Yousei Teikoku celebrate their 20th anniversary this year. The new commemorative single ‘flamma idola’ will be released on 31 May. The 9th Formal Ceremony Tour is taking place in June, stopping by Nagoya, Osaka, and Tokyo. The band will also appear at the ‘Anisong World Matsuri’ at the anime event ‘Otakon’ in Washington DC. I conducted an interview with vocalist and lyricist Yui, also known as Empress Yui or the princess of Yousei Teikoku, to catch up on their news for fans overseas, as well as asking questions which you sent to us. She answered these questions sincerely, and revealed her deepest thoughts.
Now, before you read the interview, here is a video message from Empress Yui!
More of Our Subjects Overseas Refer to Me as ‘Yui-sama’
It has been 20 years since the formation of Yousei Teikoku. You have a lot of loyal fans overseas. Since when has the support from abroad increased?
I would say it was from about 10 years ago when people all over the world could listen to our music easily via the Internet. It’s been on a gradual increase, though such development became noticeable around that time.
Can you think of any reason why your band has attracted such attention from outside of Japan?
We created opening theme songs for an anime series Future Diary (Mirai Nikki), titled ‘Kuusou Mesorogiwi’ and ‘Filament’. I think our popularity rocketed around that time, including overseas.
How do you feel about the situation of attracting attention from across the ocean?
It might be only me, but I feel that more of our subjects overseas consider me ‘Yui-sama’, Empress Yui. Quite obviously, I am the empress of Yousei Teikoku, however in Japan fewer fans show admiration to me in comparison with fans overseas. This may be because my addresses to Japanese subjects can be irresponsible sometimes. Our subjects overseas doesn’t know the other side of me, therefore still show me full admiration as the empress, Yui-sama. Well, it’s only my wild guess and the truth is still unknown, though.
I think one of the reasons for your popularity abroad is your music style which is loud and symphonic.
I agree. More people overseas tolerate loud music like heavy metal than Japanese. In fact, there are more fans of such music in foreign countries. I presume there is a preconditioned foundation for our kind of music over there. That’s why they seem to like the music of Yousei Teikoku.
For instance, I’ve heard that our music video ‘Astral Dogma’ is quite well received overseas. It’s symphonic hard rock with Oriental flavor, therefore we created the video in steampunk fashion. I guess this sort of style would appeal people abroad.
In Our land, Yousei Teikoku, People are Called Subjects, and Our Tours are Called Ceremonies
Did you have any intention to promote yourselves overseas when Yousei Teikoku was formed 20 years ago?
No, I didn’t. We looked different at the time. I didn’t wear black clothes like now and rather preferred white ones. We have been creating what we want to express on a moment to moment basis. We don’t intend. The impulse of expression comes before intention.
Having said that, I can see my objectives, like ‘what I want to be’ and ‘what I want to carry on’, a little more clearly than 20 years ago. I feel our vision of Yousei Teikoku and our image which our subjects’ embrace have overlapped now and stabilized.
As you mentioned the word ‘subject’, the world of Yousei Teikoku has many specific terms. One of our readers, Shaun Verge, asks “Why do the band members’ names contain military ranks and why those specific ranks?”
Let me give you some examples. In Japan, where we temporarily reside, the people are called ‘citizens’, though no one knows the exact reason. They naturally become Japanese ‘citizens’ and such a question is equal to “Why were you born?” for them. Whereas in our Empire, people who reside are all our subjects and their action is called a ceremony. That’s about it.
I see. I understand.
As for the class system. I’m the fairy of Yousei Teikoku, whilst other members are humans who were born and bred on Earth. We, a fairy and four humans, formed ‘Yousei Teikoku The Third Imperial Band’, or, Yousei Teikoku for short. I’m the Grand Dictator for Life and the empress of Yousei Teikoku. The other members are captain, third lieutenant, sergeant, and sergeant major, so far. Their classes can change for many reasons. Well, no one has been downgraded just yet…
What do they need in order to be promoted?
Their contribution towards Yousei Teikoku can be counted. The evaluations from our subjects are also important. Our subjects can be promoted, too.
Hereby I declare that our subjects can be evaluated respectively by the degree of their commitment shown via their cheers and gazes upon our members.
I was Presently Surprised Every Time When Our Subjects Sang Along with Us in Japanese, No Matter What Country they’re from.
The lyrics of Yousei Teikoku contain not only English but also German. Zurai Kitsune sent his question, “Yui-sama, why do you almost always use German words in your lyrics? I love your Japanese voice and I was just wondering why’.
