BARKS, Interview to KAMIJO Part.I

KAMIJO - intervista OSCAR

KAMIJO: “ When I finished writing it, it made me think a lot about life “ that’s why Oscar as an album is such a massive work

KAMIJO of Versailles released his new album “OSCAR” on 19th October. It’s his first solo album in four and a half years, since “Sang” in March 2018. The title “OSCAR” means “Spear of God” in Norse mythology and it recalls Oscar from “The Rose of Versailles”. The album is composed of 13 songs which are epic stories of Louis XVII during the French Revolution, of course, everything is based on the assumption that he would still be alive today. The development of the story is a mix where fiction and modern reality intersect, reverberating as a unique dramatic spectacle. The endless interaction between the story, the sound, and the arrangement is sublimated to the realm of film music with heavy metal and classical music as the basis. Sometimes intense, sometimes aesthetic, the rippling emotions are meticulously constructed down to every single note, making for a pleasant listening experience.

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■ Louis XVII’s life of solitude.

■ Really linked to modern society

── “OSCAR” has finally been completed, but it’s been four and a half years since you released a full-length album.

KAMIJO: Yes, that’s right. It’s a lot of time compared to before, but thanks to this, my studio environment has improved over the years. For example, this time we were able to record with live drums, which we couldn’t do on the previous album “Sang” (2018), so we have been able to follow in order these basic aspects of recording. I think it was all good around this process. However, the world is still in the midst of this kind of Corona disaster. In that sense, during the recording, we were searching for various things, including where we should set our goals.

── Again, also this time the visionary epic rock world dreamed by KAMIJO has taken shape, but is it correct to say each album has been produced as a sequel to the previous stories’ series?

KAMIJO: That’s right. As long as I’m alive, everything I create has some kind of relationship with me, I think it’s something I can do only with myself and I can put it into my work. It makes a lot of sense to me, that’s why every album is a sequel, it doesn’t matter what form it takes, but I’m always conscious of making my music in a simple way that new listeners will be able to get into and enjoy.

── So, assuming that there are people who are hearing about it for the first time, how would you describe this album OSCAR?

KAMIJO: Foremost, in my solo work, there is a kid called Louis XVII who died at the age of 10 during the French Revolution, the work is based on a hypothetical story that still goes on today. The social issues around that time were hidden a lot, I always used them as an undercurrent theme for my expression. In this case, it’s the issue of natural energy going gradually decreasing. What kind of proposals would I be able to make in response to this disaster? This is what I did and tried with Sang, but thinking forward, I just thought what happens if I could convert human blood into energy/electricity, maybe I could make it more natural and strong energy.

── Yes…

KAMIJO During the last time I tried to spread out the same theme, instead this time I tried to tackle directly head-on all the problems coming from my trials to spread the message around the world. Ironically, the world today is really turning into such a bad situation, so it has been a true challenge for me how to make positive and courageous work. There is a scene on this album where the main character makes a big decision and takes a step forward, and I hope I gave him the right courage in this decision. I felt the same while writing the album lyrics, and when I finished, it made me think a lot about people’s life and mine.

── That was a different feeling from the past, right?

KAMIJO: Yes, you can see also in the lyrics, isn’t each person’s life featured by a part of the changing times? This work comes from a point where “I didn’t think about it that much” until now.

── Of course, the story centers on Louis XVII, but the perspective inevitably extends to how people live their lives.

KAMIJO: Right. The story’s hero, Louis XVII, died while locked up in prison in historical fact, didn’t he? But in my story, Symphony of The Vampire (2014), I depict Louis XVII as a musician, Beethoven, who took him out of confinement becoming a vampire, where he is still alive and well today. However, if it turns out that Louis XVII is still alive, the world would be in a noisy riot. So, for the sake of the French royal family, it’s better to keep this secret under wraps. In other words, I think his life, which has always been solitary, it’s too much connected with modern society, where today the focus is more than on the personal aspects of each person. That’s actually what the film storyline is about.

── Do you feel lonely in modern society?

KAMIJO First of all, working and especially making art, is an essential element in a solitary life process, right? There were a few cases when I was in a band, or when I was a student with more people or in a crowd, I felt lonelier, that’s how I always used to live. I wanted to live all my experiences alone. So it has never been a problem, as it’s just part of my life. You can feel lonely, but it’s quite different if you change the way you look at it. These words are exactly, how this album is depicted at the end, and so I want to fight with all myself this bad feeling generally called loneliness. That’s why I say, I am the only one who can do it, in the end, you can fight alone or with other people in the same situation where they feel alone while licking their wounds. To be honest, I hope with this last work, we will be able to turn such negative words into positive feelings.

