Thursday, 3 January 2013

Rock and Read vol. 045 Tsuzuku [Mejibray] Interview

Wow, it's been forever since I updated this blog with translations... or anything, for that matter. But better late than never, right? What better way to kick off the New Year with some new translations? Hopefully I'l keep the habit up and go back to regularly updating.


If anyone has any corrections or comments, please don't hesitate to do so! Also, if sharing, a link back to this site would be nice. Thanks~

On with the translation! I don't want to ramble. Here we are~

[UPDATE 17/03/3014]

Mejibray Thailand has translated this interview into Thai and kurz has translated it into Indonesian for Mejibray Indonesia. Please go under the cut for the links. 

VisualMasquerade has translate this interview into Arabic. Please go under the cut for the link.

Since their formation in 2011, Mejibray have steadily formed a name for themselves. Frontman Tsuzuku seems like an anarchist onstage, but he is actually the opposite. He sees himself as, and confesses to be, a music fan. He openly tells us what he likes and recounts on how he started band activities to us readers.  We explore how he got into visual kei, how he decided he wanted to play in a band and how he found his way to where Mejibray are now. He tells us of how he sees the visual kei scene as a musician and tells us his secret ambitions.

My mother said I'd be in Rock and Read one day (laughs). I'd already decided I'd do an interview with you even before you contacted me (laugh).

So you're making good on your promise in your first appearance in our magazine (laughs). The pictures for this interview were taken in your hometown, Yokohama, right?
Yeah. I was born and raised in Yokohama.

What kind of kid were you, growing up?
I was a handful (dry laugh). I've always liked superheroes. I still like Kamen Rider [1], even now, but I really liked it as a kid. I was such a brat. I used to think I was really strong and get into fights so I could bring down my opponent in one hit and jump from anywhere and pretend I was fine. I broke a few bones jumping from really high places (laughs).

So you liked to fight for justice.
Yeah, in a way I wanted to transform? I'm not sure, but maybe that's why I started wearing make-up and stuff now.

Is that so? So were you the hero when you were out with your friends?
Yeah. But have you ever heard a sound like a gunshot? That would send me running. But when I entered elementary school I appeared to still like that kind of stuff, but maybe there was another side to it. If I saw my friends out together I'd act like I wanted to too, but really I'd think that they were stronger than me, so I shouldn't help out and not hang out with them. 

So pretending your arm is hurt or something.
Yeah (laughs)! Exactly. I do that kind of thing even now. Back then when everyone was out playing during lunch break at school, I thought it was cooler to stay in the classroom on my own.

You seem like a lone wolf.
Yeah, but everyone also thinks I'm a good leader too. I was elected head of the student council.

That's a surprise!
It was done by show of hands. When your favourite candidate was announced, you just had to raise your hand.

You seem like the type of kid a lot of people like. Did you like singing back then?
No, I used to hate it when I was younger. My mum used to like singing and she as actually really good at it. When I was a kid she'd take me op karaoke and sing the Kamen Rider theme song. She'd finish and play off how bad she was at singing it after, but I'll always remember it fondly (laughs).

So, did you find music class and choral practice difficult?
I didn't settle in choral practice and just sung in a loud voice. Everyone else didn't really take the imitative to do anything and in music class we didn't do much to hand in our homework individually. In third year my friends started going to karaoke. They invited me but I only went twice. It was really fun though.

What sort of songs did you sing then?
Stuff like Kinki Kids and Chemistry. But my friends and I would always just be really noisy, which was fun. We all used to scream out “Mikan no uta” by Sex Machine Guns.

Is that right? So when did you start listening to music?
Back when I was into superheroes, I used to listen to anime theme songs when we were driving in the car. My first CDs were the theme song to Eccentric Shounen Boy, “Gottsuee Kanji”. It was popular back then and I remember thinking that if I bought it, I could lend it to my friends and be really popular (laughs). But when I started listening to music, it was more a tool to talk to friends with.

So when did it become more for you than other people?
It all happened in high school when I got into visual kei music. My friend and I would stay back in the classroom during lunch break. He brought his Discman in and played me some CDs with this really loud, explosive music. He taught me that this was visual kei. I heard it and had to listen.

