Interview with KAKUMAY

KAKUMAY, thank you very much for answering this interview!

・ This is your first appearance on JROCK’N’ROLL, so please introduce yourself.
Mako: I am the vocalist Mako.
NERO: I am NERO. Nice to meet you, I am the guitarist of KAKUMAY and I am a foreigner.
Yuito。: Nice to meet you. I am Yuito the bassist.
Kohei: I am Kohei. I play the drums. Nice to meet you!

・Please tell us how the band was formed.
Mako: After the end of my former band (Vexent), I reconfirmed for myself that “my band life” is a big part of my life, so I took the lead in gathering members together to form KAKUMAY.

・ Please tell us the origin and meaning of the band name.
Mako: It’s simple. KAKUMEI (革命) means Revolution and since we started in the month of May, I combined KAKU + MAY to create the name KAKUMAY.

・You said that you wanted the band’s name to mean “revolution,” but does this mean that the band will revolutionize the music industry?
Mako: The first reason is that I was looking for words that I’ve seen or heard on the street or in my daily life so that the name can be remembered easily by many people. Also I chose the name because other bands didn’t seem to use the same name, but also because the name doesn’t have too many meanings or is just too “Cool”. Also I did choose our band name more out of strategy than enthusiasm (laugh).

・Also, there is a historical event in France called the May Revolution, was it inspired by this?
Mako: When I was about to decide that KAKUMAY would be the band name, I searched for events that happened in May on the internet, so yes I was aware of it. Rather than it was an inspiration, it just happened to match, so I thought, “It’s fate!”.

・What’s the reason why you chose your band position?
Mako: Originally, I wanted to be a guitarist because of HIDE from the band X JAPAN.
Another reason is that I was originally a dark-minded and shy person. Also I didn’t really want to stand in the front, because it would be embarrassing to me. However, there was a need for approval that was peculiar to a dark-minded person, and playing the guitar was just perfect, because I didn’t have to speak or to sing in the front and could still stand out to some extent without feeling shy.
However, after “the GazettE” came into my life, Ruki inspired me to be a vocalist.
NERO: Originally, I wanted to be a vocalist because I admired Kyo-san of DIR EN GREY. So, I went to a cram school to learn how to be a vocalist, but my teacher at the time said that I should be able to play at least one instrument before I could start learning how to sing. I thought a guitar would be cool because of the sound and you would still stand in the front, so that’s how I started to play the guitar.
Meanwhile, I also started to like more and more guitarists and artists who inspired me.
Actually, I thought I would play the guitar until I reached a certain level, and then switch to vocals once I got better at singing. However I still haven’t reached the level of convincing skill at all to be a vocalist, so I would like to continue to master the guitar a bit longer.
Yuito。: I just wanted to start a band! I became a bass player because my friends who invited me wanted to play the guitar and drums, so only the bass position was left. After all, it didn’t matter to me which instrument I had to play because it would be fine as long as we could start the band.
Kohei: To play a string instrument seemed too difficult to me, so I decided to play the drums.

・What kind of music has influenced you?
Mako: Oh, I thought about that a lot myself too. But anyway when I write a melody of a new song, I usually realise that I am influenced by J-POP songs. Because when I compose new melodies, I tend to create melodies that are easy to listen to. Also, in visual kei, there are no limits to the musical direction and together with stage make-up, you can create any worldview you want. And since I used to have insecurities, I could hide my true self or become something that is far away from myself. And because I could create it, it’s the most attractive feature.
NERO: DIR EN GREY was the reason why I wanted to start a band, so I think they have a lot of influence on me when I write songs and when I refer to their direction, looks, and atmosphere.
As for V-kei, I am influenced by Sadie, 12012, NIGHTMARE, Girugamesh, and other senior members from the Neo-V-kei era.
From Overseas, I do listen to bands such as, Black Veil Brides, Escape The Fate, Asking Alexandria, etc. and use them as references for my playing. I also listen to K-POP and HOUSE for sound reference when I’m creating FX.
Yuito。: I had no interest in music until I started playing an instrument, so I just listened to music because other people around me were listening to it. When I was introduced to the V-kei genre, I remember being shocked and wondering, “What is this?” From there, I started covering V-kei songs with my bass.
Kohei: For me it was because I fell in love with L’Arc~en~Ciel. I have been listening not only to visual kei but also to JPOP, KPOP, idols, and rap music! Even now, my playlist is a total mess of genres.

