If you’re familiar with the modern ヴィジュアル系 (Visual Kei) scene it’s quite likely that you have seen the name “JILUKA” at least once, or possibly have seen a photo or video from Sena’s YouTube channel. What we’re trying to say is that it’s quite hard to not recognize at least something from this group, be it one of their songs, their looks or even their involvement in social media.
JILUKA have been around since 2013, but due to a pause in activities their work only started to really attract an audience in 2015 after drummer Zyean joined and the single “Screamer” was released. Ever since then the group has been quite active with both releases and live shows, always learning, growing and evolving.
In September of 2022 they released their single “BLVCK”, which marked a tune change for the band as well as the introduction of a “new” genre: EGM. EGM stands for “Electronic x Gothic x Metal”, and while not being exactly “new” for the members themselves, it does allow them to create a sound that currently is exclusive to them. They underlined this with the release of the second song in this style, “OVERKILL” in March of 2023.
“BLVCK” already caught our attention when it come out in September, but at that time we thought it was a little too early to ask the members for an interview. The release of “OVERKILL” gave us a lot more opportunities to ask about their work so far and their plans for the future, as well as introducing JILUKA to people who might never heard of them or their music before. And if you haven’t heard their song “OVERKILL” yet, you’re probably scratching your head right now wondering how we got to such a “bold” title for this interview… 😉
Vocalist Ricko, guitarist Sena, bassist Boogie and drummer Zyean are more than ready, so hopefully you are too.
Let’s get into today’s interview!
“We are still greedy, so there is no doubt we will continue to evolve”
Before I start firing today’s questions at you, I’d like to thank you once more for accepting our request for an interview. And even though I have already slightly introduced you in the introduction, I would like to start today’s list with the question if you can introduce yourselves to the readers one more time?
Ricko: I am Ricko on vocals.
Sena: Dear readers of Arlequin Magazine & Photography, I’m Sena from JILUKA. Guitar and rap, I write all the songs of the band. Nice to meet you.
Boogie: I’m the bassist, Boogie.
Zyean: I’m Zyean on drums, nice to meet you!
JILUKA as we know it has been active since 2015, but there are still people who have not heard about you or your music before. So let’s start with the first thing people often see, which is your band’s name. What is the origin of the name “JILUKA”? Is there a special meaning or story behind it?
Sena: Actually, I haven’t told anyone the answer to this question yet. I keep it a secret so much that even I have forgotten some of it. (laughs)
Ricko: I can’t tell you the answer to this question yet either…
Zyean: Actually… I don’t even know the meaning or the origin of the band name!
What, really? Wow, I did not expect that, even with the knowledge that Zyean joined the group at a later time! But this does tie in to my next question, since there already were two versions of JILUKA (the one that started in 2013, and the one that continued in 2015 after a pause of activities), but now we have two different sounds of JILUKA as well.
In September of 2022 you released the song “BLVCK” under the new “EGM” concept. From the listener’s perspective there is a big difference in sound, but is it really that different from your perspective?
Sena: The fundamentals haven’t changed, I just made it more convenient. JILUKA has always been Electronic, it has always been Gothic, and it has always been Metal. But these elements were never included in one song at the same time in the past. The new JILUKA-concept “EGM” has the meaning of putting all of these elements into one song. In other words, it also leads to saying that it was powerful.
Zyean: Up until now we’ve been greedily incorporating various musical elements, and I think that what we have now can be clearly defined as EGM. However, we are still greedy, so there is no doubt we will continue to evolve.
You already mentioned that everything present in “Electro x Gothic x Metal”, or “EGM”, was already there in JILUKA’s works up until now, and that “BLVCK” is the first song to make use of all three elements in one song. But what made you decide to combine all three elements into one suddenly? Did you feel like it would be something unique for JILUKA to make yourselves stand out opposed to other groups in the same genre?
Sena: That’s a very good question. The primary reason I decided to use this “new” style is because JILUKA had different elements up until now. It’s good that various variations were born throughout the years, but there’s also the risk of missing a chance. Listeners will often only listen to one song to decide if they like an artist and want to listen to more or not. That’s why I decided to combine all three elements into one song.
Moreover, in order for it to fit in the new era it’s not simply a matter of pushing these elements together, it has to be finished with the latest sound. I wanted to create something like a chemical reaction that occurs when the three elements are combined.
Zyean: You are right though, we did want to create a work with a sound that is unique to JILUKA.
