Kyo – Full interview H (December issue)

Includes spoilers to Madoka Magica and Fist of the North Star… I guess. (you have been warned).

Translator’s notes  = […]

Interviewer’s notes = (…)


Translated by Agentpummel

Where is Kyo’s fast-pacing desire to express [himself] leading him? After having released his photobooks as a solo-project, we will further investigate about this “world overflowing with originality”!

With releasing his photobooks „Shikkaku“ and „for the human race“ simultaneously and holding photo exhibtions in Tokyo and Kyoto, Kyo (DIR EN GREY) has started his solo work in full swing. Parallel to having just started DIR’s latest tour, the new single „sustain the Untruth“ following on 22th January 2014 and Budokan shows on 2 consecutive days (08./09.03.2014) being scheduled, his solo work is keeping up in the same pace. In addition, his webpage launched with characters that came forth from T-shirt designs. Its content is quite a surprise. Differing from the usual taking pictures or drawing paintings, these made-up images are like instantly documentated stories, that begin to unfold. This becomes comprehensible upon reading the description of “MAMA” (see below). In this fashion each and every character has not only unique and interesting traits, but their names also feature allusions to directors or famous lines from movies. It makes one wonder where this original world view evolved from and how it will spread out in the future. As of now, what might be going on inside Kyo’s mind? In the wake of conceptualizing this issue we tried to stay within the complacent expression of „an open house day at H“!


This is Kyo’s “Zemeckis-Family”, consisting of 5 members, that are quite individualistic characters. Always covered in a cloth is Penyu in the centre (2nd from left), also called Akui-chan [TN: akui 悪意 = evil, malice]; Papa Jodoro (in the back / keeping his body hidden behind a huge, 2 m exceeding mask and even almost never revealing it in front of his family); Mother Majer (3rd from left / night by night and deep in the forest, she makes the hunt for humans her favorite pastime); Penyu’s brotherly twins Pirquet & Pádloquet with the sister Raimi, also called Inugami-chan [TN: inugami 犬神 = dog god (wiki)]. The title „MAMA“, which appears to hover over Majer in this piece, was also featured on T-shirts.

H: Different from your own solo webpage, the site of this character called „MAMA“ has launched quite well, hasn’t it?

K: Has it? (laughs)

H: I think so. I assume it’s not easy creating a shirt from a drawn character and work hard to manufacture it with all setups. How did you construct this [imaginary] world?

K: Originally I had only drawn Penyu before (2nd character from left), only that it was much more like a rough draft. And it took shape while we were touring abroad with DIR EN GREY, when I was drawing away in my freetime. I thought of adding a family, because it seemed a lot more interesting to give him an older brother etc. It must’ve been about a week, in which I drew stuff every now and then and eventually I decided to put names to them. I thought of making a mother-like figure the main character, instead of Penyu, so I came up with „MAMA“. So at that time, while it slowly took shape, I figured it would be interesting to put it on a shirt. It really was such a process, that these ideas came gradually.

H: In that sense, have you done something like it [before]? Making up a family, the character setup and their story. Have you ever considered it?

K: No, but aside from that, I did write a kind of picture book-like story, among other things. [1] It’s still in an early stage though. And while I drew the family and thought about character settings and such, I considered turning it into an illustrated book, but as a matter of fact there are a lot of things I would like to do. The story book thing has been [on my mind] for quite some time already.

H: But it’s not like you found a new way of coming up with things [while expressing something]?

K: No it’s not particularily like that. I was just thinking about what personality this one would have or how funny it would be creating that guy and such. If I imagine something, it’s much like automatically taking a stroll alone inside my head, so it’s either instinctively or not.

H: The characters can be associated with names of movie directors, so it seems you’re incredibly fond of movies as your hobby.

K: Yeah, that’s right.

H: What kind of movies are you into?

K: I wonder… Basically I don’t watch movies, in which no character dies.

H: Hahaha.

K: Yeah well, something like that (laughs). I’m willing to watch those, that have almost always somebody dying. A lot of movies that I personally consider the best, are ones in which the main character dies (laughs).

