EXO-CHIKA - Vocals
Birthday: August 2nd
RAVEMAN - Music
Birthday: May 27th
Shonan Zoku (Cannibal Coast)
Hot Blood Workout
Aural Vampire III (12-30-2008)
Aural Vampire II (11-25-2008)
Aural Vampire (10-28-2008)
Death Folder (2005)
Vampire Ecstasy (3-22-2004)
Where to buy
Order from iTunes.
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Aural Vampire Interview
"The Aural Vampire style originated from combining my musical roots in New Wave and Techno with our love for horror films. It just happened to share certain elements with gothic culture. It wasn't until we started to get more exposed to the Japanese goth scene that we became conscious of it ourselves." - RAVEMAN
October 31st might be the time most people don fangs and scary masks, but for a talented Japanese duo called Aural Vampire, everyday is Halloween. Assuming the guise of vampiress and serial killer, EXO-CHIKA and RAVEMAN have something no amount of makeup and costumes and create: genuine musical talent. With popping songs like Hot Blood Workout and Freeeze!!, RAVEMAN and EXO-CHIKA treat their fans to a gothic feast for both the eyes and ears.
With a new album deep in the works and several recent shows in the US and Germany to talk about, come pour yourself a glass of dark red wine and learn the answer to that question of questions: How many masks does RAVEMAN own?On October 11, 2009 the members of Aural Vampire were kind enough to give an interview to Andrew from J-Pop World. All photos courtesy of Avex Entertainment Inc. Translation by Taku Aihara.
Let's get updated on some of your latest news. From July 31st to August 2nd you participated at AnimagiC 2009 in Germany. Do you have one or two memories that stand out?
RAVEMAN: It had been a while since our last trip there. We didn't have to travel around as much since we were staying at a place close to the venue. We got to take it easy and just have a good time. The stage at Beethoven Hall was pretty big so we had to move around quite a bit and make use of all that space to put on a big show. Running up and down the stage and getting creative with the lighting and whatnot.
EXO-CHIKA: Well, my birthday landed on one of the nights. So, the most memorable moment for me was when I got to celebrate with all the staff and fans right there on stage. Everyone was so responsive. I still remember looking into the crowd of twinkling eyes from the stage.
How did your time there compare to your earlier trip to Germany?
RAVEMAN: On our last trip, a lot of people in the crowd seem to be Gothic or J-Rock fans, most were clad in black. At this year's AnimagiC, there were a lot of Anime fans and Cosplayers so the crowd looked a lot more colorful. It looked a lot different from up on stage.
Rumor has it you are working on a new album. Can you tell us a little about the new music?
RAVEMAN: It's an extension of core elements of Aural Vampire: Industrial, New Wave, and J-pop. We're coming up with a lot of different ideas just within these areas so we won't be running out of ideas any time soon. We're continuing to improve our sound technically too.
Let's take a trip back in time and learn more about your group. Can you both describe the neighborhood you grew up in?
RAVEMAN: Pretty quiet and peaceful town, maybe too peaceful. So much so that there's not much to say about the town itself. I'd stay at home and enjoy TV, movies, videogames, and manga. That's where I got a lot of my influence from.
What kind of kids were you growing up? Shy? Outgoing?
RAVEMAN: I was a pretty active and talkative kid. I had all kinds of facts and trivia that my older brother had taught me so I used to go around to my friends and show off my smarts. But after a while, either my teacher scolded me for talking too much or my friends just stopped being amused and one day I realized, "Man, I must've gotten carried away. This is embarrassing!" I was about eight. After that, I preferred reading manga to socializing and opted more and more to be alone.
EXO-CHIKA: I've always liked music and I was always singing when I was little. Dancing too. For me, being on stage was a daily thing and I put lot of work into it, especially for dance. I don't remember ever studying (though I regret it now…). Personality wise, I was more of a social person but I don't remember necessarily being that outgoing.
How did you both get into music?
RAVEMAN: I've been into music ever since I was very young. I used a tape recorder to record and play around with a collage of sounds made from TV dialogue and weird noises from toy instruments.
EXO-CHIKA: I can't remember how. For as long as I can remember, I've enjoyed music.
Were there certain artists who most inspired you in terms of music and fashion?
RAVEMAN: There are so many, but I got a lot of inspiration from the many records that were put out by the German techno label HARTHOUSE. My fashion was inspired by the serial killer look from horror movies.
