Kei Toriki, guitarist of the Japanese-based Post-Black Metal band Asunojokei, answered few questions about the release of the band’s second album, Island.
Hello and first of all, thank you very much for your time! Could you please introduce yourself and the band Asunojokei without using the usual “Metal” labels?
Kei Toriki (guitar): I knew the guitarist, bassist, and drummer when I was a student, and I met the vocalist on social networking sites. For brief details of the band, please see our biography on our official website. We are doing what we can do as a group of people who have somehow gathered together. We are a band with a large bottom-up element that respects the existence of each member, rather than having a goal at the beginning.
Where does the name Asunojokei come from, and what is its link with the music you play?
Kei: « Asu » in literal translation is « Tomorrow ». » no » means « of ». » jokei » means « description of scenery ». It is taken from the title of a Japanese comic book titled « A Description of the Seashore ». I think the name is close to that manga because of its lyrical and summer elements. A person named Yoshiharu Tsuge draws that manga, and he is in a unique position, and we may want to be like him. I feel close to him because he often draws travel manga and works that capture everyday life.
Your second album, Island, is just out, how do you feel about it?
Kei: I feel a sense of accomplishment since it took me a year to make it. However, I don’t really feel that we are making music in the first place, nor do I feel a real sense of accomplishment when the CD arrives in the mail. It feels strange because the album was made without all the members getting together; most of the communication was done over the Internet, such as through Google Documents, and I think the physical distance between the members had a positive effect on the production.
How would you sum the album Island with only three words?
Kei: Independence and Imagination
How does the composition process happen for Island? Was it different from your previous releases?
Kei: There is a difference. All communication among members is done by text and data. That was the case at the time of Wishes, but at that time we would communicate over the phone or meet in person to decide on something. This time, we focused on text and data communication. Basically, I would make a demo, and the other members would arrange their parts. Then we would discuss whether the individual arrangements were acceptable or not, and finally I would finalize the arrangements. Sometimes Saito, the drummer, makes a demo, and sometimes I make a demo based on the humming of Nuno, the vocalist.
Is there a concept behind the album?
Kei: Summer. JPOP masterpiece feeling. We tried to make all the songs single-cuttable. As mentioned in the fourth question, independence is the biggest concept and theme. Other concepts include « summer, » « sandy beach, » « island, » « JPOP I used to listen to when I was little, » and « defying generalization.
Why did you decide to include two re-record songs, Chimera and From the Bottom of the Biotope?
Kei: Originally, the two singles were written with the intention of being included on the album. The reason for writing these songs before the other ones was to ensure that the album would be recorded in the best possible condition after careful examination of the sound quality and recording method for the album production.
Every song is made of many influences, from Black Metal and Post-Black to Screamo and even some Pop patterns, how do you manage to melt everything together to create your own sound?
Kei: We listen to a lot of that kind of music. The music is naturally created from the music we listen to on a daily basis. It may be important to utilize the ideas of individual members as much as possible and create from multiple perspectives.
My favorite song of this album is probably Thunder, which allows us to breathe a bit before unleashing the riffs. How did you work on this song?
Kei: This song was demoed by Saito (drums). I did the detailed arrangement. Below are comments from him.
Saito: I felt each member’s view of JPOP from some of the demos that were made during production, so I made a conscious effort to make demos that reflected my own. As for the riffs, I like to take the melody, riff, or motif in the first half of a song and refrain it in a slightly different way in the second half. To make that refrain effective, I want to impress the motif in the first half as much as possible. Maybe that’s why you feel that way.
How did the collaboration with Lewis Johns and Katsuya happen?
Kei: We asked Katsuya to do the JPOP-ish songs, and asked Lewis to do the songs we wanted to have a broader Metal Hardcore sound image. We wanted to base the final product on Western Metal Hardcore, so we asked Lewis to do the mastering. We had the idea that it would be interesting to have more than one person in charge of mixing on one album, so we offered them individually.
What can you tell me about the collaboration with Yoco for the artwork? Did you gave some guidelines to link it to your music?
Kei: We shared the lyrics and demos of some of the songs in advance, and we also gave a brief explanation of the concept of the album, such as « Against Generalization ». We shared about the sandy beach and composition (symmetry) as motifs.
Since 2020, Covid-19 crisis fucked a lot of things up, how did you face the situation as a band? Did it have an impact on the album?
Kei: It did not interfere with the production as we often used google documents to communicate with each other. Of course, it was hard not to be able to play live as much as we would have liked. However, we decided early on that we would not perform live and decided to focus on production. We took advantage of not being able to perform live, and were able to spend a lot of time facing ourselves and our members, and we are very proud of the quality of this album.
Do you have plans for the band’s future? Maybe some live shows outside of Japan?
Kei: We are now moving toward performing shows in Japan. We would like to do shows outside of Japan, but under the current circumstances, we believe that close communication with promoters who are familiar with the current situation in the region is essential. We would like to find someone who will take the time to consult with us.
Do you think you still improve yourselves as musicians?
Kei: Of course. Although playing music is an end in itself, I realize that each time I create a piece of music, I deepen my insight not only into music, but also into other fields. This is due to encounters with people and self-examination and self-knowledge. Through music, we face others and learn about ourselves. If I can grow as a human being through this process, I feel that there is no reason why I should not grow as a musician.
What led you to the Metal universe back in time? What was the very first album you ever bought?
Kei: Metallica – Master of Puppets
What do you know about the French Metal scene? Which French bands do you know and like?
Kei: Gojira. And then there’s Alcest. I am influenced by Neige‘s comment in the liner notes that he wanted to make music which wanted to mix reality and fantasy, to which I responded, « That’s fine. » I have played shows in France as the backing band for NECRONOMIDOL.
What can you tell me about the Metal scene around you?
Kei: Although not a Post-Black Metal band, we have friends like the Death Metal band Kruelty or the Metalcore band Graupel, who are in different genres but are close in age and share the same vision. I also listen to Sable Hills and Paledusk on a regular basis.
What if I ask you to compare Asunojokei’s music with a dish? Which one and why?
Kei: Ramen Jiro (Japanese ramen chain restaurants). (Our preference depends on the branches). Or a café latte. The reason is something.
Are there any musicians or bands you would like to collaborate with? Whether it is for one song, an album…
Kei: Collaboration is not our preference. We have never imagined it because we only want to complete the work on our own.
Last question: which bands would you love to tour with? I let you create a tour with Asunojokei as opener and other bands.
Kei: Deafheaven, White Ward, Oathbreaker, Sigh, Vampillia.
That was the last question for me, so thank you very much for your time and your music, last words are yours!
Kei: First of all, our apologies to our overseas fans. We know that you have been inconvenienced by the fact that your purchases have not arrived in time. We hope that this Corona disaster will be over and that many people will be able to live healthy lives. Finally, « Island » is a song of support for people who are trying to lead their own lives, not someone else’s. It is important to imagine someone else’s life, and it is the first step to look at yourself again. Your world is for you. Your Island is yours. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if it became a world where we can take care of it for each other?