Nekoi - Vocal, Keyboard
Birthday: October 10th
Blook type: AB
Ucchi - Guitar
Birthday: June 18th
Blook type: B
Loveless - Percussion, Theremin
Birthday: March 13th
Birthplace: West Japan
Blook type: A
Rose, Rose, Rose song sample
Red Moon (Akai tsuki)
Machinery Lemmings live
Aka I Tsuki (Red Moon)
The End Of Faraway
The Theme For PSYDOLL #1
In The Fog
The Song Offered a Hunter
The Iron Battleship With The Screw Made With Glass
Theme For PSYDOLL #2
Rose, Rose, Rose (Re-Arrange)
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So put on some PVC, vinyl and goggles and join the growing fan base of three Japanese musicians who are charting their own direction in the ever fascinating world of Japan's underground music scene.
On January 23, 2009, Nekoi, Ucchi and Loveless from PSYDOLL were kind enough to give an interview to Andrew from J-Pop World. All photos courtesy of PSYDOLL with additional credits to Boris.
Let's start with the formation of the band. Nekoi and Ucchi, how did you two first meet to start PSYDOLL?
Nekoi: At first I was a fan of Ucchi's band, Adam-Sites. In that band, Ucchi was the front man, shouting with a guitar. The band had no melody but had excellent compositions with distorted sound from the two guitars--one for noise, another for the classic rock style of Ucchi--and metal drums, powerful bass guitar and angry shout voice by Ucchi.
Maybe I was a risky fan for them, because one night after a gig at a pub Ucchi was saying to his friends, "As a guitarist, I am......"
Then I said "Oh, are you a guitarist? I thought that you were the shouter!"
For the next 2 weeks Ucchi never spoke to me at all, because he loved to play the guitar. After Adam-Sites broke up, through some small projects, Ucchi decided to support me, because I had so many songs but no idea how to do the arrangements. Ucchi had been playing for 10 years so he knew so many ways to manage bands.
Ucchi: After Adam-Sites stopped, I spent some time with acoustic guitar bands with punk style vocals. Nekoi still came to see the bands sometimes. It seems she started an HR band, but she said that her band hadn't done well yet, so I said to her that I'll arrange her songs. She was very delighted. Soon she brought me the first song and I thought it's not so bad, interesting.
Tell us more about the bands you were in before.
Nekoi: There was "No name band" which I tried to make a punk band, but with no stage and no song yet. "King-rang-donsu" was a Japanese southern traditional songs cover band with Techno pop arrangements. It succeeded in one sense when we went to play in Okinawa. "Nekoirazu" was a J-Punkish HR band that just did one time shows... Yes I have very little experience with bands.
Ucchi: I had been playing in several kinds of bands, like acoustic guitar band, HR bands, Heavy Metal, Experimental, Progressive grunge, the "Adam-Sites."
Let's find out where your love of music came from. Can you tell us a little about your childhood?
Nekoi: I was a common girl who loved drawing and singing. My mother supported me a lot, because she wanted to become a singer or painter, but her younger sister took her dream (she became an opera singer), so she became an artist for brush art.
When I was in kindergarten, I started to learn how to draw, how to play piano and how to compose. All were so exciting for me. Without my mother's support, I wouldn't be where I am now.
Ucchi: I was an in-door boy from the first, because my hometown was too much countryside that had many abandoned flats and primeval forest. Only the encyclopedia, maps and electronics were my friends. That's why I'm still crazy about computers and machine parts.
How did you first get involved in music?
Nekoi: My music study continued until I decided to get into the Manga world when I was 17. Until then, I learned composing and piano to go to music college, but I ended up going to an art college instead. But the things that I learned are still very useful.
Ucchi: Once when I was listening to music on an AM radio I heard the song Solid Gold Easy Action by T.Rex. I thought, "Wow, this is rock!!"
At that time I was in an elementary school. Compared to other schools, mine was a strange school because everyone listened and enjoying progressive metal rock like King Crimson and Pink Floyd. So my appreciation of 70's Rock was getting tight more and more.
Nekoi: We both read musical score, which is useful when composing PSYDOLL's songs. But in Japan, when I learned composing for music college, the note names and code names are taught in German style, but the names for rock note/code names are in English style, like "Gsus4." I use code/note names in German style, so sometimes Ucchi is confused.
When you were in school did you both want to become professional musicians?
