Interview with Dada of Velvet Eden
Since many years, Dada is truly a master of the arts. He not only gained fame as a musician with “VELVET EDEN”, but also won multiple awards for his illustrations and costume designs – just to name a few of his achievements.
Dada, thank you for taking the time to chat with me. You are extremely successful, not only as a musician, but also as a designer, fashion model, illustrator and photographer. Many different careers that all revolve around art – is there one that you are more passionate about than the other?
Thanks. For example, illustration is easy. Photography is easy. Designing is easy. But music is difficult!
It can only be made by oneself. It needs communication skills. So composing is the most fun.
Your makeup, is always beautiful, simply stunning! I think many of your female fans wish they could apply their cosmetics only half as good as you…. I know I do.
Do you have a stylist and makeup artist, or do you apply your makeup yourself?
Thanks. I always do makeup by myself. My style is influenced by former generations who did all their makeup themselves. My makeup has been done by a professional makeup artist once. And I said when completed, “Is it ok to remove all this makeup?”
That’s funny! I wonder how long the poor man worked – only to have his “masterpiece” wiped off again.
You worked as an illustrator and photographer for one of my favorite bands: DIR EN GREY. How does someone end up working for a legendary band like Diru? Were they impressed with your artwork and asked you to team up with them for several projects?
After I stopped the activities of VELVET EDEN, the boss of DIR EN GREY’s company wanted me to join some of their projects. And Kyo and Shinya liked early VELVET EDEN.
So many projects went smooth and easy.
That must be a great feeling, knowing that Kyo and Shinya are fans of your music!
Do you have a favorite anime character you designed / illustrated? Or was there one that was harder to develop than the others?
Sorry, it is still secret. Because my designed character’s animation is not published. Please wait for it.
Say, Dada, why did you decide to retire from the music scene in 2000?
That era, many V-Kei turned into sales requested by some stupid Japanese majors. They reduced their makeup and changed their style to a more pop-ish sound. It meant the end of V-Kei. I felt that the value of VE was turned off. Those bands who changed to pop from V-Kei have now all vanished.
That’s an interesting piece of information. I wasn’t aware that Japanese record labels actually played an active role in the disappearance of many V-Kei bands by “toning them down” and making them more mainstream.
In 2008 you revived “VELVET EDEN”. Was that a spontaneous decision, or something that you’ve been planning for a while?
It arose from my and Kalm’s reunion. But he had lost all VELVET EDEN’s song data. So at that time, I gave up rebirth of VELVET EDEN.
I agree… that must’ve been quite a shock when you found out that Kalm didn’t have the music data, but composing new songs doesn’t seem to be a problem for a group like VELVET EDEN. You are constantly bursting with new ideas.
By the videos you often post on your Facebook page I can tell that you like older music. (For example: Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” covered by Strawberry Switchblade or “Farwell to Siberia Railway” by Otaki Eiichi). What draws you to that kind of music?
I like many types of music. And all old music already has a result. Good or bad? Treasure or garbage? Popular or maniac? It is a very important message.
Was it always your dream to become a famous artist, or did you want to become a firefighter or policeman? (I think those are two jobs kids usually mention when asked “what do you want to be when you grow up?”).
At childhood, I had a heart disease and I was sentenced to death when reaching my 20s from physicians.
I wanted a longer life. So I wanted to become an artist. Even if an artist passes away, their work is forever. However, my disease later recovered.
I’m relieved to hear that you regained your health and didn’t die at an early age, as your doctors predicted! You know, there’s an important message in your answer: Never give up hope and fight whatever life may throw at you.
With all the tragedy in the world, catastrophes and disasters… where do you get your inspiration for the beauty you create?
Beauty in your music, your illustrations; the beauty in your photos when you work as a model?
Cruel is everywhere. Sadness is everywhere. So I make some fairly tales.
Yes, the world can definitely use more fairy tales and happy endings!
One of my favorite song and video by VELVET EDEN is “Sad Mask”. Can you tell me a little about it? What is the main message of the song?
Faceless people on the internet.
A message about their situation of “Loss of identity”. But they will find the true face in the future. Face to faith? Haha.
Let’s switch from the internet to the real world. Can your fans expect to see you perform overseas (in the USA or Europe) any time soon? Do you have a concert tour planned?
Yes, we are planning some overseas tours. But I think many tours will be canceled because the Japanese yen is too strong. This is a bad situation. And I think J-rock fever will come to an end.
We must change our styles and some plans to be able to tour overseas.
I myself am a huge fan of hide, who unfortunately died way too young. In my opinion he was a musical genius who stirred up the music scene with his often provocative songs and outfits.
You can imagine how excited I was when I read that you received your “Best Costume” award, sponsored by “Band Yarouze” magazine in 1994 by no other than Hideto Matsumoto.
Did you have a chance to chat with him backstage?
He was the first person who saw value in me.
Screaming Mad George promised me to make it possible to meet hide, but hide died soon after this promise was made.
Yes, hide had a special gift when it came to discovering new talent. He also saw great potential in Zi:Kill, a band he introduced to Yoshiki, who later signed them to his label “Extasy Records”.
Talking about labels, in 2011 you founded the record label “Pantherpink Records”. Why did you see the need to establish your own label? Was it to support new and upcoming artists?
I have already stopped the activity of Pantherpink Records. It was a small section of other labels.
Now VELVET EDEN doesn’t belong to any label. Now we don’t plan any releases. But it’s ok. Because this year is “preparation year”. In this year, VELVET EDEN will change a lot in style.
New style?! Now you made me curious…
I’m really happy that you agreed to do the interview in English, why is it that you speak the language so well? Did you learn it in school?
No, the translation support of our staff is great.
Since your English is good and you have access to an English speaking staff, did you ever think about recording an album in English? Or do you like the fact that a lot of your fans are learning Japanese in order to understand you?
I think my English is bad. But many Japanese musicians are too shy-shy. I’m not shy. You can understand that from my costumes.
Btw, I control the meaning of my Japanese lyrics, but I can’t do the same for English lyrics yet. I need more help with English lyrics.
Of course, I want to teach them how to write Japanese lyrics in advance.
Thanks so much for the interview; it is very informative and gives us an insight into who you are as a person and your work. Anything you would like to add?
Velvet Eden died once, so we will not die again.
So please do not worry. From now we will make better things.
This interview was conducted by Vivian Murakami, President/CEO of NEON PROMOTIONS, INC.