Interview with Patrick Macias

[Interview @ Anime Weekend Atlanta 2008 Day 1 (Friday)]

 

Zippy: I have the esteemed pleasure to talk to Patrick Macias here at Anime Weekend Atlanta 14. How are you doing Patrick?

Patrick: Doing ok. It’s Friday night…just a lot going on. I’m waiting for Anime Hell to start in the Grand Ballroom. There are a lot of cosplayers walking in and out of here, a few of the naughty ones smoking cigarettes. There’s some police here tonight; I don’t know what’s going on. There was a fire alarm earlier. It’s another crazy con I guess.

Zippy: How much of that [craziness] would you say you’ve caused so far?

Patrick: Not much. I only did one panel today “Japanese Schoolgirl Inferno” and just as we were about to go on that’s when the fire alarm went off because of the heat generated by those crazy girls in Harajuku and what not. But no…we have been off site having intellectual discussions about anime at Abdullah the Butcher’s House of Ribs and Chinese food over on the wrong side of the tracks. I guess tomorrow is going to be when most of the action is. Saturday is always the most racous day at a con usually.

Zippy: I guess being the editor of Otaku USA is that kind of the big focus now for the panels that you’re doing?

Patrick: We have the Otaku USA panel tomorrow at 10AM, and all decent people will be hungover and cranky. There’s a “Writing on Anime” panel after that that I think I’ll sit in on, and then a “Message from Space” panel which is all about this obscure Star Wars rip-off made by the Japanese  in 1978 that no one has heard of or seen but for those who have it’s probably their favorite movie of all time. There will probably be two other people besides myself. So that’s it really. We haven’t really put out the big guns for Otaku USA, because this is more of a con by the fans for the fans. You know what I mean? I wouldn’t feel really good here shoving copies of the magazines in everyone’s face. That’s something you do at Anime Expo (A.X.) in L.A. or New York Anime Fest next week, which I won’t be at. Those are a bit more…I don’t want to say corporate, because that’s a dirty word, but…you know people really try to promote what they’re doing. This one I’m just kind of hanging out. This one really does feel like a fan kind of thing where you kick back and watch crazy anime stuff with your friends.

Zippy: How many American conventions would you say you go to normally? I don’t often see you on the guest list, so [seeing you as a guest here] was pretty exciting for me I know.

Patrick: I’ve kind of spent the last couple years in Japan, but before that I used to be at Viz and Animerica, so I used to always go to the local cons in the Bay area and of course Anime Expo in Southern California. This year I was here in the states a little bit more, and within a year I went to New York Anime Fest, A.X., this show, and I think that’s about it. I don’t know maybe just 3, or 2, or 1 a year. I’m not that kind of guy that walks around with all the badges dangling. I mean that’s cool but I don’t get a chance to do that.

Zippy: Now how do you balance out writing your blog, writing the books you write, and Otaku USA and your publishing? How do you keep all that together in one life?

Patrick: Lots of Xbox. Call of Duty: 4 usually, as much as I can. To try to reward myself by playing more games I will do five minutes of work here, five minutes of work there, and you add that up twelve hours a day you actually do manage to get things done. But there’s a lot of procrastination involved in getting work done. That’s mainly what it is I think; the art of not working, trying to make that create work if that makes any sense.

Zippy: How many of your staff…I know several of the podcasters from Anime World Order [are at AWA]…how many of them are “not working” right now?

Patrick: I don’t know? They’re all getting ready for their panels tomorrow as well. They all have day jobs and stuff like that, but that’s why I’m the editor in chief and they’re not.  But no…It’s a wonderful operation where everyone’s…We don’t have an office. Everyone’s working out of whatever weird pocket of reality that they dwell in, myself included. I just come in every couple of weeks and crack the whip and say I need new text by the end of next week, or by tomorrow. They do it, and they don’t complain, at least to my face, so there’s very little conflict involved.

Zippy: How does it feel with you…Instead of the pressure and timelines writing books, [and] publishers kind of breathing down your neck, how does it feel being on the other side?

