Interview by David Cirone
December 18, 2012
Ray and May of Lolita Dark
Fashion is one of the primary elements of Lolita Dark. What’s the band’s fashion style, and why did you go in this direction?
Ray (vocals, guitar): It’s Steampunk, Lolita, and Gyaru, all mixed together… it portrays the various chapters in my life story.
May: (vocals, keyboards) We incorporate kimono and other outfits with hints of Japan, too.
Do you think it’s automatic that a band with female vocalists has to present unique fashion? Would Lolita Dark be the same band in jeans and T-Shirts?
Ray: Our music carries depth and energy on its own, but the fashion creates the theatrical elements of our concept.
May: It’s not just us, the vocalists, but all the members project Lolita Dark’s themes through their own visual style.
Photo: Kara Lee Ogushi
Ray, you’ve been active in the L.A. scene for a long time. What kind of guidance did you give May when you were starting Lolita Dark?
Ray: Since this is her first band, I gave her one of the best lessons I’ve learned over the years: when you’re singing in a live band, “listening” is the most important thing to do. And when it comes to the theatrical aspects, just when you think you’re overacting, you aren’t acting enough.
May, what were your goals when you first joined Lolita Dark?
May: I wanted to give my all, not only for the recording of Tokyo Status (Lolita Dark’s debut CD), but also for our debut performance at Anime Expo. I still think it’s a unique experience to rock out in a band with two female front Japanese singers in America. I’d love Lolita Dark to be re-imported to Japan so we can rock out both here in the States and in Japan!
May, you’re working with a group of musicians who know each other pretty well. How did you feel as the new member of the group?
May: Ray, Rain, Joey had a band together called Dig Jelly for a while, and Patrick sat in with Dig Jelly more than a few times, so it was cool to watch them makes things happen. It all came together so smoothly during rehearsals, without complicated explanations. They get along great and their chemistry is awesome. They welcomed me from the very first rehearsal, so I’m really grateful for that.
Photo: Chris Gilstrap
What’s your favorite song on Tokyo Status?
Ray: Since I wrote all the songs, it’s easy to say “I love them all.” But “Who’s The One” hits me very close to home. The song is about my late father and the last several months of his life. It’s hard to perform without getting choked up at times.
May: “Death to Iris.” I knew I was in love with the song when I heard the first 10 seconds of it. I love the heavy drums and guitars.
How do you both feel about sharing vocals?
Ray: May made my dream come true and ended my search for my “right hand”. She is so in tune with harmonies, and she learns the songs and keyboard parts fast. She’s always on time for rehearsal… and she’s a fucking riot! Can’t ask for a better partner!
May: Our voices blend together perfectly, so it makes our harmonies awesome. We can make something sound great in just a few rehearsals!
Photo: Kara Lee Ogushi
Ray, in Dig Jelly, you were writing and singing only in English. What’s new about writings songs in English and Japanese?
Ray: I’d always thought that I’d have to do everything in English to be accepted in the U.S. market. Until I started going to the anime conventions and E3, I didn’t realize saw how much the U.S. embraces Japanese culture. I was blown away! So hey, why not? It can’t get any more real than me, who’s made in Japan! I felt the “Go” to introduce my roots in my own language!
And you’ve had a lot of experience with young audiences at anime conventions. Why do you think so many young fans are ready to hear music in a foreign language?
Ray: The anime fans are very into Japanese culture, and they look for authenticity. I honestly believe that our audiences see the real deal. I grew up watching anime just like them. Anime takes you to another dimension when you just need to get away from it all… there are so many great messages in anime, too. I’m not pretending to be anything else but myself, and I trust my audience can see that.
Photo: Kara Lee Ogushi
Where are you both from in Japan? Why did you both decide to pursue music in America?
Ray: I’m from Tokyo, and I’ve always dreamed huge. I always knew that once you take United States, it’s your ticket to the world!
May: I’m from Okinawa. I came to the U.S. two years ago. This is my first music endeavor. I met Ray through a mutual friend, and I joined Lolita Dark!
Every band sells T-shirts, but Lolita Dark has official underwear for sale! Whose idea was that? And why girls’ underwear, not boys’?
Ray: It was my idea! Lolita fashion has lots of lace and ruffles, so it’s the perfect style for underwear.
May: I haven’t seen too many bands selling underwear, so I thought it was unique! I knew it’d be a hit because I want one!
Ray: I actually thought about having boy’s boxer shorts, too, with a cool LD logo on it! What do you think?
May: Maybe they’ll start humming our song or two while putting them on.
Since you’ve been active at so many anime events, let’s talk about anime. Who are your favorite anime heroes?
May: Kenshin from Rurouni Kenshin! I thought I’d marry him because he’s the strongest samurai of all time! He’s a gentleman, but his sword technique is perfect!
Ray: I’ve always preferred heroes vs heroines. My love was Naruto. He was a loner who accepted himself as being different. Naruto was all about fighting through life, to deal with struggles, betrayal, seclusion, love… all without losing loyalty to the ones he loved. He never lost faith in the higher power and learned to utilize what lived inside of him, and in the end he turned insecurities to utmost strength. He will always be my hero!