Were you not narrow minded about it at first?
Well, there are a lot guys who look like girls. If you take out the singing, I didn't like much else besides that. I listened to Exile too, at the time. But my friend made me listen to “butterfly” by Baroque and after that I knew I wanted to play in a band. It was a real starting point. So after school, I went and bought CDs.

So after that you were totally addicted.
A childhood friend of my friend was in a visual kei band. They only had about twenty fans. But I thought it was so cool. I stood out in school, so why not be a leader outside of it too? I listened to people taking and found out that the vocalist was always head of things. So I thought to myself that I had to awaken a scream inside me. I borrowed live DVDs of Dir en grey, which changed my world in one go.

When did you form a band?
It was after I graduated high school. I wanted to get a job, so I could form a band. I quit the job my parents wanted me to do after a week without talking to them about it (laughs).  I went to a realtor and got a tiny place to live, then went to my parents and got them to sign for me.

That’s really sudden, isn't it?
I thought about how indecent doing that was a lot. But I thought that once I left my mum's house I could start a band. I went to Tokyo with just the clothes on my back and that really changed everything! But I was careful (smiles). Amazing band lives were waiting! I thought it would be an amazing life but I had no money, no food and no other band members (wry smile). I couldn't do anything yet.

Were you like that for a while?
No, after about six months after I left home I started a band. We did about four lives a month. I was the one doing all the work and they did nothing all day so we disbanded after about three months. The drummer told me he couldn't stand me.

Was that band similar to Mejibray at all?
No, it was a really flashy band (laughs). That was when Decora was popular so I bleached my hair and dyed parts purple. I wanted to look like baroque.

Were you writing songs by then?
No, I wasn't yet. I couldn't play any instruments. Now I really throw myself into composing but even before my last band broke up, my experience was limited. But I wrote lyrics. I liked writing for class in school. In elementary school I got a certificate for writing and my work was put in a poetry book with stuff by other kids in my town. The other kids wrote fan letter type things about indulgences of the heart. That's the theme of the book (laughs).  I guess I have a talent for poetry.

You must have a talent in it if you won an award (laughs). What was yours about, by the way?
It's called “Manekko”. I have an estranged younger brother who was born just after me. I'm reading a book and he has the same book. It's like we're reading it together.

The lyrics you write now aren't anywhere near as heart warming (laughs).
No, they're not (laughs).

But anyway, why did you go from so flashy to take a more introspective, destructive direction so willingly in your music?
It was a shock to me when my first band broke up. I was living on bread crusts and life was tough but when I was on stage I could smile. There was a gap between us and the people who came to see us, though, so we didn't have a hope, really.

Was hitting the bottom like an experience that influenced your song writing?
I think so, yeah.

Are most of your songs based on real experiences?
More than 90% is based on real experiences.

Even Itsuwari no Kamen - Jisatsu no Uta?
That's my song. It's about all the times I've been taught the things that matter. It's a song about the worst time in my life.

Is that what you were thinking when you went back to live with your mother?
I can't think of going back home even now. Once in a while I visit if I'm going out. But moving back in, living with my family again and looking for a job, that was hard to do. But there were things I had to tell my mother, so I forgot about all that. See, my mum is a single parent. Since I was growing up and running around in the kitchen I told her I was going to grow up to support her. So I couldn't think of facing her because of the frustration of having to move back, as well as the shame that things turned out so differently. So that's how I felt at the time. I couldn't do anything so I should just die.

So through that experience, your world view changed to what we see in Mejibray?
Yeah. But when the band before Mejibray disbanded, I thought I'd stop playing music. It was all or nothing. So I did what people normally do and worked part time in a restaurant as a waiter for nearly a year. But every day was boring. So after a while I thought about looking for session bands. I thought it would be good but it wouldn't have been really. I knew I couldn't get by on just that. But I thought to myself this would be the last time and I took a risk.  I'd self produce the music to my own perfection. If I was going to gamble on my future like I did with my last band, at least I was going to choose my own band members.  It would be me out there; songs that would bare my own feelings frankly and openly, which could be very embarrassing. I'd be writing about my own life in my lyrics.

