing 'yakuza-like' or 'under the table business' support going on with the bigwigs in vkei, that you know of? Or is it just fans overthinking all the scene heirarchy or, in KENZI's case, taking his image too seriously?

Jimi - I have actually never heard anything about this until recently, and even then only from one non-Japanese. I don't think I'd have gone this long and made the contacts I have without hearing at least a hint of something like this if it were true. And since Kisaki got caught I hardly think it was *organized*, har har!

Again, to many non-Japanese peoples' dismay, I know next to nothing about Kenzi, so.

A lot of money does indeed flow in strange ways but I don't know I'd call it shady or anything. but I think it's just becase I'm not used to how business is done, and indeed I had not come this far in bands back home.

Being completely amateur and indies, I can't really comment about any actual business or being on a label or nothin'. :(

Xio - 3. In relation to the first question, is there a social stigma around *foreigners* in the visual scene? Is it simply the language barrier that puts them off wanting to work with gaijin, or is having a gaijin in your band considered risky business at all?


Jimi - If you're asking about being a foreigner in Japan and going to shows, so long as you're a nice person and you speak Japanese well enough, I think you'd just be a minor curiosity. As for actual working in the scene, the language barrier is HUGE. Almost no one on the Japanese side knows English as well as foreign fans seem to think, and while I admire and appreciate a lot of the effort put forth by organizers and people on the non-Japan side of things, there are many who I think are promoting themselves as though they were actually band people "in" the "scene" as well.

And as far as I'm aware, I'm only the 2nd or 3rd foreigner to do VK in Japan with Japanese people. I can see it being risky if they foreigner didn't speak Japanese (sorry, "music is a universal language!" ain't gonna cut it) or if they didn't play their instrument well enough (a low standard, I realize). But Ryota and Yue hardly gave it a second thought when considering me, they confessed.

Japanese people have been much, much cooler about my foreignness than I had originally expected. And while I have so much great support from all y'all readers, by far the meanest/silliest comments have come from the foreign community.

My big revelation is that, despite differences and misunderstandings, once you get to know people as people and not just their language or their country or race or orientation, things like that suddenly become incredibly unimportant.

Xio - 4. Have you met any bands/artists that weren't exactly the friendliest people? Any dirt at all you can spill about anyone in the scene in particular?

Jimi - Haha, I don't know that I would ever spill dirt, but yeah, you learn funny things about people for sure, most of it rather harmless. And in terms of people who haven't been cool, well, I'm obviously not going to name names. But when we first started out and we had a staff girl working for us, there is a band that's no longer around that was very rude to her. And we briefly had a misunderstanding with another band that got smoothed over quickly and painlessly. Ryota and his former bandmates in various bands still have some hard feelings, but then again out of all the people I've ever played with I can think of one or two I wouldn't like to run into again.

So I'm going to answer the opposite! If I've written about them here before, they've been truly wonderful to me. If they weren't, it would just look like name-dropping. And I can't stress how great of a friend Masaki (ex-Sulfuric Acid) has been to me. That's him, me, and Keita (ex-DieLa'Vice) playing billiards in Shibuya after they came to see me when I played with Becca in front of 109. Carmen was there too and snapped a few pictures which are on her bloog.

I hope this answers your questions! If I have not and only brought up more, then ask those! :D


RevengeBaby said...

thanks Elec, I really enjoyed reading this :D

Brian Barker said...

Language barrier?

Perhaps there's an argument for Esperanto after all!

Check http://www.lernu.net for evidence.

Klisk said...

The language barrier is incredibly frustrating.

Klisk said...

This Q&A covers pretty much everything else I wanted to ask, as well. Great job Xio!

Thanks again to Jimi for answering so many questions we'd never know the answer to otherwise, as well. :)

Xio said...

Thanks alot, Elec!! Cleared these questions up perfectly.

@klisk: Thanks!! Yeah, I wish I could think of more, considering the rare opportunity, but nothing's come to mind just yet.

Xylo said...

Thanks to both Jimmi and Xio for this! Very interesting read - I've wanted to ask most of those questions myself :)

Go said...

whenever i said, "I like X" (back in 1996, this is) to japanese students, friends, etc, they would always reply, "then you must like Luna Sea!"

I heard that response so often that i went out and ~bought~ (you can tell this is before music was up on the internet) a used copy of "Style".

They were right!