Thursday, 8 August 2019

An Interview with Miura Ayme at Hyper Japan Festival 2019 (July 14th 2019, Sunday)

The following Interview was conducted at Hyper Japan Festival 2019 at the Kensington Olympia Exhibition Centre in London, England.

Acting as a representative of Selective Hearing, I would like to thank Miura Ayme and his translator for giving us their time and answering our questions. I would also like to extend my thanks to the Hyper Japan Team for for making the event itself happen, and I would finally like to extend my thanks towards both Mischa and one of Hyper Japan's own translators for making the opportunity to interview Miura Ayme a reality, and for helping to translate the more difficult questions and answers. Without any of these people this interview would not have happened, so thank you.

*This interview has been cross-posted from Selective Hearing, of which you can find HERE. Though the differences are not that great, I feel as if this interview is a little more raw in its edited form as opposed to Selective Hearing's more precise, tidier version. I have also included some questions / answers that were cut from the SH version.



With its 10th Anniversary weekend underway from July 12th until July 14th 2019, Hyper Japan Festival 2019 opened its doors to fans of Japanese anime, manga, food, film, music, travel and fashion in Kensington, London. With two floors to fill at the Kensington Olympia Exhibition Centre, Hyper Japan currently stands as the UK's biggest Japanese Culture convention.

What makes the event itself unique is not its copious amounts of anime, manga, plushies, food and cosplayers, however, but its use of the Hyper Live Stage. Set at one end of the Exhibition Centre, the stage acts as a platform for various performances, cosplay parades and talks throughout the weekend. Yet through the course of Hyper japan's decade-long run, the stage has since become a symbol of opportunity for Japanese artists, groups and performers who aim to make their stage debut in the UK regardless of how big or small they might be.

This year for their 10th Anniversary, Hyper Japan welcomed Visual Kei soloist Miura Ayme back to a bigger stage, two years after his first appearance at the event. Though the singer initially started out on the Hyper Live Street Stage - set on a square patch of cloth on the floor within the Exhibition Centre - 2019 marked a triumphant return for the singer as he stepped out onto the stage to a crowd of excited fans and listeners.



With activities for his solo project beginning on March 21st 2018, Miura Ayme - more commonly known as Ayme (pronunciation: I'm) - is a Visual Kei artist and cosplayer with a penchant for military style jackets. With a music style that leans more towards the rock and synth infused sound, Ayme has been steadily releasing original songs since his re-debut as a solo performer, starting with the track Kamisama Nante. Prior to his solo project, Ayme stood as the vocalist for Visual Kei band, Ecthelion under the stage name Miu. After leaving the group in order to walk down his own path, Ayme continued to perform and make a name for himself within the Western fan community, and made appearances at conventions such as JAPANicon in Poland (2017), JAPAN EXPO in France (2018), and Ani-mode in Taiwan (2019), as well as his first appearance at Hyper Japan Festival in 2017.

Now cutting a sharp figure on the coveted Hyper Live Stage this July, it became clear that Ayme had made it his mission to impress all who watched. Charismatic and stylish, Ayme enraptured his audience with powerful stances, a flare in his step and a moving voice that filled the Exhibition Centre during his Saturday and Sunday performance slots. Undeniably talented, watching Ayme take over the stage and make it his own was an experience in and of itself, and with every smile and each excited step, it became clear that being a performer was Miura's calling, and the happiness he delivered to his listeners only made this realisation a cold-hard fact.

With his final performance on the Sunday, Ayme held one last meet and greet with his fans before joining Selective Hearing for a one-on-one interview to discuss performing at Hyper Japan, music, style and a promise made back in July 2017.



Hello, my name is Kelly-Mae and I write for a website called Selective Hearing. We write about Japanese music, video game reviews and also do interviews. How are you today?

Miura: I’m great, thanks.

Did you enjoy your performance earlier?

Miura: Yes, I really enjoyed myself.

There were a lot of fans, weren’t there?

Miura: Oh, you think so? (laughs)

(laughs) Yes, I think so!

