Epsilon was released in June of last summer. How has your life changed since then?
Well, as far as I know, I’m the same person! [Laugh] What changed though was the way other people view me. Even the ones who I used to hang out or acquaintances started behaving in a slightly different way. Nothing bad, but –you know- different. It kinda bothers me, ‘cause I never changed my stance towards anybody. I’m not one of those people… Also, the album release gave an answer to many people’s questions. I know that a good amount of people wondered whether I’m for real, whether I can actually sing. Posing in cute clothing is not something difficult, but combining all that it takes to be the front-woman of a band with an 11-year history is not that simple. I keep myself alert at all times, there’s so much I gotta work on, still.
Besides vocals, in what ways did you contribute to the album?
I wrote all the lyrics for my parts and I proofread RYO’s parts, which were written by RYU. RYU and I talked a lot before the creation of the album, regarding the lyrics and the world-view. Luckily enough, my ideas complemented his, so it all came out naturally. However, I admit he made me insert a couple of love lyrics in the songs here and there, although I generally stay away from this kind of stuff. I’d rather talk about different subjects. Also, my picture was originally used as the base for the creation of the character that adorns the cover of the CD. Fans like to call it “Cyber Sophia.” [Laugh] I like it. Eventually, I worked on all promotion and booking in countries outside Japan to make our impact as global as possible, because my vision is global and I think this is the most important part I contributed to the album and the band in general.
It seems you’ve taken on a bit of managerial role for the band as well, at least for international relations. What kinds of organizational things do you for the band?
Well, I used to do this for other bands in the past 6 years, so it was only natural to do it for my own band. Actually, I’ve been handling all managerial stuff in countries outside Japan. I create the international image of the band, update social networking websites, co-organize tours, manage and translate interviews and lots more. I handle everything. Although it started as an overseas-only management, eventually I took over certain parts of Japan as well, for example arranging fashion collaborations and working with other bands for special projects, like my participation in DEATHBIE’s first PV release, “Senketsu no Mariya.”
The band got very busy in the meantime, though, so I feel I want to share the weight of responsibilities with a proper management agency. I could never let somebody else handle my stuff 100 percent, I want to be in control at all times, but I need someone to rely on so I can focus more on my artistic side, which is supposed to be the main thing, damnit!! [Laugh] The truth is that I have close to zero time for myself, ‘cause I’m working on my PC every day. I need more time to continue my singing lessons, exercise and take care of my self. Sometimes I don’t even have the energy to look at myself in the mirror. I’m so absorbed in the management side of things that sometimes I forget that I’m the main singer of this band and I find it weird that I have to go on stage. [Laugh]
BSC’s sound is known for crossing genre boundaries, and has been called everything from “melodic death metal” to “cyber metal.” Do these labels have any real meaning to you or the rest of BSC? If you could describe the sound, what would you call it.
I don’t even go through the process of labeling it at all. You can find anything from anime songs, J-pop, Visual Kei, Metal, trance, techno, industrial, healing music … you name it! The band likes old VK with the same passion it likes Death Metal or anime songs, so yeah. While staying true to the extreme sound element, we infuse our world-view with all sorts of music.
Before you were a member of Blood Stain Child, you already had experience in the industry. It seems you worked extensively with Jrock and Visual Kei bands. Where did you start? Will you tell us about your beginnings?
Yes, that’s true. Shortly after I started my own Visual Kei/Anime events in Greece—something that did not exist before—I came across BLOOD, which was rather big overseas at the time, so I started working as an agent for them and then for Darkest Labyrinth/Starwave records. In the beginning I did small stuff, but Kiwamu liked my work, so we collaborated a lot in the coming years. I also brought BLOOD to Athens for a concert in 2006, which was the first Visual Kei concert in Greece, ever.
In 2006, I also produced a Greek-VK-inspired band from the start and this is when I understood that I have the ability to do all I’m doing now. The band was unknown and had no idea about Visual Kei, but I was determined to make it work, so in less than 4 months they became pretty popular. I got them signed in Japan, helped them release an album, put them on tour around Europe, etc. That little fame soon got to their heads though, so I quit working with them. After this, I took my management skill more seriously—although it had nothing to do with my main studies, which is Law—so I started working strictly with Japanese Visual Kei bands and record labels, as well as my events in Greece. At some point I came across RYU and I thought “Hey, I wanna make music with this guy,” but I didn’t tell him anything, ‘cause I wasn’t sure whether I could do it. It was only after he asked me for a demo that I started believing properly in that part of myself.
Your story is unique in that you are both a female and foreigner in a Japanese metal band. Have you encountered any backlash from older fans or industry members?
