[INTERVIEW] Kyuso Nekokami talks about their connection with Final Fantasy and performing in Singapore
The Millian will be hosting some of Japan’s top bands tomorrow night, and one of them is Kyuso Nekokami. To those familiar with the Final Fantasy franchise, the five-man multi-directional negative disco punk band’s name really sounds familiar, huh? Here they are singing about people and their mobile phones with “Phantom Vibration”:
Kyuso Nekokami comprises Seiya Yamasaki (Vo/Gt), Kazuma Okazawa (Gt), Takuro Kawakubo (Ba), Shinnosuke Yokota (Key/Vo), and Taisuke Sogo (Dr). The group was formed in university at the end of 2009 as a five-man multi-directional negative disco punk band centering around “those who failed at finding employment”. Drawing a line between themselves and other bands, Kyuso Nekokami takes pride in the group’s one of a kind presence with their aggressive live performances.
We recently interviewed the group before tomorrow’s performance, and here’s what they had to say about their group and their thoughts on Singapore:
- We heard that the name KyosoNekokami is taken from the an item of the same name in the video game Final Fantasy X-2… what’s the rationale behind picking the name of an obscure item to be the name of your band?
[Seiya] It’s from an item that appears in Final Fantasy X-2 known as catnip or “kyusonekokami”. It’s like a representation of how, when cornered, even the weak can defeat the strong.
- Your members were originally from different bands while you guys were still attending KwanseiGakuin University; when you guys decided to form this band in 2009, was it difficult to nail down the kind of sound you wanted to create? Who or what would you consider to be the roots to your music?
[Seiya] It wasn’t difficult. Our musical roots are Ginnan BOYZ, Arctic Monkeys, the telephones, The Mirraz.
[Okazawa] It wasn’t difficult to decide the band’s musical direction. We all liked Arctic Monkeys and Japan’s the telephones, so I think those became the band’s roots.
[Sogo] Actually, I’d say that we make all kinds of music even now. The only thing that was actually fixed would probably be Seiya (Vo) writing the lyrics. As long as he’s our lyricist, I think any kind of music can become KyusoNekokami’s music style.
[Yokota] It wasn’t difficult to decide on the band’s musical direction. We were in a few tribute bands together before KyusoNekokami, and it was a natural progression for us to add the synthesizer to rock music with fast beats. In terms of our musical roots, for Western bands it was the Arctic Monkeys, and in Japan it was the telephones and Ginnan BOYZ.
[Takuro] It’s a mystery as to whether we actually have a musical direction, but you could think of it as 5 people who like different genres and approach music differently forming an ensemble by chance, and it happening to be band-like. So if I had to state our band’s roots, I guess, it would be Ginnan BOYZ’s band-like quality.
- Is everyone in the band a gamer? Individually, what are your favourite video games, and favourite video game music track (if any)?
BGM: The Legend of Zelda series
Game: CAPCOM’s Ace Attorney series
BGM: Tales of Eternia, Ace Attorney Pursuit
[Sogo] I like the Final Fantasy series, so I like its music too. I also love Pokemon. Other than that, I’m playing Uncharted 4 now.
[Yokota] 3 out of the 5 of us play a lot of games. I’m not really a gamer and have only played stuff like Super Mario 64, Mario Kart 64 and puzzle games. In the past 10 years or so, the only game I’ve played is Pokemon GO.
I’m addicted to Civilization IV.
For BGMs I like the Chocobo Theme from Final Fantasy, and Dragon Quest III’s battle music.
- Let’s talk about Phantom Vibration. How did the concept behind the song come about?
[Seiya] When I added music to the iPhone ringtone, the idea that “The smartphone is now one of my organs,” sprung up.
- Once you had the song, we presume it just made sense for you to parody smartphone commercials and TV news reports?
[Seiya] Yup. When the director of the music video listened to the lyrics and the music, he immediately thought of the idea to parody Japan’s telecom companies’ commercials.
- Were there any parody ideas that you wanted to do within the music video, but were not able to for whatever reason?
[Seiya] Not really, but it was a bit of a shame that out of the parodies of the 3 big telecom companies in Japan (docomo, au and Softbank), only the Softbank parody didn’t make it for the final version of the video…according to the director of the PV!
- From the music video, we can get a sense of what each member’s personality within the band is like — for instance, drummer Taisuke Sogo is the Straight Man of the group. With that said, we didn’t quite understand lead guitarist KazumaOkazawa’s “Living In Mountain” description. Is that an inside joke?
According to the PV’s director, Kato Mani, the term “Straight Man” in the video is not in reference to the sexual orientation, but a character in comedy. A straight man is a character that often responds critically to jokes, which is similar to Sogo’s personality. As for Okazawa, because his hometown is deep in the mountains, it literally means living in the mountains.
- Is this your first time coming to Singapore? Do you have any plans to visit any particular spots in Singapore when you’re here?
[Okazawa] I’d like to visit the Singapore Zoo.
[Sogo] I want to see the Merlion. Since I’ve never been overseas, I’d also like to take in the sights and sounds of the streets.
[Yokota] I want to go to that place with the swimming pool at the top of the hotel. I’m also a fan of ethnic food so I want to go to restaurants that are famous for Singaporean dishes.
[Takuro]Definitely Marina Bay Sands. I want to challenge myself and see if I can resist the temptations of the casino.
- Finally, at the Space Shower Retsuden Asia Tour 2017, what can everyone expect from KyusoNekokami?
Apart from our music, fans can look forward to our physical performance too?
Space Shower TV is a dedicated music channel in Japan that covers a wide range of music genres. SPACE SHOWER RETSUDEN started out in 2001 as a platform for indie musicians to showcase their music. Spurred on by the support of fans, the event is now viewed as a rite of passage for many new artistes.
Ticket sales are now available via Sistic. General Admission tickets cost S$58, while the VIP tickets cost S$88. The VIP tickets include:
– Special high five session with all four bands
– Exclusive autographed poster signed by all four bands
– Entry into VIP area right in front of the stage for concert
– Priority entry