JILUKA has been making waves in the indies visual kei scene since 2013 with their distinctly heavy sound and equally heavy use of English lyrics. They just celebrated the release of their fifth single, “Faizh,” on April 20th. In our exclusive interview with them, they talk about everything from JILUKA’s origins, musical influences, the creation process behind “Faizh,” and their outstanding English ability. Read until the end to find out how to win a special prize!
JILUKA on “Faizh”
-Since this is our first time meeting, could you give us an introduction of each member?
Sena: I’m Sena on guitar.
Ricko: I’m Ricko on vocals.
Boogie: I’m Boogie, the bassist.
Zyean: I’m Zyean on drums.
-Could you also tell us the meaning behind JILUKA’s band name? Do you have a band concept?
Sena: The meaning behind our band name is secret for now. As for our concept, we have a heavy metal sound that emphasizes catchy melodies and Ricko’s clean vocals.
-How did you all meet and decide to form a band?
Sena: Ricko, Boogie, and I were playing together at first, then Zyean joined us to form the JILUKA we have today.
-What were your first impressions of each other?
Sena: The member I met first was Ricko. I actually mistook him for someone else. I’d heard talk about this other bandman and thought it was him, but I was wrong. I thought he seemed like a good person either way.
As for our bassist, Boogie, I first saw him at a concert. I’d never met someone like him before. When I tried talking to him directly, though, he seemed like a good guy.
Zyean was, well…The first time I saw him, I was also at a livehouse. He emerged from this dark corner really slowly like a ghost. He seemed like a person that wasn’t very good at talking to people. But we decided to get together in the studio. At our recording studio, there’s a staircase. Most people will bounce a bit when they go downstairs, but the way he went downstairs made it seem like he was floating. Like a Japanese ninja. (laughs)
Ricko: I first met Sena. He seemed like a smart guy that had a good head on his shoulders. He’s a real guitar head. Boogie seemed kind of like a party boy at first. I’m into partying too, so I thought we’d be able to get along well. As for Zyean, I just thought he seemed awesome. He made a great first impression and he has a nice way of talking. A heartwarming, nice guy.
Boogie: I thought Ricko seemed like cheerful guy. Sena seemed like he had his act together. I thought I’d have a hard time communicating with Zyean when I first met him. He scared me a bit. It was like a horror movie.
Zyean: I thought Ricko was a passionate person. I could tell from the first time I looked at him. He has a burning soul. Everyone has said this about Sena already, but I thought he was a pretty intellectual guy. Honestly, he intimidated me at first. He has a really distinct aura. I felt like he’d become someone great someday. As for Boogie, I met him because of JILUKA. I thought he was the one that would be difficult to communicate with. But after meeting him a few times, I realized he’s a good guy.
-We’d like to talk about your single that was just released on April 20, “Faizh.” It includes two tracks. Could you tell us a bit about each song?
Sena: For this single, we started by thinking of ways in which we were going to sell it. We wanted to include some of our past PVs on the release. So, we’d figured out that much before we even made the songs. I felt a lot of pressure from having to think about that along with creating a good-quality song. But at the same time, I didn’t want to lose to myself. If the music isn’t interesting enough, people will start to think, “They were better before.” We want people to believe JILUKA is a band that will continue to evolve. That’s why I put a lot of effort into this song.
The title “Faizh” is based off of the Greek symbol Φ (phi). It basically means “absence.” It represents the loneliness or emptiness that everyone experiences. As for the spelling, “phi” is normally spelled with “ph,” but we wanted to be a little more original. So we changed “ph” to “f,” and then changed the end to “zh.”
There’s one more meaning to the title; “Faizh” will be our fifth release as JILUKA. “Faizh” sounds a little like “five.”
I’ll let the other members talk about the musical parts.
Ricko: The main vocal features are the shouts, clean voice, and high tone. I tried to express the concept of “we are nothing” to fit the meaning of “Faizh.”
Boogie: To express the heavy feeling of this song, I made the chorus [bass] catchy and emotional. I also tried to make it easy to listen to so that a lot of people will listen to it. It’s a combination of a loud sound and an emotional melody.
Zyean: When we recorded drums for this, I wanted to make it sound more extreme than our previous releases. I consulted with Sena and the other members a lot before it came out like this. I tried to emphasize blast beats and double bass drums.
Sena: “Faizh” is on the melodious side, but “Lethal Affliction” is more on the loud side. There’s a lot of heavy shouting. I think that’s one of our selling points, so I wanted to include something like that in this release. We made this song with a concert setting in mind, and also included a lot of technical phrases that I thought would annoy the other members. (laughs) I made the instrumental parts too difficult almost as a joke, but since we were on a tight schedule, those parts ended up being what we went with. We went all out.
Ricko: The shouts are the focal point of this song. I put a lot of passion into them. Also…you can feel a (in English) punch.
Sena: When we recorded vocals for this in the studio, the rest of us were in a place maybe 3m above him, but Ricko’s vocals still managed to shake the floor [like a punch].
Boogie: We wrote “Lethal Affliction” while really conscious of how it would sound live, so I tried to make the bass line with phrases that were easy to listen to. It’s fun but difficult to play.
Zyean: Like Sena said before, he wrote our parts way too difficult almost as a joke at first. When I heard the demo, I was like, “Are you kidding me right now? I can’t play this!” (laughs) It has a beat that’s really easy to get into, but it has a lot of minute phrases and techniques that are extremely challenging. I honestly wasn’t sure if I could manage it, but I try to overcome that feeling every time we release something new. It was a real challenge for me.
-Are you still worried about playing it live?
Zyean: Honestly, yes. (members laugh) But I’m going to work at it until I can perfect it.
-Speaking of lives, you’ll be having your first one-man show in Ikebukuro next month. What kind of show are you planning?
Sena: Since it’s our first one-man, I want to show everyone our energy and spirit.
Ricko: I want everyone to know that we’re not just powerful and passionate, but that we can also put on a show that will move you emotionally.
Boogie: We’re normally limited time-wise at event shows, so there are a lot of things we don’t have time to express on stage. I want to use our time at this one-man to express all that we’re capable of.
Zyean: I’m stating the obvious here, but a JILUKA one-man means that it’s an event consisting only of JILUKA. I think there will be a lot of people coming to see us for the first time on that day. I want to leave an impression on them. Maybe some of them will think we’re cool; maybe some of them won’t like us. What bothers me the most is when they don’t think anything of us. So that’s why I want to leave some sort of impression on them, whether it’s good or bad.
-Most of our readers live overseas, so they haven’t had the opportunity to see JILUKA live. How would you describe a typical live to someone who’s never seen you?
Sena: Passion is a key feature of our shows. There’s a lot about our shows that you can’t explain in just words, but if I had to put it into words, I’d say unity is also a big part of it. It’s like everyone at our shows is feeling the same thing. There are even moments where it seems like we can read each other’s thoughts. Overall, everyone has fun and it’s fun to watch. Also…(in English) punch.
Ricko: I put forth a lot of passion. I think people who like heavy music will really like our shows.
Sena: Even if you come to shows in a calm state of mind, Ricko’s vocals and performance style will amp you up.
Boogie: You’ll definitely think JILUKA’s shows are cool even if you’ve never seen us before.
Zyean: I think the members covered most of it already, so I’ll have to say…(in English) punch. Also, I think the music we play at shows is even better than what’s recorded on our CDs.
-Speaking of overseas fans, have you noticed a following from overseas fans on your social media (Twitter, YouTube, etc.)? Do you know where most of them live?
Zyean: There are some in Germany.
Sena: I’m not sure where they live, but a lot of the messages we get are in English. I can read those. But there are some messages that are in languages I can’t read.
-JILUKA has a lot of lyrics in English, right? Do you write those in Japanese first and then translate them to English?
Sena: Yes, but instead of directly translating them, I choose phrases that sound good and rhyme cool while also staying close to the original meaning. It needs to fit the rhythm.
-Do you translate the lyrics yourselves?
Sena: Yes. We try to. I’m not a good English speaker, but I like to read and write lyrics in English. I make sure to look up phrases that I don’t understand.
-Can any of the other members speak English?
Ricko: (in English) Yes.
Boogie: I can read simple English…
Ricko: (in English) Cat. Dog.
Boogie: …and I’d say my speaking ability is at a basic level.
Zyean: Same here.
-Do you have any interest in touring overseas some day? Where do you want to go?
Ricko: I want to go to America, maybe Los Angeles.
Sena: I want to visit Seattle. I went there once for a homestay visit when I was a student. I want to see my [homestay] parents again.
Zyean: Las Vegas.
-Las Vegas? Are you a party person?
-So, most of you want to visit America. Any particular reason?
Sena: The sound is really different there. The punch is different.
-What bands are you influenced by?
Zyean: Rings of Saturn. I also like EDM, 80’s metal like Metallica, and metalcore – like Bullet for My Valentine. A lot of my technique is influenced by death metal. There are too many to list, so I’ll just keep it at that.
Sena: I listen to a lot of classical and world music. I think JILUKA’s music is influenced a lot by ethnic elements. I also like Kansas.
Ricko: I’m into rap. I’m also really into Linkin Park. They’ve influenced me a lot.
Boogie: Slipknot got me into heavy music. Lately, I’ve been trying to listen to a lot of different types of music. When you listen to only one kind of music, your way of thinking becomes fixed. So, I’m trying to listen to a bit of everything.
-Lastly, please give a message to your fans and our readers at S-T.net.
Sena: Thank you for reading this until the end. If reading this interview has piqued your interest in JILUKA at all, you can read more information about us on our official site. Please come see us live! Nationality doesn’t matter at our shows, so don’t hold back.
Ricko: If you’re in Japan, stop by one of our concerts and see our burning soul.
Boogie: I believe JILUKA’s music can be enjoyed by anyone, whether you’re from Japan or overseas. Please keep listening to our music, including “Faizh.”
Zyean: I understand it’s probably difficult for overseas fans to come see us live, but you can still enjoy our music and PVs. We’ll try our best to translate and read all the comments we receive on Twitter, so please send us a lot!
JILUKA’s first one-man will take place on May 21 (Sat) at Ikebukuro BlackHole. Tickets cost 3,500yen advance, 4,000yen same day. If you’re in Japan, definitely go and check them out.
In traditonal S-T.net spirit, we’re giving away two autograph boards signed by the members in a Rafflecopter giveaway! Enter using one or all of the entry methods listed below to increase your chances of winning. The deadline is May 7, 2016 at 11:59PM (EST).
Interview and translation by Shannon