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Hey, boys and girls, we are graced with another foray into the JRock world by our fabulous girl-on-the-scene, Miss Melissa Castor. Melissa had a good ol’ chat with the fellows from fade. The rising rock stars talked about their NYC/US debut the night before at The Studio at Webster Hall, the GACKT Effect and their unusual plan for breaking big in the west.

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Exclusive Interview

Hey, TDR readers, Melissa here, just wanted to set the scene for this fun interview with Jon, Kansei and Noriyuki from fade. It took place in a hotel in NYC’s SoHo with the guys relaxing on a couch, or on the floor, beer in hand and indulging in some “Baked by Melissa” cupcakes and talking about the present and future of fade.


Melissa Castor: Thank you for taking the time to sit down and answer a few questions for The Diva Review. Can you please introduce yourself and your role in the band?


Jon: My name is Jon and I’m the singer for fade, and we’re from Tokyo, Japan.

Kansei: I’m Kansei, I’m the guitarist.

Noriyuki: I’m Noriyuki, the bassist of the band.


MC: Can you tell me where and how did you all met?

Noriyuki: Myself, Kansei and drummer, Rui used to all live in New York. We met when we were all teens, fourteen or fifteen.

Jon: You guys were in a cover band together, right?

Nori: Right. And after doing the cover band, we thought of bringing the level up to doing an original band. We went back to Japan and met 5°{Godo}, our other guitarist-{5° is how his name is written, but pronounced “Godo”}

Jon: Godo and Kansei went to college together.

Nori: At the time, we had a different vocalist, he was a Japanese guy and that didn’t work out, so we were looking for a new vocalist. That's when we heard about Jon being free, not doing anything.

Jon: You guys had like two or three vocalists before that, didn’t you?

Nori: But none of them worked out well. Actually, our band and Jon’s band played together.

Jon: The first band that I was in in Tokyo, and the band they were in together, we just happened out of total randomness ended up playing together and that's how we all first met. But we didn’t start playing together in the same band until a year and a half, maybe two years later after my band broke up.

Nori: Really?

Jon: I went back to America, quit school, and came back to play with that band, that broke up, I started another project, and then that broke up. I was thinking about leaving Japan, actually, and around that time Rui brought the demo of what they were doing at the time to the bar I was working at, said, “Hey, we’re looking for a singer” -- with the connection through the bassist of my previous band -- and said “Do you want to jam with us?” It was rock, and I had never sung rock before, I didn’t know if it was really my deal. I loved to listen to it, but I never sang it before. He said, “Well give it a try.” About a week before I was about to go back to the States, I went and we jammed, it was fucking awesome, and it clicked. Then ten years later, that brings us to right now.


MC: Why did you decide to move your band activities from New York to Tokyo, Japan? You started in New York, but then went to Japan and…found Jon.

Nori: After starting the original band, we thought it was going to be a little difficult for us, being Asian, to make out in this country. Asians are a minority here and you have so many difficulties trying to work out and do what you want to do. So, we went back to Japan and wanted to make it big there first. When we were ready, we were going to come back.


MC: How do you feel about last night’s performance in New York City, which was your first show in America?

Kansei: Really cool. Great experience, it was fun. It was really a challenge for us to play outside Japan, but we found it very fun.

Jon: I thought it was so cool -- there was Hip Hop Gamer and JR Junior too, and then there was RIZE and then fade. You had hip hop out there, people who came through the YFC {YELLOW FRIED CHICKENz}-Jon connection, and people there just to see fade, who were there to see RIZE, and the people who were there just to drink Asahi beer. I remember being outside and there was a guy that came up and said, “Is this the Asahi event…?” and it was a really cool diverse crowd. We had over three hundred people who came to the show for our and RIZE’s first time in New York. That’s totally because of Dorian {Smith, of Big Apple Style Marketing} and how she helped us out, and all the staff involved with the event. It was a really cool experience to be able to come back, for us to really “come home.”  It’s not just, “Oh, we get to go to America!” it’s coming back to play where we’re from, which is rad.

Nori: It felt kind of different too -- Japanese people are really shy. When you go to a show, they just watch standing still, and when we’re done with the song they’ll clap, but here you have a totally different music history.

Jon: In America, people like to drink, go out to see a show -- there’s a bit of a club atmosphere. But in Tokyo, the club atmosphere is where you drink and go crazy -- the live scene is much harder to get that vibe going. Shows can be crazy too, but in Europe and North America, people are quicker to react and interact which is great, really fun.


MC: What do you see in terms of behind the scenes issues or the different approach of Japanese management that might hold bands back from going overseas?

Jon: Well, I don’t know if it’s so much as a management thing; first off, you have language, which makes it tough, and then you also have logistical issues. Just to get gear and such overseas -- we came over here as minimally as we could, and it’s still a really expensive ordeal, there are costs involved. What tends to be popular in Japan doesn’t necessarily click in Europe or North or South America; other parts of the world. I think it has to do with those few things that make it difficult.


