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Yoshiki Press Conference Transcript: Otakon 2014

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Pata, Yoshiki, and Heath

Yoshiki, joined by fellow X Japan band members Pata (guitar) and Heath (bass), gave a press conference at Otakon 2014. This is the transcription of that event, edited for clarity. (Yoshiki spoke in English throughout so it is not filtered by translation.) Our photographer Shizuka was on hand to take pictures and to ask a question as well.

X Japan will be performing at New York’s Madison Square Garden (MSG) on October 11, coinciding with New York Comic Con.

Will another world tour be able to follow [the MSG show] within the next year or sometime in the foreseeable future?

Yoshiki: Yes, we are actually going to be announcing some future shows at MSG, but right this moment, we just concentrating on MSG. MSG, MSG, MSG. (laughter)

Are these shows to promote your album, or are these just great opportunities for X Japan?

Yoshiki: Well, we haven’t released an album in a long time, though we released a compilation CD just a few months ago. About 22 years ago, we had a press conference in New York at Rockefeller Center when we signed with Atlantic Records. That was supposed to be a big deal, we were then supposed to release an album, but a lot of things happened. So, 22 years later, we come back to New York and are playing a show. I can’t really tell you why we’re doing this MSG show, but you are going to know soon. There is something going on. Yes.

Yoshiki, you’ve been involved with charity projects, such as the Red Cross for tsunami relief. Can you tell us a little about what you’ve taken away from those experiences and whether you have any projects like that planned for the future?

When I was 10 years old, I lost my father to suicide. So I had a pretty depressed childhood. So I kind of understand the pain children have, so several years ago I decided to create my own charitable foundation. I try to support children who have that kind of pain….Unfortunately right after I established my foundation, there was the big earthquake that happened in Japan. At that moment I concentrated and focused on that, to support victims of the earthquake and tsunami. When you save people, I also feel saved for some reason. It’s like I want to keep doing this for the rest of my life, just at my own pace.

Yoshiki, you’ve been touring Yoshiki Classical…I was wondering how preparing for that differs from preparing for X Japan.

Pata: Maybe the same thing. I just play guitar. (laughter)

Yoshiki: X Japan is pretty much my life. Everything else is like a side project. Even on my classical tour, when I went to many countries and places, I said, “X Japan is my life.” It’s not like we’ve been doing different projects and coming back to this…it’s not like we just got back together and played….[X Japan] just runs in my blood. X Japan is more than a project. It’s our lives.

How did you first find out about Otakon, and what made you come back again? Also, what are your thoughts about Baltimore as a city?

Yoshiki: because you guys are so cool! (Laughter) Yes, I cam here for the first time in, what, 2008? 2007? 2006. Wow, that’s like 8 years ago! So that means Otakon was my first convention experience. At that time, I wasn’t even doing X Japan and I wasn’t even talking to Toshi. Since then a lot of things have happened. We didn’t know we had that many fans in America, or even outside of Japan, so we started finding out that whoa, people throughout the world have started listening to our music. It was so cool surrounded by these people.

This is our third time in America though, in 2010 we played at Lollapalooza. So 2006, 2010, 2014…I’m going to be here in 2018 then. (Laughter) Every four years, like the Olympics.

All your friends call you a “vampire” and that you should play Lestat in a movie. When are you going to do a vampire-themed rock opera?

Huh, good idea. I think I have a split personality about some things. Sometimes I’m called a vampire, sometimes I’m Yoshiki, sometimes I’m a character called Blood Red Dragon, created by Stan Lee…. Wherever I am, struggling during the Yoshiki Classical World Tour over 10 countries, I always stayed up nights. It’s something vampirish…I’m only half joking, half serious. Sometimes I say I’m half Japanese, half vampire, something like that. I just love the image of the vampire, you know. So yeah…it’s a good idea to create a vampire rock opera. That’d be cool.

(Our question.) You’re not just a musical icon but also a fashion leader. How do music and fashion relate for you?

Before my father died, he used to own a kimono shop, a Japanese traditional clothing shop. I grew up in that kind of environment, so I was always surrounded by kimonos. When we started X Japan, we put on a lot of interesting clothes and makeup, and dyed our hair red and purple. So fashion and music are inseparable, at least to us. Fashion is music, music is fashion, so it’s very natural to have both. Everything came very naturally.

Now I have a YoshiKimono clothing line. Actually, I’m going to be debuting the YoshiKimono Tokyo Collection 2015.

You’ve been involved in a lot of different collaborations–credit cards, wines, just to name a few. What other products would like you to release in the future?

I would like to do something more musical as well. Actually there are a few more projects coming that are very musical. My main focus is music. Everything else is like a hobby. I’m planning several more press conferences, so I can’t talk about it yet…

(To Heath) We saw a video once in the past. It was Phantom of the Opera styled, you were in a cage coming down, you had people doing robot dances around you, and there was an incredible bass solo…will you ever do something similar to that again, especially in a venue like MSG?

