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13 February 2011 @ 10:51 pm
OTAKU USA (February 2011): Interview with exist†trace  
OTAKU USA (February 2011): Interview with exist†trace

Metal Maidens
Monsters of Japanese nu-metal speak!

by Zac Bentz

(click to enlarge)

The world of metal is a boy’s club. Sure, there are plenty of women out there playing chugging guitar riffs and screaming cookie monster vocals, often putting their macho counterparts to shame, but for the most part they are few and far between. Japan’s exist†trace is looking to even the odds. The five women who form the band mix both fashion and heavy metal into one lethal, yet elegant, package.
Fans around the world seem to agree. After appearing in Europe, exist†trace will be appearing on American soil for the very first time when they hit the stage at Sakura-Con in April 2011. We had the chance to talk to the band, dig into their past, and find out what it’s like being an all-girl band in the masculine world of visual-kei.

- How did the band come together? Were you friends first, or did you meet when the band was put together?

Naoto (bass):
Jyou, Mally, and I were friends first, and we formed exist†trace initially with just the three of us. After that, we searched for guitarists, and that’s how we met Miko and Omi.

- Were any of you in any other bands before exist†trace?

Jyou (vocals):
No. exist†trace is the first band for all of us.

- How does your writing and recording process work? Who does most of the writing, or is it a collaborative process?

Miko (guitar):
I mainly write the song lyrics. Sometimes Omi and Jyou write as well. When it comes to the musical arrangement, all of us bring our input and we decide together.

- For the American audience who may not understand all of your lyrics, what would you say are the main themes of your songs?

Life and death. Sometimes restraint and freedom. There’s always contrasting themes.

- You have a mix of new-metal sounds as well as some more epic, elegant rock. How would you describe your sound?

The music of exist†trace has sensitivity and beauty that only women can express added to a heavy and aggressive sound – that combination cannot be beaten by male bands.

- What do you think about the visual-kei scene in Japan? Do you feel accepted, or do you feel different because you are all girls?

Mally (drums):
When we first started performing, I did not feel accepted. But we all had the mind-set that it wasn’t going to stop us. Slowly we started to get some recognition, and I’m just now beginning to feel that we’re accepted.

- There aren’t many all-girl bands in the world of Japanese visual rock. Do you have any strong female musical role models you look up to?

For female role models, it’s Miwa Yoshida of DREAMS COME TRUE. For male, it’s Takeshi Hosomi of ELLEGARDEN.
Omi (guitar): Within Temptation’s vocalist Sharon den Adel.
Miko: This is not a performer, but it’s a composer: Michiru Ooshima. [Composer for several PS2 games and anime, including Full Metal Alchemist. -ZB]
Naoto: There’s a female bassist, TOKIE, that I look up to a lot. I hope to be like her someday. [TOKIE is from unkie/Rize/LOSALIOS. -ZB]
Mally: I was influenced by Joey Jordison of Slipknot, and now I look up to Akira Jinbo. They’re both boys, but that’s okay.

- Do you think you are treated any differently than the boy bands? Have you had to work harder, or has it been easier to get attention?

I think it was easy to get attention, but it was difficult to get respect. We needed a lot of effort to get the recognition we have now.

- How did you decide on your current visual style? How often do you change your visual style?

We change our style according to what we want to express, matching it as best we can to whatever the main focus of our music is at the time. We decided on our current style because we wanted to express strength.

- Where do you get the inspiration for your fashion? Is there a time period or place you feel connected to?

Our inspirations shift constantly. For example, we use movies, paintings, and various fashion collections as reference. Right now we’ve been looking at New York and Paris fashions a lot.

- How do your music and your visual style reflect each other?

The main goal is to best express our ideas and feelings, so they work together to express the vision of the world we’re trying to create in our music.

- Both your image and your music are pretty loud and tough. A little dangerous. Are any of you dangerous off stage as well?

Jyou, Omi, Miko, & Mally (all at once):
Naoto: ... (laughs).

- Your first USA live show at Sakura-Con was just announced. Do you have any idea what to expect at an American anime convention? Do you know what the US fans are like?

It’s our first time, so I can’t imagine what it will be like. We’ve been receiving so many messages saying, “Come to America and do a live show!” so we’re sure it will be exciting! We’re looking forward to it so much!!

- Do you have anything special planned for your US performance?

Yes, but it’s a secret!

- Is there anything you hope to see and do while you are in the US?

