A very special and inspiring interview with Petit Brabancon before their participation at KNOTFEST JAPAN

A very special and inspiring interview with Petit Brabancon before their participation at KNOTFEST JAPAN

Mandah 31 mars 2023 Mandah

Petit Brabancon is a Japanese supergroup revolving around vocalist Kyo (DIR EN GREY/ sukekiyo), drummer yukihiro (L’Arc-en-Ciel/ ACID ANDROID), guitarists Miya (MUCC) & antz (Tokyo Shoegazer) as well as bassist Hirofumi Takamatsu (The Novembers). As an admirer of yukihiro, Kyo approached the emblematic drummer of the Japanese music scene with the hope to work together. The latter agreed and decided together to start a quintet. Drummer yukihiro then suggested MUCC's guitarist Miya, a very prolific composer, believing he would match Kyo's artistic vibe and vision. Miya accepted and started composing songs in 2019. Drummer yukihiro then recommended The Novembers' bassist Hirofumi Takamatsu and Tokyo Shoegazer's guitarist antz to complete the lineup. Though busy as a bee, Miya kindly granted us some time to answer our questions and tell us more about this original project.

  • Petit Brabancon released its first album 'Fetish' on August 31, 2022.
  • Petit Brabancon will release an EP on June, 2023.

The first album of the band, 'Fetish', was released in August 2022. With hindsight, how would you describe the content, the musical direction, of this release?
Miya : Hum… To be honest, it’s difficult for me to judge my own work. I don’t have the necessary distance to examine and interpret it objectively yet, because I haven’t had the opportunity to tour much. It still feels like a very fresh release. I think music is best judged on stage. As for now, I would describe the band’s musical direction as punkish and aggressive. I feel like it’s raw and comes straight from the heart. I’m really not sure about our identity just yet. So yeah… I’m really looking forward to touring with the band.

How was the title of the album, 'Fetish', decided?
Miya : These artistic decisions are the fruit of Kyo’s fertile imagination (laughs). I can’t answer the question. I’ve never asked him what it meant to him, personally. When he suggested the album title, I liked it right away. I thought it sounded cool. All members have different backgrounds, different lives, different emotions and I think the word fetish encompasses all these differences, these powerful emotions. But everyone has his/her own interpretation of the music and words. This is what the word fetish means for me. There aren’t right or wrong answers because there're as many interpretations as people in the world, aren’t there?

How long did it take to record?

Miya : Hum, my memory tells me that I had been working on the album all through the health crisis of COVID-19. I don’t know how much time it took exactly. I know that I composed the very first demo in 2019.

As for you, what is the most attractive point of Petit Brabancon?
Miya : I think the fact that all the guys are members of other flourishing bands makes our project pretty interesting, don’t you think ? It’s cool when different artists collaborate together, especially when they have different music visions. Also, having Kyo as the vocalist is an obvious appealing point. I think DIR EN GREY’s fans have been or will be tempted to give Petit Brabancon an ear. Some of them may, or will, probably think that our music sounds DIR EN GREY-ish but I hope, they’ll get to understand how different Petit Brabancon really sounds. I believe that people will get to understand how different these bands are when we’ll be able perform on stage.

> Petit Brabancon : DVD/Blu-ray 'Resonance of the corpse' (January 18th 2023) <

Apparently, Kyo and yukihiro suggested he idea of ​​making heavy music centered on 90’s nu-metal when they approached you. How did you feel about this?
Miya : The idea of making heavy music centered on 90’s nu-metal was actually my very own. I remember them giving me approval, they both thought it would be cool to try that out together. But there was no definitive approach, there was no clear, definite sound nor definitive approach to the musical directive of the band. I just did what I do best. I have been creating this type of heavy music ever since I joined MUCC. It feels like a lifetime. My musical roots are certainly influenced by 90-s nu-metal and I don’t think I have added any new inspiration ever since. What I mean is that I compose songs naturally without thinking about musical direction. I write it as it comes, it always comes from the heart.

> Petit Brabancon : Kawaki (Album : Fetish) <

Have you learnt anything from this new project, Petit Brabancon?
Miya : I think I have. Unconsciously, we always learn from new experiences and collaborations. It’s always an on-going process. Without any surprise, we all have strong personalities, with defined work habits. Our opinions sometimes clash (laughs). But when you bring a group of people together, conflict is bound to follow. Conflicts are unavoidable, aren’t they? But it’s also interesting. It spices things up a bit. It's not that I look for trouble, but trouble always finds a way to be near people with strong, assertive personalities. We are all like that. It has its pros and cons. When we set our sights on something, we become unstoppable, which is a good quality. But, people with strong personalities are more likely to fight. When we come into conflict, it's always fun. I mean, it’s always good-natured. Our opinions sometimes clash but because we care for one another, our unity is never broken. Conflict gives us an opportunity to grow (laughs).

I totally get it.
What were the most difficult song and the most interesting song to make when putting the album together?

Miya : I think the most interesting song of the album is 'Gion'. The vision I had when composing the track is that of a punkish, simple, straight-forward and stripped-down instrumentation. To my surprise Kyo loves the track. He always chooses it as the closing song of our shows. It’s likely to become a representative track of the band. The most difficult song off the album is the one written by yukihiro, 'come to a screaming halt'. It is also quite simple. The guitar riff repeats itself from beginning to end. I had never done anything like it. It's challenging to do something new, something for the first time, even though it appears to be simple. I would describe it as a stoic song, just like the person who composed it. It isn’t technically difficult. Its difficulty lies in its simplicity and monotony. I hope it makes sense.

I think it does.
The members of MUCC are your long-time, very close, friends. You have been developing your careers together for 25 years. You pretty much grew together. The members of Petit Brabancon were already experienced in the music business before starting the band. Did this different work environment have any impact on the songwriting?

Miya : Hum, I’ve never reflected on it. Well, if I have to choose between yes or no, I suppose it is a yes. That being said, all the guys, whether members of MUCC or Petit Brabancon, are all, individually, professional musicians. We are all different from one another but we do share a strong work ethic and dedication. Whether MUCC or Petit Brabancon, the work environment is one of mutual respect, friendship and professionalism among each other. Everyone has faith in his work which benefits everyone, it makes work easy. You know, people can create strong bonds at any point in their life. Both projects are, relationship-wise, rewarding. After making music for 25 years with MUCC, I feel like we aren’t just high-school friends. We respect each other, we cherish our professional growth. As for Petit Brabancon, we are a band that values ​​the individuality of each one another. We are different but we accept and respect our differences. When respect is present, both parties are more willing to listen to and consider the other side's perspective.

> Petit Brabancon : Koku (Album : Fetish) <

I can’t agree with you more.
Members of Petit Brabancon are, roughly, between 30 and 50 years old. What has been the most interesting thing about the generation gap?

Miya : I don’t really feel a generation gap between us to be honest. We share the same passion towards music. We do understand each other. We have different experiences, opinions but I don’t think it has to do anything with our age. But yeah… Actually, some of the guys in the band don’t use LINE* (laughs). This might be an indicator of a generation gap (laughs). We don’t need LINE to be able to communicate though. So, there’s no problem. It’s not like there is a right way to get in touch with people anyway. I have known yukihiro for a very long time. He’s a long-time friend of mine. Our personalities match regardless of our age difference. We can discuss for hours about our hobbies, about work and non-work topics.
* LINE is the no.1 messenger and social media app in Japan

I see.
I heard something interesting regarding the recording. It was, allegedly, the first time for Kyo to sing melodies that someone else wrote (Miya’s) and Miya, it was, apparently, the first time for you to hear someone else's opinion (Kyo’s), about your composition. I think this collaboration was a first for both. How was it?
Miya : I couldn’t envision what the outcome would be. I couldn’t see clearly how things would turn out. It was hard for me, at first. It was a little strange. I like to have a clear vision of what I create. But, I got used to it. I can’t say which one of us was right but, ultimately, Kyo being the vocalist is the one who will sing the melodies. Kyo has a real talent for melodies, melodies that have power to take the listeners on a journey. He has a long experience in the writing of melodies, so I trusted him. But I, too, have a long experience in melody writing so it was only natural for me to feel uncomfortable at the beginning of our collaboration. When our visions merged together, combined one another, I felt like I was creating something I had never done before. It felt new, refreshing. I sometimes thought 'hum, Kyo’s melody line seems a better fit for that song'. Other times I though 'my melody seems like a better match for that song'. At the beginning, Kyo was also resistant to sing my melody lines. We both got use to this new way of creating a song, slowly but surely. I have heard people’s opinions about my songs before but never from a strong-minded person that is Kyo. Now that we are closer and more comfortable together, he’s definitely more tempted to try new things out. I have the impression that the band will be way more creative from now on. The first album 'Fetish' was the very beginning of our collaboration. I feel like we have grown ever since its release.

What did Kyo say about it?
Miya : He first said that it made him feel 'extremely uncomfortable'. He later said that it made him feel 'uncomfortable'. Doesn’t it mean that, despite his uneasiness being still there, it has also decreased (laughs). I am really not sure.

What did you like best about working with each member of Petit Brabancon?
Miya : Let me think. First, yukihiro. He’s a talented, versatile drummer who has years of experience. He wields an extreme wide array of powerful sounds. He has a positive, strong personality. He has a unique artistic vision and I’m honored to be able to be able to work with him and try to make his uniqueness shine. Second, Takamatsu Hirofumi. He has a very smooth bass style, like oil on glass. Bass is the link between rhythm and harmony. Takamatsu is the one who enters into yukihiro’s rhythms and Kyo’s melodies. He’s the connection between these two big entities. Petit Brabancon would be nothing without him. Third, antz. He and I have opposite styles. It’s a plus. Having 2 opposites together both broadens and deepens the guitar sound. I really feel like antz and I, together, makes 1+1=3. Two different guitarists joining forces gives a wider range of sounds and variety. It’s an ideal combination. It’s my very first time in a 2 guitarist-band. It’s very interesting as a musician. That being said, it’s not always a plus. Some bands don’t require 2 guitarists. When 1+1=2, it’s not beneficial for the sound. Last, Kyo. Well, he’s widely known in the as one of the most talented and versatile vocalists. He ranges from melodic singing to guttural growls and high-pitched shrieks. I would love to draw out new facets of his talent and musicality. I’m sure I’ll be able to achieve this goal.

