Himemiya Mio - vocals, lyrics
Birthday: January 27th
Blood type: A
Manik - guitar, programming
Birthday: September 10th
Blood type: B
Shikijitsu Biyori song sample
Tattoo live at GBH 2
MySpace interview with Mio
Welcome To HimemaniK World (2008)
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On November 26, 2008 Manik and Mio from HimemaniK were kind enough to give an interview to Andrew from J-Pop World. All photos courtesy of HimemaniK and Himemiya Mio.
You've described your musical style as Emo-Moe-Electro-Rock. Can you explain what those words mean to you?
Manik: Emo means "emo" rock music which is one of our musical backgrounds. It is found in our song melodies and lyrics, and also Manik's guitar style, especially octave-chord riffs. Moe is a Japanese word which means the loveliness or cuteness of young girls, especially in Akiba (Akihabara), Anime, or Otaku cultures. Mio's voice is one of "moe" types that Otaku boys will love. Electro-Rock means our primary sound style is electro-oriented J-Rock.
By the way, "emo" is normally pronounce "ii-mo" in the US, but in Japan we pronounce "e-mo." It's very interesting.
You have a very compelling visual style. How would you describe your look and feel?
Manik: Basically our visual style is like Cyber or Cyber-Electro, but we are a bit sportier when we do a dance performance or dynamic actions on stage.
Manik, from 2003 to 2007 you were in a group called Super Merlion. What kind of music did you play?
Manik: Super Merlion was a band-style group and originally played J-Pop type songs like the Brilliant Green or Shiina Ringo. But after Mio joined the band the sound style got darker and heavier and finally we played loud-rock.
In 2005 Mio joined the group as the lead singer. Mio, how did you get asked to join?
Mio: I was searching for a band that was recruiting a female vocalist through the internet and Super Merlion was recruiting. The comment was saying that Shiina Ringo was one of their preferred artists and the location was near so I decided to join. At the first band meeting I saw an afro-dog statue with SM roped in the band-leader's (not Manik's) house and I remember that I was so turned off (lol).
What did you think of the type of music Super Merlion played?
Mio: I felt the band had some girly pop songs and at first I was enjoying it, though the taste was far from me. Manik understood my favorite styles and then he gradually changed to writing more exciting and darker/heavier songs. I also got more interested in his tunes as he wrote more of those types of songs. The quality of his demonstration tracks was very high so I was soon thinking that I could really challenge my music life with his tracks.
Had you sung in a group before?
Mio: No, but I have been in a copy band at university. At the time I was good at singing the tune "Identity" by Shiina Ringo.
In 2008 you decided to form the duo HimemaniK. How different is the music now to what Super Merlion played?
Manik: Compared with the previous band, the sound of HimemaniK is more electro-oriented and more industrial style and sometimes gothic-metal style. There are two reasons.
First, Mio and I preferred to play more electro-oriented music than the other band members did. In fact, all the songs were what Mio and I wrote and I did the sound arrangement too. So if we wanted to play more electro-oriented music it was clear that the other members would have nothing to do. I think it was the primary reason why the band broke up.
The second reason is that HimemaniK is now a drumless two-person group so we had to find a different approach than the band style. So we naturally reached to the electro/industrial style in a way that the band style group could not do. Also we love club music such as techno, house and trance too as well as loud rock. I think the other members of the band all hated club music! (lol)
Can you tell us how you go about writing music?
Manik: When I write a new song I always receive the song lyrics from Mio first, then add the music part. Everything starts with the lyrics she writes. There is almost no case that the melody is first.
As for how I compose the music part, previously I used to construct the melody and chord progressions at the same time because I used to write songs using a guitar. But recently I often use a synthesizer or sequencer loops instead of guitar. This approach gives me different inspirations than the previous approach for creating different images.
Tell us about recording the tracks from your "Welcome to HimemaniK World" CD.
Manik: First let me roughly explain the recording process of HimemaniK. Basically I create music tracks using AKAI Sampler and Schecter 7-string guitar with some synthesizers and Kaossilator for sound sources. I build most portions of the track with AKAI except for guitar and vocals. After that I additionally record guitar parts over them using a multi-track recorder or Windows PC. Everything is done at my house. As for vocal recording, Mio and I go to the rental studio then record the vocal tracks.
Normally we only spend a couple of hours on vocal recordings for each song! We record a couple of tracks each of the main and sub vocal parts at the studio. Mio is a fast learner and perfectly sings new songs so it takes almost no time! It's amazing.
You have a three-track CD called "Hi HimemaniK." Tell us about the music.
Manik: This three-track CD is what we first released before "Welcomec" as an indie production. This was originally offered at our first gig (Dennou Maniacs 0039) in May of 2008 because we wanted to have something to sell there.
