You said it would be awesome if I could do an interview with L from MEME. And yes, I agree. That would be pretty awesome. So I set out to do just that. I asked L if he would be interested in doing an interview, and as you can probably conclude from this article being here now, the answer was a resounding “yes!”.
So, as a quick introduction: MEME is a project that is created and maintained by L. Just L, no one else. Created on the foundation of horror L hopes to not only welcome the audience into a world he created based on his personal interests in horror, but also entertain horror fans in a different way than music alone. Because while most people will be introduced to MEME through the music, there is a lot more than that. And that’s exactly what I wanted to talk about for this interview. So, without further ado…
Of course I know who I am speaking to for this interview, but can you please introduce yourself to the readers first?
L: I’m L.
Okay, that works! Can you tell me a little about why you chose the name L for yourself? Does it have a special meaning perhaps?
L: There isn’t a special meaning really, for me it was appropriate to name myself L. I didn’t like the name I was given as a human, and L isn’t anything specific. It’s neither male nor female.
What about the name for your project? Because most people will have a specific mental image with the word “meme”. What was the idea behind it?
L: MEME has a logo mark before the name. I just saw the logo and flashed it with the word “meme”.
It doesn’t take long to figure out that horror is a big theme within MEME, how did this happen?
L: I’m a big fan of horror. That’s why it effects live performances and pretty much everything about MEME.
You promote MEME as “Music&Movie&Picture”, but as an overseas fan I mostly see the “music” part don’t I? Can you tell me about the “movie” and “pictures” part as well?
L: There are a lot of musicians and artists in the world today. But I am uploading videos of my live performances on YouTube in the hope of being able to convey the live performance atmosphere that is unique to MEME to a worldwide audience.
When you say “movie” it doesn’t mean that MEME shoots a full length movie or anything. It’s more a combination of everything visual. This includes live performances, my remarks on Twitter and some of MEME’s activities that are inspired by horror movies. I hope I can reach and entertain horror movie fans from a different perspective than just music.
Staying on the live performances topic, when you do a live show you’re not standing on the stage by yourself. Can you tell me a bit about your support members? Why do they make the perfect support for MEME’s music?
L: The music that I make is a band-type of sound. I need support members to be able to communicate it to the fullest during a live show. MEME’s live performances change every single time, in the sense of the title of the live being different, and the same goes for my visual appearance during them. Even if the set list is the same, the production of the live will change. Most of them change depending on my judgment and feelings at that moment. Therefore I need support members who can handle rapid changes like this.
The power of social media
You’ve probably seen the power of social media before thanks to a news article about how quickly something went viral or how fast information can be shared through sources like Twitter or Facebook. But there is also another way in which social media can be powerful. While MEME does not have it’s own OHP (official home page), information is spread through Twitter effectively, and with great success too. Through Twitter L has managed to round up quite a number of followers not only from Japan, but from all over the world. And this has lead to some unique collaborations between him and his fans too. Like a crowdfunding campaign, and a costume design made with the help from fans.
Speaking of your online presence, you currently do not have an OHP for your project. Instead you promote everything you do through the Twitter accounts of MEME and your personal account. How did this happen? Wouldn’t you rather have a main hub for everything in the form of an OHP?
L: Everything that is related to MEME is done by me alone. I’m not good at web design or the updating system behind a website. Aside from that the most popular method of communication in Japan right now is social media like Twitter. If there ever ends up being a staff member who is good at web design and the techniques behind a website there might be an OHP, but until then it will be Twitter exclusively.
Thanks to Twitter in particular you do have a very unique relationship with your fans online. A relationship most other artists don’t have. Starting in early April and ending in early May you did a crowdfunding campaign for a full album and a possible overseas live show (or shows). The campaign was backed with more than double the amount of money you asked for, congratulations! How does that make you feel?
L: I didn’t expect it to be successful at all, let alone with this amount of money that was raised. I feel great!
The crowdfunding was initially intended for a full album. Can you tell me a little bit about this already? Like, have you started working on it already for example?
L: Oh absolutely. In fact, it’s already done. I can’t tell you much about a release date yet, but I can tell you that the song “呪” (Noroi/Curse) is going to be included in this new album. The song has been uploaded to YouTube as well.
Any additional funds that were raised through the crowdfunding are going to be put into overseas shows, once the pandemic allows it of course. But are you thinking of doing live shows in Asia, or in Europe and the United States as well?
L: If there are fans waiting for me in Europe and the United States I of course want to go there too. I just don’t know when just yet, of course…
Another example of your unique relationship with your fans was a request for photos of their skin for an apron you intended to wear on stage. Some of my friends send in their photos too, and they were so excited you picked some of them! How does it make you feel to have so much worldwide support for a project like this?
L: I received a lot of photos from fans for this project. It felt great to be able to create a project with fans from all around the world through social media and then being able to wear the result of that project on stage. The fans who visited the show really liked it too!
Would you like to do projects like this again in the future? Because like you’ve already said, everything from MEME essentially comes from you alone, and you have a very unique connection with your fans thanks to social media…
L: You know, the artist photo I currently use shows four people wearing masks. And me. But those four people in masks actually are fans. I took this photo with the cooperation of my fans. Someday I want to take a photo for MEME with an overseas fan too.
