Nellfin are a ヴィジュアル系 (Visual Kei) band from the 名古屋 (Nagoya) Prefecture, but we’re pretty sure that you haven’t heard much about them just yet. And if you have, well, then we hope to be able to tell you a little more about this duo and their music.
Which is why we’ve asked vocalist JURI and guitarist sin for an interview, in order to get answers to the questions of “who are you”, “what do you do” and of course “how can we enjoy your works from afar?”, since for us international fans that is quite an important question nowadays, especially in this difficult time with the pandemic increasing its number of infections around Europe exponentially…
So let’s not waste any more time, and let’s jump right into it shall we?
Since this is our very first interview and thus your very first appearance on Arlequin Magazine, I dare to claim that the readers don’t know much about you and your band yet. Could you please introduce yourselves first?
JURI: I’m the vocalist, JURI. I’m part of a ヴィジュアル系 (Visual Kei) band by the name of Nellfin.
sin: Hi. I’m sin, and I’m the guitarist. But I’m also in charge of songwriting, composing and sometimes the lyrics as well.
Please tell me a little about your band too, like what is the story behind the name of your band and of course, why did you decide to start a band in the first place?
JURI: I liked music, so I wanted to play it myself too. The members actually came up with the name of the band with the criteria of “what would be a name that’s easy to search for online?”. I see the scenery (or things) that we see and work on our concept like this.
sin: I love music, first of all. And after a while I started to play the guitar and learned how to write music with a band sound. So it’s only natural that I wanted to play it after that, isn’t it?
In my opinion it’s important to have a proper noun for a name, since it will have an advantage in searching. And “Nellfin” is cool to pronounce. The shape of the letters are also symmetrical, and this helps with designing a logo for it. To some the viewpoint is a circle, others say it’s obviously a square and yet another sees a column instead. None of them might be correct, but I want to show you what I see, from my point of view. That’s my answer for what our concept is: “I’ll show you what I see”.
We know, we know, we’ve introduced Nellfin as a “duo” in the introduction to this interview, but the band didn’t start off as a duo. Originally there were two other members: ayato as a second guitarist, and drummer Koh. At the time of this interview these two members are no longer a part of the band, but they are mentioned in the answers various times because they did participate in Nellfin’s first works.
The band originally started with 4 members in total, but now it’s only the two of you left. Has this change affected your concept or style at all? And has it caused you to want to stay a duo, or would you go back to a full band again if the right members come along your path?
sin: The way of songwriting hasn’t changed for me personally. Before I used to share it with the other members I would write all notes and play all instruments except vocals myself. ayato used this very same method, and I would add the synth sounds after. So this part has changed. Of course I would like to become a full band again if a badass person comes on our path! It will bring another idea, or “color”, to Nellfin if they do, which is cool.
Just like quite a number of other artists out there you’ve started the band in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, but what was this like for you? Did you run into any limitations along the way, or was it more like a challenge for you instead?
JURI: I want to do as much as I can, but there are days in which I can’t do what I want because of the pandemic. I do feel like the production of the sound has changed a little since we can’t really play live.
sin: To be honest, I would like to tour in another city as well. Like Tokyo or Osaka, or somewhere else. But it’s not possible right now because of COVID. We’ve performed around Nagoya with the necessary precautions in place to not spread the virus further, and even though I know that doing a live show might not be the best thing for us to do right now, I also feel like life is short. We never know when we’re going to die. This doesn’t mean I promote the idea of taking risks though! (laughs)
Avoid risks as much as possible, you’re not alone during this time of infection!
Showing you a world like you’ve “Never seen”, “Dearest”
Let’s talk a little about your works, starting with the first single “Never seen”. Since a lot of readers don’t speak Japanese (very well), what can you tell me to help them understand your works a little better?
JURI: The melody of the song switches between a fierce heavy part and a clean part, and I found light in the darkness and painful thoughts for the lyrics. They’re written with the hope that is reflected in our eyes, and I think this is the highlight of the song.
For the artwork I’ve asked the others to design a picture that matches the theme of the song, and I think they’ve pulled this off very well.
sin: “Never seen” is about the things in the war. The song was written by JURI, ayato and myself, and the music has been written by ayato. So the three of us probably imagine different things even though we use the same concept. It brings an interesting swell into the song.
The second track, “See the mirror”, on the other hand is completely by me. It’s written about multiple things at the same time, like loss, agony and criticism. And the risk.
The artwork for the single has been designed by HIROPON, who is a really awesome designer. I love his work, so we decided to ask him to work with us. The raw design was made by ayato, but it contains all of our opinions as well. The ruined buildings represent “Never seen”, and they’re kind of nasty and hollow, but they feel beautiful in this atmosphere we’ve asked for. He really did a perfect job with bringing our vision to life.
Next on our list is the demo “REVE/Dearest”, which you’ve released after “Never seen”. Please tell me about this release as well, like why did you decide on making it a free demo instead of a full single?
sin: These two songs have both been written by ayato, and JURI joined him for the lyrics. I only took part in this with the translation from Japanese to English, so I think JURI will be able to answer this question a lot better. Because I can’t even remember why we’ve made the decision to release it as a free demo… (laughs)
JURI: Both “REVE”, which starts violently and ends with this same momentum, and “Dearest”, which has a pleasant melodious tone, are full of Nellfin-ness. I chose to release this as a free demo because I wanted people to remember the names of these songs more easily.
