Moi dix Mois Biography
As a tremendous musician like no other, Mana continues to break into uncharted grounds. It hardly needs to be mentioned that Mana has asserted incredible influence on the music scene itself through his roles as the leader and guitarist of MALICE MIZER, the renowned visual-kei band. Perpetually pursing to reveal a soundscape that embodies his unique musical vision, Mana continues to make incredible strides with his solo project, Moi dix Mois. One of the most important and early exponents of Elegant Gothic Lolita, or Gothic Lolita style, Mana is also the producer of the Moi-meme-Moitie brand.
Moi dix Mois Official Web Site
Monologue Theater - Mana's Personal Web Site
Moi dix Mois Interview
So, it's been more than a year and a half since the release of the previous work. What was this span of time like for you?
Mana: It has been a year and a half.
Were you conscious of the span of time that passed?
Mana: Not particularly. In the past year and a half, there were live shows and the Europe Tour. We went to Europe after releasing Pageant, and the final show of the tour took place once we were back in Tokyo. Then we released the Europe Tour DVD. So, I didn't feel like it's been that long. But then when you think about it, it's true that it's been a while between the releases of the albums.
So, Beyond the Gate is the highly anticipated new album. How do you feel about the album?
Mana: I explored with new methods. The album is experimental. At the same time, it has a lot of symphonic classical parts, which are something I'm most competent at. This album is an integration of these elements.
Was there any underlying idea when you worked on the concept of each song?
Mana: Initially, the idea was to compose something totally different from the previous releases. For one thing, the vocalist was to change. So, I wanted to do things that I had never done before. In the beginning, I even worked on ideas for digital sounds. On the other hand, when I actually began writing the songs, it became just as important for me to follow my own spontaneous feelings, since it really was a new beginning for me. So, in that sense, the idea had changed somewhat compared to what it was initially. I'd say that the album is a mixture of the initial concepts and my own spontaneous feelings.
Please tell me about the concept and the theme of the artwork, including the photo.
Mana: (Looking at the CD) The photo. Well, I'm not able to talk in depth about the concept or the theme. There is a connection between the title "Beyond the Gate" and the artwork, though. The gate is basically a doorway that would serve as an entrance, and I wanted the artwork to convey that sense.
What do the hands coming out of the sea of blood represent?
Mana: There are two ways to interpret it, and... Actually, I would prefer people to imagine things on their own, like why I'm crucified in the sea of blood while listening to the music.
For this album, did you compose the music before you knew who would be the supporting musicians?
Mana: That's correct. I began working on the music back in April 2005 after the Moi dix Mois tour finale, regardless of who would be the supporting musicians. I didn't even know who would be the new vocalist at that point. I had the desire to continue writing music, and I simply followed it. Then I met the new vocalist during the fall 2005. The match was perfect, and it became possible to release an album like this, and it is also possible to play the music live.
Can you describe how you met Seth, the new vocalist, and about any circumstance that led him to join Moi dix Mois?
Mana: Actually, I had already known Seth for 5-6 years. He's been in a lot of bands. One day, I called him to see what would happen if he performs the vocals for the new songs. What happened was, he was perfect for Moi dix Mois. So, it was like, "why not join the project?"
So, you found the new vocalist among the people you knew personally.
Mana: Yes, that's it.
How do you share your ideas for each song and the concepts with Seth and K, the guitarist, when you play the music?
Mana: Basically, I do everything including the writing of lyrics and music, and also the arrangement. Then I communicate with each of them, talk about the concept, and asking them to play their parts. So, it wasn't like things came out of jam sessions.
The first track is "The other side in blood." Is there any special meaning for the word "blood"?
Mana: You can say that there is. I think the sea of blood sums it all up.
I see. Was there anything you emphasized on this album soundwise?
Mana: Emphasized... Well, this time, what I emphasized was muting.
You mean, muting guitar strings?
Mana: Yes (laughs). Actually, before this album, I mainly used synthesizers when writing music for Moi dix Mois. The guitar would be there mainly as a backing instrument, and there wasn't much intention to emphasize the guitar sounds itself. The way I used the guitars to build the walls of sound was sort of similar to how a lot of bands use samplings to fill the intervals. Uhm... Did what I've been saying make much sense?
