This week's interview is with visual kei band The Ghost inside of Me.
The Ghost inside of Me is a highly conceptual band whose music is known for delicate melodies guided by piano and violin. Their live performances embody high storytelling, as music is combined with recital of written works.
The band graciously granted us a long interview about their world, their history, and their process as dark storytellers.
The Ghost inside of Me, thank you for allowing us to do this interview!
Please introduce yourselves. What phrase would you use to describe yourself?
[BaN] My name is BaN and I am the vocalist and reciter. I also read aloud on stage, and write the lyrics.
[Ryuto (隆斗)] Nice to meet you! I'm Ryuto. I play acoustic and electric guitar. I also make some of our goods for sale.
[Maya (マヤ)] I'm Maya, I play bass guitar and contrabass. I also do chorus and songwriting from time to time. Other than that, I'm also involved in video editing. My catchphrase is “this is for enthusiasts”... (laughs)
[Ed.: The catchphrase マニア向け implies that this is something that's only enjoyable for those who are “crazy” about a subject. Almost nerdy or like “this is for super fans only.”]
[Maiha] I'm Maiha, I play piano and keyboard. I am also do chorus in live performances.
[Kirishima Kuromi (霧島くろみ)] I'm in charge of the violin. My catchphrase is... “I kinda don't know what you're talking about.”
Please tell us about how you formed, and how you got to the current lineup.
[BaN] In the beginning, it was a two-piece unit of an ex-member and myself; from there, in 2016 it changed into my own solo project. After that, in 2017 we performed in band form at our first sponsored event. The support members at that time became the current members, after officially joining at our 2018 oneman.
[Ryuto (隆斗)] When our bands did a live together, we got to know each other over hobbies and became friends.
From there, I was able to support them. I'm thankful to be able to play music together as a member now!
[Maya (マヤ)] A bandman I knew contacted me and said “I definitely think you'll like their music, and I hope you'll help them out.” That's how I was introduced to BaN.
[Maiha] I was a support member because of Ryuto, and after one day in the studio we were like, “let's do a band together.”
[Kirishima Kuromi (霧島くろみ)] I think it started when I was introduced to BaN through an acquaintance of her's. Among the members, I was the slowest to join as support; it was after the first sponsored event in 2017 that I began doing support. From that point, the support members revolved a bit, but I ended up participating in most lives. For more information, see BaN's later answer.
What is the meaning of your band's name?
[Maya (マヤ)] Come to think of it, I don't know. What was it again? (laughs)
[BaN] Actually, I'm also not sure because it was thought up by an ex-member. But my own interpretation is that it means “the other me (illusion) inside me.”
How did each of you become interested in visual kei?
[BaN] A friend of mine recommended a CD to me, when I listened to it again years later, I remember it really pierced my heart at that time. It was GACKT's MOON, wasn't it? Since that time, I started listening to CDs from various artists.
[Ryuto (隆斗)] The first band I played in moved from casual rock to visual kei... Before I knew it, I felt like “I'm hooked to this!” (laughs)
[Maya (マヤ)] When I learned of MALICE MIZER. It shocked me and made me feel like “they'll do anything!”
[Maiha] When I was in elementary school, I saw SHAZNA and was shocked by it, so I naturally started to pay attention to visual kei.
[Kirishima Kuromi (霧島くろみ)] GREEN DAY's fashion was the first thing that attracted me to visual kei, punk, and gothic (gothic lolita too!) fashion and makeup. I loved it.
The visual impact of your costumes and jackets is strong. How do you come up with these images and designs?
[Ryuto (隆斗)] Everything comes from BaN, I think it's really amazing!
[BaN] When we come up with a new theme, we think together about what kind of “position” each of us will have in that theme, and then think of what kind of costume and makeup will best serve that position.
And as an individual, my goal is to take my form to an even higher level than my previous work. When I show something for the first time, my goal is that it will surprise everyone and make them wonder “what's next!?”
I also design the flyers and jackets. When I have a clear picture, I sometimes draw a rough drawing and then design it, but usually I just decide on the atmosphere and colors, and then I pile on various things and make a selection.
[Maya (マヤ)] As for the costumes and make-up, I'm trying to create an atmosphere that is easy to create by looking at the world BaN-san has in mind.
