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Moi dix Mois interview
March 2006
Translated by Rizumu

Moi dix Mois Interview

--As this is your first new release in about a year and a half, what has the past year and a half been like for you, Mana-sama?

Mana: It’s been a year and a half?

--Were you aware a whole year and a half had passed?

Mana: No, because in the past year and a half I’ve been doing lives and going to Europe and such. I went to Europe after “Pageant” was released and even held the final of the tour in Tokyo. After that I released the Europe live DVD, so I didn’t sense that that much time had passed. But certainly in regard to CDs it’s been quite awhile, hasn’t it?

--The much anticipated new release is “Beyond the Gate”, and how do you feel about the finished work?

Mana: I used a new technique for me. By making it experimental while keeping my number one specialty of a symphonic classical sound in check, I believe I managed to fuse them into a new form.

--While working on each song’s concept, were you able to see the work and the overall image of the songs as a whole?

Mana: This time, from the outset, I was very interested in creating something different in some way or another from anything I had created before. Our vocalist had also changed, so I felt like trying something I hadn’t before, and used digital music as the pivot for that in the beginning.

However, although it was certainly a fresh start, I started writing with the intention that I wanted to write songs from the emotions that naturally boiled up from inside me, so it’s changed from the original concept a bit. But I took both the original concept and my own feelings that boiled up and mixed them into one form.

--Please tell us about the concept and theme of the jacket’s artwork.

Mana: (with CD in hand) Ah, the jacket picture? As for this, I can’t say the concept or theme of it is that deep. But it’s linked with the title of “Beyond the Gate”. It has the meaning of a “gate”, and I want to give you the feeling that from here on you’re entering into something.

--With this work, you decided on your support members after the songs were written first, correct?

Mana: Yes, that’s right. After Moi dix Mois’s tour final in April of 2005, I wasn’t sure who the members would be, but I began writing songs anyway. At that point in time the vocalist hadn’t been decided on yet.

But I was sure that I wanted to continue creating new works some way or another so I kept writing. Then around the fall of 2005, I met the vocalist who’s joined us this time around. He suited my musical compositions extremely well, so that’s how I was able to create such a work this time around, and how we’re now in the situation where we can perform lives as well.

--Please tell us the story of the vocalist Seth who joined as a support member, from the time you met him to when he became a member.

Mana: Actually, he’s someone I knew originally from 5~6 years back, but he was normally playing in various bands. One day I thought “I wonder if I should ask him to sing?” So I called him and when we got together to sing he completely clicked with Moi dix Mois’s compositions. So that’s why I asked him to participate in my project this time around.

--So you found him through your personal connections, then?

Mana: That’s right.

-- For support members you have vocalist Seth and guitarist K, so how do you share your intentions and concepts for the compositions and how they’re played?

Mana: On a fundamental level I’m doing the entirety of writing the lyrics, composing the music, and arranging the songs. The band is of a form where I take that to each member and tell them the themes and such, and have them play it or sing it for me. It’s not a form where we do something like a jam session and create something there or anything.

--The SE is “The other side in blood”, but I get a sense from the word “blood” that there is a deeper meaning put in to that.

Mana: It seems so, doesn’t it? I feel that “the sea of blood” in the album tells all about that.

--Is there any part you placed a lot of emphasis on in the sound?

Mana: Emphasis? Perhaps the muting of the guitars this time.

-- The muting…

Mana: *giggles*

--The guitar muting? *laughs*

Mana: Yes. *laughs* The portion of compositions I used mainly a synthesizer to create is comparatively large among the works of Moi dix Mois so far. For that I arranged the songs using the guitars as backing, so in my compositions before now I didn’t really have the intention of making the guitars prominent.

To make the sound into a form like a wall, I used what so-called normal bands use to fill in the intervals such as a synth pad…do you get this? I don’t think you’re getting this…

--Forgive me. *laughs*

Mana: *laughs* Well…let’s just say I mainly made them using a synthesizer. This time it depends on the song, but especially with “Vain and “unmoved” I’m making songs that bring out the guitars.

