Interview with LOKA

This time, we present an interview with the band LOKA! During their stop in the Netherlands, Visual Kei Heaven manage to talk to the band for the first time. The guys discuss how they met, their future plans, and Kihiro even shares his thoughts on this year's World Cup tournaments!

VKH:  Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions! Because this is our first interview with LOKA, would you please introduce yourselves?

Kenichi: I am the drummer of LOKA, Kenichi.

Sin: I am guitarist Sin.

Katsumi: I am the bassist Katsumi.

Kihiro:  I am their big brother Kihiro who also does the vocals.

VKH: How did you meet each other and decide to form LOKA?

Kihiro: Wow, long story short, I first met Kenichi at a bar during a friend's birthday party. Our friend is an older guy and he was angry at us for not bringing any girls. He kept telling Kenichi to bring girls and I tried to safe Kenichi. Then he got mad at me. He kicked us out and told us to find girls. It was mid-January, so it was cold. We walked around for about an hour and a half before we finally found one girl.

A year later, we decided to play together and then on June 9th, LOKA started. At first, it was just us two. A year later, we met Katsumi through a band called Back-arm, they are like my little brothers, it was mutual friendship. Sin and I met through our vocal engineer, where LOKA recorded all the vocals. He just finished his band Wizard and we didn't have a guitarist. He played for us a bit. He supported us for about 3 months before he officially joined us.

VKH: What is the meaning behind the band name and why did you choose it?

Kihiro: LOKA means "the world." After my previous band disbanded back in the U.S., I toured a lot of countries. When I returned to Japan, I wanted to be in a band again, and become a world class band. That gave me the idea. LOKA just hit me.

VKH: What initially made you all interested in becoming performers, individually? Did you have specific interest in the industry, having your say in the world or just making music?


Kenichi: hide.

Katsumi: X JAPAN.

Kihiro: Metallica, I think... or... I don't know. If not, then I would say Bon Jovi more.

VKH: Sin, you were just a support member before. What has made you join LOKA officially?

Kihiro: He didn't have a band. He was wondering what to do next. He was kind of an outcast. As we played together, we just felt that he belonged here. He works hard for his music, and he has the looks. The first live he played as an official member was in Taiwan.

VKH:  Since joining the band, have you been able to contribute your own compositions?

Kihiro: Yes. On the new album there is a song called "Breath me out the shadow", track 3.

Kenichi: Very nice song.
(everyone laughs)

Kihiro:  That is the first he's contributed to it. From now on, he will contribute more.

VKH:  Who would you say is the main composer and lyricist of the band? What inspires your heavy sounds and edgy lyrics?

Kihiro: For now, I guess it's Katsumi and I, but we all have our own input in each song. Katsumi and I would do the basics, and then Sin would rip it up and make it cooler, so we basically all contribute in it.

VKH: What are some things you want people to think when they hear the name "LOKA"?

Kihiro: "Sexy, Bad and Heavy." (laughs) We also have a new one. It started at our twit-casting. On this tour we have been asking the girls to take their shirts off and it has been happening. It's summer so it came as a light joke, for them, to open up. A closer interaction with the fans. And now we are "Beer, Bikini and Booze." It is not meant to be the wrong thing, just a closer interaction with the fans.

VKH: This is your second time in Europe! What is you favourite memory from the last European tour and how does that tour compare to this one so far?

Kihiro: The good thing about this tour is that we are coming back to the places we were in before, and it's obvious that there are way more people coming to the shows than last time. Which I interpret as the promoters doing a good job (laughs). We do hear that we have loyal fans who really wants to support our music, which means a lot to us. It's a good surprise. Last time was a first time experience, and we want to do better this time. The fans are doing better which makes it more fun.

VKH: Which city has been your favourite so far and why? (either in performance or sightseeing)

Kihiro: For a little bit, we were finally able to see the Eiffel tour (laughs). Last time we couldn't.

VKH:  Have you seen a lot here in the Netherlands?

Kihiro: No, not really.

VKH: The world cup has been going on, and we know Kihiro is a huge soccer fan! For everyone, what have been your thoughts throughout the season? Did any teams you were routing for make it?

Kihiro:  Hell Yeah!

VKH: Did you just watch the match Brazil vs Chile?

Kihiro: Yes, I did!

VKH:  What are your thoughts on it?

Kihiro: It was one big history game back there. There must be some kind of monster behind Júlio César right now. 

VKH: Did the country you were routing for go through?

Kihiro: Well, I was routing for Japan, but they are back home now. (laughs)

VKH: Who do you want to see in the finals?

