Interview with Leyna Toga of der Rosenengel
Leyna grew up in an average family. Her father was a public servant and her mother was a housewife in Yokohama, Japan. She started learning classical ballet when she was 2 years old, piano at 4 and acting at 14.
“I was quite an independent child and always knew what I wanted to do.”
I seemed to grew up fast mentally, I had a trouble with communicating with classmates because they were too immature for me. I preferred talking with adults in order to learn things, and was always interested in making myself grow up. I was determined at the age of 8 (or around then) that I would be willing to get through any difficulties for that.
However, I really hated myself at the same time.
Because you’ve got to betray, profane and disgrace yourself in order to live through this “vulgar world”. Why do human beings kill each other? Destroy forests? Tell lies? Steal? Murder someone for money?
It was really hard for me to live and I always wanted to give up, but it was not allowed. So I made up my mind. I’ve had to change this world for the better!
I was inspired to become an actress when I was 8 years old. Although my parents opposed, I never gave up my dream. Because I wanted to see the world, I went to language school to learn English when I was 16. At the same time I started to do acting in English.
I performed in England and the US when I was 18 then moved to London where I learned acting and also performed. Then moved to New York. I came back to Japan once and did TV dramas, some films and short films. Then I moved to Berlin where I did some acting and singing jobs. My life in Berlin gave me a second opportunity to reconstruct myself, (that made me become vegetarian as well!)
“I decided to come back to Japan, gave up my career as an actress and started to sing.”
Now I’m doing Electro Gothic Metal project as “der Rosenengel”. I write lyrics, music and do arrangements as well. I released the first mini album “Earth Angel” on 22 August 2012.
There is a meaning to release this album in this era. To achieve my mission which I set up when I was only 8 !
Leyna, it is a pleasure to meet you. I want to start off asking you about something you wrote. You said, “It was really hard for me to live and I always wanted to give up, but it was not allowed.” How and what issues were you struggling with at the time? What do you mean by saying you always wanted to give up?
You must have been pure and innocent when you were born, but as you grow up, you need to learn how to get along with other people. Sometimes you need to act like someone else in order to satisfy someone else’s expectation and learn how to compromise. I was thinking that getting through all these means disgracing and insulting myself as a child. Moreover, people often misunderstood about me because I was too shy to express myself. Furthermore, I couldn’t even get along with my family. I was thinking that I’m not loved by anyone. (oh, I was such a desperate child XD) I was always thinking about how I end my life and escape from home. However, as I was using my imagination, I came up with an idea that leaving the parents is sinful. So I didn’t give up my life and found the reason to live. That was the acting at that time.
(Thank God, now I know what love is!)
Obviously you made up your mind and you were strong enough to get through this period of your life. I imagine it took a lot of determination. How did it lead to acting? What inspired you to become an actress?
One day, I was watching a TV drama starred by young girl about my age. As I watched her acting, I just thought, “I can do this!” and it seemed fun. I regarded myself that I was born under unhappy star then. Maybe I wanted to live different lives and I could only express myself when I’ve got the script.
You traveled quite a bit before coming back to Japan. How did you like living in the US and the UK? Were the different cultures hard to adapt to?
Actually, it’s my special ability to adapt to new land quite fast. After several days of stay, people would think that I’d been living that place for several years. I’ve been to 20 countries and everybody said the same thing even if it was just a short trip.
You could go to Japanese supermarket and watch Japanese TV shows in the US and UK, but I was not interested in having the same life in other countries. I enjoyed eating and having fun as locals.
I enjoyed living in both US and UK. Every country has good part and bad part. I love to learn different cultures.
You also were singing too. What style of music did you sing?
When I was in Berlin, I wrote lyrics and sang for German Electro DJ’s project. And I was also singing in musicals.
When returning to Japan what made you give up acting?
I loved acting. But actor’s job is to express the world that playwrights’ and directors want to. I’ve got something I wanted to tell with my own words. That was very important for me.
Music is efficient and there is no border. You can tell your message only in 3 or 4 minutes!
