Collecting data and transcription: Yamamoto Takaya
Ryoga: Welcome to Devilish of the CAFE. I’m the owner, Ryoga.
yo-ka：It’s that kind of setting (laughs).
Ryoga：Today, although we’re going to have an earnest conversation, I think I also want to thoroughly discuss some private matters.
Ryoga：The first that I had heard of yo-ka was while he was still in his previous band. A friend told me “There’s a band with really great vocals.” Then I feel as though we played at the same lives, and greeted each other, right? My first impression was “He seems like a really polite person.”
yo-ka：I actually saw BORN back before they changed their band name. During that time, I was still a roadie for a certain other band, but when I saw them gathered by the unloading point [of a livehouse] I was really intimidated by Ryoga and the guys (laughs). I wasn’t in a band back then, and I’m from a rural area, so at that point they were really all I had seen of Visual Kei. I thought “As I expected, Tokyo is a scary place.” So, my first meeting with Ryoga left quite the deep impression.
Ryoga：Was that back when we all had dreadlocks? Because TOMO had a Mohawk, I think (laughs).
yo-ka：Yes, exactly. And you had those snug, enameled costumes, and seemed really stern, so I thought to myself “There’s no way I can talk to them,” so I never would have thought that we could one day be able talk like we’re doing now (laughs).
Ryoga：When did we first properly talk?
yo-ka：I think it was because after starting DIAURA, we had a lot of events together, right? I feel like from that point, we were finally able to do more than just greetings.
Ryoga：And recently we’ve finally started using causal speech with each other (laughs).
yo-ka：The only image I ever had of you was that you were “scary,” so when I got past my barrier of trepidation, I thought “He’s a really good person!” (laughs).
Ryoga：It seems like a lot of people thought we were scary back then… Obviously because the people around DIAURA feel that way (laughs). I have something I’d like to ask yo-ka today: I’ve heard that you really like the older Visual Kei bands…
yo-ka：I do. I feel like I got into this because of the Visual Kei bands of the 90s, and it largely made me who I am.
Ryoga：I also really like that era of Visual Kei.
yo-ka：When I was in elementary school, I was the type of person who could have Visual Kei enter my body plainly. I started with the band Kuroyume. What about you, Ryoga?
Ryoga：At first it was LUNA SEA, and from there I started thinking that people who wore makeup were pretty cool, so I went to bands like ROUAGE and Laputa, and quickly began immersing myself in Visual Kei.
yo-ka：I also took that route, I listened to the point where I must have been maniacal.
Ryoga：You started with Kuroyume first, right?
yo-ka：I learned about Kuroyume in elementary school, and it wasn’t Visual Kei then, but there was a commercial for them that would play in the car and I would think “These people are cool” and “This song is cool!” so I bought their CD. But back then, there was no concept of “Visual Kei” and Kuroyume wasn’t considered Visual Kei until later. I remember that the first time I saw Visual Kei was PIERROT’s “HEY!HEY!HEY!” and I was scared.
Ryoga：I also went to see PIERROT live. Their choreography was unique, but then everyone in the audience started doing the choreography as one with the band. Seeing that really moved me.
Ryoga：And it made me realize “THIS is Visual Kei.”
yo-ka：Since my house was in a rural area, we didn’t have that kind of culture, so I would intently mail-order the CDs of bands that I saw in magazines (laughs). So during that time, various artist CDs really helped me out.
Ryoga：So there wasn’t a band that you had your eye on?
yo-ka：Even if there were only one or two bands that I wanted to listen to, I usually bought the CDs anyway (laughs). And because it was like that, I think I knew a lot of bands. Because there were a lot of cool bands.
Ryoga：There were. I think maybe that was the “Age of Visual Kei,” and the guitar melodies were very beautiful
yo-ka：I know! They were lovely (laughs). The sound wasn’t as thick as it is now, but the solitary sounds were beautiful.
