After four years, ViSULOG's Executive Director Takaya Yamamoto returned to the U.S. as Chanty's manager at Tokyo in Tulsa. Since our previous interview, he had started a new company named FAKE STAR with ViSULOG as its subsidiary. However, Chanty would not be the only one under FAKE STAR to be debuting in the U.S. this year. Takaya had already expanded FAKE STAR in to the United States as FAKE STAR USA with other intentions...
FAKE STAR USA will be opening ViSUROCK, an international English-language visual kei portal.
ViSUROCK will be one of the many new projects Takaya has innovated in an effort to not only bring ViSULOG overseas, but visual kei overall. ViSUROCK, unlike its Japanese counterpart, will only feature visual kei bands that are the most demanded in Japan. This will allow overseas fans to have a better idea on what is going on in the market in the home of their favorite bands.
For those that do not know ViSULOG, it is a Japan-based visual kei portal with the latest news on all of the bands in the scene. Due to the content being in primarily Japanese, overseas fans are unable to access the premium content that it offers to Japanese-speakers.
We sat down with Takaya for a few minutes to discuss ViSUROCK's launch, catch up on his activities since being Moon Stream's support drummer, and hear his thoughts on the visual kei scene today.
VKH Press: The last time we interviewed you, you were performing as the support drummer for Moon Stream. This time you’re here as management for Chanty. As someone who’s seen both sides, from the perspective of an artist debuting and as a person working behind the scenes, do you feel like there’s anything different from before?
Takaya: Being a support drummer was a huge experience for me. Because of that, I knew how to organize things like Chanty’s convention appearance, promotion methods etc. so it came off without any major problems. If I didn’t have that experience of taking part in a convention, I wouldn’t have known anything.
VKH Press: Since you’ve seen the scene from all angles, we’d like to ask: How would you define “visual kei”?
Takaya: That’s a difficult question. If we say it’s “visual kei” then it’s visual kei (laughs).
VKH Press: What do you think a band needs in order to have a successful overseas debut?
Takaya: Some English ability, a cooperative personality and flexibility I guess (laughs). Also, being able to enjoy the event together with everyone without being fake or putting on airs.
VKH Press: So you said that having some English ability is important but even if the language isn’t the same, can’t the musicians convey their feelings through just their music and enthusiasm?
Takaya: Of course being able to convey their feelings through music is a part of it. However, during things like signing events where the fans are trying their best to communicate, not being able to act accordingly is really frustrating for the bands. It’s really difficult when they want to fully express their gratitude but all they can respond with is “Thank you”. That’s what I mean by having a some English ability.
VKH Press: For a band to be successful, promotion is extremely important. What’s the best way to advertise?
Takaya: If it’s overseas then I think sites like Facebook and Instagram are very influential. I also think that having overseas sites that specialize in Visual Kei is important so I took that opportunity to make my own site (laughs).
VKH Press: What kind of affairs do you handle within FAKE STAR?
Takaya: I do planning, editing, event coverage and event organization for ViSULOG and I also do management for Chanty.
VKH Press: What’s the origin of the name FAKE STAR?
Takaya: Kuroyume has a song called “FAKE STAR” and I thought the lyrics talked about the same things that I’m trying to convey. The band I did a long time ago owes a lot to Kiyoharu from Kuroyume, but since I was just a fan back then, I wanted a name that was related to that.
VKH Press: You’ve started FAKE STAR USA which expands your business into America. Can you tell us your plans from hereon out? What made you decide to start an overseas branch of ViSULOG?
Takaya: I want to help expand visual kei throughout America. For that purpose, I created the media outlet that I mentioned earlier as well as ViSUROCK which is the overseas branch of ViSULOG and we plan to launch before the year ends.
VKH Press: Can you tell us what your goals are with FAKE STAR USA and ViSUROCK?
Takaya: We will have the benefit of having an American company as well as staff on the ground since many Japanese visual kei bands want to come to America. Even though many of these bands are interested in advancing their career overseas, it’s difficult to do that on your own. So I want to be able to act as a support for these ventures. Eventually I’d like to have a Visual Kei music festival in America.
VKH Press: How will you create the content for ViSUROCK? Will you translate the material directly from ViSULOG?
Takaya: We will translate content and also do original content.
VKH Press: There must be many people who would like to support ViSUROCK’s activities. What’s the best way to apply for staff positions?
Takaya: Contacting me via Facebook is fine as well as using the inquiry page on ViSULOG.
VKH Press: Compared to when we interviewed you 4 years ago, what do you think of the current visual kei scene?
Takaya: The amount of bands breaking up have increased and the situation is decidedly bad. There’s a sense of impending crisis that we have to rise up to challenge as media in order to improve the situation.
VKH Press: How does your business experience aid your communications with bands?
Takaya: I was originally a bandman myself, then I became media and now I work as management. Because of that, one of my strengths is that I’ve experienced the industry from every viewpoint. I can have various work-related conversations with bands and thankfully they’re able to consult with me on different things. Because of this background, I want everyone in the industry to be happy and successful. To achieve that, I’d like everyone to cooperate and work to revitalize Visual Kei.
VKH Press: Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to us. Please give a final message to our readers.
Takaya: I’d like visual kei to spread even more throughout the world so let’s do our best.
Special thanks to Takaya for his time, and FAKE STAR USA staff!
You can follow Takaya, ViSULOG, and FAKE STAR via the links below.