Miyavi Interview
Neo Tokyo Samurai Black Tour Los Angeles
June 11, 2010


JRR: Thanks for coming out so early!

MYV: Thanks for having me.

JRR: How was your San Diego show last night?

MYV: It was cool, it was awesome. The fans were waiting for me for a long time and they were so enthusiastic. We were actually nervous because it was the first show in the states but it went so well. We were able to kick off the tour.

JRR: So you would say it was a great start of your North American tour?

MYV: Mmhmm

JRR: What kind of things do you expect from the rest of the North American tour?

MYV: First of all I really appreciate my fans who are waiting for me. Even when I had to cancel some shows last year. I was really sad to disappoint my fans…

JRR: I’m sure that built up the anticipation this time around too?

MYV: Yeah. That’s why the first thing I want to do is rock them all. For this tour I just brought a drummer and keyboard player. That’s it – a solid and simplified stage. I want them to feel my new style. It’s a really simple rock style – Neo Tokyo Samurai Black.

JRR: When did you land in California?

MYV: Day before yesterday.

JRR: I’m sure you’re busy, but have you had any time to explore and take it all in?

MYV: Yeah… and freakin heavy jet lag.

JRR: This is turning out to be a very long world tour, but were you intending on making it this long when you first started planning it?

MYV: Not really. Unfortunately it had been so long since we toured the U.S. and Canada and couldn’t complete the last one. I was really glad to fix everything.

JRR: What’s your favorite part about touring?

MYV: Food. The local food – but in America you know. It’s a bunch of steak…

JRR: The food’s the same in every city….

MYV: Yeah but I like it, I like it.

JRR: With a lot of touring Japanese artists, they say the first thing they miss is Japanese food and I’ve heard some bands even bring a rice cooker on tour.

MYV: I don’t want to be like that you know. I really like American food, such big portions making people fat!

JRR: What’s the difficult part about touring? You have a family of your own now, how does that affect you?

MYV: Yeah, it’s pretty hard not having affectionate time with my daughter. But it turns out it works out because I try my best for them. I miss my family though.

JRR: How do you deal with it when you miss them? Do you call them, Skype, etc?

MYV: I talk on Skype and by seeing their photos.

JRR: You’ve done a phenomenal job using your social networking in promoting this tour. Everything from your English twitter updates, rehearsal video uploads on YouTube – these are all treats for your international fans. Was this all part of your integrated plan to promote this tour?

MYV: Basically it was my idea. I had a webcast on March 24th when I released the DVD. It was a good opportunity to share. Now we can share anything with people overseas immediately. Its really outstanding how far technology has come along. 10 years ago we couldn’t do anything like that but now we can do it. We can be interconnected, we can feel like one anytime whether you’re in Brazil, Hollywood, Asia, Japan. It’s the new generation so I want to use it.

JRR: Let’s say we didn’t have all of this technology right now. How do you think you’d be promoting your music?

MYV: I think it’s thanks to the technology that I’m able to do a tour like this and these people know about me through the Internet, so I really don’t know. It’s really hard to explain in English but at the same time we lose something (through the technology) … I don’t know how I can explain it… People can see anything now.

JRR: Do you think it takes away from the real one on one interaction?

MYV: Yes yes yes! Because people are used to it…

JRR: In the sense that it takes away from the actual “product?”

MYV: Yes. People can download content so easily. The value of the actual product is put down.

JRR: In this age anyone has potential to be a star because they have access to all of this technology. Is someone have a funny song on YouTube , all of the sudden they are a YouTube star. How do you feel about that?

MYV: That’s what I was trying to say. Being a star, being famous became so easy. But it’s not a bad thing. But at the same time, people can spread the music so easily… that’s why us artists should be more artistic and professional.

JRR: You’ve changed the way you write your name (雅−MIYAVI) and now you’re under your own company, you have new releases coming this year… how are you taking all of this? What is the year 2010 like for Miyavi?

MYV: Last year was really hard for me. I was having a hard time – so I wanted to do something for my fans. I’m a musician so the only thing I can do for my fans is to create music. So that’s why this year it’s important for me to restart my career. I’m already done with the first half of the recording.

JRR: Could you maybe share what musical direction you’re taking? Or would you like to leave that a surprise for now?

MYV: Oh you will see on stage of this tour. It’s a really solid and simple style. I wanted to focus on the guitar more. I’m a Japanese artist but I’m playing guitar, which comes from western culture so that’s why I wanna play more original music. The next album will be something new. It’s not typical rock.

JRR: We’ve seen Despairs Ray, MUCC and the Underneath play alongside American bands for the Taste of Chaos Tour and of course we have X Japan performing at Lollapalooza this summer. Is this something you envision yourself doing as well – playing alongside American bands and reaching out to a wider audience?

MYV: Yeah if there’s an opportunity I’d love to do it. But before that, I should make my original stuff first. Just trying to break new ground – that’s the first step for my career.

