YUKIHIRO TAKAHASHI & IMAI HISASHI
YUKIHIRO: How old are you now?
IMAI: I'm 25.
Y: Ah, is that so... So you're from 1965?
I: Yes. At that time, what was Yukihiro-san doing?
Y: I was already playing the drums(laughs). I was in aa band during middle school. We were playing things like "Sergeant Pepper's" and such. Ah, wait, it hadn't come out yet... Maybe it was 'the Ventures'... (laughs)
I: When I started listening to YMO I was also beginning to listen to rock bands too. The 3rd year of middle school, I saw a television commercial and I heard 'Technopolis' and I thought it was so cool, and then I bought the single. Before going to school and elsewhere, I always listened to it.
Y: There are many people like that. And so, many of them are doing different kinds of music(laughs). The other day I met the band UNICORN and the BOOM. And Miya of the BOOM said that in his school days, since the very beginning, he had the techno cut*.
I: I had it too(laughs). I saw the picture in a magazine, drew it and went to get the hair cut.
Y: You're very artistic. It's surprising to see how many B-T fans there are. As for lyrics and musical points, what's your favorite YMO album?
I: It's 'BGM'.
Y: Same as me(laughs). The truth is, I do like it more than 'Technodelic'. What song is your favorite?
I: The first one.
Y: "バレエ". It's a dark one, right?(laughs) I too like it.
I: Of course, it's a Yukihiro-san song. The way it's sung and the melody... It's very impressive.
Y: That song is about Tamara de Lempicka. Those days, to talk about YMO was not only to just talk about music. It's about our society, even now, and about art. Why Tamara? Why Grossenwahn Cafe? It's a cafe that exists in Berlin and I read about it in a book called 'Cultural History of the Darkness'(「闇の文化史」) and these names were there, there's much significance. For example, Tamara was born in Warsaw and had to take refuge, and she painted portraits of the aristocrats, and in a style that reminds so much of the face of Greta Garbo. I also think her work is the perfect Art Deco, very cool. Sometimes I think, why wasn't I born in Poland?(laughs) It's different from the culture and art of Japan, we're much like introverts in this aspect. I thought making "BGM" would disconnect a lot of YMO fans... It was a fun album to make. Last year was the time I made an 8th album. 2 YMO albums, 4 produced by me, 1 solo and 1 Beatniks album. And all in 10 years. Since 1980.
I: Just after the time I passed the test to enter High School, I happily went and bought "BGM"(laughs).
Y: Ah, you listened to it after the good news of passing the test? That album is dark, really(laughs). Any how, it has sold, until now, 1 million copies. Right after it was released, it sold 300,000.
I: Is that so? But, our best selling "Taboo" is around 300,000 and 400,000. It's amazing...
Y: But, "増殖"(X∞MULTIPLIES) and "PUBLIC PRESSURE", at the time they came out, turned out to be the number 1 chart albums. In that way, a lot of young people listened to it, then a lot of bands/artists influenced by us started appearing.
I: One of the influenced people was me(laughs). I'm glad I had this influence.
Y: Exactly (laughs). I had a feeling that it would come to this (laughs). And the aesthetic atmosphere, I can appreciate it well. As for B-T's music, it's not very cheerful, right? Of course, there's the visual part where it makes it become a hit, it's a wonder how such dark music can be so well accepted. You are a major band, doing dark music? There are a lot of groups that only have the looks. Everyone isn't doing bright, cheerful songs, but ordinary love songs. But in the beginning it doesn't matter, starting anything is good. For example, it's unusual that you are a visual oriented group. Could it be said that you're dark at the same time?
I: Yes. There are people who say that our debut time and "HURRY UP MODE" are better.
Y: But, now, B-T is B-T. People who listen to YMO, it doesn't mean that it has nothing to do with the fans.
I: But it seems like there are people who listen to YMO because we've said we listen to YMO.
Y: Even so, it's not essential to do this to keep up with B-T. The influence Imai-kun received will not be the same if you listen to YMO now. Because music is also related to the time it is released. It has a context.
I: I've always been aware of World War II imagery. And in your most recent work there are many motifs of it.
Y: Yes, I'm reminded of the "PROPAGANDA" stage set-up.
I: I've been extremely aware of that. You've included the visual aspect too. I saw the "PROPAGANDA" video and I thought "I want to copy of this".
Y: Yeah, it's a feeling of "decadence" and "corruption" mostly. I really disliked it.
