ANCIENT MYTH is a female fronted symphonic metal band based in Tokyo. However, they’re often categorized in the ヴィジュアル系 (Visual Kei) genre as well due to their visual appearance and the wide range of the genre when it comes to music.
Consisting of vocalist Michal, keyboardist Hal, guitarist Kohei and drummer Shibuki the band actually … has none of it’s original members still in the lineup. Members have been coming and going, but since the arrival of Michal in 2008 there has not only been one consistency that’s still there today, but also the driving force to keep growing, evolving and reaching new heights with ANCIENT MYTH.
I’ve been wanting to ask vocalist Michal for an interview for several ayears now already, but there was always “something” why it kept getting postponed. But today I can finally share this interview in which we talk about the history and the future of ANCIENT MYTH.
And not only that, we also have a gift we’re giving away at the very end of the interview!
So let’s not waste any more time, and…
Before I get to the real questions, could you please introduce yourself and the band so everyone knows who is answering the questions today?
Michal: Hello, and thank you for inviting us! It’s vocalist Michal who’s answering the questions from this interview today! As for our band, we’re ANCIENT MYTH, a female fronted symphonic metal band from Tokyo. We formed in 2002, but I only joined the band in 2008. I’m currently the member with the longest history with the band.
Like you just said, ANCIENT MYTH was formed in 2002. But none of the members at that time are still part of the lineup today. Why have you stayed with ANCIENT MYTH for so long, despite members joining and leaving around you since you’ve joined?
Michal: I’m not very good at quitting or changing something after starting it. I like to keep doing the same thing in one place. So when the last remaining original member left the band in 2013 the band was already such a big part of my life that I couldn’t stop working for it. I can’t quit or break apart this band. Before I joined this band I was also part of a similar band, also female fronted, symphonic and with a keyboard player. So it was easy for me to decide and join this one.
ArcheoNyx: A sign from the Greek Goddess of the Night
You’ve been quite busy with the band this year too, last July you’ve released the first original album of the band in a long time: “ArcheoNyx”. What can you tell the readers about this album?
Michal: “ArcheoNyx” is the first original album of the band in 9 years. “Aberration”, which was released in 2016, is actually a re-recording album.
For this album the differences are that most songs are written by Hal and myself, where previously I only provided a few songs to the band. My singing style is also very diverse. This album also adapted to the recording of “real strings” for the violin, viola, cello, shakuhachi (a Japanese musical instrument) rather than digital recordings. All these factors melt together to make our brand new album!
Many of the songs found on “ArcheoNyx” are inspired by myths or folklore from various areas. “TENROU OOKAMI” is inspired by a Japanese myth, for example.
I hope you all will enjoy our album, despite the language barrier!
Please tell me about the name of the album too, why did you decide to name the album “ArcheoNyx”? Is there a special meaning behind it?
Michal: All of our previous albums start with the letter “A” because of records the band made when I wasn’t a member yet. Whether this was accidental or inevitable, we decided to make the title of this album start with the letter ”A” as well.
For some of the songs on this album I got my inspiration from the night. I felt like it was a sign from Nyx, the goddess of the night in Greek Mythology. So I added “Archeo” before “Nyx”, creating a new word for our album.
Since the last release of ANCIENT MYTH, Kohei has joined the band as a guitarist and Shibuki has joined as a drummer. Shibuki also contributed the song “River of Oblivion” to the new album. But since this is a different style than your usual works, how did this work behind the scenes? Did you have to make a lot of adjustments?
Michal: Shibuki originally wrote songs by himself already. He submitted this song for the album because it seems to suit ANCIENT MYTH. It doesn’t matter who submits the song, because Hal is the one who supervises and arranges it. Shibuki was very flexible and open to our suggestions.
Shibuki also joined other metal bands in the past, and he’s a very skilled drummer who can also hit blast, so he uses this in his songs too. This is a big difference compared to before for us.
This album also contains a very special cover song: “Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen” (“The rage of hell boils in my heart”), a song from Mozart’s opera “The Magic Flute”. This song is of course famous for it’s high soprano, but why did you decide to cover and include it on “ArcheoNyx”?
Michal: It’s actually the first time I’ve sang on a soprano. After releasing “Aberration” in 2016 and appearing at the Metal Female Voices Festival I decided I wanted to learn soprano properly, with this song as my first goal. Because as you said, it’s very famous for it’s high soprano. I thought that if the audience would find a difference in my singing skill, the high soprano (a very high tone) is the best way to make this difference known.
The title was actually undecided at first, but after deciding on the title for the album which included the goddess of the night, Nyx, it was inevitable to match the theme of the queen of the night with the goddess of the night, so we decided to record it.