Nekoi: Yes and no, because I wanted to become a pianist and a vocalist like my aunt, but at the same time I wanted become a Manga artist. I was such a greedy girl, and still am now.....^^
Ucchi: I had never thought about "professional" and "amateur," even now. I just love rock, that's all.
What did you parents think about your dreams?
Nekoi: My father loves Bossanova and musical songs from Broadway. I enjoyed them a lot. My mother gave me lots of support. She sent me an art school for children, piano lessons, classes for composition and classes for English conversation. The last one was not so related with my dreams until PSYDOLL started.
PSYDOLL appeals to people in many countries and most contacts are carried out in English, like this interview. Now all of those things which my mom supported me to learn help me. I am really thankful to my parents.
Each time I stand on a stage, I think "Hey Mom and Dad, sorry I couldn't become an Opera singer or Musical singer, or pianist--but now I am a singer in another strange world!"
Ucchi: They didn't seem to think much about my future, actually... I had never heard from their mouth the word "future" at all, well... was this OK? What unusual, strange parents I have...
Nekoi, tell us about your work in the Manga industry.
Nekoi: My passion for another world, Manga, started when I was in kindergarten. Whenever the teacher for composition was saying difficult things, whenever there was no idea for a melody, I was drawing Manga illustrations on the script papers.
Around 15 years old my passion for Manga got bigger than music, so as I said I went to an art college. But after I got some work for Manga, I found that it was not enough for my life, that something was missing.
Yes it was music..... At that time, there was a 2nd or 3rd punk rock revival in Japan. I was struck with the UK punk rock scene from around the early 80's, so I dyed by hair pink ^^. I called some friends who were interested in punk and tried to start a punk band, but I had no talent promoting a band, and my skill for singing was too poor. So this project stopped forever when a big assignment for Manga jumped into my life.
After some years, I started a 2nd band with my friends. That band was such a lovely band for me. I grow up with music and Manga. Without them, I can't go on in life.
Tell us about some of your Manga projects.
Nekoi: My Manga professional world started when I was a teenager. At that time I was making two types Manga illustrations. One was a dark Manga illustration that modified wicked things with painted dark colors. On the other hand, I was making some funny short Manga. I showed the funny Manga to a small company and they put it in a monthly Bishoujo Manga magazine. That was the birth of "Nekoi Rutoto," the strange Mangaka (someone who makes Manga).
"She" graduated from Art College and has been drawing Manga/illustrations with 20 different companies. Soon after my short Manga appeared in the magazine I met my partner, Mangaka Senno Knife, who draws all the illustrations for PSYDOLL's cover illustrations. He draws many wicked, dark fantasies with beautiful wicked J-style girls. (The animation "Jigoku Shoujo" traced his peculiar world--we are protesting against their works. It's sad that sometimes the Anime business world causes these kinds of problems.)
Soon my other hand for painting wicked illustrations came to the fore in his color works. His horror Manga series had big success. His Manga books published are over 60, in over 8 countries. As a small Manga publishing project, we made Tyrellsha and some Manga books and sold our Manga at Comicmarket.
Ucchi, how did you first meet your drummer, Loveless?
I was playing in a punk band called......well, what was it, I'd forgotten, anyway it was so so, and the drummer of this band was Loveless, the punk drummer.
Loveless, can you tell us how you were asked to join the band?
Loveless: I had often seen the gigs of PSYDOLL before I joined. They had a very cool sound. I thought that if they added some strong beats, PSYDOLL's sound could become even cooler. When I told Ucchi that, Ucchi said "if you think so, you should prove it."
Can you tell us the story of how you first started playing percussion?
Loveless: I hated my music class in junior high school. I was not good at music in my school. (Most of Japanese music education is based on "Classic music.") I only loved to beat the drum with the sticks, because I loved Kendo, Japanese fencing. So I struck the drums Kendo style!
What did your family and friends think of you wanting to be a drummer?
Loveless: My parents disliked it because my beating was very noisy for them. But my brother was pleased because he loved to play bass guitar.
Were there certain musicians who inspired you?
Loveless: This Heat, PIL, DAF, Joy Division, Lou Reed and many more... As a drummer, Martin Atkins and Bruce Willie Smith are great.
Once all three of you were together, how would you describe the type of music you were playing?
PSYDOLL: At first that was our big problem. There were no other bands that played in a similar genre like us. There are some Metal bands playing with computer backing tracks in the US West Coast, like The Young Gods, Static X, but they would not play with us, because Nekoi's vocal is so expressionless like a Techno band.
