This is part one in a two part (?) series about how I became interested in two vastly different book series because of two vastly different bands.
In 2008, I became interested in a musical movement in Japan known as visual kei. What the hell is that, you might ask? Here is Wikipedia’s definition:
Visual kei (ヴィジュアル系 bijuaru kei, lit. “visual style” or “visual system”) is a movement among Japanese musicians, that is characterized by the use of varying levels of make-up, elaborate hair styles and flamboyant costumes, often, but not always, coupled with androgynous aesthetics. Some sources think that visual kei refers to a music genre, with its sound usually related to glam rock, punk rock and heavy metal. However, this is contradictory to the fact that visual kei acts play various genres, including those unrelated to rock such as electronic, pop, etc. Other sources, including members of the movement themselves, state that it is not a music genre and that the fashion and participation in the related subculture is what exemplifies the use of the term.
Though I was already semi-interested in Japanese music before that time, a friend of mine introduced me to a musical group that would be playing their first US concert at our local anime convention in Dallas, A-KON. That is how I became acquainted with one of my favorite bands, Versailles. Their costuming is a mix of the Rococo and the Victorian, their music is what I would describe as somewhere between power metal and symphonic metal, and the absolute beauty of both their music and aesthetical vision entranced me. I went to the convention cosplaying one of the guitarist’s costumes from their previous band (I apologize for not having any pictures of it anymore) and enjoyed their concert so much that at the end I was crying tears of joy. They were one of the first musical groups I came to have a real passion for.
As the title of the post suggests, they are also responsible for my avid reading of Anne Rice’s novels as a high-schooler. During their Q&A session, someone had asked the vocalist, Kamijo, whether his stage presence was influenced by the character Lestat of the Vampire Chronicles. At the time, I had no idea what she was talking about. After the translator relayed the question to him in Japanese, he responded in English to us, “Vampire Chronicle? I LOVE THEM.” We all knew for certain from that point onward (and likely years before that too, stemming from his behavior in his old band Lareine) that there was definitely a strong influence thanks to Anne Rice’s works. I mean, practically the entire theme of Versailles is that they are VAMPIRES. The lyrics, when translated, relay this fact quite well. And of course, as the good little fan I was… I read Interview with the Vampire and have never regretted that decision.
To this day, when I go to Q&As with bands, I ask about what kind of books they like to read. Some of them aren’t readers, but when I asked the band D (yes, just the letter D, I’m serious) about their reading habits, they gave me some specific answers and the vocalist, Asagi, said he eventually wanted to publish his own novels. Not surprising since D’s albums are lyrically heavily story driven, unlike many contemporary artists.
To close part one of this mini-series, I will leave you with a music video of Versailles’ to let you make the decision for yourself whether or not they in fact capture a Ricean feel to their music and style. I wanted to link you guys to Ascendead Master, but unfortunately that music video is not on YouTube due to copyright reasons. (I do encourage you to look it up somewhere else, though. ;D) So instead I bring you the song Aristocrat’s Symphony. Oh, and an important thing to note — yes, they are all men. You’ll understand what I mean if you watch.