Rock Impressions

INTERVIEW WITH QUIKION (italian version)
by Giancarlo Bolther

Can you tell us about the songs from the new album and why did you choose the title “Ramadan”?
One reason is that we have interest in folk/traditional musics of Arab, Balkan, Celts. And second reason is that the song “Ramadan” was made at the period of theIraq war, and our vocalist TOTOKI composed the verse praying peace of middle east. Her verse is not straigt message, but she suggested anti-war sentiment.

Hallelujah!, Ramadan… it seems that you like religious themes, what would you like to say, what you think about religion and how much religious are you?
The title of our first album (issued in 1999) is “Escargot Bianco”, and the second album (issued in 2001) is “Nightharp” (these albums were issued by other labels, not by Poseidon). The third album “Hallelujah!” and fourth album “Ramadan” have titles related to religions, but I think that it is just by chance. Ordinaly Japanese people do not so faithful to specific religion, and we menbers of Quikion too. But TOTOKI Yukiko, our vocalist and composer of verses of our songs, went a mission school in Japan 6 years in her girl years. She is not a Christian, but she is familiar to Bible episods or religious metaphers. I think it is effeced to her verses.

Can you tell me about the cover of Ramadan, how have you choose it?
The pictures of our album covers are all drawed by NISHIWAKI Kazuhiro. He is our friend and a talented painter and guitarist. The cover picture of “Ramadan”was selected because the image of demigodess is suite for semi-exotic taste of the music of the album.

You create an album of beauty, did you look for an aesthetic result or for a spiritual one?
I think almost musicians or artists want to reach to the stage which can be not expressed by words. If some listener may express the image which they got from our works by words like as “aesthetic” or “spiritual”, we will feel happy they enjoy our music, but we do not consciously product such effect.

Your music is mainly based on folk/traditional influences, can you tell us more about your interest in folk music and how much modernity there are into your sound?
We were firstly ordinaly style rock band. We have listened modern music and classic rock music including progressive rock. But about mid-90s, I (and members) have folk/traditional musics of all over the wolrd. Probably we got tired by American or English hit chart music, and be attracted by the soul and originality of traditional musics of each areas. Now I buy CDs of modern music and traditional music almost half and half. Correctly we are effected by folk/traditional music, but the musical base of us is modern rock music. I think our music is a kind of mixture music.

I know that you like to play with vintage instruments, how it came your passion for them and were did you find them?
I bought harmonium when I traveled to India, and borrow Bouzouki and Psaltely from my friend (he is a corrector of ethnic musical instruments), and requested my father to buy Kantele when he traveled to Finland, and so on. The fascinating of these ethnic musical instruments are the original sounds its own. Their sounds give me inspilation to make songs. Some of our songs were made when I played these instruments freely.

How much culturally connected are you to your native land?
This is the difficult question. In modern Japan, ordinaly people (including myself) do not listen or play traditional Japanese music. If we play traditional Japanese songs or instruments, it will be a kind of orientarism for us. But Japanese popular music is different from American or English ones, just like Japanese animation is not traditional Japanese culture but different from American comic or animation. I am not so familiar to Japanese traditional music, but I grow up listening Japanese popular and rock music. I think that I am effected and connected to Japanese culture and music unconsciously.

A lot of japanese bands seem to be attracted more by european or american music, why is it so difficult to hear some influences from the oriental culture in their music?
This is the difficult question also. In my own oponion, almost Japanse rock bands unconsciously copy American or European music style, because in Japan (I think it is not only in Japan) “play rock music” is equal to“play American or European style music”. If a Japanese rock band play music effected by oriental culture easyly, Japanese listener will say “it is just an affected orientalism”. We are effected by ethnic/traditional music little by little, but it was not borrowing ethnic/taraditional style superficial. I will say again that our music is mixture music which grow up in naturally.

How do you go about the process of composing songs?
Take guitar or bouzouki, and play freely, and memorise some refrains. Some of these refrains will be forgotten, and some of them will grow up to songs. And members of our band listen these songs, play again and again, cut and add, arrange and sing, and TOTOKI make verse and title.

What kind of response are you experiencing from the audience to your music?
We experienced many different responses. In Japan, oftenly written by critics or audiences like as “exotic” or “unique”or “misterious” or “mixture of European and Asian tastes” and so on. In European sites or magazines, the voice of TOTOKI often is compared to Kate Bush. We only want to play good music in our own way, so every responses will be alright to us.

Which is the greatest satisfaction happened to you in your musical carreer?
If somebody enjoy our music, if it was live or CDs, that is the greatest satisfaction.

Sometimes you play live with a rhythm section, have you ever thinked to do something together in studio?
Not for present. Live DVD with rhythm section was released in December 2005 from Poseidon label.

You have signed with a prog rock label, do you think that your sound has a progressive vibe?
Listeners will define. We are only try to play in our best. I like some classic progressive rock music, but I doubt that they consciousuly “We are now play progressive rock”.

What do you think about the attitude to mix old traditional music with the modern one?
I think mixture is just one of a way to create good music. If musician think that mixture is itself the purpose or something, it will be uninteresting.

What do you feel about Internet and the file sharing? Do you fear it or do you think it will be an opportunity for the artists?

I think it is basically an opportunity. But if listeners will satisfy only get informations or recorded music and do not go and feel live music, it will be not good for musicians and listeners also.

What kind of music do you listen to? What are your favourite bands actually and what are your inspirations from the past?

Many many music gave effect and inspiration for me. Led Zepplin, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, King Crimson and Pentangle, Yann Tiersen and many nameless traditional musicians in many lands in the world.

These seem to be very dark times. What do you believe about this period, do you are optimistic or do you fear the future?
We are living in this time and world without choice. So we must and will find the light of hope if we do not to give up to live.


Reviews (in italian): Hallelujah!; Yoru No Harp; Ramadan; Live

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