DECO*27 recently gave an interview to the Japanese website “Luvits!”, promoting his latest album “Aimai Elegy” (“Love-Lost Elegy”). This interview was translated by vgboy, who kindly allowed us to use his work. Go check his site for more interviews!
First, tell us about your recent release, Love-Lost Elegy. It’s a bit of a departure from your last work, what with mixing in some vocalists.
DECO*27: Lots of the people who listen to my music like Vocaloid, so I wanted to use both vocalists and Vocaloids so that I could please my core audience as well as utilize the merits of raw vocals and live performances. Additionally, by collaborating with a variety of vocalists, I thought “Can I make this an album that will get general, vocalist-preferring listeners to like Vocaloids?” That would expand the possibilities of my music, so I made an album that tried to bridge the gap between the two.
These ideas of “bridging the gap” were solidifying in your mind from the start, I bet.
DECO*27: I needed to consider how to make this concept of bringing vocalists and Vocaloid together work in harmony. The order of the tracks was one thing, but I also put an excessive amount of thought into who would sing which songs. I appointed vocalists that jived with the concept of each individual song. The album begins with an instrumental and ends with an instrumental, but if you take those out, note that it begins with marina and ends with marina.
Your works are often thought to possess a worldview with a sense of unity.
DECO*27: There’s even an example of that in the covers for Theory of Loving Each Other and Love-Lost Elegy, both drawn by my illustrator Ryono: they feature the same girl. Theory was fun, with positive, happy views of love, but while Love-Lost is that same girl, her hair is shorter, and she’s crying now. I wanted to do that to express the sorrow that can come from love. So I also wanted the album to features a few signs of a connecting story. Oh, and I really like Ryono’s illustrations too, of course.
As one can tell from the lyrics – as the word appears frequently – “love” is clearly a common theme of yours.
DECO*27: It sure is. There’s passionate love, of course, but there’s also familial love, self-love, all different kinds of love to make it worthy of having it be a theme of my songs. Lyrics-wise, I had a lot of influence from 19’s lyricist 326 and BUMP OF CHICKEN’s Fujiwara Motoo. This doesn’t apply to absolutely everything, but a lot of the subject matter of my songs is based on my personal experience. If something resounds just a little bit within you, you can use your imagination to make it swell and write it out. When I’m writing about a couple’s love, I usually create two characters, let them have conversations in my head, and write from what I imagine there. Rather than write something direct that just gets the job done, I take what’s left in the realm of my imagination and run through a filter to create.
I also get the impression that you consider Japanese important.
DECO*27: Man, I LOVE Japanese! (laughs) I don’t use English in my lyrics too much, because I’m of the attitude that people aren’t definitely going to comprehend any English that hasn’t become completely ingrained into the language. However, part of the reason I like Japanese is that I like English, too. In studying English, I’ve had many thoughts of “Man, Japanese is nice…” because I realized some things can’t quite be expressed in English, or don’t fit with a language that lacks a variety of kanji.
The way I see it, I pull from English through katakana, I pull kanji from Chinese, I rhyme with homophones since I like old literature, and there are practically infinite combinations of characters. Also, when I’ve got something like, “These have the same sound, but the meaning is different!”, I make a neat rhyme in the lyrics by cleverly combining Japanese and English, and I feel pretty awesome for it. (laughs) So basically, I play with words. That’s what I do. (laughs)
In your music, you often have an impressive sense of liveliness that suggests a live performance. Is rock your musical backbone?
DECO*27: Actually, my musical backbone is folk songs. My dad always played folk songs on guitar, and I was like, “If dad can do it, then so can I!”, so I started playing guitar. At the same time, my dad also exposed me to Chiharu Matsuyama and Sadamasashi’s music. From there I went on to discover Utaibitohane, 19, and a neofolk artist named Yuzu. Gradually, I started listening to western music, like Green Day and blink-182. By then, I think my own music had taken on a rock quality. Well, perhaps it’s closer to that now than it was with my first songs, leading up to Love-Lost Elegy and Mozaik Role, where I made songs with an idea of them being performed live.
Is the same true of Vocaloid?
DECO*27: Vocaloids singing is a little different. First of all, it’s nice that Vocaloids don’t have to take breaths, so they’re relatively unlimited by musical intervals. So I made music founded upon that, and found it interesting when I realized how human singing produced songs of a different atmosphere. When I’m going to use Vocaloid, I tend to write fast songs, not so much ballads. At least that’s my case.
How did you come to use Vocaloid in the first place?
DECO*27: I first felt an interest in Vocaloid by listening to kz’s songs, which was the first place I encountered Vocaloid. Despite being Fukuoka-born, and starting to make original songs… embarrassingly, I’d never listened to Staff. (laughs) So telling myself I wanted to make the same kind of Vocaloid music, and wanted to go to events, I went up to Tokyo.
You brought along quite a troupe to your first show at Wota-JAM vol. 1. How did you gather those members?
DECO*27: marina and Topi were vocalists on Love-Lost Elegy, but I thought their raw vocals would be more expressive if they could come on stage. While searching for a guitarist, I met Captain Straydum/ARUYO’s Nagatomo. As soon as I met him, I knew almost from his voice alone that he’d be able to play my songs in a sweet way. Then Nagatomo told me, “You think this Kajiyama guy who used to play in Sparta Locals might suit your songs, Deco?”, and so Kajiyama joined in too. All the members came into the studio around autumn last year, and though it was our first time all being together in there, we all combined our sound and everything went pretty smoothly. It seemed the passion we had when we met still remained, because we were pretty speedy about things.
Your performance at Ota-JAM vol. 1 really was the highlight.
DECO*27: I’m proactively considering how to assign vocalists to sing at concerts from here on out. Until now, I’ve gathered a band out of singers and performers off of NicoNico Douga, but through the sessions there’s been no precedent to do anything original with it all. Of course, doing that would be a blast for me, and I’d be so glad if everyone else could enjoy it too.
Lastly, tell us what you plan to challenge next.
DECO*27: I’ve got a positive outlook for concerts this year. Hokkaido, Nagoya, Osaka, Fukuoka… I want to do shows everywhere. Lots of my listeners are students, and I know it’s a major issue if local kids have to come out to Tokyo for a show, so I want to go out and meet those people myself, to bring my music to them directly. As for listeners overseas… well, let’s just start with Asia for now!