Here at Don't Count On It Reviews, you can read reviews from different artists from different styles.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Interview - Cyclamen's Hayato Imanishi

Recently I was able to interview Hayato Imanishi, leader and founder of up-and-coming tech-metalers Cyclamen. Their debut full-length Senjyu is set to be released next week. Hope you enjoy!

Ian: With the release of Senjyu less then a week away how do feel about it?

Hayato: Relieved! I am pretty impatient person and it's been more than 2 months since I finished recording the CD - It's a long time for me.

Ian: Lets start with how Cyclamen originally formed? Who were some of the influences that made you want to start playing this style of music?

Hayato: It formed with frustration from my previous band for not allowing me to write something I thought was great. I'm always experimenting with different styles and at the time I was studying technical writing of SikTh and polyrhythmic writing of Meshuggah. My style of writing is pretty diverse because everything is result of experiments and accidents rather than something I aim to achieve.

Ian: How did you originally view Cyclamen, was it intended to be a band in the beginning or as a solo project?

Hayato: I was so fed up with being in a band, so I definitely did not plan to make Cyclamen into a band at the beginning. The idea was that I would be responsible for everything, so no one can mess up what I wanted to do!

Ian: What made you want to sing/scream in Japanese instead of in English? How do think this has effected your fanbase?

Hayato: I always aim to create something that only I can do - and whether I like or not, I was born as Japanese. I accept what I am and I feel Japanese culture and language has something to contribute to music too. There are very few who can do that.
Choice of language was always going to shrink number of people who would want to listen to it (number of English speakers >> number of Japanese speakers), but for me it's more important to create something that I can be proud of than to create something compromised in order to be commercially more successful. I see like a disability - I was born with taste and skill that appeal to only few people, and there is not much you can do about it. It would have been better if I loved writing commercial music, but I know I would suck at it and more importantly, I would not enjoy it.

Ian: Could you speak about what the themes were behind the Dreamers EP?

Hayato: The main theme of the EP is about fighting for your dream. Our society will always try to force us to stop dreaming and make you into a machine that just does the job for it. And in most cases people will just let it take over their life.
I felt that this was happening to me, and needed to express that we must be brave enough to fight against it, otherwise we will forever be slaves to our society, and when we have only one shot to live our life I think we can do so much better than that.

Ian: How did the split EP with Haunted Shores come about?

Hayato: I was a fan of Haunted Shores since their old line up (when it was still a full band), and was looking to release a split EP since we were recording a couple of tracks with new members of the band. Mark (of Haunted Shores) also liked Cyclamen stuff so it naturally came together after I asked them if they were interested in doing a split EP with us.

Ian: You've covered both Princess Mononoke and Castle In The Sky, why did you decide to cover these songs?

Hayato: I am a big fan of Studio Ghibli animations - I watched these animations whole my life. They are something I feel Japan can be really proud of, and I always enjoyed the music in them. As I already said, I always aim to create something no one else can do, and I felt covering those songs would definitely be one of things that only very few people can do, and would do - So I tried to see if I gave these tunes a go and the rest is history.

Ian: What made you want to re-record the Dreamers EP?

Hayato: Cyclamen becoming a full band, and wanting to hear real benefit of having an acoustic drums in recording (provided by Travis Orbin) compare to using midi drums.

Ian: You've worked with Travis Orbin (ex-Periphery, Sky Eats Airplane) in recent recordings, how did he become involved with Cyclamen? What is your working relationship with him?

Hayato: He has been offering lessons and session works for long time, and I couldn't find any drummer who had affordable access to recording acoustic drums. So I messaged him on Myspace and we went from there. He is very talented musician with hard working ethic. You don't find many people like Travis.

Ian: You had Mikee Goodman (ex-Sikth) provide vocals on a track titled Sleep Street early on in Cyclamen's history, how did that come about?

Hayato: One day I wrote a tune as a song writing exercise. I uploaded it on Myspace and it received really positive reaction from people around me. At the time Mikee had left the band and he didn't seem to be doing much so I messaged him on Myspace asking if he would be interested in working with me, while knowing that he would most definitely not reply. To much to my surprise he replied and seemed interested, so we negotiated for a while, and exchanged ideas. It took us around 4 months to complete the vocal idea!

Ian: Onto the new album, Senjyu, how was the recording experience? I know you worked with Dan Weller and Justin Hill who were both in Sikth, how was it working with them and what do you think they added to the recordings?

Hayato: No, I worked with Dan and Justin for Haunted Shores split EP. The album was self-produced! Working with Wellerhill was a good learning experience though. I have learnt lots about being a producer and certain techniques that helped me to make the album sound a lot better. It was interesting to put my creation into someone else's hand to produce recording too. There were many decisions I wouldn't have made myself, but it was good to see how others would see my music as.

Ian: How would you say that Senjyu differs from your earlier material?

Hayato: Senjyu being an album, I had bigger "canvas" to "paint" on. Which meant that I could afford to have songs that act as transition song - You could combine multiple songs to create one big effect. In EPs songs need to be self-contained and it limits on what you can do. I don't see Senjyu as collection of songs, but one big story told by multiple songs. You can't really do that in EPs, just not enough space.

Ian: What is the overall concept on Senjyu?

Hayato: The album is a conceptual album based on a story, although I don't put strong emphasis on this because any album should be enjoyable without the knowledge of what it is about (most people wouldn't bother finding out what it's about anyways).
But rather than telling a story itself, I focused on emotions the main character experiences through the story because I feel music is a way of expressing emotions, and it is not something you use to describe or explain factual things. It would be pretty difficult to express "kinfe" by music, but it would be easy to express "aggressive desire to kill using a knife" by music (done in so many horror films).

Ian: Why did you decide to re-record the track Revenge (Of The Geeks) for Senjyu?

Hayato: It would be weird to have one recording out of the whole album that's recorded 2 years ago...

Ian: You recently posted a bonus track for Senjyu, What Are You Waiting For, which featured Tesseract vocalist Dan Tompkins on it, how did that collaboration come about? Why is that track not on the album?

Hayato: As I already explained Senjyu is not just a collection of good songs. All songs are in that order, written in that style for a reason. You can't just throw in any song you produce. What's the point of releasing it as album if that's the case, you might as well release every song as single separately. As for how the collaboration came out, the same as any other collaborations, you send this person with a track that s/he might be interested in, and if that person replies something might come out, a lot of time it won't. Dan liked the track and he had a bit of time before he goes out for Devin Townsend tour so timing worked in favour of me too!

Ian: Now to discuss the rest of the band, how did they come into the picture? What do you think they add to Cyclamen's sound that wasn't there before?

Hayato: My previous band (which included Ed(bass)) did a UK tour with Duncan(drummer)'s band, and Duncan was in music college where he met our guitarists. That's about it really!
They obviously enabled Cyclamen to do live shows, which is very cool. As for sound we are still experimenting. Working with more people always takes longer time to do things unfortunately.

Ian: What's next for Cyclamen? Are you writing for more music, are you planning on touring for this album?

Hayato: We are trying to tour next year, so get in touch with us for any offers ;) As band, live shows are something we definitely need to keep working on more. It's a big change after spending years locking myself in a studio and it takes time to get used to.
And of course we'll be writing. It's almost like compulsion rather than a choice I make.

Ian: I guess that's it, thank you for the interview, it's been a pleasure. I wish you the best of luck with Cyclamen. The last words are yours.

Hayato: Our album is out on 25th October 2010, Buy it :P And thanks to all those loyal fans for their generous supports. They means the world to us.
Once again, I would like to express my appreciation towards Hayato and Nathan at HoldTight PR for allowing this interview to happen. If you haven't checked out Cyclamen yet, you really should.

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