Mix Speaker’s, Inc. V-ROCK FESTIVAL ’11 Exclusive

Interview

by Kate Havas, Leela McMullen, posted April 16, 2012

At V-ROCK FESTIVAL ’11, Mix Speaker’s, Inc. fulfilled our aesthetic curiosity, reflecting back on old costumes and characters, and giving us and insight into their crazy musical world as well as their odd tastes.

69: To start, please give your name, your part, and your costume.
YUKI I’m vocalist YUKI. My costume concept is…
seek Though he’s taken it off now [laugh]
YUKI I’m a dog clown. We each made our own animal character and I thought, I’m like a dog, aren’t I? The clown is part of our “circus” concept.
seek The major theme is “MIX Land amusement park” For this second time we’re an animal circus theme, the clown costumes come from that.
KEIJI I’m a lion clown. I guess I kind of like lions, but they’re not my particular favorite. But they seem strong so I thought it would be good.
MIKI I’m vocalist MIKI. I’m a cat clown.
 
69 We’ve seen your lives before, you’re always wearing the cat ears. [laugh]
MIKI YUKI is the dog, so I automatically become the cat. [laugh]
 
69 Overseas we say “fighting like cats and dogs.” Do you two fight sometimes?
YUKIMIKI (together)Not at all! We don’t, right? [laugh]
 
69 Then it’s good that the cat and dog don’t fight. [laugh]
[all laugh]
S I’m the drummer and sheep clown.
All: And your name? [laugh]
S Huh? [English]Sheep [Japanese] clown.
AYA Your OWN name! [laugh]
S Drummer S.
seek You should have said that already!
 
69 Aren’t your ears hot in that? Isn’t it warm when you’re drumming?
S It’s hot. It’s hard when I’m playing the drums. It’s great to be warm in winter but awful in summer. [laugh]
AYA Guitarist Aya. I’m a [English] Rabbit [Japanese] Clown. Rabbit. Basically I play the female role in the band, so I chose the girlish rabbit whose cuteness is calming.
 
69 Your hair looks like Sailor Moon.
AYA Like Sailor Moon? Oh, that old show? Yeah, my little sister used to watch it. [laugh]
seek I’m bassist seek. I’m a condor clown.
 
69 That’s pretty involved. Why a condor?
seek I think it’s kind of split. I think I just got the remaining. [laugh] I’m the tallest in the band so during the first part of a show, using the wings, I got the feeling I should go as an old world vulture.
 
69 You’re not wearing them now, but you had the wings for the live. Is it hard to play in them?
seek: It is hard to play, I really can’t say it’s easy. I can’t even see the frets of the bass. All I can see in front of me is the bird cage. Unfortunately I thought up the costume without thinking of that, so I always have to be thinking of how I can hold my bass. I really wanted to hold it for just one song, by myself. I can’t carry it by myself so I have to have a design where I can have it just by myself from the beginning.

69 What would your ideal costume concept be?
seek From now? I think about it all the time but if I say too much people will post it on the internet and give it away!

69 What about past costumes
seek What can I say, hm. Everyone has their own particular one they like. What we mean is that more than “costumes”, we have “characters. This is the 10th pattern, we really have a lot…

69 Do you have a particular character you like?
YUKI For me, the one just before this, the DOG ZOMBIE. That was a dog character too but it was for the “MIX LAND Haunted House.” I really like the DOG ZOMBIE character I did then.
KEIJI The very first one, my [English] Water Ogre [Japanese] character. The special makeup was cool so I really liked it.

69 Do you say Water Ogre in Japanese too?
seek It’s ”oni” (a type of Japanese demon). Contrarily we couldn’t find a good word in English and it was a problem. We checked a lot of different sources and went with Ogre….maybe there isn’t a good word for “oni” in English.

69 How about Miki?
MIKI This was from just a bit ago, but the [English] Black Warlock.

69 Warlock? A magic user?
seek Your pronunciation is really good. We named it but we can’t say it, that’s embarrassing.

69 Not an animal then.
MIKI Nope, it’s not. At that time YUKI was a White Warlock. The costumes were really light and easy to move in.  
S I like the one from our second story, the Robo-Cock, I really liked being a robot character.

69 Robot cock (Rooster)?  
S Mr. Cock. [corrects pronunciation] “cook.” I like that one.
AYA For me it’s this costume. I feel it’s the compilation of the last three years. [laugh]

69 But isn’t it sad when you change your costumes?
AYA No, moving to the next costume means we’ve moved on from the last ones, so it’s fine.

69 We’re looking forward to the next too then.
Seek I was the [English] God Turtle, turtle. It was really like a monster. I couldn’t move at all during shows, but the thing itself was quite big so even now it’s still decorating the office. It’s become a memory.

