Friday, 15 August 2008

Exclusive MOSAIC.WAV Interview


I have promised you readers something big; I hope this delivers! MOSAIC.WAV were gracious enough to take some time out of their extremely busy summer schedule to answer some of my pressing questions. Among other things, I asked them to give us their thoughts about the new album "Amusement Pack", how they felt after their 2nd live on May 31, where they get their seemingly limitless creativity from and how they started working with KOIKE Masaya! If that wasn't enough, I even managed to sneak in a few personal questions... you'll just have to read on! Please note that I decided to provide both English and Japanese versions considering the high volume of Japanese readers this blog gets. On a personal note, this is my way of jump starting the virtually non-existent MOSAIC.WAV fan community outside of Japan, so please help out by passing the word around. Hopefully one day we'll get Mi~ko and Kayamori-san to perform outside of Japan!

Interview was conducted in June 2008. Thanks to MOSAIC.WAV, Ino@Sham Studio for making this possible, as well as Satou-san and Yasuko-sensei for translation assistance. Please contact us for article reproduction. First picture courtesy of アキバ総研.

First of all, did the CITTA concert go well? How did you feel when it was over?

(Mi~ko) The two and a half hours just flew by! I was so happy to see the audience enjoying themselves.

(Kayamori-san) Listening to the applause from the crowd, I was really glad that we decided to do this concert. I just couldn’t believe that I had become someone who could stand there and perform in front of so many people. All throughout the concert and when it was over, I felt like someone else!

Your song-writing creativity is beyond impressive. Hearing your music is like having an energy drink. Where do you draw inspiration from? Do you have a background in musical education?

(Mi~ko) When I was a child, I only learned to play the electron [ed: electronic organ] and really didn’t dabble in anything else music-wise. My musical knowledge is far from complete, so I've had to fill in the gaps using my imagination. I definitely want to improve myself as we write more songs.

(Kayamori-san) When we are asked to perform songs for animation or games, I like to create unique situations using the story's theme. But for our own songs, I get my inspiration from things like comics, animations, computer games and also PCs and science in general.

I am influenced by a variety of music, of course I have always loved traditional Japanese anime songs of all eras since I grew up with this stuff. But more specifically, I have also been influenced by some radical artists who stepped away from the confines of what we knew or expected. Some examples would be Jun Togawa, P-MODEL and Kenji Otsuki who were active in Japan's underground music scene of the eighties. I also draw great inspiration from the game music and the progressive and fusion rock of that era.

My musical education was limited to Yamaha Electron lessons from age five to fifteen. When I was twelve years old, I learned how to compose my own songs using MIDI. I’ve always liked to entertain myself by imitating compositions and whenever people ask me to compose a song similar to how a certain person might compose them, I’ve always been able to do it. On the downside, I guess it’s because I like to imitate different styles that I’ve struggled when asked to separate my own original style from the imitations. Somehow it always seems to resemble something else. I think my irritation then shows in useless phrases and overusing the synthesizer. [ed: Japanese humility in action...]

How did you come up with the "Amusement Park" concept? Are you satisfied with the way the album came out?

(Mi~ko) We wanted to try and inject a sense of direction and flexibility into MOSAIC.WAV songs and built the album around this idea. I liked the idea of creating a set of amusement park theme songs and situations, so we set that as the theme and worked around it. Eventually, the objective was to create an album that made listeners feel like they are present at a theme park.

(Kayamori-san) I personally don’t know a lot about “Alice in Wonderland” and other similar stories, which are the origin of this amusement park idea, so this time I basically just followed Mi~ko’s lead. The idea of composing music as though it was a theme park seems to fit well with the flashy songs that we develop though. Am I satisfied? Hmm… I always want to make changes to the finished product and to be honest, this time in particular, I wanted to make a lot of changes!

You are known to use very interesting characters in your songs. For example, Falsie the Pseudo-Science girl, Akibattler, Melodroid/Tsunderoid and of course Uju, my favorite character. [ed: There is now a new うじゅ song] What disappoints me is that you don't give them enough songs! Will you revisit these characters in the future? Can we look forward to an Akibattler manga?

(Mi~ko) I think it would be good to create a sequel for each character. I would also like to compose something in the near future with several characters making an appearance together.

(Kayamori-san) I think the fact that there is just one character per song emphasizes the theme of our original songs. However, I agree that it doesn’t show much affection for the characters if we make a string of characters and just use them once and move on... it’s also probably not good if we limit each character to a same theme and same song. I do think the case of AKIBATORA is quite special though and the theme is clear. I guess that for me, the ideal way to deal with this would be for the characters to move away from the confines of the song – I think that could turn into something really interesting. We develop an attachment to the characters based on the different aspects that we see them in the story, but actually we are only seeing one part of them.

