The Japanese have a common saying "Ganbatte", which roughly translates to "Do your best." In the creative world, possibly one of the best living breathing examples to describe the true meaning of this word is Gackt. A man who never seems to fail at anything he tries, Gackt has surely always done his best and exceeded any and all expectations. Competitive by nature, he is always searching for a challenge, be it as ridiculous as a "no laughing contest" on a game show or as paramount as a 500 million Yen concert (roughly $4.3 million). Not only does this man exceed expectation by matters of work, but also in matters of the heart and soul through his charity efforts and well-known kindness. Gackt is one of the most successful and well-known artists of Japan (that is "artist" on multiple levels) and has grabbed hold of the true meaning of "ganbatte", what an artist is and has exercised that to its fullest extent on more levels than most artists dare to venture. A master of instruments, languages, sports, and several arts, Gackt is not one to be outdone.
AN EARLY START
Though not all great artists have to start at an early age, it is a fact that a great many of history’s most legendary musicians have begun their musical education at a very young age- Mozart and Beethoven to name a couple. Born on July 4 (year unknown) in Okinawa (raised in Kyoto), Gackt Camui was destined to be this kind of talented musician. From the ripe age of three his father, a music teacher, forced young Gackt to learn to play the piano. His parents were all around strict with him, only allowing him to watch educational programs and listen to classical music. After several years of a brutal piano practicing regime, he began to hate playing the piano but was still forced against his will to continue playing. It wasn’t until about eight years after he began playing that he was able to finally quit. It wasn’t long until Gackt discovered that one of his classmates was learning to play piano. Being the extremely competitive spirit he is, Gackt became interested in playing piano again, though only to become better than his classmate. In fact, he took it upon himself to learn everything his peers were learning, only so that he could be the best at everything they did. Since these early years, Gackt has mastered playing the trumpet, tuba, horn, euphonium, trombone, piano, guitar, bass, and percussion (more is probably being added to the list as we speak). Over the years he has also managed to learn English, Chinese (Mandarin), Korean, and a little bit of French. His competitive spirit extending to all areas, Gackt is also an accomplished Tae Kwon Do martial artist and a skilled athlete of many other sports.
After an entire childhood of cultivating his musical talents, Gackt created a band in his early 20’s known as "Cain’s:Feel" (with biblical reference to the story of Cain and Abel). Cain’s:Feel came about when Gackt was working as a sound technician and he met guitarist YOU (best known as the present guitarist of GacktJOB). Having seen YOU’s impressive performances, Gackt befriended him and decided to create a band. While the guys struggled to find a vocalist, Gackt eventually proposed himself as the vocalist. Being skeptical, YOU asked him to sing three songs to test his abilities. Of course, YOU became stunned by what he witnessed and didn’t understand why Gackt had not stepped up as singer earlier. It turned out Gackt was unsatisfied with his vocals, since a deep low voice was not too popular at the time. Because of this, Gackt began writing songs that would complement his voice, rather than adapting his voice. With a complete band, with Gackt as vocalist, Cains’:Feel went on to record a demo with three songs. It was through this demo that Mana discovered Gackt.
Gackt officially entered the Visual Kei Jrock scene professionally in October of 1995 when he joined the dark and enchanting Malice Mizer, a band created in August of 1992 by guitarists Mana (leader of the band) and Közi. Malice Mizer’s original vocalist, Tetsu, left the band in 1994, leaving a year-long search for a vocalist. Having discovered Gackt’s most impressive and unique vocals through the Cain’s:Feel demo, Mana recruited him as Malice Mizer’s new front man. Through Malice Mizer, Gackt’s fan base was to spread like a raving wild fire. He entered the band with high ambitions of taking over not just Japan but the entire Asian world. He believed it was through Malice Mizer that this goal could be reached.
The first single Malice Mizer released with Gackt as vocalist was "Uruwashiki Kamen no Shotaijo (Written Invitation of the Beautiful Mask)". Their second album as a band was released 8 months later, titled "Voyage ~Sans Retour~". With their new charismatic and talented vocalist, their fame soared. They cranked out hit after hit and even made a short silent film Bel Air in 1998. At the peak of Malice Mizer’s fame and after four years and two albums with the band, Gackt announced in January of 1999 that he was leaving the band, yet never really specifying his reasons.
Only four months after leaving Malice Mizer, Gackt dove right into his first solo tour "99 Gackt RESURRECTION" with his solo band GacktJOB. In GacktJOB, he recruited old friend YOU (from his previous band Cain’s:Feel) as his guitarist. The RESURRECTION tour consisted of 12 venues across Japan and was soon followed by the release of his first single "Mizerable". It was this time when tragedy struck his personal life- one of the Malice Mizer members whom he had been close with, Kami, suddenly passed away as a result of a brain hemorrhage while Gackt was away on his solo tour. Unfortunately, he found out about Kami’s death a week afterward and was unable to attend the funeral. This left him devastated and led to the writing of two songs in memory of his beloved lost friend: "Emu~for my dear~" and "U+K". These songs were both released on his solo album "Mars".
As Gackt moved on with his rapidly rising solo career, he dropped his second hot single "Vanilla" in August of 1999. "Vanilla" burned through the Oricon chart up to number 4 and stayed on the charts for over 10 weeks. For the next year he released hit after hit, including songs that became theme songs for several popular anime and video games (including his personal favorite: Gundam). In April of 2000, he released his first album "MARS" and subsequently embarked on a nationwide summer tour titled "MARS- Visitor From the Sky-(MARS- Sora kara no homonsha)". Just in time for the holidays, his first fan-cherished "PLATINUM BOX" was released, featuring video clips and a CD.
