Mizuka also asks:
"Anyway, I read on your twitter that you're not even a little japanese, then, must how do you get in a visual kei band? You already knew some of the members? And how you live in Japan without being Japanese?"
Sometimes I forget that there are a lot of readers of this blog who weren't with me at the beginning, which is really neat. So I forget that people sort of don't know where I come from or how or why I'm here. Let me bring you up to speed, which will double as a resume of sorts:
I am a white American born in Napa, California but raised in Clovis, California. I grew up playing lots of music and lots of instruments and lots of genres in lots of formations. I also did dance, and lots of acting and theater, dramatic and comedic.
I started learning Japanese language at the local Japanese school at the Buddhist temple for Japanese Americans when I was 16, mostly because I just wanted to learn a language that didn't use the Roman alphabet for kicks.
I went to the University of California, Davis, came to Japan for an internship at an orphanage, went back, graduated, came back to Japan on the JET program, then started trying to see if I could do anything in music or acting again.
After trying to join a band for awhile, I met up with Yue and Ryota and formed Laverite. One day we played with a session band called Kanabun, whose singer was Masaki from Sulfuric Acid. He and I met later, totally by accident, at a beer garden in Ueno Park, became friends, and he introduced me to Hizaki from Versailles.
Hizaki introduced me to Tenten, who was looking for a bassist, and here I am in Chemical Pictures.
I've also done TV and music videos on the side, mostly through having registered at several casting agencies for foreigners in Tokyo, but also through friends subsequently made on the job. At first it was genuinely non-exciting stuff: background in a Toyota cm, or background in a tokusatsu children's show, or going with a newscaster on a variety show to check out a weird kind of maid cafe, but luckily someone I'd met on a previous job recommended me for a music video that was being cast and needed a decidedly rock guitarist.
That's how I started doing music videos. That one was for Becca; through that job I was chosen to be in several videos for Tommy Heavenly6/February6, which is how I met JJ, with whom I have worked on AJ McLean TV appearances as well as Steve Appleton tours and TV appearances. I've also done videos with UVERworld and YUI. (My advice is to avoid jobs for saigen (re-creation/dramatization) as much as you can!)
That's pretty much it! It looks like a lot but that's been over several years, and I still keep a day job. (I am not an English teacher, though.)
"Y'know, I dream to participate in a visual band from Japan someday, so I'm asking to have a basis for my future. And, at the moment, you and JJ are the people that inspire me most. And, about my dream, you have any tips for me?"
That's cool that you have a dream. I always ask people, what exactly is the motivation? I was brought into the whole Japan thing 10 (or so) years ago by a series of coincidences, so the love of Japanese rock music came later. (I did not actually like heavy music until that point, actually.) Is it for the novelty of the genre, or the novelty of being a non-Japanese person? Is it out of a love for music? Keep in mind, though we are super tight buddies, JJ and I are doing completely different things. (I'm know he would be super happy that hear that you're inspired by him!!)
Also, be prepared to work hard and not see any profit for awhile if its a vk band. ...or really any band! Just like a new company doesn't pay off its investors/make money until a few years later (or something), bands are investments too. Very rare is the band that lives solely off its own music.
So, if you've got all that in mind, you still want to go forward with it. Awesome. Try what you love and never quit unless there's a good reason, then try something else you love. (Love a lot of things, that's my motto.)
So my advice? Learn Japanese. Learn it. Learn to speak and listen relatively comfortably in normal conversations, and most importantly, learn to read and write. You'll be able to pick up all the music- and scene-related lingo later. Everyone will know that you're not Japanese so you're Japanese won't be perfect, but good people are willing to talk until you're both in understanding. However, this should not be your greatest weakness.
Do not get full of yourself for being a rare non-Japanese person, because there are plenty of non-Japanese people all over the country who are way more awesome than you or me. Guaranteed. However, do not also fall into the trap of thinking that you have assimilated 100%. You're always going to be a little different, so find a way of operating normally in that framework.
Learn your instrument. You need to bring something special to the table. If possible, learn about equipment. I can play my instrument with pride but I don't know enough about gear; try to learn at least more than I do. ;)
Then, just go to shows, make friends, check out the "musician wanted" lists at rehearsal studios, and do your best!
Also, keep a day job for as long as you can, make sure you have a proper visa, and always, always have a backup plan, even just a tiny one!
Hope that helps!! :D
Saturday, August 21, 2010
Mizuka also asks:
Written by Elec at 5:46 PM