Ryo Fujimura

Ryo Fujimura, AciD FLavoR’s guitarist, lyricist and leader, now on his first solo tour in Europe joined us for an interview. We met with him a few hours before his acoustic live at the Underworld Genesis club (56, Ippokratous St.) in Athens, Greece. Ryo’s performance was hosted by the Greek DJ team Le Ciel (ex-Ordre de Ciel) as part of their concluding event in said club, which also marked the end of their weekly Japanese music nights. The event was organized in collaboration with Ramen Events.

JRR: So, first-off, how has your tour been so far?

Ryo Fujimura: Well… as you know I am the guitarist of AciD FLavoR and when we play as a group (there’s four of us), each gets 25% of the audience’s attention. In this tour I am playing solo, presenting my very own work and so I get 100% of the audience’s attention: I like that very much but it is also a little scary. No, maybe… overwhelming?

JRR: And how has the audience been receiving your solo work?

Ryo: Although my sound is quite different from AciD FLavoR, the audience so far, at least in Belgium, Nancy, Tournai and Paris-Manga, has received me warmly. It makes me really happy.

JRR: Where do you get the inspiration for your songs? Do you draw more on life or on imagination?

Ryo: Ah, you see, I always carry around with me this huge bag, filled with papers and memos; whenever something – anything – inspires me with a melody, I just take a moment to write the melody down. Later, when I go through this big pile of notes and study them, I start composing a song (or songs). After that is done, I look for a title and finally, work on the lyrics.

JRR: So, on one hand, you have AciD FLavoR and on the other, your solo career to contend with. How do you manage?

Ryo: To be honest, it’s kind of hard and it’s a lot of work: being the guitarist as well as the leader of AciD FLavoR, I have a responsibility towards them; I must also take their lives and time into consideration, besides dealing with my solo work. The thing is, after working on the melodies on my memos, I end up with a large number of different songs – sometimes, I think, too many! My solo music is quite different than what we play with AciD FLavoR, so usually I am able to split the songs between the two, depending on where each song fits best.

JRR: While we’re on the subject of your solo project, I was wondering, why did you name your first two singles “Concrete”?

Ryo: Hmm, you know how metal music is kind of hard and classic rock rather light? I try to keep my music somewhere in the middle, kind of like rock, infused with metal elements; so I thought, if you take the words literally, metal inside of rock, it’s like the concrete we use in buildings: something which, as a whole, is different than the sum of its parts.

JRR: Would you like to have your solo music play in anime; for instance, “Himawari” or “Hyakka-Ryoran”?

Ryo: Anime music is catchier; it has more of a pop arrangement and I think AciD FLAvoR’s sound is closer to that than mine. In fact, our song “Feeling”, was used in an anime opening.

JRR: For “Earl and Fairy”.

Ryo: Yes, exactly! However, I don’t think my own music would fit in an anime. In fact, “Himawari” and “Hyakka-Ryoran” are probably the closest I get to anime music. Of course, I read a lot of manga and I have loads of them back home; sometimes, when I am reading, I may be inspired with a new melody and when I see the manga being made into an anime, I think I would like to have my music play in it.

JRR: Are there any older Japanese artists that inspire you?

Ryo: Well, during my shows I usually wear make-up and that’s an influence from old-school visual kei bands, like X-Japan and Luna Sea. I was really sad when X-Japan disbanded, back when I was still in school and it’s really good that they have come back together again. It’s also kind of scary, because it’s really hard to compete with people like these in the charts (laughs)!

JRR: You said you really write a lot of music. Should we assume that you are ready to record Concrete 0.3 even now?

Ryo: I am in fact ready to record my first full album, when I go back to Japan; but since Concrete 0.1 and 0.2 are maxi singles, I will have to call it something different (laughs).

JRR: Sounds like you have your hands full. Between the band and your solo career, do you have any free time at all and if so, what do you do with it?

Ryo: I do have some free time and when I do, I like driving around a lot. I may get into my car around midnight and start driving all over the place. I also love cycling. Now, if I decide to stay at home, I may read manga or play games, mostly Japanese RPG like Final Fantasy.

Ryo Fujimura JRR: There’s a gamer in everyone, somewhere.

Ryo: I guess so (laughs)!

JRR: To conclude, what’s next after Greece?

Ryo: Hmm, I have a show in France again, on the 21st of February, at Marseille’s Chibi Japan Expo and then another show in Montpellier. After that, I know that in the summer, probably starting July, I will begin recording my album. Hopefully it will come out in October. Then I would like to travel to your “part of the neighborhood” again, so to speak.

JRR: As in Europe?

Ryo: As in Greece! You have so much sun here (general laughter)!

JRR: Thank you very much for your time, Ryo.

Ryo: Thank you for taking the trouble. See you tonight!

Indeed, that same night, arriving at around 8:30 at Underworld Genesis, I found Ryo talking cheerfully and taking pictures with the people present. After an introduction by Ramen Events’s Aurelie Vandecasteele, his performance started as scheduled, at 9:00; besides the expected voicing of female “kyaaa” sounds and sharp intakes of breath, the audience seemed mesmerized into silence. Ryo performed on keyboard as well as acoustic guitar, a selection of songs from his solo work, as well as AciD FLavoR. The songs included:

1. Sakura
2. Hyakka-Ryoran
3. Maihime
4. Raseteu
5. Don’t Wanna Say
6. Primary Blame
7. Burn Out
8. Sweet Revenge
9. Hatatagami

His performance was met with grand applause and he was available for signing before and after, always maintaining the same amiable demeanor and even asking people to sign in his own notepad, whether their names, wishes or anything else at all.

After the show, signing and further chat, tired but still smiling, he answered my final question:

“I had a very good time. I definitely want to come back to Greece!”

Interview by: Andreas M.
Edited by: Ali W.

Special thanks to Ryo Fujimura and Ramen Events
Photographs appear courtesy of Ramen Events

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