GLIM GARDO is still a relatively new band, given they’ve only formed last year and released their very first single, “Obscurial”, in April of 2020. Unfortunately for them this happened to be right in the middle of the pandemic. Despite this difficult situation they’ve managed to reach an overseas audience almost immediately after releasing their music online, which is something they didn’t even dare to dream of!
This seems like more than enough reasons for me to ask the band for a chat about their work, since they do have a very interesting concept that will be very recognizable for the fans from overseas as well… But I’ll let them introduce you to this.
Unfortunately vocalist 朔弥 (Sakuya) wasn’t able to join us for this interview because of health reasons, but we tried to include him in both the questions and the answers despite him not physically being present. Hopefully he’ll feel better soon, and will be able to return to the project in good health!
So, without further ado…
I’m pretty sure that most readers never heard of GLIM GARDO before, so of course I can introduce the band, but it would be a lot more fun if you introduced it yourselves, right? Can you please reveal who we’re talking with today?
ノク (Noku): I’m ノク (Noku), I’m the guitarist of the band. I’m also the one who’s in charge of songwriting.
Runa: And I’m Runa. I’m the bassist, but I’m also the one in charge of image production. I support ノク (Noku) in the songwriting and with lyrics as well.
Can you tell me a little bit about your band? Like the theme, and the story behind the name?
ノク (Noku): The main inspiration for the band are Grimm’s Fairy Tales, and it was actually our vocalist, 朔弥 (Sakuya), who came up with this idea.
Runa: “Glim” comes from the Grimm brothers, and “Gardo” is a word that expresses the bond between ノク(Noku), 朔弥(Sakuya) and myself. We’ve chosen our name based on the meanings of these two words.
You’ve chosen Grimm’s Fairy Tales as a theme for your band, a topic that’s actually very familiar in Western culture. But they’re really popular in Japan as well, aren’t they? What was the reason that you decided to use these tales as a theme though? Did they leave such an impact on you that you wanted to do something with this?
ノク (Noku): 朔弥 (Sakuya) was actually the first member who thought about this topic as a theme. It was his idea from the very beginning to bring the Grimm brothers into the concept of our band. I wasn’t thinking about the tales myself at first, but when the subject came up we listened to a lot of ideas, read a lot of the stories and about the topic in general. We filtered out the stories we didn’t like, and we asked a lot of people for feedback on our early concepts. When we had collected all of these answers we could start forming our band.
Runa: The Grimm brothers have reached people all over the world with their works, and I find this absolutely amazing. We also want to reach people all over the world with our work, so there’s another connection to them for us.
You’ve filtered out the stories you didn’t like, but which stories did you like for example? Do you have any favorites?
ノク (Noku): I only learned this recently, but when the stories were brought to Japan and translated into Japanese they were actually altered… They were “softened”, so to say. There are stories which fit into Japanese culture, but I personally really liked Cinderella and Snow White. After the band formed I had the opportunity to read the stories in their original form, not the Japanese altered forms. I was a little disappointed because of how different they were than the versions I learned about as a child!
Runa: I also liked Cinderella, but I also liked Hansel & Gretel and Little Red Riding Hood.
Creating a unique ヴィジュアル系 (Visual Kei) sound with Fairy Tales
You actually have quite a unique theme within the ヴィジュアル系 (Visual Kei) genre. But were you actually looking for something unique within the genre, or was it just a topic that came up and caught your interest?
ノク (Noku): There are a lot of ヴィジュアル系 (Visual Kei) bands in Japan, but we have no idea how popular the genre is overseas. Regardless, we wanted to be original and do something nobody had done before.
Runa: We get our inspiration from the tales from the Grimm brothers, and since people abroad know these tales very well we have the potential to reach more fans outside of Japan. That’s another reason why we decided to use this concept for our band, since we are trying to reach overseas fans as well.
Using these stories as a theme is one thing, but how much of them actually return in your work? Do you base your lyrics on their stories to tell an original, GLIM GARDO version of a story, or does your work simply tell the Japanese version of the stories?
ノク (Noku): Ah, this question is perfect for 朔弥 (Sakuya)… But since he’s not here I’ll try to answer on his behalf. We want to combine Grimm’s stories with current topics and other things we want to say.
Runa: We use the tales in combination with some current, not so mild topics so we can present them to the fans through our songs.
I personally think that the combination of ヴィジュアル系 (Visual Kei) and Fairy Tales is one of the best possible combinations out there, because both are quite theatrical and the genre gives you the freedom to visually express yourself to the fullest. But did you form the band with the intention to be a ヴィジュアル系 (Visual Kei) band, or was it intended to be a different genre at first?