EXO-CHIKA: Vampires from the movies were really appealing to me, so that's the look I'm going for. Actually, I'm also into mermaids and that's kind of why I grow out my hair. Various other things play into it also besides just the vampire thing.
Your music has a wonderfully dark feel to it. When did you both first get into that gothic type of culture?
RAVEMAN: The Aural Vampire style originated from combining my musical roots in New Wave and Techno with our love for horror films. It just happened to share certain elements with gothic culture. It wasn't until we started to get more exposed to the Japanese goth scene that we became conscious of it ourselves. Around that time, I realized bands that I liked were in fact goth, like The Cure and The Sisters of Mercy.
EXO-CHIKA: I wasn't so conscious about it either. I just dressed the way I wanted to but I guess people around me considered me goth. Then I started to go to these events and that's when I realized, "hey I fit right in." I guess I've always like wearing black. I wonder if that makes me goth. I'm still not really sure what constitutes "goth."
What are some of your favorite foreign horror movies?
RAVEMAN: Tons! "The Toxic Avenger," "Premutos," and "Skinned Deep," just to name a few.
EXO-CHIKA: I like movies like "Addams Family" and "Karmina" from Canada that are horror movies with a touch of comedy.
What are some of your favorite Japanese horror movies?
RAVEMAN: "House" by Nobuhiko Obayashi.
EXO-CHIKA: "Ichi the Killer" ("Koroshiya 1") by Takashi Miike.
Can you tell us the story of how the two of you first met and formed the band?
RAVEMAN: We went to the same school. EXO-CHIKA was looking to sing and had heard that I was making music so she asked me to write a song and that's how it started. We got a few songs recorded and when we let our friends hear the tapes, they really liked it. So we recorded another tape, then another, and the rest is history.
What were some of the first places you performed together?
RAVEMAN: I had a friend who was playing in a hardcore band at the time. We started out playing alongside some pretty aggressive bands. The crowd was surprisingly receptive I remember. Maybe it was a novelty thing. After a while, we started organizing our own shows, inviting other techno groups and pop bands playing in the indie circuit.
How did your music change over time?
RAVEMAN: Before we called ourselves Aural Vampire, we played one show under a different name. It was way more pop. After the show, we decided we wanted our music to reflect more of our interests and musical roots. We made some changes, and here we are now.
In 2004 you released your first album, "Vampire Ecstasy." How would you describe the album's musical style?
RAVEMAN: It's a mix of industrial, techno, and pop. I guess it would also fall under electronica or J-Pop.
How happy were you with the final result? What songs are you most happy with?
RAVEMAN: It was a first time experience for us and we produced the album completely on our own so when it was completed it was a great feeling. At the same time, there were a few things where we thought, "Oh, we should have done it more like this." My favorite track would have to be Freeeeze!!.
EXO-CHIKA: Finishing a song is one thing, but this was a whole new kind of excitement. All the elements fitting together like the pieces of a puzzle: each of the songs, the album cover, etc. It was a thrill to see it all come together into a single package. My favorite song? Hmm... I like them all too much to pick out a favorite.
Can you tell us the process you go through in making music? What is a typical day of writing and recording like?
RAVEMAN: I start out by making the demo track. Then, EXO-CHIKA comes up with the lyrics. The last step is recording and editing.
How did you get hooked up with your current label, Avex?
RAVEMAN: This guy named t-kimura did a search for "RAVEMAN" (the name of his old group) when he came across our information on the internet. He turned out to be a former member of m.o.v.e which was an Avex group at the time. We got to meet him and found that we had a lot in common musically. We hit it off and he introduced us to Avex.
In 2007 you ventured overseas to performed in Germany. What memories stand out from the trip?
RAVEMAN: At the time, we hadn't started actively trying to get our music out to other countries. You can imagine the surprise when we found that we had fans in the crowd and they were singing along to our songs. We didn't have people from Avex helping us yet so it wasn't easy getting around, but it's definitely a tour to be remembered.
EXO-CHIKA: Our first tour overseas, I'll never forget it. I remember thinking, "Wow, we're in a different country and so many people know about us and listen to our music!" Pretty amazing the way music brings people together. The internet too.
How would you compare the gothic subculture in Germany to Japan's version?
