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AYABIE world tour posterHigh-energy electro-rock group AYABIE made their debut on the U.S. tour circuit this summer! We got a chance to talk with them and ask all about their impressions of America and what they hope to accomplish in the future.


JRR: Is this your first time in
America?

KENZO: When I was in high school I came here on a home stay program, and I stayed in Chicago and Indiana.

JRR: How long were you here for?

KENZO: About a month. It was really like visiting a friend for the summer type of thing.

YUMEHITO: This is my first time.

JRR: What is your first impression of America?

YUMEHITO: When we first arrived in New York, it felt like everything was scattered everywhere. To put it not so nicely, it was a little messy; to put it nicely, everything was available. At Baltimore and Chicago, though, there was a lot more nature and it was beautiful.

(INTETSU joins the interview after the members found out our JRR staff was Taiwanese)

JRR: Are you a Taiwanese mix?

INTETSU: Yes.

JRR: (In Chinese) Do you speak Mandarin Chinese? 

INTETSU: (In Chinese) A little. 

KENZO: You just spoke it! (Laughs)

INTETSU: I can only speak a little.

YUMEHITO: I think you got a tan.

KENZO: Oh yeah!! You totally have a tan! Your face is dark! You can tell right away!

YUMEHITO: The sunrays are strong here.

INTETSU: Really?

KENZO: The rest of us haven’t changed.

INTETSU: I’m so shocked…

YUMEHITO: What is your first impression of America?

INTETSU: The sky is pretty. It seems to be sunny blue skies everywhere we go.

JRR: Did you have time to go sight seeing this time?

KENZO: We had a day off in New York, and the day before yesterday we were in Chicago

YUMEHITO: We got there from Baltimore at around one o’clock, then we looked for a place to eat together, and took a walk.

KENZO: Weren’t you sleeping?

YUMEHITO: I took a walk at night. That’s why I didn’t get a tan.

JRR: Were you jetlagged?

YUMEHITO: Not really; we had a day off on the day we arrived, so we had time to adjust.

JRR: Did you bring any omamori with you this trip? (Ed. note: A charm or talisman, or something with sentimental value.)

KENZO: No.

YUMEHITO: I brought a Kamen Rider figure with me.

JRR: Do you like Kamen Rider a lot?

YUMEHITO: Yes.

INTETSU: I brought some accessories that I always wear.

KENZO: Oh yeah, accessories.

INTETSU: Wearing them makes one feel more secure… right?

JRR: What is your most memorable experience this trip?

KENZO: To have the chance to perform here alone is a memorable experience. I hadn’t been to New York or Los Angeles before, and even though we are here for work, we did get to do some sight seeing, so this whole trip has been a great experience.

YUMEHITO: My most memorable experience is to be able to come here.

JRR: Were you alright with the flight?

YUMEHITO: I didn’t like it at all; I’m scared of flying. It was tough to deal with, but after arriving, it was… all good.

KENZO: You are talking strange. (Laughs)

JRR: Doesn’t he normally talk like that?

KENZO: He does but he seems a bit nervous.

INTETSU: When we went to Baltimore, we went to the event organizer’s house after the live. It was just like the usual American style home with a big dog. They prepared dinner for us, and we all ate like a big family. The meal was great too, we got to drink miso soup. It was a very fun and precious experience.

JRR: Most Japanese bands have difficulty adjusting to the food here. Have you been able to enjoy any foods here?

KENZO: I think it depends on the person. Some members aren’t as used to it, some are. They (pointing to INTETSU and YUMEHITO) eat mostly fast food usually anyways.

YUMEHITO: I thought everything is delicious.

JRR: But you both are so thin.

YUMEHITO: I can’t seem to gain weight.

KENZO: They probably would be fine with the food anywhere; I’m pretty alright myself.

INTETSU: For example I am alright with having bread for breakfast.

YUMEHITO: I like bagels.

KENZO: I can eat most things; but flavor-wise, sometimes things here aren’t seasoned delicately, so I’d try to adjust it myself.

JRR: Do you get nervous before a live performance?

KENZO: Not anymore.

YUMEHITO: I do get nervous.

JRR: Do you do anything to calm yourself down?

YUMEHITO: I write the kanji of hito ("person") in my palm and eat it.

