In this month's edition of VK Contributors, we interview Rob-kun.
VK Contributors is an ongoing series in which we interview visual kei fans who use their talents to contribute to the scene in some way.
Rob-kun is a prolific collector of soft visual kei and fringe Japanese music―so much so that fans have coined the term “rob-kei” to describe obscure bands that he might like.
Please introduce yourself.
Yo! I’m Rob (aka robkun), from upstate NY, 23 years old. I’ve been a visual kei fan(atic) for almost 8 years.
How and why did you become interested in VK?
It probably started with GACKT. In the beginning of my Japanese music exploration, I was really, really into Minimoni and the whole Hello! Project camp. Gackt did a few things with them, so that was probably the earliest encounter I had with visual kei.
Although my first VK band would be MALICE MIZER, and I wouldn’t check out Gackt’s solo stuff till about a year later lol.
What was the most recent VK release that excited you? What's an old VK release that everyone should try?
Hmm... I’m not really too into new visual kei. I was looking forward to DIR EN GREY’s latest album though. And I totally recommend people check out an underground visual kei band called CHILD. Everything they did was simply impeccable: the vocals were amazing, the band was amazing, it was all really good. Also, it was the first band of popular producer JIN, who got famous some years back for working with GReeeeN, so that’s pretty awesome lol.
The bands on the BreakOut series were outstanding too.
You are most known for discovering obscure releases. How and when did this start?
I’ve been active on my YouTube channel (Rob M) for 4 years, although I had a channel before that. That channel was really similar to my current one in that it spotlighted unknown VK bands throughout the years, so I guess the time I got into the obscure visual bands started around then.
As for how I do it, I used to look around Nicovideo years back on my old YouTube channel for underground visual bands I never heard of. These days though, I scout Yahoo! Auctions and the likes to find obscure visual kei in different formats to personally own.
How do you decide what to buy? What makes a release stand out to you?
It’s no secret, but I am a huge fan of soft visual kei, which is essentially a more toned down form of VK both aesthetically and music-wise. So if their image or release art is somewhere in that field, I’ll snag it.
Sometimes I’ll grab a more traditional gothic visual band’s material as well, but it just really depends on how it looks and how much it is.
What made you want to share these releases? What drives you to share information about them?
It’s really a hobby for me. I love sharing bits of my collection because it’s kind of fun for me to do. I don’t know why exactly, I’ve wondered that myself at times lol. The same goes for why I look a band’s history up. It’s just fun and really interesting to me.
Do you have any “holy grails” that you'd like to own?
Specifically though, I’d love to own the SEE ZAR live VHS that was released as a part of the 1997 Ikebukuro Cyber video series.
Are there any items that you are particularly proud of owning?
I own some unreleased PV’s from Vasalla (覇叉羅) and Ray that I haven’t decided whether I’d share or not, so that's pretty cool. I also own an original LUNACY demo and a MALICE MIZER “Merveilles” promo cassette as well.
What do you hope for your future in the vk scene? Is there anything you'd like to achieve?
Meh, not really. I’m just glad that people appreciate my uploads on my channel and on other forums that I’m a part of. I would one day like to meet some of the old visual bands I obsess over though, so there’s something.
Finally, please take this time to tell us about any promotions and/or social media.
I am a part of the Rarezhut team, which is a site dedicated entirely to serving visual kei to the foreign audience.
You like the soft stuff like me? We’ve got you covered. You like your VK on the dark and heavy end? We’ve got you. You like your VK loony as hell with tinny, nonsensical madness clanging all over the place, executed on a 5-dollar budget by guys who may have escaped the mental ward? We’ve got you.
We’re gonna have a comeback unboxing event on October 27th, so check that out! I’ll be in the chat freaking over the soft visual kei that is unveiled, probably lol. More details are on the Rarezhut Facebook page. [Note: the event has passed, but they're always doing more.]
Other than that, thanks for your time, and catch ya around the VK interwebs!!
Big thanks to Rob for taking the time to do this. Be sure to follow his YouTube channel, and catch him around Monochrome-Heaven.
If there's someone who you think should be featured, please let us know!