How did MOSAIC.WAV team up with KOIKE Masaya? His guitar skills are legendary throughout the world. Will he ever become a permanent member? How does he help the band on a day-to-day basis?

(Mi~ko) We first met Koike-san when we worked together on a composition, but now he supports us in many ways. We look on him as a big brother!

(Kayamori-san) He's always impressed me since the first time I met him. He can just verbally explain what kind of arrangements and patterns he wants to make as a sound mastering engineer. He also acts as a band master to arrange the songs for the live performance and offers ideas to fill the time between songs. He'll often say “this is something I came up with in a short time”. It never feels feel like that at all, it looks like a lot of hard work! That’s when I really feel the gap in our experience. He is a great support for us and very pro-active in helping us out, but I think it is unlikely that he will become a permanent member of the group.

My favourite MOSAIC.WAV songs are by far Love Cheat! and Kimi Hagu, because they are so intense. Which are yours, and why?

(Mi~ko) All of the songs have their own special memories for me. Even the ones I had a difficult time with, for example our first song 『Magical Hacker☆くるくるリスク』. That one definitely has a special place in my heart.

(Kayamori-san) If forced to choose, then in terms of lyrics, I would pick 『百合星人ナオコサン』. I think the lyrics content is very relevant today, and in my opinion it will also always be true. In general, the theme of the song is that "if humanity's actions do not adjust to the changing times, then the human race is not evolving". It blows away feelings of frustration and impatience that I get growing up as an adult.

Song wise, I think my favourite has to be “Futari no Kiss”. It’s the end song for the PC game “Kisumimi” and I think a lot of people haven’t actually had a chance to listen to it. I think the sudden and dramatic change in the song is great, but it’s actually so natural that it just blends in. My ideal song is a pop song that might perhaps seem quite uneventful at first glance, but is actually quite free flowing and natural in form – I think this song comes closest to that ideal. In particular, I love how the opening melody transitions into a fast tempo part.

The MOSAIC.MOV animations are fantastic. Who works on them?

(Sham Studio) From an animation side too, MOSAIC.WAV prefer to promote their own songs. Therefore the animations are produced in-house by MOSAIC.WAV themselves.

Is Sham Studio completely dedicated to MOSAIC.WAV or will new artists be supported in the future?

(Sham Studio) Sham Studio operates as the management office for MOSAIC.WAV, but aside from this, we are also involved in the animation side and the recording studio.

Is anyone within MOSAIC.WAV proficient with the English language? Do you read websites or watch English television?

(Mi~ko) I don’t speak English at all. I really love English picture books and have been wanting to understand them for some time, but the years have passed and I haven’t improved much...

(Kayamori-san) Most of the international news that I read have been translated into Japanese. I do read some English myself, but it is really only useful for software instruction manuals or synthesizers and various musical equipment. Sometimes I also receive e-mails from fans overseas. My English ability is limited to what I learned in high-school in Japan and I’m not very good. There’s not a lot of Japanese information for VST programming [ed: Steinberg's Virtual Studio Technology] and it’s times like this when I wish I had a better knowledge of English.

What do you like to do outside of writing music? I would assume you like to play a lot of video games given your music.

(Mi~ko) I often play video games. I’m into MONSTER HUNTER at the moment. I generally use Nintendo DS and PSP.

(Kayamori-san) I’ve always liked puzzle games and even now my favourite is “SOKOBAN” – I think it still provides an element of surprise even though 26 years have passed since it came out. Recently, I spend a lot of time on “MOJIPITTAN” – it’s a puzzle game kind of like the English Scrabble, where you have to line up Japanese hiragana characters to make words. I don’t really have a lot of time to patiently play games these days, but I do like to play quiz games on-line.

Do you all live in Akihabara? Where are the MOSAIC.WAV offices located?

(Kayamori-san) Our president said that he wanted to have the office in Akihabara, but for some reason, we ended up moving a little bit away from there…

Would you like to play a concert in North America one day? How often do you travel outside of Japan?

(Kayamori-san) I’ve never actually been overseas yet. I do take notice of animation artists performing abroad and hope that one day we will be able to do that too!

You have begun playing more live shows recently. It is nearly impossible for me to attend them. When can your international fans expect the first DVD?

(Mi~ko) I’m not a big fan of filming. Rather than just being watched on a DVD, I’d much prefer if we could meet someday at a live show...


電波の世界 said...

