NO MUSIC NO REASON

Music has been an integral part of my life for as long as I can remember. High school was a breeze because of top40 hits. Then as I got older, my taste became, shall I say it, more refined. I survived all-nighters in college with my eyes on the computer and Rage Against the Machine blaring on my ear. In my college thesis, I almost included Radiohead, Nirvana and Silverchair on the acknowledgement page as they helped me get thru tons of research and re-writes.

And then I discovered jrock and as they say, my life has never been the same.

It all began with a mixtape.

My younger brother brought home a compilation of anime theme songs given to him by a classmate. I’m  a big fan of anime so he lent it to me. To be honest, I’ve never bothered with the theme songs before as I’m guilty of skipping the opening credits. But lo and behold, amidst the confetti of jpop fluff I discovered gems. That mixtape introduced me to the music of Siam Shade, Asian Kung-fu Generation, and of course, to the 1 of only 2 bands I would ever admit of being a fangirl,  L’Arc~en~Ciel (in case you’re wondering, D’espairsRay is the other one but we’ll get to that later).

L'Arc~en~Ciel
Have Laruku, will follow

I owe it to that mixtape for introducing me to jrock. But what really immersed me hook, line, down to the damning sinker is the online forum Ongaku Society. Becoming a novice fan of jrock when one is tens of thousands kilometers away from Japan is tough, especially when my friends give me a blank stare every time I gush about a new song I discovered. Just imagine then my joy upon finding out that there is a site dedicated to Filipino fans of Japanese music. In the presence of peers, my fascination for jrock became a full-blown commitment.

Sadly, Ongaku Society is no more. The site was down for the longest time only to resurface without its most vital component: the forums. My memories though of the time spent lurking on the site remain intact to this day. For the longest time, Ongaku Society has become my one and only resource for jrock. It sated my appetite for all things L’Arc~en~Ciel and introduced me to the likes of Alice Nine, the GazettE and most importantly, D’espairsRay. I remember that visits to the Alice Nine and the GazettE threads were always a source of pure amusement to me. The said threads were always updated with the latest pictures and adorned with comments like “<insert band member’s name here> – sama!!!” I also owe it to those threads for expanding my vocabulary to include “ikemen” and “smexy”. Good times indeed.

I never stood a chance. Jrock-related stuff is actually part of my budget now. I made my first purchase in 2007: HYDE’s first and last album as a solo artist: Roetngen and Faith. I bought it off Amazon US as the American version of both albums were much cheaper. Then I learned about the wonders of Oricon and so I opted to buy my stuff on YesAsia and later on, CDJapan.

my first jrock loot
topmost was the actual box that encased my first jrock cds

There’s only one thing left really, and I’m fervently anticipating the day I get to complete the full jrock experience: to watch at least one of my favorite bands live. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I find it quite ironic that despite the Philippines and Japan being on the same continent, performances by Japanese acts are close to nil in my country. And for some reason, every time these bands embark on the a “world” tour, Asian countries are left out. Nevertheless, I’ll have my chance soon and I’ll be sure to faithfully document it here on SOLILOQUY.

So that’s just about it, my history as a jrock fan. If you have wandered into this site and have read up to this point, chances are we share the same affliction. The question now is, how did yours started?

(note: post title is courtesy of girugamesh from the album NOW)

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One thought on “NO MUSIC NO REASON”

  1. The first time I heard jrock was a snippet of “Pink Spider” by hide. I believe it had just won the japanese MTV video award at the time (which I believe means hide had already passed) and by the next day I had forgotten all about it.

    Gods know how many years later, I ended up watching “Versus” for a zombie movie fix. Ahhhhhh…. b-movie budget and over the top stereotyping and language led me to need to hear japanese like nothing else in my life could…. (two of my best friends had flirted with learning japanese, and all I could say is “WHY would you do THAT?”).

    Eventually, the japanese horror movies at the video store eventually ran out and I was left to pick up “Moonchild” which I had picked up and put down several times before… (what can I say I’m a sucker for men in trenchcoats [see covers of “Versus” and “Moonchild”]), but “Moonchild” just looked BAD (yes, I know… I liked “Versus” which many would consider a BAD movie, but…) So I flipped over the box again and read the back… let’s see…

    1. John Woo gunplay… that’s good
    2. Vampires… that’s GOOD
    3. Sci-fi added to vampires… that’s BAD
    4. J-rock vocalists HYDE and gackt…. that’s…

    Wait, one second… what the heck is jarock? djrock? jayrock? Japanese rock?! Like with the 2 stringed guitars and flutes?!?! Plus,these two lead “actors” are vocalists [flashbacks to Madonna’s movie surface in my memory like Jaw’s dorsal fin, circling closer and closer] What in the world was this director of pink movies (isn’t that porn? oh god) thinking? This is going to suck!

    I took it home.

    I laughed.

    I cried.

    I fell in love with two “men” who looked more like boys who hadn’t quite gotten a full Y chromosome between the two of them and… I was perfectly okay with it. And the final image of the empty car wouldn’t leave my mind for the next 3 months….

    That’s when I decided… “let’s hear these vocals…” So I visited a MP3 rotation called (something) Blue…. and downloaded a song called “Shinjiki” by 12012. They said it was “japanese visual kei.”

    I had NEVER heard anything like it. I’m still not sure what it was but… I liked it. But it wasn’t Gackt… so I thought, “maybe I can find a video…”

    (Oh yeah… you KNOW what’s coming up… “Vanilla (live)”)

    I watched it because they said the way he danced was too silly, and I thought may be I could get this silghtly older, “blue-eyed” asian man out of my mind.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    Yeah, the dancing was ridiculous…. then he started to sing…

    … and I liked it.

    Then he moved over to the girl on bass… *rewind* the guy on bass…. *rewind* the girl… no, that’s a guy… the guy on bass. He’s kinda cute.
    Then he started singing by a girl on guitar… no, that’s a guy too. (Sorry, You, but you don’t win any medals from me in this vid)…

    Then he moves over to a man I would find out is named Masa… IT would take me over 5 minutes of watching Masa and Gackt before I would be able to stop giggling like a teenaged girl, believe I really saw what I had seen and continue watching the video.

    I guess you could say I was hooked.

    Would I give all the credit to Gackt? No, I really think the somewhat absurdity of “Shinjiki” paved the way for Gackt, and I think just listening to Gackt wouldn’t have pulled me in like that video did, but damn if it didn’t work!

    I know how you feel about being the only one in the area who seems to know about visual kei. It seems the only people I know around here watch animes and only listen to j-pop if they know japanese people sing at all. I guess there are likely students at the university who listen, but I’m quite a bit older. (You should have seen how much I stuck out at japanese lives… it’s funny now.) *hand behind the head +sweat bead*

    That’s my incredibly long story. I hope it wasn’t too boring. 🙂 Thanks for sharing yours!! (P.S. I loved your post about the D’espa breakup… I just can’t write about that now.)

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