Everyone, stop what you’re doing and read Tokyo Damage Report’s epic piece on the visual kei music scene. The way it’s written makes it hard to quote, but here are some relevant facts. The interview is long but well worth your time. Read to find out:
- The coming together of of shojo manga and glam rock that created Visual Kei in the 80s.
- How Japanese recording acts are formed and popularized.
- How popular bands find ways to maximize revenue from fans (selling photos, lots of “limited edition” merchandise, and special izakaya parties for the most gullible/hardcore fans)
- Where the labels go to find talent (it’s mostly ex-thugs).
- Why Japanese record producers—think Yasushi Akimoto of AKB48, Tsunku of Morning Musume, etc.—are so heavily relied upon to produce every aspect of the final product that they become drug-addled auteurs.
- The typical salary for a visual kei band member (lots of in-kind perks, very little cash)... and why they put up with it
- The willingness of label bosses to forego short-term financial gain in favor of long-term connections (perhaps an ubiquitous aspect of Japanese business relations)
For some reason he’s been sitting on this gem since 2008! Shame on you, man.
It’s hard to tell the credibility of some parts, but I think it’s easier to swallow as a true-to-life mockumentary than as a faithfully transcripted interview.
To close out, here’s the video for one of my favorite viz-k songs, Luna Sea’s “Tonight”: