Interview by: Ryu – 日本語翻訳：珠城 – English Translation: Ryu English check: John
ARTiCLEAR a name you surely have heard of, might you have listened to them before? Might you think, why does this band sound so familiar? Do you remember NEGA? Yes, ARTiCLEAR is the current band of vocalist Jin! ARTiCLEAR is around since December 2018 and keeps on going since that day as a very strong and powerful band everyone should check out! They will release their 4th ONLINE EP this winter, until it’s that date, please check out this interview and of course their past music, which can be streamed and downloaded via most digital platforms!
ARTiCLEAR thank you very much for this interview!
■ This is your first interview with JROCKNROLL, so please introduce yourself to our readers.
Vo. I am Vocalist Jin (儿).
Gt. I am Guitarist ITSUKI (樹).
Gt. I am Guitarist MAKOTO (誠).
Ba. I am bassist Rui (ルイ).
Dr. I am drummer Taji (多時).
■ I really do like the idea behind the band’s concept. ART + CLEAR = To express ourselves as purely as possible. Do you feel that this concept still fits the band’s worldview?
Jin: Actually it’s rather a policy than a “worldview“. And this policy hasn’t changed. However, it’s difficult to maintain our purity, because there are many contradictions. It made me realize that this is a part of “humanity“.
■ Could you tell us how the band was formed? How did you all meet?
Taji: When Jin’s former band (THE BLACK SWAN) broke up, I contacted him.
Jin: Back then ITSUKI and MAKOTO were saying to me “I wanna do something I can do“. So I was talking vaguely about starting something new together, so then I said; “We got the drum, but we still need a bass“. (smile)
Rui: After I got the call from Taji, I met everyone the next day, I listened to everyone’s story and I made my decision in no time. (smile)
■ You all have been in the music industry for a long while. Would there be anything you would wish to have known before you started your career?
Jin: I started from a state where I didn’t understand and knew anything about how things actually work in this world, so I started to learn how it works, and even now I’m in the middle of it.
ITSUKI: That musical activity isn’t always gorgeous and fun.
MAKOTO: Nothing in particular. It’s the most fun when you don’t know which side you need to turn and that you just keep on moving forward.
Taji: I was inspired by YOSHIKI of XJAPAN and wanted to be a drummer like him. So I would like to know what part I should have taken to become a professional drummer like him. Well, thinking about it now, I’ll just keep doing my best! I’m sure it’s the same for everyone.
■ What’s the most difficult thing about being a musician?
Jin: To put everyone’s sound together into one work.
ITSUKI: To continue to be active.
MAKOTO: To receive “understandment” of your own family and people around.
Rui: To be always aware of the current trends.
Taji: To arrange music which can also be expressed live with full satisfaction.
■ How did you choose your instrument?
ITSUKI & MAKOTO: On its cool appearance.
Rui: I asked someone I trusted to create it for me.
Taji: In the past I chose my drums by how they sound. But since the times have changed and we’re able to tweak/edit sounds as well, I’ve started to choose my drumming parts based on its appearance as well. It’s still normal to listen to music in its digital form, however live’s are becoming more important than ever before, so showing nice looking drums on stage has become important as well. Right now I’m using an all-transparent acrylic drum-set.
■ What is the most emotional aspect of doing a live show?
Jin: It’s the moment where my body melts into the world of the song with my voice and spirit.
ITSUKI: It’s the moment where I feel “the” sense of unity with everyone.
MAKOTO: It may only happen once in a while, but it’s when everyone inside the venue becomes one and the atmosphere becomes indescribably emotional.
Rui: It’s the moment when I feel alive.
Taji: When our fans go with our flow.
■ How did you decide your concept for your 3rd ONLINE EP “Kagen no Tsukuyomi(仮現の月読)”?
Jin: Because of COVID-19 everything was blinded into darkness and with this EP we wanted to be the person who illuminates the darkness.
■ Please explain each song of your 3rd ONLINE EP “Kagen no Tsukuyomi(仮現の月読)”.
1.誰が為のNew World (誰が為のNew World)
Jin: Our modern society is flooded with fake news and information and people are engulfed by it. The number of suicides continues to increase as people forget how to “live” because of its regulated and ambiguous rule about how to “protect” your own life. We created a song that gives listeners something to think about how to live in such a new world.
2.月と鼈 (Tsuki to Suppon)
ITSUKI: We created this song with the mindset that our fans should be able to go with the flow when we play it live. The demo of this song was not made with any instruments but via a digital music program. The arrangement of everyone in the production process turned the song into a lively vibe.
Taji: I started with the chorus because I wanted a chorus with a rhythm pattern that is not common in ARTiCLEAR. There are surprisingly only a few songs with a 2-4 backbeat chorus. The phrasing of the song was influenced by metalcore bands. I made it with the concept of creating an easy-to-hear melody.
