Visual kei aesthetics, a metal sound and the musical balls to stand amongst the men, exist trace (typeset as exist†trace) is an all female band that’s not afraid of crashing the good old boys club. In visual style they embody what many VK groups have tried to achieve; a beautiful androgyny, macabre sensuality and tragic romance. Like Takarazuka, the all female musical where women play both male and female roles, exist trace is fascinating in their ability to bend genders yet remain genuine to their music. They don’t shrink when the sound needs to be heavy and Jyou’s lush alto can transition into a gritty, earth shaking bass of a scream at the drop of a hat.
Exist trace doesn’t stop at just the music either. Like many of their male counterparts, they’re looking to the take the rest of the world by storm and recently partnered with the US-based company JapanFiles on the digital release of their album VANGUARD -of the muses-.
Thanks to that partnership Go of Jrocknyc got some personal time (as personal as email can get you) with exist trace guitarist Miko.
Go: What’s the last song you just listened to, and what do you think of it?
Miko: At home I listen to a lot of western music, a lot of metal. Lately it’s [Dutch metal band] Within Temptation, since I like female vocals. Sometimes I like pop music, but when I’m working on music for Exist Trace I’ll listen to something I can use as reference that’s similar to our own sound.
Go: What was the writing process like for “Vanguard -of the muses-”?
Miko: The writing started 2 months before we recorded, and each of us would come in with the music and lyrics already written for our own songs. For the recording, we split it into two-week sessions. In each session we’d finish at least 2 songs, sometimes 4. So from start to finish it was maybe 3 months total.
Go: Tell us one secret about the “Vanguard -of the muses-” recording sessions.
Miko: We aren’t as serious as we used to be, but we’re really on guard to keep it focused so we don’t get things too off-track. We try to be considerate of the other people involved, too, since it’s not just us in the studio. But when we do get silly, Mally is the worst — she’ll say jokes and make us laugh.
Go: The new PV [for "Vanguard"] is great. What was the most fun thing about the shoot, and what was the least fun?
Miko: It was the first time we shot a PV in a studio. Everything was surprising and fun, but it took a long time! I was at my energy limit. It took 18 hours straight. But I just tried to keep having fun and maintain the tension.
Go: What was the very first band that you LOVED, the band that got you into music? Which member did you pretend to be in your bedroom mirror?
Miko: I can’t pin it down, really, to one band. I listened to a lot of
American pop, then I started listing to visual kei from junior high.
Go: When you sit down to eat dinner with your parents, what does your mom say about being in exist trace?
Miko: My mother comes to the lives, and I normally get a lot of complaints after it. She’ll say things like, “You need to practice more!” She always stays in the back, being very quiet.
Go: How do you feel about music downloading?
Miko: We are really counting on the fans to support us, and it means a lot to us to know that a fan is giving something to us in exchange for our music. If they support us, we’ll keep giving them all we’ve got.
Go: What was it like to first meet, as a band? What were everyone’s first impressions?
Miko: Initially, everyone was too serious, All of us. Recently, it’s different — we’ll hang out together. We didn’t hang out together before; we only got together for rehearsal or performance. But now we can have fun outside of the music too. We go shopping together, or go to amusement parks.
Go: What’s your favorite ride?
Miko: (laughs) The coffee cup ride! I’m fine on it, but Mally gets really sick!exist†trace official website – http://www.exist-trace.com
exist†trace downloads on Japanfiles.com – http://www.japanfiles.com/existtrace
Interview by Go of Jrocknyc – http://jrocknyc.blogspot.com/ Intro by Kathy Chee
Photo credit: Monsters, Inc./JapanFiles.com