Like when I want to make the guitar’s edge stand out, I can use muting and, although it’s not really a trick, there’s a playing method called picking harmonics, and by using those mainly I can record the guitars heavier than before, which is different from my previous works.

--In this work the “deth voice” is being used.

Mana: Yes. *laughs*

--Umm *laughs*, does a song demand the use of the death voice, or else does the death voice demand a song?

Mana: No, the song does.

--I see. So the death voice is necessary then.

Mana: It becomes necessary for certain songs, yes, that’s true.

--Are you the type who suffers while producing music? Or are you the type who is eager to make songs?

Mana: Well… it’s 50-50, depending on the song. The troublesome songs can keep being troublesome for an eternity, and the surprisingly easy ones can truly be done in just one or two days. The hard songs can take one to two months. Among my compositions there are various types of songs, but certainly the symphonic type is especially troublesome. But depending on the song, even among the symphonic types there are some easily done ones, so no, I can’t say such a sweeping statement.

However it’s fundamentally quite troublesome. Especially with the cembalo, to bring out a swaying harmony between the left and right channels was very troublesome. You might be confusing “harmony” with “hamori”, but they’re different things. (note: I have no idea what “hamori” is, besides it is a musical term. I couldn’t find it in any dictionary.)

For example, when I have two cembalos playing on both left and right, it makes it sound disjointed with both playing. So when that happens, there’s the style where you have one main line for the harmony, and you add an interval of a third or a fifth and such… it’s unrelated, but both become the main melody in the left and right channels. So figuring out how I should make those two main melodies harmonize makes me rack my brains more than anything else.

--That’s very difficult indeed. Because it’s like there’s two leading roles, isn’t it?

Mana: Yes, that’s right.

--Which of your works this time around took the most amount of time in production?

Mana: Hmm, which one… Well the 2nd track “Eternally Beyond” was the most troublesome composition for me. The original melody was done comparatively earlier than usual, but it was very troublesome to arrange.

--“Eternally Beyond” is very symphonic, isn’t it? I mean to say, it feels like the strongest track on the album.

Mana: That’s right, yes.

--As you would expect, is it that element that makes it so troublesome?

Mana: It is troublesome. “Eternally Beyond” has many instruments in it. Actually it uses the most out of all of them. If you just take a quick listen I’m not sure if you’ll get it, but in many spots – for example, behind the drums a timpani is being played, there are cymbals being struck and such – there are actually many different instruments being used in minute places, so thinking about that ensemble took up the most amount of time.

--Which song is the key to the album?

Mana: The key is definitely the 2nd track “Eternally Beyond”. The point being that “Beyond” is in the title of it, and the album title has “Beyond” in it as well. If you look at that common feature, I believe you should understand that this track is the most important one.

--After “Eternally Beyond” was completed, how did you feel?

Mana: That now that I’ve completed it I can move on for sure. Actually of the songs on the album this is the song I did the latest. When I finished the song, I was filled with joy that the album was finally completed.

--For Mana-sama as well, it was the key song then.

Mana: Yes, that’s true. It was the single shape that I had been aiming to achieve; the fusion of beauty and violence, of something both symphonic and dramatic. Within the album, I feel this is most expressed in “Eternally Beyond”, don’t you?

--The limited edition of the album includes instrumental tracks, so why did you choose to include instrumental versions?

Mana: Actually, with my previous works, the demand among fans for instrumental versions was very strong. So knowing that, although I certainly liked the versions of the songs included, a considerable amount of the sounds were disappearing because of the song. Therefore I wanted to painstakingly listen to the base form of those songs, so there was a bit of my desire as a composer in their inclusion.

--Certainly in the instrumental versions you can listen to the sound of each instrument very carefully, can’t you?

Mana: Yes, you can.