Ryoga: Maybe it’s exactly because they didn’t have that thickness that the sound was more clear. The deep reverb of the drums was irresistible, and the guitar’s reverb was also deep, and it created and conveyed a wondrous world-view. Visual Kei is grandiose and gives you a feeling like an escape to a different world when you listen to it. And even while I myself am doing it, I carry illusions about Visual Kei, but that feeling of escaping from the world was really irresistible.
yo-ka：In the old days, I didn’t have any interest in bands that were popular at the time. I would tell people what bands I liked and they’d often ask “How old are you, yo-ka?” (laughs). It wasn’t because of that, but even in DIAURA, moreso than making something by analyzing the current times, I make something that I think will always leave behind good points in Visual Kei. Really, that’s embedded deeply even in the my awareness of making music, and my illusions of that time are immense.
Ryoga：During that time, I tended to have fun losing myself in Visual Kei, so even though I like a lot of different kinds of music, I can never part from Visual Kei… When did you start thinking of joining a band, yo-ka?
yo-ka：The moment that I first saw PIERROT on TV. When I was about 13 I started thinking vaguely that I too would put on makeup and have a band like them (laughs).
Ryoga：But at that age, you can’t immediately join a band, you know?
yo-ka：Since I couldn’t, I listened to a lot of CDs and gathered information. I assembled my first band at age 15.
Ryoga：Did you wear makeup?
yo-ka：I did, but you couldn’t really tell, and it was terribly done (laughs).
Ryoga：I did my first live at age 16, and I did my makeup with my local bandmen who had more experience, but I was so nervous that I couldn’t move onstage.
Ryoga：I sang the entire time standing straight up, and since the guests were all sitting, it was just embarrassing. It got me so down that I started thinking “Maybe I’m not suited for vocals” (laughs). There was a little while where I didn’t want to listen to Visual Kei, but I felt that there’s nowhere else that I belong. So I steadily assembled a band. Did you have a local band, yo-ka?
yo-ka：I had one with my senior students at school.
Ryoga：They were people who understood Visual Kei?
yo-ka：I had a senior student who really liked LUNA SEA, so I said “We’re going to sing some LUNA SEA, so won’t you join us?” to lure him in, and sealed it with “Well, let’s also add a PIERROT song too.”
Ryoga：Back then, they stressed worldview more than they do today, don’t you think? Consequently, the people onstage had a super charismatic feel to them. So when we played a live with you guys, I thought that DIAURA really treasured the good old Visual Kei, but still had good contemporary points, and so I felt that you could adequately communicate the goodness of Visual Kei to your fans.
yo-ka：That’s what I want to be the most aware of. BORN’s lives made me feel more emotion than I had anticipated. When I saw that, admittedly there is part of my consciousness that changed. I came to understand the appeal of lives that make you feel, and at the same time I began to truly give importance to Visual Kei’s worldview in my mind, and the image of enjoying the pure music. Those were things that I also realized from watching BORN. Ryoga, you also like Visual Kei and listen to a lot of different music, and it’s good to let that show onstage.
Ryoga：BORN is a little different from the good old Visual Kei, but although of course I previously stated the appeal of Visual Kei, I really do think that it’s the way of looking at the world. So rather than creating a way to view the world, I thoroughly enter my own world and do as I please, and if those results become a worldview, I think that’s good. So maybe that’s why my lives have become emotional. Because when I’m up onstage, I don’t really think, it’s all just instinct…
yo-ka：That’s becoming BORN’s way of looking at the world. Amazing.
Ryoga：I think we’re opposites in that respect. But even when we were on tour together with DIAURA, seeing our fans respectively swell, I figured what’s good is good (laughs).
yo-ka：Yeah. I was happy to see that. I want that to be music’s essence.
Ryoga：I figure that because it’s something that we’re resolutely going through together, of course we should be able to empathize with each other and fire each other up. There was a time when I cared about the fads that were going around, but during that time, I didn’t think that there was anything good being produced, and only thought about how to make something typical of us, but that was still cool. If you do that, I think that no matter what genre, people will be naturally attracted to it. So if resolute bands compete with resolute bands of a different genre, it might promote synergy.
yo-ka：It’s a matter of what to prioritize. To prioritize what other people feel, or to prioritize what you yourself feel, if you don’t choose your band members based on that, you won’t be able to connect, I think.
