On March 27th, VKH Press was given the opportunity to sit with the five members of all-girl rock group BAND-MAID! The interview followed their largest show to date, where they played at Sakura-Con in Seattle, Washington for a wild and enthusiastic crowd of international "Masters and Princesses" (the band's titles for their fans).
It was a huge honor to meet with BAND-MAID and learn about the details of their inner workings, as well as what has driven them down the road to their ultimate goal of "World Domination". The full interview is below, so please read on and enjoy!
VKH: Welcome to Seattle! I hope you're all having a good time. A lot of our readers will be familiar with you already, but for those who aren't would you please introduce yourselves, and share one thing that your international fans may not know yet?
Miku: I’m Kobato Miku on guitar and vocals. My name is Kobato, which, if you break down the characters means small pigeon. So that’s why I usually say “Kuru-Po,” which is the sound that pigeons make.
Kanami: My name is Kanami, on guitar. My hobby is reading books.
Misa: I’m Misa on bass. And I really like drinking [laughs].
Akane: I’m Akane on drums. I’m the leader of the band. And I eat a lot.
Saiki: I’m Saiki on vocals. There’s nothing I’d like to add.
VKH: What did you think of last night’s concert?
Miku: Even though it was our first live performance overseas, I couldn’t believe so many people showed up! It made me really happy.
VKH: And they loved it, it really was a large crowd.
Miku: We’re very, very happy.
VKH: Did the audience here receive you differently than what you're used to experiencing in Japan?
Miku: The Masters and Princesses over here were definitely more vocal, and they shared that live performance energy with us when they expressed themselves, which was a lot of fun.
Akane: Their screams were awesome! Like, “Waaaah!!” And they cheered a lot.
VKH: What is one of the most memorable experiences that you've shared as BAND-MAID so far?
Akane: I’m thinking about yesterday...
Misa: Yesterday was actually very memorable.
Miku: I think last night, definitely, because it was our first step in going overseas. We’ve never had that many people in the same audience, and it was a massive stage. I know it might not seem like the answer that you’re looking for, but it was the first time going overseas, our largest audience, and a great performance. It’s definitely one of the most memorable experiences.
VKH: It seems like there have been some people that have gotten the wrong impression of you at first glance. Some people think that you are more of an idol band, or that you don't take your music as seriously as you do. How do you handle misconceptions about the band, and how would you like a new audience to see you?
Miku: We definitely have a cute image but just like you said, I think that the fact that our visuals and our actual performance are so different is one of our strong points. On the contrary, we’re actually happy about that. Or maybe happy is not the right word but...
Misa: We’re happy about it though [laughs].
Akane: You can definitely feel the contrast.
Miku: That contrast is what we enjoy about ourselves.
VKH: What is it like to balance your maid-like personalities and your intricate music arrangements while up on stage during a live?
Akane: Pure instinct. [all laugh]
Miku: It is all by instinct. We’re not really making up any character or trying to be radically different people on stage.
Akane: We’re doing things exactly the way we want to right now. Being active as musicians, being maids, our performances and where we are as a band. Everything.
Miku: That’s why I really think it’s instinct.
Akane: You can just write “by pure instinct”!
VKH: What do you think draws new fans into BAND-MAID’s music?
Saiki: I think that there’s a wide variety. The visual element is definitely one aspect of it, but a lot of people come just for the music. They hear the music and become our fans too. I don’t think that there is just one way that people become a fan.
Miku: We encourage that. We want people to approach us from different schools of thought.
VKH: Since Maid Cafes are considered pretty unique to Japan’s culture, do you feel like you are representing Japan now that you are taking this concept overseas?
Miku: Hmm, well our original plan was world domination so even though we might not be doing it consciously, we do end up projecting Japanese culture and I think it’s great that we can do that.
VKH: What does it mean to you to be female musicians playing in a style that most people might assume would be played by men?
Miku: That’s true though. Especially in our genre, you usually think of men.
Akane: When people just listen to our CD or our arrangements they would think, “Oh yeah, it’s a male rock band”. Even during rehearsals, we were mistaken for a male band once.
Miku: I think it’s important to embrace that and not be afraid. Don’t worry about the sexes. Let’s not talk about the sexes in this context. Just enjoy the music and what it stands for, as opposed to who or what gender is more prone to it.
VKH: What is your creative process when you come up with or compose new songs?
Miku: For songs, usually Kanami...hmm...well first, Saiki and I discuss what kind of song we want to do and what kind of feeling it will have. Then Kanami begins to arrange some riffs and guitar chords based on that. Once we have some parts of the guitar, then the drums and the bass come in and begin to accompany some of the key guitar parts. And that’s when the song actually gets composed. So once we have our arrangements, then Saiki and I talk again about what we want to express in the vocals, and the lyrics of the song. Saiki tells me, “I want something like this,” and then I generally write the lyrics at that point.
VKH: Do you feel like you all work together really smoothly?
Miku: Yes, I think so.
VKH: How would you summarize BAND-MAID in just one word?
VKH: Is that the same answer for everybody?
VKH: Thank you so much for your time! I hope you had a great weekend here at Sakura-Con. Would you mind leaving a message for your fans?
Saiki: We’re going to continue doing our best in Japan so that we will have more opportunities on stages like this overseas. So please look forward to more from us.
Misa: It felt really good performing overseas. I want to explore different countries and new areas, and get a lot of different inspiration and stimulation from new places. And drink a lot of good alcohol in new places. And eat different things.
Kanami: I want to deliver happiness to all the Masters and Princesses in the world.
Misa: (Confused) How peaceful…?
Kanami: Ah, through our music! Happiness through our music!! [laughs]
Akane: Hmm, what can I say?
Misa: Are you gonna talk about ramen?
Saiki: You should talk about ramen.
Akane: That’s no good!
Saiki: No, it’s fine. Talk about the ramen shop.
Akane: [laughs] As we begin our world domination as BAND-MAID, I want to spread our love for ramen at the same time. And one day we’ll have a BAND-MAID ramen shop...
Miku: You can do that personally! Don’t get BAND-MAID involved. You can say something like, “Akane from BAND-MAID’s” ramen store, just don’t say “BAND-MAID’s”!
Miku: I know it’s been kind of a key concept today, but we really want to conquer the world. I don’t mean just traveling or achieving, but really conquering it, and then spreading BAND-MAID in that way. We will do everything that we can and we’re going to work really, really hard, but we need everyone’s support, too. If we can keep going overseas and experiencing different things, it will be a lot of fun and I think it will spread the love. Let’s create a BAND-MAID world. And I want everyone to start saying “Kuru-Po,” too…
Special thanks to Resonance Media and to Sakura-Con. And of course, huge thanks to BAND-MAID for their time and enthusiasm! We wish you the best!