Fool's Mate Personal Interview with Isshi

By no means is it merely a "demise" release. 

Thoughts on the last album "Hyakki Kenran" and the real meaning of their disbandment.

2010 had been a year for Kagrra, that needed to be celebrated as their anniversary year. With the release of new records and a long nationwide tour after quite a while they had painted a number of hopes for their 11th year to come. Amongst all that, on November 11th, their official homepage announced their unbelievable break-up eventually.....
While still being caught in not believing this fully, vocalist Isshi took the time for a personal interview. He talks about the real meaning behind their "DEMISE", along with their last record "Hyakki Kenran".

First of all, would you let us hear about the eventual decision of the band's "DEMISE"?
Isshi: Within the past ten years we have come to create what Kagrra, is...and as a result, this is what Kagrra, is and we feel that this is the limit of it. I think from here, we could present something a little different, however, I think it is impossible to do something completely dissimilar. With "Shizuku" we had already been drawing the image of "説和 / setsuwa", but that was not the shape that Kagrra, was supposed to be. As we had reached this mile stone of our 10th anniversary, we thought that maybe we needed to create this "collapse".

Simply put, it is the "DEMISE" in the musical sense.
Isshi: Yes. It is not about any kind of disturbance within the band. Each one of us has their individual talents as artists and the thoughts grew, that each of us needed to cultivate (these talents) on our own in the future. Therefore there is absolutely no feeling of grudge. In the end, we will be able to go on tour and hold the final at Shibuya C.C.Lemon Hall and we can get in contact with the fans. I think this is a really beautiful way of rounding things up eventually.

I hope that fans will see the very best of Kagrra, at this final performance. Well, with what kind of thoughts did you complete your last album "Hyakki Kenran".
Isshi: Personally, for me this album is a summary of what 2010 has been. At first it had been decided that we would like to express our underground "Wa (Japanese Style)", from within the year that had passed. From there on the word "Oni (Demon)" had been coming up constantly. I wanted to make this album a package out of this kind of thinking. The title "Hyakki Kenran (“Glory of Hundred Demons”)" also arose from that and that's how we did it.

How did you decide on the process of the album making?
Isshi: When we made a single or any record as Kagrra, it is basically the same, but we would gather for the "song selection meeting" and would work our way down from a great number of songs out of that. All the members write songs, so when it comes to the “worst”, we need to listen to some 50 to 60 songs. For "Hyakki Kenran" it had been the same and we chose the most intense songs out of those. On my part, when I heard "Chigiri", which had been written by Akiya, I said that this one had to be included at all costs. As Kagrra, we have made use of a variety of genres for our music, but "Chigiri" somehow had a taste to it we hadn't had yet. The guitar is catchy and easy to remember, the melody is beautiful and I thought that I would like that song to be the title track of the album.

There is the fresh and up-tempo song "Kakurenbou", along with "Kikan", which has a nearly inorganic kind of singing to a colorful chorus part, which shows the great variety of the contents.
Isshi: Among the many middle-tempo song, "Kakurenbo" is a bit different in terms of eccentricity, that's why we chose it. At the beginning, the song had been chosen as one of the songs that was in the “upper regions”, but eventually the melody had changed. It had become a song which combined its power and the things one can hear. When it comes to "Kikan" it is probably in the same position as "Jisou" (from the album "Shuu") out of our album tracks. I think that Shin maybe made it with that intention as well, however, this time it has become a little "cleaner". "Kihou", which has been made by Nao is standing out from the other songs and we chose it, because something like that hadn't been there until now.

With that many songs and their new ways of expression, it doesn't feel like a last album at all.
Isshi: Even though it is the last record, things have been decided based on the fact that Kagrra, would continue activities until the performance on March 3rd, 2011, still. That's why. Until reaching that, rather than protecting, we wanted to attack, which was the feeling we band members shared. To show Kagrra, from various sides, is what makes us really satisfied (this time).

This time, has there been a theme or so, concerning the lyrics?
Isshi: To sum it up, there is only the term "Oni / Demon". Within me, the term "demon", really connects the perspective on life and death, which really caught the essence and reaches people's hearts. And when using a simple word, it would come down to "demon" that sense.

The lyrics drawing pictures of emotions, which have been capturing the feelings of the Japanese throughout ages, could be felt greatly.
Isshi: This time there are a lot of lyrics which reveal things about my present self. All of the songs have their individual themes, however I didn't want to become unreasonable in approaching these things through myself. I think this is what connects to the poems that surpass generations.

I think the lyrics are beautiful as they have their very individual shape and compile these emotions. "Kikan" and "Kihou" certainly also need to be checked philosophically.
Isshi: Concerning "Kikan", it really came down to the perspective on life and death. Last year there have been a number of things, which made me feel that in this world there are no gods and no Buddha. In "Kikan", this perspective is shown from all sides. Personally, I really always keep thinking about what "nothingness" is. In Buddhism, nothingness is defined as "Buddhahood is 'nothingness'." However, when I think about "nothingness" it is something without anything and when putting a color to it, it would be black. However, as soon as you imagine something it is no longer "nothingness" you are thinking about. Maybe, I think "nothing" would be something without a name. Things that don't have a name won't be having a shape. All things start existing as soon as they are given a name. In one word, it takes the magic of giving something a name to create its existence. It's the same with humans, isn't it? After they have been given a name, they are able to exist and make various things happen. However, with being given a name, things also get bound to it. That’s the kind of providence. I wrote the lyrics of “Kikan” with that kind of, slightly difficult thinking. When it comes to the poem in “Kihou”, I am singing about the dilemma of things unreasonably thought of or the things that do not go according to my resolve, when I was to compare (the topic).