Mana: (laughs) OK. Basically, I used to use a lot of synthesizers in the past when writing music. This time around, I mainly used the guitar for some of the compositions, including "Vain" and "unmoved." So, it became important to make sure the guitar sounds would have the edge. That's why I used techniques like muting and picking harmonics. As a result, the guitar sounds on this album are much heavier compared to the previous albums, and that's the main difference soundwise.
I see. The new album also features some death grunts.
Mana: Yes (laughs).
(laughs). So, some songs required them, or were you looking for songs that could use them?
Mana: Some songs require them.
I see. You use them whenever it's required.
Mana: Yes, whenever it's required for the song.
When write music, do you ever have hard time, or is it always a breeze?
Mana: It depends on the song. With some of them, I suffer forever, while it's a breeze for some other songs. Sometimes, I'm able to finish it in a matter of 1-2 days, but when I'm having a hard time, it would take a few months. I write many types of songs and I often have hard time with symphonic ones. Oh, but wait. I'm able to finish some of them without having any hard time... So, it really depends on the song. Fundamentally, I often have hard time with writing music, though. Especially when something like harpsichord or harmonies are required for a song, it is very demanding to make sure that everything comes out perfectly. It's certainly no simple task to work on the harmonies. For example, if two harpsichords are to be played at the same time, I would play a different melody on each of them. One way to harmonize the notes is to play them in chromatic intervals, but what I try to do is to play leading melodies on them, and make sure they fit a harmonic progression. It's always very demanding to perfect the harmony.
That must be very demanding, because what you have are essentially two leading parts.
Which composition on the album took the longest time to finish?
Mana: Hmm... Let me see.... "Eternally Beyond" was the most demanding composition. I was able to finish working on the basic motif in a breeze, but it was very demanding to perfect the arrangement.
"Eternally Beyond" does have a lot of symphonics. I think it has more symphonics than any other tracks on the album.
Mana: That's correct.
And that's what makes it demanding.
Mana: Yes, and there are lots of instruments on "Eternally Beyond." Actually, it has more instruments than any other composition. It may be difficult to notice it if you don't listen to it carefully, but for example, you'd discover the tympani and the cymbals behind the drums. There are a lot of other different instruments, and it was very time consuming to mentally build the ensemble. So, if on the other hand the song consists mainly of the guitars, it would be much less time consuming, especially with arrangement.
Which track is the highlight of the album?
Mana: The highlight would be "Eternally Beyond," the second track. There is "Beyond" in the title of the song, while "Beyond" is also in the album title. I hope this connection works to demonstrate how important the track is.
What were your feelings after you completed it?
Mana: I felt like "now, I can move on." It was completed after everything else on the album had already been completed. The idea for "Eternally Beyond" came to me after I began to follow my own feelings when writing songs, and it was after I was able to complete it that I was finally filled with exuberance of joy that the new album was finally finished.
So, the song really is important for you personally.
Mana: Yes, it is. What I'm trying to achieve is to integrate beauty and intensity, and the symphonics and the dramatic. On this new album, I was able to achieve that with "Eternally Beyond" than with any other track.
Why did you include the instrumental versions of each track on the limited edition of the album?
Mana: I always knew that many of my fans wanted to listen to instrumental versions of my music. Of course, I really like all of them with vocals, too, but sometimes, the vocals would overwhelm the sounds of the instruments. From a composer's point of view, I do have a desire for my fans to listen to my music in its pure form.
It's true that the listeners can get to each instrument clearly on the instrumental versions.
On instrumental versions, it's possible to follow the structures of the songs more closely, and there are even more to discover.
Mana: That's precisely why I want my fans to listen to both versions. I think it would enable them to discover things like how the melody for vocals fit with the backing instruments. If you only listen to the regular version, you hear the vocals up front, and you sort of listen to it without much regards to the backing instruments. So, including the instrumental versions would allow my fans to experience the tracks more thoroughly, I hope.
That's true. For instance, on "Deflower," the sound of the bell and the female chorus came through more clearly on the instrumental version.
I noticed that you used the same early instrument on this track as you did for "vestige" on Nocturnal Opera, the 2nd album.
Mana: Oh, that's harpsichord. It's also called cembalo.
It seems like this instrument is used on a lot of your songs.