That’s because the German language sounds cool. While considering the importance of thoughts and messages in lyrics deeply, I put stress on sounds of words. German words and our melody create strong resonance. Does it sound strange to you?
I think I understand what you mean.
Furthermore, our messages always conceive strong images in various aspects. The sound of German vocabulary is best suited to express Yousei Teikoku’s concept. That’s why I use German words in my lyrics.
You had a couple of gigs abroad in the past. How did you feel about the reactions of your subjects in foreign countries?
Precisely speaking, Japan is also a foreign country for me. Whichever country I go to, our subjects who come to our gigs have some sort of empathy with our songs, as well as a love of anime. There is no language barrier on this planet. A scene of a floor full of our subjects from the view point of the stage is the same, no matter where it is. Our subjects would watch us playing our music passionately with pure minds.
I’m always impressed by the fact that our subjects in any country would sing along with us in Japanese. It often happens especially when we are playing well-known songs. It amuses me and make me happy every time it happens.
I Enjoy Reading Comments From Our Subjects Overseas. I Would be Glad If They Could Possibly Write in Japanese, So I Could Understand Immediately.
What promotional strategies for overseas do you have?
I’d like to go various countries and have many ceremonies [gigs]. I’d love to meet as many of our subjects as possible who are waiting to see Yousei Teikoku.
You must receive many comments from various countries, mustn’t you?
Actually, I’ve started Instagram recently, and have found that most of the comments are from overseas. Perhaps that’s because there are not as many Instagram users in Japan. I get more comments in Japanese on my Tweets. Anyway, I’m thrilled by more people getting to know about us elsewhere in the world.
You must be receiving comments from all over the world.
Exactly so. I must confess that, regarding some of the comments I’ve received, I can’t figure out what language they are. Obviously, I enjoy reading comments from our subjects overseas, though I would be glad if they could possibly write in Japanese, so I could understand immediately.
From which country do you receive comments most?
The comments are coming from all over the world and not from a particular country. Having said that, there are many comments from South America, where I’ve never been before. I’d love to visit there as often as I visit Europe and Northern Europe.
You might feel the heat in your usual costumes in South America.
It’d be hot there. Hey, how about having ceremonies wearing a swimming costume? [laugh] It’ll be different as I’ve never seen a swimming costume in Gothic fashion. I have to design one for myself. In fact, it’d be great if I wore a different costume depending on the country where I have a gig.
I Can’t Wait to Meet Our Subjects Abroad
Could you tell us about your new single CD that commemorates 20 years of your band?
Yousei Teikoku has been materializing our musical expressions of the time as CDs for last 20 years. Recently, our music is rather close to metal music, especially to gentle metal music, which derived from progressive metal and is classified as part of of the heavy metal genre. The songs on our new CD, however, have more Gothic flavors with a symphonic atmosphere, which are reminiscent of our style from a couple of years ago.
Is it because you are in that mode now?
I suppose so. Although I still love metal music, my feeling at this moment is leaning towards gentle mode. I think they will touch our subjects’ hearts, particularly those overseas, as their preferences in musical taste are varied: including anisongs, heavy metal, and gothic music.
You will appear at ‘Anisong World Matsuri’ at the anime event ‘Otakon’ which will be held in Washington DC between the 11th and 13th August. What will this ceremony be like?
At this moment, we haven’t even started preparing for the ceremony tour in Japan, therefore I can’t tell you specifically yet. I’m excited about the visit as I’ve never been there before. I can’t wait to meet our subjects in Washington DC.
What is your advice to your subjects who are attending ‘Anisong World Matsuri’ regarding what they can do to prepare to enjoy the show?
They might be better off listening to our music beforehand, though I’m glad if they just come along. They can rely on us to have a good time. We promise that we will entertain them.
Before the event, you’ll have a Ceremony Tour calling on Nagoya, Osaka, and Tokyo in June. What will it be like?
We’ll definitely play the songs featured in our new CD. I haven’t selected other songs yet, I will probably choose from songs which we haven’t played in ceremonies before to celebrate our 20 year-anniversary. Our subjects will just have to wait and see. We won’t let them down.
I am a person who writes mostly about music, and I am in charge of writing interviews and concert reports.
If you are interested in music like I am, you can take a look at my page (link here), which collects news and interviews connected to music (Japanese only).
I am always looking for new work. As I only know Japanese, please contact me in Japanese if you can.