But it was no doubt a good experience! I’m making the best use of the acting for performing on the stage as a singer. Especially the “Shakespeare Study” was quite useful.
When did you form your group, der Rosenengel? How did you find the other members and can you tell us about them?
Actually it’s my solo project. I used to sing as Leyna Toga, but I started the Electro Gothic Metal project as der Rosenengel from this February, 2012. I was performing alone for first 6 month, but recently I’ve got supportive members from KALEIDOSTYLE. They are my good friends and the guitarist plays 3 songs in “Earth Angel”.
Can you describe your style of music?
“Electro Gothic Metal”, dark, symphonic, mystic, corrupt, melancholic and sentimental atmosphere.
“Electro” takes the part of dance music beats, “Gothic” means the strings, pipe organ, harp and harpsichord part that creates the Middle Ages’ atmosphere, and “Metal” takes the part of heavy guitar riffs.
To tell you the truth, I wanted to do punk or grange music at first. But my voice doesn’t fit and I couldn’t write that kind of songs because I can’t play the guitar. You cannot express something you don’t have, you know?
Electro Gothic Metal is a complex of what I like and I make good use of my experience.
How did you come up with the name and what does it mean?
It means “ROSE ANGEL” in German. Just because I love roses and angels:) I came up with this name while I was in Germany.
Did everyone share your goals and viewpoint towards music and the message of your lyrics?
I write lyrics with messages most of the time, but how you take my message is up to you. I try to write lyrics abstractly so that you can broaden your imagination and feel sympathy out of your experience.
My music is not only mine but everybody’s once it comes out of me. You don’t need an ego to do music.
I would rather like to be an entertainer than a singer. I hope everyone enjoy watching my performance.
You write your own music and lyrics. Can you tell us a little about your creative process? Where your inspiration comes from?
I write songs when I got messages in my dreams or for someone so far.
I write songs differently every time. Sometimes write from lyrics, drums, melodies, or the whole song just starts to sound inside of my head! The process is a mess, but when I finish it, I have no idea how I did it!
And the music and lyrics just come down from somewhere in the Universe as I start writing. Because I don’t think about obeying the rules and theory, sometimes it gets too progressive. (so that the producer had to change some chords and phrases in the songs! Hey, what about Mozart? He was too progressive in 18th century. Maybe my songs would be accepted after 100 years!?)
der Rosenengel’s released their first mini album “Earth Angel” on 22 August 2012. It has five tracks, BLACK RAIN, die Ballade der Rose, too late, My Angel and Tears of Heaven. Can you tell us a little about the songs and the meaning behind them?
There is a catchphrase, “the Rose Angel flew down on the Earth”.
BLACK RAIN is written as I experienced “the day of the earth end” in my dream in the fall of 2009. “too late” is written a year later in 2010, as I was told in my dream “it’s too late (for saving the earth and ourselves)”. “Tears of Heaven” is written one more year later in the fall of 2011. Did the world turn better after the Great Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami? “die Ballade der Rose (the ballade of rose)” is about the life. “My Angel” is dedicated to the people who are grieving for the loss of their loving ones because of the natural calamities, war, religious and ethnic conflicts that are still occur around the world.
The other songs are dedicated to YOU as the “Earth Angel”.
These five songs are written in Japanese, English and German.
Do you have a personal favorite?
I love blood colored roses.
What other musicians or singers do you admire?
Sebastian Bach is my hero! I admire Hibari Misora as a singer, Michael Jackson as a person.
What do you enjoy doing with your free time?
I enjoy trekking in the woods, visiting shrines, and going to the museums. Otherwise I’d like to sleep…
What are your plans and goals for the future?
I wish the world would be the place where I don’t need to sing the songs like “Earth Angel” in the future.
So far I’d like to tour around the world and entertain people!
Where can we go to find out more about you?
[Lyranmusik] der Rosenengel official website : http://lyranmusik.com/
[ROSENGARTEN] Leyna’s Gothic event website: http://lyranmusik.com/rosengarten
[Lyranmusik] YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/lyranmusik
[LeynaToga] Twitter: https://twitter.com/LeynaToga