--So by genuinely following the development of each song we’ll be able to make new discoveries.

Mana: Yes. I want you to be able to compare both sides of it. I feel while listening to the instrumental you’ll be able to unexpectedly discover that, oh, in this backing the melody harmonizes with the vocals, and things like that.

--I thought the sound of “Deflower” was very Mana-like. What you’ve been saying is true, as the sound of the bells as well as the female chorus stood out when I listened to the instrumental.

Mana: Right.

--Is it an old instrument in it? The one with same sound as the instrument used in “vestige” on your 2nd album “Nocturnal Opera”.

Mana: Ah, the cembalo? Another name for it is the “harpsichord”.

--Yes. You can also hear the cembalo’s sound in “Deflower”. You use the cembalo a lot in your compositions, don’t you?

Mana: Yes, that’s true. I’ve used it quite a bit before now, but it’s mainly in this song this time around. My other songs use it more or less, but I’ve used it somewhat less than before for this release. Although before, my intention was surely that I wanted to use the cembalo and pipe organ no matter what.

--That’s true, isn’t it? Your previous works make quite a bit more use of it.

Mana: Before, that was the case, but this time the number one key to me was how to express and bring out the color of each individual composition. Therefore I was deciding the right timbre to match each composition, and that’s how this balance was brought about. I want every composition to be considerably prominent and stand out.

--I have a question regarding “unmoved”. I believe that it has never happened before in your career, for you to not change the arrangement, leave the lyrics as is, and use the existing composition with a different vocalist. Were you particularly aware of this circumstance?

Mana: Because “unmoved” was completed in the previous period to a certain extent, I had the feeling of how should I flesh this out? But you’re right…yes, that’s certainly how it is. It’s something I’ve never done before for Moi dix Mois, just with this song.

--Right. By not changing the arrangement, leaving the lyrics as is, and recording the song with a different vocalist, I realized it was the first time you had tried that.

Mana: I see. But actually, there are various things that have changed if you compare it to the previous “unmoved”. I changed some of the guitar’s arrangement and such for example. Especially in the chorus, I believe by adding a guitar melody it’s a big difference from before. I felt I had completed the song’s melody in the previous period, so while the foundation of the previous “unmoved” was pinned down, this version has a more powered up feeling than before. “unmoved” is now completed for this release.

--Why did you decided to include the final track “The other side of the door”, which is not an SE but another composition?

Mana: As for that, the composition has quite a strong connection with the 1st track “The other side in blood”. Although the 1st track starts like it’s from the soundtrack to a rather classic movie, I had the strong desire for the final track to try and take both that classic element and a digital element and fuse them together, so that’s how this composition was made.

--What are the respective meanings of the “Gate” in “Beyond the Gate” and the “door” in “The other side of the door”?

Mana: I have a rather broad perception of what “Gate” means actually. So while “door” is “doa” (the English loanword), “Gate” also has the meaning of “tobira”, for example the gate to the soul (kokoro no tobira) and such. It’s not indicating an actual physical gate.

--Were you particular about anything when writing the lyrics for the album?

Mana: Yes, I was. The one I was most particular about was… the chorus of “Deflower” probably. It’s actually two sets of lyrics, and the lyrics are overlapping with each other. It’s a very characteristic method to have two main melodies overlapping. I was actually creating two layers to the construction where by having those two separate sets of lyrics overlap at the same time, the meaning changes a bit because they’re originally separate.

--English is used a lot for the lyrics in this album, why is that?

Mana: I know there’s a lot of English is songs like “deus ex machina” and “Vain”, but that’s simply how I imagined it when I listened to the compositions. Because when I wrote the songs, I would feel within me that for a certain song I could hear English here, or I could hear Japanese there. It came about naturally.

--So it’s really not something you intended to do, but something the song called for then.

Mana: Exactly.

--“deus ex machina” is Latin for “mechanical god”, am I correct?

Mana: Yes, that’s right.

