IX-NINE- has been garnering attention from fans around the world with their unique concept and sound. With a mini-album and several EP releases under their belts in less than a year, you’d think they would have run out of material. Quite the opposite; IX-NINE- is releasing their first full album “NIRDVANDVA” on January 9th, 2016. It contains a staggering 22 tracks split into two discs.
We discussed the band’s activities since their first live, the addition of two new members, and the creation process for “NIRDVANDVA” with 3 of the members. (Read until the end for your chance to win an awesome prize!)
-Congratulations on successfully pulling off your first live. How do you think it went?
Shouki: It was difficult. Since it was our first live, I was really nervous. The songs were complicated.
$ali: It being our first live means there was a lot we fumbled on. It gave us a lot to think about.
Nøi: I felt nervous before we started, but when I got on stage, I realized I couldn’t see anything with the mask on. I felt more inconvenienced than nervous. There were a lot of times I couldn’t see what was going on. I couldn’t even tell if people were there.
-It did look tricky playing with those masks on. Did everyone find it challenging?
$ali: Like the other members said, we couldn’t see anything. I didn’t know how many people were there. We could only see our hands.
Nøi: The most I could see was about one person’s feet.
$ali: Yeah…it made me appreciate bands like Slipknot more.
-Right after the first live, you announced the addition of 2 new members. Could you introduce them to us?
$ali: Shouki, here with us today, is on drums. Akatsuki is on guitar.
-We last talked right before the release of “VIDYA.” You’ve released a lot of songs on EPs since then, most of them on iTunes. Why did you decide to sell them on iTunes instead of on CDs?
$ali: Basically, I wanted to try it out. We’d just released our mini album, so it seemed better to release them separately instead of on singles. It kind of naturally came together like that since we’re not a live band. That’s one of the bigger reasons.
-Do you think selling the EPs on iTunes has helped you reached your foreign fan base more easily?
$ali: Yes, I think so. If we released them as CDs, it’s obviously hard for them to get our music since it has to cross the ocean. I think it was easier to get our music this way rather than the whole selling, shipping, and then listening process. This has been a good learning experience for that.
-What kind of response have you noticed from overseas fans?
$ali: There are a lot fans in Europe, but we’ve had responses from people all over the world.
-What about in Japan?
$ali: A lot of our Japanese fans seem to be fans of dark or emo music. It depends on the release. I’m glad everyone has liked them so far.
-We’d like to turn the discussion to your upcoming first album “NIRDVANDVA.” Could you start by telling us the meaning of the title?
$ali: Translated directly, it means “a release from both extremes,” or taking the middle way.
-The middle way?
$ali: Like, instead of one extreme or the other, you pick the middle or “average” way. It’s depicted on the album cover as well. Christianity and Buddhism are mixed together a bit of a cynic sense. I don’t mean to sound self-righteous by saying this, but more than “both extremes,” I wanted to juxtapose the uniqueness of those two religions.
-There are a lot of tracks included on the album. What went into the decision to include so many?
$ali: We originally planned on including only 13 or 14 tracks. After each EP release, though, I had a lot of people saying they wanted it to be made into an actual single. So that’s how I decide to include them on the album. The amount of tracks kept going up and up… Then I thought, “Since I’m going to put this many songs on it anyways, I might as well include some older songs that haven’t been released.” Before I knew it, we were up to 22 tracks. It’s split into two discs because all of those tracks couldn’t fit onto one.
-Each disc on the album has its own name as well: “Numinöse” and “Mabayuki Tenbou.” Could you tell us what those titles mean?
$ali: It’s a German term that alludes to the kind of spirits that humans both feared and revered when the human race first took shape…if you’re interested, you can look it up a bit more. (laughs) Put simply, it’s a religious experience.
“Mabayuki Tenbou” is more about the perspective of dreams. There are a lot of different kinds of dreams, and these are the kind that leave a strong impression on you.
-Does the album follow a story like “VIDYA” did?
$ali: It’s more like a best-of album…
-Even though it’s your first album? (laughs)
$ali: Yes. Even though it’s our first album, I wanted to go all out. So instead of following a story, it’s separated into a Western music theme and a Japanese music theme. “Numinöse” uses a lot of strings, and the main instruments in “Mabayuki Tenbou” are Eastern.
-We’ve had the chance to listen to a preview of the album. It sounds more positive than your previous releases – closer to “Soubi na Yurameki.” Was that intentional?
$ali: I wasn’t paying that close attention to what key I was writing in. It turned out that way naturally since I’d done music in a totally different genre, and also created more songs for people who liked “VIDYA.” I tried remixing some songs I wrote a long time ago. I wrote one of them when I was in my teens. A lot of them were remastered with the thought, “What would it sounds like if I played it now?” There are a lot of different types of songs mixed in there.
-Next, please choose 3 of your favorite songs from the album and tell us why you like them.
$ali: “Yuugen no Izanai:” This song sounds like the tracks on “VIDYA,” but I also mixed in some Noh rhythms, then it sounds something like post rock in the middle. I think I did well with that musical progression.