MC: Jon, this question is for you; in addition to working with fade, you also work with GACKT on his YELLOW FRIED CHICKENz project. How did all of that get started?

Jon: I started working with G about two years ago, when he first started YFC and wanted to do English lyrics, so I helped him out with that. We hit it off, and then that worked out well, and he said, “Do you want to do this project together?” and I was interested and we did it.


MC: What’s it like to share the stage with someone like GACKT?

Jon: Sharing the stage with him is fun, I had a blast, and I learned a lot playing with him. He’s a great performing, great singer, that band is a totally different thing than fade is. And that’s why it’s interesting as well, to try something new.


MC: How have fans reacted to you being not only a vocalist, but also a Caucasian vocalist on stage alongside GACKT?

Jon: First, a lot of people were saying, “You’re going to get in the way” and “What the hell are you doing?” I mean, it’s “GACKTO-sama, oh my god~” but I was excited to change those people’s minds. I think after we played the tour in Europe, through that, some really cool things happened for us {fade} too. The record label, GANSHIN records, took a look at us -- fade got a record contract through that. A lot of people in Europe through that experience took a look at fade and it has been cool to communicate with people through Facebook. It’s been great personally and for fade, as well. A lot of people who probably wouldn’t have taken a listen to our music at least tried us out and liked what they heard, so they stuck around and they’re into us now too, which I think is cool.


MC: Kansei and Nori, have you found that more people have discovered fade because of Jon’s activities with YFC?

Nori: We noticed it for sure, yeah. Especially on Twitter for me and Rui, our followers have been increasing massively.

Jon: Facebook as well. We got a ton of likes after those tours, even people who came to the show last night.  How did you discover fade?


MC: Through YFC.

Jon: See, but that’s cool. Through that, we had people who came out just to see us. In New York City, and I mean we’ve never been here!

Nori: There were people from Boston, and three people from Venezuela, another girl from Brazil.

Jon: People from all over the northeast. You have no idea how much that means to us, that people would make such an effort to travel as far as we did to make this experience happen. That is so cool. And people who were kind enough to help out at the show, fans of ours. In a city like this … I mean, that shouldn’t have happened, really.


MC: So, it really was “East meets West” … meets North meets South.

Jon: Everywhere!


MC: fade is a unique blend of east and west culture and sounds. Does your multicultural background affect the song or lyrics writing process?

Jon: For the lyrics, originally we tried to do Japanese and English and it didn’t work out because my Japanese wasn’t good enough. We can’t write Japanese lyrics and we tried to mix, but that didn’t work, so we decided to do it in English as that is the best way to express ourselves. Recently, with the last album, we did a song “Cosmicalism” which was all in Japanese. We have some more Japanese songs on the next album coming out, and that’s because we were able to find someone who was able to write those lyrics for us. He wrote really cool lyrics for us and it worked out well. My Japanese had improved enough over seven or eight years to be able to do it.

Kansei: With song writing, Rui comes up with the melody and makes a demo with some guitar and really simple drums. After that, he gives that demo to me and I arrange the sounds, sometimes whole part or sometimes just one chorus. After that, we make a demo with all of us. After that, we work with our producer. After that…

Jon: The song writing process, one thing we tried in terms of “east meets west,” in the song “Beautiful” and “Drifting Away” -- we tried to put in those aspects of both Japanese and English. Mixing the cultures.

Nori: Rui, being songwriter and being born here {America}, and Kansei living here, spending his elementary school years here, they grew up listening to 80’s rock and 90’s grunge stuff.

Jon: We all did! You were here too, dude. Godo’s the only one that wasn’t here …

Kansei: But he probably listened to that music, too.

Nori: That is what influenced Rui as a songwriter a lot. Us being Asian, we wanted to be a bit different from other bands. We tried to add some Asian essence to give some sounds or Japanese instruments like shamisen and Chinese instruments.

Kansei: I used kokyū for “In the end.”

Jon: What did you guys think, in the fourth song we played last night, “In the end” – there’s a total intro riff – did that come off sounding a very Japanese vibe song or no?


MC: I think it sounded different than what we’re used to hearing in America, but it didn’t sound out of place. The fact that it is something we don’t hear all the time, it was like, “Oh, what is this song going to be about?” It made people more interesting, especially because it was a new song.

Nori: That's the kind of reaction we wanted. Using those instruments is easy for us, the point is, the music influences that we grew up in really helps in putting all those essences together into the right pieces in songs, and that’s why it works out.

Jon: The balance, of us growing up in New York, Seattle, Tokyo, Godo growing up in Japan, there’s experiences and a multicultural mix there that only we can really know about through our personal experiences. The right doses, the right mixture, the right thickness of it to make it work overseas, but still very reflective of our Japanese side and our western side as well.


MC: Your sound is great because it’s suited for all kinds of audiences; it works for Japan or America or Europe.