H: Well, dying lets us strongly realise that we are alive, right.

K: I just think that it doesn’t feel life-like when nobody dies. I mean don’t portray everything euphemistically. It only makes me think like „What the hell is this?“. Well, someone doesn’t need to die necessarily, but somehow it feels wrong to me when the movie ends in a happy ending, I don’t like it much. The same goes for Anime and Manga with popular characters that don’t die, right? For example in the old „Fist of the North Star“, the popular character Rei or so is killed off immediately. That was pretty awesome. I kill popular characters.

H: (laughs). Uh, do you know the Anime „Mahô Shôjo Madoka Magica“?

K: Ah, only by name.

H: It’s a story where the female lead characters are killed.

K: Oh? Killed? The main characters?

H: Well, including them, yes. In the 2nd or 3rd [episode], one girl gets killed out of the blue.

K: Ah nice. I like that. Also when something unexpected happens. I will check it out.

H: Please do (laughs). By the way, do you use different channels/mindsets inside yourself when you create music, take pictures or draw?

K: No… I don’t really differentiate it. I guess something changes in my head, but it all comes rather instinctively to me.

H: For instance, suppose you made your debut with DIR EN GREY and one or two years after that you would have [already] started with photography and drawing and you would see that you were such a person that has had this kind of output from the beginning on in order to express yourself. Wouldn’t these activities have started on their own all of a sudden, long after making your debut?! I think that’s interesting.

K: Hm, the first thing I was able to do was nothing but singing. It came up since it was a way to express myself naturally and that’s it.

H: In an earlier interview from CUT you said that you started picking up pencil and notebook while you were waiting for your next flight at the airport, having some spare time. Was it really like that?

K: Yes it was. I couldn’t sleep anymore and there was really nothing else to do, since I can’t speak English either.

H: So it was in your nature from the beginning..?

K: No… I thought I couldn’t draw, so I never tried and gave up from the start. But back then having [all that] free time was the only reason to give it a shot and when I did I thought „Maybe I can [draw after all]“. So from then on I wanted to do it more and more.

H: But dont you think that at some point you would have started with drawing and photography all by yourself anyway, even if you wouldn’t have had all that free time at that airport? Even now?

K: No, I guess I wouldn’t have done it.

H: (laughs) You say that with absolute certainty, hm?

K: If I would have been in Japan, I would have been pretty busy. There is a lot of stuff I do to pass time, like going to the movies or such but I wouldn’t have gone to museums/galleries.

H: So the only motive was that you had nothing else to do, which is quite intense.

K: (laughs) Yeah. I can’t get enough. That’s why, even if only a small part of me thinks „I can do it“ then I want it all. In the past I tended to set a high standard for myself. I’ve been always doing it [that way].

H: Let’s have a look at your photobooks. It must’ve been pretty hard to take the pictures, print them and put them together/edit them.

K: Yes, it was hard.

H: It’s a bit weird, right? In the beginning it was all just about killing time, so why does it take so much effort now?! Have you ever thought about like that?

K: Hm, yes but it was fun, because I didn’t have a deadline. Though I wouldn’t feel comfortable, if it were my [real] job and I would need to take a certain amount of pictures. If I would be restricted, I couldn’t spread my wings freely.

H: So this fast progressing creative work is fully done without any deadlines?

K: Yes, no deadlines. But I wouldn’t say that it’s fast progressing. Even these photobooks were mere pictures for a long time. There is still [lots of] stuff to reveal. When I thought we could publish the books, my staff kept telling me things like „No, at that time a CD will be released, so we can’t do it“ (laughs). So whenever I got that answer, I chose other works [to tend to].

H: I see. The „to-publish“-pile never caught with the „to-produce“-pile.

K: Exactly.

H: That’s incredible, this flowing creativity. So it means that this is in no way a band for your free time, right?

K: It’s not a hobby.

H: Thinking in easy terms, if one was to compare it to a band that is only active in Japan, you sure are very busy, right.

