Rock and Read 80 – Aiji ~Nice Future~ Full Interview

Message from the Translators: After a year of crazy schedules, and trying to coordinate between two countries and time zones we finally finished RR80 Aiji’s Interview. Thank you for you patience. These long format interviews can take upwards of 48 hours of work, and we only can meet once a week for an hour. So, I thank everyone for sticking it out with us.

– Translated by me and Mari

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Aiji LM .C ~ Nice Future

*Note: Bold text = interviewer. Regular text = Aiji.

 

The last time we interviewed you was during your 10th anniversary year, it’s been a couple years.

 

A: Indeed, it’s been quite a while.

 

Yes. Even though it’s a bit early this time, aside from just talking about the topic of LM.C in 2018, we wanted you to talk about future projects. Recently, LM.C has not only been actively appearing in just one-man shows but two-man shows and other events, right?

 

A: I wonder…this year we’ve been offered a lot. Until now, we’ve had this image that LM.C doesn’t go out to events.

 

There certainly was such an image.

 

A: We’re not like that, we actually wanted to go to events, but we weren’t invited. After we performed one event, people started saying “Is LM.C going to perform at other events?” We’ve been wanting this.

 

Is that so, did you feel like that since LM.C’s formation?

 

A: I’ve wanted to go forever, but we hadn’t gotten invited yet.

 

I see. Not only performing with bands of the same generation but with younger generations like DEZERT and R指定 [*], is there anything you feel?

 

A: What I feel…Well, it’s obvious that fans of the younger generation bands will have their own Nori [1].  They’re moving to the right and left, aren’t they?

 

You mean side mosh?

 

A: Is that what it’s called? I know Circle Mosh and Wall of Death, but it makes me feel odd when I see that it’s knocking like “Right!” “Left!” It’s like a new style.

 

The way the Nori changes with the generation.

 

A: That’s right. I think that this scene has various styles. For example, with PIERROT, fans imitate Kirito’s behavior. In that sense the Nori of the fans and atmosphere of the venue was unique. It is a different world from that era, or if you are watching the floor you feel a new sense of values being born and changing.

 

How do feel about the other bands you’ve performed with?

 

A: That being said, even though we did band battles we haven’t talked with many bands. I haven’t honestly been able to look into the personalities of the members, but I think many are earnest people. They’re serious people.

 

(Laughs). What does it mean to be serious?

 

A: Courteous. For example, with R指定 and DEZERT when they are hosting the live, they’ll come to our dressing room to greet us, so they’re respectful (have good manners).  Actually, in this day and age, I think it’s difficult to live without manners. So, I think it’s rather good to be serious.

 

You’ve played with various other bands too, right?

 

A: We’ve done events with A9, D=Out​, CHIYU, there’s the three-man hosted by BugLug, and then there’s also a collaboration with An Café and GOTCHAROCKA.

 

Based on the LM.C that existed before 2018, the changes you’ve made are unimaginable.

 

A: True. Maybe it’s a recent trend, but everyone wants to play live with 2 – 3 bands. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be invited. (Laughs)

 

Hahaha. I assume you get different reactions than those from One-man Shows and you receive more feelings and lessons?

 

 

A: When I look at the questionnaire or impressions of a person who became a fan at the event, there are many cases that “It’s different from what I had imagined.” There are emotional and intense songs by LM.C, but that does not image people have of us, I guess.

 

Perhaps the image that “LM.C = Pop and Colorful” is too strong.

 

A: In particular, the songs “88” or “BOYS & GIRLS” give many people that image of us, I guess. However, when they actually watch there are many hard rock songs being done.

 

So, are more people coming to your One-man shows?

 

A: Yes. When I meet those people [2] I think to myself, “It was good to go that event.”

 

Lately, you’ve been having an increasing number of male fans at each tour.

 

A: Yes, but slowly. I’m happy if there’s more. When a boy’s energy is added, I feel like it becomes more emotive, but it may be the image I mentioned earlier. There are many female LM.C fans, but I always think “If boys come and watch, I’m sure they’ll enjoy it too.”

