Interview with Azumi Kuwadate of Bespa Kumamero
BESPA KUMAMERO was formed in 2001 with Azumi Kuwadate on vocals and Monkichi Irikura on keyboard and programming.
The group held many concerts in Japan and, in 2006, became popular outside the country. Information about BESPA KUMAMERO began appearing in different magazines and mass-media in Germany, England, France, Russia, the USA and Hungary. In 2007 the band toured the UK with six dates, marking the start of their activity in Europe.
The first full-length album, Romantic waves, was released on January 20, 2008. In March 2008 the band performed at Anime Matsuri 2008 in Houston, Texas and, in July, at Animex 2008 in Monterrey, Mexico. They were also nominated by American magazine Shojo Beat as the best new band.
BESPA KUMAMERO continued to appear regularly at shows during 2008, including jetting to Moscow, Russia, to appear at Tokyo Cyber Eve vol 2. BESPA KUMAMERO returned to Japan to play several more shows right into the new year.
On May 22,2009 BESPA KUMAMERO released their second full album, PLASTIC CONFUSION. About 2000 people attended a performance in the United States (Boston) in May, 2009. Label was moved to Rufus Tune of Darkest Labyrinth, and 3rd full album “spiral connector” was released in December, 2010. In March 2011 performed at Anime Matsuri 2011 in Houston, Texas and, in July and August, at Canada (Toronto and Edmonton).
Azumi, it is a pleasure to meet you. I understand you grew up outside of Tokyo. Can you tell us a little about your childhood and where you grew up?
Hi!! Thank you for the interview. I am so glad that you get interested in me.
I was born and I grew up in Yamanashi. Yamanashi is a prefecture of the contiguity of Tokyo. Yamanashi is surrounded by the mountain and is a place of rich nature. I camped with my family frequently in the mountain as a child.
When you were young were you always into music? Did you sing in front of your family and friends?
When I was a child, my parents frequently listened to classical music but I don’t really remember it.
I have brothers and sisters and I listened to many Japanese musician’s music because of them. When I became a junior high school student, my favorite music was chosen by me.
I liked singing when I was a schoolchild. I often went to karaoke with my family and friends and when I was a high school student I wanted to make a band, I wanted to make and sing original music and I composed a lot of poetry.
I graduated from the high school and went on to the vocational school to study jewelry design. At that time, a band was created and the LIVE was held only twice. However, it was a cover band.
I understand you are very into fashion and studied it in school. Does it still interest you and is it something you would like to work with in the future?
Although I studied the jewelry design I really wanted to learn costume design. However, time was lost while worrying about various things so I ended up studying jewelry design. However since the act of designing is similar I do not regret my time at school. I did not devote myself to it and I think of it as a hobby rather than as a career.
How did you first meet Monkichi and come to form the band?
We did not know each other but I was looking at the informational magazine in the bookstore and read something he had written. I sympathized with his sense and it turned out that he is writing music. Then, I thought I wanted to work with him to make music, and I contacted him. We exchanged emails and spoke on the phone a number of times. He was very nice and we decided to form a band.
Is the music you play now the same or very different than when you first began?
It has not really changed as much as it has become more refined and gotten better.
How would you best describe your sound?
This is difficult…
The impression you get changes with the music. There is intense dance music whose beat is powerful, and there is also melodious music. Also, not only hearing but the visual element of our live performance is important for our music. We call ourselves a “performance techno unit” because of this.
How does your creative process work. Does Monlichi write the music and you then write the lyrics or is it the other way around?
Sometimes Monkichi makes music and I attach the melody of words and a song to it. However, the reverse process also exists. (Pattern in which I make the melody and words of a song first, and Monkichi makes music to it.)
Rarely, I may make music or Monkichi may make words.
What inspires you when you write your lyrics?
It has two patterns generally. One is entirely delusionional. The other is lyrics based on facts.
When the words are based on facts, recollections, sentiments and emotions are the most common elements.
How did the recording go with your last album, “Spiral Connector”? What are your favorite tracks from this album?
Since there are many different types of music the recording process was pleasant. Two music tracks in which Monkichi sang was also recorded.
Because the type of music was various, mix work was serious, but it became a good work by the engineer’s technique.
Especially favorite music is “きみがいない朝 (kimiga inai asa) “, and “Losing time” in this album.
How do the two of you get along? Do you ever disagree when working on your projects?
Since thinking is almost the same as for two of us, we have rarely repelled each other about BESPA KUMAMERO.
If a mutual idea does not suit, we will separate and work.
Your live performances are much more than music. It is like a play. Very visual. It makes it more exciting! What reaction have you had from fans?
Thank you. That’s right. As I stated previously, we think our live performance is very important. If the live is carried out, it will be important to delight an audience visually and to give a stimulus. The fans enjoy the lives very much and after the live finishes, they seem very happy.
You have traveled a lot. What have been some of your favorite places you have performed and what were the fans like?
We likes every place. It is also interesting that a reaction changes little by little with different countries. The fans of every country just enjoy the live together with us. That is common in all countries.
I have to ask you about a video on YouTube called “Azumi Wants a Drink”. What was the problem, what did you mean by good smell and did you ever get your drink?
A HA HA!! I only merely wanted the drink. However, I did not have coin then. I thought that he could buy it with a credit card. It is because a credit card can be used overseas in almost all the cases of shopping. (With a drink vending machine, a credit card cannot be used even in Japan. )
“good smells” is ad lib!!!XD
Of course, I buy a drink with a Japanese vending machine. However, that was the first in foreign countries.
What do you like to do when you are not working?
I like interacting with friends by Twitter, Facebook, etc., taking photographs, or looking for a strange and cool things on the street.
I also noticed you enjoy art and photography. Who are some of your favorite artists and photographers?
Yes! I love taking photographs. However, I do not know much about other artists or the photographers.
I liked Salvador Dali a long time ago but there is no specific person now.
You are quite a good photographer yourself. Can you share with us some of your favorite photos?
Thank you so much!!!
Click on the thumbnail to see examples of Azumi’s photography work!
What are your hopes for yourself and Bespa Kumamero in the future?
I wishe to continue to live happy for both BESPA KUMAMERO and myself. Enjoying oneself is most important.
Where can we go to find out more about you and the band?
Please see my blog, Facebook, and an individual web page etc… about me.
Web site: http://www.geocities.jp/azumi_
BESPA KUMAMERO is…
official web site: http://www.kumamero.net/