In the UK, Goth people support us a lot... it was such a lucky thing for PSYDOLL... because their image for Goth is really flexible. Their Goth includes the meaning of "Post punk." In Scotland, Industrial Punk bands support us a lot also. We are really enjoying playing with them.
There are some Industrial bands which have melodies in the songs in the middle part of the US, like Texas. It seems they are much wilder than us, but we want to play with them in the future... Hi, is there any cool organizer out there? Please call PSYDOLL! ^^
How would you describe your visual look?
Nekoi: Because I am "an artificial thing" I wear clothes made of the materials of an artificial image, so all of my costumes are made of PVC and vinyl. My stage costumes show how I am a crazy otaku.
Some of my fetish friends love rubber, but I think the rubber shine seems very "natural." I want to be unnatural!
Ucchi: Basically I am a soldier living in a ruin of the future, and fighting with... hey, who? Who am I fighting with? I don't know yet (Nekoi: "LOL") but I might not fight with evil, because I am a bit ill as well. I am fighting only for me. I am playing my guitar like I shoot on and on with a machine-gun.
Loveless: Slim black body suit, headlight, face painted white. A crazy Japanese in black.
Tell us more about the outfits you wear when you perform.
Nekoi: Basically I knot the Cyber fall in my hair, it shows we are Cyber. Sometimes I have a goggle on my head, sometimes corners made of acrylic fiber. Like I said, all our costumes are made of PVC and vinyl. Sometimes I order from my friend.
Ucchi: I wear the headwear for a pilot, or wear the Japanese traditional puppeteer's headwear with goggle and mouth gear made of wire, and wear a long coat which I never take off, even in midsummer gigs.
There are good and bad points in my style like this. At the venues after I take off all of the costume, then no one knows I am Ucchi. I am not so good interacting with people, especially in English, so I fell at ease if no one can find me, but sometimes it makes me lonely...
Loveless: Always a crazy Japanese in black.
What was it like performing at the 2002 Anime North convention in Toronto?
PSYDOLL: We were invited to AN, the biggest convention thrown by a publishing company in the US. There is no translation support between the supporter from a Metal band and PSYDOLL. So the fight with "English" starts 3 month before.
After September 11, 2001 we couldn't carry any musical equipment there. Nekoi couldn't carry her small keyboard. Loveless couldn't carry his digital percussion and Ucchi couldn't bring his guitar as well. We needed to ask to borrow them all.
But so many Anime fans in North America support PSYDOLL. The first song's balance was out of control, but after the 2nd song, we could play very smooth. It was a great experience. It was our first step overseas.
What about performing overseas surprised you the most?
PSYDOLL: We have been playing in the UK, Germany, Canada and Czech Republic. It seems their lives are full of music, much better than Japanese life. Every place enjoys the real local bands, sometimes tour bands.
Sad to say, in Japan there is so much cheap tinny music which gets made by professional people following US pop music. They pay the radio stations to play their songs to promote themselves, so there are unwelcomed songs on the radio everywhere.
For example, if you go to a supermarket your ears have to listen to these songs, although you don't want to listen... We are Japanese, we love Japan, but this is the most disappointing thing about Japan.
Tell us about the shows you did in the UK.
PSYDOLL: In the UK, we have been playing a lot of places. All the places are different, but some have cool castles, some have ruins (wow!) with stone coffins. Some places are very modern, and every place had good people as well, although some of the languages were too difficult so we couldn't understand what they were saying at all!
We enjoying playing there a lot, and at last, when we went to Germany, we found that there is a Germany website for a venue saying "On the day of x we have a tour band called PSYDOLL from the UK!"... no, no, we are the band from Japan! LOL
In 2004 you released your first full album, I PSYDOLL. Tell us about the music.
PSYDOLL: This album is made from two mini albums which we released in Japan before, "The Daughter of Dr.Neumann" and "A War in the Box". The first one has a song titled Machinery Lemmings, the hit song from PSYDOLL, and the second album has #7, another hit song from us. We planed to combine them into one album.
Another song (that is the theme song for her) Rose, Rose, Rose was added as a bonus song. Now some of the digital music stores like iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, etc... have started to add it. And PSYDOLL's webstore at our website has the CDs. We hope you get all of our songs from I PSYDOLL, not just some songs apart.
Tell us more about the song Machinery Lemmings.
There is no spoon. If you saw "The Matrix" over 10 times, then please play the DVD again but turn off the sound and listen this song with. The Matrix has you.
MACHINERY LEMMINGSDo you have a set process for writing songs?