> Petit Brabancon : Don't forget (Album : Fetish) <

What do you like best about MUCC compared to Petit Brabancon and vice versa what do you like best about Petit Brabancon compared to MUCC?
Miya : That is a very difficult question, hum. Both bands are talented in their field of music. Both are creative. I think that the major asset of these bands is their originality. They are complementary for me. I believe that working on different things, having other projects, is inspiring and motivating. It broadens skills and foster deeper knowledge. Tatsuro, MUCC’s vocalist, has grown so much from his solo project. His skills have doubled. I feel like we are on the same path of growth. I believe that each member of these 2 bands has the will to explore music without any limits and gives his very best. I can’t answer your question properly though (laughs). The common point they have is what I like about them and that is the fact that each musician gives his heart and soul into his craft. If I have to distinguish them, I would say that they are extreme opposite in the sense that MUCC can experiment on more diverse popular sounds, Petit Brabancon on the other end is more underground and has a stoic image. I hope it makes sense.

It does.
What do you like best about being a musician?

Miya : This is a very personal answer but what I find rewarding is being able to have a chronological record of events of my life. I have been making music with MUCC for 25 years. All these songs I wrote during that time are part of my life. Making music for that long is like keeping a diary of my life. I want to grow old together with my music. Musical tastes shift as we age and I want this change to be heard. I think that Western artists tend to make music that is more appropriate for their age. I think it’s not particularly the case for Japanese artists. Or rather, it seems that this tendency is not as strong as it is in Europe and the United-States. To be honest, I also like the idea of leaving a lasting footprint of myself into the world.

Is there any disadvantage about being a musician?
Miya : There is a lot. The list could go on and on. An example, Japanese tend to avoid conflicts. We try maintain harmony with other people. I think, artists are strong-minded, opinionated and don’t like their creativity to be suppressed. And, this I am. I am a strong self-assertive person. As a Japanese, it’s somewhat frowned upon. I think that the music business is full of people who are likely to disturb harmony.

On April 2 (sun), Petit Brabancon will play at the KNOTFEST along with KoRn and SLIPKNOT. How do you feel about it?
Miya : I once had the opportunity to share the stage with KoRn when I was with MUCC. As expected, it was inspiring and incredible. I’m a long-time fan of the band. I’ve always admired SLIPKNOT as well. They are 2 great bands, 2 pioneers in the music scene. They have definitely left their footprint in music, achieving a personal and unique style, which is very inspiring. I'm really grateful just to be able to stand on the same stage as these people. If it wasn’t for KoRn, I wouldn’t be playing a 7-string guitar. I have listened to the band a hell long of a time. Becoming a musician gave me the opportunity to meet my idols, it’s cool. I’m really looking forward to it.

These are 2 great bands.
You have a national tour coming up in July. What kind of live do you think it will be?

Miya : The very first tour we did with Petit Brabancon was short. We all wanted to tour for a longer time. I personally felt bad about not touring enough so I put my frustration, all that fuel, into composing an EP which will be released in June, before the tour. I feel like, with the new EP, we’ll be able to show a new facet of the band. The first album was released not long ago, August 2022, but so many new ideas are being born. I feel so inspired. We couldn’t keep these ideas for ourselves. I’m excited about showing, playing the new songs. I’m really looking forward to touring with Petit Brabancon. I know everyone in the band is busy, MUCC and DIR EN GREY are celebrating their 25 year-anniversary. It’s a hell of a busy time for everybody but we want to make time to tour and meet the fans. That’s how important it is for us. I’m sure it’s going to be a great tour!

Do you feel any different on stage according to the band you play with?
Miya : Hum, I don't think there is that much of a difference. Petit Brabancon has two guitars, so maybe, my brain processes the information in a slightly different way from when I play with MUCC. I think, the feeling of playing on stage in front of people is the same. It’s just pure awesomeness.

As you said earlier, DIR EN GREY and MUCC have achieved great success overseas. Do you plan to tour Europe with Petit Brabancon?
Miya : Yeah, I want to go abroad as soon as possible. Everyone in the band wants to tour as much as possible including overseas. I do hope we can make this happen. As we say, when there’s a will there’s a way. The sanitary crisis has eased a bit. We’ll try our best to come and visit you.

Do you have any message for your overseas fans?
Miya : I want to apologize to you for not being able to come as much as MUCC would like to. It’s been a while since we last met you. We’ll be back. I promise you this. It’s just a matter of time. Thank you for your continuous support. Thank you for your patience. See you all soon.

Special thanks to Miya, Petit Brabancon and the entire team of the band, for devoting time to us despite a busy schedule.