JRR: Are you inspired by any western artists?

MYV: I really like [unknown]*, Ani DiFranco… I really like guitarists. Even though they’re not from Tokyo, or Japan, I feel like they are Samurai. They’re just playing a guitar instead of Katana, and that’s what I’m doing too.

JRR: Do you have any special plans in store for your international fan club, Co-Miyavi?

MVV: It’s great to have a place like that where people can be one. In the future I will want to have some events with some fans. It’s really fantastic that people can share things through my music.

JRR: We saw that you’re doing guitar competitions on line. What inspired you to come up with something like that?

MYV: The idea was from the local promoters. I knew that a bunch of my fans are copying my songs and uploading videos on YouTube. I check them out sometimes and I really love them. So I’m enjoying watching them.

JRR: What kind of things are you looking for in the winners?

MYV: It’s expression; their passion toward my music and the guitar. It doesn’t even have to be my song! It’s a really good thing that people like the guitar and play the guitar – especially my fans. I really want to see that – people playing guitar and enjoying it. Because that’s how I was. I couldn’t play the guitar well when I started but I really loved it. I didn’t stop playing guitar everyday.

JRR: Were you a learn by doing kind of guy?

MYV: I learned by myself. I like to be by myself.

JRR: Are you excited about the show tomorrow at Club Nokia?

MYV: Yes absolutely. It’s been… 2 years since I’ve been here. So I’m really excited to see the people in LA. The last time I brought in a tap dancer, DJ, painter, beatboxer so a bunch of people in the crew. But this time I’m mostly just playing with the drummer.

JRR: Do you have plans for collaborations in general?

MYV: Of course! I think next year, not only Jrock artists. Recently I composed a song for a Japanese clothing company Uniqlo. I composed that with tap dancer. It’s pretty cool to collaborate with such talented artists.

JRR: Not just music, but art in general!

MYV: Yes, that’s what I want to do.

JRR: Was that one of your intentions in starting J-Glam? To incorporate art in general, not just music?

MYV: Yes that’s the main reason I decided to become independent and start my own company J-Glam. In the future I will produce and combine anything and make something that is a cool product from Tokyo to the world.

JRR: What kind of difficulties have you had in having your own company? You’re very busy as Miyavi the artist but you also have to be the man running the company.

MYV: It’s pretty hard to manage myself. But it’s all part of my responsibility. That’s what I chose to do. Sometimes I feel like, why the heck am I doing this? Why am I doing this at my office when I want to be playing the guitar? That’s the reason why I came to Tokyo to start my career. I think it was the way to improve myself – to make myself stronger. You can’t avoid what you don’t want to do when you want to improve and make myself stronger.

JRR: So it’s not even a question, it has to happen.

MYV: Yes. Sooner of later I’ve been thinking, I’ll be standing on my own 2 feet. It was timing. That’s why I decided last year. It’s pretty hard. My body is just one – I have no other body.

JRR: Do you wish you had more than one body at times when you’re busy?

MYV: Yeah I really wish! (laughs) Somebody doing contract stuff… Oh “leave me alooone!’ but that’s what I chose, I can’t avoid it. It’s inevitable… to do what you want to do. Just keep doing it.

JRR: Does your family influence the way your write music? Or doing certain projects?

MYV: Yes, having my daughter was especially big. It gave me some opportunity to think about life and death. It made me very spiritual. When she was born I was very impressed on how life starts…

It doesn’t mean that I’m going to sing sweet songs, no. But it was definitely a big impact on me.

JRR: Well you have a very unique style that’s changed with your projects, but is fashion something that you’d like to get into in the future?

MYV: Actually no… you think so? I just like wearing fancy stuff.

JRR: You have a distinct look so I was wondering if that was something that you wanted to take as a direction along with your music. Perhaps a Miyavi clothing line, or something like that?

MYV: I don’t want to be the same as others. That’s why I’m just trying to be me. That’s why I shaved my head and doing this samurai hairstyle. I want to be Japanese. It doesn’t mean I hate other countries, I really love other cultures! That’s why I have to be more proud of myself as a Japanese. I’m not trying to stand out, I’m just doing what I want to do.

JRR: In a way do you feel responsible at all for spreading elements of Japanese culture? Like you said the samurai hairstyle, and the kimono look you used to have…

MYV: I’m not responsible as a Japanese person. I just really want to do it, it’s not really any duty.

JRR: It would be great if you can provide a message for the readers and fans on JRR.com

MYV: So what’s up everyone on JRR.com, I’m Miyavi from Tokyo. I’m here to rock people in the states. Thank you for your support I really appreciate it. As a Japanese artists I’ve been trying to do something… so I want you guys to enjoy my show and my tour and in the future I’m looking forward to sharing something with you guys.

*Editor’s Note: We were unable to secure the missing artist in this answer. Our apologies for this one miss.