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Humans are not able to put all of their emotions into words. Cö shu Nie, however, is a band that has the skills to sublimate this very concept into music.
Their music is created by Miku Nakamura (Vo、Gt、Key、Manipulator, called “director” by the other members), who produces, composes and writes lyrics, and is expressed through multi-dimensional “chaos”, by bassist Shunsuke Matsumoto, and drummer Ryosuke Fujita. They have garnered a large overseas audience, thanks to them soundtracking popular anime shows such as “PHYCHO-PASS 3” and “Tokyo Ghoul:re”, and that is probably because of the way their music makes you “feel” things other than simply their skilled performances and elaborate song writing. Neither language nor race is relevant. All that you need is to be a human with emotions.
In this interview, we spoke about their first full album “PURE” by exploring their music and their cultural aesthetics. We give you, the reader, an opportunity to take a look into how they pursue sound and human emotions.
– As a band, being chosen as the opening theme song for “Tokyo Ghoul” was a big starting point. The author, Sui Ishida, selected the music himself. What are some things that you feel can resonate and empathize with him regarding his aesthetic?
Miku Nakamura（Vo,Gt,Key,Manipulator）:I think there was a part of me that resonated with the sense of urgency, frustration, and the distorted shape of love that is shown by the characters. Like the way they are looking for how to live, and how desperate when doing so.
– Can you tell us on how you create your band’s aesthetic?
Shunsuke Matsumoto（Ba）:The theme for each song is always completed in Director (Nakamura)’s mind beforehand. At the point in which we listen to the finished song, all of the members have shared her vision, and can conceptually understand what she’s trying to express, like ”Oh, this is what you mean.” However, her vision is never constant, and changes each time depending on her mood. Even I don’t know what will come next.
Miku Nakamura（Vo,Gt,Key,Manipulator）:I have these “modes” within me, so depending on which mode I’m in my output changes as well.
– When you say you change modes, does that feel like changing clothes?
Miku Nakamura（Vo,Gt,Key,Manipulator）:That’s partly true. However, just changing clothes doesn’t wreck your nerves, so I’d say its a more emotionally deep process.
– Do you verbally explain things to the other 2 members when they listen to your demos for the first time?
Miku Nakamura（Vo,Gt,Key,Manipulator）:I don’t have to verbally explain too much, since I pass on mostly completed demos.
– So can it be said that the two of you can immediately feel what Nakamura is trying to express in his demos?
Shunsuke Matsumoto（Ba）:I think there are some parts that are almost sensuously connected. However, overall I think it’s mostly due to the fact that the demos brought by Director is so complete that it can be used as the official audio. So if you listen, you can understand a lot even without words.
Ryosuke Fujita（Dr）:So we usually don’t digress from the original concepts.
Miku Nakamura（Vo,Gt,Key,Manipulator）:It’s also helpful that the two of them are very understanding.
– Are you usually all by yourself during your process of making demos?
Miku Nakamura（Vo,Gt,Key,Manipulator）:Yes, I shut out any external interaction.
– So, similar to digging deep inside yourself.
Miku Nakamura（Vo,Gt,Key,Manipulator）:I write songs as though I’m aging my past experiences and emotions. Our new album “PURE” was a dialogue with myself, as if I was diving inside myself, so there was definitely was a catharsis.
– Where do you get your inspiration?
Miku Nakamura（Vo,Gt,Key,Manipulator）:Everything in life is an inspiration. Like how I’m talking with you right now, or what I eat, there are things that you can feel but can’t verbally express, right? Those things keep getting stacked within me, and suddenly become music.
– What are your core influences that affected your unique aesthetic?
Miku Nakamura（Vo,Gt,Key,Manipulator）:I did do classical piano, and had favorite artists, but I’m not really sure of what affected my current style.
– Do you have any specific inspirations from manga or movies?
Miku Nakamura（Vo,Gt,Key,Manipulator）:“Dancer in the Dark” is a favorite, since I really love Björk. That’s just a small part of my inspiration though, there’s really so much more.
Shunsuke Matsumoto（Ba）:You like environmental music, right? From the time we met, she would hit metal objects and record them for songs. Even now, when we go into the woods, she’d be recording sounds on his phone, and later show me the songs she’d made from them. So it really is true that everything in the world is an influence for her.
Miku Nakamura（Vo,Gt,Key,Manipulator）:In this album, there are various sounds, such as tapping tools, water, and the sounds of ohajiki, so there definitely is a feeling that music is born from such random places.
– What made you start making music?
Miku Nakamura（Vo,Gt,Key,Manipulator）:The first song I wrote was when I was in a copy band, and at the time I just wanted to try something original. The song was called “PERSON.”, the coupling song for “asphyxia”, and was when I had just started high school. Throughout the years as a band, we would sometimes be lacking a drummer, so I started making music on my computer.
Shunsuke Matsumoto（Ba）:I think that it was because she was playing with environmental music, but since the very beginning I thought her sequences were really cool and unique. Now she’s even working on strings, so the number of instruments she handles is incredible. I think it’s especially amazing because it’s all finished at a first-class quality.
– Can you play any instrument?
Miku Nakamura（Vo,Gt,Key,Manipulator）:It’s hard to say around the other two, but I’ve been playing in a lot of bands so do I have experience with bass and drums too. But I never played the strings.
– But since you played classical piano, the feel for orchestra music might still be there too.
– Is the melody of a song itself like a musical instrument for you? I got the impression that the melody line is very dynamic.
Miku Nakamura（Vo,Gt,Key,Manipulator）:That’s true, I might unconsciously be handling the melody as another instrumental part.
Shunsuke Matsumoto（Ba）:That was something that made her music so intriguing to me. It’s catchy and easy to remember, but when you try to sing it, the pitch is dymnamic, sort of like a musical soundtrack. Director also loves Disney music, so I think that has an effect. Disney movie soundtracks are very catchy and easy to immediately fall in love, but are actually quite difficult to sing.
Miku Nakamura（Vo,Gt,Key,Manipulator）:The melodies are so beautiful though.
– Similar to musicals or operas. When did you start singing?
Miku Nakamura（Vo,Gt,Key,Manipulator）:From when I started my band. Until then I didn’t sing at all, maybe a bit at karaoke and in school choruses.
– You also have videos of yourself playing piano and singing on YouTube. Watching them, I was reminded again that the catchiness of Cö shu Nie might be due to the unique effect of Ms. Nakamura’s voice.
Miku Nakamura（Vo,Gt,Key,Manipulator）:When designing music as one song, I think the balance of sounds within the song is very important. In that sense, Cö shu Nie’s flashy songs and my voice go together really well. Because my voice doesn’t exceptionally stand out, I can express my thoughts even in “big” songs.
Shunsuke Matsumoto（Ba）:She uses different vocal approaches based on each song, so I think she accurately understands her voice. There was a song called “Flashback” in the demo I received when we met, and my first impression was that the voice and singing wes young and very intense. However, when we released our major EP and re-recorded the song for the first limited edition, I was surprised to hear her sing in the same voice as it was back then. She has a voice that’s not limited to age or period, and I even remembers how to use them for each specific scenario
Miku Nakamura（Vo,Gt,Key,Manipulator）:It’s sort of like a point of contact between the songs and myself.
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