[Maiha] Costumes are selected with consideration of the theme at that time, the item you want to wear, the ideal image, whether it suits you.
[Kirishima Kuromi (霧島くろみ)] As for clothes, I choose and wear ones that fit a character in the world created by BaN. As the story unravels, I hope you can imagine the meaning of each member's costume.
Vocalist BaN usually has a striking piece of headwear. Who designs them?
[Maya (マヤ)] Both design and production were done by BaN. It's amazing.
[BaN] I design it myself, I make everything from the neck to the top, and I do all the makeup myself. In particular, the horn, which we introduced in the fall of 2016, has become a symbol of our brand, so I'm very particular about it every time I design a new one.
Your lineup features female members, which is unique among visual kei bands. Does this affect your expression?
[BaN] I think it's a merit that we can use a lot of delicate expressions that only a woman can use. However, I'm aware that the songs we play transcend gender, so when the song is created in a male perspective I play a “man,” and when the song is more on a female perspective I play a “woman.” That's another benefit of being able to be flexible.
[Ryuto (隆斗)] There's a lot of delicate and detailed expression, so it takes a lot of care (laughs), but I think that's the beauty of our music!
[Maya (マヤ)] It feels easier to do than a man-only band. It feels more delicate and gentle. Still sometimes I feel nervous (laughs), but maybe it suits me. I’m thankful for it!
[Maiha] I think that the delicate parts appear in the performance and the music is more emotional.
[Kirishima Kuromi (霧島くろみ)] I don't know if it has anything to do with gender, but I think we have a group of members who are sensitive and genuinely interested in expressing themselves.
Your lineup also features a full-time pianist and violinist, which is also unique. Why did you choose this kind of lineup over a more orthodox one?
[BaN] Originally, all of the songs I wrote were completely driven by myself and not very band-ish. Many of the pieces are classical and emphasize nuance, so a piano or violin is essential. Conversely, it has now become possible, thanks to the other members, to play those songs. Of course, the contrabass is also one of them, and the guitar is also important. The presence of the guitar gives it a band feeling, also it gives new expressions that I couldn't achieve when I was a soloist.
[Ryuto (隆斗)] I think the piano and violin are essential instruments for expressing our music! I think they are much more important than the guitar!
[Maya (マヤ)] I think it was absolutely necessary because the band has an acoustic and classical atmosphere inside the songs. I think the piano and violin are absolutely essential to create the bands worldview.
You often play with bands such as Crucifixion and La’veil MizeriA. How did this come to be? How do fans react to this contrast in style?
[BaN] I met Crucifixion when we performed together at a live event while we were still working as a two-person unit. The event was so big that we couldn't watch each other's stage because it was too far from each other, but it was interesting to see each other's artist photos. After I became a solo artist, they invited me to play at their events, and on the other hand, they also participated in our sponsored events and so we became very close.
I also got to know La'veil MizeriA through Crucifixion. It is often said that we are very different from them and that it's very surprising to play along with them. But I see them as inhabitants of the same dark world, so I feel very comfortable playing with them.
[Maya (マヤ)] It's simply because we are good friends (laughs). But maybe it's because there is a part that resonates with the dark atmosphere that visual kei originally has. The songs we and Crucifixion covered from each other's songs were very well received.
Your lives often feature performative recitings. Why are these important to the band, and how do you come up with them?
[BaN] I'm very particular about it. I don't put any recitings or lines inside our physical releases. These are the points that I want you to feel when you see our lives. I may change the content of the readings from time to time, or I may leave them out if necessary for the production. I want people to enjoy different stages at different times, such as hand movements and eye contact.
The concept is to write the lyrics, or decide the title of the song first and make it according to it. There are also cases where there is a large theme, such as the current theme Invitation from “J”, where the songs are arranged in line with the theme.
[Ryuto (隆斗)] I play with different body movements, facial expressions, and guitar playing depending on the theme and atmosphere of the song! I would be happy if it’s transmitted that way (laugh)
[Maya (マヤ)] I feel like I'm doing what I can without being forced to do it, while faithfully expressing BaN's worldview as much as possible.
[Maiha] Whether it's a single note or a chord, I play it as if I'm singing a melody with my heart.
