Interview with Cyclamen Part Two – The Japanese Music Scene & Performing Live

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Cyclamen singer Hayato Imanishi is such a fascinating fellow that a conversation with him just can’t be confined to one single interview! In the second part of an epic discussion the maestro discusses the scene in his native Japan and muses on live performances…

So how is the music scene for your style of music in Japan?

It’s kinda weird really.  “Djent” is a big buzz word here right now. But no real “Djent” bands are in Japan. Not in the sense I am used to in Europe anyways. Lots of melodic metalcore/screamo sorta thing with some 000 riff sections and Meshuggah inspired ideas exist. But none of them really does Djent that well. Some really cool tech bands are around though –  2 bands supporting SikTh with us next month, Bilo’u and Arbus are both fantastic technical chaotic metal. I think Djent really landed only recently in Japan, and it hasn’t really had time to produce bands who really absorbed the concept. In few years it might all change.

How fascinating – so what kind of audiences do you get? Are they audiences that really appreciate it?

Mostly young audience, but not as young as teenagers. I think our music appeals from university student to mid-30s, or something like that. Kids here love breakdowns, chugs, and electro-fused metal, and we are none of that. But considering that, we’re doing okay for a band who’s been around only for few years properly in Japan 🙂 We are sort of seen as “reverse-import” band.

When it comes to the shows, are you all happy being based in Japan, or would you rather be based somewhere else?

I think we get on with the current band members more than any band I’ve been in – both musically and personally. But location isn’t really problem. It could be anywhere to be honest. But Japanese audience are very supportive and they buy a lot of merch to support the scene, which is nice. But everything is much more expensive here too. Anywhere you are, there is always pros and cons. Just have to make sure you make the best of it, using your brain.

Yeah, absolutely. It’s so difficult, having to make the decision as to what’s best for both the band and everybody involved with it, must be a constant struggle

Kind of, but since we perform with clicks, we can just practice in our own time. Even though the band is based in Tokyo, members lived in Bangkok, Cardiff, Chicago as well as Tokyo and it worked fine 🙂 Internet frees us from the constraints like locations.

What did people do before the internet!

YEAH! I think we are definitely the first generation to be able to really utilise technology far enough to do pretty much anything we want anywhere. Our new setup will be totally amp free – just 4U rack case…This will let us travel super light too.

Seriously?! That is AWESOME.

I never imagined you’ll be able to tour without so much equipment, but it’s totally possible.

If you’d told any of us this 10 years ago, we wouldn’t have believed it…

Yeah – Time changes so quickly! As I said already, we’re DIY band and have very little money – but technology is letting us do everything so cheap and providing solutions to most things. For those willing to work hard, now is one of the best time to live in I think.

Do you think so?

Yeah, because any later then it will be a norm to do things this way – you won’t be able to take full advantage of it. Technology is best when it had enough time to grow into something economically affordable, but early enough that you can make difference between others by utilising it. Technology is only as good as people who use it though. If you don’t know how to use it well, it doesn’t matter what potential it has. I can learn everything on YouTube pretty much, but you can only do that if you are happy to put some effort learning.

Yeah, most people aren’t willing to put in the time…

Yep. Same for music, everything. If people put effort, and did things that’s actually constructive, not insulting other bands on Facebook or Twitter, you’d get somewhere.

HA! Too much energy is taken by people doing nothing but bitching and moaning about everybody else – it gets so old, so quickly, and it’s such a waste

Yep. And they wonder why those who don’t complain and work hard succeed you know? If they could see in the graph how much of the time they spend is productively put into making good music. It’s important to have online presence these days, sure. It’s a part of promoting your band. But some people do that too much without actually having good product to promote.  But all good learnings have to come from themselves. Hopefully they realise that one day. Because it would be a shame to leave music with a bitter taste.

I really hope so, life works so much better when you spend your time building people up and not knocking them down

It’s such a wonderful thing I came to love. Support each other and we’ll lift ourselves much higher.

Yes! People claim there isn’t, but there’s room for everybody – music’s such a personal thing that there will always be some bands who appeal to certain people more than others, but we should be cherishing our differences and appreciating this

H: Yeah, there is a great article about “1000 true fans”.  Where it basically says if they have 1000 fans who are happy to spend $100 every year the musician will be fine. Not that easy to make someone spend $100 obviously. But. If it’s 4000 with $25 maybe doable? There are loads of bands with 4000 likes, maybe 5,6 times more than that.

Yeah, when it’s put like that it doesn’t seem insurmountable at all

Even with most extreme style of music, there are people who will like it. The question is how to reach them 🙂

Absolutely, and how to show them how good you are!

And make them feel that your music is every penny and more worth the money. Yeah. These days music can be downloaded free easy. Only reason for a person to buy music would be to support the musician. They need to feel that they want to support the artist. The key is to have something that makes the audience want to invest in you.  And for me, it’s been doing things DIY, that every bit of money they invest are used for the right reason. And in return I give them as much transparency as possible so that they can see that we work hard for ourselves. Trust and faith is a strong thing. Ehen your audience have these in you, you can do great things. You should never do something that takes advantage using these either. Losing them would cost you too much in the long run. Basically, being a good guy is the easiest solution to everything!

Interview: Felicity Hall

Cover Photo: Craig Hutton


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