INTERVIEW: Schwarz Stein @ Anime USA 2014

Back in October, VKH had the opportunity to interview Schwarz Stein about their overseas debut at Anime USA 2014! After some technical difficulties, we are finally able to share what the band has to say regarding their reunion, their debut, and their future plans! Check it out:

VKH: Congratulations on Schwarz Stein's overseas debut! What are you expecting from the concert tonight?

Hora: I'm really looking forward to the concert.

Kaya: I've done some overseas shows as Kaya, but this is the first time I'm doing it as Schwarz Stein, so I'm super excited. I'm wondering how it's going to change and be different from doing concerts just as myself.

VKH: How did you two first meet and why did you decide to work together?

Kaya: I went to see Hora when he was in another band. When I saw his performance, I thought "Wow he’s such an amazing keyboard player.”

Hora: Thank you.

Kaya: But he looked like he really didn’t want to be there.

Hora: (laughs) That’s because I wanted to quit!

Kaya: He originally wanted to do a two-man unit, but, somehow, it turned into a band.

VKH: What you were doing was considerably different from what you wanted to do originally?

Hora: Correct.

Kaya: Even though he was such a cool player, he looked so bored. (laughs) When we talked at the after party, he told me what he wanted to do. We had very similar ideas, so we decided to make a unit band.

VKH: How would you explain Schwarz Stein to someone who has never heard of the band before?

Kaya: I guess you can call us a Gothic unit. Very dark and a little decadent. The sound is dark, but the melody has that unique Japanese feel to it. In places like Germany, for example, there are many Gothic units. However, in Japan, Visual Kei culture and anime culture combine, and have a very unique kind of Gothic feeling (in what they represent.) It's not your typical kind of Gothic culture, but is more of a Japanese type of Gothic culture.

VKH: What songs do you believe best represent the band and why?

Kaya: "Perfect Garden" because it was the song we debuted with, so I would say it represents us the best.

VKH: You both have your own significant styles that somehow blend well with one another. How would you describe your musical tastes as individuals?

Hora: Before, I would pretty much do whatever I liked. Whenever I was working on something I wanted to release, I would always think “I want to do this!” and “I want to try that!” Even now, I still haven’t changed much, and he (Kaya) feels this way too. What we focus on now is definitely what the fans want to hear. Now, it's about what the fans want, and what we can play for them, and we really just want to please them.

Kaya: It was also to tie in what we wanted to do before. Regarding our theme, it hasn’t really changed since then. Hora creates this type of “inorganic” digital sound, and I would add really emotional lyrics on top of it.

VKH: It’s the mix of mechanical and natural elements.

Kaya: Yes, the fusion of the two is very important, and that’s what we continue to do even now.

VKH: Why did you decide to bring Schwarz Stein back after all of these years?

Kaya: It's been exactly 10 years since we broke up, because we broke up in March of 2004, so the timing was really good, and we thought, "Oh, this is perfect!". Our projects lined-up in a way that made it possible to take on this one as well, so it was a nice coincidence.

VKH: It became like a sort of 10th anniversary reunion?

Kaya: Yes, somewhat.

VKH: With your revival single Gebet, what was the meaning and inspiration behind the lyrics and composition of the song?

Kaya: Most of all, we really just wanted to think of a song that the fans would fall in love with. That was the main thing. As far as inspiration goes, I listen to Hora's music and that gives me inspiration for the lyrics. I hear it, and I suddenly think "Oh I should put this!" It really just comes together organically.

VKH: So you two inspire each other in a way?

Kaya: In a way, yes.

VKH: You've also announced a new single and since there are not many details, what kind of sound can the fans expect?

Kaya: Right now, our image is so similar to how we were 10 years ago, so at first we were bringing back the same kind of image and feeling as the past Schwarz Stein. However, we want to change little by little. Of course some things will stay the same since that is what has gotten us so many fans, but at the same time we want to change a little bit and do some things differently that the fans may enjoy. We want to test boundaries to see where we can go. We want to evolve, but also hold on to some of the old traits we had before. Like natural evolution.

VKH: Like when you "LEVEL UP" in a video game, right?

Hora: "LEVEL UP?" Oh, yes, yes like that.

VKH: All of your songs seem to tell a story. What kind of story or theme will you be telling with your new single coming out in November?*

Hora: When creating the music for the new single, I decided that, this time, I would do a “hard” sound. Very rough and aggressive. I wanted something where the fans could go crazy and participate during lives. We also added some death metal voices with screaming. That was the theme this time.

Kaya: The story in the lyrics this time is about an incubus. A demon. It's about the idea of that.

VKH: Why an incubus?

Kaya: One of Schwarz’s exemplary songs is called "Succubus," the female counterpart. It’s one of our more popular songs, so this is kind of the companion piece. This time Hora sings the hook of the song, so it’s definitely the "male version."

VKH: We're sure that over time in your music career you've met some obstacles ,such as being unable to write a song composition or lyrics, etc. How were you able to overcome them?

Hora: The times when I’m like "I can’t do this" happen pretty often, actually. (laughs) I end up repeatedly thinking "I can’t do this, I can’t do this." until, suddenly, I can.

Kaya: That’s so cool... (laughs)

Hora: If I keep thinking "I can’t. I can’t" then I get really irritated. So I have to combat that and eventually I can do it.

Kaya: When I feel "Oh, I can't do this," I just stop whatever I'm doing, and I go get food I like, or watch movies I like, or listen to music that I like. I let it inspire me to help me get back on track.

Hora: I just keep doing something differently until I make it over. I just hit a wall over and over...

VKH: Like climbing a wall... It's almost like Donkey Kong...

Hora: Oh, Donkey Kong, yeah!

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

Kaya: Basically right now, we don't have any concrete plans. But if we continue making what fans like, then maybe we'll make an album again. And, of course, if we make an album, then that will be a lot of work for Hora, so he's going to hit a lot of walls for us.

VKH: We hope he doesn't hit too many walls!

VKH: Well, that's all of the questions we have for right now. Thank you very much for your time! Could you please leave a message for your fans?

Kaya: I'm really excited and happy to be able to come to the U.S. as Schwarz Stein. We'll keep going and continue moving forward at our own pace, so I hope we can return. Thank you so much for supporting us!

Hora: I'm really happy to be able to come to America. From now on we'll keep working together, and I hope everyone will come along with us for the ride!

Special thanks to Schwarz Stein for taking the time to answer our questions and to Anime USA and ViSULOG for making this interview possible!

*Check out Shane's review of Schwarz Stein's November-released single, Sleeping Madness[Click here]
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