For the music videos of this album you’ve chosen “Chaos to Infinity” and “River of Oblivion”. I can guess the reason behind the second song, because it’s a new and different style for the band, but what about “Chaos to Infinity”?
Michal: This song is the first song, after the SE track “Abyss” of course, on the album. This simply is the best answer to this question. 😀
It was also the first time in 5 years for both Hal and myself that we were shooting a music video, so it was a very exciting moment for us. I’m a coordinator and art director for all music videos of ANCIENT MYTH, and every time I find this to be very hard work, but also very rewarding!
I couldn’t forget this pleasant feeling of creation, so that’s why we’ve decided to release one more music video from “ArcheoNyx” in the form of “River of Oblivion”, and actually, at the moment of writing this interview we’ve just released our new video for the mini-album “Ambrosian Blood”.
We’ll move on to the new mini-album in a moment, but I have one more question about “ArcheoNyx”, since you’ve also had a guest guitarist on the album: HIZAKI (Jupiter/Versailles). He joins you for the “Zenith” track, but how did this collaboration happen? Was it difficult for him to adapt to a female vocalist for example?
Michal: HIZAKI and Hal have been acquainted with each other since Hal helped arrange the songs of Versailles. I’ve been helping Jupiter as a staff member myself for several years now, so it was natural for us to ask him to come and play guitar with us as a special guest appearance on “ArcheoNyx”.
HIZAKI has a female violinist, Jill (Unlucky Morpheus/Rose Noire) who joins his live performances, and the band Cross Vein -also a female fronted band- used to be signed to his label “zenorecords”. So I felt like he had a good adaptation in working with female musicians as well. His guitar’s tone and his solo melodies have a manly and brave “color” to them, in contrary to his looks. So it supports or fits with the female’s softness.
I hope other guest musicians will join our next album to draw out a deeper world or a fantastic drama!
A serving of Ambrosian Blood
Now let’s move on to “Ambrosian Blood”, which you just mentioned already. But what can you tell me about this release? Is it a continuation of the style of “ArcheoNyx”?
Michal: “Ambrosian Blood” is indeed a continuation of the style of “ArcheoNyx”, yes. Through this mini-album you’ll find our evolution, our brand new style, to have taken root.
The mini-album is based on the mythical episode of “Ambrosia”, which is said to give immortality to the ones that eat it. This myth comes from Greece, and Nyx is actually from this very same myth.
I also want you to feel a connection between the two releases, because their origins are similar.
Nobody likes talking about this topic, but it’s still very much a part of our daily lives. But what is the pandemic like for you? Did it influence the release of “ArcheoNyx” at all, or did you only start working on it after the pandemic started?
Michal: We’ve been working on this album for the last few years, wondering when it would be a good time to release the album. But then one day the world suddenly changed and people lost a lot of amusement in their daily lives. I felt like the power of entertainment was needed NOW more than ever. And if we can’t do a live performance, listening at home is safe and joyful as well. The pandemic actually pushed us to our release date.
Providing entertainment during the pandemic
Live shows indeed have been away for a while, and here in Europe they’ll probably stay away for a while longer, but in Japan they’re picking up again now. But what is it like for a performer in this strange age of entertainment?
Michal: I felt that there were many delicate or sensitive people in Japan, so even now people are still afraid of getting infected and don’t dare to come to a small live house. In most venues customers have to continue wearing their masks even during the show, not raise their voices too loud, and eat and drink in a separate space. Temperature measurements and disinfection are and remain essential.
As a performer I really miss hearing the cheers coming from the audience, but I’m happy to see a smile. I want to sing together again as soon as possible.
Of course there is social media, but for fans who don’t live in Japan TwitCasting is a good way to still “join” the activities of their favorite musicians who stream on the platform. You’re also streaming on TwitCasting, aren’t you? Is it just you, or do the other members stream as well?
Michal: Oh, thank you for checking my livestreams! I’m just thinking about how the overseas fans can understand us more, so please wait for a while to see the results of that, but please do continue to join my livestreams! Sometimes Hal makes a guest appearance on my streams, but Kohei and Shibuki will also be joining me when the time comes. 😊
Next to the vocalist you’re also the designer behind the image of ANCIENT MYTH. But how did this come to be? Did you initially join the band as a graphic designer behind the scenes, or was it just something you picked up out of interest?
Michal: Most of the designs for ANCIENT MYTH have been made by me since the moment I joined the band. Like the main illustration for the Japanese version “Aberration: Au” was made by me. The photography for “Aberration: Ag” was the work of another artist though. Pretty much everything else was done by me, and I want to continue doing this until I break apart ANCIENT MYTH. I want to make my own original designs for as long as I have the capacity to do so in my life. But I also do design or other DTP-related tasks for other bands, like Jupiter for example.
Being a member of ANCIENT MYTH of course is a full time job already, yet all members are doing stuff along the side. Can you tell me a little bit about these “side projects”?