── To make it very simple, does this mean that you are not as lonely as you feel?

KAMIJO:  Well, in a word, yes. So, when you (people) gather your courage and step forward, you will always be welcomed warmly and unexpectedly. I hope I can make you feel that way.

── Nowadays, everyone uses social networking sites to express their thoughts and feelings. As these tools run, which are supposed to create connections that didn’t exist before, from the opposite, we highlight this phenomenon of individuals in loneliness. You know, more often you can hear words like, I have lost my mind in the darkness.

KAMIJO: Yes, that’s right. That’s exactly what I’m trying to portray in the song ‘Behind The Mask’.

── Various people have heard KAMIJO’s music during the years, coming to shows & live performances as result. There is a community out there. As an artist at the center of this community, do you sometimes feel a sense of mission to reach out?

KAMIJO Of course, I feel a responsibility to do what only I can do, but I think the fans are on my side and trust me. So, for example, singing and drawing the thoughts of all the sufferings coming from the corona disaster, that’s what “Behind the Mask” is about, but I guess it’s okay to express what you’re thinking. Because everyone accepts that attitude, so I don’t take it too seriously. I feel like they let me free to do what I want.

── In other words, you have the feeling that what you are doing it’s well transmitted to the audience.

KAMIJO: That’s true. That’s why, from the other side, we have to carefully and firmly build it up. That’s why I feel strongly involved.

── Which song was the starting point for the production of ‘OSCAR’? There have been five singles released previously, so in that historical order, ‘Eye of Providence’ (2019) would be the earliest one.

KAMIJO: ‘Eye of Providence’ is rather like ‘The Revenant Choir’ (from 2008’s NOBLE) in Versailles, and it was certainly a core part of the material during this time. However, when the time came to give the right shape to this album, it was ‘AGENDA’ that gave me the best scenario feeling. ‘AGENDA’ has been a song that came pretty early on, but when the rough parts of the song were done, I knew that ‘OSCAR’ was ready.

── Did you already get the idea of using “OSCAR” as the album title before that moment?

KAMIJO: No, the name “OSCAR ” didn’t exist yet, but I thought about what the original vampire should be called. Then I thought about naming the sharp fangs something special, and I thought “OSCAR ”, which is called Kami NO Yari (spear of gods) in Norse mythology, and so it sounded like a good name. In other words, Louis XVII’s fang is “OSCAR ”. Louis himself couldn’t call himself “OSCAR”, so here comes a question about who is “OSCAR”. That’s how it became the title of the album.

── The Name ‘Oscar’ appears also in ‘AGENDA’, was this something that came up when you were writing the lyrics?

KAMIJO: For example, the phrases that come out of the R channel, such as ‘toot-toot-toot-toot’, are a kind of original sound sequences and imprint that come from me, basically only I can do it, having worked previously with LAREINE, NEW SODMY, and Versailles. Basically, I use minor 7ths, minor 9ths, and the use of major 7ths in phrases with my sense of moderation. It’s easy to align the top notes of the major 7th with the 6th chord, but if you overdo it, you end up sounding too much like UK rock. However, if I go too far in the opposite direction, it will sound like “easy listening”. That’s why I must keep the KAMIJO balance during my work. That’s the best part of it.

── So That was expressed in an ideal form about “AGENDA”.

KAMIJO: That’s right. The members who played on the recording had some suggestions about the phrases and lyrics, but for this song, I only asked them to hold back and play with a bit of patience. So during the moment, you get to the chorus, ……what do you call it? What would you like to say? It was like my singing level suddenly went up (laughs), also the engineer was surprised. It wasn’t distorted, but I think you could feel my spirit in the recording (laughs).

── The lyrics are also a kind of narration that gives a sense of how the whole album will be.

KAMIJO: Yes, there are narration elements from God’s point of view, the story of the album itself, and questions about the world.

── What does the reference ‘fallen angel’ symbolize?

KAMIJO: This is referring to the death of Count Saint-Germain, but “at the end of the crowd mentality… fallen angels”, meaning that even angels are dropped. That’s what it means.

  Source: https://www.barks.jp/news/?id=1000226373 Translation by Claudio Mate of Ottagono Design of Music exclusively for Alla Corte di KAMIJO

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