I: I read something like that in some interview. When I read that you disliked it I felt a bit disappointed, because I liked it(laughs). But I understand how you feel.
Y: That time we had 3 art directors. And they put up this black tent(laughs). I've always liked the early YMO image, the sharp, dry feeling. We had a lot of fun doing it. It felt like we were truly living. I have seen the visuals of B-T, it does feel very much to me like a complete product. And yet it captures something different, so many aesthetics.
I: Yes, like Bauhaus, I like it.
Y: Bauhaus, as in the group or the 'true' Bauhaus?
Y: Bauhaus, the group, I don't like them(laughs). Of course, that is my opinion. Well, it is impertinent. If it were I, I wouldn't use that name, so shamelessly.
I: Ah, the name is troublesome.
Y: Well, but them as people are probably ok. That time, London was never boring. For half a year we went there and it was never dull. We went to see a stage were bands like Joy Division and New Order played, and stayed there for like 3 hours, that was a dull stage. All dark(laughs). Then Peter Barakan said "Hey, I can't stand this any more!" while we were there(laughs).
I: But did you really have to be there for 3 hours?
Y: No, when I couldn't have it anymore I was on my way out, in the middle of the thing. Truth is, I didn't want that atmosphere. I wanted something more 'naive'. For example, crafted glass. Something like, crafted glass but with the appearance of it being broken glass. When I was a child, it was said that if you were weak at a fight, your hatred only could turn you into a killer, people thought that. And I lost every fight at that time. I think it was around high school. But I didn't want to allow myself to do such thing and I didn't want to harass other people either. But I started carrying a knife with me when I was out to protect myself.
I: A dangerous guy. If it were I would too think of having a knife with me. But I don't think I would follow that.
Y: Yeah, I was a dangerous guy. But even now I don't think that has changed much.
I: Do you still carry a knife?
Y: No, but sometimes I have the habit to smile naughtily. The staff people know about it. Sometimes, when I lose my temper suddenly, I put all of that energy into composing. And of course I admire Nakahara Chuuya too.
I: I recently bought Nakahara Chuuya's poem collection. I always wanted it, and have been searching for it for the longest time, until I found it at some book store.
Y: Ah, so you like the feel of these poems too?
I: No, it's just that I hadn't read it yet(laughs).
Y: As for B-T, now, I'm sure this element is important, the element of change. As musicians. But it also can drive some fans away, they might feel betrayed. Possibly, you can dislike the management people or the record company people, but that is the amusement of being a musician. But, you still do not feel resistant to fans who go "kyaa kyaa"?
I: No, and we also changed completely with the 3rd album.
Y: That's the artist's fate, right? Having to know how many times you've changed completely(laughs). So, is this new album the "BGM" album for B-T?
I: Ah, is that so?(laughs) There were times when I was on stage and someone threw something, and I thought that the audience couldn't hear or see me, it made me angry.
Y： Oh, angry as in, a little nauseous? Like, you get irritated?
Y: Ah, when I get like that it's like as if I'm going to throw up(laughs). But, you improve yourself with time. There's a song I like very much by George Harrison, "Only a Northern Song", it's not from the Beatles' ending era, but it appeared on "Yellow Submarine". Probably he mixed up a tape and inserted a sound loop to fill the tape, what today is called "sampling". I really like that song(laughs), in the lyrics he says "It doesn't really matter what my hairstyle is, or what words I say, you people know nothing at all, it's only a Northern song". They wrote it about their publisher company and I understand it very much, in relation also to YMO's later era. Today, the way people think is just so boring. It's all just a mass-blend. This dilemma is hard to fight.
I: Yes. If there isn't always this compromise, I would like to continue doing music like this. It can't be helped, what people will say, there's no choice but to go for what you want. So, I guess it is better to do what you please.
Y: I can't say that "Show business is a fun thing". Because I've been a rock artist once. [...] But as for bands like the Rolling Stones, they're not really that cool.
I: Yukihiro-san isn't a fan either?
Y: Sometime ago I went to a live(laughs).
I: I went too and ended up falling asleep.
Y: During the live? That's a lot of courage(laughs). [...] It's times like that when as an artist you know who is really a true fan.
A lot of times when you move on to do different things, some people will leave you. And then you'll see the real meaning of being a fan.
I: A few years ago we performed at a live house as "Black Trick" and the guest act marked as Buck-Tick. (laughs) I'd still like to perform like this. But the office people don't allow us to(laughs).