Heath: I think that rock needs something very shocking, both visually and musically…that is rock, that is X Japan. MSG has shock to it that is not like something before, so I’d like to do a new kind of shock there. In the near future, please look forward to it.

Have any of you have had memorable experiences interacting with your fans?

Yoshiki: We’ve been around for a long time, and we’ve seen a lot of bands come and go. When you are on top of the world, sometimes you don’t realize–some bands think they are the best, but, we exist because of fans. There are no bad fans or good fans, we really care about all of them…because there were fans, X Japan reunited. Without fans, we couldn’t have reunited after all those tragedies happened to our band. We actually thank every single fan. Of course, sometimes we bump into some crazy fans too, but yes…

Some of the songs on Yoshiki Classical were previously released and performed with vocals. (For example, “Amethyst” was originally written for Violet UK.) How are you able to convey the messages of the original vocal version of the songs in the instrumental version?

“Amethyst” was classical from the get go, so I didn’t write lyrics first…I wrote the lyrics later. What happened was, we had an incident at a Tokyo amusement park–an X Japan event. At that particular attraction, my classical music was playing. One of the old members, Hide, said, “What is this song? This is one of my old compositions. We should use this at the Tokyo Dome for X Japan’s opening.” Like, really? I didn’t even think about that. Then, that was the the beginning of using “Amethyst” at the Tokyo Dome X Japan show.

As long as there is a great melody, we can put some nice lyrics on top of it. X Japan songs can be instrumentals, with or without lyrics. I think about melody first.

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Special Guests of the Masquerade at Otakon- a part of X Japan

Whew, made it just in time, before their United States debut at Lollapalooza tomorrow. Part of X-Japan specifically Yoshiki and Sugizo were at Otakon’s Masquerade last weekend as half time guests. They performed at the very end after the 30 skits of the Masquerade was over. (Jon took pictures when that happened…) Yoshiki and Sugizo performed a piano and violin acoustic set of Forever Love and Endless Rain.Definitely some of their iconic songs of what their group is, Forever Love being the theme for X the Movie..

This is a transcript of my notes from the the press conference that was after the masquerade (reorganized for clarity). Jon has video of this event, but let’ s see what happens when he posts it up. I was able to get in some questions..(My questions are going to be bold font).. I found a place with a much better transcription, than what notes I have, so if you want to refer to that, then here is the link.

Can Yoshiki talk about a rumor of reconciliation with Taiji?

He denies it, but they are in talks about a possibility of reunion. Nothing is confirmed though.

What led to the decision to re-film “Rusty Nail” at their Los Angeles appearance?

They have rewrote Rusty Nail as an English release. (Actually for a new project, they are completing at this time, 80% are old songs getting redone in English.)

What is their feeling for what the future of visual kei going to be like?

Yoshiki – Deep Question. Someone has to break into the market and not sure of what will happen. The scene will keep evolving, changing and attempts of trying will happen though.

What is the personal preference in performance..quiet or loud?

Yoshiki – Both.

What is their favorite manga or anime? (What do you expect me to ask? I write for an anime press, Yoshiki’s answer/reaction was quite unexpected and funny. But yes Sugizo was confused when I followed up and asked him which version of Gundum he liked the most..so that’s why I clarified in the answer)

Yoshiki Sailor Moon

Sugizo – Original Gundum, or Ghost in the Shell

What songs are they going to be performing at Chicago? (Lollapalooza)

Mix, depends. Personal fans of X Japan will probably expect to hear Japanese, although they do have many English songs.

What message do you have for American fans as well as people who will see them at Lollapalooza?

Yoshiki – “Something new… something historical” is going to happen. “There are consistent walls between the east and west. Hopefully [X Japan] can smash hole in the wall.” Without fan’s support then X Japan wasn’t able to  reunite and perform. Will do anything to make up to the expectation of fans.

Sugizo – “Music has no boarders” He is very excited to perform with X Japan, since he has looked up to X Japan for a very long time.

Hopefully my summarization/transcription of this press conference isn’t as confusing to look over. What I am very excited for, is the fact that Yoshiki has confirmed future concerts to be held at New York… as well as Washington DC. I have an intention to definitely be there for the New York concert! Trying to not think or estimate the wait though. (>_<)

Following the press conference, we did see Yoshiki and Sugizo exit the premises, I saw Yoshiki sign a fan’s guitar. Yoshiki who is on Twitter now, tweeted this on August 2.

I’m in LA now. I already miss my fans in Baltimore.

As I mentioned, Jon did take more pictures of their appearance, but we are still in the process of putting it up on flickr. So check back on images yet to be posted. I have one more picture of their press conference that was able to be used.

X-Japan Press Conference - 1