From what you can see as direct feedback in person you have quite a bit of fans in Japan, but thanks to social media you also have a lot of fans overseas. Did you ever expect that your work with MEME would appeal to so many overseas fans?
L: I’m very happy. I don’t think that there is a language barrier in music and artworks, so it makes me very happy to see so much support and participation from overseas.
Speaking of overseas support, is there currently any way for overseas fans to help support your work? Since you do have a webshop right now, but I don’t think it accepts any overseas orders directly? Or are you trying to find a better way for overseas support right now?
L: I would be happy if it would happen in the future. Because like you said, the webshop doesn’t support orders from overseas at the moment. I’m currently searching for a solution for that. Because of course I am interested in the overseas fans too. I want to meet as many fans as I possibly can, whether they’re coming from Japan or from overseas. I always want to do something together with every single one of them.
Doing something unique
Like I already said, most people will probably only see the music-side of MEME. Especially the ones that don’t live in Japan. But L has created a very unique project that also goes under the umbrella of MEME, and there currently is no other artist who does something like this. Something that L too is very aware of. Something new and different can be scary (and in this case that’s absolutely the intention too), and you never know how it will be received. But, if you have the option in the future to check out this particular event, I absolutely recommend you to do so!
I’ve been waiting to ask about this for the entire interview now, but we’re finally at the point where I can ask about “disparition macabre”! Without me betraying anything in the question, can you tell the readers about this?
L: “disparition macabre” was created from my idea that MEME cannot be expressed by live performances of music alone. MEME’s music and movies are always trying to give fans the feeling and atmosphere of a MEME live show and other activities, but MEME’s work cannot be stored in music alone.
“disparition macabre” is an “escape game”. During this game I become the murderer and I get to chase the fans through the location it’s held. Fans search for items to escape while hiding from me, in the hopes that I cannot find them. If they find all the required items and manage to escape within the set time limit the fans will survive, and thus win the game.
Here in Europe the closest comparison to this type of game we have is an “escape room”, but those usually aren’t as interactive as your game is. Which to me makes it super interesting (and honestly, I’d love to participate myself…). But how do the Japanese fans react to it? Did you get a lot of interest from fans who want to play?
L: There have been many fans who have screamed and enjoyed the game. So they’re definitely interested in it. Some of them are confused though, because there aren’t any other artists who are doing something like this. Like you said yourself, it’s pretty unique even in Japan.
You’ve only started to play this game with fans about two years ago, and during that time you’ve played various different games. I’m sure you’ve learned a lot from it because you got direct feedback with the role of the murderer?
L: Oh yeah, I definitely learned a lot. I’m using this feedback to improve future versions of the game. I hope it can be made a little easier, since that seemed to be the main “problem” that was encountered so far. It being fairly complicated to win.
Unfortunately, we’re still dealing with a global pandemic…
Unfortunately the pandemic is affecting your game too, not just the live performances as a musician. How are you dealing with the pandemic right now?
L: There are many schedules that had to be changed or discarded entirely because of this pandemic. However, there have been some activities that I could start because of the pandemic as well. Like the crowdfunding and the TwitCasting broadcasts for example.
Since we have to keep looking forward and try to remain positive, do you have any plans for what you want to do when the pandemic ends?
L: I’ve always wanted to do a live show outside of Japan. I just don’t know how to do it just yet. The main reason I want to go overseas as an artist is because I want to meet the fans that are waiting for me overseas.
A lot of artists are moving their stage to an online platform at least partially right now. Are you doing something like this as well?
L: I’m not thinking about doing any lives online at the moment. But let’s recruit some camera staff from the fans now shall we? I wonder though, do the overseas fans want to see the online stage of MEME? I’d also like to know what you’d like to see on YouTube, TwitCasting or another broadcasting platform!
This has been a super fun interview, but unfortunately I’m out of questions for now… We should definitely do another interview in the future, but to end this one on a high note right now, do you have a final message for everyone who has been reading this interview?
L: Thank you for your support! MEME is driven merely by the power of L, which is why there are so many things that other artists aren’t able to do. However, my intention is to work towards the goal of being the only one who does these things.
Like mentioned various times in the interview already, MEME is driven merely by the power of L alone.
Which is why he has so much creative freedom to come up with stuff for his project, and even the time to create an escape game under the name of disparition macabre.
But none of this would have been possible without the help of his fans. And then I don’t mean the fans from Japan alone, oh no. Like you might have seen, L is very interested in knowing what foreign fans think of MEME and what they would be interested in seeing from the project in the future. Like for example, would you like to see an online show from MEME? You can let L know on his Twitter, or you can tell me and I’d be more than happy to pass your message to him for you!
Unfortunately there currently isn’t any way for overseas fans to support L’s work without the help of a shopping service that can receive the items from his webshop for you and then forward them to your address, but he’s currently searching for a way to change that. So just hang in there, your voice has been heard.
雪 (Yuki) is the owner and driving force behind Arlequin Magazine & Photography.
She started in 2009 as a photographer with Arlequin Photography, but due to a growing interest in journalism, translation and behind-the-scenes work in general the project burst out of it's seams in 2021 and expanded through the addition of Arlequin Magazine.
雪 (Yuki) is a native Dutch speaker and maintains both the English and Dutch sections of both Magazine and Photography with original content, translations and photography as well as all the behind-the-scenes work for both websites.
She speaks Dutch, English, Japanese and German.