Please give us your comments on this interview! Rest assured that I could have asked many, many more questions but I opted to go for a more general QA and hit them back with more specific questions in the future. I tried getting an answer about a live DVD but it was clear that they weren't gonna break the news to DnS first.

However, I'm really glad to report that one of their next songs will feature many of their character creations in the same song... or non-song! And you know what? We have moar interviews coming up in the future! Not to mention that 「MOSAIC.WAVの月」 is only halfway through, so stick around for more! Pass the word about this site ください!

Anonymous said...

Damn this rules. I don't understand much Japanese so it's not easy to get information about the bands.
Thanks for the interview!
And moar coming up... Sweet.

Keep up the good work. MOSAIC.WAV rules and so does Denpa no Sekai.

kamosanorama said...

Thank you. Good interview!
I would like to listen their songs with characters such as Tsunderoid, Melodyroid, tera-tan...etc.,too.

Anonymous said...

Wow!! Amazing!! That's so cool you got them to do an interview!! Great questions too...!! It's easy to tell you are a big fan since you asked such good questions!! I am so bummed to hear they don't want to do a DVD though!! Really interesting to hear about their music backgrounds. I wish they answered a little more directly about sham studio and who does what.. guess it's a secret! I know mi-ko is good at flash.

For the Kisumimi song, I think the one you linked is called "kiss shite mi mi".. I never heard the Futari no Kiss song.

I really hope they will come to other countries. Thanks for organizing this interview and showing them they have fans across the world :)

I wonder if I can think of some good questions you didn't ask.. hmmmm

Anonymous said...

These are such great questions and answers, many that I have always wondered about. I love it when the interviewer is also a dedicated fan so they can ask things way beyond fluff and get into interesting dialog. Somebody better invite them over to North America now!

I also wonder if they'll go back and tell Koike that the international fans think so highly of him based on the context of the interview.I know he got fan letters from a few people before and replied in English..

Anonymous said...

My Dream Concert:

MOSAIC.WAV in the U.S.

Great Interview!!

Anonymous said...

Haha nice interview! It's interesting how Kayamori speaks about having to imitate other people's music & attempting to put his own spin on them. I can identify a few parts where his words hold true (i.e. the Van Halen / Oberheim-X Jump stabs in "My Darling!" is probably the easiest giveaway)

He shouldn't feel too bad about that aspect though; A lot of the more interesting composers of videogame(+esque) music end up imitating established styles & musicians of pop genres, and refining it from there (virt, especially his entries in kwakfest, would probably be the prime case-point example of this). Ironically my recent musical contract works have been more and more heavily influenced by Kayamori's style -- almost to the point of borderline パクリ, haha..

Anyway, count me in for an American-visit hopeful, too! Even if it's meeting him in Japan instead (though too late for Animelo for me at this point), I would LOVE to meet Kayamori face-to-face someday, and tell him how much I think he's a melodic genius. ;)

Oh and by the way, I'm sorry that I haven't mailed you from last time... a whole lot of things have happened right afterwards. But now that the smoke has cleared, I'll make sure to write you tonight. :D

Anonymous said...

Ooops, forgot to mention this... but one (rather useless yet technical) question I would like to know is if Kayamori has a passion for popularized synthesizer sounds and their history. Now the famicom-esque pulsewave sounds are obviously a given. But I noticed that MOSAIC.WAV's music likes to use popular synthesizer instruments that have been the staple (read: beaten to death by American producers) of many 80s & 90s songs.

For example, everytime I listen to the piano solo of Denki no Koibito's Dreamy IC mix I always laugh out loud while think to myself, "Maaaaan, only a true synthesizer nerd who knows his overused 80s producer cliches would use a Korg M1 piano and immediately follow it up with a Roland D-50 Staccato Heaven."

Another one is the entire Akibattler-mu single. I usually like to refer to it as the "Denpa demo CD of Yamaha". Aside from the whole vocaloid usage & references, nearly the whole entire instrumentation of "Kagaku Tsukai no Deshi" is done in FM synthesis. So I guess you can say it qualifies as a chiptune song. ;)

Yet another is how Ikken Rakuchaku sounds oddly like a GM Sound Canvas demo, but I guess that's enough citations for now... ;)

Nadirah said...

Great interview! I thought it'd be big, but this is definitely HUGE.

As I won't ever get to see them live either way, I'm really hoping they'd consider releasing a DVD of their performance...

Anonymous said...

Great interview! Although I don't know who is who, I know they are awesome... I'm a new fan so this really gives me lots of info.

電波の世界 said...

You make a great point. I don't think I'll modify the interview, but very soon I'll post something which should clear everything up. Too often do I assume everyone else knows as much about them as I do ;)

Fernandope said...

I would for them to come stateside!