interview by: Brandon Strader
There once was a time when Japanese psycho-black metal group, Sigh, released an album every two years. That behavior continued until the four-year span between 2001's brilliant epic, Imaginary Sonicscape, and 2005's more experimental piece, Gallows Gallery. Now a year later, the group is hard at work in the studio this very moment working on the follow-up, Hangman's Hymn, the samples of which already have Sigh fans jumping with joy with its potential for greatness and the obvious musical evolution of the group. We got the chance to speak with Mirai Kawashima shortly before Sigh entered the studio.
Maelstrom: Sigh has been working on a new album called Hangman's Hymn... What is the concept behind this name and the upcoming album?
Mirai Kawashima: I hate greedy people. I hate weaklings sticking to religion. I hate 99% of people on this earth and I want them to die. That's the concept behind Hangman's Hymn. You could take Hangman's Hymn as a concept album, but it does not have a strong storyline behind it or anything. I just put all of my hate on the album.
"Die, all the deceivers,
Die, all the believers,
Die and eternal death,
Die in misery,
Die for insanity,
Hear the Hangman's Hymn."
Namely I just want so many people to perish from this earth!!
Musically, this is going to be the fastest, the most violent and the most symphonic album by Sigh. It's a thrashy album with lots of German symphonies and opera influences. It contains 10 tracks and they're all connected each other very closely, so they can be taken as one track that lasts 45 minutes too. When I say opera, I'm not referring to superficial operatic singing or anything. All the classical composers took a different approach in orchestrations, chord progressions or anything compared to other musical styles. This time I took in lots of operatic composition style for this album.
Maelstrom: Gallows Gallery did not feature any growl vocals and seemed a lot more tame than 2001's Imaginary Sonicscape. Why did you choose that direction for the album, and will Hangman's Hymn bring back the growls?
Mirai Kawashima: I just chose the best vocal style that Gallows Gallery required. We wanted to express the very nostalgic world in Gallows Gallery, so the vocals had to be like that. On the other hand, Hangman's Hymn is a very hateful album, so all the vocals are the growls.
Maelstrom: Who are the musicians featured on the new album, and what are their positions?
Mirai Kawashima: So far, Steven from Enforsaken and Metatron from Meads of Asphodel did some vocals for the album. We've been talking with some other musicians for guest appearance, so probably we will make more announcement in the near future.
Maelstrom: How long has it taken you to achieve such a grandiose instrumental skill on the keys, and how do you go about writing these massive "German symphony"-influenced orchestrations on Hangman's Hymn that we've been hearing so much about?
Mirai Kawashima: I've been playing keyboards/piano for more than 30 years now, and I was taking the classical piano lesson for 20 years too. These days I've been into classical music so much like I was when we did Hail Horror Hail in 1997. Now, classical music CD price is getting lower and lower like now you can get 10 CD box set for less than $10. So I've been buying LOTS of classical CDs these days, which I could not afford 10 years ago!
Maelstrom: What are your views of the ongoing political war in the Middle-East and has it affected you Japanese folk at all? Did you get freaked out by the North Korean missile launch that sunk a few missiles in the Sea of Japan?
Mirai Kawashima: The Middle-East wars always have something to do with oil rights, and we'll never ever know the truth about it! The only thing for sure is there are some people who make big money out of those wars. But the North Korea matter is totally different, the leader is 100% crazy. It's not good at all to live next to somebody crazy. They have nothing to lose so they could actually use the nuclear weapons any time.
Maelstrom: You use a ton of different key and synth sounds, including some fancy organ tones. What equipment do you use or have you used on past albums?
Mirai Kawashima: I'm a keyboard collector and my collection includes:
Minimoog, Prophet-5, Clavinet D-6, Fender Rhodes Suitcase MK I, Roland VP-330, Roland VP-550, Yamaha DX-7, Yamaha SS-30, Yamaha VL-1, Korg Prophecy, Korg new CX-3, MicorKorg etc. All the orchestrations for Hangman's Hymn were done on computer so I didn't use any of the keyboards mentioned above for the new album though!
Maelstrom: What is your favorite kind of pornography and why?
Mirai Kawashima: I do love very violent porn such as extreme S&M and real bad rape. The best stuff I've seen these days was: the actress is gangbanged by many guys and they all come inside although she was never informed about that beforehand, then they make her drown in the bathtub to make her say yes to a buttfuck. She is buttfucked until her asshole starts to bleed. They keep gangbanging her for MANY hours and she almost goes insane, which is really great. And the actress sued them and the director and the actors were arrested after that!
I don't know why I love violent porn. I loved to watch S&M stuff even when I was 13 - 14.
Maelstrom: What is the first thing you notice of the opposite sex?
Mirai Kawashima: Tits. I prefer tits to pussy or ass.
Maelstrom: What is your favorite Japanese delicacy, and do they really eat puppies and kittens over there or is that just a myth?
Mirai Kawashima: No, the Japanese do not eat puppies or kittens. But there should be some Asian countries where people eat dogs. And it is said that the Chinese eat anything four-legged except tables...
Maelstrom: Japanese metal is a lot different than what you'll hear from most countries. Even Norwegian-sounding black metal is being made in America now, yet Japanese still has their own distinct sound and style. Why is this, and do you think the crafty Americans will ever be able to emulate that Japanese sound?
Mirai Kawashima: No, there are TONS of metal bands that sound like the western bands here. There are many Norwegian-sounding black metal bands here too, but nobody cares about the Japanese bands who want to be Norwegian, so you just don't hear about them. And only the bands that have their own sound are recognized internationally. That's the same everywhere.
Maelstrom: What is the story behind the song "Nietzschean Conspiracy" from Imaginary Sonicscape?
Mirai Kawashima: It was written by Bard Eithun (ex-Emperor). He described Nietzsche's philosophy very objectively.
Maelstrom: Why did Century Media refuse to release Gallows Gallery?
Mirai Kawashima: Simply because they wanted us to do a more black metal album. Gallows Gallery was far from it!
Maelstrom: I heard you had many diverse musical projects outside of Sigh, what exactly are those projects?
Mirai Kawashima: I don't have that many projects right now. Other than Sigh, I've been working with Shane Embury from Napalm Death on Blood From the Soul second album. We both are pretty much busy, so the project is progressing very slowly, but also it's taking shape steadily. The Meads of Asphodel's new mini CD on which I laid some keyboards is out just now. Those two are the only projects going on at the moment. There've been talk about other ones, but nothing is confirmed at this
Maelstrom: Thanks for your time, Mirai! What are your plans for the immediate future, and is there anything you'd like to add for the reading pleasure of our visitors?
Mirai Kawashima: Sigh will go into the studio from the day after tomorrow for the new album's recording. We hope to finish it up by the end of this year, and it'll be out some time early next year on The End Records. When it's out, we hope to tour the US and Europe. For the latest information, visit our/my websites!