Versailles interview (2007.09)
This email interview was done back in 2007.09, when Versailles was just a new, promising band, formed by Kamijo and Hizaki, two very important figures of the visual kei scene and they were joined by three other musicians, Jasmine You, Yuki and Teru, who were also familiar to the audience, thanks to their previous bands. Their first single, The Revenant Choir which was released in 2007.07 and soon afterwards, they signed a contract with the now defunct German CLJ Records label and their first album, Lyrical Sympathy was released simultaneously in Europe and Japan on 2009.10.31. So, this interview was done when they were still busy recording the album.
First of all, I thank you very much for taking the time to answer the questions. First, please introduce the band members with a short background info.
Kamijo: I used to be in Lareine and the world I wanted to create has not been changed at all since then. I formed Versailles to recaptutre the thread of a dream.
Hizaki: Hi I’m Hizaki. My previous bands were Crack Brain, Schwardix Marvally, Sulfuric Acid, Hizaki Grace Project.
Jasmine You: I’m Jasmine You on Bass. I used to play in Jyakura.
Yuki: I’m Yuki, I was in Sugar Trip before Versailles.
Teru: I’m Teru on guitar, and I used to be in Aikaryu which was visual-kei / metal band. My main influenced were Impellitteri, Pantera an Rhapsody.
Hizaki, Jasmine You, Teru and Kamijo (as producer) already worked together in Hizaki Grace Project. When did you decide to start Versailles, a new band together and how did you find the members?
Kamijo: In 2006, Hizaki and I decided to form a band together. Other members joined us naturally.
Hizaki: Hizaki Grace Project is basically my solo project and I was planning for a new band with Kamijo while I was recording for my previous album. I knew Jasmine You and Teru from before and Yuki was introduced by my friend.
Jasmine You: Versailles started in March 2007. Yuki on drums was recommended by a manager at the long established venue called Rock May Kan.
Could you tell us about the concept of the band?
Kamijo: “Descendant of Rose” – it’s sort of a modern orchestra with character.
Jasmine You: Yes, each member has a role in the story. Our sales point in music is passionately beautiful melody and twin guitar like cusp.
Kamijo, Your earlier band, Lareine covered the theme song from the popular anime, “Rose of Versailles” and now you named your new band “Versailles”. Have you ever visited the real Versailles palace in France?
Kamijo: No, I have never visited Versailles.
Hizaki, you work with Versailles, Hizaki Grace Project and also write songs for other artists. How do you find time to be involved with so many things at once?
Hizaki: I constantly keep ideas when they come up and I put it all together when I have time. Although it’s hard to find time to do everything, I prefer challenging my limit. So I specially like the songs I made when I was in precarious situation.
Jasmine You, You was in the legendary indies band Jyakura, until they disbanded in 2003. Were you involved with any other bands between Jyakura and Versailles?
Jasmine You: After Jyakura disbanded, Hizaki asked me to join his band at that time, but it didn’t happen for my reason. I got some proposals from bands, but could not find my motivation anywhere, so I decided to leave the music scene for a little while.
Yuki & Teru, You were the last two members to join the band. How did you feel when you were invited to play with such legendary musicians of the visual kei scene?
Yuki: It was an honor to be invited. I believe Versailles would be able to go international, so I instantly accepted their offer.
Teru: I was so excited! Because I was very much impressed by Hizaki’s work as a guitarist when I was invited to join Hizaki Grace Project and also Kamijo was a well-known musician having his own unique world.
Who designed your costumes and who is responsible for the band’s image?
Kamijo: The original idea comes from each member and ID Japan makes it real. Our visual concept is “Descendant of Rose”.
Hizaki: I design my costume and ID Japan arranges it, but Kamijo is responsible for the image.
Jasmine You: Everyone designs their own, but all the members discuss about the concept.
Teru: Everyone has a basic design, then ID Japan arrange it and adds a few ideas.
Yuki: Each member designs along with the band’s concept.
What does “Visual-kei” mean to you? Is it a lifestyle or a concept that you follow as an artist?
Kamijo: “Visual-kei” is not a genre of music, it’s a genre of scene.
Hizaki: That’s where I am.
Jasmine You: It’s a genre for scenes, not for music. It’s a lifestyle and also a place where I can express myself as an artist.
Yuki: It is one of ways to impart our music and image.
Teru: I can say it’s a concept as an artist . Metal is my soul!
The Revenant Choir had a very strong metal sound. Will you stick with this sound or can we also expect the more melodic songs that are closer to Lareine’s style?
Kamijo: It will be melodic metal. I just carry on writing beautiful music. That’s all I want.
Hizaki: We will try various sound, but we can definitely say that The Revenant Choir is our origin!
Yuki: The base is metal, but our music varies.
Teru: The Revenant Choir is the first song Versailles composed so I think it suggested our musical direction. But even we don’t know which way we would go yet.
What were your main musical influences when you became musicians and what kind of music do you listen to now?
Kamijo: I do respect Paul Mauriat. Recently I often listen to film soundtracks.
Hizaki: All the senior musicians and bands in Visual-kei have influenced me. Also I respect Angra and Dream Theater. I usually listen to classical music though.