KENZO: (Laughs)

YUMEHITO: Just kidding. (Laughs) I don’t get nervous.

INTETSU: I do get nervous especially since we are in a foreign country with a foreign crowd. So I’d wonder what it would be like. The setting, lighting, environment are all different from what we’re used to so it makes me a little nervous sometimes.

JRR: After this world tour, in what ways do you think you have grown?

KENZO: I think I have become stronger mentally.

YUMEHITO: I have become able to keep the same quality of performance under different circumstances.

INTETSU: I feel that I’ve become capable of staying the same even when the sound isn’t ideal or when the environment isn’t set up right to play fluidly.

YUMEHITO: Even after we go back to Japan, I think we will be able to maintain that level [of stability].

INTETSU: In Japan, the equipments are usually readily available at live houses; but here, sometimes it’s like “Ermm, we probably won’t have access to what we need.”

KENZO: Some places don’t have the proper lighting.

JRR: How is the live house (Safari Sam’s) today?

KENZO: The lighting is probably one-tenth of what we usually have.

INTETSU: In conclusion, I think I have become stronger and more confident.

(INTETSU excuses himself to have his make up done)

JRR: What makes you happy that you are in a band?

KENZO: Originally I started playing drums out of interest, and then I got this chance to make my interest into a profession, to perform in front of people, and to be able to make a living out of it. I’m really happy, especially since this is what I had aimed for, and my dream has come true. I think all of us feel the same.

YUMEHITO: It might sound a little negative, but I feel really happy and appreciative of all the people who come and support someone like me, and be moved to the music that I write.

JRR: What is your next goal as a band?

KENZO: Our goal…

YUMEHITO: Tokyo Dome. (Laughs)

KENZO: We don’t really have a spoken goal per say; we do have a goal but it’s just not discussed.

YUMEHITO: I think we each have our own goal for the band though. For me, I’d like more people to listen to our music, and I’d like to widen the range of audience that we get at lives. That is a definite.

KENZO: Yeah.

JRR: What are your personal goals?

YUMEHITO: My goal is to save up more money to buy more equipment for composing and making music.

KENZO: It might sound weird but I’d like to be able to present music that is new and unique not just to people in Japan but also to the world, and I think AYABIE is a band with members who will be able to achieve that.

JRR: You will be releasing your newest single, Mikazuki no Kiseki on June 25th. Please tell us about the song. (“Miracle upon the Crescent Moon”)

YUMEHITO: I composed the song, and I think it is a song that will show the new direction AYABIE is headed towards. There are four new songs altogether (title song and the coupling songs) and I think they will feel brand new.

JRR: Did any miracles happen to you lately?

YUMEHITO: The plane arrived safely without crashing.

JRR: I’m glad it did.

KENZO: (Laughs)

JRR: What about you?

KENZO: Well yesterday I really felt like eating lobster, and I kept on thinking about it, and the restaurant we went to today happened to have it; I thought that was quite a miracle.

JRR: Was it good?

KENZO: Yeah.

JRR: That’s probably a miracle in itself.

KENZO: (Laughs)

JRR: What is your favorite English word?

KENZO: There are quite a few that I like. Hmm… I guess the favorite one would be the one that I have on my bass drums: “Whatever the fuck I want.”

YUMEHITO: My favorite word is “lucky.”

KENZO: (Laughs)

JRR: That’s a good word.

YUMEHITO: Doesn’t it suit me really well?

JRR: What is visual kei to you?

YUMEHITO: For me, instead of playing music plainly with no make up, I prefer to stay this [visual kei] way. It’s my style and I’d like to continue doing it. (In English) “My style is visual kei.”

JRR: That is good pronunciation!

YUMEHITO: Yeah! (smiles)

KENZO: I’m about the same, that’s why I’m doing it now. Simply put, I feel it is where I belong. Basically, once in a while I’d play with no make up on, other times I’d wear heavier make up just like today. I put make up on because I like doing so. Quite frequently in Japan, when a band becomes bigger, they stop putting on make up. I do it because I feel like it. So to me, visual kei is a place that gives me the opportunity to do what I feel like doing.

JRR: Thank you very much for your time, and I look forward to seeing your show!

YUMEHITO/KENZO: Thank you!


Interviewed, translated, transcribed by Christina

Special thanks to AYABIE, Electric Orchid Productions, and SPEED DISK.