So it was with that determination that Mejibray was born. After hearing all this, I can't help but think at you are actually have quite a cheerful disposition.
Yeah. I'm quite a positive person (laughs). The best way to sing is by smiling.

Judging by your world view in your lyrics, it seems you have a strong desire for destruction.
If I could, I would live smiling. I'd do the things I love every day and eat delicious food. I'd like to live like that. But of course there's always something to hold you back doing that all the time. That's how I see it. The bad things can gradually grow bigger. When anyone feels sadness they can feel like they don't want to live anymore. I think about these difficulties and put the experience into words. I am someone who takes it and thinks “well, this happened, but I’ll do my best and keep going”.  That's the way I want to make music.

So you struggle with reality in your music. So, you've said before that you love visual kei. Of course, everyone who says so thinks it, but are there many who are that frank and open about it?

Do you not think that?
I do, yeah. If I like something, I'll say it. I have moments where I think some things are embarrassing though.

When do you think that?
Like when I was starting a band by myself. Like, for example, I thought that about being put in such a popular magazine as Rock and Read! I knew I'd get asked about the bands I like and what it was like for me growing up (laughs). Speaking as someone who makes music to people who listen to it, pride is a hindrance. Who am I to say my songs are the best and to buy my CDs? I'm more likely to say something like I bought a CD by the Gazette and it was amazing! People should buy it! I like to show people great music. I'm a music fan who performs on stage (laughs).

You have a great intuition over what listeners like.
When I show fans bands I like, fans show me bands they like. The circle gets bigger. I think that's really cool and I want to reap the benefits from that. If I lived in isolation I know I couldn't write anything good. That's why I need this information exchange.

But if you write like that, don't you get people saying “oh, this sounds a lot like such-and-such”?
It's different. It's not taking the feel of the song. That's not why I like them (laughs). There are similarities, of course. Obviously, if you listen to music, you will be influenced by it. When I'm writing songs I make sure that what I'm writing isn't the same as someone else's song. I'm a bandman, I'd never do that.

So you have a worldly view on people who try to plagiarise?
Yeah, but that's different. It's plagiarism! It's totally different (smiles). I took Kendo in middle school and high school and the foundation of my learning was practice. I honed my technique through practice. Anyone who doesn't think that won't change; there's a lot to be taught through practice. That's where the real victory is.

Cool! So by using your own filter you make sure you don't rip anything off. So, what is the visual kei scene like now, in your opinion?
I think fans were gentler before. Things were more relaxed before but now the atmosphere isn't good at all. It seems to be a characteristic of fans to say how much they hate Johnny's groups or that anything else other than their favourite bands makes them sick.  Isn't visual kei the exact opposite of that? People think that ikemen are uniformly heartfelt and warm hearted but not everyone who puts on make up to look like that will be like that. Some people are going to have a dark side (laughs). But I'm a gya-oh, I like Johnny's. If fans don't listen to music they won't be able to broaden their horizons.

So once your fans are in the right mindset, you'll soon be on the way to being famous. What do you think of that mindset? Mejibray can't avoid it completely and still continue.
I think that too (laughs). I have the same opinion about it. I like the Gazette, and I've seen them play in Shibuya AX and to me, playing somewhere like Budoukan feels a bit isolated. But it's not that it's separated, just that it seems harder to cheer. In reality, I like cheering. But I don't know if that's a good reason or not.

Oh, right. So, Mejibray have a lot of male fans. Of course you have female fans too, but to have both sexes support you, that's an honourable thing in a band.
Yeah. It makes me really happy.

So, looking back to when you were younger, what would you say to kids now who want to get into visual kei too?
A lot of professionals started playing in bands when they were in middle or high school. I don't have any basis for that, but I wanted to start a band so I did. But if there was one thing I would tell kids looking to get into the scene, there is one thing I want to tell them. I don't want anyone to have the painful time I had. Now, every day is a good one. I have the other band members and people to support me. It was painful to live starving, and even if people say it isn't,  it really is. There'll be times where you can't get lives to play. Even when you're starving, remember you still have songs to sing! (laughs) I got through it and I'm here now to be able to tell the same thing to anyone who wants to play music too.