Patrick: I still have to answer to my publisher. I spent the last couple hours just tonight uploading images to an FTP, so…I don’t complain. The reality is that I have to get this thing together in time for it to go to print in order for it to go on sale. So we all have to work together.  It’s not a dictatorship.

Zippy: Is there anything kind of exciting you may take away [from this weekend?] Maybe to the magazine, or bring back to the Japanese, because I know you like to write about our otaku culture as much as theirs.

Patrick: Yeah there are a lot of horror stories. Con staff hear all kinds of stuff that the average con goer doesn’t know about. Just weird stuff that goes on: assault, battery, stalking, all that good stuff. So I’m trying to collect those stories and do kind of an anime con confidential story for Japan just to show them how really decadent and depraved it can really get out there. Without making any stuff up; by protecting the innocent. That’s something that I really want to do. Getting a lot of inspiration from this con as a matter of fact. I bought a Speed Racer coloring book that I want to get Peter Fernandez and Corinne Orr to sign for my friend who works at Tatsunoko in Japan who made Speed Racer. I think that’s something I want to bring back.  That’s the only thing I bought today at the dealer’s room, and just meeting…Atlanta has kind of a weird deep fandom here for Japanese animation. The Corn Pone Flicks guys, I don’t know if you know anything about them, but like Matt Murray and Dave Merrill, the guys who helped put on this con, used to make amateur videos in the days before YouTube and that kind of thing. Basically if they were making the stuff [now] they were making then they’d be doing like Chocolate Rain style internet memes that everyone would know about, but back then it was just…They would put on their own weird homemmade shorts at the end of anime that they were trading on VHS tapes.  You’d have that extra 10, 15, 20 minutes so they would make their own original crazy fan produced videos. They’re fantastic! You can probably see them now on the Corn Pone Flicks webpage (www.cornponeflicks.org). There’s one film they’ve been making called Ozone Commandos for like literally the last twenty years; they’ve never finished it. It’s kind of an amazing story I want to do more reporting on. That’s something I’m interested in “what is real southern style anime fandom like?” Because I think fans like myself who grew up on the west coast were kind of spoiled because we had Japantown, and we had a lot of places we could physically go and buy manga and access this culture very easily; whereas, I think the fans here had a harder time but were also making their own stuff or [were] together more as a fandom, rather than just a weird guy who was just into superheroes and never communicated with the person who just liked the Gundam and stuff like that.

Zippy: I know you don’t have much more time, so I just want to ask one [final] question. Speaking of production and your own things, is there anything that you’re really doing now that’s kind of the next big task for you? You always seem to be keeping busy.

Patrick: Well there’s the book for Japan, American Otaku People Retsuden, and that’s a collection of life stories of fans both heroic and tragic that I think people in Japan should know about. They’re curious about who are these weird people in America that are consuming our products and our pop culture, and I really want to show them. The winners, the losers, the heroes, the villians, the power, the pity. All that kind of stuff. So that’s what I’m working on now, but it’s really slow. That’s the one that’s really hard to find the time for because I probably play too much Call of Duty, but it’s the one I need to finish because I need a new book in Japan because it’s been a few years over there. Over here well we’ve got the magazine holding it down pretty good. I reckon that’s about it actually.

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Interview with The Molice: The band from outer space!

We first heard about The Molice last year at Anime Weekend Atlanta (AWA).  Originally we had wanted to do the interview there in person, but unfortunately because of our schedule we weren’t able to.  However, the good news is that their translator Tom agreed to help us with an email interview for the site (HOORAY!)  So, a very special thanks to Tom and the band for answering our questions and allowing us to post them here on the site for all you lovely people to see!

BBAMAJAM: I understand you performed at Anime Weekend Atlanta. How was it playing in the US for the first time?

The Molice: That was a really exciting experience for us. We enjoyed our first US tour. We were very happy because we really hoped to play in the US.

BBAMAJAM: Was there anything in particular you did differently for the American audience? Different songs perhaps?

The Molice: We think people who love music are the same. So there was not anything in particular we did in the U.S.