However, when it comes to “Kihou” I did feel a certain light of hope and a certain positive way of looking ahead.
Isshi: If you came to feel that, I am glad. Because eventually there was this sensation of cheering myself on. Even if this is a life with dilemmas only, one can't lose to that and has to keep heading forward. This is the feeling I wrote this with and sung this with.

When speaking of your singing, there is a lot of warmth and delicacy coming together this time.
Isshi: Since the second to last record to this, the singing has all been done by self-recording. This time, too, I sang on my own and chose the takes out of it. When looking at the image as a “rocker”, it is quite thorny, isn't it? There was a time when I was looking up to that kind of thing, too, however, it is something that doesn't exist within me, so I couldn't get there. Songs are a way for the singer to express himself to the "people around", therefore I can't sing these kind of rough songs. Earlier I wanted to become a singer that could be seen as an all-round talent, but I came to think that it would be good to cultivate, what's been standing out for me. I have thought that a number of years actually. The singing has become all the more gentle, no matter what way to look at it.

When listening to Isshi-san's songs, it does feel like you would want to rescue the listeners.
Isshi: That's certainly there. I am not saying this a lot, but there is a strong feeling that I would like to rescue just someone with my music. The relationship between Kagrra, and their fans is something close to "like attracts like". I think there are a lot of people who cannot say what they really want to say and those that are wounded at heart. Just helping these people a little has always been a thought of ours.

That is why Kagrra,'s songs, even though they are singing about sad sentiments and visual scenes, they are not muddled but beautiful.
Isshi: I think this is also a big part of my vision. When for example looking at death, I don't only think of it as purely negative, but also feel its beauty. This is also what I would like to convey to the people who listen to the songs. The many sad things that are piling up in this world are not only negative, is what I would like to tell them. How to say it best...for example, the people who become mentally disrupted are easily taken for being extremely weak. However, I do not think so. It is because they take in other people's and their own feelings deeply, which leads to their sorrow. I think they are very gentle people. On the other hand, there are very light hearted people, because they are not thinking of anything, aren't there? I think that those people are more dangerous. Thinking too much and turning into one-self hence becoming rigid in that state is what is said to be the state of mental disruption. However, when someone is pulling these people out, turning them once and growing, they could probably return to a normal everyday life. The thing I am aiming for is close to that. This is the existence I would like to become.

I hope that this point will never ever change. Well, as "Hyakki Kenran" has now been completed what is the impression you got of the other members' playing?
Isshi: First of all, when it comes to Izumi, he has done a lot of things he hasn't done until now. To do that, he had been practicing on his own, the whole time before the recording. In the past he would just brush off the things he couldn't do, but I think that part has vanished by now. On this album, those good points about Izumi's play come out a lot. This time, he has also taken up the part of the movie creator. While compiling his drumming, I think he has been drawing a lot. As for Nao, he as at the routs always been a very melodious bass player, but in recent years, he has calmed down with that and he has been following that at the bottom-line of it. However, he too has been putting in more effort again lately. (laughs) The bass this time is certainly flashy. I thought that this was very much like Nao in the first place. In the past, even when he was scaled out by the melody, he still managed to play as he liked. Now he also knows the theoretical things behind it, and while making use of these good points, he put a lot of effort in it. I think the bass is extremely good.

I feel the same. So how about Shin and Akiya?
Isshi: Shin has also been handling the engineering this time. He mixed three or four songs. The first song "Hyakki Chouryou" was also done completely by him. This part of him really started blooming during the recording. Until now, he had always said that he wanted to try doing it, however, since we have asked a lot of our veteran engineer, the chances vanished. However, even though it was the first time he challenged this, I thought it was absolutely OK when listening to it and Shin has been opening another new door for himself with that. When he now starts singing with that, he will be somewhat of a prince. (laughs) Akiya has been the main composer of this album, as he has written "Chigiri", "Kakurenbo", "Tsuki ni Murakumo Hana ni Ame", "Manatsu no Yo no Yume" and "Shiki" and his songs are really beautiful. The hooks between where he is coming from and what led to what are also there. I really thought that he has really excelled as a music composer. I don't know what kind of activities Akiya will be following after Kagrra, but he has certainly enough skill to make it as provider of music in any case.

Looking at it like this, Kagrra, had really been a gathering of great musicians. I respect how Kagrra,'s music was not just an imitation of someone else’s, but has been created from absolute zero as a specialty of yours.
Isshi: Thank you very much. I think since this is the music we made ourselves, something only we made, Kagrra,'s music won't lose its color even as time passes. The people, who are listening to Kagrra, will grow, marry, become parents...and might be leading their lives in that way, but I think that they will always listen to Kagrra, therein. And that’s worldwide, since we have also gone out into the world and have conveyed not only what Visual-kei, but also what Japanese culture is, as a band, I think. In that sense will our music never vanish, right? I think that for me, for the other members and the fans, Kagrra, will forever be an important thing.


First of all, this translation is not mine! It comes from kiniro_ageha. The original post is here, I formatted it somewhat but the translation remains unchanged. The only thing I added were the two subtitles.

Second of all, the scans came from here! Thanks Juu!

You can find lyrics translations to all of the songs on Hyakki Kenran on my lyrics page for Kagrra,. Enjoy!

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