I wanna go to the very first Starbucks Coffee!
Mally: Oh! Me, too!
Jyou: I know it’s far, but I wish I could see Ground Zero and the Statue of Liberty.

- You have played some shows in Europe. Was the audience there any different than your audience in Japan?

It was very different. Japanese people are very shy. It seems European people use their body to show what they’re feeling, how they’re enjoying the music. It was a very intense live show every time!

- What are your interests outside of music? Are any of you into things like anime, manga and/or video games? Do you have any favourite movies or TV shows?

All of us like manga and games, especially Super Mario Bros.!

- Do you have any other hobbies that might be surprising to people who only know you through your music?

Believe it or not, we all like sports! Mally and I have been going to the gym lately.

- What were you thinking about during the creation of your new album, TWIN GATE? What were your creative goals?

During the writing and recording, we concentrated on making each of the new songs into a clear message of what we were feeling. When it was completed, we just wanted everyone to listen to it right away. We want to hear what you think!

- What is the one thing that has changed the most for exist†trace with the completion of TWIN GATE?

The biggest change is that we created TWIN GATE with a strong desire for more and more people to listen to our music than ever. TWIN GATE is filled with our current emotions. Since this album will be our first USA release, we’re so happy that even more people overseas will listen to our music! Plus, we’ll see the fans in America next April at Sakura-Con. We want to deliver our passionate feelings face-to-face!

Note: “The music of exist†trace has sensitivity and beauty that only women can express” this is probably the reason why I don’t like many female artists at all. 

I was supposed to do this a while ago, but then things happened and I forgot about it (laughs).
I’m not really a fan of exist†trace, but I kinda enjoyed this interview. Especially the fashion/style part was interesting for me.
Mood: irateirate
Music: How to save a life - The Fray
ラルトス: Tadayoshi Ohkurararrutos on February 14th, 2011 03:37 am (UTC)
Thank you for writing this up even though you're not really a fan~ I definitely enjoyed it! Their interview is a lot different than the ones I'm used to reading. I'm usually not much of a fan myself of female artists. I wonder if “The music of exist†trace has sensitivity and beauty that only women can express” would be part of the reason for me as well. Thanks again for doing this! ♥
美香 (Mika)soundofrespire on February 15th, 2011 10:23 pm (UTC)
You're welcome, I'm glad you enjoyed it ^^
What kinda different do you mean? About the interview that is.
ラルトス: Jun Matsumotorarrutos on February 17th, 2011 09:00 pm (UTC)
Hmm, how to explain?? Ladies seem to express differently. They seem... generally more open. They don't really discuss the same things. Their answers are different. As females, I'm sure they have had different experiences and I guess that shows a bit. As well as, I'd say the interviewer would go in with a slightly different mindset than what they would if they were interviewing males. IDK, maybe I'm grasping at nothing here. (laughs)
美香 (Mika): Teeda  |  coolsoundofrespire on February 18th, 2011 01:28 pm (UTC)
Ahhh, no I totally understand what you're saying!
Females always have a different view and different things to say. I think you're right, the interviewer will probably have a different mindset from when interviewing males. Like, if you read this interview, and the one he did with Girugamesh, it's totally different. The questions he asks are different as well.
But whether or not they are more open or not.. I think women are more calculating and think more about what they say before they say it. But guys can be a bit more free about it. Or something *laughs*
ラルトス: HBCrarrutos on February 18th, 2011 07:53 pm (UTC)
I'm glad! :D Is it really that different? I really wondered if I was just grasping at nothing, haha. You make a very valid point. With personal experience being a lady, I'm pretty calculating. I don't know why I didn't think about it that way. xDD They're probably a bit more manipulative too. Making us see them how they want to be seen a bit easier. I understand what you're saying too! (laughs)
美香 (Mika): BoBo  |  laughsoundofrespire on March 4th, 2011 03:26 pm (UTC)
I think maybe the difference is made in that women are more calculating perhaps? xD Yes, manipulative is a good word to describe them! Women will definitely make people see them as they want to be seen.
ラルトス: edieerarrutos on March 5th, 2011 09:02 pm (UTC)
It's no wonder men complain about women so much. (laughs)
oblivion_chianzoblivion_chianz on February 15th, 2011 10:16 pm (UTC)
I still consider them as one of the best female Visual Kei musicians on the scene I like them,but with the new style tbh,thanks for this~
美香 (Mika)soundofrespire on February 15th, 2011 10:25 pm (UTC)
You're welcome~