[Kirishima Kuromi (霧島くろみ)] In most of our live performances, the entire stage is staged as if it were a single piece of work, so it has a charm that cannot be experienced on a CD.
How do you compose and write new songs? What do you want listeners to feel when they hear them?
[BaN] It's a lot like creating a demo and then putting each other's parts on top of it. Sometimes we exchange data, and sometimes we decide while talking and playing in the studio. I don't want to set a certain way of thinking about a song, and I want each listener to value what they feel. I'm sure you're feeling more than me.
[Ryuto (隆斗)] It's like everyone is layering their own sounds on the demo songs! There are many songs with themes and foreshadowing sprinkled in. I hope you have fun imagining things!
[Maya (マヤ)] When I receive a demo I make each part based on the image of “this song.” Then we brush it up in the studio.
[Maiha] The demos are used as a reference for each of us to come up with our own ideas and make adjustments to each other. As for the music, please feel free to take it as you feel it.
[Kirishima Kuromi (霧島くろみ)] What the others said!
Your most recent mini-album, “-Scénario Soirée-,” was released last May. Could you please tell us a bit about the songs in this mini-album?
[BaN] -Scénario Soirée- was the pseudonym that we performed under at the event that I mentioned earlier (where we performed as a band for the first time). I remember being moved by the fact that my solo songs could be reborn in such a way with the help of band members. We decided to use that band name as the album title because of that feeling.
The songs on the album are not completely new, but rather rearranged songs that were previously released when I was a solo artist. As for the songs, I chose songs whose image has changed completely due to having band members, and songs that have become more thorough and complete.
[Ryuto (隆斗)] For all of the songs, I put my heart and soul into recording the best sound I could at that time! The one thing I was particular about was the tone of the acoustic guitar. I made it in consultation with the engineer, who always takes care of me!
[Maya (マヤ)] Actually, the contrabass was re-recorded because the sound was unsatisfactory during the mix. It was fun, but it was a little bit difficult.
[Maiha] My personal focus is MEDUSA on piano. When I played as support, I had a chance to play MEDUSA in at that time on the piano. A lot of phrases came to mind at that time. At lives, there are some parts where other tones are prioritized, so I hope you will enjoy the parts of MEDUSA that only the CD recording can offer.
[Kirishima Kuromi (霧島くろみ)] At the time of recording, I brought two acoustic violins and an electric violin into the studio, but my luggage was too big and I couldn't carry it well, so I was very late. (After all, I recorded with the acoustic violin.) Maiha put her face into the hood of Kuroomi's hoodie when the members gathered for the cheki. It was cute.
Do you currently have any plans to make new music?
[Maya (マヤ)] Actually, we are currently working on it. It will have some good songs.
[Ryuto (隆斗)] We are still in the middle of it, but everyone is creating their part!
[Kirishima Kuromi (霧島くろみ)] I’m also joining it!
[Maiha] I'm trying to make something outrageous, in a good way!
[BaN] It is still in underground production, but it is being created. The release will be a little later, but there may be a chance soon to give a sneak preview... Please look forward to it.
The Ghost inside of Me, including its underground activity, technically celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. Please give us an overview of that history.
[Maya (マヤ)] That’s something what BaN can answer the best.
[BaN] I'm glad that you know that much (laughs). But during our period of underground activity, I was only making songs here or there, so I really feel that I've been doing this since 2015 when I started performing lives.
In 2016 I went from a unit to a solo project. After going solo I’ve spent the next two and a half years just trying to keep going and not to give up. For some reason, I really wanted to protect the name “The Ghost inside of Me” so I kept it as my project name. So the more I did, the more I got stuck on my solo. So I kept going as a solo artist.
There were times when I felt like, “I don't know how I should continue.” (Actually, I even once told Kuromi that I had no intention to form a real band. Still, Kuromi, thanks for becoming a member soon after.) I think it was in the summer of 2016? that people around told me that it might be a good idea to add someone to my world. So I decided to perform with a guitarist on stage; that person was Ryuto. At that time, I learned that unexpected happenings can be also good, other than just continuing doing stuff myself.
