Right before the first performance in The Netherlands, at anime convention Abunai!, FAKE ISLAND got some time for an exclusive interview with AVO Magazine to talk about the start of the Metal band, Metal music and cyberpunk.
AVO: FAKE ISLAND was launched in 2017 by Reiji after he was active in bands in New York, how exactly did you find each other?
Reiji: When I lived in New York, I was in contact with Matsumoto who plays the guitar. We started talking about the plans to start a new band when I would come back to Japan. We decided to find members for the band. A friend of mine introduced me to Erica and YuuriBjoux, who became the two vocalists of the band. Igarashi is the newest addition to our band, he plays the bass. I always played in pop-punk bands and wanted to have a Metal band where I can perform overseas.
AVO: At the forefront of FAKE ISLAND are two women who complement each other, one with clean vocals and the other with growls. This can be seen as quite special, because this combination doesn’t seem to happen very often. Do you think this as well?
*All members laughs*
Reiji: In New York, I saw a band called Butcher Babies. It is an American Heavy Metal band with two female vocalists. I decided at that time that this was the kind of band that I wanted to do. Especially in Japan, this kind of band is hard to find. That made me decide to work extra hard to find the right people to make a band like this.
AVO: Do you think it open more doors in comparison to an all-male band?
Reiji: We stand out with the band, because most bands are consisting of males and even when there are female vocalists, there aren’t usually two.
AVO: This band has been promoted by several foreign media as a female-fronted Metal band, but is this also how you like to describe FAKE ISLAND?
Reiji: Yes, I use that tag if I share information on Instagram and Facebook about the band.
Matsumoto: We are seen as a Metal band, but we have something extra: two female vocalists.
Reiji: I always wanted to have a Metal band with female vocalists, it is like listening to the music of bands like Arch Enemy and Amaranthe.
AVO: What exactly attracts you all to Metal music?
Reiji: Before FAKE ISLAND started, I and Erica were already into Metal music. We always enjoyed Metal. I grew up listening to it and I always wanted to have a Metal band. We haven’t been in Metal bands before, for all of us, this is our first Metal band.
AVO: In an earlier article we published on our website, Reiji explained exactly where the band name FAKE ISLAND comes from. “From the lies we live in. The TV, the news media, and politicians all create a comfortable nest of false promises into which we nestle until we can no longer see the truth.” Can you explain the creative process for creating new music for FAKE ISLAND?
Matsumoto: I write a lot of the guitar riffs and bring up all the pieces of the songs. YuuriBjoux writes the lyrics and then we take this all together to the studio. We have a friend who is also part of the process of music-making, that is Gaku Taura (the session drummer of Japanese Metal band CRYSTAL LAKE, also ex-drummer of NOCTURNAL BLOODLUST). He helps us arrange the songs.
AVO: Is the theme of the music you make purely focused on Japan?
Reiji: No. The theme is focused on the whole world.
AVO: I have been told that Reiji works for a cat shelter as a volunteer. Can you tell me more about it?
Reiji: I am helping stray cats, because they usually have a rough life. We are trying to give a better life for stray cats and prevent to have more by collecting them and neutering them. In this way, we will prevent that more cats will have this kind of life. I am also trying to find foster homes for the stray cats, I also take care of a lot of stray cats myself.
AVO: How many cats do you take care of right now?
Reiji: My mother has currently 40 cats. In my own house, I have four.
AVO: You are in Europe for the first time and tour Europe with HighTechLowLife. What does it mean for you to be in Europe now?
Reiji: We write our music while thinking about the whole world, not just Japan. Since this is the first time overseas, we want to see the reactions of the people on our music. Is this something that they can understand and can connect with? This is our first time outside Japan, so this is our first challenge to perform in front of this kind of audience.
AVO: The other day you released a digital release called Throw Down, with three new tracks. The tracks seemed to be harder compared to what you released. Is this already a teaser for an upcoming album?
Reiji: To be honest, we are not trying to make really hard music. We want to make music that has the Heavy Metal sound, with something that is easier to follow and easy for people to pick up on, like a popular melody, but with heavy riffs. So we want to bridge a gap. We can make all kinds of very difficult riffs and very crazy tracks, but that would mostly be appreciated by ourselves. So we make something that is easy to understand for lots of people. So that more people get to enjoy it and get into Heavy Metal. When the audience hears a certain melody for the first time it should make them understand how to react. We want to make it easy for them to follow the music: “Oh, now it is headbang time!” or “Now it is time to mosh!”. It is almost like a sports day, where people know what they should do. It is almost like an exercise.
AVO: Let’s talk about conventions. Did you ever perform at a convention before today?
Reiji: No, this is the first time and that is pretty cool.
AVO: You are now at a convention whose theme is focused on the cyberpunk theme, it is named High Tech, Low Life, the same name as your tour buddies. What do you have with this theme?
Reiji: So, the music we play does have a sort of a cyberpunk feel to it. We play with backing tracks to support the music we make on stage.
YuuriBjoux: We use the cyberpunk theme in the lyrics of our songs. For example: More and more people in the world have mobile devices to connect with each other, but the more they get connected online, the less they are connected in person. So we are losing personal connection, human to human. So I sing about: “Is everybody okay? Did you forget how to talk to people?” So, everyone is just focused on their phones and this is how they are connected. This is what we convey in our music.
AVO: Various aspects related to cyberpunk can be seen at the convention, including anime series. Which anime and/or manga series falling into Japanese cyberpunk is your favourite (and why)?
*The band members start discussing*
Rest: Of course!
Erica: I am thinking of a manga, what was the name of it? Terra…
Erica: No, Terra Formars.
Reiji: Can Doraemon be seen as cyberpunk?
*Band members start discussing*
Reiji: I think that Doraemon is cyberpunk, because it is a robot cat from the future and he gets all kinds of futuristic tools, to help him through his daily life, for example, to fight bullies. I think that these electronic or high tech tools to augment your own life, can be seen as cyberpunk. In that world, it is like, things that you can imagine they get to think: “Wouldn’t it be amazing to have this kind of tool?” And in the manga, they have it. Even if they can use it, the person using isn’t all together, they can’t solve problems. So the people have to be good too.
AVO: What do you want to say to the readers and fans here in Europe and outside as you maybe will tour the United States after this tour?
Reiji: I would like to continue to play music and get feedback and get the music to the people who will understand and feel our music. We will try to continue to spread our music. One of the motto’s Erica always says is: let’s get Metal! And at the concerts, when we are playing and everyone is moshing, dancing, and headbanging, it looks violent but it is peaceful. The more we can spread our music, the more world peace will be.
A big thanks to FAKE ISLAND to take their time free in their schedule to answer the questions for this interview, thanks to Anouk from Abunai! to arrange the interview and Remy of High Tech Low Life for the translations. Keep an eye on the website and social media (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) to stay up-to-date for any news from FAKE ISLAND!
Although this interview got published today, the interview took place at the end of August and we couldn’t foresee the announcement of the band a few days ago, where the drummer and bandleader Reiji announced his departure from FAKE ISLAND. We are very sorry for the late publication.