Michal: Well, Kohei is still leading THE GENIUS ORCHESTRATION, and Hal is also in ETHEREAL SIN. Shibuki has several music projects next to ANCIENT MYTH, but as for myself… I don’t really have any idea of something else I’d want to do next to what I am already doing!
Let’s talk a little about the differences, since you have in fact performed in Europe before and have met European fans. What do you think are the main differences between the fans from Japan and the fans from overseas?
Michal: As you know, Symphonic Metal, Melodic Speed Metal, Melodic Metal and the Gothic look are all not exactly mainstream in Japan right now. The “Kawaii Girls Metal” has taken the world by storm (with acts like BABYMETAL, for example), but ANCIENT MYTH is not “kawaii” in my opinion. So it’s not easy to survive. But I LOVE THIS STYLE!, so we will continue searching for the place where we feel we fit in.
We really want to return to Europe and perform there again too! But the main difference between European fans and Japanese fans is that the Japanese fans are very shy about expressing their impressions. Even online. The comments on our music videos on YouTube mostly come from overseas fans, did you know that?
There is something else we have to talk about, which is a rather common topic for me here since the physical releases of artists are harder and harder to come across here in Europe. How can overseas fans get their very own copy of your CDs?
Michal: Disk Heaven and SA MUSIC accept orders from overseas as well, so I would suggest looking there as we currently do not have a webshop of our own. We’re currently looking for a European label or distributor to contract with us so we can release our CDs in Europe more easily as well. And of course there is streaming, but that’s only digitally, as you know.
I hope the European fans will be able to enjoy our music more easily in the future!
Planning the future, one step at a time
At the time this interview goes live you’ve already released your new mini-album “Ambrosian Blood”, but what about your plans for the future? Is there something you can share with us already?
Michal: We’re doing a oneman show on January 10 2022, and you can buy an online ticket to join the livestream from anywhere in the world! Here is the link for that TwitCasting livestream: https://twitcasting.tv/c:crescendo_live/shopcart/119703 ♥
We want to release records more consistently from now on, and I’ve already started on composing some new songs. So please look forward to it! ♥
And with that question we’ve already reached the very last one on my list for today… So, let’s close this interview properly shall we? Is there anything you’d like to share with everyone who has been reading our conversation today?
Michal: Thank you very much for inviting me, and to everyone reading: thank you for reading this interview!
We’ve recorded a total of 3 music videos this year, the “visual image” is a very important factor of a band that has a style like ANCIENT MYTH. I’m very happy that I was able to make this a reality, and I really hope you’ll all enjoy these music videos!
I hope we can meet again in the real world, either in Europe or in Japan after the COVID pandemic. Please stay safe and healthy until that day comes. 😊
Like mentioned in the interview already, there’s quite a lot going on with ANCIENT MYTH and the other projects from Hal and Kohei: ETHEREAL SIN and THE GENIUS ORCHESTRATION. Both of these projects are linked in the follow section as official home pages under each of the members, so please check these projects out too. You might find something new!
Oneman live show at 吉祥寺CRESCENDO (Kichijoji CRESCENDO)
Like Michal mentioned already, ANCIENT MYTH is playing a oneman live show at 吉祥寺CRESCENDO (Kichijoji CRESCENDO) on January 10, 2022.
It’s a little short notice because this interview is published later than originally intended, but January 10 is actually a very special day: it’s vocalist Michal’s birthday!
You can join the livestream from overseas through TwitCasting by purchasing a ticket through this link: https://twitcasting.tv/c:crescendo_live/shopcart/119703
A livestream ticket is priced at ¥3,000, and you can watch or re-watch the stream as many times as you want after the live show has ended due to TwitCasting’s stream archive service. The stream archive is however temporary (usually until the end of the month), so please keep that in mind!
And if nothing else, you can always wish Michal a happy birthday through her social media (linked below)! I’m sure she’d appreciate the gesture!
And finally… A gift!
To celebrate our collaboration for this interview, Michal has agreed to show her skills as a graphic designer by drawing the chibi character or writing a name in Kanji for one lucky winner! You can choose which option you’d like her to make for you, but how can you win?
What you have to do:
– Follow ANCIENT MYTH (@ancientmyth) and Arlequin Magazine (@arlequin_mag) on Twitter
– Retweet our interview announcement (you can find it here)
– Add “I’m in! #ancientarlequincontest” to your retweet
We will choose a winner at random on January 11, so please make sure you can receive DMs and can be tagged! Good luck! ^__^♪
(Note: since Arlequin Magazine publishes in multiple languages a winner will be chosen at random from all languages combined. So it doesn’t matter which language you’re reading this interview in, chances are equal!)
Follow ANCIENT MYTH
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.