ノク (Noku): Runa and myself were in another band before, Venelli. This was a ヴィジュアル系 (Visual Kei) band as well. When this band disbanded Runa and me started our search for a vocalist and found 朔弥 (Sakuya), who ended up joining the band. We naturally formed this band to be a ヴィジュアル系 (Visual Kei) band since the previous band was one as well. There was never any question about it.
Since the visual image is a big part of ヴィジュアル系 (Visual Kei), can you tell me a little about the image of GLIM GARDO as well?
Runa: To be honest, we didn’t invest too much time in our outfits. We instead focused on the music and the artwork of our very first single, since we released it as a physical CD. The remaining time actually went to our mascots.
Speaking about mascots, you have not one, but two of them. You have the little girl Maisie and the rabbit Nero. Maisie is clearly inspired by Little Red Riding Hood based on her looks alone, but what about Nero? And what is their role in the world of GLIM GARDO?
Runa: Yes, you’re right. Maisie is indeed based on Little Red Riding Hood. As for Nero, rabbits are appearing in a lot of Grimm’s tales, so we’ve decided to get one of our own because of how prominent they are in the stories. We wish for our mascots to reach people all over the world and get them interested in GLIM GARDO. If they succeed, it would make us very happy!
You’re currently a band with three members, but you originally formed the band with a fourth member, ロゼ (Rose), because of the twin-guitars style. But without him that’s not really possible right now. How did this affect your band? Have you decided to change your concept, or are you thinking about welcoming a new guitarist to the lineup in the future?
ノク (Noku): Our sound was heavy, so that’s why we wanted to have two guitarists for the band. This would give us more range and more creative freedom to compose our works. ロゼ (Rose)’s departure didn’t affect the concept of the band, but we do lose some power if we play live with just one guitarist. We do however want to continue to make music in the same way as we intended from the start.
Runa: The sound’s power does lose something, but his departure doesn’t really cause problems for us when we’re composing. We would like to welcome a second guitarist to the group in the future though. We’re okay with continuing as three people, but due to the pandemic we haven’t been able to do many live shows. When the situation improves and we can play shows again we do want to start using a second guitarist. If we find a good person that resonates well with all of us we’ll definitely invite them to join us.
Speaking of a heavy sound, ノク (Noku) actually played metalcore and melodic death metal-type of music in previous projects, right? But yet you’ve decided to make the switch to ヴィジュアル系 (Visual Kei). What caused you to fall in love with this unique genre?
ノク (Noku): I actually met Runa during a session project, and we ended up jamming together. We started with VK from the very start because it’s very accessible to the Japanese fans. But because there are so many bands it’s also quite difficult to get noticed. I actually played other music in the past as well, like punk for example. I actually really like SUM41, The Offspring and Paramore.
Runa: When I started to play music I actually started with the VK genre.
Limitations due to a global pandemic, and plans for the future
The very first single of GLIM GARDO was released on April 18 2020, after playing some secret lives in the Nagoya area. The pandemic had only just started at that point, but so did you. I’m sure this had a huge impact on your plans and work, so what was it like for you to start and promote a band in the middle of this horrible situation?
ノク (Noku): We did some live shows, yes, but the pandemic surely didn’t only affect us as artists in the ヴィジュアル系 (Visual Kei) genre. It of course affected artists in other genres as well, and the fans too. We did our best for the people that did make it to the few shows we could play, but we couldn’t continue performing because of the situation. We however took it as an opportunity and produced the physical release of our first single last year.
Runa: I can only emphasize what ノク (Noku) just said. It wasn’t just affecting the artists or the people who normally come to live shows. It was affecting everyone. But like he said, we took this opportunity to focus on the production and the distribution of our singles.
ノク (Noku): We actually didn’t intend on using the internet as much at first. But when the pandemic started and we couldn’t do anything in person we actually started to do more and more with it to get word and our work out there.
Runa: We did the production with just the three of us, and we actually faced a lot of challenges that we had to overcome. But it was a good experience because of that.
Your most recent release is “FATE”, which was released on January 29 this year as a digital only single. I can imagine it’s hard to release something physical during the pandemic now people are using digital downloads and streaming so much, but what are you planning for after the pandemic? Will you continue releasing your works digitally, or will physical CDs make a return as well?
