Interview with Vagu*Project in Urawa, Saitama, Jan 22, 2012
with Anna Nordenskjöld Bergman och Jonathan Hedtjärn
J: Jonathan (Translator)
J: Can you all, each one, tell a little bit about Yourselves, for ex when did you start with music? Where in japan you are from? What instrument(s) you play, or have played before, and if there are any musicians or bands you admire?
R: I’m Ryo, the bassist. When I started with music…. Well it started like an interest when was about 17 or 18 years old. There has also been periods when I haven’t done anything with music at all. I really started with music, oh by the way, I’m originally from Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture. I arrived from there when I was about 22-23 years old, and that’s when I met him (referring to YuI). So well it was the first real band for me, after I arrived in Tokyo, and it was Vagu*Project. And we have been doing this since then.
J: How did you all three meet?
R: How we came to know each other? I met YuI at an Izakaya (japanese style restaurant). We had never met before, and didn’t know each other at all. But after meeting each other for a few times, we came to know each other. Then one time, we were chatting about nothing in particular, we just decided ’ let’s go’ and we formed Vagu*Project.
Originally we were 4 members. YuI only played guitar back then, but then when the original drummer and vocalist left the band, YuI started both vocals and guitar . We did it like a two member band. Tokarefu (Shinya) was already playing in a band called 中国釣具店 (Chinese fish tackle shop).
He started playing with us as a support member ,and now he is with us. Now we have also gotten hold of a support drummer ( takasaki-Heracryst-ryuji )
J: Ryo-san, Do you play anything else but bass?
R: Yes, I tried to play a little bit of folk guitar, but I cannot play it well yet.
J: But do you like it?
R: Well, actually I like to sing, but I’n not good at it, so…well it doesn’t work.
J: What kind of music do you like to listen to?
R: It differs from time to time, but… lately… oh well not only lately, I have liked this band for a long time. I like this Japanese band called ’Kuroyume” (黒夢) a lot. I like them now, and I liked them over a long period of time.
J: Ok so how about you YuI-san, when did you start with music?
Y: First time I came in contact with music was at preschool during Yugikai, and my preschool was the first in Japan to have synthesizers .. so that’s how it began.
At home we also had an electric piano. So from then on I love music and I enjoyed playing it ever since. Then in elementary school (shougakkou”) I wanted to start playing guitar, but my mother told me my hands were too small so I had to grow and wait until I was at Junior high. Once I started Junior High ((中学校 chūgakkō) I bought a guitar and that’s how it’s been since then
J: So you have actually played music since preschool?
Y: Yes, I have.
J: So how about the singing ?
Y: Well the vocals, as he (Ryo) said, when the original vocalist left Vagu*Project, I thought I could start try to sing some. This was about 6 years ago
J: What bands or music do you like to listen to ?
Y: I like everything, but.. I like Marilyn Manson and Linkin park … but I also like ’enka’ (演歌) and Chopin… I really like everything
J: When did you Tokarefu-san start playing music?
T: When I was 12 I listened to Aerosmith’s album ”Nine Lives” and started liking music. First I was thinking I should play drums, but I couldn’t really play drums at home. During this time I saw a performance by hide from X-Japan and when I saw him play guitar I thought ”To play guitar is the only alternative” :D and that’s how I came to play the guitar.
J: And you have played guitar ever since?
T: Yes exactly; since then I have played guitar. When I turned 15, I started to play in bands for real, and came to Tokyo and here I have had gigs at LIVE houses.
J: So where are you from originally then?
T: I’m from Nagoya. Yeah, when I came to Tokyo I met a band called 中国釣具店 ”Chinese Fish Tackle Shop ” （中国釣具店 http://www.chu-tsuri.com/）
and when I was playing with them, I came to meet Vagu*Project and got a chance to play with them. And since then it’s been like “Do you want play with us?” , and I’ve been saying “Sure!”.
J: Do you still listen to Aerosmith, hide and X-Japan?
T: I listen to all kinds of music, but if we are talking about rock, well then I listen to Mötley Crüe, Iron Maiden but I like Jazz too Miles Davis… that kind of Jazz. But I like techno too . Japanese guys like Ishino Takkyu 石野 卓球
and Ken Ishii ケン・イシイ .I have been listening to that kind of music a lot lately.
J: YuI-san, so where are you coming from?
Y: I’m from Kyoto.
J: How came you named your band Vagu*Project?
Y: Japanese children say ’Baguru’ about problems related to digital toys, like when they play games or are using computers.
(Bagu ばぐ is the Japanese form of the English word ’Bug’ and ru る is a verb ending)
and in English Bagu (Bug), is an insect, right?
We wanted to have a unique name that didnt exist before, so we changed the B to a V, and created a new word. That’s how it became Vagu.Then the drummer (ex-member of the band) wanted to incorporate the word ’project’, so that’s how we came up with the name ”Vagu*Project”.
And also when we have Live gigs, we totally flip out and want to have fun and kind of like bugging around on stage.. so yeah Vagu*Project
J: How would you describe your music for someone who never listened to you before?
R: Hmm… Our band, Vagu*Project havent really wanted to be tied to one genre or kind of music, like onlu doing rock, ballads or enka. We want to be part of a new genre or style, like the ’Ora Ora’ style or Ora Ora Kei ( オラオラ)as it would be in Japanese.
We want to be perceived as being accessible to all, and everywhere. Thats why for ex we dont have any choreography for our live performances. We want people to be able to listen to us freely. And that people who like us, will listen to us.
J: So if you have to explain your music with a few words how would you then describe it?
Y: Can we use Kanji?
Y: ”Tenjou tenge yui ga dokuson” (”天上天下唯我独尊”)
It is Buddha’s words. The ego exists alone with Self Conceit , in heaven and on Earth.
J: Can you tell us a little bit how you went about to record your albums?
R: You mean how we managed to record them?
J: Yeah, Maybe you can tell us a little bit how you were able to do it?
R: So how we did the recording?
J: Yeah, For ex. Did you have a studio available?
R: Well Vagu*Project is not signed with a label, or have any kind of sponsor, so we have produced it all on our own. We have funded recodring studio time on our own from places that rent out. We practiced there and recorded, Its mainly YuI who composes our songs and writes the lyrics. We do the recording on our own and get the stuff we need. And then the editing of the album or so, we pay a company to do that for us.
And if you ask us from where we get the money, well we have to make it on our own, so whatever we can make from Live house gigs, and whatever money customer pay, we structure and budget our expenses.
J: Have you had any Live gigs outside of Tokyo?
Y: It’s all places in Japan, but we have played in Niigata, Saitama, Kanagawa, Chiba and Shizuoka.
J: Does vagu*Project have any specific goals for this year?
R: Goals.. hmm Well we would like to step up to the next level, and we would like to have a One-man Live. We have had many lives with others now, but we have only played as one band among others not yet had a One man so that is our goal for this year.
J: What would be your biggest dream for Vagu*Project? If the sky was the limit ie not thinking about finances
Y: You mean how far we would like to go?
T: We would like to go as far as one can
Y: If I would say what I am hoping for… well it would be to take over the world… (Laughter)
T: I knew u would say that….
Y:So yeah far… if you as what Im hoping for , then that’s it. My fundamental and real intention is that… I like my musik so my dream or my ideal is to make people feel that its better to die if they could not hear my music, If people feel that such a world (life) isnt possible because it would be boring, then I would be happy