"Moi dix Mois DECADE of Superiority A direct hit with the natural-born artist Mana out to meet the 10 year anniversary of his solo project!"
"A superior artist" -- thats the kind of phrase that comes to mind when describing Mana. He is thought to be a visionary artist who has made an everlasting impact in the scene. = He made a name for himself through MALICE MIZER and then afterwards began activity for his solo project = Moi dix Mois, which has been going steady for 10 years. Always without blurring the way he expresses his style, it feels as though he has made it a "mission" to clarify his vision. As of now now his solo project has come to its 10th year anniversary, Mana talks about the performance he did on 9/2 at Akasaka BLITZ with old friends Kozi and Yu~ki, his newest alum "Reprise", and what he has his eyes set on for the future
-- About the 10 year anniversary live series "Fragments of Philosophy," especially 9/2 at Akasaka BLITZ -- this was a special stage where you performed with Kozi-san and Yu~ki-san from MALICE MIZER, wasn't it.
"I call this kind of live where I get together and perform with my old friends "Deep Sanctuary". Last time we did this was 2 years ago and this is actually our 3rd time to do it, but this feeling has been born within me that I want to keep doing it from time to time. Yu~ki-chan isn't doing any sort of band activity, so he almost simply wouldn't do it, but we've been on stage together since the early days."
-- Mana-san, you really seemed to be having fun, but you seemed a little different from your usual self, didn't you?
"I did, didn't I. Since Moi dix Mois is my project, the other members support what kind of music I want to do, but since MALICE MIZER was a band the members all equally participated. "Deep Sanctuary" itself is supposed to be fun, so because of that I think, "shouldn't it be fun spirited when we go out on stage?"
-- So this year in March, Moi dix Mois came around to a full 10 years. When you started in '02, is this what you had envisioned things would be like 10 years later? "
No, not really. I thought, 'What do I want to do now?' and since I started out by pursuing myself with reckless thoughts I didn't think at all about the future. Rather, on the contrary I now think 'I've really been doing this for 10 years?' I'm quite surprised."
-- At that point in time you came to the decision that you wanted to pursue your own music, so what was your number one motive to do so?
"Of course I had fun making music with MALICE MIZER, but that work was an art form where all the members worked together as one. I couldn't just bring out my own flavor of things, so until I had always wanted to artistically express myself through music -- if I could make my own themes and various types of music to bring forth into my own work, I could make my own personal "seal" with the various types of metal I liked at that time. So when MALICE MIZER went on hiatus, well, I wanted to explore music on my own, and I felt like I was missing out on thoughts like "what would that be like?". At that time I went back to my own roots and with all my strength tried to do something with things I like. So I started with a sense of something like that and said 'first of all let's try to do something with metal……'."
-- So as a result you started not with a band, but with something you called "Mana's Solo Project".
"Well of course if I couldn't bear everything of song lyrics, composition arrangement, and total production then I couldn't completely call it my own music. Its a big responsibility, but I wanted the origin of everything to be "Everything I aim for my music to be to my own perfection," and so I worked hard for it and when I was able to do "D+SECT" (The second newest album that was released in 2010), I felt like I had finally reached that point of perfection within myself. On the contrary, when I now listen to the music I made in the early days I feel a little embarrassed (laughs). But I think thats proof I've really progressed."
-- Upon evolving your ideal expression, the idea in itself of "Violence and Beauty" hasn't really changed after these 10 years, has it.
"Nothing has changed. Even now with the fast symphonic components, since the gothic aesthetic is truly a part of me, I could never think of changing. Furthermore, since my fascination is on a level that I wouldn't say is only physiological, sometimes I wonder if maybe in a past life I was European. If I could have the chance I would definitely want to see who I was before."
-- Maybe you were somebody influential in France. Going back to these 10 years, was there any kind of turning point for you?
"In '04 when I released my 3rd single "Pageant". It was the most pop song within Moi dix Mois, but when I made the song I really hated playing it live"
-- But you made that song yourself, didn't you?
"It was a strange self-interest. I was only releasing violent musical composition, and even thought there were fans who had followed me since MALICE MIZER I still didn't want to listen to a pop song. In all actuality, although it was warmly welcomed by all the fans with tremendous popularity, I was conflicted within myself thinking, with the dark grounds of Moi dix Mois making a pop song would be unreasonable, wouldn't it? it really doesn't match. Because of that, we only play it once a year at my birthday event "Madou Gathering" and as soon as we introduce it seems the fans are generally overjoyed. Its not violence and madness, but more of a feeling of being wrapped in affection, so it has become powerfully recognized as something precious at the venue. As a result, the members also voiced "We really want it to be added in" when I was working on "Reprise" this time, and now I have really grown to love this song too."
--Since your dream has been to pursue music, it seems your outlook towards your relationship with your fans has also spread. Especially with "Reprise", the album where you re-released past songs with the current members performing in it.
