It wasn’t long ago that we introduced to you TRNTY D:CODE, a band started by ex. KILLANETH members Kai and 39. The band is drawing attention not only because of the release of their first single “GRAVITY,” but also because of their unprecedented tie up with Swedish Visual kei musician YOHIO.
In this interview with TRNTY D:CODE, you can learn about the band’s concept, how to pronounce MST and 39, their goals for 2018, and their global outlook.
-First, please introduce the members of TRNTY D:CODE.
Kai: I’m Kai, the vocalist.
SHiO: I’m SHiO on guitar.
MST: I’m MST (pronounced “Masato”) on bass.
39: And I’m 39 (pronounced “Saku”). I’m on the manipulator.
-You don’t have a drummer at the moment, correct?
Kai: That’s right.
SHiO: We have a support drummer right now.
-Could you tell us what your band name means?
Kai: “TRNTY” is a reference to the Holy Trinity in Christianity. But it also refers to the feelings that humankind has experienced as a whole historically, and how it seems like those feelings are starting to grow fainter in the current age. The “D:CODE” part means “decipher.” To us, it’s our way of saying that we should, as humans, return back to how things were before.
-Would you say that’s your band concept as well?
-It’s interesting that you make use of the manipulator. Not many Visual kei bands do that. What went into that decision?
39: We wanted to add something a little bit different from other Visual kei bands in Japan. I used to be a drummer, but I was never really attracted to a single part in a band. What I mainly wanted was to express myself in my own way. I like the idea of a band, though, so I wanted to do that as a member of a Visual kei band.
Kai: When we considered all of that–wanting to be a little different and 39 wanting to express himself in his own way—the manipulator seemed perfect.
MST: Basically, we want to be Japan’s Linkin Park.
-Most Visual kei bands—including TRNTY D:CODE—have a distinct rock sound. But since you use manipulators, maybe you’re influenced by some artists or groups that aren’t in the field of rock music?
39: This isn’t really a music-related influence, but Kai introduced me to Die Antwoord. I really like them.
-I also took a peek at your Instagram, 39, and I noticed a few G-Dragon-related posts on there…
39: I love G-Dragon.
-Does that show up in the band at all?
Kai: It does in some ways. Mainly the fashion.
39: I’m not so much into the music. I’m more into his fashion and his view of the world. I like artists that make people go, “What is this guy thinking?” (laughs)
-So what are you into musically?
SHiO: I like ISSUES. And Wagakki Band.
Kai: The music I listen to isn’t really related to TRNTY D:CODE’s music at all…
39: Justin Bieber! (laughs)
-Justin Bieber? Really?
Kai: But that’s true! I listen to that kind of music. Justin Bieber, James Brown, Sam Smith…
MST: People are going to think he’s a hipster. (laughs)
-Like, romantic songs?
Kai: Yeah. I’m serious. I listen to pretty laid back music. (laughs)
-That’s pretty different from your image.
Kai: You’re right. I guess that must show up in the melodies. They’re not very typical of Visual kei.
SHiO: But that’s fine, because we don’t really want to be a typical Visual kei band. I don’t really like that style – the style that comes to mind when you hear the words “Visual kei.”
MST: We want to destroy that image.
-Then why did you decide to be a Visual kei band?
MST: We like how it looks. (laughs)
SHiO: We’re not into Visual kei for the music, per se. We’re more into how it looks.
MST: You can do anything with Visual kei.
Kai: There’s so much room for expression in this genre. I think that’s what attracts us to it. TRNTY is a band that doesn’t try to align its vision with what fans like when it comes to our looks, our music, or our music videos. If anything, we want to gradually change their expectations. This isn’t just with Japanese fans, either. We want it to become a genre that people anywhere in the world can get into.
-What kind of expectations do you want to change, exactly?
39: Like the typical musical key of Visual kei songs, how bands present themselves and perform…
Kai: Visual kei really has so much room for expression, but it’s a shame that people have come to expect that the music and looks have to be a certain way. I think it’s a waste. We want to push the boundaries of what you can express in Visual kei.
-Could you tell us about your first single, “GRAVITY?”
SHiO: When I first wrote the music for “GRAVITY,” there was no manipulator part. After we decided to make the manipulator a part of the band, I rearranged the original song. It became even better after I rearranged it.
MST: Yeah, it’s really different now…
SHiO: It’s like the result of the chemical reaction of the band members.
Kai: I wrote them after the music was written. A lot of the lyrics I write are about my own thoughts and experiences. Since we started TRNTY D:CODE and this is our first single, the feeling of, “This is when I have to start trying really hard” is included in the lyrics of “GRAVITY.” Like, “I have to do it now.”
-Do you have a lot of other songs written already?
Kai: Yeah, we have a fair amount.
-We thought it was interesting that you decided to present yourselves as a tie-up with YOHIO. How does this manifest itself in TRNTY D:CODE’s activities?
39: He has a sense of things that Japanese people don’t typically have. That really influences what we do.
Kai: Because he’s aware of that difference. It wouldn’t be lying to say that we aren’t a band marketed towards Japan – we’re marketing ourselves on a more global level. We’re actually focused more on international rather than national activities.
-Wow, that’s surprising!
Kai: Since we started working with YOHIO, the things we have to recognize and look at as a band have expanded. I think we would be fine if we were solely focusing on being a Japanese Visual kei band playing in Japan, but that’s not what we’re doing. We also needed to know how Visual kei is perceived overseas, what kind of music is popular internationally, and so on.