Then, in the spring of 2017, I released our first mini-album and played on stage with a backing band. The chemistry worked well; and with few expectations, I decided to continue as a solo artist with a guitarist, bassist, pianist, and drummer. This is when I met Maya and Maiha. The drum player at that time was Genjo-san, who still supports us. It was all really fun and unforgettable. Right after that, I was introduced to violin player Kuromi. From summer onward, on the other own sponsored events I always played on stage with a couple of support members.
In the winter of the same year, I was able to perform with the same members as the current line-up and together with Kuromi. From that point on, I gradually felt that I wanted to collaborate with them instead continuing by myself. As we entered 2018, I was confident enough in the members to let them join as official members and all of them happily agreed to it. And so all four of them became official members. And so we became this regime since our first oneman in the summer of 2018.
As I mentioned above, the good thing about being a band is that I was able to see a wider world that I couldn't see on my own. The result is really amazing. The most difficult part is that I've been doing solo for such a long time, so I'm not good at telling people what I want, and I think it's quite hard sometimes for the members to understand what I mean and or want.
[Ryuto (隆斗)] When I started my support, there were no guitar parts in the original songs. What kind of approach can we take to add a new atmosphere, while also blending the existing music? That was a real challenge! It's a lot of work to think about, but it's fun to express myself with BaN-chan, and I'm happy when I get it right! Even now, there are times when I struggle with it (laughs).
[Kirishima Kuromi (霧島くろみ)] To return to my answer from the second question, it goes back a little earlier than that. A flyer for The Ghost inside of Me, which was left at a shop where I stopped by, caught my eye. The story begins when I brought back the flyer home with in mind that this is a wonderful person, someone I could work together with. I thought and still think that it was fate. I really feel happy that I am able to give my support! I also couldn't believe it that I was invited to join the band. (Of course I said yes!). Right now I am very happy to play lives and express myself together with everyone.
You’ve done several special events, such as your premium oneman, Show Time~Invitation from “J”~. Could you tell us about one of your favorite lives so far?
[BaN] The most memorable event was still our 2017 sponsored event Wasurerareta Hondana no Katasumi wo Kioku (忘れられた本棚の片隅を記憶). That day, I had a fever from the extreme pressure and could hardly speak, but I'll never forget how I managed to make it to the end.
One of my other favorites is our recital and song event, Long Long Ago..., which was debuted in the winter of 2018; the first sponsored event after the other members joined, Long Long Ago...~Eien wo Tayutou Yume no manimani~ (Long Long Ago...~永遠を揺蕩う夢のまにまに~), marked the end of a theme that we had played for a long time. So it left a lasting impression on me.
[Ryuto (隆斗)] There are a lot of them, but after all it's the oneman we did in 2019 in three parts! To be honest, it was quite difficult to perform a live performance of a full-length recitation, as it was a very serious event that required a lot of concentration (laughs), but it was a very nice and special night, including the interior of the venue. So I think it will be forever an unforgettable live performance! I'd love to perform at that place again!
[Maya (マヤ)] After all, it was the oneman show in July of 2019. I think we were able to have a live performance that only Ghost can do, which no other band can do, such as a long recitation, acoustic form, and band form.
[Maiha] The first oneman show of 2018. The concert included a big announcement that we were officially joining the band from that day on, so I was really excited. The sense of accomplishment and fulfillment at the end of the day was so great that I 'll never forget it.
[Kirishima Kuromi (霧島くろみ)] It's the second night of the acoustic one-man 「-unplugged nocturne-」 Dainiya ~Hakua no Tsuki~ (「-unplugged nocturne-」第二夜 ~白亜の月~). This was the first oneman since I joined the band. (The Ghost inside of Me also focuses on acoustic, and will play arrangements and covers of the original songs that we usually play with the band.) This is the first time we performed an acoustic version of a song, and In addition to the performance, we devised an original cocktail with BaN to enjoy the atmosphere of our customers. Also... I lost my voice on the day and I remembered that I did the MC by writing my thoughts. (A while ago I found those writings again.)
We thank you for being generous with overseas fans by offering international shipping in your shop, tweeting in English, and so on. What kind of reception have you felt from foreign fans?
[Ryuto (隆斗)] I am very happy that people overseas also can know about us!
[Maiha] I'm really happy that people got interested through SNS and bought our CDs!