RAVEMAN: In Japan, goth culture is centered around fashion. Of course, music plays a big role but there aren't that many artists in the genre yet. In Germany, goth culture is not just about the fashion, but also music, art, history, philosophy, etc. It's multi-faceted. I was surprised how big it was in Germany compared to Japan.
In 2008 you performed at the Anime Matsuri in Houston. What about the US surprised you the most?
RAVEMAN: They treated us so well over there. They really made us feel like welcome guests "who flew in all the way from Japan." We hadn't gotten that kind of treatment before. It was also our first time participating in an Anime convention so it was pretty exciting.
You performed earlier this year at Virginia's Katsucon. Can you tell us about it?
RAVEMAN: Anime fans are so into it and passionate everywhere we go. The event starts at noon the day before and it goes until next morning, and it picks right up at noon again. Nothing but good memories at Katsucon.
RAVEMAN, you said in an interview at Katsucon 2009 that when the lights in your mask came on you couldn't see, and if they stayed on for a long time you had trouble seeing afterwards. Was this the most challenging of your masks to wear?
RAVEMAN: Yes. In general, wearing a mask isn't suitable for playing or DJing on stage.
How many different masks have you worn as RAVEMAN? Where do get your ideas from?
RAVEMAN: I have about 15, if you include all the ones for shows, for DJing, for home, and for mealtimes. As for their designs, it depends on what it's for. Sometimes it should be a practical design, sometimes I get inspired by the material, and other times I base my design on people's faces and also animals.
EXO-CHIKA, those fangs of yours look sharp. Should we worry about getting bitten by you?
EXO-CHIKA: Not too much. I like meat more than blood.
Do you feel a transformation take place when your fangs are showing?
EXO-CHIKA: Nope. This is my normal state so I wouldn't say I transform. It's probably like people's tattoos or piercings. It's always there and it's just a part of you.
We have to ask... how long is your hair? Do you always use the same hair stylist?
EXO-CHIKA: I've never measured it but it goes down to my wrists with my arms at my sides. That's after cutting it, if you can believe it! And yes, I always go to the same hair stylist.
You also enjoy dancing and taking lesson for the traditional Japanese tea ceremony?
EXO-CHIKA: I don't do the Japanese tea ceremony. I have been dancing though ever since I was little. I enjoy all types like ballet, jazz, tap dancing, and traditional Japanese dance.
When you're not in the world of vampires, what do the two of you do for fun and relaxation?
RAVEMAN: I go wander into different buildings by myself and just roam around. I like giant architectural buildings.
EXO-CHIKA: I sit at home all day and play video games or watch anime. I guess you could call me an otaku.
Do either of you have a favorite manga, anime or j-drama that‘s not related to vampires?
RAVEMAN: I'm into goofy manga. There was a time when I was considering becoming a manga artist myself. My favorite artists are MAN GATARO and Koji Aihara. Their works are peculiar to Japan so I don't think they're exported much. I also like "The Simpons."
EXO-CHIKA: I watch "Naruto" and "BLEACH" and others that are popular outside of Japan. It's fun to see cosplayers from different countries dressed as characters that we're familiar with.
Can we get a little peak into the romantic life of the group? Where do you like to go to on a date?
RAVEMAN: I have no memories of ever dating.
EXO-CHIKA: I've never seen RAVEMAN with a girlfriend, hehe! I like to go to different places. Like going to the movies or going for a drive.
What type of person do you both look for in someone you would date?
RAVEMAN: Someone strange enough to run out of the house barefoot and shrieking and find themselves lost in the middle of nowhere. A strange woman like that.
EXO-CHIKA: Male or female, it's more about the timing and feeling. Not so much what I look for in that person.
What do you want people to know most about Aural Vampire?
RAVEMAN: Each album has its own world to it and its own unique way of expressing that. That's what we want our fans to pick up on.
Will you be touring in support of the next release?
RAVEMAN: I'm usually holed up working in the studio. Going abroad is a good refresher for me and it's always full of new experiences, so we'll definitely try to set up more tours in the future.
Do you have a final message to all your fans?
RAVEMAN: We've been taking a while on this new album, but it's going to be full of great tracks so you've got a lot to look forward to.
EXO-CHIKA: I can't wait for everyone to hear the new songs. Keep your eyes and ears locked on Aural Vampire!
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