Looking at a bigger picture through the use of another language
Both of these works are currently available on Bandcamp, iTunes and Spotify, which is of course amazing for non-Japanese fans, but are you planning on staying on the digital route, or would you like to release physical releases in the future again too? And speaking about those overseas fans, you’ve told me before the interview that you’re just a small fish in a big ocean as a band, did you ever expect overseas fans to find and like your works?
JURI: I would like to continue to release digitally because this can be accessed all over the world, but I would also like to make a limited number of CDs… Unfortunately it’s only possible to get physical copies of our work through the merchandise stand at our live shows, but I do want to think about various things like goods from now on as well.
I also never actually expected to reach any overseas fans with our work, but I feel like I should be very happy that we did!
sin: Uh-oh… Have I not written this down somewhere? There is a physical release of “Never seen”, but it’s only available at the venues we’re playing at that day. Shipping it somewhere unfortunately isn’t possible right now. Even in Japan. Sorry!
I do however know that there are ヴィジュアル系 (Visual Kei) fans all over the world and I did expect to reach at least some of them. I want to send my music to all of them with the help of the internet! I am considering a webshop, but I am not working on that right now. I will someday, though! (laughs)
Speaking of that overseas-thing, you also use quite a lot of English in your works. “Back Bone Blast” is completely in English, for example. Was this intentionally to draw overseas fans to your works, or is it something Japanese fans enjoy as well?
JURI: sin is the one who is in charge of songwriting, so I don’t really have an answer to this question. I also haven’t received any comments on the lyrics myself, but “Back Bone Blast” is an up-tempo and fun song so it has a good reputation, also during live shows.
sin: I think the English and Japanese lyrics are about even, because when I write lyrics I consider which language would fit the song better and start working on it from that point of view. If I want to write a song that’s fully in English I don’t hesitate to do just that.
“Back Bone Blast” is a popular song that is a standard during our live shows, even before we released the lyric video you can see on YouTube. During a live the audience can’t really make out the words being sung very well anyway, just because it is live. And besides, most Japanese people don’t speak English anyway so they don’t care about the lyrics.
While the lyric video for “Back Bone Blast” was already available on YouTube when we started talking about doing an interview, this was the only place where it could be found and listened to. But starting today (December 10, 2021, the day this interview goes live) the song is also available on iTunes, along with the digital version of the single “Never seen”.
You can check the band’s page on iTunes/Apple Music here.
The song will be available from December 18 on other streaming platforms as well.
We’re almost at the end of my list of questions for this round already, so let’s talk a bit about your plans for the future. What’s already on your agenda, and are there any long term dreams you are dreaming of already?
JURI: I would like to do more live concerts again, but we are also planning on making new songs. As for goals… I don’t create any specific goals for myself. Why? Because I feel lonely if I achieve them.
sin: We’re currently talking about new music, but there’s not a lot that has been decided about it yet so I can’t tell you anything more about it right now yet. I want to distribute our music through Spotify, Apple Music and others more too.
Regarding dreams, I’ve often heard musicians answer this question with statements like “I would like to play in Nippon Budokan”, but I don’t have such dreams myself. Of course I want to be famous, but what I really want to focus on is “create”. An overseas tour would be great, because I’m very interested in doing a European tour. I’ve heard that there are a lot of places in Europe that are “hot” with ヴィジュアル系 (Visual Kei).
And just like that, we’re already at my very last question. It’s a very predictable one, so I’m sure you’ve saw it coming before we even started, but… Do you have a message you’d like to share with everyone who has been reading the interview today?
JURI: Thank you for following along with us to the very end! Please follow us on Twitter, and check out our works on YouTube (and of course subscribe if you like it)! Stay tuned for Nellfin in the future!
sin: You know… ヴィジュアル系 (Visual Kei) is not very popular because it is unknown to most people, at least I think so. We look eccentric and the genre includes a lot of genres like hardrock, heavy metal, pop or techno… The list goes on. Whether it’s good or bad is difficult to say, but it is complicated for the people who don’t know the genre very well.
It does mean that we don’t view music with a bias to one specific genre, and a lot of people don’t view music in this same way. So we should be proud of it. We are not biased, we don’t judge music before listening to it first. And if your interest is anything like ours, please follow us on Twitter! Let’s start a conversation! Your favorites, likes and replies are a really big help to us. They cheer me up and push me to go further. So, thank you!
Even though we live in a day and age where digital versions of music and the respective platforms are getting more and more popular by the day, it’s currently not possible for the physical CD lovers among us to support the band through purchase of the physical single of “Never seen”. Unless of course you can find someone in Japan who is willing to pick up a copy at a live show for you, that is!
Regardless, it is possible to support the band through their Bandcamp page directly, but since Bandcamp isn’t the most popular platform in Japan it might happen that their iTunes page will be updated first. So keep an eye out on that one, too. (You can find both of these links in the social media section below. Use the TuneCore link for the streaming platforms!)
And of course, feel free to start the conversation with them on Twitter, like sin already said in the message at the end of the interview. Now they’re aware of their international audience, we can help hem spread their music further!
And finally, sin mentioned HIROPON as the artist who helped them bring their vision to live with the artwork for their first single “Never seen”. If you’d like to check out more of HIROPON’s work you can do so through his Twitter and his Tumblr.
Additionally, Nellfin are also one of our PR partners. This means that if you’re interested in asking the guys for an interview for your own media, we can help you with this.
Follow JURI, sin and Nellfin on social media
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.