--“deus ex machina” is a rather famous phrase, isn’t it?

Mana: That’s true. I don’t have any specific preference in using Latin. I just liked the sound of it and wanted to use the meaning of it in a sarcastic way.

--March is the month of Mana-sama’s birthday, so was it your aim at all to start up the activities of the reborn Moi dix Mois is this month?

Mana: No, I just felt I wanted to resume our activities as soon as possible. With this album I also wanted to let everyone listen to my new works as soon as possible.

--So you weren’t aiming to do it in March especially then, were you?

Mana: That’s right. Well, perhaps you could say it was fate. Or just a streak of good luck.

--For this release, you decided to release it in the form of a mini-album. This is the first mini-album for Moi dix Mois, isn’t it?

Mana: Yes.

--Why did you choose a mini-album, as opposed to a single or an album?

Mana: Well, as you know, there was a bit of a gap in our activities, so I wanted to put out the next release at the soonest possible time. Because you only get 2 tracks or so with a single, the image the songs give is biased in a way no matter what. For this release I needed a form where I could put out compositions with a lot of variation at the soonest time and this form – although I’d say it’s more like a medium album than a mini one –seemed like the best one to use.

--You were in a rush, weren’t you?

Mana: Yes, I was. My desire was to hurry and let everyone hear our new sound.
--For this release, you decided to release it in the form of a mini-album. This is the first mini-album for Moi dix Mois, isn’t it?

Mana: Yes.

--Why did you choose a mini-album, as opposed to a single or an album?

Mana: Well, as you know, there was a bit of a gap in our activities, so I wanted to put out the next release at the soonest possible time. Because you only get 2 tracks or so with a single, the image the songs give is biased in a way no matter what. For this release I needed a form where I could put out compositions with a lot of variation at the soonest time and this form – although I’d say it’s more like a medium album than a mini one –seemed like the best one to use.

--You were in a rush, weren’t you?

Mana: Yes, I was. My desire was to hurry and let everyone hear our new sound.

--I’m surprised, because I had this image of you as someone who creates and presents his works after thorough preparation.

Mana: No, I’m always in a hurry. *laughs*

--Is that so? *laughs*

Mana: Yes. It’s because I’m always worrying about the arrangements until the very end. Even in the middle of recording I’m working on the arrangements. The arrangements are quickly worked out then. Naturally I finish the foundations of the songs before recording, but in the midst of recording – for example, depending on the I impression I get when listening with huge speakers on full-blast – a new arrangement will result from it, so I’ll arrive at an arrangement through this sort of an environment.

While recording I’ll think “Oh, wouldn’t it better to do it this way?” and discover a new arrangement. So even during recording I’m rushing to get it all done.

--This is the first work for Moi dix Mois you composed with twin guitars, isn’t it?

Mana: Ah, yes it is. That’s certainly true.

--How did the recording go?

Mana: It took a fair amount of time to create the sound of the twin guitars in recording. I had to bring out the respective personality of each guitar, but not too the point where they were too different. So balancing that was difficult and a real challenge. I’ve made my albums all by myself up until now, so I had been the one deciding the timbre of the instruments and the nuances of the picking and such. This time around I worked together with K, because the strength and nuances of the picking all had to fit together. I think that’s what really made it a challenge.

--The twin guitars are essential to the sound of “unmoved”, aren’t they?

Mana: Yes, they are. It wouldn’t hold up without the twin guitars.

--Was this song also difficult to create?

Mana: Yes. “unmoved” gave me the most difficulty with the timbre. Because there are just guitars at the head of the song, I had to find the right timbre for the guitars; one that would strike your ears the most. That sort of fine tuning took a great amount of time.

--You have a fan club member only live planned for March 11th. How excited are you?

Mana: It’s already been almost a year and a half since my last live. It’s truly been a while, so I’m extremely looking forward to it. I really like doing lives. I’m the type who prefers performing live to recording.