Miura: I am very glad to perform in front of a lot of fans. It was a lot more than I expected, actually.

Even though this is your second time performing in the UK?

Miura: Yes, it’s my second time performing at Hyper Japan, but during that time I actually used to live in England for about... 6 months.

Oh, really? That’s good, it explains why you have fairly decent English, at least in my opinion.

Miura: Oh, really? (Laughs)

Yeah!

Miura: No. I don’t think I’m that good at speaking English.

Ah, okay, well I understand you, and the fans do so I think it’s quite good.

Miura: (hand to chest) Yokatta. Thank goodness.



Does it feel different performing on the Hyper Live Stage this time around, because it’s your second time performing here?

Miura: When I last performed at Hyper Japan it was on a different stage. I actually performed on the Street Live Stage, which was a lot smaller.

The one that isn’t a real stage, but just on the floor?

Miura: Yeah, but the last time I performed here wasn’t as Miura Ayme actually, it was just before I started my solo project.

As Miu, right?

Miura: As Miu, yeah. This time around it was very different, but when I performed at Hyper Japan two years ago I met some of my fans and told them back then that I would perform here again in 2 years. Now, two years later on the exact date of promising that I am performing on the Hyper Live Stage. I am very thankful that I could keep my promise.

That’s amazing!

Miura: I am very grateful to be able to perform here again, and I was even able to meet the fans I met before when I made that promise.

That's wonderful to hear! Thank you for keeping your promise.



So, you're a Visual Kei artist, but it's been a long time since I listened to V-Kei style music, so your performance was my first experience of the style in a long while. Your image is very beautiful and striking, but what it is it about Visual Kei that appeals to you?

Miura: Visual Kei is a very unique culture, partly because we put on make-up, beautiful costumes and style our hair differently. The performances are also a different style when compared to other genres, but it isn't just about the costumes or even the visuals; It's about the artistry and everything else that ties it together, that's what makes it a performance style and genre that I like,

That’s wonderful, I like that. it feels very personal to you in a way. And you like cosplay as well, don’t you?

Miura: Yes, I really love cosplay.

Do you have a favourite character to cosplay?

Miura: Ah, I like the character Yuri, from Yuri on Ice.

Yuri on Ice? Like in your photobook?

Miura: Yeah! (laughs) I love him.

Great~ That’s so good. Also, I know it’s very idol to have this sort of thing, but do you have an image colour, or maybe a member colour?

Miura: Probably… (lifts cape) purple?

Purple suits you!

Miura: Purple or turquoise. Like that computer generated idol... Like Hatsune Miku.

That’s a good colour, but I like the colour turquoise (XD)

Miura: Honestly, it would probably be purple. (laughs)

You’re very sparkly as well, it’s very eye catching. 

Miura: Oh really?

Very kira kira. (laughs) No matter what it looks good. I think that you suit this style very much.

Miura: Oh, thank you very much.

Translator: He produced and designed the costume himself.

Wait, you designed it?

Miura: Yes.

Oh wow, that’s so good. Also, I've noticed something: you seem to like Military styled jackets a lot. Do you wear them in your personal life as well?

Miura: No, it’s just a costume.

It suits you. Well, that's what I think at least (laughs).



Your recent song, Kimi no nai Sekai wa koko wa dekiru includes two female guest vocalists. Is there a person or a singer you would like to have as a guest singer in a future song?

Miura: A vocalist, huh… it would have to be Miyavi.

Miyavi?

Miura: I really, really respect him.

So if he came and collaborated on a song with you, that would be like… the best!

Miura: (laughs) I might pass out.

(laughs) Oh, no!

By the way, Kimi no Inai Sekai de Boku wa Ikiru sounds like an Ani-Song.

Miura: Really?

It reminds me of an anime opening. Is it inspired by anime at all?

Miura: Actually, I like the way it sounds like an Anime and Idol song hybrid, but I also like that I could arrange it in my own way in order to get my own personality imbued into it thanks to those kinds of influences.

(hears the word Idol and is further intrigued) That sounds great.

