【interview】DIR EN GREY
To celebrate the seventh album of Japanese band DIR EN GREY, guitarist Kaoru (薫) granted us an exclusive interview revealing Uroboros most buried and interesting secrets. Please note, the CD will be out on November 11st 2088 via The End Records.
How do you feel regarding the new release?
Kaoru : We are all very eager to see how our work is going to be received, to see how far we can go in terms of communication and transmission of our ideas — if people are going to be touched by it, to see how they are going to interpret it. I am really looking forward to it. I am probably as excited as a fan can be at the time being. However, I just heard that all the songs off of the album have been leaked already on the Internet, which bothers me greatly. It is pretty disappointing and disheartening.
How has your music evolved from ‘The Marrow of a Bone’ to ‘Uroboros’?
Kaoru : For this album, we didn’t really want to step into the unknown, into something dramatically different from what we have done in the past. We were rather into the perspective of self-acceptation. We wanted to carry on our music legacy, and honor it as best as possible. This album incorporates our past, present and future. In the end, I think Uroboros sound is very special, it is free of any music genre label.
How did you manage to highlight oriental atmospheres you were talking about ?
Kaoru : We tried to convey on CD, the feelings and general atmospheres that usually emanate from concerts, these emotions felt during live-performances. At the same time, we also tried to highlight a certain religious spirit through a Japanese vision.
Uroboros has been important in religious symbolism.
Kaoru : Yes, it has. This influence can be found in the album.
For that purpose, did you try new instruments?
Kaoru : Yes, we did. On several tracks, we used an electric Sitar which brings out extra interest and flavor to the melodies of these songs. Our main goal was to get tracks very guitar-oriented. For example, we used different objects to play the guitar chords. On other songs, we tried to record the sound of the guitar directly from the amp. It was a very unlikly and amusing experience in this end. On the album, Shinya even played the Congas.
You used different languages other than Japanese and English, didn’t you ?
Kaoru : Yes, we did. ‘Sa Bir’ means ‘Movement of the Earth’ in Tibetan and ‘Vinushka’ is a coined word originally from Russia which is used to talk about elements linked to sins.
The Uroboros depicts a snake or a dragon who bites its own tail. It symbolizes a cyclic evolution and auto-regeneration. Is this meaning special for DIR EN GREY ?
Kaoru : Definitely, it is a symbolic title for the band. The concept of the album is based on the theme of the infinite cycle of time ; on the alternated phases of life, death and rebirth. Like I said earlier, this album contains our past, our present and our future. To a certain extend, there is an analogy between the title of the album and the band musical career.
Why did you choose The End of Records for the US release?
Kaoru : We were looking for a record campany to release the album in the United States. Many contacted us. The End of Records appeared to be the best choice for the band.
As for using English language, did your management put pressure on you ?
Kaoru : The more they put pressure on us, the more we return the favor.
Then why did you rewrite ‘Glass Skin’ and ‘Dozing Green’ ?
Kaoru : At the time, these songs were already released in Japanese as the singles off of the album. We simply wanted to try to rewrite the lyrics, in English, and see. The result being quite satisfying, we decided to put all versions on the album.
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of DIR EN GREY, two CD collections were released last year : Decade [1998-2002] and Decade [2003-2007]. Is Uroboros marking a third era ?
Kaoru : To be completely honest, we didn’t really think about it. I have never engaged mysef into a retrospective analysis regarding the evolution of the band. As soon as I start writing or composing, I live at the moment of the time. I observe my emotions, my actual tastes then I channel them into the music. However, I guess that from an external objective viewpoint, it is mostly accurate.
You stated that people are going to picture certain images when listening to the album. Do you mean they will experience synesthetic visions ?
Kaoru : To a certain extend, I do. I would like each and every individual who will listen to the album to experience something unique. I want people to get mesmerized by the music and I want the music to make people to visualize different scenaries, to sense colors, to feel certain feelings according to the sounds they hear ; in the end, with this album, I want everyone to share some sort of intimacy linked to their own personal backgrounds. I do want to place emphasis on the uniqueness of the experience. I truly believe everyone will stand to gain.
Did you have these visions during the creation process?
Kaoru : I didn’t have real visions, at least nothing very special. I did consider the scenography though, the stage design on which we will be playing the album. I thought about the stage performances rather than abstract concepts.
The album’s artwork is mystical as well as epic. What is its art-concept ?
Kaoru ：When it was time for the band to get into working on the conception and creation of the art cover of the album, we had the idea to use words, texts, instead of a photo. I showed them the artwork of the album ‘Lizard’ by the band King Crimson ; we then all agreed to start working on this graphic base and we put finishing touches to it by bringing our own visual identity.
Who is the artist ?
Kaoru : His name is yo~da. He is an artist with whom we have been working for years.
Is the aesthetic of the band as important as the music ?
Kaoru : We believe that the band’s identity is what matters the most and this involves aesthetic expression. If the things we create are neutral or transparent, they end up being meaningless. It is accurate to say that we put a lot of efforts on creating and developing a whole unique universe around our music. That is the reason why we dedicate a lot of time to design visual contents.
In the future, do you see yourself working on a side-project ?
Kaoru : I will think about it when the right time will come.
You recorded acoustic versions of several songs. Would you plan an unplugged show ?
Kaoru : We actually do.
Is a European tour going to be announced soon ?
Kaoru : Be a bit more patient, you won’t be disappointed.
What would you like to say to VerdamMnis readers?
Kaoru : You can rest assured we are coming to you soon. Until then, keep supporting us.