 

Considering that, there’s a lot of significance in appearing with various other bands.

 

A: There’s a lot I don’t notice when performing in a one-man show, it’s also a chance to meet people who’ve never heard us or don’t know LM.C at all, so I feel that it’s a necessity and meaningful. Additionally, Band battles and events are easy to get fired up for, aren’t they? Since it is a place where you’re judged, I feel more enthusiastic, and because there’s a sense of competition, I straighten up. Then we decide a more LM.C style live.

 

On that note, what is an LM.C style live?

 

A: For example, since there are many people who always come to see our usual one-man show, so at those shows, I want to try different things and show new things, but at a collaboration even I want to do a more LM.C style event. I mean that it’s LM.C style in that way. So, we do the opposite of what’s usual (at the one-man shows).

 

So, at those events, you go the route of traditional LM.C?

 

A: Yes. In that sense, I think both one-man shows and collaboration events are necessary.

 

In the sense of a match, is there anything else you’re thinking of on stage?

 

A: Not particularly besides being LM.C. So even if the audience thinks “This isn’t for me,” I think that it’s fine because it’s music, I am happy either way as long as the audience feels something, it’s that simple. If it’s good they’ll come to see us again, and is it isn’t good, it’s their last time coming. It’s a gut feeling, maybe I like the sense of tension.

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So, 2018 is when you’ve been able to do the activities you’ve wanted to do?

 

A: Yes. Therefore, now is the best time. Because we are able to do a “This is LM.C” live.

 

Even in the 12 years since you started?

 

A: Year by year I feel we’re getting better. Up until our fifth year, I felt there was still some ups and downs. I think it’s also because we’ve done various things experimentally while exploring, but now we’re able to challenge ourselves after establishing the basics.

 

That’s because LM.C has unshakable confidence when doing anything?

 

A: Right. Now I can be like LM.C no matter where I am, I also have the sense that “If this doesn’t work then it’s no good.” For example, if we failed during our third year, I think we wouldn’t know the exact reason why. Now that we’ve repeated trials and errors, even if we fail, we can analyze the reasons and improve ourselves, and I feel that we’ve become grounded.

 

Tell us about your unforgettable encounter in 2018, it was with Tadanori Yokoo [3], who worked on the FUTURE SENSATION album jacket, I assume it was a major encounter?

 

A: It was more than a big event, something like a dream. Yokoo is a world-renowned graphic designer and painter, so if you search for “Japanese graphic design painter”, you will definitely see Yokoo’s work. I’ve been interested in art for a long time, and I like Yokoo’s work, so it felt strange that he was involved in the LM.C album this time, I got a lot of stimulation.

 

Did you want to collaborate with Yokoo if you had a chance?

 

A: No, there was such awe. A doctor who I know has a connection with Yokoo. After I gave the album “VEDA” to the doctor, he decorated the jacket of the LP size board in the laboratory, and it seemed that it was Yokoo who saw it and liked it.

 

I assume, Yokoo likes the psychedelic world that Veda’s mandala also has.

 

A: That doctor said, “That album, Yokoo-san came to my home and took it.”

I said, “Really, is that what happened?” (Laughs) So, I asked the doctor, “I wonder if he would design a jacket for our album?” And the doctor said, “Ok, let me ask.”

 

Wow, so the offer didn’t come from LM.C, but developed from such a coincidence?

 

A: Yeah. Later I got a message saying, “He’ll do it,” and then the story went on. If it was the first album, the work from 12-years-ago I think it wouldn’t have had such a flow. I was glad he connected our latest work, “VEDA,” which was our best work yet, the event that would be the gateway to the next appeared.

 

Yokoo-san also tweeted, “The energy absorbed from visual-kei artists half my age is too much! I’m looking forward to the live in October.” What kind of person is he?

 

A: Anyhow, he’s full of energy.

 

Yokoo-san is his 80s, right?

 

A: He’s 82. His spine is not bent at all, he stands perfectly straight. I think he has a youthful air about him. It might be rude to say this, but he has a sense of otherworldliness… or perhaps, Yokoo-san is an artist in the realm of God himself. He’s completely on the Legend Tier.