"For the 10 year anniversary I wanted to make something different from a regular album, so I took this opportunity to work on previous songs with the current members and now it feels like a single sublimation from back in those days all the way up to where we are now. I thought about completely mixing all the member's ideas along with the songs requested by fans as a basis but from the beginning I had already decided "Dialogue Symphonie" would be the very first song added in. After all, it was the first Moi dix Mois song I ever made. Since my thoughts for the lyrics of this song were meant to be a dialogue = conversation that the fans can respond to, for me its my most cherished song.
-- So as a result how were the previous songs born again in "Reprise"?
If you want to talk about something different from that point in time, the guitars are in some ways different. In MALICE MIZER we danced so half the time I wasn't always playing guitar, and for that reason my way of thinking was not fixed on ways of switching guitars in the beginning. Song arrangement was focused around the synthesizer, but in Moi dix Mois my awareness as a guitarist began to bud immensely so when K-kun became a member for the twin guitar [effect] it had been unusual for me to arrange songs with guitar as the main part. While the addition of harmony by guitars was a good point that made "Reprise" original, the thick, roughly cut riffs made it more of a guitar album. Anyway, by remaking past songs I feel satisfied with how the album came out with Moi dix Mois now.
-- The end of the album has only one new song in it, "Je l'aime" - was this song made specifically for the 10 year anniversary?
"Yes exactly. I made it straight up as gratitude for all the fans who have given me support, and furthermore the title in English means "I love you", but honestly thats a little embarrassing, isn't it. But for the sole reason of the 10 year anniversary I wanted to convey my feelings directly. I think it has a musical suite feeling to it because the sound is an evolution of everything good in this 10 year period. For the members it was difficult to memorize, but I had intended for the beginning to be even more packed [with sounds] as a progressive epic. However, it was becoming too complex so actually I had to simplify it down a little. Even now I still have to. (Laughs)"
-- There is a majestic change between violence and beauty in it. Being overwhelmed with such tremendous dynamism I have to ask you more questions. Since you are currently performing "Fragments of Philosophy", what does that title actually mean?
"Philosophy is what Moi dix Mois has become for me…… Also, little by little more thoughts about what I pursue in music and in the world come to me and thats what "fragments" means. What I'm trying to say is, our concept changes every time so each live is a "fragment". Moreover, the set list also corresponds to that; I gather songs that we don't normally do at lives, comprise them to big situations in life, and sometimes I even also play MALICE MIZER songs at places where I study philosophy in depth. Some days I might work on 1 song until its perfect, while others I might spend the entire day only on the intro.
-- So you could say Mana cultivates his life all the way up until now, and then condenses all down into the "Fragments of Philosophy" live series.
"Thats right. So when you watch each live becomes something completely different and I change my costume and hair color every time as well. My hair had always been black since the beginning of Moi dix Mois so for the 10 year anniversary I wanted to change something up."
-- You have decided to release a DVD of "Fragments of Philosophy" all the way up to chapter 1, so it will be fun to watch the change on film, wont it.
"Thats my goal. I have also been thinking about which songs I should make on film for the 10 year anniversary, so if I can take the visuals I changed at each time and make it into one live it should be fun to watch. Although since theres such a large quantity [of material filmed] right now I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed (laughs). Since I've been doing that work at my own free will from time to time to some extent I will announce the release date eventually."
-- Since you have done five different things for the live series, what kind of feeling have you gotten from it?
"Since there are many songs we haven't performed for quite a while until now there are many songs that feel fresh once again when I remember "I made a song like this too", so my feelings and memories from back in those days are renewed. Since I've been fusing those with the current Moi dix Mois I think I can really feel the weight of these 10 years at the lives."
-- Speaking of those memories, which have you had the most of -- painful ones or fun ones?
"Its been about half and half. When speaking of bands they look very showy, but behind the scenes its difficult. Those are the kinds of things I haven't been able to talk about before but have talked about as "light and shadows" which will be published in my first autobiography."
--When you announced the publication at Akasaka BLITZ there was a lot of excited cheering, wasn't there. Especially when it was said "Pictures from his childhood will be published"…….
"Actually that was a misunderstanding. What it was supposed mean was that I am going to take new photos for this + talk about things from my childhood until now, but there was a bit of a mistake in the way the sentence was structured on the MC. Certainly everyone will be surprised by what I talk about though, because I'm going to let a lot out."
-- I look forward to it. You have decided on "Fragments of Philosophy" will also be in Osaka in November, and the yearly established "Dis inferno", but for the sake of pursuing your own music will you continue to play the leading role in Mana's activity within Moi dix Mois from here on out?
"Of course. This time I selected a complete image when I made "Je l'aime", so in contrast I am now passionate about making something completely different. I wrote lyrics about falling in love for the 10 year anniversary, but next time I want to make something dark. Something even more dark and one-sided that the average person cannot meddle with. Being muddled in darkness like that is still my most favorite things after all (laughs)."
Translation by Sarah @ Mana-Sama.net