69 By the way, which costume has been the hardest to move in?
seek Definitely that one, the God Turtle. I couldn’t move any of my body, even when we made the music video I had my bass but I couldn’t play it. That was the costume for our song called “Innocent World.” I want us to continue having easily understandable defined and separate characters, for example, the girl, the manly one, the animal, etc.

69 Everyone’s characters are very different, so how do you come up with the different characters?
seek: First we meet and decide together. Before creating the story we talked about making the MIX LAND amusement park for the next theme, and from that we first went with a haunted house theme and made zombies. This time it’s a circus, so we all made clowns. There are six of us, so to make the characters easy to understand we decided on the animal series with dog, cat, etc. and designed the costumes from that. Our guitarist AYA is really the idea man, so he drew the illustrations for us.

69 Do you like making costumes?
AYA I guess so. I like anime and games so I take a lot of influence from the characters. The dog is the leader character, so we gave him a bowtie this time around and I drew some pictures.
 
69 Do you like drawing?
AYA I like drawing, but he [points at MIKI] is really good.
seek The jacket designs, the homepage designs, illustrations, MIKI can do it all.

69 Wow, that’s really impressive!
seek A band is a group of people who make music, but everyone like that is lumped together. But we say in Japanese we’re a “Sousakuhyougensha Shuudan” (creative works expression group). We think of the story, the costumes, the music, and as much as possible every member takes responsibility for his role.

69: What song would you recommend to first-time listeners?
seek: That’s really difficult. What would be good? First time listeners…”Cinderella?” Something else?
AYA: Not “Kasa (noshitanosekai)”? It was the lead song on our first album so I’d think I’d like people to listen to it.
seek: We really do a lot of different songs, so I want people to look at it as a whole. We have songs that include dancing and the songs where people shout, songs with a well-crafted melody that are pretty to listen to, all the songs are different. For right now in the lives I think seeing the whole picture adds to the enjoyment, doesn’t it?

69: What song feels the best for you to perform?
YUKI: Hmmm. For me, “Kasa (no Shita Sekai).” It feels great to sing.
KEIJI:Cinderella.” I really feel good when I’m dancing..
[all burst out laughing]
seek: That’s a lie! [laugh]
KEIJI: Ahahahahahahahaha.
seek: He’s the worst dancer in the whole band! [laugh]

69: You don’t like dancing?
KEIJI: No, I like it!
seek: That’s a lie too [laugh]
MIKI: I also like “Kasa (no Shita no Sekai).” It’s the easiest to sing and I think it’s a good song.
seek: Okay. I wonder if S’s going for laughter or seriousness…
S: A song called “Urameshi Yashiki.” It’s got a dance with a folding fan, it shows the Mix world view, it’s got some Japanese flavor to it. It’s a song we really challenged ourselves to make so I want everyone to hear it.
AYA: I like really wild songs. I like metal, and I feel great with songs where the guitar gives off a heavy sound.

69: What’s the heaviest Mix song?
AYA: Heavy song? Something like “Crash Clover.”
seek: That one gets the fans excited.

69: What about you, seek?
seek:Kasa no Shita (no Sekai), Cinderella,” those are songs we have but one called “MONSTIME,” I should say in our band “JUNK STORY” or “MONSTIME” are the songs we’ve been doing since we first formed. “MONSTIME” is a song that’s easy for the audience to understand at an event like today [V ROCK FESTIVAL]. It’s a song that gets us pumped with the fans. Even though it’s exhausting. There’s a lot of jumping and hopping.

69: By the way, you covered a CASCADE song on the first Crush album. Why did you choose CASCADE?
seek: There were several reasons, but in the history of Visual Kei with CASCADE, if we say (the reasons) some people are going to get angry, but it feels like heresy. Is that (heresy) okay?

69: Sure.
seek: It’s okay? I guess if you write it nicely for me. [laugh] Even in the history of Visual Kei there have been places where it’s strange, therefore with that meaning In mind we say “heresy.” There really are a lot of bands who came before us to create the era of visual kei and it’s difficult to take that on, but since we thought CASCADE fans will be listening and our fans will be listening, we wanted to make a song that both groups of fans can say “that’s great!” about.
The other difficult thing is we have two vocalists, which is pretty rare even in the long history of visual kei, so we really have no examples. It’s hard for us to say “Let’s do a song like this band”- you often see where a heavy band wants to cover a (similar band’s) heavy song, but we have nothing to go by so we wanted to try something that would be a challenge. Therefore we chose CASCADE.