Miura: Well, when I wrote the song I imagined the protagonist was an idol fan, but the world the song is based in is a place where the idol that this fan really likes is no longer around, she is not a part of that world any more. The song itself sounds very happy and lighthearted, but the meaning behind it is actually quite heavy. On the surface it tells the story of an idol graduating and leaving her fan behind, but the real meaning behind it is that the person the subject loves is no longer with us/

Ah! So that's what it meant!

Miura: So in that world (as an idol fan) he can continue to live even though it's difficult. It's heavy in meaning, even when the song sounds light. Kimi no Inai Sekai de Boku wa Ikiru has a very deep meaning behind it.

Is that why in the music video you are crying at the end and -puts hand on the ground to act out the part in the music video-

Miura: (laughs) Yeah, that's why.

It was a very powerful image in that specific moment where you’re crying. I wondered what the music video was about, actually.

Miura: Even in Japan there are many people who don’t understand what the video is about, actually.(laughs)

I kept watching the video back, because I love music videos and films and I like to know the meaning behind these kinds of things, and so to know the meaning helps me to understand more as a fan of music videos. It was a very powerful and very meaningful music video though, so thank you for explaining it more in-depth to me.

Miura: Thank you, thank you (laughs).



So, would you ever like to sing a song for an anime in the future?

Miura: If it’s possible.

I think you can do it.

Miura: (laughs)

I think your music and your voice are very moving, so it would work well for an anime I think.

Miura: Thank you very much for saying that.

By the way, do you have a favourite English word? I would like to know what it is.

Miura: Ah, English word… one I like? Ah…

It can be a curse word as well. (laughs)

Miura: What word… It would probably be Hibernation (laughs).

Eh, Hibernation?

Miura: ‘Cause, I like sleep. (laughs)

(Excitement increases) ME TOO! I love sleeping!

Miura: Hibernation. (laughs)

Same, same, especially in winter because it’s so cold.

Miura: Yeah, yeah. (laughs)

I’m the same so I completely understand (laughs).

Miura: I like that word (laughs)

It’s a good word, honestly.

Miura: Or… or Hypothesis. (laughs)

Hypothesis!?

Miura: (laughs) It’s very difficult to pronounce.

Those are good words.

Miura: Right?

I didn’t expect that at all, (Miura laughs) So, thank you for giving me these unique words that you like. They're really good.

Miura: Thank you. (laughing)



You mentioned Miyavi before, so I want to know if they influenced you when you started out as an artist, or did another artist influence you during your beginnings?

Miura: The first biggest influence for me was The Beatles.

Wow, really?

Miura: Then after The Beatles it was David Bowie, plus I really liked Glam Rock.

Yeah, I can see that.

Miura: But translating that to Japan… the band that influenced me the most was L’Arc-en-Ciel.

Mhm, I know of them. That’s cool. So, coming to London when you were influenced by The Beatles the first time must have been very wonderful for you.

Miura: Coming to the UK and the image of the UK, it’s a very special place for me.

Have you been anywhere outside of London? Like Manchester, Birmingham…?

Miura: No, but I would like to go to Bath.

Oh wow, that’s far!

Miura: (laughs) I want to go.

I have a friend who lives in Bath, but it would be nice to visit, I agree. Have you ever been to an English seaside?

Miura: Not yet.

Oh, please go. Have fish and chips at the seaside. They’re better there.

Miura: Oh, really? What beach would you recommend?

Well, I’m from Lincolnshire so I recommend Skegness or Ingoldmells. That one’s actually very hard to say (laughs). Or White Chapel, but I used to go to these places as a child (laughs).

(*Trust me to pick some of the worst beaches in the UK.)



If you could choose one song of yours for people to listen to, in order to introduce them to your music, which song would it be?

Miura: Hm, which one… Coup d’etat Love. Yeah, it would be Coup d’etat Love.

I don’t think I’ve heard that one (*Lies, I had heard it)

(Miura plays a clip of the song his phone) Wait, I have heard it! That’s a good song! You performed it earlier today, right?