BBAMAJAM: I also understand you released your album Catalystrock on Good Charamel records. Do you feel there are particular hurdles when trying to release an album worldwide versus releasing an album in Japan? Perhaps issues with the different market differences in trying to convey the music to the fans in different countries?

The Molice: There are a lot of differences between the two countries that play our music. The biggest difference is that we don’t belong to any labels in Japan.  We have to do everything ourselves, so in Japan there are more hurdles than in the US for us. But we love hurdles, so it is a really interesting experience and we really feel the music industry has been changing a lot recently.

 

BBAMAJAM: I think for many artists when they start out they set a goal for themselves that in so many years they want to have sold so many albums or to have played for so many people. Do you have any sort of goal like that, and if not what has been the single most driving factor for you to make music?

The Molice: The world has so much exciting music so far. When it flows out, our hearts start dancing and we don’t want it to stop. At that moment, we don’t have any goals. But if we have no goals, we can’t go anywhere.  Our goal is keeping honest to our musical soul even if we don’t get any approval. We are sure someone loves our music somewhere.

BBAMAJAM: If you were to introduce someone to Molice what song would you suggest they first listen to and why?

The Molice: “Ms. PANIC” because this is our first single and Rinko really is Ms. PANIC.

BBAMAJAM: What advice would you offer for fans looking to hopefully start their own music career?

The Molice: Be Simple toward your own music!

 

BBAMAJAM: What is your favorite part of being a musician? For instance, do you prefer to play for others on tour, make your own music, or just play music to play music?

The Molice: EVERYTHING.  Like we like sushi, hamburger, and spaghetti.

BBAMAJAM: How do you think your families and home lives influenced you growing up?

The Molice: We think our music is greatly influenced by our environment. For instance, our families love rock’n roll music.

BBAMAJAM: Were any of you involved in music related activities before you met and formed Molice?

The Molice: All our members have been involved in music related activities.

 

BBAMAJAM: Have any of your family members come out to see you on tour?

The Molice: They have never seen our show. We really hope they get the chance.

BBAMAJAM: What do your family members think of your music?

The Molice: Maybe they will say “I love YOU!” when they hear it.

BBAMAJAM: What do you guys do for fun to relax?

The Molice: [Rinko] “I often go to space travel.”

BBAMAJAM: What would you say is the most difficult part of trying to collaborate with your band mates? What is the easiest part?

The Molice: There are not any problems when you really love the music.

BBAMAJAM: Do you have any favorite anime or manga?

The Molice: There are so many favorites.  For instance, Hayao Miyazaki’s animation, “Uruseiyatura”, and Osamu Teduka’s manga.

BBAMAJAM: What are your plans for the upcoming holidays?

The Molice: [Rinko] “I will go live in the house in my head.”
——-

For more Molice-y goodness, please visit their official website:  http://www.themolice.com/

You can also buy their albums “Doctor Ray” and “Catalystrock” on Amazon here:
http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=000000&IS2=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=0000FF&t=b057b-20&o=1&p=8&l=as4&m=amazon&f=ifr&asins=B002VBZHH2    http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=000000&IS2=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=0000FF&t=b057b-20&o=1&p=8&l=as4&m=amazon&f=ifr&asins=B003Z9Q5U2

Interview with Tom Croom: Wasabi Anime/Green Mustard Entertainment

Hello again my fellow readers!  Forgive me for being gone so long, but I come baring gifts! (And by gifts I mean interview XD ) 

We had the chance to interview Tom Croom who is with Wasabi Anime and Green Mustard Entertainment.  I got to meet him for the first time this year at Dragon*Con and then again at AWA and loved his sense of humor!  So, naturally, I had to exploit it XD

I’m really proud of how this turned out and I hope you enjoy the interview as much as we did!

BBAMAJAM: So Tom can you give us a general introduction about yourself and what you do?

Tom: My name is Tom Croom.  I love Japanese cartoons, giant robots that turn into impersonations of non-organic objects, travelling the world, long walks on the beach and I’m a whore for a good cup of joe.  I’m known in fan convention circles and an opinionated blogger of many things “geek” (www.tomcroom.com) and the founder of the popular event production team Wasabi Anime (www.wasabianime.com). 