--From reading your interviews in various places, I got the strong impression that you were one who preferred writing songs.

Mana: Hmm, I see. *laughs* But even though I do like writing songs, I’m really not an engineer type. I like tinkering on my own songs well enough, but there’s no doubt that I prefer performing live where I can unleash my power into the room; that’s much more my nature.

I’m the type who can’t stay still. With recording, working day in day out, bit by bit in the same seat the whole time is the part that I can’t stand. Well, since I truly love seeing my own compositions completed, it’s not like I hate it, I just prefer running around like wild.

--I see. *laughs* So you take your pent-up anger from composing and unleash it at your lives.

Mana: Yes. I feel like I want to burst open during lives.

--Well, you should really look forward to your next live then.

Mana: Yeah, I am.

--Why did you choose for the first live of the reborn Moi dix Mois to be fan club members only?

Mana: The reason is all the fans have been waiting for me, so I feel a bit like it’s not a normal live. I feel like it’s an event I couldn’t do without my fan club, so I decided to do it in no small part because of that. Although it will basically be a live, for the main part.

--Will you still be performing Moi dix Mois’ previous songs at lives from now on?

Mana: We will play previous songs also during the next live, but the arrangements will have changed depending on the song.

--There’s one keyword concerning “Beyond the Gate” I was curious about. On the flyer, there is the phrase “The world of the other side, as beautiful as it is frightening”. What kind of world is the “the world of the other side”?

Mana: I believe there are people who can get there and people who can’t mainly. It’s a place where if you can’t dispose of your prejudices and such things, you can’t reach it. I believe people who always hold such prejudices will never see the world of the other side.

Wanting to tear down prejudices and stereotypes is consistently a main theme of my work.

I don’t want you to view everything with your set notions alone. This album especially represents a new start, so by me or you being tied to our own pasts, we won’t be able to see the next world.

--Well then, everyone please give this new release a thorough listen, and if you can come to the lives, perhaps you can reach it.

Mana: I think so.

--Will you take them with you?

Mana: Yes, I’ll take you along…but if you wish to go, you must also personally possess the courage to cross this sea of blood. If you have that courage, then I will draw you in.

--We’ll look forward to it. Going back to your new album, I feel that as a whole it’s closer to your 1st album “Dix Infernal” (typed wrongly as “Dis Infernal”! XD) in direction.

Mana: I see.

--By combining a Mana-esque sound together with a new experimental one, I got the feeling that it was a concept free album when I listened to it.

Mana: That certainly may be the case. I already made an album with a concept with my 2nd album “Nocturnal Opera”. I depicted a story with the lyrics and everything else in it. This time I’m expressing my own strong feelings more so than a story, so it’s closer to my 1st album in that respect I suppose.

--As the reborn Moi dix Mois, what sort of style do you think you’ll present from now on?

Mana: Fundamentally Moi dix Mois is my solo project, so to fit with the world of my compositions, I want to have a group of members that always suits that. I believe Moi dix Mois is Rock, yet it’s not trapped by the conventions of the genre. For example, I’m using the fundamental Rock instruments of drums, bass and guitar to perform lives, yet I’m thinking of mixing those with other instruments for lives in the future.

--So in various ways you’re striving to operate freely, not be trapped by the existing framework of things.

Mana: Yes. I believe that’s the way I’d like to achieve things.

--What’s in store for the future?

Mana: The future? Well, with this new album, I believe I’ve been able to condense a great deal of what I’ve been aiming to do into it. I wish to capture a sound that is violent, beautiful, and dramatic for a long time into the future.

--That’s the foundation.

Mana: Right, that’s the foundation. When I listen to music, I want to cry. It moves me to tears. I want to fully explore that emotion with my music.

--You wish to be deeply moved by the sounds that you create as well, right?

Mana: Yes, that’s right. The songs that exist in the world aren’t enough to satisfy me. Precisely because the world lacks such songs, I myself wish to create my own ideal music. You might say I seem like my number one fan.

