Kazha - Courtesy of Chris Gilstrap, Nan Desu Kan photographer

JRR: You’ve had a busy solo career before starting Kazha. Can you tell us about those experiences in Japan and the effect they have on your music now?

Kazuha: I first started in classic music in the beginning and went through pop and other Christian music, so I was totally in a different genre before. That was because my parents wanted me to learn classic because [today’s] music is all from classic. So, that’s why I started, but I kind of wanted to become a rock star from when I was a little kid, so I changed the direction.

JRR: How did you go from solo work to the group that you’re in now?

Kazuha: The reason I started the classical song career was because of my parents. I was too young [then] to think about what to do, so I just went with my parents. I think they wanted me to stay in the classical pop music, but my goal was to become a rock singer. It was kind of tough because I had some hard times changing my vocal style from classic to rock music. But when I realized, everything was connected.

JRR: It made the pieces fit somehow?

Kazuha: Yeah.

JRR: You’ve toured both Japan and America. Are there any differences you’ve noticed in the audiences?

Kazuha: The audiences are so much different, almost totally opposite. In Japan, people are pretty quiet. Even if they’re big fans, they won’t usually come up too much after the show. They hesitate to say, “Hi.” But in America, everybody’s so friendly, you know? And that’s what I want.

JRR: Are there any countries that you’d like to tour other than Japan and U.S.?

Kazuha: Europe, Germany, Russia, Italy . . . There’s a lot, but especially where we have a fan base.

JRR: Do you get to do any sightseeing while you’re on tour?

Kazuha: Usually the guys want to go out and play around. I don’t know why, but for me, I’m already having fun. Doing music is so much fun for me, so I’m already exploring with music. I just love taking the airplane.

JRR: You’re already doing what you love, so you don’t need any more?

Kazuha: Yeah, so I don’t need sightseeing or anything. I’m already having fun. I never really wanted to do something special in a specific country or anything. I just want to be there and meet people. For me, that’s already sightseeing.

JRR: How’s the response to the release of your first album (Overture) been here in America?

Kazuha: I think it’s good. It’s going slow because we don’t have any connection to any promotion company or managing company. We are just on our own right now, so it’s kind of moving slow, but I think people are loving our CD so far.

JRR: How far away in the future is a second album?

Kazuha: It’s only been a few months [since Overture’s release], so at least for a year we want to be stuck with this CD. We want more people to know about it, and maybe I might want to try to remake the album, Overture, when we have the chance to sign with some label. I want the music to become big, and I love the music that I already wrote for the first album, so I still want to try to spread [the news] more for that album. So, it could be two years . . . At least for a year we will go with that.

JRR: You recorded your first album in Japan. Where will you record the second?

Kazuha: In U.S. because equipment is similar, but producers and engineers [here], they work kind of differently, so the sound comes differently.

JRR: So you like it better in U.S.?

Kazuha: Yeah.

JRR: What are some of the band’s next plans?

Kazuha: I actually don’t know yet, but I am thinking about touring Europe as soon as we can.

JRR: Do you think you’ll try to go to conventions in Europe?

Kazuha: Maybe.

JRR: Your songs are really powerful and emotional. Where do you draw your inspirations?

Kazuha: Mostly personal experience. I get inspiration from people who are close to me, friends, family . . .

JRR: Are your friends and family in Japan?

Kazuha: Yes, but my sister lives in San Francisco.

JRR: So she’s not too far away.

Kazuha: Yeah, and my parents used to live in Indonesia, Jakarta, so we’ve been away from each other for a long time. A few years ago, I was in Japan alone, by myself, looking after my family home. I always think about them wherever I am. So most of the inspiration for my music is from my family.

JRR: How would you describe your music, in general?

Kazuha: I would say rock but . . . (laughs) If I talk about the genre, it’s going to be rock, but . . .

JRR: All of the band members have different backgrounds, so . . .

Kazuha: Yeah, so, we’ve all been through different kinds of music and we just want to express ourselves in music. We’re not trying to be something specific. I think it’s just us.

JRR: Can you tell us a funny memory you have experienced as a band?

Kazuha: There’s a lot! (laughs) Recently, when we were in LA, we went to the Obon Festival. Obon is like a Japanese dancing festival. And Hideki actually got so drunk, and I didn’t even know where he was. I went to look for him with my friends, and he was with the security. The security were going to take him away. Yeah, he was almost, I think, going to jail or something. I think he was just having fun, but it was too much fun and being too loud or something. (laughs) Yeah, that was funny.

JRR: Can you tell us something that no one would expect about you?

Kazuha: I wanted to become a male when I was in junior high, I think. For a few years I had short hair. I really wanted to become a boy because I thought they had more freedom to do anything. I only wore men’s clothes and I never had anything girly. I was even talking like a guy, and so many people actually thought I was a boy. High school girls in Japan with sailor uniforms, they would come up to me and say, “Hi.” They would come up to me and ask if I’m dating some girls. But I was like, “Woah, I’m not.” (laughs) Yeah, that was maybe a secret thing, but it’s still in me, I think. I still sometimes act like a boy maybe.

JRR: What about the other band members?

Kazuha: Hideki has so many habits. He looks like he’s really quiet and cool in a way. He is, I think, but he has another side, and once he gets to know you more, he becomes a comedian. Nobody thinks he’s that funny, but I think he’s one of the funniest people.

JRR: Is there anything else you want to comment on?

Kazuha: We’re having a hard time spreading our music. Doing it on our own is really hard, and only I speak English, so we want people who know us and our fans — we don’t have a big fan base yet — to help us, support us.

JRR: Do you use Myspace and Facebook?

Kazuha: Myspace we have and Facebook we just started like a week ago, I think.

JRR: Is there anything you want to say to your fans?

Kazuha: I just say it every time, maybe too much. I just want to say “thank you.” My band members always tell me I’m saying “thank you” too much on the stage. I’m like, “thank you so much, thank you so much,” that’s the only thing I can say.

Interview by Blair Greenwood