BBAMAJAM: How do you explain what you do to people that don’t know you or anything about Anime?
 
Tom: Usually using short simple words and lot of gesticulation.
 
Seriously, though, it IS hard to convey the reality of anime fandom to someone who only sees cartoons as “kid stuff.”   When I explain it to non-geeks/non-nerds/normals, I try to keep it basic and relate it to something they are familiar with.  EVERYONE knows what a Star Trek convention is (thanks to Saturday Night Live and other mainstream media) so I explain that Japanese popular culture has evolved into the same sort of fandom in the U.S.  Then I mention “The Transformers” and they act like they know what I’m talking about.
 
BBAMAJAM: What do you consider to be the “basics” of convention or event planning?
Tom: The most important thing that people forget when running an event or convention is that it takes two important things above all else: time and money.  Since Wasabi Anime started doing this in 2001, there have been many sleepless nights spent doing the oddest things to our events happen: making laminates, editing video, sewing costumes, printing flyers, writing website content, etc.  The list goes on.
 
A good number of our events started on shoestring budgets.  We operated Wasabi Anime in what I have affectionately referred as “the Kevin Smith model.”  Kevin Smith made his first movie (Clerks) by maxing out his personal credit cards and selling his comic book collection.  It took long hours and a lot of labor but he eventually became a pretty successful (as long as you pretend that you’ve never heard of Jersey Girl.)  Eventually we become known, sold some t-shirts, made some money, got paid to design events and (before we knew it) our little club morphed into a small business.
 
So back to the “basics” – event planning will always take more time that you plan for and definitely more money than you think.
BBAMAJAM: If money were no object, describe your dream convention.  Who would be there and what events would you have?
 
Tom: That’s a tough one… my team and I talk all the time about our “wish list” of conventions. InvaderCON (www.invadercon.com) is one of the projects that we thought was just something to talk about.  None of us ever believed that we could never make it real, yet the Invader ZIM fans are buying tickets for it like hotcakes.  Hop in a Delorean, hit eighty eight miles an hour, and find me three years ago.  Ask me if I thought Wasabi Anime would have actually created an Invader ZIM convention I would probably laugh at you and tell you that you have the brain worms.  Who knew?
 
Even now we’re talking about follow up niche convention ideas involving things like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and even Voltron.  We’re even toying with a Pin Up girl event.
 
The show I’d want an event for ME personally that has too small of a fan base to EVER justify having its own convention would be The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.  If you’ve never seen or heard of it, it’s a one season TV series from the early nineties starting Bruce Campbell that was steampunk before steampunk was cool.  I’d book Bruce and the remaining cast (a couple of them have passed away) and build events around a zany wild west time travelling theme.  Think about it: a country ho-down dance instead of the standard anime convention rave… it would be EPIC.
 
A boy can dream. 
BBAMAJAM: Who or what do you look to for inspiration when planning your events/panels/etc?
 
Tom: Monty Python.
 
I’m serious.
 
Have you ever heard the phrase “and now for something completely different”?  We go to so many conventions and sit through so many panels that we are constantly trying to come up with events that fits two distinct criteria:
1.       DIFFERENT
2.       FUN
 
Take DARE! The Transformers Panel Ultimate.  We’ve seen dozens of Transformers and Giant Robot panels at various conventions.  They all follow the same format: Transformers are cool; here’s the latest toy rumors; here’s the latest cartoon rumors; here’s the latest movie rumors.  Well, the problem with that format is that 90% of what you hear in those panels you already (most likely) know from the Internet.  Joey Snackpants, Tentacle Chris and I realized that panels are SHOWS and they should keep people entertained AND educated.  Thus we evolve the panel to involve something new and different each year and always keep it from a “fanboy” point of view.  Sure, it’s fun to have an open discussion about the pros and cons of a show – but it’s MORE fun to have a solid opinion and get reaction (such as our “BEAST WARS SUCKS” battle cry.)  People love to hate that we hate Transformers: Beast Wars and it turns the crowd into an active participant.  Throw in the occasional guest star to our panel (like Stan Bush or Gregg Berger) plus a touch of audience activities (Transformers toy time trials and sound effect impersonations) and suddenly you’re not listening to a panel… you’re part of the experience.
  