Miura: Yes. The title is French, so it’s difficult to say, but because of the name it gets mistaken for a political song, sort of. Because it says ‘Coup d’etat’ in the name and lyrics. But it isn’t like that at all! (laughs)

Oh, that’s good (laughs).

Miura: It’s a song about love, about the bad experiences in love and overturning those experiences, similar to a Coup d’etat.

I like the idea behind that.

Miura: Oh, really? Thank you.

Do you write your own lyrics?

Miura: Yes, I do.

It sounds like you put a lot of thought into your lyrics. They feel fun but complex, and you deal with a lot of different topics that others may not touch upon. I will have to read some translations of your lyrics to fully understand them, though.

Miura: Ah, thank you, thank you.

Thank you very much Ayme, it was fun talking to you! It was interesting getting to know you, and I can’t wait to listen to more of your music in the near future. Thank you.

Miura: Thank you very much!



With the interview over, so came the end of Miura Ayme's time at Hyper Japan Festival 2019. I was lucky enough to see both Miura's performances that fated weekend, and with both I was surprised by the sheer mount of fans that Miura turned out, especially on the female side. Admittedly I was unaware of Miura as a solo artist prior to attending Hyper Japan, however after meeting him I have come to realise just how much of a humble, nice guy he is, and how highly he regards his fans and those who listen to his music.

The experience of watching Miura Ayme perform was almost electrifying. From his presence on stage to his demeanour in the grilling interview room, Miura Ayme proved to be an interesting person when you viewed him in both settings. Charismatic, stylish, captivating and bold on stage, there was no denying just why people liked what he did - Miura is made for the stage. Yet in person there is so much more, and the persona we see during the performance slips ever so slightly to leave a much quieter, perhaps even a less confident version of the singer we knew on stage.

Speaking honestly, I am certainly not the best person to comment on Miura Ayme as a singer or performer, but I do believe that he was one of few who stole the show at Hyper Japan. With such an enigmatic and memorable performance, the way he commanded the stage and included his audience, there is no denying that Miura Ayme is a talented individual and I can understand why he garnered so much attention from both the general audience and press. but beyond his singing voice, sparkling costumes and undeniable stage presence there lies a humble, grateful guy who holds a great amount of gratitude for both his fans and the organisers of Hyper Japan, and after learning all of this I can not help but feel truly grateful to have been given the chance to hold a one-to-one interview with him. He truly is a lovely chap.


Once again I would like to express my deepest gratitude towards Mischa who organised this interview, and who went through all the troubles that come with organising press. I would also like to express my thanks to the Hyper Japan team who made the event happen and kept it running for us all. I would also like to thank Miura's personal translator for helping to translate my questions and Miura's answers when needed, and I would also like to thank Hyper Japan's own translator for helping with the more difficult questions and answers. Without either, I would not have such a fun interview to show you all.

I would finally like to thank Miura Ayme for performing at Hyper Japan and working hard for those who came to see him, as well as for attending the interview and delivering such wonderful answers. I would also like to thank him for keeping his promise and returning to those who were waiting patiently for the past two years, and for coming back on a bigger and brighter stage where he could truly shine. Thank you.

The things we learnt during Hyper Japan weekend:

- Miura is a lot shyer during the one-to-one fan talk
- He wears giant fake eyelashes. (I wish I could put them on correctly, myself)
- Has the best-looking CD artwork next to Elfloat.
- There is a larger female-to-male ratio, which I didn't expect
- He can pull off lipstick better than I ever can
- Fairly certain he's a giant otaku
- Shy, but adores his fans
- Military jackets
- Possibly a little image conscious, but aren't we all?
- Laughs a lot
- Nervous boy energy
- Stage commander

And here come the pictures. Enjoy the Miura-fest!




















Links:

Miura Ayme Official Website
Miura Ayme Official Twitter
Miura Ayme Official Instagram
EL HEAVEN Official YouTube

Thanks for reading. Until the next one, Dear Readers.
Chiima~

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