Interview with Sophia Sama of Blood Stain Child
Blood Stain Child is a Japanese, melodic death metal band from the city of Osaka. The band formed under the name VISIONQUEST in 1999 but later renamed itself to Blood Stain Child in 2000. Their unique style of music combines a variety of heavy metal elements such as melodic death metal, melodic black metal and power metal. A stand-out feature of Blood Stain Child is their tendency to incorporate both dance and trance related themes into their music. Blood Stain Child members are Sophia – vocals, Ryo – bass, vocals, Ryu Kuriyama – guitar, G.S.R – guitar, Aki – keyboards, GAMI – drums.
The Japanese aesthetic perception, their physical attractiveness, the pop culture and the sense of purity and ethics in 80′s anime.
Since you moved to Japan how do you like living there? Has it been a big adjustment?
When the crazy shopping is over and the lights go out, it’s a very lonely place.
I lived in Japan for about 1,5 years and theoretically I’m back to Greece now, travelling wherever I’m needed. Basically I live inside airports! *laughs*
When you were young you studied guitar but gave it up for more serious studies. You didn’t give up music completely, though, you began to sing. What brought you back around and what does singing mean to you?
I’m glad you remember this one! Yes, it was the same reason why I gave up on piano. After 11 years it became more like a chore. I never chose to learn piano, but my grandpa is a musician and everybody thought I was talented so I started going to music school. I’m not a person who gives up halfway through, even if it is something I did not choose to do, so I kept going to music school without aspiring to be a professional. Just because it was something that I had to study. The sound grew in me inevitably and I discovered the joys of playing music, but I always kept it behind the door. At some point, school got really hectic and I had to give up.
What happened with guitar is that I started getting busy with my Japanese culture events in Greece, working for bands, studying Japanese and doing all sorts of things, so my passion for guitar faded, cos I thought I was going nowhere with it. I refuse to accept that all these years of learning went to waste so I think I will start practicing again at some point.
Well, I started singing when I was still learning guitar. I had several musical years behind me when I started singing, so I didn’t really have to study for the next lesson, so this kept me interested and did not tire me. BSC gave me a real chance to put my studies into practice, so I accepted the challenge.
I guess singing is like talking, but in a hipster way *laughs*. You might not listen to a good piece of advice from a friend, but you will definitely listen to the lyrics and remember them if they sing them to you, right? It’s like touching the spoken word with the magic wand.
You were working to promote Blood Stain Child and submitted your demo to Ryu. He quickly recognized your talent and offered you a chance to sing on the next album. Obviously he saw your talent (smart guy). How did you feel at the time?
Hahah, Ryu is a smart guy, yes. He recruited a vocalist, a PR and a manager at the same time *laughs*
To be honest, my head started spinning when I read his message. I was like “There’s no chance in hell I can do this, but it sounds crazy and this equals fun.I can’t miss it”. I accepted the offer, took a deep breath, and started thinking how it should feel to be the person on stage, instead of the one behind it. I guess a well hidden part of me had been expecting this forever but I did not admit it at the time. Otherwise, I can’t explain why I did it, if deep inside I did not believe I could make it in the end. I trust myself a lot I guess.
The band was initially criticized for bringing a female singer on but after the 2011 release of your album, “Epsilon” you have gotten very positive feedback for your “new” sound. How do you think your music is growing stylistically?
Actually, there’s been by far more positive than negative remarks, which came as a positive surprise. Yeah, we all know the “they brought the chick to make $$”, “they’re puffs and sell-outs” stereotypical accusations that most bands get to hear after recruiting a female vocalist, but it’s natural. Metal is a male-dominated music scene and female vocals might not be metal enough. BSC does not claim to be metal nowadays though, but the band’s roots definitely are. The music is growing towards a dozen different directions, because our influences are many and we like to mix and match whatever sounds cool.
Do you think people judge you by your image rather than your sound?
No, I want to believe people are smarter than that. I’ve seen pretty rational reactions until now.
How important is fashion to you? How would you describe your look?
Fashion in the sense of trends, does not interest me. However, clothes are one of the things I love the most.
I believe that an artist is not complete if they do not have a decent level of musicianship and aesthetic perception at the same time. This is why I came to love Visual Kei. My look is all sorts of nostalgic and romantic I guess, but it can also be futuristic, depending on my mood.
What is your favorite track on “Epsilon”?
Stargazer and Electricity. They’re very dear to me.
You have been a big fan of visual-kei. What do you like about it? How is it perceived in Greece?
As I said above, I like the fact that it covers multiple artistic aspects. It’s still not as popular as in other countries. I’ve been watching the scene from the start, because I was the one who did the first Visual Kei events in Greece, so I experienced its phases through the years. It started off with responses like “what the hell are those girls?”, but nowadays more and more people seem to be into it. I’m glad I played a role in this.
As an “outsider” what do you think of the music scene in Japan?
To my horror, it’s largely populated by pedo-bait bands, but this is what makes a large part of the Japanese happy, so I can only shrug it off…The extreme scene is on the rise though, with lots of good bands getting the spotlight, which is a plus. The latest Visual Kei does not exactly impress me, as bands seem to be repetitive to the point that you can’t tell one from the other, however there are still bands that I love listening to, on a daily basis.
You come across very confident, intelligent and self-assured. How would you describe yourself?
I can’t say I’m as confident or intelligent as I’d like to be. I wish I live up to my name one day, though. (Sophia is an ancient Greek name and it means “wisdom”]. I don’t really know how to describe myself, but I could say I’m a balanced and stable character, curious and adventurous, loyal, I tell the truth even if it hurts, I have a square logic but I’m very emotional at the same time and I’m very (self-)sarcastic. I guess most people think I’m pretty weird, but in a good way. Maybe it’s because I’m an alien.
Your blog, “Somnium in Tenebris” contains many quotes from televisions “X-files”. Your favorite show? What television shows and movies do you like?
X-files is my religion. The subject covered in the series, is one of my biggest passions in life. Maybe my biggest one. Aside from that, I don’t watch TV. I just stack clothes or other stuff on it. I get all my information from the internet, without the TV slave-driving. I like Japanese TV series a lot, though. They’re addictive and highly entertaining without too much nudity and vulgarity.
Movies…my favourites have to be “My Girl”, “The Matrix”, “The Terminator 2″, “Lord of the Rings” and “Le huitième jour”
How about music? Is there someone you have always admired that you hope to collaborate with one day?
My favourite bands ever are Anathema, The Smashing Pumpkins and Malice Mizer. I never think about collaborations though, or target somewhere specifically. I always do my best and see what happens.
Where can we go to keep updated on you and your work?
- Sakura Syndrome – Japanese events, VJ/DJ, Band Management: Founder and General Manager.
Sakura Syndrome is Greece’s 1st and leading, contemporary Japanese Music Event Organizer, with steadily successful activities since 2005.