Today, we have an interview for you that may have some of our regular readers tilting your heads, but we think it’s worth it. Kerbera is a rock band from Sweden with a few visual roots. You may recognize leader and vocalist Seike from his time in Seremedy, one of the more notable overseas visual kei bands. The group headed to Japan earlier this month for a week packed with concerts, events, and sightseeing. S-T.net took this rare opportunity to discuss the band’s time in Japan, their thoughts on the visual kei scene, and an organization named Visual Unite.
-Since this is our first interview with Kerbera, could you start by introducing each member?
Seike: I’m Seike, and I am the vocalist.
Freddy: My name is Freddy. I play bass and sing.
Dave: I’m Dave, and I just play guitar.
Tawin: I’m Tawin, and I make the most noise in the band. I play drums.
Zave: I’m Zave. I play guitar and backing vocals.
-How did you meet and decide to form a band?
Seike: I had a band before named Seremedy. When we disbanded, I decided to start another project. That’s how the band started with its first members. Freddy and I knew each other from way back. I wanted to make a real visual kei band, but it was hard to find really visual-inspired members. So, we decided to search for musically talented members instead.
Zave: I found a Facebook post saying, “I’m looking for band members,” so I sent in my YouTube videos.
Tawin: About half a year ago, I saw a Facebook post that had like 50 comments saying, “I’m a drummer and I want to be in the band! Please contact me.” I thought, “This band probably already has a drummer,” but I sent a message to Seike, we met up, and I joined.
Dave: I joined maybe 2 or 3 months ago. I sort of knew Seike from about one and a half years ago.
Seike: But we didn’t really know each other. He just shows up to parties. (laughs) I thought, “He’s cute, so he can join.”
Zave: When I first met him, we talked about music theory and stuff. I asked him if he wanted to join the band.
Dave: I said no at first, but I gave it a try and I really found my place in there. I really enjoy playing with these guys. They’re such good people and musicians.
-Have the fans welcomed you so far?
Dave: Yeah. There are some die-hard fans that liked a picture [Seike] posted immediately, so he told me, “Get Twitter now.” I made a Twitter account and got maybe 150 followers in the first day.
Seike: We have very dedicated fans. I’m very proud of them. It’s a little unusual to get this kind of fan base in Sweden.
-You said you wanted to start as a visual kei band. So, what is Kerbera’s association with visual kei? What are some of your visual and musical inspirations?
Seike: When it comes to visual kei, I’m more inspired by the idea of expressing yourself visually. That’s what I love about the visual kei genre. I also love that their fans are really dedicated. I don’t see that in other genres in the same way. I also draw from some of the same inspirations as visual kei artists themselves, like Marilyn Manson.
When it comes to the band, our inspiration is more fluid. It’s more like, “Do we enjoy playing this?”
Dave: Everyone has different backgrounds in music.
Seike: Only me and Freddy have that sort of visual background.
Dave: I’ve listened to maybe one or two visual kei bands in my entire life. I’ve found a lot of new bands I like since coming to Japan. At first I thought the genre was all about looks, but I think bands like the GazettE have awesome music. MEJIBRAY is also really good.
Seike: MiA is a good friend of mind and we played at the same festival on our first day. It was nice to introduce them to the whole thing.
Dave: It was kind of like our introduction to visual kei.
Zave: I can definitely see the appeal of it now, thanks to Seike.
Freddy: As for our musical inspiration, I think what really inspires me and Zave for this band is post-rock.
Seike: We also focus on clean vocals and making it sound melodic and catchy. We try to make music that not only listeners will be inspired by, but also that other musicians will be inspired by.
Freddy: One of my biggest inspirations is Michael Jackson. I love his melodies.
-Do you all write songs together?
Freddy: Not really.
Zave: Our first EP was co-written, but most of our latest album was musically written by Freddy and lyrically by both Freddy and Seike.
-Speaking of your latest album, you just released “People Like You.” Could you tell us the inspiration behind it and the creation process?
Freddy: I just kind of sit in my room and produce a bunch of demos.
Zave: This guy is sick. There was one week he wrote about 5 or 6 songs, and they were all album material.
Seike: We couldn’t even put all the good songs on the album.
Freddy: Some of the songs were a bit older. I wrote them way, way back, before Kerbera. As for the composition process, I can’t really say much. It just kind of happens. I start with guitar and add on to that. Everything kind of creates itself.
Seike: My inspiration when it came to the lyrics was that I was having a really hard time. Most of the lyrics were my way of processing the bad times. That sounds depressing, but it was my way to let out emotion.
