The Black Swan Interview 08/24/2015
The Black Swan
We went to The Black Swan’s sponsored event “Killer x Killer Carnival vol.4” held at Ikebukuro Edge on 8th August 2015. The top batter was Femme Fatale, followed by Hollowgram and headed by the Black Swan. At the end of the night, fans were treated to a preview of the full “Kagune” MV, due to be released on 8/26. We caught the Black Swan in between preparations to ask them a few questions!
– Since today is the first interview the Black Swan has had with Kerberos International, could you give a brief self-introduction?
Rena: I’m the Black Swan’s bassist, Rena.
Itsuki: I’m the Black Swan’s guitarist, Itsuki. I play on the right.
Len: Drummer, Len.
Makoto: I’m the Black Swan’s guitarist, Makoto.
Jin: The Black Swan’s vocal, Jin.
– What’s the Black Swan’s concept?
Rena: We’ll leave this one to Jin.
Itsuki: Oh… I guess it’s… giving form to the things that aren’t around us… we’re very different. Jin might know more.
Makoto: Wait, I think it’s a very deep and violent expression of the intensity within every human being.
Jin: I guess this is the vocal’s domain. We show the hidden side of humanity, the side you can’t show in society. The White Swan is also a concept in Kagune that isn’t exactly a concept but more of a demonstration that belief is different for everyone and that we wanted to show the difference in humanity. It’s a difference in thinking, a dual-nature.
– I see! So it’s the hidden nature of humanity… In that case, what kind of themes often appear in the Black Swan’s songs?
Rena: Actually, every song has its own theme. All our songs are very different and not one is the same. The only constant theme would be that we like to use very real concepts, like in human nature and in society. But, again, when you hear them live, even then the themes change very subtly depending on the performance and emotions we put into them.
Itsuki: I think that the themes in our songs are very unlike most other bands you see.
Len: Every theme is very dark. We show the negative aspects of humanity.
Makoto: We follow the band and the ideas behind the band. It’s what gives us our image.
Jin: Again, it’s the hidden side of humanity, the parts you can’t show to the world.
– If you could choose one song, what song would you want people to listen to the most?
Len: Oh, our first single, ‘The Hopeless’. At that time, we all decided on the theme, whereas now usually Jin decides. So, for me, that song was like the glue that brought us all together. I want everyone to listen to it.
Makoto: ‘Ushinai’. I think it really shows the Black Swan for who we are.
Jin: I can’t choose one because it hasn’t been made yet. I think that the song that I’ll like the most is still within me somewhere and I’m excited for the day I’ll eventually be able to produce it.
– So alongside very dark concepts, the Black Swan have a very strong performance style. For example, during the intermission, Rena uses a talk box to build the tension. Why did you decide to use a talk box? What was the inspiration behind it?
Rena: Well, we’ve never seen anyone use a talk box like it before, so I wanted to try it out. And we like to do new and different things in the Black Swan.
– What kind of performance do you aim to give every time you’re onstage? What feelings do you want to convey to the audience?
Rena: We’re mainly concerned with conveying what it truly is to be a Visual Kei band; so we have the make-up and stylized songs. We want to make the audience use all five senses during our performances and give them a new experience. Again, we like to do things that other people haven’t done.
Itsuki: I want to give original ideas. Like in Kagune, so please listen to it for us!
Len: I want to give a pretty fierce, masculine performance.
Makoto: For me, I want to fully display the band’s image and every emotion we feel throughout the performance. I also want the audience to be able to see our continuing growth and the progression we’re making with our songs.
Jin: Lives are a vision. They’re something you experience in their raw form. Everything is very much in the moment, so our performance always changes. Performances aren’t just about sound, they’re about everything and have a totally different approach from recording in the studio.
– Today is the 3-Man Live Concert with Femme Fatale and Hollowgram. When you first met these bands, what impression did they give you?
Rena: Femme Fatale performed at our sponsored event for us before, and at that time I was struck by how strong Kaya’s vocal performance was. They also have this unique, hidden world view that is pretty impressive. And they’re cool. As for Hollowgram, we saw them last year and I thought that they had a really cool stage performance and that their music was amazing. In April, we did a 2-man tour together and thought that this time we wanted to play Tokyo together as well.
Itsuki: Oh, they’re so cool…
Len: Femme Fatale have a really amazing take on the world around them. Hollowgram…are somehow healing for me. As soon as they step on stage, I can’t help admiring them and thinking how great their songs are and it… it heals me. Yeah.
Makoto: I first met Kaya 3 or 4 years ago, and I was struck by how perfect his MC and performance was. Musically, he was important to me so when he made a band, I couldn’t help but be excited. As for Hollowgram, I really like Ryo’s previous band, and I can still recall most of their music to this day. I hadn’t ever met them, but I loved their songs and wanted to hear more. So when Hollowgram were formed, it had a huge effect on me; and I’m just really happy to have two bands that I love so much performing with us here today.