MAKOTO: This song was created at a studio session and I took it home with me to continue to create a song out of it. Because it’s a free song created from a studio session, I don’t play it the exact same pattern when we perform it live. Because it’s a song which can be played as you wanna play it at the feeling you have at the moment.
5.Like a Flower
MAKOTO: This song was also created at a studio session. This song was inspired by the impressive guitar intro phrase by ITSUKI and the song was expanded from that part. I only added a little bit more colour to the song. But after all, the song was created thanks to the atmosphere we had in the studio.
Rui: I wrote this song to be easy to understand and to be able to perform it in a cool way. The other members create elaborate songs, so I try to create songs that are simple and cohesive.
■ You announced that a new 4th ONLINE EP will be released in the near future. Can you tell us anything about this new EP?
Jin: We will deliver music that feels different from our previous works, yet it will be unique to ARTiCLEAR.
■ How are the visuals for your MV’s determined? Also could you tell us more about the production process?
Jin: The video image naturally emerges from the music and lyrics. So there is no hesitation there. However, the actual production is difficult, and it may not turn out as imagined, or it may take dozens of hours for a few seconds to create that scene you imagined.
■ Where do you find inspiration for your lyrics?
Jin: Music around usually gives me key images and words in a natural way. But also social situations and my own mental state are greatly reflected.
■ What makes a song a perfect song?
Jin: It’s something that artists search and create. Also it is something that will never be reached.
ITSUKI: I can’t explain it, but the first time I heard “Silent Jealousy, by X“, I thought it was a perfect song.
MAKOTO: It’s a song that touches the soul like “Queen’s, Bohemian Rhapsody“. I love that song.
Rui: A song that stays in your head with either the melody or the lyrics after one listen.
Taji: I consider all works that I am satisfied with to be perfect. I also feel more satisfied when there is a drum phrase that I can’t do without practice. If I can play it after practice, it becomes more perfect.
■ Which song is most popular among your fans?
Jin & ITSUKI: I don’t know.
MAKOTO: I don’t know which songs are really popular among our fans. But I often hear “Owari no Hajimari (終わりの始まり)” is good. because it feels healing.
Rui: Ikei no Musou (異形の夢想) is loved by the people around me and I love it as well.
Taji: I’ve never asked our fans…(smile). But aren’t our most popular songs the easy-to-listen songs such as ‘“Ikei no Musou (異形の夢想)”? (laugh)
NOTE: 『終わりの始まり』is also the name of their streaming event of March 5th 2019、 which is still free to watch.
■ Your first MV Hekiraku no 「Kimi」 e (『碧落の「君」へ』) has English subtitles, but your other MV’s don’t have any. Is there a reason why only the first MV has subtitles?
Jin: I added the English lyrics to this song because I didn’t want to publish the Japanese lyrics. Also I thought that if I added the English translation that some parts could be conveyed which aren’t noticeable in Japanese.
Also there is no reason why our other songs don’t have English translations.
■ Could you explain the lyrical story of the song 「誰が為のNew World」?
Jin: It is a figurative representation of a person who is swallowed up and killed by this world.
Anyhow, I really wish that it ever happens to any of our fans.
■ I’m curious about the lyrics of the digital releases. Are you thinking of publishing them online in the near future?
Jin: ARTiCLEAR does not publish the lyrics, because we do sell lyric booklets as merchandise. For those who want to read them, even if you pay for it, it will be worth the money. However I must say, that I also feel frustrated about it, that I cannot convey myself with my lyrics to overseas fans who cannot come to our lives.
■ COVID-19 has caused damage to the music industry. How did this affect you?
Jin: Actually, just criticizing it and doing nothing doesn’t change anything, so we take every chance we get and do what we can do.
■ How do you see the future as a band?
Jin: As long as all members continue to be creative in this band, full of their motivation, I would like to continue to create and express new things as well.
■ We came to the end, please leave a last message to your fans and readers.
Jin: Some years ago, there were many overseas fans who came to Japan to watch our shows as well. COVID-19 made it difficult to come here, even if people really want to travel to Japan to watch us. However, we live in an era now where you can connect with everyone around the world via online distribution. I really hope that I will be able to meet various fans which I’ve met online at one of our future shows.
ITSUKI: We hope to see you someday. We also hope you will listen a lot to our music in the future (as well). Thank you for reading this interview.
MAKOTO: The band is still in its infancy. We would be happy if you could support us from abroad as well.
Rui: I wish I could play overseas!
Taji: ARTiCLEAR has spent a third of our activity in the COVID-19 time, but we will continue to move forward without stopping our activities, so we would appreciate your support. We hope that our past works and future works will reach all over the world.