Unassuming in their independent music spirit, rock band Dazzle Vision is finding their way onto North American shores for the first time in their seven year career. 1990’s prog-rock mixed with glam metal and a splash of Avril Lavigne for good measure, Dazzle Vision will be performing at Seattle’s Sakura-Con on April 3 as the opening act for High and Mighty Color. Unlike the con’s headliner, J-music and anime fans might not be terribly familiar with Dazzle Vision. But if their most recent releases are any indication of what’s to come, they’re a worthy contender for the audience’s attention.
The band started out in the traditional indies music fashion. A group of friends, including a pair of siblings as represented by the vocalist and bassist, decided to take elements from previous projects and create music that they wanted to do. Gaining popularity on the indies circuit, they moved on the release works on JapanFiles in order to reach the ever so difficult to tap overseas market.
Before they head off to the US for their first concert on the other side of the Pacific, the band sat down with me for a no-frills chat about their music and what exactly is – dare I say? – dazzling about Dazzle Vision.
The band walked into their basement studio just west of Tokyo’s Shibuya looking just like any other group of young musicians: a bass guitar bag in tow, some equipment dragging behind them, and even a Big Mac for bassist Takuro to munch on during the interview. Guitarist Yu was unfortunately unable to attend, but the rest of the band seemed to be in good spirits, excited about their upcoming show. Admittedly, I was not terribly familiar with the band beforehand, so I had to see what Dazzle Vision was all about.
“We’re a scream pop band,” vocalist Maiko replied immediately and with purpose.
“Scream” might very well be one of the most interesting elements of their music, as Maiko has a talent for it. While her singing voice is normally slightly sweet and airy, there are interludes of metal yowling that very few women can pull off. Such an intense sound coming from an otherwise petite and demure woman might surprise some people, but she bursts into it quite naturally and with enough strength to make her male counterparts cower.
Still, I wasn’t quite sure what the “dazzle” part of their band name was all about. I half expected glittery jackets and gaudy bling bling that would make even Lady Gaga cringe, but they were far from that. Drummer Haru had to clarify. “We want something that sort of catches the eye. That’s what Dazzle Vision means. But we don’t really think there’s a definite connection between our band’s name and the music.”
They’re equally minimalist when talking about their inspirations. While I noted aloud that Maiko’s voice was oddly reminiscent of 1990’s Irish rock band The Cranberries, she assured me that she really didn’t have anyone who influenced her singing style.
“I want to do what I want to do, so I don’t really listen to anyone,” she added. “I’m pretty independent. I have something to say to everyone, not limited to girls, but also to boys, and not just to young people but also to adults. ‘You can do it’ and ‘You can’t do it’ is not something that can be decided by someone else. If you decide to do it then it will happen.”
If Haru and bassist Takuro were equally outspoken, it was to demonstrate their eagerness to absorb the influences of other worldwide musical artists. They went on to cite anyone from Story of the Year to Deep Purple as bands they enjoy. Given the opportunity, they said, they would even like to pop in to see some concerts overseas.
While Dazzle Vision played to excited crowds at festivals in Taiwan in 2006 and 2007, as a band, they had yet to experience the often overwhelming force of overzealous American audiences. Haru was lucky enough to come to the US with the band Goofy Style in 2006.
“The reaction in America was huge,” he noted. Knowing US audiences myself, there was no need to elaborate.
With a whole new fanbase for them to cater to, I wondered what kind of impact that had on their music.
“The lyrics are in Japanese. Lately, we’ve been writing them more and more in English,” Maiko stated. “But the American fans seem to be conscious of the fact that the lyrics are in Japanese, so about 90% of the lyrics are in Japanese.”
“I’m not playing a character in the songs. My lyrics are based on my own experiences and my own true feelings, so it’s just been natural up to this point to communicate to an audience in Japanese. In my head, that’s the sound of my own voice.”
Dazzle Vision seems to know their crowd. In previous years, Sakura-Con has drawn as many as 16,000 Japanese culture addicts, most of whom attend for the three-day immersion into everything Japanese pop. The convention’s very own commercial even turned into a one-of-a-kind viral video on YouTube.
Haru contemplated a possible Dazzle Vision commercial. “I can’t really think of what it would be. Maybe it would be artistic. Maybe it wouldn’t. We want to make high energy style commercials that relay the excitement of our live show. We’re really poor at traditional comment videos, or at least I am. I’d like to see something where the members of Dazzle Vision are turned into anime, or maybe just a video collage of death shouts from various people. That would be cool!
And the band is no stranger to the main subject matter of the convention.
“We all like anime,” Haru said excitedly. “Naruto, Dragonball. And yes, I’ve seen the Dragonball live action movie. It’s just completely separate from the cartoon.”
When asked what she wants to see most at Sakura-Con, Maiko answered, “Since we’re going to a convention, I want to take pictures of cosplayers.”
But do they know about the things that really make American cosplay great?
“I’ve seen the guy who dresses like Sailor Moon,” Takuro exclaimed.
“The big Sailor Moon!” Haru added enthusiastically. “He’s a big boy.”
Maiko smiled. “I’ve always loved Sailor Moon since I was a child. So I’d be dressed up right next to them.”
“It’s going to be so fun,” she continued.”I’m really excited to see all the young people at Sakura-Con. Our band’s theme is ‘Children create the world.’ We want to relay this: You don’t have to give up, escape, or compromise. We want you have the courage to create the ‘fun and wonderful world’ we are all thinking of. As long as you don’t give up, your dream it will come true.”Dazzle Vision Official Website – http://dazzlevision.net/ Dazzle Vision at JapanFiles – http://www.japanfiles.com/dazzlevision Sakura-Con – http://www.sakuracon.org/