-Do you have a lot of international plans, then?
Kai: Yes, we do. We have a lot of plans, but we can’t announce them yet. No matter what we do in Japan, it will be difficult for fans overseas to see them or participate in them. We want to find ways to bridge that distance in all of our activities.
But since we do live in Japan, we will play shows here. However, we will do whatever we can to at least create a space for our international fans.
-So, TRNTY D:CODE officially started up in April 2017, but it wasn’t until December 2017 that band activities really kicked off. What happened?
39: It was originally me and Kai when we started. We had a plan that followed the same timeline as most other Visual kei bands, but then the tide changed…
Kai: We’d thought of when to announce certain things, but then our situation changed. Actually, we originally started this as a project [not a band]. When we decided to make it into a band, it took us a long time and a lot of talking to decide on what kind of band we wanted it to be. We had to figure out what we could do to set ourselves apart from other Visual kei bands.
39: Anyone can just start up a band, but we really want to cherish this band. That’s why it took so long.
-What are some goals you have for this year?
MST: We want to fly high, out of Japan.
Kai: We want to play a show overseas.
MST: I want to dream big.
Kai: We mean “fly high” in the sense of dream big, but I also want to actually fly. Like, in a plane.
MST: I think people [in Japan] have gotten a little boring with their dreams. There aren’t any huge superstars from Japan anymore, so people are setting their standards a bit lower. That’s not what we want. I think that’s also partially reflected in our TRNTY D:CODE’s concept.
Kai: We also want people to listen to our music and think, “Oh, they’re playing this kind of music?” We want fans to recognize that we’re a bit different from your typical Visual kei band.
-Since you’re so focused on international activities, would you say that English is an important tool for your success? How is your English language level?
MST: We do think it’s important.
39: I can’t speak English, and I can’t understand spoken English…I get laughed at.
Kai: I’m studying English a lot. I need to write the lyrics, after all.
-Do you write the English lyrics yourself?
Kai: Yes, I write them myself. I think that when our overseas activities really kick off, we’ll get more serious about studying. Like, “By this time, I need to be able to speak this much English,” and so on.
-What do you want fans to notice most about TRNTY D:CODE?
39: I want to know if the messages that we want to send will be understood by international fans. I think Visual kei fans in Japan are curious about us; maybe they’re thinking, “Oh, here’s another weird band.” But what I want to know is if international fans will get it. I’m looking forward to their judgment. (laughs)
Kai: What part of us? (laughs)
39: Our appearance. I want them to call us crazy. Like, “These guys are really crazy.”
39: I wonder if we can go that far.
Kai: In terms of what I want fans to notice about our music, I’d have to say the rapping. I started rapping when we started this band…
-Rapping in English or in Japanese?
Kai: Both, but mostly English. I think we have a rapping section in all of our songs right now. I don’t think there are many Visual kei bands that rap. There’s lots of shouting and screaming, but not much rap. I think that’s one of TRNTY D:CODE’s selling points.
-Do you find it difficult to sing [and rap] in English?
Kai: Yes. It’s difficult. I have to practice a lot whether it’s Japanese or English.
-Are you nervous about performing?
Kai: A little, yeah. It feels more like pressure than nerves. Since [rap] is something not typical of Visual kei, I’m a little worried about how the audience will respond to it.
-Your first show is next month, right? (to the other members) How are you feeling?
MST: I’m pretty excited.
39: I’m scared.
SHiO: Well, he is performing with the manipulator for the first time.
39: I want them to get into it.
-In Japan, fans typically make furitsuke (hand movements) to go along with the music, right? Instead of that, do you want them to dance?
39: No, I don’t really want them to dance, either…
Kai: We don’t want our shows to be like typical Visual kei shows.
-But, what if fans start doing furitsuke anyway…?
Kai & 39: We’ll yell at them.
Kai: We won’t really yell at them, but we’ll play in a way that you won’t want to—or be able to—do furitsuke.
MST: And if they do, that means we need to change our style. (laughs)
39: I think a lot of Visual kei bands make songs specifically with furitsuke in mind, but we don’t think of that when we write songs. I don’t think we’re able to make music like that.
Kai: If anything, they’ll put their hands up and mosh. There are also chances to do the Wall of Death. Ultimately, we want fans to say that they enjoy our shows by doing what they want to do – not by following a set sequence of movements.
-Finally, please give a message to your fans and our readers at S-T.net.
Kai: TRNTY D:CODE will officially kick off activities this year. We have a lot of overseas projects in mind, and our international fans will continue to be a part of whatever we do [even in Japan]. I think a lot of international Visual kei fans aren’t able to see their favorite bands because they only play in Japan or they’re too far away. To those fans – you don’t have to worry about that with us. We want you to expect us to go to a place near you. I hope you’ll give us your support so we can make that happen.
SHiO: I want to be a band that frequently plays overseas. The more support you give to us, the more opportunity we have to make that possible. I want us to do that together. It’s not something we can do on our own.
MST: Our mission to go overseas will be our first one. There’s a lot we don’t understand, but we’ll face those challenges head on. I want us to combine our passions, and I want people to think we’re cool regardless of nationality. Keep your eyes on us.
39: We will go to meet you. Wait for us.
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