May 16

[interview] TAIA – "Gothic Metal," Quoth the Raven

Okinawa seems to be the incubator for great acts. A wide range of artists have all called Okinawa home, including pop songstress Cocco and rock band High and Mighty Color. Gothic metal group TAIA keeps the tradition going, highlighting their female vocalist and tight musicianship over a discography of six albums.

purple SKY: Please tell us a bit about how TAIA formed as a band. Who were the first members? How did you meet Seika?

YASHA (bass): TAKA and I had been doing a cover band for a while, then we started making original songs and SEIKA joined. At the time, SEIKA hadn’t listened to metal music before, so we thought that would actually give us an opportunity to make more interesting music.

TAKA (left-side guitar): I wanted to play metal music, and copying Iron Maiden songs led to the start of TAIA.

SEIKA (vocals): YASHA and TAKA have been in it since the beginning. They were my senpai in school, and once we got to know each other, they invited me into the band. That’s how it went. My first impression of them was “scary senpai,” and when they handed me an Iron Maiden album and told me “We’ll be playing their songs, so listen to them,” I was even more scared by the CD jacket!

purple SKY: How do the personalities of the current members affect TAIA’s style?

YASHA: Everyone has their own pace, so sometimes it seems there isn’t a cohesive style. But having each member create their own sounds naturally leads the music in a good direction.

KEN (drums): It’s a magnificent spice!

FUGA (keyboard): I think our personalities in our daily lives don’t have much effect on our music style. But we each have our own attitudes towards music, and we each have our own style that we’re good at. By supporting each other’s styles we’re able to create TAIA’s style.

purple SKY: How did you come to choose the band name TAIA (“Raven” in English)? Does it have any special meaning in regards to your musical style?

YASHA: Our first drummer named the band, which she took from Edgar Allan Poe’s poem. The reason we used kanji was because we wanted to show the importance of the Japanese language to us.

SEIKA: Yes, the name was taken from Poe’s poem “The Raven.” It did not have any particular meaning, but the dark atmosphere in our music seemed to make it a good match.

purple SKY: Your website logo says TAIA from Okinawa, Japan. What reason is there to specify Okinawa? Do you think being local to Okinawa has influenced your music?

URA (right-side guitar): Okinawa has a unique musical culture that is not available anywhere else. Not all the members are from Okinawa originally, but because we’re playing music in Okinawa, I think there are parts where that has a big influence.

FUGA: Okinawa is quite a different place both geographically and historically in Japan. It’s also far away from the center of Japan’s economy and culture. Of course, it would be easier to stay in mainland Japan to stay active in the music business. On the other hand, being born and raised in Okinawa — and still living in Okinawa while being active in Japan — makes us quite special, so whenever magazines or other medias ask about our uniqueness, it became a matter of course for us to declare our place of origin.

SEIKA: Guitarist TAKA and I are not from Okinawa originally, but since we’ve been living here, spiritually we’ve been largely influenced by the nature and the climate of this land. It’s not a direct influence, it’s rather something that accumulates subconsciously on a daily basis.

purple SKY: You recently performed at HMV’s Iron Angel, a live concert revolving around female metal bands. What was it like playing with so many other female fronted bands?

SEIKA: Although we’re all female vocalists, of course everyone has their own music styles. At Iron Angel, it was very fun, interesting, and stimulating to be able to perform with so many vocalists with different styles.

FUGA: I think there are people who became fans of bands with female vocalists because they like the idol-ness of it. I could see a difference in the audience between our normal metal and rock events and the Iron Angel event. We’d like people who like the idol aspect of it to be able to enjoy the music as well. If we can get our music to more types of people, we can grow as musicians and make high-quality music.

purple SKY: At the Iron Angel event, why do you think those bands were chosen to represent the Japanese female metal genre? How was the audience reaction?

YASHA: The metal genre is really broad, and this event gathered all the really active and popular bands in the Japanese female metal scene.

URA: Being able to participate in an event with all these bands from the female vocalist metal scene enabled us to raise awareness of the scene even further. All the audiences seemed like they enjoyed themselves. There was head-banging, there were people who raised their fists and sang. It was really fun.

FUGA: Female metal has recently been evolving into its own genre, and all the bands that attended were chosen for having certain levels of popularity. But instead of doing “female metal” because it’s a trend, all the chosen bands were people making challenging music regardless of their gender. It’s interesting to create a fad unconsciously, but I guess that’s the way art is.

purple SKY: Were there any crazy fan moments or memorable experiences?

SEIKA: Something crazy… Hm. (thinks) How’s this? Instead of crazy, there was a happy image I saw, where a fan cried during the entire live, and I even got emotional seeing that. Also, because I like reading, there were fans that gave me several rare books, I was very happy about it.

FUGA: There hasn’t been any craziness that surprised me, so I’m looking forward to something next time… crazy is okay, just no trouble.

purple SKY: Why did you choose to record an album in English? (2009′s “Through your tears”)

YASHA: Since we started releasing albums overseas, we felt it would be easier to convey the world of our music in English instead of Japanese.

FUGA: Usually we have Japanese lyrics, but to support the overseas release, we decided to make the English version.

KEN: Because we wanted an even bigger audience to know TAIA’s music, English was the best way.

SEIKA: Just like YASHA mentioned when you asked the origin of our band’s name, TAIA has the collective idea of “treasuring the Japanese language, be particular about it.” It’s because we want to convey the world view in those lyrics to our listeners. There are quite a few places where the Japanese nuance is changed during translation, but it’d be great if people around the world could feel and understand the lyrical world as we intend it to be.

purple SKY: What are your plans for 2011?

YASHA: Right now we’re straightening out some songs we didn’t have time to record in 2010, so we’d like to hurry and finish the job so we can announce the album release.

TAKA: Yes, album production!

URA: We’re all thinking about that right now. Then we’d like to deliver energy and happiness to all parts of Japan with our album!

FUGA: In 2010, we had lots of lives in Japan so we didn’t have much time for album production. We want to take our time in 2011, gather everything up, and release our album. Look for it!

Photos and interview courtesy of JapanFiles/TAIA
Official JapanFiles website – http://www.japanfiles.com/TAIA
Official TAIA website – http://www.taia.jp