Creating a song isn’t as simple as throwing all three elements into a blender and waiting for what comes out. Sena, since you’re the mastermind behind all of JILUKA’s songs, can you describe what the creation process is like behind the scenes?
Sena: First I will start making music. Inspiration comes from a lot of different sources, but I often give shape to the scenes and colors that are projected on a screen in my mind recently. From there, when the entire song is complete, I will ask the other members to listen to it. I don’t like to present a song that’s still in it’s so-called “demo state” because it makes my perception of the song rather cloudy. So I bring my songs to the members in a state that is relatively close to completion. After that each part will be arranged individually, we will record it, and then make the final arrangement before moving towards completion.
“I think “BLVCK” surpasses JILUKA up to now, and “OVERKILL” surpasses “BLVCK””
That’s quite an interesting process, since not a lot of people will opt to go as far as the near completion state before sharing it with the other members. But next to the first “tune change” since the formation of this version of the group there was also a big change in the production wasn’t there? “BLVCK” was produced by Jeff Dunne, who is known for his work with groups like Motionless in White and Nine Inch Nails – two very big groups in the United States. How did your collaboration with him come about? Were you aiming for a sound that is also more recognizable overseas, perhaps?
Sena: When I was creating the new songs I always imagined a wide, huge punch-y sound. It’s not just limited to this song, it’s actually always been this way. I wanted to collaborate with someone who’s sound sensibilities match with ours. I was making phrases, and that’s why I had no other choice but him. The timing of the new EGM-concept was also a good opportunity to renew the team composition.
Zyean: Of course there are influences from those bands. The role of a sound engineer in a band is extremely important for perfecting the sound, so I asked him to take on the challenge of finding new possibilities. The main reason probably is because the sounds he makes are purely cool though. (laughs)
Following the release of “BLVCK” and continuing the collaboration with Jeff Dunne is the song and MV for “OVERKILL”, which was revealed in February of this year. It also continues the EGM-concept and even manages to make it more powerful! In the YouTube description for “OVERKILL” you mention that “BLVCK” was received very well both domestically and internationally. But what about the response for “OVERKILL”? Was it just as positive?
Zyean: I am proud that both songs are the best songs, and that they cannot be compared to each other.
Sena: I had a lot of confidence in “BLVCK”, but the response to it was more than I expected. And “OVERKILL” also received a solid response that decided the evaluation of “BLVCK”, which already had a good response. For me the point isn’t which song is “better”, but that these two songs express EGM and that EGM is now fully accepted as a new style.
Ricko: I think “BLVCK” is a work that surpasses JILUKA up to now, and that “OVERKILL” is a work that surpasses “BLVCK”. We are constantly evolving.
As I’m sure you yourselves already know, JILUKA’s works have been received quite well overseas throughout the years. Part of that is because of how much English is being used in your lyrics, I’m sure. But why do you make the choice to use so much English in your works? Are the international listeners a big influence on your decisions? Or does it simply have to do with the artistic choice of “it sounds better in English”?
Sena: It’s true that the rhythm of the English words matches better, but I also hope that our works will be widely received overseas that way. When I write lyrics I am very sensitive to the words that come to me from the instruments, you know.
雪 (Yuki): I understand what you mean, even though it is difficult to explain. In reality the work I write for Arlequin Magazine & Photography is always made in English first before it is translated to Dutch, Spanish and Japanese. I often encounter the “it sounds better in English”-problem myself. (laughs)
Expanding the scope of communications
Let’s shift our topic to a different side of JILUKA, since next to music Sena, Boogie and Zyean also have their own YouTube channels. Sena’s channel is arguably the most popular of the three with it’s diverse content that isn’t only about music, but can you all tell me a little bit about the reasoning behind your channels? What are Boogie and Zyean up to on their channels for example?
Sena: The reason I opened my channel was because I wanted to create a medium that conveys a feeling that’s hard to convey with just words or pictures. To put it simply, I wanted to broaden the range of content.
Boogie: The reason I created mine was to upload videos of my performances, but right now I am more focused on streaming on Twitch, so YouTube isn’t really being updated at the moment. I want to put more effort into YouTube this year.
Zyean: My channel only uploads drum playthroughs of JILUKA’s songs using electronic drums, and drum covers of songs from other bands. But it’s more a feeling of self-satisfaction that I shoot songs I want to play myself and upload them. (laughs)
I will however continue to upload mainly videos for people who are curious about how JILUKA’s drums are created, drummers in particular.