BBAMAJAM: In your opinion what is the hardest part of event planning?
 
Tom: Coming up with something new.  So much has been done out there that it’s hard to be original. When we came up with the Wasabi Animusical (www.animusical.com) – NO ONE had ever done something to that scale at an anime convention before.  Now every Cosplay contest has someone enter using the format and a number of conventions have tried similar shows.  There’s MONTHS of work that go into something like that, though, and people don’t tend to realize it until they try.
 
Keeping it fresh is a challenge, but we do our best.
BBAMAJAM: What advice could you give to those wanting to do what you do?
 
Tom: At the risk of sounding like a Nike commercial: JUST DO IT.  The more you start creating and hosting events, the better you get at it.  The better you get at it, the more people will enjoy your work.  The more people enjoy your work, the more people will come to it.  The more people that come – the more conventions will invite you to produce for them.
 
Don’t be afraid to try something different, even if it turns out to be terrible.  For every amazing event we’ve created, there are at least two really crappy ones we’d like to forget about.  That’s how you learn what works and what doesn’t.
 
BBAMAJAM: What is the most elaborate event you have ever planned or helped plan?
 
Tom: Hands down: The Wasabi Animusical.  Each show in the trilogy was designed to be a tightly budgeted Broadway style stage show impersonation of a Cosplay enhanced live action music video.
 
(I’ll let you re-read that last sentence for effect.  It’s descriptively correct.)
 
Taking a team of thirty talented people and writing stories around them, approving choreography, overseeing costume construction, building sets, working with JACON management for material approval… it was a giant complicated mass of awesomeness.  The payoff (standing ovations and followers on YouTube) made it completely worth it.  We’re working with a new convention in Michigan called Shuto-Con (www.shutocon.com) to try and revitalize the concept using our branding.  Myself and the team are pretty excited as the prospect.
BBAMAJAM: Who or what got you interested in Anime and Japanese culture?
 
Tom: Indirectly: Transformers, Voltron and Star Blazers.
 
Directly: Akira, Ghost in the Shell and (later on) Sailor Moon.
 
People tend to think that anime crept into popular American culture in the past fifteen years or so, but so many of them forget that’s been here much longer than that.  I remember watching Speed Racer when I was growing up and remember The Flying House?  You know – that Bible show?  That’s right: anime.
 
Thus the roots of my interest were born in watching cartoons while growing up.  My more focused interest came about via meeting my girlfriend (now wife) almost eleven years ago and going to one of the earliest anime conventions in Florida with her.  At that point, I got to watch the anime niche culture go mainstream and eventually go back to the level it’s at today.
BBAMAJAM: What are some of your favorite Anime/Manga?
 
Tom: I’m not big into manga, but I am a major fan of quality anime.  It can’t just “look pretty” – I need a good story to keep me going.  I can watch almost any Miyazaki film and rave about its originality, but the top three that come to mind are Castle of Calgiostro, My Neighbor Totoro and (of course) Spirited Away.
 
Regardless of how overplayed it has become, Neon Genesis Evangelion is still one of the greats in my book.
 
I can watch Cowboy Bebop a dozen times and never get bored with it.
 
People also tend to overlook the seriousness in the writing of Sailor Moon.  The series has some pretty epic moments.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve watched the last few episodes for the dramatic effect.
BBAMAJAM: If you were stuck on a desert island what would you hope to have with you already?
 
Tom: An electronic thumb, my towel, a pan-galactic gargle blaster, a don’t panic t-shirt and a very particular electronic book.
 
BBAMAJAM: Existential question of the day:  What would you want people to remember you for in the future?
 
Tom: That thing I did that, according to the government, can’t be made public until after my death.  ‘Nuff said. 