Jin: Iori from Femme Fatale is an acquaintance of mine, so I knew him from old but… when I saw them, it was Kaya’s power that struck me. The impression he left on me was amazing and I just couldn’t wait to see him again –laughs- Hollowgram have a very grown-up way of performing and writing songs. I really do like them as a band.
– Could you briefly explain the concept of the release due out on 26th August, Kagune?
Rena: Kagune is our 3rd single as we move towards our first year together as a band, so we wanted to make a release that involved every member in some way. Like most Black Swan songs, Kagune also explores the idea of real, human emotion and what is expected of a person in society. If we talk about the concept directly, although the title is directly involved in the songs, each song itself has a different take on the world and themes behind the release.
Itsuki: Kagune is a pretty intense, violent release. I think that if you listen to it, you’ll understand what it’s all about immediately. You can also clearly see our development as a band in Kagune so I really want people to listen to it. The second song has a great atmosphere! I have a rare guitar solo in it, and the solo itself has this really pleasing simple, rock feel to it. So… please listen out for it! The third song is really easy to listen to, and I think it’s a great song! Listen to it for me! Actually, all of the songs are different, so it’s kind of exciting.
Len: The drums are really busy throughout, so it’s pretty tiring. –laughs- You’ll completely understand the songs if you read the lyrics as you listen to them. Oh, and please come to see it live, since I’m trying so hard on the drums –laughs-
Makoto: There are 3 songs on the release. The 1st is a Jin song, the 2nd is a Makoto – my – song, and the 3rd song is a Jin song again. They’re all very different, but pretty intense.
Jin: Actually, the theme comes from my favourite manga, Tokyo Ghoul. It’s kind of my feelings on the storyline. It’s not a direct report or anything, but I think the creator’s take on society is a very pertinent world view and I wanted to express the same ideas too.
– So let’s talk more about yourselves. What’s something you’ve become interested in recently?
Rena: Recently I’ve got really into muscle training. I probably do it 2 times every week… or two… or so… at home. Whenever I’m not busy, really.
Itsuki: Going to hospital. –laughs- I kind of…strained my wrist (what’s ‘strain’ in English? Oh. Thank you). Yeah, I strained my wrist playing guitar too much!
Len: Muscle training… but I don’t do it with Rena. We do it separately at home. Oh, and I’m addicted to this baseball game on my phone.
Makoto: Acoustic guitar. It’s very different from electric guitar so I really enjoy listening to it. There’s something soothing about it.
Jin: The book, Kyodan X. I don’t read very often, but when I picked this book up, I didn’t leave my house for 3 days! –laughs- I’m sure that it’ll will be influence the songs I write like Tokyo Ghoul did!
– Where would you like to go abroad?
Rena: I want to go to Germany and drink German beer. Or Amsterdam for its atmosphere.
Itsuki: I would go anywhere famous, especially places well known for their rock music.
Len: I’ve never really thought about it… I guess, Europe? I like Japan so… I don’t know. Europe, probably. I’d try Europe.
Makoto: Italy. I’ve been there before and I really like the atmosphere of the little towns, so I’d like to go again.
Jin: If it’s for personal travel, I want to go to Egypt to see the pyramids. If it’s for a live, I would go anywhere.
– What does the word ‘music’ mean to you?
Rena: It’s my life.
Itsuki: Oh… wow. I don’t really know myself… I guess it’s…the definition of me as a person? Yeah. I think that’s about right.
Len: Whoa. Deep question. –laughs- I guess… exactly how the kanji reads – ‘sound’ and ‘fun’. When you play music, you can lift your own feelings and there are rarely times where you feel down. I just really want to enjoy it.
Makoto: It’s difficult to express in just one word… I’ve done music a long time and it’s part of me. I want it to appear in every day of my life, and just do it a lot… I guess, yeah, music is my life.
Jin: It’s a way of expressing myself. Visual Kei isn’t really just something you look at, it’s the whole sound and the appearance and the performance aspect that is very important too. It’s an art-form.
– KERBEROS INTERNATIONAL is a site aimed at foreign fans. Is there anything you would like to say to those overseas fans?
Rena: In Visual Kei, there are hundreds of bands, some of them looking and sounding the same. Yet those fans chose to listen to us. Since we want to become a bigger and better band for them from here on out, I guess I’d just like to say I’m very thankful.
Itsuki: I really want to meet you all. I want to go everywhere and anywhere to see you, so please wait for me! But, if you have the chance, definitely come see us live in Japan! Actually, I really love foreign fans because they always get so into the music and seem to have so much fun, so I really want to do a live abroad!
Len: I’m very grateful to them. I would love them to come and see our music live. You won’t really understand what we are as a band if you don’t see us perform on stage and soak up that atmosphere. So, if you get the chance, please come and see us.
Makoto: I’m always astounded by the support we get through fan mail and twitter form overseas fans. Even if I can’t understand it, I’m always so thankful and really want to give something back.
Jin: We really want to go abroad and perform, so please wait for us! But if you have the chance, come and experience us in Japan too!
The Black Swan
Vocalist: Jin 儿
Drummer: Len 煉
Guitarist: Makoto 誠
Guitarist: Itsuki 樹