69: It became very “Mix”-like.
seek: It did. We talked to many bands, digging for information, trying to find out how much arrangement they were doing. [laugh] We got information from many bands, but when we began we realized we’d changed the song the most and we were really uneasy until the release. You can say it’s “Mix-like” but it was AYA’s arrangement, so AYA’s part was what really made it effective.
AYA: Since we were doing it I thought I should go for it completely. [laugh]

69: By the way, when you’re singing harmony how do you divide the high and low parts?
YUKI: Basically I sing the high parts and MIKI sings the low.

69: Does anyone else sing harmony?
seek: It depends on the song. For example, today in “Cinderella” there was backup chorus.

69: Do you ever sing in the same interval?
seek: There are various pitches. AYA and keiji have pretty high voices.
AYA: But still lower than our two vocalists. Next would be seek, his is the lowest I think.
seek: Maybe when you listen to the CD you can’t hear it but my voice becomes like a growl. Sometimes I do that. [laugh]

69: So there’s a lot of horror, sci-fi and cartoonish aspects worked into your style, but what genres are you interested in personally? Is there something you’re maniac about?
YUKI: I’m what you could call a maniac… I love horror.

69: I see, is that why you like your DOG ZOMBIE character?
YUKI: [laugh] That’s right. I love zombie movies, like George A. Ramero’s.
KEIJI: I like space. Well, I love space. I don’t watch that many sci-fi movies but I like space itself and I read a lot of books about it.
MIKI: I like movies in general, but I don’t watch movies with happy endings. My favorite movie is Edward Scissorhands. I don’t like it when a movie ends on a happy note. But I don’t like horror…

69: Not love stories, either?
MIKI: I don’t like those.
S: I love Japanese anime, maybe what you would call “moe” (featuring young, cute girls) style. The kind of anime real nerds like.

69: What’s your favorite anime?
S: That’s difficult…hm…oh, the famous “The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya”, I like mundane anime like that.
AYA: Unlike MIKI, I love cliché things. Movies, games, everything. If we’re talking movies, I like “Back to the Future”, I like movies that are easy to understand and make the heart race.
seek: I dress like this but I don’t watch anime at all. I don’t play video games either.

69: Is there anything you’re really into, like collecting?
seek: Hmmm. Maybe my hobby is work. I’m always talking about money. [laugh] That’s right. My hobby is hopeless work. And alcohol.
MIKI: Not rakugo? (Japanese comic storytelling)
seek: Ah、I do like rakugo, but it’s really hard to tell people about it…. I always listen to it on my ipod when I’m going places.

69: Last, can you give a message to ROKKYUU’s readers both international and in Japan?
YUKI: We’ve only been active in Japan but we’ve been taken to conventions occasionally in Europe and America, and I think we want more opportunities to go further into the world. I definitely want our fans overseas to wait for us.
KEIJI: Like he said, we’ve been to America and Europe, but since lives overseas are really fun we want to actively pursue any chance we have (to go abroad).
MIKI: We’ve taken great pains to make this rare impression and have a kind of live other bands can’t pull off, so without stopping with Japan we want to tell the world about how fun we are even more.
S: Everyone says it, but if something is interesting, it’s going to be interesting no matter where, no matter what country, and we’re confident that we can be part of bringing fun not only to Japan, but all over the world. We’re going to work hard to go to various countries and hold shows all over the world.
AYA: Now is different from the past, there’s the internet so anyone who is interested in something can search for it, so if you’re interested in us please have a look. We’d like to get more popular and if we can go around the world we definitely want to meet you, please wait for us!
seek: I said I wasn’t interested in fantasy, but we went once to see Cirque de Soleil in America. There was a story without words, and even though we couldn’t understand English just by watching it we could see their world view, and it was a good lesson on how to create a story without words. I think we want to become that kind of band, or group, or artist, whatever you would call us. Even without understanding the language we express ourselves on the stage and everyone can enjoy it, so while we want the people around us to come and see us, next year is our 5th anniversary as a band, so next year we really would like to push our activities worldwide and are planning for it now.

Kate Havas first became interested in Japanese fashion and culture in college when manga, anime, and visual kei were just beginning to make their way to America. An art and English major with a love of clothes, Kate signed onto ROKKYUU in order cover fashion and report on Tokyo trends, but was quickly also recruited to the music side of things and has been having an adventure expanding her knowledge of all things VK since. Follow her on twitter at keito_kate!

Leela McMullen is a strong believer in the philosophy "no music, no life." Having traversed the range of Japanese fandoms, she found her home at last in visual kei and has made it her mission to share what she loves most with the world. Leela completed her B.A. in Japanese language from Griffith University in Gold Coast Australia. She now lives and works in Japan, striving to bring you the goods, hot from the scene. Follow her on twitter for juicy hints of upcoming articles if you've got a bit of Japanese language under your belt! http://twitter.com/#!/LeelaInTokyo

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