 

That’s right, because he’s a master.

 

A: So, it’s kind of a wonder and I still don’t feel like it’s happening. When I visited his atelier for the first time, I brought the completed album, we’d only met twice at that point. Since he’s been actively working, his senses are sharp, and at the same time I got the impression that he was on a higher plane. In front of Yokoo-san, I felt like I was being read, so I didn’t think I would need to be cool. He’s a person who makes me able to be myself.

 

I’ve liked waterfalls for a long time. I told a friend, from when I was in school, about how I like waterfalls and he gave me a book with stories and pictures about the waterfalls in the various places that Yokoo visited. The painting of the Heavenly being on the waterfall is also impressive.

 

A: I like the designer I’ve been requesting lately; I also like photographer Miyawaki (Susumu) who’s been taking photos of LM.C for a long time, everyone respects Yokoo, don’t they?  After I started music and started thinking about CD jackets, I delved into a lot of art, but I had never thought that I’d want to work with Yokoo.

 

So he was that that far above you.

 

A: Right, right. From the beginning, he was out of our choices.

 

You were saying that he’s full of energy. The jacket of “FUTURE SENSATION” is also full of energy.

 

A: Ri~ght. It’s overwhelming. It’s like it comes from an angle that we can’t imagine or predict (laughs). It’s beyond our ideas but when we see it, we’re like “That’s it!”

 

In regard to visual kei, Yokoo said, “Visual Kei destroys their music by picturizing the music. Instinctively they may be aware that beauty is born only from destruction,” in a tweet. It’s amazing.

 

A: Yeah. I think he’s in some kind of enlightened place, so he doesn’t have any prejudice towards visual kei or anything like that.

 

Did Maya also receive stimulation?

 

A: I think he absolutely received it. Yokoo-san’s atelier had an autograph book and he asked, “Please, write something,” and I wrote the LM.C signature. At the time, the title of the album had not been decided yet, but for some reason, Maya wrote “FUTURE SENSATION”.

 

Hey. Did he get inspired?

 

A: He wrote something because he wanted to leave something, in the end, it became the album title.

 

It’s a story that seems like destiny.

 

A: So, I feel that my encounter with Yokoo-san was the trigger. In the past, Yokoo-san wrote somewhere, “You cannot do what you really want to do if you care about people’s opinions,” I had been thinking the same thing before I saw that for a few years. I used care about other people’s opinions, but over time I’m caring less.

 

Is it a work rating or a live rating?

 

A: Work rating. I was wondering why is it that I’m not worried about the rating? But after reading Yokoo-san’s words and being able to become more confident in myself. Of course, I thought I had confidence, but I cared about too much about their opinions. This year is the 20th anniversary of my debut, but by having met Yokoo-san, various answers in my music life can be verified. At same time he’s (Yokoo) always on top and leagues ahead. In my humble opinion, he’s like gold. While I’m checking the answers (of my music life) I feel like I’m not there yet.

 

By meeting Yokoo-san, you saw the future and included in that was the thought, “I not there yet”?

 

A: That’s right. I was also inspired by his way of life as an artist. When I visited his atelier, he was already painting a new work, and it was really cool. Because I shouldn’t ask “Can I take a picture?” (laughs) It’s only my in head now. The Atelier also has Yokoo-san’s gentle vibes, it felt sacred. I can’t tell you the details but I asked about the wonderful experiences Yokoo-san had had and I wanted to ask, “It’s been a long time since I’ve been asked,” then he told me about the story. It was really amazing to listen to the story and see the old valuable artwork he kept.

 

I think he’s enlightened, and he also has the curiosity of a child.

 

A: He gave me a very pure impression. I didn’t want to be cool in front of Yokoo-san. When I talk to creators of the same generation or younger, I sometimes get defensive, but I didn’t with Yokoo-san, it might because our fields are different. If he was a legendary musician, I’d be tensed up, but I can be honest in front of Yokoo-san. It may be the first time I have felt this feeling.