Interview with Ken Lloyd (FAKE? & Oblivion Dust)

So earlier this year at AWA when we interviewed Mayu I struck up a conversation with her label rep about our website and she offered us a chance to do an interview with Ken Lloyd of FAKE? and Oblivion Dust fame.  Naturally we jumped at the chance!  We hope you guys enjoy our e-mail interview. I only wish we could have done this in person!

kenlloydfake

BBAMAJAM: I noticed your band FAKE? released one album per year starting in 2002; however, four years passed between your album Marilyn Is A Bubble and your most recent album Switching On X. Is there any particular reason for this?  For example was it due to research, or perhaps were you busy writing during this time?

Ken: Two reasons. One was the fact that my first band Oblivion Dust reformed a little bit after Marilyn was released. The making of the Oblivion Dust album and the live shows that preceded and followed was something that needed to be focused on, so I took some time off FAKE? to do that. The second reason was more on the business side of things. I wasn’t happy with the environment that FAKE? was in, in terms of management and record companies. During my career, I’ve always been so busy with the creative side of things, that I had never really had time to stop and sort things out that I perhaps should have at the time. The reforming of Oblivion Dust gave me a chance to continue being creative in one band, while I stopped and fixed up the other.

BBAMAJAM: I saw that your tour dates with FAKE? are currently only set in Japan.  Now that you have successfully released a worldwide album do you plan on touring any other countries?  The United States possibly?

Ken: We had hoped to do the U.S. this year, but there were certain things that prevented that from taking form. We were very close though and are still looking at when and how are the best ways to do it. We’ll get there. I just can’t give out a firm “yes” at the moment without knowing for absolute sure. Crossing the seas and doing shows is just a whole different ball park when planning things out especially for a band such as FAKE? that has it’s own style and doesn’t really fit a particular genre or scene.

BBAMAJAM: Do you feel there are particular hurdles when trying to release an album worldwide versus releasing an album in Japan? Perhaps issues with the different markets or differences in trying to convey the music to the fans in different countries?

Ken: With the world becoming more borderless and connected, the releasing of an album worldwide is definitely much more easier than say 10 years ago. Having said that, countries still have their own likes and dislikes, markets and scenes that are all different. Whether or not the album you released will be a success is a whole different matter, I think.

BBAMAJAM: I find it interesting that you included a song called “Homesick” on your worldwide release, seeing as how in support of this international release you undoubtedly hope to travel to many places and thus be away from home. I was wondering if you felt perhaps that as a worldwide traveler that perhaps ‘Homesick’ reflects your own comfort with moving around, or at the same time perhaps your detachment from any particular location you’d call home?

Ken: I don’t know why, and I know that there are some people out there that feel the same way, but all throughout my life, I’ve had this strong feeling of not being home. It’s really hard to explain. It’s not about being away from my native country, England, because I’ve felt this all throughout the time for as long as I can remember. And it’s not really about being away from family or friends. It’s a more deeper kind of feeling that’s constantly been in my life wherever I go. The reason I was able to pack a bag and just come to Japan is exactly because of this. It’s also a reason I do not really understand the mentality of being a patriot. I wish I could and I envy it in a certain kind of way. Perhaps this feeling is the reason why I travel around so much – I’m just constantly in search of “home”.

BBAMAJAM: I think for many artists when they start out they set a goal for themselves that in so many years they want to have sold so many albums or to have played for so many people. Did you ever have such a goal with Fake? or Oblivion Dust and if so have you accomplished the goal yet? If you didn’t have such a goal then what has been the single most driving factor for you to start making music, and now years later to continue making music?

