-eve of destiny-
Astan No.20, April 2005
translated by Geisha
Mostly unnoticed in Europe, a Japanese band entered the Asian music market in the mid 90s. In the beginning just a small Japanese Indies band, Malice Mizer (pronounced French) soon became the top act of the Asian scene. Their music combined Pop, Metal and classical music in a very interesting way and their look set new standards. Guitarist and leader of the band was Mana, a man who stood out because of his extravagant way of dressing. The first time I watched a video of Malice Mizer I thought I was looking at a rather pretty Asian lady. How wrong I was – the lady was the aforementioned man. Together with guitarist Közi, drummer Kami, bassist Yu~ki and singer Gackt, Malice Mizer became the non plus ultra of the Asian Rock and Pop scene. Their videos and their look inspired the Visual Kei movement that had been initiated by the band X Japan. Huge successes and a top-class record deal ensued, as did sold out concerts. The peak of their success was the concert at the Budokan, which under the name "Merveilles" can still be admired on DVD today. Soon after singer Gackt left the band on bad terms. Kami died and Gackt was replaced by Klaha, who only stayed with Malice Mizer for the duration of three singles. Instrumental music and the final split of Malice Mizer, whose sound had by now become darker and more gothic, followed. In 2001, the era of Malice Mizer was over. Közi continued with Eve of Destiny and Mana created Moi dix Mois as well as his own fashion label "Moi-même-Moitié". In Japan, Mana is one of the most important fashion trendsetters. His fashion label coined the so-called Gothic Lolita style and musically there was a transition to harder Death Metal with Goth and classical influences. Mana is a very introverted musician and so we are very happy that he is now visiting Europe and also Germany to play two concerts with his band Moi dix Mois. Personally I think that he could give great artistic impulses to the seemingly dead European Goth scene. Those who would like to find out more about Mana should watch the current DVD and, of course, read the following interview. We will print the second instalment of the interview in Astan's summer edition.
What kind of a teenager was Mana?
I was a rather mysterious boy – as innocent as an angel but at the same time as evil as a devil.
What does Mana do when he feels lonely?
I watch Barbapapa (the Japanese version).
What is your beauty ideal?
An ambivalent beauty that combines the positive aspects of both male and female.
What kind of fairy-tale figure would Mana like to be?
The Prince of Darkness.
What should a foreigner never eat when visiting Japan?
Catfish, which is eaten alive. I have never eaten that.
Which animals resembles Mana's character?
My favourite animal in fairy-tales is the wolf. The lone wolf, which avoids crowds.
What would Mana smell like if he was a perfume?
A sweet, fruity scent, like something I would like to eat. For example, green apple or nutmeg.
What does Mana like about himself?
I didn't like myself in the past but that changed when I became a musician. I had found my calling. Today, everywhere in the world there are people who share my world. I don't want to disappoint them, so now I like myself the way I am.
Did you ever steal anything?
I'll steal your heart at a live...
What was the worst punishment that Mana experienced during his childhood?
I can't remember exactly. When I was a child I was locked into a small storage room because of some misdeed. I have been claustrophobic ever since.
Tea or coffee?
Tea, actually. I especially like Assam tea. Sometimes I drink coffee with cream.
What is it like to know that thousands of people own your CDs or have your poster hanging on their wall?
I’m flattered. It’s great! "I want your room more coloured with Mana". (sic)
A wonderful compliment that Mana received from a woman?
You are as delicate as a woman and as reliable as a man.
According to the Persian philosopher Avicenna, love is no more than an illness...
Both love and illness touch on our emotions. The worse it gets, the deeper you fall. Therefore they are quite similar.
If Mana was a spice?
Garam Masala. A complicated harmony that is achieved in a very unusual way.
If Mana was a musical instrument, what would he sound like?
Piano. Sometimes subtle, sometimes emotional.
Your favourite songs?
"The Prophet" – a very fresh horn part.
"Vestige" – it brings tears to my eyes.
I have the habit of somehow always being in rhythm. I play very noisy percussion everywhere.
Baumkuchen by JUCHHEIM – soft, mild and very delicious.