ノク (Noku): We started with physical releases. Our first single “Obscurial” has a CD you can actually hold. But because of the current situation we’ve decided to go for the digital route instead, because we still have the goal of getting people to learn about and get to know GLIM GARDO’s works. We will continue with the digital releases for now, at least until the situation in the world is solved. After that we want to work with physical releases again as well.
I’m really curious, since ヴィジュアル系 (Visual Kei) artists often have “hidden talents” next to their music. What about the artwork for your releases? Do you draw them yourselves, or do you ask someone to draw them for you?
Runa: I think about the concept based on the music and the lyrics of the song, but I don’t actually draw. I get together with someone else and tell them my ideas, which they bring to life with their artworks.
Before we started talking about doing this interview you actually told me that you’ve had a lot of reactions from overseas to your work. Especially through YouTube. But did you ever expect to reach an overseas audience, pandemic or not? Did this make you dream about possibly playing shows abroad as well?
ノク (Noku): Receiving reactions and messages from overseas was beyond my imagination. I have no idea how it happened, but we actually ranked third in the YouTube charts in Malaysia! We have a webshop for our band as well, and we started to receive a lot of requests from overseas for the physical release of our CDs, so I saw possibilities!
I also really like European metal music like Stratovarius and Helloween, so I would really like to play in the Scandinavian countries of Europe. I saw some clips of the livehouses there on YouTube and they’re so different than the livehouses here in Japan! So if it’s possible I’d really like to play there and see it for myself!
Runa: I’ve actually been to the US before, so I would like to play there, but I’d also like to play in Europe. In Europe it’s probably easier, right? Because the ヴィジュアル系 (Visual Kei) culture is so accepted there, and a lot of people are listening to and enjoying the music. So that’s why I’d like to play in Europe.
You just said this already about Europe, but there are quite a bit of ヴィジュアル系 (Visual Kei) fans overseas. The genre definitely isn’t limited to Japan despite the language barrier between the artists and their work and the fans. But supporting your favorite artists can be really hard from overseas sometimes. How can fans support GLIM GARDO’s works, both in Japan and from overseas?
ノク (Noku): There are a lot of bands who are trying to get fans overseas. We’re still in our beginning stages of the band and preparing things for the bigger picture, but it would be great if we can get more fans. We’re still working on that! The digital versions of our work and the interviews we’ve gotten so far have been a great help, but how you as fans can help us is actually through our online store. But the most important are your feelings towards the band!
Runa: It would be nice if we could put English in our music videos to do more marketing, as well as doing more interviews. Next to Twitter we also have Instagram, since we do think it’s nice to have media on the internet that fans can actually check.
We’ve just spoken about the releases that are already available, but what about something new? Are you already working on something?
ノク (Noku): We are currently working on something new, yes. But we’re still preparing it, and we’re keeping a close eye on the health of our vocalist. Because of the pandemic we can actually do something new, because we have more time than usual.
And with that I’m actually out of questions, for now at least! But let me ask you one final question to close off the interview: is there anything you’d like to share with everyone who has read today’s interview?
ノク (Noku): This was quite a long interview, and I think you’ve asked us everything we actually wanted to talk about already, so this is a pretty hard question… But, we really want people to know about GLIM GARDO. So if you can, please check out our music and our social media accounts. We always love to hear what you think!
Like the guys already said, this was quite a lengthy interview. Especially for a band who -at the moment of writing- only has three singles to their name. But with a topic like Grimm’s Fairy Tales, which are popular in both Western culture and Japan, there was quite a bit to talk about. The mystery surrounding the band was intriguing to me, and I definitely wanted to learn more about their concept and ideas.
But that wasn’t all I wanted to talk about in this section today…
With this interview I actually want to introduce the new, big project we have been working on:
Arlequin Magazine’s PR Service Network
GLIM GARDO isn’t just the very first interview under the new name of Arlequin Magazine, they’re also part of something I’ve wanted to do and thus have been preparing for a very long time. I’ve heard the comment of “but it’s so hard to connect!” from both artists and other media for so many years it’s pretty much ringing in my head permanently at this point.
It also came up during the interview with GLIM GARDO: they really want to connect with their audience all over the world, but they aren’t very sure on how to go about it, and then we’re not even talking about the language barrier.
This is where we, as Arlequin Magazine, come in: we can help you!
GLIM GARDO have partnered with us, which means that you can contact us if you’d be interested in media coverage for this artist! Even if you don’t speak Japanese. We can bridge that gap for you.
And of course, if you have any questions or would like to ask GLIM GARDO for an interview yourself, feel free to let us know!