This is a shit interview.
Toshiya, reticent bass player of Dir En Grey (Often DIR EN GREY) is tired. Has had enough of the analysis. The iconoclasm. Being a member of THE Japanese band to Western writers has reached its limit.
To us Dir En Grey are a fantastic mix of visual excess, musical punishment and exotic otherness. It might seem to us that Dir En Grey have created something that pushes the normal cycle of interest-purchase-listen-forget beyond the norm, where the aesthetic is part of it, but they’re not sure. From their songs we know they have topics, agendae, yearning souls even. To the band, they’re looking at 20 years of doing it, and the razor smart clothes are apparently starting to cut deeply. Surely it’s not just a job?
These are not a product of European cultures, and while we grab at the thornier (to us) aspects of what they are, the handholds don’t appear to be anything that the model/bass player really wants to talk about. Fair enough.
But we wanted to get behind the obvious, to look into the artistry, go beyond the ‘look’ and into the ethics behind the aesthetic. But the deep mysteries remain undiscovered, perhaps because they expose too much of the business-case behind the performance. The argument that Dir En Grey throw together their presentation doesn’t really bear much investigation. It’s too elaborate, too evolved, and too long-standing (Dir En Grey formed in 1997) to be real.
The music may well be at the core however. The band say they exist at a meaningful intersection of sounds and vision. If you’re into them, it’s a total experience. If you’re an interviewer forget about maps, you’re on your own (along with everyone else). Look, listen, feel, but don’t expect to learn. Is the key word really acceptance?
The fault here may well be our questions, delivery, or in the stars themselves. Read on to learn how not into Visual Kei one the leading Visual Kei bands is.
Is Dir en Grey still a Visual Kei (VK) band?
We ourselves don’t relate or categorize ourselves into a certain genre. I think that it’s really up to the listeners to determine what we are, not us.
What did VK mean to the band when you were starting out?
When we first actively started as a band, the VK category didn’t exist yet.
As a statement of Japanese band within Japanese culture what did it mean to dress and be a VK band?
We are really just expressing what we want to express as a band. We don’t realize ourselves if we are VK or whatever; we just do our thing.
You are considered icons within the visual ‘new wave’ of VK how do you see the new bands, do think there is still a statement to be made with music costuming?
I don’t really know a lot about other bands but I do think that each and every band carry their own unique statement and message.
Do you see the visual aspect of VK as ‘costume’ or something else?
I believe it’s everything. We put all of our energy into whatever we see, hear, and feel and put that into action.
Outside of Music were there any artistic influences for Dir En Grey (for example, visual art)?
Whatever I see, hear, and feel daily are all influences.
People often discuss the similarities between glam rock and VK. Do you see VK as an extension of glam or as an emergence of something historically Japanese within contemporary music?
I believe that a combination of understanding and knowing different countries’ cultures allowed Japanese people to create their own version of music, which may have become the birth of VK.
We don’t really discuss a whole lot. We just individually wear what we want to wear.
What have been your greatest successes visually?
Hmm…. I don’t really know.
Have there been any times when things have gone wrong?
Yeah I think so. I just can’t really recall it at the moment.
Who are the stylists that help put together your clothes/looks?
We don’t really have a stylist, since we all individually decide on what we each wear.
Is there an artistic process that comes with putting together an outfit?
How I look on stage, and also maneuverability.
How do you feel when you see fans dressing as you?
In the past, I wasn’t exactly sure as to how I should feel when I saw fans dressed like us. But now, I strongly feel that listeners should wear whatever they want to wear as long as they are having a great time. We ourselves are wearing what we want to wear so we want fans to do the same and wear whatever they like to wear and enjoy the moment with us.
What do you think audiences and fan get from seeing a VK band? Unreality? Fantasy? Idoru?
I’m not sure if fans see us as VK band but we’d like our fans to see our attitude toward life and also see that we are persistently striving to obtain something.
To some extent it would appear as though Dir En Grey has distanced themselves from being part of the VK movement? Why is this?
I don’t think we distanced nor did we near the VK movement. Ever since we first started, we just expressed what we wanted to express. The VK movement, in a way, arose during the same time and people saw us as a relevant band to the Visual Kei.
How do you think Dir En Grey will always push the visual aspect of performance?
I think that visually expressing something has such a wide range, and is an effective way to really express what we want to express. Not only visually, we want our fans to also hear and, most importantly, feel it as well.
I’m not exactly sure in terms of the future of VK but I do believe that for anything, if one persists continually toward something, he or she can and will gain acceptance. So I think what’s most important is to always have that fire inside somebody. So with VK, if people in the future are able to look back and appreciate the history and culture behind VK, that would be very pivotal.
Thank you for your time.
Thank you for the interview.
Editor, founder, fan.