Ken: Well, I never had the usual aspirations of having a hit single or selling a million albums etc. Those to me are just bonuses although I actually think that those goals are really important to have when doing music professionally especially in the modern music industry that relies so heavily on marketing and album sales figures. It’s a pretty simple and cut throat formula – if you don’t sell your album, you won’t be able to make your next album. Either that or you will have to really tough it out on your own and find ways to continue making music. Unfortunately for me, setting goals such as “make a hit” or “sell out the show” just doesn’t work for me. It doesn’t motivate me enough to want to continue. I’d rather wash dishes than do music that I don’t truly want to do. I’m a bit jaded with the industry in that sense.
I think the driving force for me has always been to just keep creating, keep growing as an artist whatever the cost and to never lose sight of that. As a result, I’ve had to battle it out through some tough situations numerous times throughout my career to try and continue making the music I want to make, and not what a company wants to sell. On the other hand, I feel that’s one reason why I am still here able to make music. Plus, I can look back on my career without going “Christ, what was I thinking when I did that…”. I don’t have many “sell out” skeletons in my closet.

BBAMAJAM: What inspired you to reform Oblivion Dust after the band’s hiatus?

Ken: It just felt right. I met KAZ and Riki a few years back for the first time in a while and we kind of just sat down and talked. I think all of us grew up emotionally during our time apart and realized that what we did in Oblivion Dust was something special, even though perhaps we took certain things and each other for granted and didn’t really feel that way at the time. After catching up and getting to re-know each other again, the subject just kind of popped up. I remember having this really strong feeling that I wanted to make music with these guys again throughout that night, even if it was just for fun.

BBAMAJAM: Can you tell us how you came up with the names of both of your bands FAKE? and Oblivion Dust?

Ken: Oblivion Dust was a name that our producer at the time (who was doing Hide’s Zilch) brought up. I think he had heard it from some singer’s lyric and mentioned it and it just had a vibe and ring to it that I dug. It was stuck in my head for a long time and eventually we felt it was perfect for the type of band that we were.  There are so many reasons in the naming of FAKE? that it would take me hours to explain. Haha! I’ll keep it simple. I’ve always had this fascination about what is truly real and fake in the world. Are the things we see with our eyes really there, or is it all just an illusion. And then there is the double meaning of are we for real or just sell outs. I think whatever we want to perceive as real or fake is based solely on the individual. Hence the band name is more of a question directed towards you. Are we fake or are we real? Is everything an illusion or is it all just the way we see things with our eyes? Do we suck or are we good? The answer to such questions are really a reflection of you and it’s your call.

BBAMAJAM: During the early days of Oblivion Dust, the band as your MySpace bio states, “captured the eye of Hide”, and eventually K.A.Z. helped in his solo effort, and Oblivion Dust performed a song for the tribute album “hide Tribute Spirits”. First of all how influential was Hide specifically in those early days, and secondly do you feel when creating music for Fake? you to this day find sources of influence from Hide and his work?

Ken: Hide was just ahead of his time in every aspect, from his solo works, to his attention to new technology, his fashion sense etc. He was at the first show we did as Oblivion Dust and I think that he realized that we weren’t your average band and that there was something special to us. From then on he was always around giving us advice and helping us get out there. Even when we were doing club shows in LA, he was usually there in the audience. I never really knew him before I met him, so I can’t say that I was influenced by X Japan, but I remember getting a copy of Psyence, his solo album and it blowing me away. It’s such an experimental album for Japanese standards and it still sounds new today. I try to keep that sense of experiment and try new things in my music. That is perhaps what I drew most from him.

BBAMAJAM: Both Oblivion Dust and Fake? have gone through band member changes. How did this affect your writing and creative processes?

Ken: It changes things a little bit, but probably not as much as one would expect. With Oblivion Dust, we never lost a “main” songwriter, so things just went on as usual. With FAKE?, I wrote about 70% of the songs and so while I lost that “dimension of Inoran” with him departing, I feel I’ve been able to add newer dimensions of myself into FAKE? with each album.

BBAMAJAM: What process do you go through to choose band members?  I am just curious as to what you looked for in a fellow band mate.

Ken: Probably the most important is the character of the person. Since I’m going to be spending so much time with him/her, I have to be comfortable that we are going to be able to get along. I do like strong personalities though, so I’m not looking for someone who just fits in and does everything I/we ask. There has to be some ego to the new member and that’s the hard part. Having confidence in yourself and being selfish are two totally different things.

BBAMAJAM: In your opinion what is the hardest part of collaborating with another musician as you did on the song “Butterfly” with Anna Tsuchiya?