Ha! Actually I was expecting the worst, mostly from western fans. Eventually though, we had a surprisingly big wave of positive reactions from the majority. Of course you can’t please everybody, but in general I was very moved and thankful seeing people be so open-minded and accepting towards me. I’ve been through the metal and other fandoms and I know how people get treated in specific situations. As I said before, many were expecting me to fail bitterly, waiting to tag me as an ambitious, yet talentless blonde chick who wears frilly dresses. You know, I don’t talk much about it, but I do read everything on the internet and I’m aware of comments on almost every miscellaneous website. Internet nerd spotted! [Laughs]
By the way, industry people loved the idea and loved me, so except for the fact that I stand my ground for the things that I believe in, no matter if they get angry or not, we’ve been living happily ever since. [Laughs]
The band was well established and had a decade long history before you joined. Did you feel any pressure to maintain a certain standard despite the inevitable changes that would take place?
Oh yes. Joining the band was not the most difficult part. Keeping up with it, trying to blend in, while maintaining and bringing the band’s status to the next level has been, and still is, a very demanding job. I never told them I was a professional performer, more like a closet musician. This doesn’t have anything to do with the fans though, so you have to stand on the same level as everybody, no matter what. I had to overcome a multitude of obstacles and personal issues, but looking back into 2011, I think I passed the test. If you asked me 3 years ago, I’d be like “are you NUTS?? There’s no way I can make it through this.” What kept me walking was the constant belief in myself, that I can survive and go on no matter what happens to me. I’m a tough nut myself, but without the faith of the fans and the people around me, I might have broken halfway through. 2012 is much more demanding than 2011, so I gotta keep working hard.
Outside of female vocals, there were various changes in sound and style. Has the fanbase shifted since you’ve joined the band?
From what I noticed, we have gained fans from other music genres, which is exactly what I intended to do from the start. I’m sure this move drove hardcore metal fans away, but as I said, you can’t please everybody. Adding a girl to the band and expanding on sometimes softer musical variations means auto-sell-out for many, but this is what the band wanted to do for years now. Epsilon is still a heavy album, but you can find lots of other stuff in there.
Based on your Twitter, Facebook and blog accounts, it seems that you take great measures to stay in communication with fans.
It just comes out naturally, in fact. I’m a very communicative person and I like talking and hearing what people have to say. Nobody asked me to do this, in fact maybe the opposite. *Laugh* I appreciate the dedication and the love of the fans and I like to do stuff for them whenever I get the chance. The band’s getting busier quickly though, so my time is limited and I’ve reached a level that doesn’t let me keep up with all messages constantly—but I try! Even if I’m not as active in communication one day, I’ll love you all the same. We won’t grow apart!
Besides Epsilon, you and the other members of BSC contributed to Princess Ghibli, an album of metal covers from studio Ghibli classic songs. How did you become a part of that, and what was it like to work on such a unique project.
Our Record Label’s owner, Ettore Rigotti, somehow landed this gig with Studio Ghibli. He’s a miracle man. [Laughs] He could have used any other singer for the album, since he’s got both the connections and the ability to do this, but, to my surprise, he approached me saying he really liked my work on Epsilon, so he wanted me to sing about half of the new Ghibli album. BSC covered two of those tracks and I sang another 3, [which were] arranged by Disarmonia Mundi. It was so weird singing classic songs, loved by so many people around the world. I was scared I might not do them justice, but it was fun at the same time. We had good laughs covering Totoro. I was thinking about possible reactions of the people who would press the “play” button and this cracked me up [Laughs]
Can fans expect any new releases in the near future?
We haven’t started working on the new album yet, but there might be *a few* new secret projects on the tracks, so stay alert!
Sadly, the Western portion of your European tour was postponed. Could you please comment on that? Do you have plans to tour in the North America as well?
Hmm, working with that specific tour company was a disappointment. I do not approve of their working policies, especially the bit where they exposed the band to considerable danger during the Russian-Ukrainian tour, which caused perturbation and emotional stress to everybody and me who handled everything. Thanks to the professionalism of the local tour agencies and my ability to adapt and move quickly, the tour went perfect and even better than expected. I have no words to express my gratitude to the guys back in Russia and Ukraine, they’re flawless.
About America now, Kansas is gonna be our first concert for 2012 and we have plans for more places in the near future. If you wanna see us in North America, you should contact Babel Entertainment, they started handling all USA-related issues for us, recently.
- Blood Stain Child at Naka-Con 2012 (jrockrevolution.com)
- BLOOD STAIN CHILD Gearing Up For Kansas’ Naka-Kon 2012; Video Message Online (bravewords.com)