 

It sounds like you had the biggest encounter in 2018?

 

A: It’s not just 2018, it’s the biggest in my life. Because he is a really great artist.

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It’s your biggest encounter ever, let alone 2018. So, this may be a question that I ask every time: The bonus DVD of “FUTURE SENSATION” has a lot of talks between you and Maya, but I was surprised to hear how little Maya talks to you. Do you not talk to him?

 

A: I don’t (laughs).

 

Has it been like this for a long time?

 

A: I’m not sure, but we stopped talking at some point. I don’t know the exact timing because it changed gradually, by the time I realized it, he’d stopped talking to me completely. (laughs).

 

Has it become a relationship where you can communicate without words?

 

A: I think a relationship would get worse if there is a problem with creating work because of a lack of conversation, but in our case, we’re able make it work with a good sense of distance, so I think it may be good. It works for us (laughs). I enjoy Maya’s work now, more than ever.

 

Does that mean better for you if LM.C doesn’t close the distance too much?

 

A: Hm, I’m good with either one, so we’re fine whether we’re together or apart.

 

Do you not feel lonely as Aiji Senpai?

 

A: Not at all. I think a reasonable sense of distance is the best and is best for us.

 

Since you’re a duo, that relationship is interesting to me. When it comes to duos, I think it would a little difficult if you didn’t contact each other.

 

A: Oh, it’s definitely interesting. We do fine even though we don’t talk at all.

 

So, don’t you talk that much?

 

A: We really don’t talk. Of course, if I ask him a question we’ll talk, during a meeting we’ll communicate, but Maya mostly just listens.  Like when I ask, “What do you think, Maya?” Then he answers. So, as we said in the video, on-stage is when we talk the most (laughs).

 

Hm. In a sense, it may be that Maya has stopped entertaining his senpai?

 

A: I’m really not sure. However, I’ve certain he understands our work. He will definitely contact me if he has something he wants to say regarding work. When Maya sends an e-mail or LINE message, I know, “Oh, he has a thought.”

 

Then he says, “The arrangement of that composition, I wonder if we could do a little more this?” (Laughs) So he’s easy to understand.

 

So, you don’t have any interactions other than that? (Laughs)

 

A: I definitely ask him questions. If I send a message saying only, “The final arrangement will be sent.” I will never receive a reply (laughs). So, a few hours later or the next day, I follow-up with, “How was the arrangement? If there is no problem, we’ll proceed.”

 

Then I get back, “Everything is fine.” So, I’ll proceed to the next step.

 

It’s also that time when you can record without having to meet face to face?

 

A: This is also the time. A good time for LM.C (laughs). I guess it’s also because we’re a duo. If we were a four- or five-member group, there would be differences in opinion. So, we end up saying, “We have to meet face to face.” But we can just email, and we’ll fix things (laughs).

 

Well then, it seems that the relationship between the two of you is also being updated in a good way.

A: True. We’re doing very good these days. I’m also looking forward to what kind of works we are marking next and so on.

 

“FUTURE SENSATION” is an album that came out after quite some time, but LM.C has always released works at your own pace. Do you ever rush to make an album?

 

A: No. It’s the current trend of the music industry. In the old days, everyone used to release an album per year and tour across the country. It would destroy you to keep working like that.

 

Does that mean you’d have gotten exhausted?

 

A: Yes, yes. I would’ve been worn out in many ways. After all, it’s not only about output but we also need input. So, I think this pace is normal.

 

I have this image that LM.C always in normal operation.

 

A: That may be right. That’s because we’re allowed to work at our own pace.

 

So, because of that, the two of you have created an environment where you can keep making work, in your best condition. Would you say that’s true?

 

A: Yes, that’s correct. There are ways that suit the times, I’ve been wanting to find a way that suits LM. C’s pace, as early as possible. So, with that, I believe now is the best time.

 

In the previous interview, Maya said, “I feel that is LM.C will never end.”

 

A: I didn’t read it though (laughs).

 

I guess you don’t reach each other’s interviews (laughs).

