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Malice Mizer Gardenia Interview 6/01
Translated by Kurai

the morning light of dawn on a new world

Malice Mizer. They rose from the ashes without a drummer or vocalist, then selected a vocalist to match their instrumentation and composition. With an innovative approach that didn't even seem like a rock band's, they crafted the world of Bara no Seidou. With Bara no Seidou and their new member Klaha (vo), it is both the end and the beginning of a new era for them. Finally, the four are on the move with their new "Gardenia", the first in a series of singles. We talked with composers Mana and Klaha about new beginnings and the story behind Gardenia.

"we aimed for the ideal fusion of digital sounds and something more lifelike"

--I'd like to start off with a question about Bara no Seidou. "Saikai no chi to bara" opened the curtain on the story of "Bara no Seidou". Has that story been completed with last year's live at the Budoukan?

Mana: The Bara no Seidou live was completed at Budoukan, but concerning our releases, we put out a live video and our self-published book Livre Rose in December... in that book, everything about Bara no Seidou is recorded, so it really is fully finished in the book.

--So the story of "Gardenia" is separate from Bara no Seidou?

Mana: No, I wouldn't say that... Bara no Seidou is about the happenings of the night, and in it there is a story of reunion. So, in Gardenia, which marks the beginning of the four of us, we see the night pass and the morning light of dawn on a new world, in which sense it is a connection to Bara no Seidou.

--So Gardenia is like a prologue to Bara no Seidou?

Mana: In that its the start of the four, yes, there is a prologue-like aspect to it. When composing Bara no Seidou we had no vocalist, and we included many different styles of vocals in accordance with our compositions, so it wasn't really like a typical band at all. But now on Gardenia, with Klaha on vocals as our official member, we've emphasized the four of us' new style, and we made this song particularly with the live performance side in mind.

--When you first participated in Bara no Seidou as a support member, Klaha, what did you think of Malice Mizer?

Klaha: Though Malice Mizer had no vocalist, they dared to revive themselves as a band.. I was deeply curious about where they would go from here, what they would pursue.. to the extent that I didn't know Malice Mizer that much until then, my impression of their world was very deep.

--Did you come to know the depth of Malice Mizer in a new light?

Klaha: Yes. I thought, "I wonder how deep it goes?"

--Around when did you conceive of Gardenia?

Mana: Around the time Bara no Seidou was over I gradually thought about it. Around the end of last year I wrote the rough form of Gardenia, showed it to everyone, and we talked about the general story and concept and started thinking about the lyrics.

--Mana wrote the lyrics for Bara no Seidou, but Klaha wrote them this time around didn't he.

Mana: This time I told my image of Gardenia to Klaha and he wrote the lyrics. "Gardenia" means the gardenia flower, and so I did a lot of research on the flower. So it has a lot of significance to the white world of Gardenia. So I talked about that to Klaha, and from the lyrics there was the image of a single girl called Gardenia. We talked with everyone about how we should portray this, and Klaha took it all in and wrote the lyrics.

--So like you said before, you were consciously trying for a more live, complete band sound?

Mana: Though we say "band sound", we added live violin to the programmed sounds, fusing this live sound together, but its still not just raw guitar, drums, and bass you know. We aimed for the ideal fusion of digital sounds and something more lifelike, which was the hardest part. Our band sound on Bara no Seidou was kind of smooth because of the digital aspect. This time we wanted to fuse that with a rawer sound, a more band-like sound, and it was very difficult. We wanted to fuse a sound that would express the inherent force the band has, plus the gentle and beautiful sounds of piano and violin. We couldn't show the world of Gardenia with just guitar, bass, and drums, so it took a long time to put everything together.

--And you had to work with Klaha's vocals this time.

Mana: That's right. We've got a feel for Klaha's vocal range now, so we were very conscious in making his vocals standout.

Klaha: The song has melody lines that bring to life my vocal range and quality. In Bara no Seidou the songs were already put together, so it was just like "who can sing this?". But this song has been made especially for me to sing on, so I think it was easy to do. This song was to be the "entrance" of my persona, so there was pressure to express that, but I personally am satisfied with my singing on it.

