I was immediately hooked and began adding to my wardrobe. For a while Visual and Goth were the two styles I always wore, shocking people at conventions when I told them this was how I dressed every day. These days my style has changed. I favour more of the rock styles of clothing but I’m probably influenced by lots of my favourite bands still.
It’s very difficult for me to choose just one favourite band. Something I have learned to appreciate since starting to listen to VK is the voice of the lead singer, although I find it very difficult to describe. However, each singer has a different quality. For example Acid Black Cherry’s Yasu has quite a high pitched voice, whereas Hizumi from D’espairsRay has a lower pitch and tends to sing using a mixture of singing and something close to scremo. I could describe the voices of lots of different singers I like but really I want to talk about two bands- D’espairsRay, who I’ve previously mentioned and Angelo.
I was already in Japan when clicking around on YouTube I found D’espairsRay. By that time they were already on hiatus. Hizumi, the lead singer, was and still is suffering from a vocal problem that has left him unable to sing (but following a recent announcement it seems he is beginning to recover). For the next few months after I discovered them, they were all I would listen to. I bought their back catalogue and everywhere I went I would listen to only them. Their music was and still is something that gave me strength. There are songs I listen to when I need comfort or when I need to be strong. You can find the chorus to “HORIZON” scrawled in Japanese over my University notes, amongst many other things. So, I was devastated when they announced their disbandment. I remember thinking “what was I going to do?” I still had their music, but I wouldn’t get to see them in concert and there would be no new music.
About a year later I was looking at a Japanese music news website, when a photo caught my eye. I recognised a member of the band. It was D’espairsRay’s guitarist Karyu and he had joined a band called Angelo. I YouTubed them and immediately fell in love with Kirito’s voice. I can’t explain what it is about his voice, but something just moves me. However, I only like Angelo’s music since Karyu and Giru joined. Again their music is something that gives me strength and comforts me when I need it. The band has more of a rock look than a VK look. If you’re interested in seeing what VK looks like I suggest watching some old X-Japan videos (the band that founded VK) or trying the Neo Visiualizm music video by Miyavi, or even some of his older stuff, as the afore mentioned video is more representative of modern VK.
There is one thing that I noticed about VK however, and that is that it is pretty much male dominated. At least I thought it was, until I discovered the band Exist Trace. There are a few all girl VK bands about right now and I’ve listened to several, but the only band I like is Exist Trace. The lead singer Jyou really influenced my style of dress and the way I cut and coloured my hair in my last year of University. I would even go so far as to say she is my style icon.
But VK aside, there is one more type of music that impacted my life although, recently I’ve almost altogether stopped listening to it and don’t follow it at all.
Around half way through my year in Japan as a student I discovered KAT-TUN. KAT-TUN are an idol group. They are from the same company, Johnny’s, as Arashi and SMAP.
I’d heard of them before I really ‘discovered’ them. I had a friend who was constantly telling me I might like them and I’d heard a little of them on the radio in the Uni shop, but it didn’t grab me. Anyway, I was watching a Christmas Eve Music special when they came on and I asked my friends to turn it up. I was captivated by them. They were just so cool! I began to buy some CDs and I must admit their early stuff, when they had six members, was hit and miss. Their five member stuff was pretty good, but I kind of prefer their rockier numbers.
I actually followed them for around two or three years. Not only listening to their music, but watching their TV shows and dramas; reading articles and collecting magazines; going to the Johnny’s store when I was in Japan. They were a massive part of my life. However, recently I haven’t listened to their music much at all and I don’t keep up with the news about them. I think in part it has something to do with them losing another member, after a scandal.
I know that some people don’t like idols because they see the bands as manufactured, but they are really talented. Each member of KAT-TUN doesn’t only just sing and dance, they each have their individual talents and interests. I could explain in detail, but may be some other time.
So right now, who am I listening to? Well, I’m quite enjoying Sheena Ringo and Tokyo Jihen, as well as my usual mix of VK and JRock- Angelo, D’espairsRay, Kuroyume and Acid Black Cherry, amongst others.
I hope that you find my story interesting and that it may be inspires you to go out and try listening to Japanese music, if you aren’t already. If you are, I hope you find a new band or two. Anyway, thank you for reading. I had no idea it would turn out to be quite so long...