K: But in reality, it doesn’t feel like that. Isn’t it that most people in bands say that it’s sooo busy. Whereas I’m thinking like „You gotta be kidding“ (laughs). I do have free time.

H: [Ok], suppose you’re drawing a picture. Do you do it according to the image you had in your mind in the beginning or does it come gradually flowing out, the minute you pick up a pencil?

K: It comes gradually. Without thinking… I start drawing, not with eyes but with stupid/ridiculous eyes or with things I don’t understand. The shapes I draw come naturally and I think about doing them in this or that style. Even from the start, I never took a look at other pictures. [TN: as in ‘for reference’]

H: You do care about this not yet published illustrated book, right?

K: I hope to publish it some day.

H: Without consulting anyone about this matter?

K: I didn’t ask anyone hahaha.

H: I want to know more about ______. [2] Like did you take your camera and wander around aimlessly and took pictures…?

K: Ah I don’t wander around.

H: Ok, so you don’t do that in order to take pictures, but did you wander around because you had free time and then started taking pictures?

K: Yeah… One time I want to take photographs and build up a certain light [for the shooting] etc., but this takes up a lot of time. And I’m not good at remembering techniques, so I’m more of a spontaneous person.

H: Your pictures are almost nothing but landscapes and besides yourself, there is no other soul in them.

K: Yes, I actually did take pictures of the other members, but didn’t use them after all. Simply because there was no one who wanted to be photographed. And I wanted nothing like „I want to take this kind of picture, so please stand in this position etc.“.

H: Ah, you don’t like anything artificial?

K: Yes, I don’t like it. Maybe there will be a time when I want to take [such pictures] no matter what, but it’s not now.

H: What do you think when you look at your photographs and pictures?

K: That I prefer minerals/metallic/anorganic things. It’s like you don’t know if it’s dead or alive, but I guess I like that there is no movement [involved]. [Just as in] photographs and pictures.

H: It’s a different feeling to either see nature as something living or something being dead.

K: Yes, well you either like beautiful nature or you don’t, but for example taking a forest that looks like people are dying inside of it (laughs), or any space like that in which you feel discomfort, I rather like things of that nature. To me there’s no reason to take pictures of beautiful things. On top of that, the world is full of such people already. It’s not my style.

H: I see. About the Zemeckises family, I wonder how it will go on. All of them have a twitter account, but I took a look recently and only two have actually tweeted something (laughs).

K: The others will do whatever they want. I mean, after they’ve been born into this world, the rest is up to them.

H: There won’t be more of them, right?

K: There will be, if I feel like it (laughs). For the time being, I added one new little guy. He has a mushroom. He is much like Dekisugi from Doraemon, showing himself only once in a while (laughs).

H: But there doesn’t seem to be a character like little Shizuka in your works.

K: (laughs) Ah- she’s not coming out.

H: By the way, what would happen if you were to pay the Zemeckises a visit? Which position would you have?

K: If I’d enter this world, I would instantly be killed by the mother.

H: Ah because it says her hobby is hunting people (laughs). Anyway, I’m looking forward to your next exhibition… Though it seems like you despise asking people for help. Again about the fast progressing production: If there is no deadline and you can gradually keep on doing these things, then the moment of a structured schedule like „this year the photobooks, spring next year the illustrated book“ must be—.

K: Ah, nono (laughs). Impossible.

H: But you do want to publish it, no?!

K: I do. I want a little offer. I want to try it a bit (laughs).



[1] I‘m not sure if he means it as a children’s book or more like an illustrated story, though I tend to assume it’s the latter so I’ll go with it from now on.

[2] I omitted 2 words, because I’m not sure what he means by saying: ガソリンの正体. Help?

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5 Responses to Kyo – Full interview H (December issue)

  1. Sai says:

    thank you so much for the translation! :DDDD

  2. Maybe ガソリンの正体 is the title of a photobook which is not published yet?
    Anyway thank you for the translation. ❤ It's perfect.

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