Nori: We never defined ourselves just as a “hard rock” band. We have essence of alternative rock.

Kansei: Godo brings a lot of good guitar with fast picking, and I’m not that good at it. In an arrangement, Godo can bring that essence to our songs. I bring more alternative feeling to the mix. I hear on radio and Internet that heavy metal bands are just heavy metal, no pop essence into it. Screamo is just screaming. The genre is very limited. We don't want to limit ourselves in some ways.

Jon: We like to do ballads too, we like Goo Goo Dolls, Smashing Pumpkins, poppy pop music and heavy stuff too, hip hop, reggae. We have a definitely pop vibe in our songs, there is a romantic vibe, a passionate side, and we have a side that is very aggressive and testosterone-driven. We play a wide variety of stuff. I think instead of trying to narrow it down, we’re expanding it. On the next album, I think we went to the poppyest we’ve ever been on one side, and we went to the heaviest we’ve ever been, too. Everything in between is just awesome on the journey the other way.


MC: What has been the most touching or interesting moment on this North American tour you just completed? Your favorite moment?

Nori: First of all, meeting our fans in person was awesome. We don’t get the chance to meet fans from overseas, and we were able to do that this time. Actually seeing people from all over. That to me was very, very touching, and felt very fortunate.

Jon: Yeah!

Kansei: Playing the shows, that was really fun for us. I had great beer and drinks.

Jon: Kansei got wasted a lot! {Everyone laughs} Okay, funny story: The first night we played in Canada -- in Japan, there’s a thing we do at our shows, because we have the whole “Damage Liver” vibe -- so Kansei has this thing called “snake pit.” Kansei takes over and in Japan, he chugs a bottle of Jack Daniels. In Toronto, he got this big bottle of Canadian Club, and that stuff is like moonshine. Kansei takes that out at the venue during the show in Toronto -- this big black bottle and cracks it open and people start shouting, “iki” like “chug it!” and he does, and they’re like, “One more man!” then he does it again, and he as does, he falls over on stage. But then you got back up and fucking rocked it!

Kansei: It was towards the end of the show … I also found a lot of energy drinks.


MC: That is going to kill you too… {laughs}

Nori: It’s his ritual that he takes two or three cans of Red Bull.

Kansei: But Red Bull is a little bit different in Japan than here. Here, it’s stronger … and bigger.

Jon: But Kansei’s gone the other way, instead of the bigger size, he’s gone for the energy shot.


MC: It’s always the quiet ones that are crazy.

Jon: One of his other nicknames is “The Little Devil.”


MC: What do you hope for the future of fade?

Jon: We have a new album coming out. We’re stoked that there is more of an awareness building now in Japan and Europe, and hopefully now in North America that will start. A lot of people will get to know us through this next album. Hopefully riding on the wave of that new album -- we’ve made it a reality once to come over here, we’ve played two shows that went off really well. We want to get back here again as soon as we can. We’re working on getting over to Europe this summer, possibly getting over to the west coast; these are all not yet confirmed, but possibly getting to the west coast to the Fanime Con, and hopefully a West Coast tour. We want to play Toronto again, maybe some other places in Canada, play more places in the northeast and hopefully do that tour with RIZE. It’s been awesome touring with them; this tour has been badass! Keep spreading good vibes in Japan, because Japan still needs a lot of good vibes. How we’ve decided we want to do that is, its cool to do an event like “East Meets West”; we want to spread it through music make people feel good. People need a lot of support right now in a lot of ways. One of the ways we feel we can do it as musicians is through our music.

Nori: Talking with Jesse, the vocalist of RIZE, saying he wanted to tour overseas more often than play in Japan; to go out in North and South America, even other Asian countries, maybe Europe and spread the word that we are from Japan. Spread the word everywhere outside Japan. And when we’re finally going back to play Japan, we’ll play very small venues so that Japanese fans can’t even see us play that often.

Jon: It’s the expectation factor that goes up and the excitement goes up. Playing in Tokyo, of course we have a way bigger fan base. You feel much more of an expectation factor when you travel somewhere to play. There’s so much in Tokyo, its like New York, everything is going on. People who come there, they can almost be indifferent. But! If it's a one shot, one kill situation -- in New York, there was only one show. If you miss it, it’s like, we don’t know when we can get back, we want to get back soon, but we don’t know. So people are stoked to come to the show. The people who come want to be there and that makes the energy awesome. If we could bring that energy back to the scene in Japan, that would be sick, so cool. That’s what we really would like to do.


MC: Thank you very much for this insightful interview; we really appreciate it!


~ Melissa Castor

Special Correspondent for The Diva Review

March 27th, 2012


Click here for Melissa's live report of fade and RIZE's US concert debut at The Studio at Webster Hall in NYC.


Special thanks to the fabulous Ms. Dorian Smith of Big Apple Style Marketing for her wonderful arrangements and assistance in making this coverage possible.


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Exclusive Photos by Melissa Castor

Press photos courtesy of fade






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