"Gardenia was unusually difficult"

--Did you pick Gardenia to be the first in a series of singles, out of a number of completed songs you had done?

Mana: No, there was just Gardenia. We didn't compose a bunch of songs and say "which shall we release?"; it was another all out battle with this song. It was more like "what shall we do with this song?". It took lots of time, about half a year I think.

--Half a year?! That's like an album.

Mana: Yeah, its taken longer than it took us to compose all of Bara no Seidou. Like Klaha's vocal line, we had to figure out where to make it fit best with the song...

Klaha: The lyrics too. "How much can we make the words agree with the music" and such.

Mana: We tried so many different vocal patterns for that. Over and over on our processor at home. We must have done the vocal line over hundreds of times, and had to change and adjust the lyrics hundreds of times.. it took so much time to get the sound closest to our ideal.

--You kept re-writing the lyrics hundreds of time too?!

Klaha: I redid the larger parts numerous times, but small nuances, things like where a single word would fit better with the music.. we tried it from many different angles. And even when we went "Yes! We got it!", once we cooled down and listened to it again we said "this is no good". That happened so many times, over and over. This song is supposed to welcome the dawn from the passing night, and I really wonder how many dawns we welcomed doing this.. (laughs)

Mana: When we actually went to record it we thought "we got it!", but we came back the next day and said "this is totally wrong". It wasn't just the vocals, but also the backing arrangement had to be changed many times.

Klaha: When the vocals changed, the backing music also had to be changed to fit better.

Mana: In the end the length of the song changed too, because we didn't get the backing arrangement done till one day before the recording. (laughs)

Klaha: So the version on the recording is a bit different from what I had been doing before. (laughs)

Mana: We really were distressed over it all. (laughs) The version we recorded is the one we were most satisfied with. Gardenia was unusually difficult.

--About the coupling song "houkai jokyoku" [[prelude to ruin]], I thought the combination of these two songs most have some deep meaning.

Mana: As they are polar opposites, there is a theme of Malice Mizer there. Where Gardenia has more of a live band sound, houkai jokyoku is completely digital, with twin vocals... the twin vocals were something of a new approach for Malice Mizer. And also... actually its like we're all singing. (laughs)

--Its true that they are opposite songs, and didn't you play this at the budoukan live? So I thought there must be some kind of link to Bara no Seidou.

Mana: It definitely dips into the flow of Bara no Seidou. But "houkai jokyoku" was not recorded on the album, so it is a step beyond it.

Klaha: Somewhere it is connected to the concept of the album, but its somewhat beyond it as well.

Mana: So although it we played it at the show, it is not a part of the main theme. We made it after Bara no Seidou, but a bit before Gardenia, so in that sense it is part of the same flow of songs.

--Also, about next month's quick release of "Beast of Blood", the second single, when I look at this title as well, it too seems to be in contrast with Gardenia.

Mana: Just by the title you can tell its a style Malice Mizer hasn't put forth before. (laughs) We've also never used "of" in our titles before. That's a surprise too. (laughs)

Klaha: It is that shocking. (laughs) The word "of" is in the coupling's title too!
[[I'm wondering what that title is...]]

Mana: It's "B.o.B." isn't it. (laughs) Beast of Blood is, among Malice Mizer songs, a very hard and insane sounding song. Well, there's softness in there too. You get to hear Klaha's new vocal style too.

--We'll talk about that next interview (laughs). This time around you are also releasing a video along with the cd release. Unfortunately, sense it wasn't finished yet, we couldn't watch it, but I can guess it too is different from the gothic world of Bara no Seidou? A white world, like you said earlier?

Mana: Yes, white. (laughs)

--Since Bara no Seidou was in the dead of night, will there be the brightness of dawn in this video?

Mana: Bright, yes, but not the bright light from the sun. (laughs) A magical, illusory kind of light.

Klaha: And there's lots of shots of the band performing too.

Mana: Malice Mizer has done a lot of imagery videos recently, but this time we wanted to showcase the band's colors and put in performing scenes, which is rare for us I think.

--Something like the video for Bel Air?

Mana: Even more of a band, performance feeling than bel air. It's new for us I think.