Today we bring you a long-awaited interview with KiYO and Tomo of Alias! They have graciously agreed to answer some of our questions regarding the formation of the band as well as their future plans. Check out the many quotable answers from these two guys!
VKH: First of all, would you please introduce yourselves!
Tomo: Hey guys, This is Tomo, the guitarist of Alias.
KiYO: Nice to meet you dear readers of VKH, I'm the Drummer, KiYO!
VKH: How did Alias come into existence?
KiYO: I met up with Tomo several years ago when he visited Japan from New York. If I remember correctly, it was at the end of 2008 that he contacted me. He's a musician, active in the US. I was working in the music industry as a producer. Coincidentally, we were thinking the same thing in wanting to start a new project. Early in the new year, I threw out some ideas about the new band to him and he said, "Let's do it!"
I contacted the candidates for members quickly, then Alias was born, March, 2009.
VKH: Would you say Alias was born rather spontaneously?
KiYO: Yes, however I had started planning something similar to this project a few years ago. It's to introduce the world to music that integrated Japanese cultures and Asian traditions. Soon, we began to think Alias shouldn't cling to individual things like careers, genres, and activity bases while finding members. Since Tomo and I live far away in the first place, I thought it didn't matter where the other members lived... haha
VKH: Having started Alias in 2009, what are some things you have learned from being part of this band?
KiYO: I learned how to market abroad from Japan, but since forming in 2009, I heard a lot of sorrowful news all over the world. Alias' songs are much affected by the sad news as a result.
VKH: What is the meaning behind the band's name for you?
KiYO: Well... "Alias" literally means "Another Name", "Shortcut Icon" and so on... Originally the band concept was "Online bachelor band of real musicians", but I feel it has changed greatly due to our many different encounters. Nowadays, we want to say "you can be anything you want to be". I think everyone has equal chances.
Tomo: It's kind of difficult to choose one song because I have so many memories for each song, but if I had to choose one, I would say "evermore". Because this is our first song. If we didn't have "evermore", Alias wouldn't exist.
KiYO: I have a father's love for all of our songs. LOL If I were to insist on just one song... Personally I like "Freeze" very much because it seems to mix both power and sorrow. Well, maybe not because, after all, I love all of the songs...LOL
KiYO: I thought, since we are a daring and unique J-rock project, we should either make a meaningful song or disband if we couldn’t. Passing the baton of sound in a form-like a variation... A fusion of J-rock and world music, and a combination of Vocal and Erhu... "evermore" expresses everything that is Alias. This 1st song's title aims to make it clear to the outside world that "Something precious to you, is evermore close to you". I'm proud that I was able to bring this song into the world.
VKH: What do you usually try to do or think of when you make music?
KiYO: First, I gather the pieces of the melody in my head. Next, I send the song's data to the members when the composition is 80% finished. Finally, they create and add new value through their respective strengths. I cannot help it but to feel esteem for the members of Alias who, without giving away their own personal charms, had given shapes to these abstract concepts.
VKH: You had incorporated the Erhu into your music - making it unique. What was a reason behind using the Chinese instrument?
KiYO: Rock, Asia, Digital and Traditional Instruments... We wished to combine various styles of the world because we wanted to break all boundaries, traverse any distance as Asian persons. We were seeking the one sound that has only existed in Asia. The Erhu is remarkably similar to the sound of a female's weeping voice. It was an ideal instrument as a sub vocal, as a melody part, and also as a representative Asian music.
VKH: Since your first physically released CD was Alias, do you think you plan on selling it digitally or even attempting selling it overseas?
KiYO: Yes, The full album Alias will be delivered to the iTunes Store of 111 countries.
Release date TBA...haha! We are planning for it to be released within the next year.
VKH: How would you describe your music to someone who hasn't heard it?
Tomo: You have never heard anything like Alias before. Both vocals and erhu are the focus of the melodies for our songs.
KiYO: Like he said LOL And I think, "If you think you can copy us, then have a go!" Nevertheless, it was obvious that I need not become conceited. It called for that sort of balance.
Subtle and Explosive. Classical and Oriental. Orthodox and Innovative. Unclassifiable, inimitable, a new generation of rock that embodies COOL JAPAN!