Ryoga：You have a clear goal, yo-ka. It’s “To show the magnificence of Visual Kei”
yo-ka：Because I had music that changed me, I think that it’s really important.
Ryoga：You really shouldn’t hide the fact that you like Visual Kei so much (laughs).
yo-ka：I always want to leave something behind, and since there have been so many bands that have influenced me, I don’t want to hide it. For instance, in ten years I want people to say “I listened to DIAURA” or “I listened to BORN.” I had those kind of people, and since I was built on that history, we have to protect that kind of thing so that people in other genres can enter and become fans.
Ryoga：Indeed. We have to leave some Visual Kei brilliance behind for the posterity.
－－So we have BORN and DIAURA, but you also have a three-man tour with MEJIBRAY, right?
yo-ka：It’s a dark three-man.
Ryoga：We all have deep feelings for each other (laughs).
yo-ka：But each of our individual “darknesses” are interesting. Even our songs are totally different, after all.
Ryoga：If it’s our three bands, I think we can take a journey to a different world. Each of us has our own unique worldview with its own peculiarities, so I want to give them such a “fantastic world” with a bang. I thought we’d be talking a lot more about more trivial things today, but when people who love Visual Kei get together, it’s impossible…
Ryoga：So what are you doing in your private life?
yo-ka：Well that was abrupt (laughs). My private life is really boring, but recently I’ve had something that I’ve been looking forward to… Eating sweets and watching marathons of my SFX Hero DVDs.
Ryoga：…Of course you would like escapism (laughs).
yo-ka：Maybe, but I’m happier when I do that than any other time.
Ryoga：What’s the title?
yo-ka：Right now, I’m watching “Iron King,” an old program from the 70s. I really like Special Effects from the Showa era (laughs). They use too much CGI in today’s special effects. Of course, the picture quality is good, and it’s realistic-looking, but there’s something different about it… Scenes with a lot of gunpowder and explosions, being highly recommended, and easy to understand. Now I’ve been watching a lot of feel-good dramas from the Showa era, so when I watch them I feel refreshed (laughs).
Ryoga：I think that elementary school students are still watching it, but when I was in elementary school, I had fun watching Kamen Rider and playing with toys, but nowadays they all have cell phones. It’s part of this generation, so it probably can’t be helped, but for some reason it irks me…
yo-ka：Me too (laughs). Perchance, they might be looking up “BORN Ryoga”
Ryoga：Ahahaha. It’s a completely different world than it was when we were children.
yo-ka：I think so too. Back then, we had a limit on how long we could use the Nintendo per day, and my older brother would hog the game console, but now you can do everything all by yourself on your cell phone.
Ryoga：And play your DS in public. I used to play kick the can, but…
yo-ka：I played kick the can too (laughs).
Ryoga：Elementary school is kind of early to have a cell phone.
yo-ka：I’ve thought about, for argument’s sake, if I had a kid, what would I do concerning cell phones?
Ryoga：It’s a difficult question, because everyone around them would have one.
yo-ka：For example, I’d tell my kid “You can’t have a cell phone until you’re in middle school.” Then my kid would go into elementary school and everyone else would have one. And what would I do if they were teased by other kids saying “So why don’t YOU have one…?”
Ryoga：Even though cell phones are convenient and give you a sense of freedom, there’s a need for self-responsibility… And you have to teach your kids that.
yo-ka：Maybe something like a “Raku-Raku phone,” something you can only use to contact your mother and father, would be okay.
Ryoga：I’d want them to have something like that. But what would you talk about…?
yo-ka：Ahahaha. Anyway, what have you been doing in your private life, Ryoga?
Ryoga：Astronomical observation, I guess. At first, I wanted to see the rings of Saturn, so my parents bought me a telescope, but I was so moved from being able to see Saturn’s rings from Tokyo that I started to like looking for other constellations and galaxies, and I’ve gotten an interest in outer space. I’ve started asking “Why was the universe created?” Recently on my days off, I’ve been researching the universe online (laughs).
yo-ka：It has a romantic aspect (laughs). Actually, I’ve been wanting to go to a planetarium since we got them, but have been telling myself for five years that I’ll do it in the future without actually going.