An interesting point of this CD is track #3 "CNCT" (pronounced "connect"). It was originally an experimental take at the rehearsal studio done with poor equipment (no good condenser microphones or monitor headphones). We only spent 5 tracks on the recorder! But we thought it was interesting material so I made it for mixdown processes and we put it into the CD.
Mio, aside from music you've also done some modeling. Can you tell us some of your more interesting events?
Mio: I have been working as a Can-Gal (campaign girl) at a lot of exhibitions and tradeshows. One of the big events is the Tokyo Motor Show. Recently I also worked as a Race Queen at racing circuits and also MC or navigator jobs at some music events.
Do you do certain kinds of exercising or diet to stay fit?
Mio: I usually do yoga, stretch, fitness and dance (not everyday though).
How do you pick the types of outfits and makeup you both wear when you perform?
Mio: As for clothes, we both wear the bottoms and tops of the same design (but different colors). We specially order to Takuya Angel (the one and only cyber angeller boutique in Harajuku) for tops with HimemaniK's "heart" logo on the back. As for other portions - hair style, makeup, etc. it's all independent. For example, I put hair-tubes on my hair but Manik does not (as he has no hair on his skinhead!). Instead, he puts a lighting goggle with embedded LEDs.
What is Gothic Bar Heaven?
Manik: Gothic Bar Heaven (GBH) is one of the club/live events organized by ARTiSM, held monthly on a Friday's midnight. Half of the event is live gigs and half is DJ time. The music genre are primarily Dark-Electro, Industrial, Trance, Gothic or EBM for both live gigs and DJ time.
One interesting point of GBH is that most guests (visitors) are very fashionable with full makeup, though the event does not really have a dress-code. The majority fashion is Gothic, but Cyber, Punk, Angeller and Gothic-Lolita are also popular.
At GBH several popular DJs appear every month, including DJ Takuya Angel, DJ SiSeN, DJ Chihiro and more. Takuya Angel and SiSeN are very popular in Europe because of the Tokyo Decadence events and Takuya Angel's eccentric fashion.
We both love GBH and other ARTiSM events very much. Especially GBH, we often go there as guests and sometimes have live gigs as HimemaniK.
Do you like the changes in Japanese music and youth culture over the last several years?
Manik: As for the Japanese music scene, I don't like the major artists tunes very much. Most are sales-conscious and not interesting for me in terms of the music itself. I think the really good music is found in indie artists -- especially in the underground scene. I personally love Gothic Metal, Industrial, Electronica, Triphop and other dark wave music. So my interest is only in the underground scene.
Any plans for doing some shows in North America?
Mio: Currently we have nothing, but we would like to have one in the US if there is an offer.
Let's learn a little more about your backgrounds. Where were you both born and where did you grow up?
Mio: I was born in Hokkaido but soon after moved to Yokohama when zero-years old.
Manik: I was born and grew up in Kamakura, but now live in Yokohama.
What kind of kids were you? Shy? Outgoing?
Mio: Shy. My mother used to be a professional comic writer and always working on writing comics at home. So I had to be nearby and quiet when I was little.
Manik: Outgoing. When I was a primary school kid I was always getting injured somewhere doing stuff. What I remember strongly is riding my bicycle. I often made a ramp on the road and jumped it with my bicycle. So of course sometime I got injured! (lol)
What were your favorite classes in school?
Mio and Manik: Math!
Who were your favorite musicians when you were kids?
Mio: TK! - Tetsuya Komuro, though he was recently arrested...
Manik: British new wave and neuromantics, such as Siouxsie & the Banshees, Duran Duran, Japan, etc... Also I listened to Jeff Beck, Deep Purple, Queen, Lee Ritenour and lots of guitar music for practicing guitar.
What about now?
Mio: Evanescence, KORN, and recently "Marlee".
Manik: Bjork, Linkin Park, Alanis Morissette Lacuna Coil and recently "BESPA KUMAMERO". (Marlee and BESPA KUMAMERO are both our friends and they are so kool!)
What made you decide to become musicians?
Mio: I wanted to be a singer. This dream has been one of over 20 dreams I had.
Manik: I liked playing guitar and writing tunes so I have naturally become a musician.
What are you plans for 2009?
Manik: We want to release a full-length album, make promotion videos and have an overseas tour!
Do you have a final message to all your fans?
Mio: Other than HimemaniK I also work for event MC, Race Queen, etcc I'm glad if you can support me!
Manik: I want to have overseas tours so please support HimemaniK and please give us a good offer for tours!
For more info checkout HimemaniK's official site and MySpace page. Leave your comments about this interview and read what others had to say at the following link: Interview Comments