Before the show of Crossfaith in the Patronaat in Haarlem I got the opportunity to sit down with vocalist Kenta for an interview. In this interview we talk about his impressions of The Netherlands and Europe, food, music, visual kei and cosplay, and of course about the band’s newest release “EX_MACHINA”.
Of course I’d also like to thank Kenta for his time and his incredibly detailed answers to my questions!
01. Of course there are a lot of people who already know who you are and what you stand for as musicians, but if you had to introduce yourselves as individuals and as a group to the ones who don’t know you yet, how would you do that?
Kenta: Uhm… Japanese Future Metal, maybe? I think that is the best way to express our music into words.
02. You probably don’t know this, but today is exactly 6 years since your very first show in The Netherlands! Back then you played at the Baroeg in Rotterdam, and you have visited our country various times for shows in different cities. How do you see yourselves today, opposed to the first time you came here 6 years ago? Do you feel like you have gone through some positive changes?
Kenta: Obviously we have more fans now, but we are always so thankful for them giving us the opportunity to play in different countries. The Netherlands is one of my favorite countries because it’s super beautiful everywhere. I was walking around the city and it was super beautiful. Back in 2012 I didn’t care about my voice too much, but now I need to keep my voice clear throughout the tour. That’s the main thing that has changed for me personally.
03. Like we just established, you’ve been to our country multiple times by now, and most of the time when artists are asked what they like about The Netherlands the most they didn’t have enough time to actually look around and enjoy themselves. What about you guys? Have you seen something of the country during all those times you’ve been here? And if yes, was there something that stood out to you?
Kenta: I was walking around the town for two or three hours earlier today and there were so many cool clothing stores and so many good restaurants, and the buildings… I feel like it’s only a little different from the rest of the European countries, but you guys have so many rivers. I would really like to canoe in the river. I’ve never done that before but I’d really like to do that on this tour.
04. And what about the food? Since I’m sure there’s a lot of unfamiliar things for you here in Europe opposed to what you are used to in Japan?
Kenta: In general? We had a strange color of something, I don’t know what it was but it was very pink and it looked so gross, I didn’t eat it. But back in 2012 with the first European tour everything was weird for us and I didn’t dare to eat much, but now I dare to eat pretty much anything. And I know how to order the food. I don’t want to eat weird stuff, so now I know how to avoid that during order.
05. During those years we’ve seen you here with at least one other band joining you. Do you prefer these shows with more than one artist playing, or would you rather do a solo tour? And why?
Kenta: Is it normal to tour with just one band? Is it natural? So many bands always bring a band for the tour, I’ve never seen just one guy or one band doing a whole tour. Maybe Justin Bieber or something, but he’s doing it for just him. Touring with a support band is always good, we have more time to relax and we can hang out together. Plus, I want the audience to check out the other bands as well so they can find new favorite bands as well, so yeah, I prefer to tour with other bands rather than solo.
06. Before the show in Hamburg you posted a message on your social media about Tatsu “going at it a bit too hard” the night before. So much enthusiasm lead to an injury it seemed. How is he doing now, and how does he feel playing with one hand? Has it influenced his playing/your show at all? Did you have to change the setlist to accommodate him?
Kenta: Yeah, definitely. He was affected and we were as well, we had to program part of the drum sounds as well because with one hand he can’t smash various parts of the drums at once, so we had to program what he couldn’t do. But he was definitely enjoying it, and we were enjoying it too. If we had a bad mood or anything that’s not going to be a solution to the problem. We were all just having fun. And he’s better now, he plays with both his hands again.
07. Everyone has their musicial preferences and influences, but how about you? Which artists do you personally enjoy?
Kenta: Yesterday I was listening to Hocus Pocus, a French hiphop group. I really love them and we were in France yesterday so I like to listen to local music based on where we are. Recently I also listen to Stay in the Color, some acoustic stuff and some hiphop maybe to relax.
08. And of course, influences. Which artists do you consider your current influences, and have these changed opposed to when you just started with the band?
Kenta: We have new elements of course, as you listen to it you can hear that too. And in the older days we liked metalcore and dance music like The Prodigy and Chemical Brothers and stuff. We’ve been changing constantly and each record is different. But we always think about that we still have to be Crossfaith even if we play a different style of music. It’s a rule to stay in the Crossfaith realm, but otherwise there’s no rules to making music.
09. EX_MACHINA is quite a difference when compared to the previous album Xeno. What inspired you to go into this new direction? Is the new album sort of a tribute to Linkin Park, perhaps?
Kenta: It’s definitely a different album but there are still similar vibes, this album is more futuristic and we focused on futuristic vibes on each song. It’s hard, every song we made is different and every song has a new direction so it’s hard to explain. We made bigger songs like Lost In You and Eden In The Rain. And it was also a tribute to Chester so that’s why we didn’t change a lot.
10. Everyone has a different process of working, can you describe how a new release is created for Crossfaith?
Kenta: We released three EPs before EX_MACHINA and we tried to make them as short records. We were talking about the concept of this album during that time. We got back into the studio to make music, and when we returned to Tokyo we started tracking and mixing and stuff. We always enjoy making music. If I don’t enjoy it anymore, I will quit. (Laughs.)
11. Fans often unknowingly pick out a favorite song from an artist they like, but what about you? Which song, or songs, do YOU like the most? And do you like these the most as studio recording, or do you like to play them live?
Kenta: The Perfect Nightmare. It’s totally different from the other tracks and when we play it live it’s so different. I feel like it’s a big difference from inside of myself and it’s amazing.
12. Assuming there are no limits to your options, is there an artist you would like to collaborate with for a release?
Kenta: I wanna work with, and this is my opinion, not as a band. Skrillex, Diplo and Rob from The Pendulum, that would be sick.
13. I heard that part of your concept was created by an aversion towards the visual kei industry/bands, which causes people to see you as a more “Westernized” band with your sound and visual performance. Do you feel like there is a big distance between you and a typical visual kei band in terms of fashion?
Kenta: I think so. I never compared myself with a visual kei band. It’s your job to judge it, it’s not my thing.
14. Hiroki in particular seems to be the closest to using “visual kei elements” in his visual performance (clothing, hair color, makeup) while the rest of the members have a more “Westernized” look. Is there a special reason behind this, or do you secretly like the fashion?
Kenta: No, I think that’s just how he feels. (Laughs.)
15. “Cosplay” is growing more and more popular in Europe lately. More and more people are getting into it and some of them come up with amazing creations to represent their favorite characters or people. What are your thoughts on cosplay? Do you like it, or would you like to try it yourself?
Kenta: It’s good to see a sexy girl doing a sexy costume (laughs). But I can understand the people who like cosplay. Everyone wants to be a different person, so I can understand that. I wanna try it one day, probably something like Mario.
16. You’re currently on tour, but sometimes the greatest ideas come up at the strangest times. Are you already working on something new, or are you merely enjoying the tour right now?
Kenta: I’m just enjoying the tour right now, but Kazuki already started writing music. We don’t have a plan for the next release yet though.
17. And with that, we’ve reached the end of the interview. Is there a parting message that you’d like to share with the readers?
Kenta: Thank you for reading this interview, and make sure you check out our new album (EX_MACHINA). We’ve already put three music videos on YouTube, and our new video will come out soon. And of course, come to our show!