・Why did you choose the road of a visual-kei artist? What do you think you can only express with vkei and not with other genres?
Mako: Just like the previous question, the first reason is to be able to hide your insecurities. I’m currently doing my best to make music for myself, but I’d be happy if my own process of growing up and the lyrics I’ve written inspire you to live today. I’d be happy if I could help someone else’s insecurities, burdens, or worries disappear, even if only a little, by looking at and listening to my work in the same way as I did.
NERO: When I was a student, there was a time when I had a hard time because I was treated as a weirdo, but then I came across Visual Kei music. After that, I started looking at and reading interviews of visual kei artists. On stage they were flashy and cool, but surprisingly many band men had a lot of painful experiences in the past, just like I did at the time. It surprised me that there were many people who faced the same painful things. Maybe that made me feel like I wasn’t alone. Because of that I felt comforted if I listened to visual kei music. I realised that I was being saved by the music of people just like me, and I wanted to eventually become a visual artist and help others with my music. The visual kei bands I’ve followed have been mostly dark bands, so visual kei is about being able to empathise with the darkness and pain in people’s hearts. The most appealing thing is that they are able to satisfy you visually by creating a solid world view, and I think that is something that only V Kei can do.
Yuito。: I feel that the Visual genre is, for better or worse, a place where you can stop being your normal self. When you are alive, there are things you don’t like and things you want to forget, but if you are in the world of visual kei, in that moment, you also can smile while you cannot outside. I did choose this world because I wanted to create such a world for myself.
Kohei: For me it’s a genre that allows me to differentiate between myself on stage and myself in my daily life, and that’s what attracted me to it. Also I chose visual kei because of its own charm.

・ What is the real thrill of standing on the stage?
Mako: Being able to meet my fans and visitors. It’s the only moment in my daily life when I feel cool.
NERO: That you can see the reactions of your fans and visitors right away.
Yuito。: Only when I’m on stage can I think I’m the coolest person in the universe.
Kohei: Being able to share the place and time with the members and our fans and visitors who came to watch the show.

We would like to ask you about your 2nd EP “DEAD MANSION” released on 2022.1.11.
・What is the origin of the title “DEAD MANSION”?
Mako: Each of the six songs has a main character who has a deathly disease and I tried to make them live together in a mini-album that resembled a “mansion of the dead”. (laugh)

・Please give us an explanation of each song from “DEAD MANSION”.
T1: 猛毒 (Moudoku)
Mako: When I started to create the song I had the intention to make people fall in love with this song within 3 seconds. The song is about revenge. I hope you will feel refreshed after listening to this song.

Mako: This is a song that says, “From now on, in this era, KAKUMAY is going to die and grab victory!”

T3: レプリカ (Replica)
Mako: This song started out with the idea of starting with the chorus. The theme is something about wanting to escape, but you’re not able to escape.

T4: 今日も死にたくなった (Kyou mo Shinitakunatta)
Mako: I started out with the idea that I wanted a light ballad that wasn’t heavy. I wrote the lyrics to express my youthful worries, but I wonder if that got through.

T5: 五月蠅い (Urusai)
Mako: I wrote this one completely out of the blue, but when I added the lyrics and melody, it became a very refreshing song.

T6: 廓 (Kuruwa)
Mako: This is one of my favorite songs because of the melody, and the B-melody is something I can’t stop humming. The lyrics are about someone who wants to escape from the night life business.

・ The music video for “猛毒 (Moudoku)” has been very well received. Do you have any stories from the shooting?
Mako: There was a make-up and hair change. My long hair was very much liked but it was complicated. (laugh)
NERO: I was in the middle of filming a performance scene when I shook my head so much that the flower ornament on my head flew off.
Yuito。: Thank you. It was so hot during the MV shooting that I had a hard time not letting my makeup bleed out.
Kohei: I laughed when Yuito-kun was so enthusiastic that he felt too hot and took a break to cool his head in the refrigerator. LOL