Ryoga：Since the planetarium in Shibuya was moved, it’s become an entirely new place, so you should go there. If you really want to go, let’s go together (laughs).
yo-ka：Yeah, let’s go (laughs).
Ryoga：Let’s go, let’s go. Can we change the topic of conversation again? It’s just been innocently on my mind, but do you get tense before lives?
yo-ka：For me, it may be a bit of a faulty expression, but I don’t get all that fired up… Even the morning of the day I have a live, there’s not a lot of tension, and when I have my makeup done and am waiting to go onstage, I think that I’m strangely calm. It’s the moment that the SE sounds and I walk out onstage.
Ryoga：It flips a switch?
yo-ka：Yeah. In that moment, all of the calmness goes away, and I really wonder if something changes. I stop thinking about everything. When I finally arrive at the center of the stage, it’s a different me.
Ryoga：Are you nervous?
yo-ka：I do get nervous. It’s just that I recently realized that until it all starts, it’s like an extended downer, so when I’m standing onstage, everything changes.
Ryoga：Recently? If you think about it carefully, have you always been like that?
yo-ka：I think so, maybe.
Ryoga：Do you goof around with the other members?
yo-ka：We do get restless, but basically we’re an unsociable, dark bunch…
yo-ka：I think our wavelengths all perfectly match, but I think people looking at us must wonder “Do they really have any motivation?” But it’s not like that at all, we get really fired up on the inside, it just doesn’t show. Maybe we just trust each other. Whether we get fired up, or if it’s just kind of cinders onstage, either is fine, I think. Recently when I’m onstage, I’ve had a huge awareness of the fact that I’m alive.
Ryoga：Exactly. I wasn’t there, but I heard that when you were playing at stylish wave, you suddenly got off stage and threw yourself into the audience?
yo-ka：I don’t think much when I’m standing onstage… (laughs)
Ryoga：I’ve felt so much tension that it’s like a blood-lust, it’s normal when I’m in the dressing room. The moment I’m up on stage, it seems like something bursts within me.
yo-ka：I don’t really get that way. But occasionally when I would calmly think about things, I’d get weird, even for me (laughs). I often wonder who the “me” who I became from sometime around the second half of 2012 is, but that’s another thing entirely. It’s the stage’s fault that I’ve become so lax (laughs).
Ryoga：They say that DIAURA’s fans are really passionate, and that you all sing together right? I was really moved to hear that.
yo-ka：Maybe, to summarize our black band, I think that DIAURA is really pop-y and I actually have thought “Even though it’s black, I want to do pop.” And my first priority is making songs. Maybe I thought that if we only did intense songs, it mean that we couldn’t compete with BORN. When we first met, I started formulating “what kind of band DIAURA is,” and I’ve been thinking about that a lot this past year. Thanks to my various surroundings and other bands, I’ve been able to produce more direction for DIAURA, so BORN is very important to me. You’ve taught me a lot in the time that we’ve been close.
Ryoga：What clinched it for me, more than anything else, was when you did RAUAGE’s “endless loop.” I really like that song to begin with, and when I heard it, I was really moved…
yo-ka：It’s a good song.
Ryoga：It was super cool, and I thought “I want to sing it too” (laughs). You were really suited for the melody, and more than anything, you communicated how much you love the song.
yo-ka：It’s a song that has the essence of Visual Kei. There are a lot of bands like BORN, so there’s not much choice but to do things in a similar way. If there’s bands like BORN, then there’s also other bands that like DIAURA, and I think that’s interesting. So I think that even a three-man will be interesting. If I did cool things, thinking that I’d be like you, it wouldn’t it be interesting?
Ryoga： “endless loop” was really popular…
yo-ka：Ahahaha. Conversely, if today’s bands perform the great songs of the past, and spark and interest in the younger people who don’t know about that era, that’d be great.
Ryoga：I learned a lot about the deep love that yo-ka has for Visual Kei. From here, we have the tour. Thanks for coming in to see us today.