Interview : Hikari, Acma

This interview is for research purposes. It is not formatted, or edited in any way.

Hikari is one of these men who are inherently nice. He doesn’t get angry, he doesn’t get frustrated, and he always has this smile on. Just one of these gentle souls. He looks twenty when I first meet him, in 2008 – but he’s a least fifteen years older. He belonged to the first generation of Visual Kei and as such represents a great insight on how they evolved and grew.

Hikari (ACMA) by JRA

Hikari (ACMA) by JRA

Waoh, you have lots of questions!

Yeah, but I’m not evil. When I searched ACMA on Google, do you know what came out?

No.

Have you ever done that?

Yes, but not recently.

The Australian’s Communication and Media’s Authority website.

(laughter) That’s good! That’s good, I like that. Maybe that’s me.

Maybe that’s you?

Yeah.

What does ACMA mean?

ACMA is the Japanese word for devil (Akuma).

Why would you choose that? Are you a dangerous person?

No, not at all. I named it Devil because I think everyone has a devil inside. In their heart. Everyone.

That sounds like a very Christian way of thinking.

You think so?

Yeah.

I was brought up in a Christian family, so… My name, Hikari, comes from the Bible. Hikari means ‘light’.

All right, I don’t know the Japanese Bible, so… You picked the name just for that reason, then. When was that?

It was in year 2000, I think.

Eight years ago. I noticed as well that it said on the website that you were brought up partly in a English speaking country but it doesn’t say which one.

Ah, really? I lived in England.

You don’t have an British accent.

You think so? Well it was when I was twelve, for just one year. And I was in a boarding school.

Really? The traditional thing?

Yeah, I think so. A Christian boarding school. I liked it very much. I met rock music there.

You were twelve years old…and you made music?

Not at that time.

So you discovered what was around. What was it at the time?

The Police, Madness, The Jam, and… AC/DC. And Iron Maiden. So all different kinds of rock. It was a shock: I didn’t really know about rock music in Japan.

There wasn’t rock music in Japan so much?

There was, I think, but nobody around me listened to it.

So friends in England introduced you to rock music.

Yeah.

ACMA, tout le groupe, by JRA

ACMA, the whole band, by JRA

I went on the MySpace page, and I noticed that in the ‘influences’ part of the page, you don’t quote any Japanese musician. There is not even one.

Really? I don’t think so. I think I wrote Boom Boom Satellites, and Cornelius.

Oh. I have to check that. Maybe I’m wrong then. Okay then. Let’s say I have never ever heard of you before. Try to convince me by all means that I have to go and watch the gig tonight.

(silence) Waoh, it’s very difficult.

Yeah.

I’m not a good salesman, you know. Maybe she can do it (pointing at the staff member waiting on the side).

What is good about your music? Why is it different, or why would I enjoy the show?

Well…ACMA has a spirit. And it’s very aggressive but it also has a melody. And we have very good members. And… it’s very difficult. I think the biggest difference with other bands is that the lyrics are different.

They’re partly in English. You write the lyrics?

Yes.

So does that come from the fact that you speak English… of course.

Yes.

Most bands in France, when they sing in English, the first question that journalists ask them is: Why do you sing in English? Justify that. Would you be able to do it?

Yeah, yeah. It’s simple. English can be understood all over the world.

So you want to talk to as many people as possible?

Yeah. But I’m not so good at English. You know, I can speak much better Japanese than English, so…

Well, that’s logical. I speak much better French than English. Your English is good.

Your English is very good.

I also noticed that the music you write is very circular instead of linear. It felt like loops. I think it’s a very European way to make music. Japanese music often has a dramatic progression. So it gives the impression that you don’t try to tell stories, but you try to set atmospheres. What do you think about that?

I think this is because I’m influenced by the electro music. Like Richie Holden, Underworld, Chemical Brothers…

Do you know Daft Punk?

Yes! I love them. Daft Punk is a French band, right?

Yes. They come to Japan all the time. Also, apart from that circular aspect, most of the tracks that I’ve heard seem to search for space. Like you’re trying to break the walls. Taking as much space as possible.

Yeah I’m trying to broaden space.

Why?

Well… Because I think it’s good to be wide.

Okay. That’s an answer. Are you writing everything for ACMA?

Yes.

The drums, the bass…?

Yes.

How do you work?

I sometimes play the drums, go to a studio, record them. Then I go home and put it into my computers.

Oh, so you’re a geek.

Kind of.

That’s good, most musicians are.

Yeah, and I play the bass the guitar by myself.

Hikari on stage

Hikari on stage, by JRA

So you can play everything.

Somehow.

And you started your career as a guitarist. You’ve played the bass for Catsuo. You also sing for ACMA, and you write. The fact that you changed positions, was it something that you wanted or that you needed?

I think both. I’m not good at telling people to play something. It’s easier to play by myself.

I understand that. I have a ritual in all my interviews. I have three gimmick question: one annoying question, one stupid question, and then a song I want you to explain to me. The annoying question!

Okay!

… I already asked it! That was why are you using English. You already answered. You’re lucky. The stupid question!

…Go on.

I worked all night for that one. You played in a lot of bands. Which is your favorite and why?

Favorite?

Yeah, I told you the question was dumb.

Favorite…now.

Now?

Now.

ACMA is the best!

Yes!

Why?

…Hmm… I don’t know. Absolutely the best.

Absolutely the best. Because it’s completely yours?

Yeah, I think so. Because I’m getting much better, day by day.

Do you create challenges for yourself to get better?

I’m always improving.

All right, the song that I want you to explain. I want a story. You’re a musician, you’re a story teller, you can tell stories, right. “Neutral”.

Neutral! I think Neutral is about…I think it’s like the band’s name. It’s the contrary. Everyone has good points and bad points. Everyone is both sides. You don’t have to choose which one. Maybe we have both, maybe neither; Nobody is completely bad or good. Maybe everyone, everything is neutral.

Okay, that’s absolutely not Christian. I picked this song because it reminded me of another song, by Richard Ashcroft.

The Verve, right?

Yeah, but he had a solo project. The song is called Check the Meaning. It has the same kind of loop on the guitar.

I should listen to that song.

Yeah, do that. Anything you have to add? What do you want to say to people in France?

Talking about ACMA, we’re doing the theme songs for the pro-wrestlers. Our bassist, Kawachi, is working for the pro-wrestling company.

Ohh, that’s why I could find the link on the website!

It’s called Dragon Gate. Some of the wrestlers go to Europe and America as well. You can listen to the ACMA songs in France already, maybe. And we’re going to release a new single on November 26th. With six songs on it; it will be called Pyramids. I wrote it in Egypt.

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