Mans: Yes. I've always used it a lot, but on this album, it was used mainly on "Deflower." On other tracks, you won't hear it much compared to the tracks on the past albums. I used to have a strong urge to use the harpsichord and the pipe organ.
That's true. I used to hear it more often on your previous albums.
Mana: For the new album, I focused on bringing out the color of each composition. To do so, I needed to carefully select appropriate tones, and the balance of tones as you find it on the album is the result of that process. So, on this album I feel that each composition exudes its own color more vividly.
Let me ask you now about "unmoved." You wrote this composition when the previous vocalist was still in the project, and not much change was made with the arrangement nor with the lyrics when it was recorded for the new album. I think this is something that's unprecedented in your career. What are your thoughts about this?
Mana: "unmoved" was already near completion before. So, it was just a matter of substantiating it. Come to think of it.... Hmm... That's actually true. It was something that was never done before with Moi dix Mois, and it was done only for this song, wasn't it?
Yes. When I closely studied your works and activities so far, I saw that you've done similar things a few times. However, I noticed that it was your first attempt to record a composition without making any changes after the new vocalist came on board.
Mana: I see. But actually, there have been some changes. For instance, harmonics that did not come to the surface before now does. Also, the guitar arrangement has somewhat changed. Especially, the melodic guitar is there during the chorus, and I think that was the most notable change. As for the melody, I was satisfied with the way it was before. So, this time around, the basics were covered, only to be enhanced with a few changes. I would say "unmoved"is now in its perfect form.
What was behind your decision to include "The other side of the door" as the final track on the album?
Mana: The track is highly related to "The other side in blood," the first track. The first track begins as if it comes straight out of a classic movie soundtrack. So, to contrast it, I began to have a desire to integrate the digital and the classical on the final track, and that's how it came into being.
What do "Gate" in "Beyond the Gate" and "door" in "The other side of the door" mean?
Mana: "Gate" has a lot of meanings for me. Whereas a door is just a door as in the physical object, a gate could also represent metaphysical things at the same time it represents a gate as in the physical object.
Was there anything important to you when you wrote the lyrics for the ablum?
Mana: Let me see, the most important part was the chorus for "Deflower." There are actually two different lyrics. They overlap with each other, and then get separated during the chorus, causing the meaning to alter slightly. This double layered structure of the lyrics is a distinctively style of this song, and for me, it was something new to try.
There are a lot of English lyrics on this album. Why is that?
Mana: "deus ex machina" and "Vain" both have a lot of English, but I simply followed my own mental pictures that were formed as I listened to the music. When I write music, I get mental pictures, and sometimes, English lyrics would seem appropriate for certain tracks, while Japanese would be for other tracks.
So, you really didn't plan it, and the song just specified the language?
Mana: That's one way to say it.
Does "deus ex machina" mean "god from the machine" in Latin?
Mana: Yes, it does.
"deus ex machina" is a famous Latin phrase.
Mana: That's true. I didn't really have any special feeling for Latin, or anything like that. It's just that "deus ex machina" sounded nice as a phrase. Also, I wanted to use the meaning ironically.
Your birthday is in March, and was it a probability that you began a new Moi dix Mois project the same month?
Mana: Not really. I just wanted to restart the project as soon as I could. I wanted to make it possible for everyone to listen to the album as soon as possible.
So, you didn't particularly aim for March?No, I didn't. Perhaps it was a fate, in some way. Just by pure chance, they coincided.
The new release took form of a mini album. It's a first mini album for Moi dix Mois.
Why mini album, rather than a full-length album or singles?
Mana: I wanted to deliver a new release as early as I could. On the other hand, there would be only two songs on a single, which aren't enough in terms of balance. So, to release something early, and at the same ensuring there to be a balance, mini album, or medium album as I would call it, seemed to be suitable.
So, you were in a hurry.
Mana: Yes, I was. It was because I had the desire for everyone to listen to the new music.
My impression was, you always take a lot of time to prepare things before releasing anything. So, it was a surprise to know that you were in a hurry.
Mana: Actually, I'm always in a hurry (laughs).