With out skipping a beat, Gackt got right to work in early 2001 releasing his 8th single "Things I Can Do For You (Kimi no tame ni Dekiru Koto)" and in addition made several appearances on the popular television show "Domoto Brothers (Domoto Kyoudai)". Flying higher by the minute, he released his second album "Rebirth" and then kicked off an 18-show tour "Requiem et Reminiscence". Throughout the rest of 2001, he continued to release several singles as well as a DVD from his tour. After discovering the events of 9/11 (New York City being Gackt’s favorite city next to Paris), Gackt was so moved he wrote a song pleading for world peace. It was released that December and titled "December Love Song (12gatsu no Love Song)". In order to further reach a wider spectrum of fans, the song was later released every December in a foreign language. Also that December, he released his "PLATINUM BOX- II-", this time including a video of himself talking about his songs and a DVD with several video clips from his singles.
Continuing his relentless efforts to conquer the Asian music world, in 2002 Gackt released his 3rd album "Moon" and embarked on yet another nationwide tour. It was in this year that he finally ventured outside of Japan and performed his first live overseas at the Beijing Worker’s Gymnasium in China at his "Japan-China Diplomatic Relations Normalization 30th Anniversary Commemoration Concert". As the title of the concert implies, this concert was held in celebration of the relationship between Japan and China over the past 30 years.
Over the next several years, Gackt continued to tour tirelessly and release nothing but red-hot hit after hit, always ending the year with a new "PLATINUM BOX". He continued to tour constantly and release DVD after DVD. Adding fuel to the fire of his ever-growing success, Gackt decided to venture into the world of film. In 2003, he went on to co-write and co-star in Moon Child alongside fellow Jrocker Hyde. The film was screened in Japan, all throughout Asia, America, and some countries in Europe. In collaboration with Hyde, he also sang the theme song to Moon Child "Orenji no Taiyou (The Orange Sun)". With no sign of slowing down, in the same year, Gackt also released his autobiography "Jihaku". Throughout this time, he also starred in several television commercials and television shows including the popular "Furinkazan", a period drama in which he plays a historical Japanese hero (Kenshin Uesugi). Acknowledging his position as an accomplished (for lack of a better word) musician of the Asian world, he won the award for the "Best Asian Rock Artist" at the MUSIC VIDEO FESTIVAL (the most renowned music event in Korea) in 2004. Always thirsty for more success, Gackt held one of the most expensive concerts in Japanese history on December 24, 2005 at the Tokyo Dome at the end of his "Gackt Live tour 2005 DIABOLOS". He followed the impressive concert with a reenactment concert in Korea at the Olympic Park Stadium.
In the summer of 2007, Gackt participated as vocalist of the super-group "S.K.I.N.", created by YOSHIKI (X JAPAN) and including members: SUGIZO (LUNA SEA, X JAPAN), and Miyavi. Though they announced an album was to be released and more shows were to be played, S.K.I.N. has been on hiatus since their performance at Anime Expo 2007 and the members continue to tour with their bands and solo projects.
A TIRELESS EFFORT
Also in 2007, Gackt created the "Save our Dears" charity. It was created to help the victims of the powerful earthquake that struck the Niigata Prefecture in Japan that year. To raise funds for this charity, Gackt designed a pink crystal keychain as well as bracelets similar to ones his character wore in his role on "Furinkazan". In addition, the charity also features two MasterCard credit cards with a photo of Gackt. Gackt’s personal fan club also shares a similar name "Dears". Though it is currently a Japanese fan club, it is under current consideration for expansion to his overseas fans.
In addition to charity work, performing, and writing, Gackt also has a hand in the fashion world. Not only does he have is very own jewelry line called "DARTS (Darkside Inhabitants)", but he also has worked as a runway model for favorite designer Yoshiyuki Konishi as well as modeled his very own kimono.
IN THE NOW
Currently, Gackt is on his "Requiem et Reminiscence" 2009 tour. He has also recently finished filming his role co-starring in the upcoming American film Bunraku, opposite well-known American actors Josh Hartnett, Demi Moore, and Woody Harrelson. Though filming has finished, Bunraku is currently in post-production and the release date is yet to be announced.
Gackt is certainly a force to be reckoned with. He’s a man whose work never seems to be finished because he is always expanding to and taking over new territories. A bona fide legend and hero in his own right, his name will be around for ages to come, always touching hearts with his music and kindness and inspiring those around him with his "ganbatte" relentless way of life. A man who works himself to such extremes, that passing out after a show is not something uncommon for him. Working hard and being the best is all Gackt knows. Though this fighter is showing no signs of slowing down, he did mention in a May 2008 interview that he might retire in 2010 due to the health problems caused by these brutal work habits. When our hero has become tired, the kid in all of us can only hope for the best. But we all know that at the end of the day they always win. Gackt has surely already accomplished far more than most artists of any realm have accomplished or even attempted to accomplish. Always wanting to be the best at everything since childhood, he has definitely shown what it means to "do your best" and truly become the best from working hard. We can only cheer him on and wait to see what mountains he will conquer next. Until that time, we should all feel inspired by this brilliant artist to do our best and become the best we can.
Article by: Nikki
Edited by: Ali W.