Wohooo! ☆(*^o^)乂(^-^*)☆ !!
After having been able to interview Kiwamu from BLOOD during their European tour, we have now another special treat for you: we were able to talk to Kiwamu again, this time about his Visual Kei Label Starwave Records!
We would like to thank Kiwamu for giving us this amazing possibility, then lovely, lovely Gloria for all her assistance and everyone else from Starwave Records worldwide fans who made this possible for us!
ｱﾘｶﾞﾁｭｰ ( ＾Θ＾)ﾉﾉ‐‐‐‐‐ヾ(＠ｏ＠;)ﾉ ｶﾞﾋﾞｰﾝ!! ありがと ございます! !
Q: For how long does Starwave Records exist? Can you tell us a little about the formation and the development of Starwave Records?
A: I started my label Starwave Records 2 years ago. I have managed my other label Darkest Labyrinth for some years already. It was for industrial music and industrial artists. My friend, an artist, asked me about the visual kei label for their band activities, which was in the summer of 2009. The first artist was Luzmelt who wanted to release their CD from my label. So I decided to make the visual kei label Starwave Records in 2010.
Q: What led you to get involved in management?
A: During BLOOD activity, I worked for an advertisement agency as the art director for a long time. So I can make the graphic design and web design. I can manage the schedule for someone. And at that company, I talked with many clients. I was good at the communicate with someone. Of course, I also wrote songs for band. And to book a tour abroad, I learned English too. I had many skills to manage the label. Now, in the independent scene, CD selling is not good. So we need to save money for making our works. To start my label, it was very good. And when I worked for some artists, after they make their results, I can be impressed with them together. It is most good thing.
Q: Next to running those labels, you’re also in a band yourself. Have your experiences as a musician influenced the way you run your label?
A: Of course, I thought “should I devote myself to the backstage personnel?” But on the stage, I can see the real of the scene. Now, in Japan, visual kei is not big scene. It is very difficult to survive. I think I need to play the band by myself for a while.
Q: What is a day in the life of a music manager like? What aspects of your bands’ careers do you look after?
A: For the band, I release their CD, design some promotional material, book the tour, book the event. To make something, I think idea with bands together. And money is biggest part too. For normal band man, to pay money is very difficult like CD press fee and advertisement fee. I help this part too.
Q: Why did you create two different labels (Starwave Records and Darkest Labyrinth), instead of just one?
A: I created Darkest Labyrinth first for the industrial music artists. I got many artists I wanted to work for their release, for example Seileen, Vanished Empire, BLAMHONEY, and Rose Noire. So I was satisfied with that situation. And I got the offer from visual kei artists for their release. But they wanted to release their CD from a visual kei label. If they release their visual kei music from industrial label, it would not be good for their image. It is the same for industrial bands too. They don’t want to release something from a visual kei label. To sort this out, I needed a visual kei label and I created Starwave Records 2 years ago.
Q: How many artists do you have currently signed with Starwave Records? Are you interested in adding even more bands?
A: This month and last month, Cure magazine published my label special pages. You can see 9 artists now and I decided to get one more artist. Now, I manage the label events every month. Many artists joined in my label event and if I like their music, I can ask them about the label.
Q: How do you decide which artist you to sign with your label? What are the most crucial factors for you?
A: When I promote the label event in Japan, many artists join in my label event. Before the show and after the show, I talk with them and then I check the live show. If they play good music but they don’t know how to work for their music, I ask them about the release from my label. I am the owner of label. But I don’t give any command to each artists. I work with them as their partner, I am not their boss.
Q: Do you have favourite releases on Starwave Records? Or any releases of which you are most proud?
A: Recently Misaruka released their 1st full album. When they shot the promotional video, I was there. And I know they worked hard for some years, so I am proud of their album very much!!
Q: You are very active online, using facebook and ameblo to promote your bands. How important do you think it is for bands to promote themselves on the internet? Do you think social networks like facebook or twitter can take the place of more traditional promotion routes?
A: 15 years ago, in Japanese visual kei scene, if we put an band advertisement on the magazine, we could sell 2000~5000 CDs in short time. But now it is very difficult since CD selling is down and down. There are many informations on the internet so they don’t read magazines. Facebook, twitter, YouTube, Blog and mixi are free. But there are many people want to get the info, so I use these very much.
Q: Has your work as an label manager changed in the last few years with the changes in the internet (e.g. people downloading music illegally off youtube, etc.)?
A: Yeah, it was much different 10 years ago. Illegal download kills the artists step by step. But we need to survive in this scene.
Q: What do you think of fan-made videos that use the music of your artists?
A: In fact, I am ok with this. I just dislike “fans take the video during the show without any permission”. The live show is live. We want them to see our live show with their eyes and ears directly. I always spread a bottle of water on their video camera.
Q: What have you learned running your labels? Do you have any words of wisdom and advise for aspiring prompters and managers?
A: I worked with many artists over the years. Artists who treat all staffs in the music scene as important persons can get trust from other artists and fans. There were some artists like this: They are amiable to me, because I am the label owner. But they ignore another staffs of my label. They should treat all people as the same, but they don’t know that point. I always say “please say thank you very much to staffs”. This is a very important thing.
Q: Do you prefer CDs or Digital Releases for Starwave Records? Why? What do you personally like better?
A: Some artists from my label try to release their digital single without CD. It may be the new way in this scene. I will see this reaction. But CD is important for my label, so I will continue to release CD.
Q: What’s the best way for the European fans to buy the music and the merchandise of your label?
A: For foreign label fans, I have an international online shop for my label artists. If you have paypal, you can buy anything from my label. There is the service that if you buy for more than 5000 yen, shipping cost will be free.
Q: Can you tell us something about the upcoming releases of Starwave Records? Are there any concert in Europe planned for which we should look out?