・What do you find most attractive and difficult about being in a band?
Mako: The appeal of this band is that we are a team and that there’s nobody who plays the same role. So each member has to take his own responsibility for his own part. It’s a unique cool point about this genre.
The difficulty is monetization. Whenever it’s selling music or selling photos, we have to add “value” to it to make it sell. So I’m always concerned about how to brand ourselves the best.
To be in a band is a glorious thing because you entrust your own life to the other members and they entrust their lives to you. Also it’s hard to stay strong on your feet if “difficult” things happen in order to continue a band for a long time and not to give up.
NERO: The appeal is that there’s always something to look forward to in everyday life. If I lived a normal life, I probably wouldn’t experience what a band life would be like. Even if I feel tired of my everyday life, I’m still motivated to give my best as a band man.
The difficulty is that you can’t predict anything, because a band is a relationship between people. Things that I thought would work out for sure didn’t work out at all, and even when it comes to the members’ relationship, there are four people who have come from different walks of life. So when there are disagreements, I realize how difficult it is to be in a band.
Yuito。: Personally, the most important thing in a band is the atmosphere between the members. Because we all want to make our music sell, quarrels can also happen and then the mood can become bad. However we all do understand that things aren’t always easy and that we are doing our best to perform the best live shows, while everyone is having fun and pointing in the same direction. Sometimes it’s difficult but I’m always trying to be aware of it.
And the charm? I guess those who still follow us as a fan understand it.
Kohei: The four of us plus our fans make it happen, so that we are able to grow together, which is the difficulty but also the charm of being in the band.

・With the Corona disaster, the environment has changed a lot from before. Has this affected your sense of values and songwriting?
Mako: My sense of value has not changed, but rather my original sense of value has become stronger. Right now I’m even happier to see our audience, and I’m even more grateful to be able to share my music with them live, and I keep on hoping that I will be able to give my fans live shows without an end with my voice!

NERO: Not only for the band, but also for my own personal schedule, I made plans a long time in advance, but when corona came into this world, I really didn’t know anymore what was going to happen tomorrow and it became quite difficult to make plans far in advance. I wasn’t a very positive person to begin with, but I became even more negative. After all, I felt like if I put off what I could do now, I wouldn’t know when I would be able to do it, so I gotta do it now. As for song writing, I originally already wrote a lot of dark songs, so their atmosphere may not have changed much.
Yuito。: Even in this situation, there are fans who come to see us, and that makes me feel stronger. Thanks to those fans I am still able to perform!
Kohei: When it comes to songwriting, I leave it up to Mako and NERO.(laugh) In terms of values, Corona did teach me that I should be more aware of my own values of my activities and how I present myself on the internet.

・I’ve been enjoying watching your YouTube channel because it doesn’t only contain Music videos but also other funny content. However, what kind of videos do you usually watch yourself?
Mako: I watch a lot of movies and movie trailers. I often edit videos, so watching them teaches me how to use various angles, what kind of directions are the best, and what kind of music is exciting to people. I do like to turn my own scripts into videos.
NERO: Recently, I’ve been interested in making music with drum software, so I’ve been watching a lot of DTM and guitar tutorials to learn it. I also watch movie review videos of movies which look interesting.
Yuito。: I only watch Youtubers who share content about ONE PIECE and Youtubers who stream their gameplay. (laugh)
Kohei: For me It’s just an endless loop of various live videos and various random YouTube videos. (laugh).

・Do you have any hobbies besides music?
Mako: No I don’t. The things I do like now all have something to do with music and its atmosphere.
NERO: Sometimes I play games with my friends via voice chat. Also I would go to restaurants that are popular and well rated on the internet, however lately I don’t do that often. I also like to go to Nitori and IKEA to look at interior goods. Last time, I bought a beautiful wall-mounted shelf at IKEA and hung it in my bedroom.(laugh)
Yuito。: I drink, smoke, and have recently started playing darts.
Kohei: It’s a bit difficult now because of corona, but I like to go window shopping with my friends.

・What are your future goals?
Mako: I guess to be an influencer. As a visual vocalist of course.
NERO: It doesn’t matter if it’s a deep scar, a strong memory, an unforgettable youth, or anything else, it’s about making my personality become deeply etched into someone’s life as much as possible.
Yuito。: It’s about making everyone who likes me happy.
Kohei: To become someone who can be relied on.

・ Please give a final message to your fans and readers!
Mako: Please listen to our album a lot!
NERO: Thank you for reading until the end. For the future we would like to keep on improving ourselves and become a part of various people’s lives!
Yuito。: KAKUMAY is read as Kakumei (revolution)
Kohei: Please keep on supporting KAKUMAY!