[Kirishima Kuromi (霧島くろみ)] I've seen the comments from overseas fans on our YouTube channel, on the oneman video which we distributed over there.
[Maya (マヤ)] I wasn't that aware that we had so many overseas fans. I'm really surprised that our overseas fans also come to watch our lives. We are also getting more inquiries from overseas people. So I'd like to continue to do my best to share my work with people overseas.
[BaN] Thankfully, we have recently received a lot of warm support from all over the world. When we received a message from a foreigner saying “I want this CD,” we started selling it through mail order. Also we received continuous responses from our overseas fans one after another. So we also decided to start to write tweets in English to reach our overseas fans. It's really a pleasure to be able to introduce The Ghost inside of Me to people from all over the world, not just Japan. Everyone thank you very much for your support!
On April 25th and 26th, you posted footage from last year’s premium oneman. Do you have plans to do this kind of thing again?
[Ryuto (隆斗)] Well, I think that distributing it on the Internet will give a lot of people a chance to see it, so I'd like to try it again!
[Maiha] We would love to do it because we want you to know more about us.
[Kirishima Kuromi (霧島くろみ)] I am very willing! I would like to try various things such as the live distribution which we have never done before with The Ghost inside of Me.
[Maya (マヤ)] I guess it depends on how everybody reaction will be. To be honest, I feel confused because it's the first time that all the shows have been canceled or postponed due to the influence of the COVID-19.
[BaN] For now, we haven't planned anything, but we are positively considering it. The live webcast that we had planned we sadly had to cancel it the other day. So I'd like to do a live streaming of the oneman show. We hope that those of you who can't make it to the show for various reasons will be able to see us on stage with the same enthusiasm.
For someone new to The Ghost inside of Me, which song would you recommend?
[BaN] It's difficult to choose; this choice might be a little basic but please try MEDUSA and Rumble Fish. I think it's easy to create an image in your mind of how they would sound at a live performance.
[Ryuto (隆斗)] It's Siren! It's my personal favorite song (laughs)
[Maya (マヤ)] Cassiopeia. Of the songs recorded, it's probably the most ghostly one.
[Maiha] It’s Museum. It’s a lovely song because it's stylish and exciting.
[Kirishima Kuromi (霧島くろみ)] I'd like to recommend Utakata no Minoue, (泡沫の身の上,) which pops in my mind the most lately. This song is included in the mini-album Episode.
What are your goals for 2020?
[BaN] The coronavirus is all around the world. For that reason we can't set a big goal because we can't perform lives and we're just taking a deep breath. But afterward, we would like to unravel the current theme Invitation from “J” more deeply. I'd like to make the postponed performances a reality.
[Ryuto (隆斗)] Although the current situation is very difficult due COVID-19, I hope that the day will come soon that everything will be back under control and that we can continue our live activities as before. And I also want to make the live performance which where postponed happen!
[Maya (マヤ)] Hopefully the COVID-19 gets in control soon enough so that we can resume our live activities again. Anyway I'm looking forward to enjoy many more live performances.
[Maiha] I would like to do what I can at home while praying that there will be a cure for COVID-19. I would like to spend a wonderful time with everyone again once we can play lives again!
[Kirishima Kuromi (霧島くろみ)] I’ll hope to meet you, also I like trying new things and working on projects in line with our current theme. My goal is to cherish The Ghost inside of Me around all of the world.
Finally, please give a message to your readers.
[BaN] Thank you for reading to the end. Please feel the various worlds of The Ghost inside of Me. See you again at the live venue, or let’s meet via releases, or videos!
[Ryuto (隆斗)] Thank you so much for reading! I look forward to meet everyone!
[Maya (マヤ)] It's a tough time, but “everyone please stay safe.” (← It’s my favorite phrase these days.)
[Maiha] Thank you so much! I will continue to do my best in the future, Thank you also for future support!
[Kirishima Kuromi (霧島くろみ)] Let’s meet someday. We will always welcome you!
To The Ghost inside of Me , thank you so much for allowing us to do this interview! We wish you luck.
Please see the band's official Twitter for live schedule updates, as everyone navigates COVID-19.
The band's online shop is still accepting orders and ships overseas. There's even a special set of all their items for foreign fans who want to save on shipping.
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