Kihiro: Well, Brazil vs Netherlands because Netherlands are doing very well this time.

VKH: You guys have been around for 2 years now and you already have a pretty large fan base! Why is that? Do you believe it is partly due to your English lyrics, making the language barrier less of an issue? Or is it something else?

Kihiro: I hope people don't care. Not just for the music but also for the shows people go to. I do have an advantage for speaking English, which helps me interact with the fans when we communicate. Also, a lot of fans speaks Japanese now a days. We speak a little English and they will speak a little Japanese. I think the way we communicate with the fans is more interesting than the bands that only sing and speak in Japanese, I guess.

VKH: Why is it that you believe LOKA's music "doesn't sound Japanese?" What do you believe most people think what J-rock sounds like?

Kihiro: I think if you listen to it in the musical, or tactical way, you'll hear that our music, especially in the melody, has some Japanese sounds to it. I am not the only one who makes the melody, we all do. Sometimes it's difficult to write lyrics with the Japanese type of melodies. There are some elements in there. I think in J-rock, what people would stereotype on the elements are the "prince voice." I would say most are just imitating Hyde of L'Arc~en~Ciel or Ryuichi Kawamura of Luna Sea, but the way how I sing, not just in English, but the tone of my voice makes it more different from the "normal" J-rock sounds, I think.

VKH:  In terms of music releases, do you all bring things you've learned from your past bands into LOKA or are you only doing entirely new things with the bands?

Katsumi: New

Sin: I do some vocals now

Kenichi: New

Kihiro: Musically I would say new, but I guess how the band activates is from all the experiences I have learned from. How to move the band, how to tour, how to perform, how to take pictures all that stuff comes from past experiences.

VKH: Speaking of releases, you recently made Quattro available in Europe and will be made available in Japan in September! Why only release it in Europe now, rather than at once? Are you currently only selling it while you are on the road?

Kihiro: We released it especially for the fans who come and see us.

VKH: Quattro is now only your second full album. The word, in Italian, however, means "four", so what is the meaning behind naming your album this? What is the message you are trying to convey in Quattro that you didn't get across in Enflame?

Kihiro: Because this is the first album that all four of us are in. It is the first card, saying "This is LOKA". We still play the old songs, but with the new songs, we wanted to say that we are complete as LOKA. A new beginning.

VKH: Why in Italian? Why not Spanish or Portuguese or French?

Kihiro:  I don't know, it just sounds like four (everyone laughs). In Japanese it doesn't sound cool. What is in french?

Ramên Events: Quatre.

Kihiro: You see you can't pronounce that. What is it in Dutch?

AVO: Vier.

Kihiro: That sounds like something else to me. (laughs)

VKH: Chinese? Say.

Kihiro: That is too short! "Quattro" just kind of hit me.

VKH: Other than saying that you are complete with the four of you, is there something you tried to convey in this album that you couldn't do in EnFlame?

Kihiro: In this album, all of the members are very individual and have their own characters, so the album will have a lot of character in it. If you listen from track 1 to 10, there are so many dramatic differences. First you have a traditional feeling to it, regarding the sunrise from every country we visited. Taiwan, Singapore, Europe, etc. We wake up in the car and see the sunrise, so we imitated the sunrise in the cultural, like the star in the guitar. That then turns into metal, rock, hip-hop, electro and it ends with an acoustic song. The album expresses all of our sides.

VKH: What are some of your passions besides music? What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Kihiro: Dragon Quest 4, drinking with friends...

Sin: Beer, playing guitar...

Katsumi: Beer, everyday beer.

Kenichi: Meeting up with friends.

Kihiro: We drink a lot.

VKH: I am surprised you guys are so skinny.

Kihiro: We move a lot on stage. (laughs)

VKH: Do you have any future plans you would like to share?

Kihiro: Future plans, as in getting married? (laughs)

VKH: Maybe, I don't know. (laughs) Well any plans for music or music video releases?

Kihiro: Well! We have another new music video. Our latest one is "Tsubasa Trigger" from our latest album. We will have another one coming out, so keep your eyes out for that. Back in Japan we will have a long tour, for about 4 months. Our final show will be on December 5th.
We are writing new music on this tour now, so hopefully we can have a new release by the beginning of next year. Also, next time, we would love to play at festivals like VANS WARPED TOURDOWNLOAD, Up & Link, etc. Bring it on, man!

VKH: Thank you, once again, for answering our questions! Would you please send a message to our readers and your fans?

Kihiro: Keep your eyes on us!

Katsumi: Look at me! (everyone laughs)

Special thanks to Demented Show and Ramên Events for giving us this opportunity!
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