Jasmine You: I liked Blankey Jet City, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Metallica, Muse, Nirvana, Radiohead, The Police, Blur, Jay-Z, Led Zeppelin and so on. I am listening to more various music these days though.
Yuki: Dream Theater!! That’s it!!
Teru: Chris Impellitteri and Dimebag Darrell! Because they made me notice that the guitar music has its big world. Recently I tend to listen to melodic death metal and classical music.
The PV for The Revenant Choir was very theatrical. If you could ask any movie director to make a PV for you, who would you choose?
Kamijo: Neil Jordan, the director of Interview with a Vampire.
Hizaki: Mr. Machida (Director of The Revenant Choir) is the best!! His camerawork can withdraw our attraction.
Jasmine You: Steven Spielberg! Because I wanna make a magnificent PV!
Teru: Tim Burton.
Versailles is under Sherow Artist Society. Could you tell us about the company and its concept of choosing their artists?
Kamijo: I run Sherow Artist-Society. We do artworks and film production apart from music. I choose artists who have “beauty” in their heart.
Kamijo, could you tell us about your rock musical project, Node Of Scherzo?
Kamijo: It’s a special musical project with Kaya and Juka. It brings me good vibe and energy. We are allied to make a new scene for “Aestheticism” in the Visual-kei scene.
When Versailles started, you almost immediately set up an English website on MySpace and paid attention to build a strong connection to overseas fans. Why did you decide to take the band to an international level and what reaction did you get from overseas fans so far?
Kamijo: Because we wanna be No. 1 in the world! To be honest, I am very surprised by the tons of feedback on myspace!! I still can’t believe it…
Hizaki: Japan has not paid much attention to the World, so I really wanted them to know Japan as well as the band. The fans abroad are passionate and it makes me feel so happy!
Jasmine You: Because I really want many people in the World to listen to Versailles. I am totally happy about getting lots of attention from the fans internationally.
Yuki: I am so pleased to have passionate fans!! Their feeling towards us gives me power.
Teru: I think Visual-kei bands are in great demand at the moment, but the actual market is still small. So we are looking to go global to make the people abroad aware of our music. The fans overseas are so passionate and hot!
What do you think about the sudden popularity of Visual-kei around the World in recent years? What caused it and how do you think it will affect the future of the genre?
Kamijo: Although the scene gets remarkably popular at the moment, it will be able to be destroyed by media in a way. But I’m not scared of making a new World. Versailles will make it!
Hizaki: It’s great, but there are lot of “wannabe” Visual-kei bands, to be honest. So we really want to change the world!!
Jasmine You: I feel honored that the people abroad appreciate Visual-kei, since it is Japan’s own culture. I think that the Visual-kei scene would be improving more.
Yuki: I think it’s good to be widely recognized in the World because Visual-kei is a sort of an original Japan culture form. And Versailles wants to be a leading band.
Teru: I think we, human beings, are the beings who explore “Beauty” so growth of popularity for Visual-kei must be normal.
You recently signed a contract with the German label, CLJ Records, where you will release you first album, Lyrical Sympathy the same time as in Japan. What can we expect from the album and who will write the music and lyrics for the songs?
Kamijo: It will be a conceptual album. All the music is related to its lyrics.
Hizaki: Lyrics are by Kamijo and the music is basically made by me, Kamijo and Teru. I have written three songs this time.
Jasmine You: Kamijo, Hizaki and Teru mainly compose songs and arrangement is done by all the members.
Yuki: The first album will be the right one to know about the World of Versailles.
Teru: It will be an album which contains a mixture of beautiful melody and hard sound, done in a unique Japanese way. Lyrics are by Kamijo and music is by Kamijo, Hizaki and me.
Do you plan to play concerts in Europe in the near future? What do you expect from the European audience and how do you imagine the ideal venue for a Versailles concert?
Hizaki: I am very much interested in the scenery and culture of Europe, so I wish we can play in every country in Europe! Get crazy when we visit your country!
Jasmine You: Yes we do. We are ready to feel their passion directly. We are confident in doing shows in any venue, because we can express the World of Versailles anywhere.
Yuki: You can expect concerts from us! I like playing in small venues as well as in bigger concert halls, I just want to see the audience’s faces!
Teru: I expect shared aesthetic feeling from them. I want to do a show in Versailles!
Thank you for the interview! Do you have any message for the fans in Europe and in Hungary?
Kamijo: Bonjour Honey! I can’t wait to see you… until then, see you in dreams!
Hizaki: OK! There are so many Visual-kei bands who are faking it. So I promise you to deliver the superb production as art. Be ready and stay with us to raise awareness of beauty sense!
Jasmine You: Music make us become one beyond country and sex. I will promise you to do shows worldwide, so please be patient until then!
Yuki: Thank you very much for your great support. I love everyone who loves Versailles! I truly look forward to seeing you at our shows in Europe soon.
Teru: I am delighted to see you in Hungry through music. We will do our best until we can impress you. I also want to shock the guitar kids by our music!
Disclaimer: this interview was originally arranged for soundofjapan.hu.
Thanks for the management of Versailles for making this interview possible!
Gallery: Versailles @ München, Kleine Georg-Elser Halle, 2008.04.03