But you had the interest, and is that what gave you the ability to keep going with and enjoy what you yearned for?
Yeah. I really wanted to be in a band whose music people would buy. That was a good thought. When I was in real despair, my electricity was cut (smiles). At that time, I was working nights. I came home in the morning and slept so when I woke up, my phone was dead even though I'd plugged it in to charge. It was really annoying to have the electricity cut and I remember being frustrated. But I went to have a bath and thought that after that I'd run into work. But the electricity was cut so there was no hot water either.  So I had to wash in the sink and I couldn't use a hairdryer to dry my hair (laughs). I had no choice but to run to work with a towel around my head.

That must have been hard (dry smile). But the people who say they're going to devote themselves and really do are really something.
No, but it's true.

But when you were in that situation you didn't just give up hope.
But I couldn't (laughs). If I had liked cosplay at the time I would have seen that I was playing a guy who jumps right in. I told myself I would keep going and I did. I want more and more people to see a visual world, not just get people to buy Mejibray CDs.

That sounds great.
I don't want to be aggressive. Of course I don't want my rivals to succeed at times but looking past that, if we can grow together then we can play together. There are people who think that other bands are terrible and that they should break up. But no one should think that. Aren't all visual bands looking for the same thing? Aren't there people in the world who haven't even heard of visual kei? But this industry is heating up. Because it's getting more and more popular, I want my band to be able to help others and make the beat music we can.

So will you take the place of bands before you?
Yeah. You can't keep going in visual kei without losing something. I would like to keep moving towards a good future.





For those interested in the Thai version translated by Mejibray Thailand, please follow the link to their blog >>here <<.

kurz has also translated this interview into Indonesian. For anyone interested in reading, please follow the link to their facebook page >>here<<

Visualmasquerade has translated this interview into Arabic. For those interested in reading, please follow the link to their blog >>here<<

If anyone else would like to use my translation to translate into any other language, please let me know. I will gladly let you use mine and add it to this post. Naturally, credit goes both ways.


  1. Thank you so much for translating this ♥ I hope you will translate more interviews about him and MEJIBRAY, they are so precious to me, so thank you
    m( _ _)m

    1. You're welcome! I'll definitely translate more interviews and stuff with them,if that's what people want to see. :]

  2. Hello..
    I just finish the translation and this is the link >> <<


  3. Hello...
    First of all, thank you very much for translating the interview... \^0^/ thank you for your hard work...
    Also, I just finished the translation into Indonesian.
    Here is the link >>
    Feel free to visit...^^

    1. Hi!
      You're very welcome! I added the link to your translation to my post. Thanks for letting me know :3

  4. Hi!
    I was wondering if there is any way I coud persuade you into scanning this interview? That is not the pictures, but the actual text?
    I'd really like to use it for my work at university, but I can't afford buying entire magazines for it every time xD I'd be really grateful!
    Also, thank you for the translation! :)


    1. Hi!
      I'll see what I can do. My scanner has decided not to work with my laptop but I'm working on fixing that. Hope you don't mind waiting just a little!
      I know how you feel though, as good as magazine as it is, Rock and Read is so expensive X_x

    2. Okay! Sorry it took me forever but I finally scanned the interview for you.

    3. Whoa, took me a while getting back to you here! But thank you so much <3 My university work is over for now - I'm taking some time off to go back to Japan - but it is most definitely still useful! Still doing research on the vk industry and Tsuzuku is quite.. interesting :)

  5. I got goosebumps reading Tsuzuku's words. What an amazing person. Deepest respect!

  6. Hello dear,

    I enjoyed reading your translation and I am interested to re-do it in Arabic :D I will credit you of course cheers.

    1. Hello! Yeah, that's fine, you can translate from me. As long as you credit I don't mind. If you send me the link to it once it's finished I can add the link to this post if you like. Good luck on the translating!

  7. Thank you dear, I will surely send it. I did not get to translate it yet since I was busy and stuff,so when its done I will surely tell you :D

  8. here is the interview I am finally done sorry for the delay and thank you for letting me use it.

    1. Don't worry! Perfection takes time. I added your link to the post. Thanks for crediting me.