Seike: I like it, but I’ve been very sick. It sucks.
-Are there any huge differences between how you play shows here versus how you play in Sweden?
Seike: It’s hard to set up all of the shows.
Zave: Between bands, we have like 15 minutes. It’s really hectic. And sometimes we start playing really early. We’re used to starting at maybe 7 or 8pm.
Seike: We also had more playing time, but I guess that’s kind of the charm here. Fans from a lot of different bands mix. That’s a good thing, but it’s harder to show your absolute best when everything is so hectic. It’s good practice, though.
Zave: We’ve learned a lot since the first show. Now we know how to set up our things really fast.
Freddy: I like that people stick around at shows. In Sweden, most people go to see the band they like and then leave.
Zave: To add something negative: everyone smokes here. Backstage, in the concert hall, everywhere. It makes my throat hurt.
Dave: It’s nice that there aren’t many people smoking inside, but once you get inside, it’s full of smoke.
-How’s your Japanese ability? Has the language barrier been an issue?
Seike: My listening ability is good, but it’s hard to form sentences. I understand what people say, but it’s very hard when it comes to business talk. You have to be specific. I can get by, but it’s hard when we really need to translate something.
Dave: We’ve gotten by pretty well since Seike has a lot of friends that speak both English and Japanese. We’re really lucky to have people that can translate for us.
-What’s the weirdest or best thing that’s happened so far on this trip?
Tawin: The weirdest thing is the toilets.
Seike: The other members are all very amazed that things play music.
Dave: There’s music everywhere! Every subway station has its own melody. And the first day, we were at a crosswalk where there was a button. In Sweden, you press the button to cross, but I guess this button was for blind people. When it was time to cross, it played very loud music and I panicked.
I think the best part of the trip has been the culture. The people, the food, the nightlife…
Zave: This city never sleeps.
Freddy: Everything is so cozy! I really value coziness.
Zave: I was pleasantly surprised to see that smoking isn’t allowed on the streets.
Tawin: Also there’s no garbage on the street…
Freddy: …but there are no trashcans!
Seike: I like that Japan is very safe. There are no pickpockets.
-Do you have any other plans to come to Japan in the future?
Everyone: Yes, of course. We love it here.
Seike: I made some really good contacts here, and I have plans to come back to arrange future plans soon. We have plans in other countries as well.
-Seike, you’re also involved in an organization called Visual Unite. Could you explain its concept and what you hope to accomplish with it?
Seike: Even since I was in Seremedy, I’ve been good at the management side of things. I realized my potential to make contacts and my desire to connect all of the visual kei bands in the world. There are so many. We want to help bands that were inspired by visual kei make their way to Japan. It’s for helping overseas visual kei bands spread around the world and to make people realize that visual kei is not only for Japanese musicians. On this tour, we brought my friends from Thailand and Indonesia over. In the future, we’d also like to help Japanese bands reach more of their overseas fans.
-It’s an unfortunate but common perception among visual kei fans that non-Japanese bands can’t be considered “visual kei.” Do you receive these kinds of negative comments? How do you deal with them?
Zave: We’ve been getting comments that are like, “Who are these white people?”
Seike: And it’s other white people that are saying this.
Dave: It’s never Japanese people.
Seike: I’ve personally been through it a lot since my time with Seremedy. A lot of people in the visual scene know about me. It’s never Japanese people [making negative comments] – they accept it and think it’s a good thing. They support it because they support the visual kei scene. So I think it’s very disrespectful that [foreign fans] don’t support us. My message to all of those people is that if you like the scene, you don’t have to like every band, but you should at least support the scene so that it can stay alive. You’re killing it by not supporting it. It needs to keep evolving or else people will lose interest and artists won’t be able to continue doing what they do.
-Switching to a more positive note, what’s the first thing you want to do (or eat) when you get back to Sweden?
Dave: I wanna take a long bath.
Zave: I want to drink the tap water.
Seike: I want to be with my cats.
Freddy: I want to sleep in my own bed.
Tawin: I’m gonna eat Swedish pizza.
-Finally, could you give a message to our readers and your fans?
Seike: I want to thank everyone for supporting us, especially for our first time in Japan. We’re very happy to be here. I hope you find interest in us and enjoy what we’re doing. Come see us if you can!
Tawin: We don’t take it for granted that we can go to another country, so that’s a big thing for us.
Zave: Thank you for that.
Dave: Support your local scene!
What did you think of this interview? Let us know in the comments below (and remember to keep things polite and respectful)!