Is that so? (laughs)
Mana: Yes. From the beginning until the end, I perpetually work on the arrangements. Even during the recording sessions, I'm still working on them. Of course, I prefer to complete arrangements before the recording sessions begin, but I seem to always come up with new ideas whenever I hear the compositions in different settings. For instance, as I listen to the music through big speakers I realize that there is a better way to arrange it. So, I always go through the process of "Oh, maybe it would come out nicer if I do it this way" during the recording, and so the struggle goes on until the end.
Is this the first Moi dix Mois recording after the project came to consist of two guitar parts?
Mana: You're right. Yes.
What was like to do the recording with two guitars?
Mana: It was time consuming to work with two of them. I wanted to make sure that each guitar sounded distinctively from one another, but it wouldn't work out if they sounded too differently. So, it was a bit challenging to find the perfect the balance. When I was the only person playing the guitar, all I needed was to slightly adjust everything myself as I felt it was needed. Now, since K is also on the guitar, it was a lot more work to adjust anything, including small things how strings were to be picked.
Seems like "unmoved" is possible because you now have two guitars.
Mana: Sure. It wouldn't have been possible unless I had two guitars.
Did you have difficult time also with working on this song?
Mana: Yes. Soundwise, I had the most difficult time with "unmoved." I spent enormous amount of time perfecting the guitar tone. You know, the track begins only with the guitar, so it was crucial to perfect it.
You're planning an exclusive concert only for the fan club members on March 11, 2006. What are your thoughts about it?
Mana: It's been almost one year since the last time I performed live, and I'm really looking forward to it. I love to perform live. I enjoy it much better than recording.
According to a lot of your interviews, I had a strong impression that you really enjoy putting an album together.
Mana: Hmm... Is that so (laughs) ? Well, I do love to write music, but I don't really consider myself to be someone who loves to operate equipments like engineers do. I do enjoy perfecting the sounds, of course, but what I really love to do is to bring it all out live. I'm really not a type of person who can continue to sit still. Sometimes, it's almost unendurable to continue to sit still everyday to make tiny bits of progress (laughs). Of course, I really love the process of completing my own songs. So, I don't really mind it (laughs), but what I truly love is to let it go and go completely wild.
I see (laughs). So, you take all out the frustration that built up during the recording when you perform live?
Mana: That's exactly I would like to do.
You must be excited about the next concert, then.
Mana: Oh, yes.
So, the upcoming concert will be the first for the new Moi dix Mois. Why will it be exclusive only for the fan club members?
Mana: I just wanted to unveil the new stuff for them first, because they've been anticipating it for a long time. Also, they are very important to me, for always supporting me.
Will there be any surprise?
Mana: Since it will be an exclusive concert, I'm definitely thinking of doing something that I wouldn't do for regular concerts to make it special. Of course, the main thing would still be the music.
Are you planning to perform the past Moi dix Mois songs at concerts?
Mana: Yes, the songs from the past will be performed live, but arrangements may change.
Right on the flyer for the concert, it says "frighteningly beautiful world beyond." What type of the world is the world beyond?
Mana: Some people will make it there, while some other won't. In order to make it, people must do away with their fixations. People who are fixated won't be able to make it to the world beyond. Destroying all fixations is one of the underlying themes of my activities, and I don't want people to look at things in their fixated ways. For me, since it was a new beginning, I wanted you to do away with any fixation with my own past, in order to make it to the world beyond.
So, people who listen to the new album will able to make it during the concert?
Mana: I think so.
So, you will take us all there?
Mana: Yes, I will. However, if you really want to make it there, you need to have enough courage of your own to make it beyond the sea of blood. As long as you do, I will take you there.
Great. Now, let's talk more about the new album. I thought that the direction of the new album is similar to that of "Dix infernal," the first album.
Mana: I see.
Both albums showcase signature Mana-sama sounds as well as new attempts, rather than to emphasize a certain concept.
Mana: Maybe that's true. The 2nd album "Nocturnal Opera" really was a concept album. Everything, including the lyrics, was based on a story. The new album, by contrast, doesn't have anything like that, and it expresses more of my own feelings. So, in that sense, it may be closer to the first album.
What styles of expressions will you be presenting with the newly formed Moi dix Mois?
Mana: Basically, since Moi dix Mois is my solo project, I may continue to change the members as necessary, depending on the styles of music I want to explore at each time. You might be able to describe Moi dix Mois' style of music as being rock music, but I want to make sure to present more than just that. Drums, base, and the guitar may be the standard instruments for rock music, but in the future, I would like to perform live with other types of instruments, as well.