A signal becomes blue
Everyone is crossing
You can never continue walking
Your eyes frightened at something
You are not filled with the impatience
which cannot be wiped--
Today, Tomorrow, it continues!
Overflowing people whirl around the city
Substance wave All right!
You are last, I'm only record
It says we will fall in love soon
and discover somewhere, but not here
open your eyes!
The city became fat
You try to smile but it distorts the mouth
inserted between people
A signal becomes blue
Everyone doing same action
It is repeated forever--
Today, Tomorrow, it continues!
The last chance is the maintenance of dawn
Only we with a mouth can say NO
Eyes can gaze at TRUTH
Nekoi: Usually there is a big sea of melodies in my head. Sometimes a brighter fragment of a melody appears. I dive into the sea to find the good fellow for this cool melody. Sometimes I find three or more fellows, but I compare them and choose the best one. To make a melody is like making a jigsaw puzzle.
After the melody is complete, then I start to add the lyrics. The song sometimes has random lyrics at first, but most of them get changed. For example, the first lyrics for the song #7 was a song about flying people, based on my strange dream.
What was the typical recording session like?
PSYDOLL: At first Ucchi makes the backing tracks, then Nekoi add the songs, and Ucchi adds some guitar tracks. Then Loveless calls Ucchi's room or studio to add the percussions.
Now we are making the next album. The other day, when Loveless was playing and Ucchi was recording in his room, the housewife from downstairs knocked on the door. She said it's too noisy for her to spend a peaceful Sunday afternoon!
You released the album overseas through Planet Ghost Music. How did you get hooked up with them?
PSYDOLL: After we went back to Japan from the UK in April of 2003, we started to look for a label to promote us overseas. We felt that we needed to find one, because the responses from the festivals in the UK were so good.
Nekoi: I sent the press kit to the top 4 labels for Goth, Industrial. But all were rejected. I felt so sad, but the 5th label, Resurrection Records, wrote back to me and said "We can not accept you, but try to do your best because your sound has particular colors." So I cheered up.
Then I sent to another one but got rejected again. I started to abandon the dream. But after the year changed to 2005, I got an email from Kerry, my first English friend who is in a unique Goth band. He wrote "Hey, are you still looking for a label? One of my friends started a label, why don't you send a press kit to them?"
It all started so suddenly and promptly. Many emails written in English were not so easy for me, but we started to reissue the album, "I PSYDOLL" with their support. The Planet Ghost Music's main band is Little Match Girl, the Goth band with a Metal guitar sound. They have a very unique sound, the best label mate for PSYDOLL we felt.
Can you tell us about some of the songs you've written for video games?
PSYDOLL: We made five songs for PC games. That was our first experience making songs for another project, so we enjoyed supporting the games with some understanding producers.
At first we thought that we'd add these songs to out next album, but we couldn't, even though we own the copyright. The songs are based on the game stories. Each game has a heroine. Nekoi's lyrics and vocals need to be the heroines, but all the images for the games were not the same as the image of Nekoi and PSYDOLL. So we decided that we'd cut these songs from the next album. It was a little shame, because some of the songs are so good. If there is interest or requests from people, then we might think about a way of releasing this material.
You did more extensive touring of Europe in 2008. How different do your shows seem to you now, compared to your earlier days?
PSYDOLL: 2008's mini tour for Germany and Prague was so exciting, because in the UK we had a tough tour manager, but for EU there was more spontaneity. Luckily we found some venues and PSYDOLL's German friend (he was a customer of PSYDOLL in Tokyo and now lives in Germany) supports us a lot, so our tour for this unknown big place (EU) was realized.
How do your early shows compare to what you are doing now?
Nekoi: As I said before, PSYDOLL is the first successful band for me so I'm not used to being a front girl at all. I don't want the people to see the first stage of my career. Just three of my friends know how it was. I couldn't sing as I played. I couldn't move my body as I played. Yes, I was a robot at that stage.
But I had still thought that our band was special, so I didn't care, and went on performing. After Loveless joined, my act started to change. Because he was a drummer for the Punk bands his stage act was so crazy, so I started to move around a lot more. Perhaps he woke up my unyielding spirit.
Ucchi: I didn't change from the first, well... I might move a little bit more...?
Loveless: Always the latest one is the best.
What is Machine Magic?
PSYDOLL: It's an event name for our gig project. A DJ called ymot started it and PSYDOLL joined. DJ ymot loves Anime, (it seems this is the most important keyword for him!) Techno, Industrial, J-pop and has been supporting PSYDOLL a lot. PSYDOLL has been thinking about the future of the Tokyo scene, so we started to work together.
