Interview with Jun Miyashita of “marlee”
marlee is a trio from Japan which celebrates – in their own words – the reawakening of “Glamroid Metal” music. REA (vocals), SEN (programming and backup vocals) and MJ (guitar) are offering the world a new type of sound by uniting various styles and textures of music. It is truly an evolution and revolution of electronic music with a heavy metal approach. I was delighted and excited when MJ readily agreed to be interviewed.
NEON: marlee recently released two albums within a very short period of time. “Artificial Irony” followed by “1st Prototype Wars”. Sounds like you had a very hectic and busy time, do you finally have time to take a breather and relax?
MJ: That’s correct, but before releasing those two albums, we published “Delete Ourselves”, so a total of three albums were released in 2011. Right now I’m very relaxed, although I already started preparing for the next project.
NEON: Of course I didn’t forget about “Delete Ourselves”. The title track caught my ear from the very beginning! The melody is so catchy, makes me want to dance every time I hear it. I’m just saying, after you guys had already released two albums last year, I didn’t think a third one would follow, especially so fast – but being a huge marlee fan myself I’m not complaining…
Let me ask another question. Rea is doing vocals and SEN does computer programming and backup vocals. You are the only one who plays an actual instrument in the band. Does that make things – while performing concerts or recording an album – easier for you or harder?
MJ: Yes, I am the only one who plays an instrument, nobody else does, but that is just marlee’s style, and so it’s really neither easy nor difficult for me.
NEON: Why did you want to learn how to play guitar and how old were you when you started?
MJ: When I was in high school I listened to my friend play his guitar all the time, and that made me want to learn and play as well.
NEON: Was it your goal, your dream, to become a famous musician or did you “slip into the music business” by coincidence?
MJ: Ever since I started playing guitar, I wanted to become a musician and I’ve been lucky enough to keep on playing and make it my profession.
NEON: Does marlee have plans to go on tour outside of Japan? North America, for example?
MJ: We are definitely looking forward to go on tour outside of Japan – go overseas – at some point in the future, but haven’t decided yet on “where and when”.
NEON: Let’s keep our fingers crossed that fans in other countries will have a chance to see you live on stage soon!
Say, does marlee have a main inspiration or message when it comes to their songs? Or do you write about things that are on your mind at that very moment? For example, some bands are very concerned about the environment or social injustice, so naturally their lyrics reflect that. They use their songs to raise awareness of issues close to their heart. I am asking because a lot of your non-Japanese fans are interested in what you have to say, but only have a shaky understanding of your language or don’t speak it at all and therefore don’t understand messages you have and want to share.
MJ: Each and every one of our songs has a message. We hope that we convey that message well enough through our music so people who don’t understand / speak Japanese can “feel” it.
NEON: Yes, I think I know what you mean. Just like a picture can say more than a thousand words, music – a melody – has the ability to wake emotions, feelings in someone without the aid of words, or translation.
Talking about language, a lot of bands from Japan are starting to sing more and more songs in English to reach a broader audience. ”X-Japan”, “Dir En Grey”, “Vamps” – just to name a few. Did you ever think about singing in English? Or combine English and Japanese in a song like “L’Arc En Ciel” and “AWOI” often do?
MJ: I haven’t put too much thought into mixing Japanese and English. I guess it all depends on how it makes the music sound.
NEON: One of my personal favorite songs on “Artificial Irony” is “Anubis”, could you tell me in one or two sentences, what it’s about?
MJ: It’s a secret.
NEON: Awww…. Now I’m really curious.
With “1st Prototype Wars” you changed your stage-outfit from the futuristic and white of “Artificial Irony” and “Delete Ourselves” to a military uniform style and darker look. Do you like to re-invent yourself every so often to stay interesting for your fans?
MJ: We’re changing our costumes to better reflect the concept of our latest album – and of course to surprise our fans – but we also have fun ourselves whenever we change our style / look. We always discuss our stage-outfits and decide what to wear together.
NEON: You inspire a lot of people with your music. Who inspires you? What kind of music, what bands or artists does Jun Miyashita listens to when he relaxes at home, for example?
MJ: Heavy or hardcore metal bands such as Metallica or Dir En Grey inspire me. I also get inspiration from other musicians I have played concerts with in the past. Some of them have really great songs. I don’t listen to music when I’m at home. I usually listen to music while “on the go”, like riding in my car, etc.
NEON: We know you like to play basketball. Do you have any other hobbies? Anything else you like to do for fun or to relax?
MJ: Besides basketball, I like playing video games on my PS3. I also like working-out, going jogging, for example
NEON: Okay, I got one last question that’s probably of keen interest to your English speaking fans. Any chance that you will eventually have a “sister website” in English where fans can buy marlee merchandise and stay informed and updated without using some kind of online translator program?
MJ: We will make sure that by the time we are ready to tour other countries, we’ll have an English version of our website.
NEON: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions, and like I said before… I hope the rest of the world won’t have to wait too much longer to see you live on stage!
This interview was conducted by Vivian Murakami, President/CEO of NEON PROMOTIONS, Inc. Translation support provided by Cha Yasu, Director of Public Relations.