Ken: Nothing hard really. Just write a song that fits the musician you’re collaborating with. Don’t just collaborate with an artist for the sake of pushing album sales up.

BBAMAJAM: Would you ever consider being a producer for other artists/bands? If so do you think you’d want to work with an up and coming band or an established artist?

Ken: Sure. I’d probably want to do an up and coming band. Established artists usually have their own style by that time. Unless they were looking to change direction and do a 180, I don’t know if I would want to produce something that’s already pretty much been produced. It’s like trying to cook something using an omelette. It’s done.

BBAMAJAM: Fans of Fake? seem to really appreciate your ease of access especially through Twitter, DeviantArt, and specifically in the last year through your Facebook Q&A Vlogs. What have been some of the plus sides and down sides, if any, of getting so personal and in touch with your fans? Do you see this as something other artists should do, or need to do, too?

Ken: No downsides. I enjoy it and it also helps me keep my feet on the ground. I find it more odd that some people think that well known people, especially famous celebrities eat, sleep, breathe think and feel any different than someone, say, who lays bricks for a living. I also find it odd that some celebrities think they are more “higher up” than others. I don’t really have an opinion about whether other artists should do it though. It’s their life, so if they want to, they should and if they don’t, then they shouldn’t. I enjoy it, so I do it. There’s no big mystery to it all.

BBAMAJAM: On your Facebook Vlog you mention that you’re a gamer. If you were offered the chance to have any of your songs on Guitar Hero or Rock Band would you take that opportunity, and then if possible would you like to try and play your own songs on the game(s)?

Ken: Sure, although I’ve never played that game, so I don’t really know what it’s all about, to be honest. I probably wouldn’t play it though as I do it for a living. That’s like a fireman playing a game that puts out fires, isn’t it?  I do play games from time to time, but probably not at all like the average “gamer”. It’s just a once in a while thing. And once in a while I’ll get a message from a 10 year old calling me a “bitch”. Cute.

BBAMAJAM: What do you do for your downtime while recording or writing for an album?

Ken: Make fun of everyone there in the studio. It’s my English side – I can’t help it.

BBAMAJAM: Switching on X includes an ‘intro’ and an ‘outro’ track, which suggests to me that the album was intended to be a package and thus should be listened to in full for the best experience. For you how does that concept fit into today’s market where, especially with iTunes, one can so easily just grab one or two songs from an album?

Ken: Yeah, it’s hard and it sort of ties into the above question of having a goal, in a certain way. I’m from the old school where an album has to be great from start to finish. It’s what I strive to make and I always make sure the album has a flow going through it from start to finish. Like the album is one art piece and not 10~12 little seperate little sketches wrapped up together. Put it this way, I’d rather do 80 days around the world in one go  than 12 day trips to nearby cities. Did that example make sense? No, I didn’t think so either…

BBAMAJAM: If you were to introduce someone to Fake? what album would you suggest they first listen to and why?

Ken: Switching On X. I just think it’s a really really strong album.  The Art Of Losing Touch would also be up there a close second. If I really wanted to confuse someone, I’d give them Songs From Beelzebub. I am very proud of that album as well, although it would probably make them wonder about my personality.

BBAMAJAM: What has been your most memorable moment involving a fan?

Ken: This has happened a bunch of times, but I always love it when I meet a fan I’ve met before and I tell them what their name is. That freaks people out and I enjoy the look they give. Yes, my memory still works from time to time…I haven’t fried it up just yet.

BBAMAJAM: What advice would you offer for fans looking to follow in your footsteps and one day hopefully start their own music career?

Ken: Don’t do it!

BBAMAJAM: What are your plans for the future now that you have released Switching On X?

Ken: This year has been such a weird year for me, working mostly behind the scenes as preparation for next year. You can expect Oblivion Dust to do something, you can expect FAKE? to be doing something and… you can also expect something completely new. That’s all I’m going to say for now.

**Special thanks to Lauren (the label rep from Music Taste) and Ken Lloyd for this interview!**