 

A: Hahaha. Actually, I don’t feel like it will end either.

 

You think so too?

 

A: Yes. Because we have no conflicts. I have no particular complaints.

 

Even if there’s no email reply?

 

A: I was frustrated in the past (laughs). However, it would be a problem if the release was delayed due to the lack of a reply, so, I always calculate the schedule, so things are on time.

 

As expected, that’s just like you (laughs).

 

A: Maya now response faster than before. Besides, now that I understand he’s “that kind of guy,” I’ve been thinking, “I should change to suit him.”

 

Is it because of the days and months that have piled up as you’ve been together?

 

A: Yes, and besides, it’s working because we are in control of LM.C. If LM.C belonged to some big agency, we might have to release music for company reasons rather than our will, but there is no such binding. If Maya and I want to, we do it, if we don’t want to, we don’t. I believe that’s why it works. In short, because we decide our own yearly schedule, we can make high-quality works without undue pressure.

 

I see. So, as a “Chaindreamer” is there something you’re thinking about for LM. C’s future?

 

A: Yes, but I don’t have a specific dream.

 

When you say “a specific dream” do you mean like doing an arena performance?

 

A: It’s more like, if I create even one wonderful song from time to time, I can see the future as a result, or that a good life is waiting, so this is a fine dream for me. I don’t wish for too much in a good way. If I keep doing the things in front of me, then there’s a wonderful future ahead. I’ve been doing that, and I think Yokoo-san does too. I just keep on. It’s vital. However, I don’t think it’s cool to continue for a long time if we don’t want to.

 

Is that your philosophy of keeping the band going for a long time?

 

A: Yes. There are certainly things that I can see now, since we’ve been going 12 years, and I believe we’re here now because we’ve been doing what we should do by being honest with ourselves. This is how LM.C will last a lifetime.

 

This is what you feel right now.

 

A: If I continue, I think that new dreams and goals will come from time to time. As for the venue, it’s vague, but I really like Budoukan, so I want to perform there again. But if I’m asked, “Do you want to aim for the Tokyo Dome?” I may say no, but because I have a fondness for Budoukan, I’d want to perform there again. However, I haven’t decided yet. After making decision after decision, what kind of future is waiting for me? I’m looking forward to that future. That was the opposite of when I was in my twenties. It was my way to set goals and go.

 

Is that the PIERROT era?

 

A: LM.C was like that too until the fifth year. The Budoukan live was also our goal, and we were determined to achieve our goal.

 

It was an era when you were sprinting.

 

A: We were driven! My only way of living was, “The dream, is something I have to achieve!” Back then, my desire to write better arrangements than before and play good guitar. I was living so fast, that I didn’t have the time to think slowly, like I do now. I couldn’t afford to see my way of life objectively, and I just had to live hard every day. But now that I’ve experienced a lot of things, I want to play the guitar, improve my skill of arranging songs, and keep making the works that are better than before. If I can keep doing that, I believe a wonderful future is waiting.

 

I think you think that way because you’ve done so much. You don’t imagine negative things like a dark future is coming or that something will go wrong.

 

A: I agree. If it is the result of working hard every day and living honestly with myself, there will be no regret even if a dark future is waiting for me then. You should just live in such a way that you won’t say “Ah, I should have done that at the time,” when you look back.

 

You mean to live a life with no regrets. So, last but not least, what is the concrete image of a wonderful future for you, Aiji?

 

A: It would be a wonderful future if I can be in an environment where I can make our work calmly. Because if the me from 12 years ago, knew that he would able to make music with this kind of environment in 12 years, the he would say “A great future is waiting!” So that is why I believe my future will also be great.

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[*] R指定 pronounced R Shitei which translates to “Rated R.”

 

[1] At Lives fans typically have a set of dance moves or pattern of jumping, etc. they do that lives, that is called Nori.

 

[2] People who see LM.C at collaboration events then go to LM.C lives.

 

[3] Tadanori Yokoo is one of Japan’s most famous and internationally recognized graphic design artists, largely regarded as Japan’s Andy Warhol.

 

 

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