Like I mentioned in the previous question already, Sena’s channel is arguably the most popular channel due to it’s diverse content that isn’t limited to JILUKA’s music alone. In 2020 your channel skyrocketed in popularity due to the makeup and fashion videos, attracting more than just fans of your music. But what do you think yourself? Was it a good decision to focus on something else than music with your channel? And what about the future, do you have any plans for new videos already?
Sena: I think I have achieved the initial goal of expanding the scope of our communications. However, I still have ideas in mind to please everyone. I’m dissatisfied that I haven’t been able to upload consistently because I simply don’t have the time for it, but I’m getting fans who volunteer to translate my videos. So that’s spreading in an unexpected way. If I could make one request though, I’d really like a competent assistant. (laugh)
The only member who isn’t doing anything related to streaming is Ricko, isn’t it? Or is your work just hidden so well that no one has been able to find it up until now?
Ricko: … I’ve thought about starting a YouTube channel…
Future plans & support
It sounds like we have to wait a little longer for Ricko to maybe join the streaming-crew then! But another thing us overseas fans are always waiting for is – you’ve probably guessed it already – live shows overseas. The pandemic has really made a big dent in everyone’s plans for years to come but is there anything you can tell us about the future of JILUKA’s overseas dreams at this moment in time?
Sena: We are already in the process of moving things around, so I’d like to ask our overseas fans to wait for us a little longer!
Ricko: I definitely want to perform live overseas!
Zyean: Of course we too like to perform live overseas. But the time is already approaching, so please keep an eye out for future announcements!
Boogie: I’m pretty sure we can do it!
We’ll keep our eyes peeled for future announcements from you! But until then we’re limited to official releases and goods, which brings me to the question of how we can support you from overseas. Does your webshop take international orders, for example? Or do we have to find other ways to indirectly support you?
Sena: Unfortunately our webshop cannot process overseas orders, but I would like to refer you to the website of Tenso, who can order from Japanese stores (not just ours) and then ship it to your address!
Before we wrap up today’s interview, I’d like to ask about any plans for the near future we as fans can look forward to. Can we maybe expect an album in the new EGM-concept style?
Sena: EGM ideas are still in my computer. It will become clear what to do with them before giving shape to it.
Ricko: Please look forward to the release!
Zyean: Like I mentioned in an earlier answer, we are greedy. And we promise that we will be able to deliver an even more evolved JILUKA to everyone in the future. I can’t talk about any details yet, but please look forward to it!
We’ll keep looking forward to that too, yes! We’re also almost done with the interview. I’ve been asking you questions this entire time, but how about we turn our roles around for this question. Is there anything you’d like to ask your fans, Japanese or worldwide?
Sena: I often hear that while JILUKA is fairly well known overseas, but that “Sena” is more known than the band itself. Is this true?
雪 (Yuki): I can’t give you a definitive answer to this question, but from what I can see the answer appears to be “yes”. As an individual “Sena” seems to be more well known than “JILUKA” as a band. (laughs)
Zyean: Please let me know if there is a song you’d like me to post a drum playthrough for on my YouTube channel! (laughs)
You guys have been amazing for tolerating my long list of questions! Thank you so much! Let’s wrap this up with one final question: can you please give a message to everyone reading today’s interview?
Ricko: Thanks for reading! We really want to be active overseas as well, so please wait until we are able to go. Let’s really enjoy it!
Sena: Thank you for reading this interview. See you in our show!! Bye!
Zyean: Thank you for reading this far. I look forward to seeing you at the live.
Boogie: Thanks for the support from overseas! I will definitely tour abroad someday. Until then, please come and visit us in Japan!
Today’s interview sure was a lengthy one, so we’d like to thank JILUKA one more time for taking the time to answer our full list for today. We’d say they definitely showed us who is G.O.A.T (Greatest Of All Time) when it comes to answering interview questions!
As mentioned in their answers today you can of course support the group through their webshop (with a little help from Tenso that is), but you can also find their works on Apple Music and Spotify if streaming is more your style. And if you have an answer for Sena and Zyean’s questions for all of you today, then feel more to free to let them know as well! 😉
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading their interview today as much as we enjoyed doing it in the moment, but we have a question for you as well: What do you think of this “new” version of JILUKA? Are you as enthusiastic about “BLVCK” and “OVERKILL” as the members themselves are?
We’re curious to what you think!
As usual you can find the information for their socials below, so don’t forget to give them a follow!
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.