Just before the start of his Eastern European tour that will last until March next year (the dates weren’t fully announced at the time I wrote this interview, which is why he corrected me with his answer) I spoke with SANA SAMA about his tour, his feelings about touring in general and some of his influences on why he decided to become a musician.
I’d also like to thank Christina from AnimePro for helping me out with this interview.
01. Of course I know who you are, but could you please introduce yourself -in your own words- to the readers?
SANA: Hi. Nice to meet you. My name is SANA. A Guitarist as well as a Solo Singer. Please call me SANA SAMA (sama is written as 様 in Japanese) I have already visited more than 20 countries and have given over 85 shows overseas.
02. One glance at your visual material (photos, videos, etc.) and everyone can tell you are a very creative and expressive personality. Have you always felt this “free” to look like this, or was it a slow build-up progress?
SANA: Thank you very much.
I try to move onward with my vision.
It’s still a build-up progress.
03. Did you always aspire to be a musician in the visual kei industry, or is this something you gradually rolled into as an artist? As I personally can’t imagine you in any other category strictly visually speaking. Visual kei seems like the perfect spot to express yourself visually without limitations, but what do you think yourself? Do you feel limited in what you can or can’t do even in this category of music and visuals?
SANA: I always really loved the Visual Kei world.
When I was younger I thought Visual Kei was completely prefect.
But it’s a very closed world.
Sometimes it’s perfect but otherwise I feel that it’s not enough.
04. Can you tell me something about the creative process behind your releases? Like how do you decide on what you want your new songs to be about and what your visual performance will look like eventually (like, what will you wear)?
SANA: New songs always come after a tour. Because I get all kinds of emotions from the audience of each city. The outfit will depend on the songs. It’s kind of automatically. So the tour is the most important for me right now.
05. You have quite the career in your name already. Guitarist of MASK, guitarist of Kαin, and you’ve supported other musicians like SATSUKI during his European tour in 2014 for example, and of course your solo career. Do you prefer to work with a group (aka be in a band) or do you prefer to work alone as a solo artist, and why?
SANA: If I have good friends who are artists, I prefer working with a group.
But now I prefer working solo. Because the work from a solo artist all comes from one artist. I need to know everything and I need to learn everything right now.
06. Everyone has to start somewhere and has things influencing their decisions throughout their life. What made you decide to pursue a career in music, and when you first started did you ever think you’d get this far as a person?
SANA: When I touched the music it felt like freedom. Falling in love with it was easy.
I have never expected to do more than 85 shows overseas. And it will become over 100 in March 2018.
07. Throughout the years I’ve seen you visit Eastern Europe and the Middle East several times. What attracts you to these places over other places in the world? The culture, food, architecture, or something completely different?
SANA: The audience is really pure around those countries.
I wish western EU people would be like this too. Anyway, I have to make a EU tour, then I could feel it right? Haha.
08. Your next tour starting in December 2017 and ending in January 2018 will be in Russia. Normally artists only visit one or two cities in Russia and then continue through Europe, but not you this time. Do you have anything special planned for this little tour, especially for the Russian fans, considering you’re playing mostly club-sized venues?
SANA: Actually the tour will be a 3 months tour. Until March 2018.
The venues have a capacity about 100-300 people.
We didn’t choose big venues.
Yes, I have special songs for this tour.
And I’m excited, because I will play them during the tour.
09. Like I already said, you’ve visited many places during your tours. Do you have any “I will never forget this”-experiences from these journeys you’d like to share? (Can be both positive or negative, of course.)
SANA: Hmm, actually all memories were unforgettable. But from some memories I forgot some details. But I wanna keep it, so I always write a diary during a tour.
I’m reading it for you now. I wrote in the diary “I woke up at 5 AM moving to the next city.. spent 12 hours.. same schedule until Tuesday… (I it wrote on Friday)”.
Seems like I have such a hard schedule lol.
So I want to share with you that a tour is always hard but the tour memories are amazing.
10. Even though you’re often away as a musician, I’m sure that sometimes you like to be home by yourself (or with friends) too. What does a “normal” day at home look like for SANA-SAMA? (Meaning there’s no show or music obligations in a studio.)
SANA: I wanna do some sport off day. But I don’t have any friends lol. Well, if I have a day off I do some training. After that I feel so tired that I sleep while listen to music. Lol.
11. You’ve worked with seiyuu (voice actors) in the past. What made you decide to try and make these collaborations reality, and are you happy with the results you had back then? Would you do it again, and if yes, with who would you like to collaborate this time? Or do you have another type of artist you’d like to collaborate with?
SANA: I thought that Anime and Visual Kei are kind of Japanese culture. If those are mixed on stage it would be amazing.
That’s why I made this project.
If I have any chance I would like to do a collaboration with them again.
I wanna collaborate with nice feelings and a person that has the same view.
12. Looking back on your career today, is there something you’d like to say to the younger SANA-SAMA as a piece of advice? Like something he should absolutely grab with both hands, or something he shouldn’t do that you learned the hard way? And why this particular advice?
SANA: Yes. Learn English.
Go overseas before the year 2007. You know why. Haha.
But actually I’m honored with my career right now. Nobody copies, nobody makes the same career which I have right now.
13. You’ve been around the music industry for quite some time, so you’ve probably been able to reach some goals and dreams you’ve set for yourself in the past. Do you have any new dreams and goals by now? What would those be?
SANA: I want to make a world tour one day.
I’m going to go to all countries in one year.
And I want to release a new album.
14. Do you have any plans for the future in terms of new releases as a solo artist, or something as a part of a band? If so, can you tell me something about these plans?
SANA: I always said that I will release a new album next year. But it hasn’t come true yet. So I wanna say it again, I will release a new album next year. Or it should be released as a new single at least.
15. And last but not least, do you have a message for everyone reading this interview?
SANA: Thank you for reading.
I keep on going my way and make good music.
I wish I could visit you in your city and I’m looking forward to meeting you there one day.
Thank you very much for giving me the chance to meet you. Love.