So, you would like to liberally go beyond the standard frameworks.
Mana: Yes, I would like to continue to do things that way.
What might happen in the future?
Mana: The future. I think the new album already has a lot of what I would like to put into it. Soundwise, I would definitely like to continue to pursue the intense, beautiful, and dramatic.
So, that's the essence.
Mana: Yes, that's the essence. Basically, when I listed to music, I want to cry. I want to be moved emotionally, to the point where I cry. So, I would really like to continue to pursue it.
Is that true also for the music you write?
Mana: Yes, it is. I'm not satisfied with music that generally exist in the world. Since it's something that does not exist, I want to continue to write music I consider to be perfect. So, it's like I'm the number one fan of my music.
Is that so?
Mana: Yes. It's sort of like I'm doing it for my own enjoyment (laughs). So, if I don't feel anything about the music I write, then it would be meaningless to publish them.
What are your plans after the exclusive concert on March 11?
Mana: As a part of Moi dix Mois Europe Tour 2006 "Beyond the Gate," there will be a concert in Paris on March 17, and another one will take place in Berlin on March 19. Then the tour finale will take place back in Tokyo on May 2 at SHIBUYA-AX.
Will this be your second Europe tour?
Mana: Yes, it's the second time for me, as concert tour.
Is there any difference about how you feel about concerts in Europe, compared to ones in Japan?
Mana: In terms of how I feel, there is no difference. For one thing, the number of concerts during the tour is about the same as if the tour took place in Japan. Also, there is the similar feelings to perform live after a while. To perform live for the first time in one year in Japan feels similar to performing live for the first time in a while in Europe. As for the difference, there are more guys in the audience in Europe. So, the energy is enormous, like rock 'n' roll! By contrast, you don't feel so much energy in Japan, as guys tend to be more passive when seeing visual-kei bands, or guys with makeups on the stage, you know. I felt that there was no such inhibition whatsoever in Europe, and so the energy was enormous.
How do you feel about there being a lot of guys in the audience in Europe?
Mana: I'm happy about that. Personally, I want the guys in Japan to go wild much more that they do. Since there are far more females in the audience in Japan, perhaps they are shy. Anyway, I think it will be good if the ratio becomes 50:50 in Japan as it is in Europe.
Since "Beyond the Gate" will be released in Europe, many fans will probably come to your concert after listening to the album a lot.
I heard that during the previous Europe tour, the fans who came to the concerts knew the songs form "Nocturnal Opera" by heart.
Mana: That's true. Even though "Nocturnal Opera" was not released in Europe, people were singing along.
What were your thoughts about releasing the album overseas?
Mana: Actually, I would like to continue to do that. I receive a lot of requests from overseas fans to release them, and I would like to accommodate that. I think it's nice to make the albums more accessible for them. So, I think it's important to continue to release them overseas.sub main
Do you continue to receive a lot of requests from overseas fans?
Mana: Yes, I continue to receive them a lot. Maybe they are located in small towns, but a lot of people mention that it's difficult to find the albums unless they go to big cities. Although things have become much more easier to buy them through the Internet, I wish that things would continue to improve.
It seems like you've been focused on touring Europe as much as you are about touring Japan, but I hear that there are actually more fan club members in the US than in Europe. Are you planning to tour the US?
Mana: I would like to tour the US as soon as everything is set to go. Perhaps it might seem like I'm favoring Europe over the US (laughs), but it's far more easier to get everything set to go in Europe. For one thing, it's easier to locate agents and people in the industry who have understanding about my project in Europe. So, I already have partners that I can trust, and if I want to give concerts in Europe, I can get things together relatively easily. On the other hand, I'm still in the process of trying to find such partners in the US. Hopefully, I will find them, and then I would like be able to tour the US extensively.
I see. Now, let me ask you about your plans in Japan. Are you planning to do a tour after the tour finale takes place on Mary 2?
Mana: Right now, it's under consideration. I would like to do as many concerts in Japan as possible.
Any message for the fans, please?
Mana: I'm really looking forward to perform live. It's been a while, and I will go wild.
Thank you so much.
Mana: Thank you.
( Written and interviewed by Denno English translated by Makiya )
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