Other than having the unique opportunity to interview The Age of Civil War last weekend, we also got the chance to take part in interviewing solo artist SHIN who debuted as a solo artist at his EX THEATER ROPPONGI performance, 605 days after the vocalist’s former band ViViD disbanded in 2015.
He will be touring Europe alongside THE SIXTH LIE during their SHIN X THE SIXTH LIE EUROPE TOUR 2017 “THE INCEPTION”, taking them to London, Paris, Cologne, Munich, and Hamburg, with the tour starting at London’s HYPER JAPAN Festival 2017. So far, SHIN has released songs like jack the ripper, dirty hurry, and restart alongside live music videos for jack the ripper and restart. He will also release his first album titled Good Morning Dreamer on August 23. Let’s see what makes him tick, shall we?
What was it that made you want to become a musician in the first place? Were there any musicians that inspired you to do so?
SHIN: I became a musician because I had no other choice. I wasn’t interested in anything else and I’ve only just come to realize that. Now I constantly say to myself that I am going to live my life as a musician. In terms of influences, the film Rocky [laughs], and as for musicians, it’s a duo called CHEMISTRY.
Why did you decide to go from being a part of a band [ViViD] to go solo though? Why not form another band? Also, has there been anything particularly challenging going out on your own compared to being in a band?
SHIN: I went solo because when I started making music, I wanted to be able to express myself at 120 percent. I’m really happy that I am now in an environment where I can now send my message directly to the audience. I always strive to do what I truly want to do, what I mean by that is in order to create one song, I would write, let’s say a hundred songs and then choose the one I really wanted to use. That process is sometimes quite hard and daunting, but at the same time, it’s quite rewarding.
You’re twitter handle “@white_judas” has a backstory related to the beginning of your solo career, would you mind telling us about it?
SHIN: There was a festival in Japan called V-NATION 2015, similar to this event that I was invited to perform as a singer, but we kept it a secret. I didn’t want to use my own name because I hadn’t quite gotten to where I wanted to be at the time, still, I really wanted to do it! That’s how I decided to use WHITE JUDAS as a temporary name until then. Also, music-wise, now it’s more rock music. Back then I was making ambient music more suited to London [laughs] so that’s also connected to the name. That name is really important to me because it’s from a time before my solo career actually started. WHITE JUDAS could be seen as “zero”, and at this point, I would refer myself as “one”.
Now that you’re finally “one”, you’re here touring Europe together with the rock band THE SIXTH LIE, how did that come about?
SHIN: Not only are we label-mates, but we are also really inspired by western music! We’re both also try to create music that reaches out to not only Japanese people, but also to those overseas. We’ve been talking about how it would be great to perform outside of Japan and then this came about, so I’m very happy that it worked out. [laughs]
We know London is just your first stop on your Europe tour, but do you have any funny memories from your past tours?
SHIN: It’s difficult. There was this guy who I toured with but wasn’t a band member. He was smoking a shisha pipe [laughs] but apparently, he was smoking marijuana. I was shocked by that.
What can the general public who have never seen you in concert expect from your live performances?
SHIN: I’m sure that most of the audience yesterday didn’t really know who I was, so it was interesting to see that the response I got from them was slightly different from Japan. There were some things that work here in London but not in Japan, for example, when I shout “Oi! Oi! Oi!”, people here would respond back. That wasn’t really the case in Japan. The audience here just go along with it and looked like they were truly enjoying themselves, that was really encouraging. For those who haven’t seen me perform, I would say that I can alter my performance in order for everyone to enjoy it.
Most bands and artists have a certain ritual they do before going on stage, is that the case for you?
SHIN: Don’t talk. [laughs] I just pretend I’m sleeping. [laughs]
You mentioned in your comment video that when you went to France, it was just as you had imagined it to be, is that the same for England?
SHIN: I thought England looked beautiful! I love the architecture here. I’ve been really really looking forward to the day I could explore the town! Yesterday I was walking around taking lots of photos and it was really pretty. I would like to move here when I get older.
Are there are any bands or musicians from overseas that particularly influence you in terms of western music?
SHIN: Avril Lavigne! [laughs] Nickleback. There are so many! [laughs] In terms of movie music, I would say Rocky. I’m influenced by that kind of music.
Let’s say you had the chance to collaborate with any western artist, who would it be and why?
SHIN: Ehh! Ehh! I’m not quite sure I’m there yet but perhaps… Bon Jovi! [laughs]
That’s a good choice!
SHIN: [In English] Ahh! Thank you!
Are you surprised by the level of interest in Japanese music all around the world?
SHIN: Yeah! It’s great that Japanese culture is known by a lot of people and I feel really proud about it. I wouldn’t say I’m surprised, but I feel really happy that things have turned out this way and at the same time, it also makes me want to learn more about other cultures as well.
One of the song titles from your upcoming first album, Good Morning Dreamer, is called jack the ripper. Why did you choose to name the song after the infamous serial killer?
SHIN: I was in a band [ViViD] previously. After we disbanded, I had about two years to figure out what I wanted to do. So I would be writing music and talking to agents to find a way to transform myself as a band member to a solo singer, but apparently, this isn’t an easy task. I had an idea of what I wanted to achieve, people told me to compromise here and there and I couldn’t do it. While I was going through this process I almost felt like this was a dream, almost like I was being murdered by my own dream and ambitions. That is the reason in which I gave it this title.
Another song from your album is called dirty hurry, could you tell us more about the themes and lyrics in the song?
SHIN: The name, dirty hurry, comes from the Dirty Harry syndrome which is a mental illness of a young police officer. In order to achieve his way of justice, even though it may be wrong, forces it upon other people. I find that really sad and when I was younger, I felt like I had experienced that too. So this song is about my determination not to force upon my own selfish justice, a wrong justice. I want to be true to who I am and what I do.
Like the film Dirty Harry?
SHIN: Yes! [laughs]
What sort of films influence you when you writing music?
SHIN: The Shawshank Redemption! [laughs] It’s full of hope! [laughs] I was very touched and moved by that film.
Is it not so much the musical score in the film, is it rather about your emotions which sprung from watching the film?
SHIN: Of course there are movies where I particularly like the music or the story, but overall, any movies that move me emotionally are important.
We know you’ve also sung anime theme songs before in your previous band ViViD, do you have a favorite anime yourself or an anime you want to sing for?
SHIN: Pokémon [laughs] and Yu-Gi-Oh! Draw! Draw! [laughs] [gestures the card draw animation from the anime] and early-2000’s Kamen Rider. I would sing for any anime as long as it’s moving and touching.
Any particular genres of anime that would particularly suit your music?
SHIN: Just a minute. BLEACH! [gestures the action for Bankai (a power-up move)] [laughs]
Apart from this tour in Europe, what else are you planning on doing?
SHIN: After the European tour I have a summer tour in Japan, I’m hoping to get as much inspiration as I can from here and hopefully that will help me grow as a musician for when I go back.
Finally, please leave a message for our readers out there!
SHIN: I am really happy for this opportunity to be able to perform abroad. I’m sure there are still many people who still don’t know me, for those people, I would like to carry on growing as a musician so that when I come back next time, I’ll be even better and I’ll put my soul into my work.
We would like to thank SHIN and HYPER JAPAN for making this amazing opportunity possible! Please check out his latest single, jack the ripper/dirty hurry, which came out on April 18 and be sure to check out his first album, Good Morning Dreamer, when it comes out on August 23.