VKH: You say your goal is to bring Asian culture to the outside world - to make the music more widely known. In what other ways do you think you will be able to accomplish this?
KiYO: Communication among humans is important, but it's even more important to observe the trend of events. Moreover I believe that "trusting ourselves" is the most important thing in this world. I can overcome anything as long as I believe in myself.
VKH: Why is it that all of your members have a drawn version of themselves?
Tomo: It's one of our concepts. By using drawings, people start to wonder who are the artists behind the drawings. I thought these visuals can bring more impact than photographs. The artist who created our visual concept is Satsuki Ekawa.
KiYO: When I found her work on the internet, I felt very fascinated by those.I contacted her quickly and I said "I love your work as much as I wanna be your illustrations." LOL
She wrote me back soon after, and willingly took over for us.
VKH: Why do you use those illustrations?
KiYO: Just like Tomo said, visual impact is so important. Because we live so far from each other, it's hard to take a group photograph, so I thought we should make a symbolization ourselves instead. Since then, the role of the musician became diversified. It now means people cannot be evaluated from only the music. We require an instant approach of appeal to human nature against many kinds of users. I have to admit, visual powers are more effective than auditory sensation on the internet. Music means nothing if there are no listeners. We needed to catch a person's ear anyway.
VKH: How did you go about picking candidates for the band?
KiYO: The more important categories were each person's characters and looks.
For example, Mai has Japanese tastes. KiRiKo brings the Chinese wind. Tomo gives Rock baptism from America. Mii expresses Kawaii and Otaku. Maybe I didn't need each ability as a player...Haha. Because we are basically an online band, we wanted to be like the characters of a RPG on display, but excellent musicians gathered as a result. It's a miracle.
VKH: For any musicians that wish to follow in Alias' footsteps, what would you say to them?
KiYO: Hmm... You'd better not LOL Joking aside… It's now easier to reach to people all over the world than it was several years ago. First, you should find the niche that accepts your style on the web.
VKH: What would you say were some of the most difficult obstacles to overcome as an internationally based band?
KiYO: We are constantly told, "You're not a band!" "What do you want to do?" LOL But I think there has got to be more to band activity than this. There is never one way to band activity, it's possible in many ways.
Maybe we're similar to Manga Artists. Both of us are actively only on the web or in magazines. But we're ranked in the Top 3 as popular. And it's possible to enjoy watching people's reactions to our work. That's the reality that I think is band activity. There are no obstacles in my sight.
VKH: What about in general?
KiYO: Huh... I wonder... Trust Yourself!! LOL
VKH: Who is responsible for what in the band?
KiYO: I think Tomo is in charge of talking to the fan as I correspond with the members...LOL
VKH: Do you have an appointed leader?
KiYO: I guess so because they call me a leader, but I don't really like that... Haha
VKH: Last year you performed in Taiwan! Would you mind telling us about the experience?
Tomo: We performed at Spring Scream, which is one of the biggest outdoor music festivals in Taiwan.
It was our first live performance, which was great because I wanted our first show to be big. Our album released at that time so it was good timing too. Before that people only knew us through our drawings, not in person. Performing in Asia outside Japan was also important to us because of the Erhu, which is a traditional Chinese instrument. Taiwanese music fans love Japanese music so we had a great reception there. After the Tohoku earthquake, the Taiwanese gave so much to our country to help those in need. We were happy to give something back to those people, especially since Satsuki was a victim of the tsunami in Sendai (She is OK now though).
KiYO: He said what I wanted to say on my behalf. Lol I'm grateful to all the people for every encounter.
VKH: Do you have any other concerts lined up? What about overseas?
Tomo: We haven't decided yet, but I hope we can perform all over the world.
KiYO: I agree with him. We want to meet many more people.
VKH: What are your other future plans?
Tomo: Nothing. Haha just kidding. We are still formulating our tactics...
KiYO: We were too relaxed...haha.
VKH: Would you please send a message to our readers and your fans!
Tomo: Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. Please keep supporting Alias and VKH. Hope to see you all soon!
KiYO: Thank you always. And I'm sorry, we will conclude activities of Alias for the first quarter of the year, and enter a recharging period as we enter the second quarter. We'll definitely come back soon as New Alias! We wish you all to have a bright future to come.
Alias - Alias Review
Alias - Introduction