Your dream car?
"DeTomaso Pantera". I used to like this car very much when I was a child.
Your music seems to be very strongly influenced by classical music as well as Death Metal and Goth. What kind of music and which composers influence Mana?
My parents were both teachers and classical music was always played on our home. I love Bach, his melodies are unique and mysterious. Besides, I like Goblin. When I was a child, the musical score of "Suspiria" downright shocked me. A crazy and eery melody. This was the beginning of my love for horror and the occult.
What exactly is the Gothic Lolita style that Mana invented and how did it come about?
I express the beauty of harmony (sic) by combining darkness and beauty. I always strive for great harmony. I have always been fascinated by vampire movies. I very much love the aesthetic world of darkness in these movies.
The first time I saw a Malice Mizer video I thought, "what a pretty woman", until somebody told me that Mana was a man. Since when does Mana look like this and who taught him to do his makeup?
I looked like that since before Malice Mizer but I perfected the look during my time with Malice Mizer. I don't leave that to anyone else. I don't trust anyone with my face and I try to be as good as or better than professional makeup artists. Nobody knows my face as well as I do.
Malice Mizer is probably the most famous band in Asia. Will there be a reunion?
The final decision has not been made yet. Right now I try to define myself through the music of Moi dix Mois.
What does it take to become a member of Moi dix Mois?
Firstly, such a person must be ready to step into my world. They must have their own opinion and mustn’t be influenced by fashion trends.
In Germany, anime and manga are very popular. What does Mana think about anime and manga?
I like them. My favourite is Barbapapa because it is so heart warming and makes me feel good. I also like robots like "SOUKOUKIHEI BOTTOMS".
"Moi-même-Moitié" is very popular in Japan. Has Mana ever considered opening a shop of his fashion label in Europe/Germany?
I hope to be able to. I'm currently looking for a suitable place.
Do you ever listen to contemporary German music?
A long time ago I used to listen to Accept and Halloween. I used to like Halloween because of the beautiful melodies. I used to like "Metal Heart" by Accept because of the guitar solos. In it they use part of a composition by Mozart.
Together with which European musician would Mana like to perform?
The genres could hardly be more different but: Mylène Farmer.
What kind of music does Mana listen to at home?
Black Metal, Death Metal, classical music or musical scores for films, just before I go to bed. I sleep best with "violent" music.
Many people assume that Visual Kei musicians are homosexual because they wear women's clothing. What is the difference between European transvestites/gays and Visual Kei musicians who wear women's clothing?
It is very cheap to say that men who wear women's clothing are gay. I believe that there is no difference between man and woman. It is alright if men wear skirts and makeup. I want to tear down the boundaries between men and women.
Which three items would you take to a desert island with you?
A sharp knife, a soft pillow and full length mirror.
Things that Mana doesn't like?
High or unsafe places (airports) and confined spaces (such as elevators).
"Hinotori" by Osamu Tezuka.
Films and actors/actresses?
"Nosferatu" by Werner Hezog with Klaus Kinski and Isabelle Adjani. Isabelle Adjani looks very beautiful and mystical in this film. I also like films about submarines. I like "U-571" because of its atmosphere and scenario. Especially because of the final scene I also like the film "Das Boot". The end is very tragic and brings tears to my eyes.
Does Mana like animals?
I can't say why but I can't relate to animals. I like to watch them but I don't like to touch them. I could imagine to keep a small blue tropical fish though. It could be interesting to create my world in a fish tank.
What does Mana think of when he contemplates Germany?
Black Forest. Dark, mysterious, grand, extremely beautiful, with buildings reminiscent of past good times.
Some concert visitors throw things onto the stage...?
The stage is a very special place. I don’t like this kind of behaviour. I want the audience to cheer me on enthusiastically and be thrilled by our performance.
The perfect woman?
A woman who is assertive, stands by her ideals and has a passion for beauty and elegance.
The perfect man?
A man who tackles his goals with passion, who has a strong faith and is ready to fight, come what may.
Interview: Steff Mensing / translation by Geisha (not to be reproduced without permission)