GLOBAL VOICES SERIES – Interview with London band Esprit D’Air

This feature is part of an on-going series of interviews by Yinsey Wang with East Asian voices around the globe.

The series aims to introduce perspectives from different walks of life.

Revolutionary in their approach to music, Esprit D’Air is a London-based electronic rock and space metal band about to make their long-awaited return. Comprised of Kai (vocals and guitar), Ellis (bass) and Daishi (drums), the band prides itself on its unique and fresh sound. A concoction of hard-hitting aggression, melodic interludes and blistering guitar solos, their music has garnered a cult following across international audiences.

With a style easily described as “Shibuya meets Sunset Strip”, Esprit D’Air made history as the first Japanese-language band to appear on the videogame, Rock Band 3 for the Xbox 360. The band experiments with both Japanese and English song writing, providing fans with something refreshing and special. Recently, they performed in a one-off charity reunion gig in support of orphans in Japan affected by the Fukushima tsunami. However, the band are now contemplating their comeback with future gigs and performances planned. Read on for Nee Hao’s exclusive interview on the band’s inspirations, future plans and highlights.

Tell us about why you were drawn to each other and started Esprit D’Air. What was the mission and hope of the band?

Kai: Ellis was behind the creation of the band. When he asked me to join in 2010, I wasn’t sure what to expect. However, we became good friends and ended up working really well together. As we are in London, playing Japanese space rock/metal, we’re a pretty rare bunch of people!

Ellis: I’ve always wanted to form a band that’s different – something more than just another rock band. I am drawn to the music and aspects of the style that invokes imagery in the audiences’ minds. So, I went out looking for musicians that enjoy these elements too.

What has been the highlight of your experience so far?

Kai: To me, the highlight would be our upcoming reunion this year — it feels like a new adventure is about to begin. I am nervous that I am not only the guitarist now, but the singer too! However, I am excited about our future and what’s next for us. If I had to choose a highlight from our past experiences in 2010-2013, I guess I was really proud of us having the first Japanese song on the video-game Rock Band 3.

Ellis: I have to be honest, I can’t pinpoint the best experience so far! This is because every time I’m involved in a gig, a rehearsal, a recording or anything else, it’s been great. I really enjoyed our shows in Spain (if I had to pick the best experience so far)!

You have a “cross-cultural style”, blending both Japanese and Western rock styles. Tell us about your favourite influences in respect of this.

Kai: I think we all have different, but common influences. I really love British rock music like Led Zeppelin and Iron Maiden, and obviously music from Japan. Ellis listens to the heavier stuff — I really like the heavier music too.

Ellis: That’s a tough one! I’m open-minded to all sorts of music. I could be getting inspiration from a piece of classical music to a heavy rock piece I just happen to randomly hear. I think it’s important to be as open-minded as possible, regardless of genre, because at the end of the day: it’s music.

You played in a rare reunion charity gig a couple of months ago on behalf of orphans in Japan. Please tell us why this was important to you and do you think there will be more of these in future?

Kai: It is important to me because there is still a lot of work to be done—even after five years since the disaster. Thousands of lives and entire towns were lost to the tsunami. We are blessed with being so fortunate and it means a lot to me to be able to give something back to those in need. We will definitely consider performing at other charity shows too.

Ellis: I agree with Kai; it’s so important to be involved with such good causes to show our support and help people in need. We should be united as human beings, and wholesome in showing our love and care for victims of such a terrible tragedy. I won’t hesitate in saying “yes” if we are approached again to play another charity gig.

How would you describe your personalities and how do they fit together in the band?

Ellis: We all have different personalities, with different ways to approach things. I think this makes us an all-rounded band because we learn from each other as we continue to evolve. Just like any environment, if you have people with different skills, you will survive longer together.

What is next for you?

Kai: We are working on new music together. We also have our reunion shows starting as soon as the 16th of July at HYPER JAPAN’s main stage and 19th of July at the Underbelly in London.

Ellis: Shows, shows and more shows! Looking forward to them all!

Upcoming Tour Dates:

16 July 2016 – HYPER JAPAN Main Stage, Olympia, London

19 July 2016 – Underbelly Hoxton, London

3 September 2016 – De Montfort University, Leicester

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