“Anshou:” I like this one mainly because the vocal recording went really well. IX (vo.) said he could listen to it over and over. The chorus is really nice. Also, I like that it develops into something almost orchestral halfway through. I think I pulled that off pretty well.
“Madoromi no Tamashii:” This is a bit personal, but my dog passed away recently. I wrote that song in memory of him.
Shouki: For me, it would be “Heat Haze,” “Yuushuu no Bi,” and “Byakuren”—oh wait, that one wasn’t on the album. (laugh) Just those two, I guess.
-Did you record drums for “Heat Haze?”
Shouki: No, I didn’t. But we played it live. It’s one of the more positive songs on the album. The drum part for the guitar intro was really fun to play. I also like how it changes suddenly part of the way through.
$ali: I put some down beats and breakdowns in there that would make it interesting for a drummer to play.
Shouki: “Yuushuu no Bi” is probably one of the grandest-sounding songs I’ve heard.
$ali: Thank you.
Shouki: There’s a lot of feeling in the drums, especially during the end part. That’s why I like it.
$ali: Nøi only participated in the recording of one song. I’ve done pretty much all of it myself. He helped me with some of my older songs like “Hanamuke,” having him basically finish the last half of the song.
Nøi: Since I make a lot more house music than rock, it changed the song quite a bit. I was worried about whether or not that was okay. In the end, rather than me composing the last part completely on my own, I discussed a lot of it with $ali. I can’t take full credit for the second half.
$ali: We composed it as we discussed certain elements to put in. The music he listens to is a lot different from what I normally listen to, so that’s where the sound [of the song] started to differ. I wouldn’t have been able to write that song by myself. It turned out to be really interesting.
-Did you try anything differently (both musically and lyrically) for the album?
$ali: There are a lot of different singing styles included in the album tracks. I hope people listen for that. All of our songs have included a visual kei-esque singing style so far, but this time we tried some post-rock sounds and some vocal parts without lyrics. I think that’s the biggest difference.
Our lyrics haven’t really changed. Our stance remains the same.
-What else do you want people to listen for on the album?
$ali: For me, it’s the different singing styles. Shouki, you recorded drums for “Inori no Hoshi,” “Yumeutsutsu,” and “Ukiyo,” right?
Shouki: That’s right.
$ali: How was the recording for “Inori no Hoshi?”
Shouki: It has a hard sound…
-It had a pretty rock sound, I thought.
Shouki: I usually play rock – not hard rock, but regular rock.
Shouki: More on the technical side than rock’n’roll.
$ali: He played in a big band style, so he’s used to the field of jazz fusion drumming. I was curious about how recording would be, but his background made for pretty interesting songs.
-Since there are a lot of songs on the album, you must compose a lot. Do you have any upcoming releases planned?
$ali: I think we’re a bit burnt out for now, honestly. Most of the songs we’ve released so far are actually “IX-NINE- versions” of songs I composed for my solo project. They were created before we added the new members. So for our next release, I’d like to compose songs as a band rather than just me. The process will be a lot different than what I’m used to now, so we’re still unsure of how to go about it.
-Do you have any shows planned?
$ali: I don’t know if we can pull it off right now, but we’re really thinking of playing in Europe. If anyone reading this is in Europe, we definitely want you to come if we can make it happen.
-What about in Japan?
$ali: We don’t have any particular upcoming plans for Japan right now. If we can, we’d like to play in different areas like Osaka or Nagoya. We had a lot of comments from people who said they really wanted to go to our first live but couldn’t make it. We really don’t know yet, though.
-Finally, please give a message to your fans and S-T.net readers.
Shouki: Hm, what should I say? I just joined, after all. Well, $ali and I went to the same high school. I never thought we’d end up making music together again. I think it’s been 8 years since then. We both really love music, so that’s why we started playing together. I’ll keep playing as a member of IX-Nine- while remembering those feelings. I hope I can do it.
Nøi: $ali made almost all of the songs on our first album. I’m thinking of remixing some of the songs on there, maybe as EPs. I might even release them for free since they’ll end up sounding so different.
$ali: Right, since he comes from such a different musical background, I’m looking forward to seeing what he has to offer to the band from now on.
Nøi: I’m probably the member whose background is the most different. I hope you’ll look forward to it, too.
$ali: I think you can tell from the jacket that we put a lot of thought into this album. People will probably interpret it in different ways, but all I want is for people to listen. Also, I truly want us to play overseas. Look forward to it. We’re entering our so-called “second chapter”—the first chapter being when we were just 3 members—so please look forward to what we can produce. Thank you.
Keeping in line with our S-T.net tradition, we have a couple of prizes in store for some lucky readers. We’re giving away two signed autograph boards with a copy of “NIRDVANDVA” attached to two lucky readers. Enter using one or all of the methods listed on Rafflecopter for your chance to win. The contest ends on the album release date, January 9th. Try your luck and like, comment, and share!
Tags: IX -NINE-