Now Tokyo has so many good bands which play with computer backing tracks like PSYDOLL. But the bands like this have some problems, the biggest being the venues. Some places don't use mix digitalized sound with musical instruments like guitars and bass guitars. For the musicians, it was a shameful thing that the sound for the audience is so poor.
Other places look down at bands like us. They might love rock 'n' roll or blues too much, or mistake us for a Karaoke band. For MM, we select the venue in Urga, Shinjuku, enough places to make our sound. So project Machine Magic is the most important thing for us in Tokyo. We wish everyone who comes to Tokyo checks it out.
Can you give us a peak into the romantic life of the group?
PSYDOLL: Nekoi PSYDOLL believes that the true romance for her is the band called PSYDOLL itself. Our real lives are crazy, complicated, twisted ones. These are just flowing things which don't remain, only people's emotional memories remain forever. So Nekoi seems to have fallen in love with the band of PSYDOLL. Only Uenoyama (Loveless) has a family, and his stance is stability. He is first a good father, then a good player. That's the reason why sometimes only Nekoi and Ucchi play on the tours.
What type of places do you go to when you are dating?
Nekoi: I love Tokyo's different districts. There are so many attractive places in Tokyo like Shinjuku, Harajuku, Akihabara (these are my top 3), Shibuya, Kichijoji as well.
Ucchi: I don't date a lot, well... I love to go around Akihabara alone, to find many things like Anime goods, or computer parts, but not to the Maid Cafe...!
Loveless: 200 kilometers north of Tokyo there is a historical railway station named Doai-eki in the underground around 100 meters, built back in 1936. It is very cool place, like an underground empire. It's a really cool place for dating!
Who are some of the band's supporters?
PSYDOLL: PSYDOLL has been getting strong support from many cool people. There are 10 or more people we want to make a "Special Thanx Monument" for. We don't know why, but all of the people who we relate to have some strange points. Even our audiences are somewhat strange (oop, sorry... but it's true!).
We don't know why, but maybe PSYDOLL's sound awakens people's other side of the moon. At first we were not used to this, but as we got used to it, we don't care. And each time Nekoi says "Wow he is a strange person, isn't he?" Ucchi answer "That's natural, because he is related to PSYDOLL".
Do you keep any secrets about your private lives from each other, or do you tell each other everything?
PSYDOLL: Heey you don't know PSYDOLL... we are full of secrets, or we are the secret itself! No one knows another PSYDOLL's private life. For example Nekoi PSYDOLL has never seen Ucchi's eye, because all the time he puts on the goggles, but he might have no eyes--that goggle might be the eye's camera--it's too scary so she never asks him to show her his eyes.
Other than music what type of things do you do for fun or relaxation?
Nekoi: I like to watch strange people. They make me happy, that's why I love the cities and internet. I love the strange characters as well like Do-mo kun, Gacha-ping, Ickis from AAAHH!!! Real Monsters, Kermit the frog, Cookie Monster, Parappa rapper, many kinds of aliens from outer space. When I have enough time I'm playing with them in my room.
Ucchi: I'm happy when I am reading Manga, watching Anime, playing computer games... hey, is it OK for the question, I am a hopeless man, right?
Loveless: Of course, drinking.
What advice would you give to musicians just starting out?
Nekoi: Believe you are the best, and go on.
Ucchi: Never be concerned what others are doing.
Loveless: Become a cool band, and contact us. Let's play together.
What are your plans for the rest of 2009?
PSYDOLL: In 2009, we will have a new album for spring. There is no title yet, but the image for this new album would be "hard-boiled." We will produce and promote it by ourselves. If in spring you still remember PSYDOLL then please come check our website.
Do you have anything else you want to bring up or comment on?
PSYDOLL: Our webshop at psydoll.com has had many customers since we open it. There was nothing available for shipping until now. We will have the new goods up including the new album on this shop, so please visit!
Do you have a final message to all your fans?
PSYDOLL: Thank you for taking the time to read our interview. PSYDOLL will go from Tokyo to all over the world. If you are interested in seeing our show, there are two ways. One, come to Tokyo to enjoy this super special kawaii city and see us perform. (It's not so impossible, now in every gig we welcome new customers from overseas.) Two, meet the club organizer and call PSYDOLL!
.............. See you!
For more info checkout PSYDOLL'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