--So Mana himself is his own number one fan then.

Mana: It’s true. It’s like I’m creating songs that will move myself, is one way you can view it. *laughs* So if it doesn’t move me, there’s no point in showing it to the world, is there?

--On March 11 you’ll be holding a fan club only live at the Ebisu LIQUID ROOM, but what are your plans for after that?

Mana: The lives for Moi dix Mois Europe Tour 2006 ~Beyond the Gate~ are being held on March 17th in Paris, France, and on the 19th in Berlin, Germany. After that, the tour final will be held on May 2nd at SHIBUYA-AX.

--This will be your 2nd time doing a European tour, correct?

Mana: Yes, it’s the 2nd time for lives.

--Do you feel there are any differences between lives in Europe and lives in Japan?

Mana: I feel it’s the same as doing it in Japan. This is because I’m beginning to do around the same number of lives in Europe as in Japan. So while I’ll feel glad to finally meet everyone again for the first live in a year and a half in Japan, in Europe it’s been the same year and a half, so I’ll feel glad to meet everyone again there too. So in striving for that kind of a live, I think they’re very similar things, don’t you?

Actually there are many males among the European fans. The power of all those male fans is impressive. They give the feeling of “I love rock!” and that kind of power is incredibly strong. In Japan especially, as a band wearing makeup like so-called Visual kei bands do, the males are very passive no matter what, right? But for Europe that isn’t so. It’s quite a difference to so greatly feel the power of those kinds of male fans.

--What do you think about the fact that there are many males at your European lives?

Mana: I’m glad. I hope more of the males will pop up in Japan as well. The proportion of females is still larger, so they might be embarrassed, I’m not sure. I hope that Japan will soon become like that too so the proportion is more like 50-50.

--By distributing a European version for your latest “Beyond the Gate” in Europe, I feel your music will readily reach the ears of all your fans in Europe so they’ll participate in your lives.

Mana: Right.

--I heard that even during the last European tour, the international fans knew your songs from your 2nd album “Nocturnal Opera” very well.

Mana: That’s true. Even though the European version of “Nocturnal Opera” hadn’t been released at the time of last year’s live, everyone sang along.

--What are your feelings regarding the release of an international version?

Mana: Yes, I’d certainly like to release an international version. I get lots of mail from overseas, so releasing one is something I wish to do, to make an environment where they can get a hold of it. I believe an international version is very necessary.

--Has the demand been piling up for one?

Mana: Yes, the demand is considerable. Many people in places that aren’t big cities have said they’re unable to get a hold of my music, although I’m not sure if it’s just for small towns or not. So I want to make it so as many people can get a hold of it as possible.

--You appear to be pivoting equally between activities in Japan and Europe, but I wanted to talk about the fact that the American members make up the most of your international fan club. Do you have any plans to hold a live in America?

Mana: For America as well, I want to be able to do lives and such as soon as the environment is prepared. I’m going to Europe for the 2nd time now, so it may give the strong impression that I’m partial to Europe. *laughs* It’s really not that, just that the environment is more prepared there, and it’s an easier condition to do activities in.

By finding agents and partners and people who understand me in Europe now, the environment was fast prepared. I’m now taking steps to find such partners for America as well. If I’m able to find very suitable partners even there, then I’m positive I’d like to go and do lives there.

--We’re talking about other countries, but the tour final is going to be held on May 2nd at Shibuya-AX, correct? After that, do you have any plans for a tour outside of Japan?

Mana: I’m still deciding on that. Because I feel I want to do as many lives as possible in Japan as well.

--We’re starting to hear things like “you only go overseas, what’s with that!” *laughs*

Mana: I see. *laughs* That’s true. This year I hope to do as much as I can in Japan.

--Finally, please give a message to all your fans.

Mana: I’m looking forward to meeting you for the first live in a long time. It will be wild.

--Thank you very much for this interview.

Mana: Thank you very much.