Who are the present members of the band?
Our current line up is Dylan on violin, Winter on bass, and myself Robert on synths and vocals. At times during our live events in the States Amber joins us on synths. When we tour in Japan we often have guest musicians these have included Masami on synths, Yuki on bass, zAkro on synths and electronics, Go on guitar, and D's Valentine on synths. Other guest or former members include Atsuko on vocals, Miwako, Saori, Shannon, Niina, and Sumie on vocals and synths, Waa, Erin, Patrick, Fred, Rick, LX, Davo, Andre, Berry, and Devon on synths. For some time Secret Secret was more of a recording project. Presently it is more of a traditional band.
Does the name Secret Secret have an underlying story?
Surely you realize that's a secret!
You cited a number of influences such as prime movers Gary Numan, Clan of Xymox and The Human League (I loved their Travelogue album by the way). Is this the type of dark synthpop music that Secret Secret wants to create? How can we identify Secret Secret's sound?
Numan is a huge influence. More so then probably any other act. Travelogue is note worthy, but I think Dare has had a greater influence on me. However there are many influences even outside of music. Movies, books, art, life, there are many resources that help us to create. Numan, the Human League and Xymox just happen to be better known works that are similar to what we have done, and are doing. I've been extremely fortunate to have seen all three perform, and I was quite moved each time. Dylan is quite fond of Rasputina.
Frank Tovey's passing was definitely a tragic loss. Do you have memories of his musical works?
Yes Frank's misfortune is a terrible deprivation, however Fad Gadget really wasn't much of a direct influence for Secret Secret.
Synthpop's resurgence in the musical world has breeded a lot of new artists like the limelight shift of Funker Vogt to their softer project Fictional. Are there any neo-synthpop bands out there that you admire or would like to work with in particular?
We have worked with Kurt from Information Society. His music has always moved me. Working with him was such a great experience that I would gladly work with him again. My friend Gareth Jones has been quite encouraging over the years, working with him would be fantastic. I would also like an opportunity to work with Graeme Revell from SPK. As to newer bands, say in the last 5 years, I think Secret Secret would be open to it. There are a couple Japanese producers that I would very much like to work with Tsunku who does an incredible job or recreating 80's music with today's flair, and Mana who has done wonders with another synth oriented group. I'd really like to work with someone that knows how to cut a great vocal track. There is also my friend Kent, we call him Clark Kent. He worked on Nichiyoubi with us. He's done all manner of work with Metalica, and he is just so amazing, were we lucky enough to do an album with Kent I would be incredibly happy about it. I rather like the stuff that Mechanical Cabaret has done, but other then that I don't know much about them. Still of the neo synthpop I'd say I like them much better then most.
I got on pretty well with the guys in Iris when we brought them out to SF for a show. I think working with them would be worth while. There is a really funny story with that too. They flew into SF the night of the show with us. Their luggage was lost so we had to go shopping for stage cloths. We got to the only shoe store that I knew would be open. They were remodeling and I had to literally beg them to sell us some shoes!
Although she's not synthpop at all, and other then maybe attitude not the least bit goth, but Miki Berenyi from Lush. Oh my make my heart stop.
What topics do you love or usually write about?
Relationships seem to be what I always come back to in my lyrics. Sometimes they are relationships with people, sometimes with things such as a car, or deep affection for a close friend. Still it is fun to throw a bit of silliness into the mix say like with People Go Out, or Nichiyoubi. I wrote this story for an adventure game that was to be part of an album that we were doing. Every puzzle in the game was to be a relationship puzzle. The NPCs had to be related to in order to advance the game. The game ended up winning an award for best NPC, and I believe that was mostly due to my insistence on not following traditional methods. As people we seem to be more interested in what is going on between people then just about any thing else. I also find that interesting, so I write about it.
Are there songs that mean so much to you on a personal level?
Sure they all do in some way. It would be difficult to single one out, though as far as having brought me much enjoyment I would have to say that would be Nichiyoubi. It doesn't really seem like a dark song, since it is quite a dance song, but there is some dark in the lyrics, and the underlaying tracks. Though I guess what endears it to me the most is the reaction we get from it at a live performance. I know it's not very goth, but seeing a crowd of people smiling because of what you are doing is quite an emotional high.
What does Nichiyoubi mean? It sounds like an oriental name. The track also showcases a female vox, who is she?
Nichiyoubi is Japanese for Sunday. The song is basically about a girl that stays home on Sunday to play the video game Pong, or at least that is the back drop. The main female vocals on the studio recording is Taiko. She has a very lovely voice and it was quite a pleasure working on that track with her. She also did the Japanese translations. Which at the time I had no clue about what she was saying. I would write out in English what I wanted her to say. She would translate it, and if I thought it sounded good I'd use it. If not I'd write out something else. Then I coached her to say it with a French style. The other girl is my friend Kumi. I use to take the messages that she left on my phone machine, chop them up and spice up my songs with them. The way she talks, her voice, she's just always had an emotional effect on me. It was a strange mix up to be sure, but I think it worked pretty well. It was the same process that I used with People Go Out which has a French girl speaking in French, and another friend, Sachiko, speaking in Japanese, and of course Kumi saying the words People Go Out. Niychiyoubi was very much the sequel to People Go Out.
Speaking of asian elements, you seem to have a lot, and proud of it, too. It's very obvious that your stylistic outfits are inspired by the outrageous, but still gorgeous aesthetics of the Japanese goth scene.
Blame it on my father. When I was quite young just learning music he had a Honda motorcycle shop for about a year. Everyday after school I'd run down to the shop and ride my bike. I was never any good at it, but it was still a lot of fun. Because it was a Japanese motorcycle I became interested in Japan. Years later I still ride Hondas. I had a Ducati, but I sold that to make SFGSI.
I wouldn't say that the costumes I make are directly influenced by Japan. It is more the the way that they encourage me to do my best. The audiences in Japan really dress up, and it's the duty of the performer to put on a show. Therefore you have to out dress the audience. That is very difficult in Japan! Though I do adore the Japanese fashion and have met many of the designers of Gothic fashion in Japan. Each time it has been enlightening and fun. Some of them have even become close friends. And of course it is fun to talk shop, trade patterns and all of that!
How was your stay in Japan and how long did it last? What would you regard as your strangest experience there?
I've been there many times. The longest stay was for about 3 months. Everything about Japan is weird, in that it's just like what you would expect, but it feels like it's reversed, like in a reflection. I liken it to being in a real time computer adventure game. Everything is a puzzle that you have to figure out. The first few times I went to Japan after about two weeks my head would hurt from the constant over working. Seriously you start hunting out people that speak English. These days though I am quite comfortable. On the last trip Dylan and I were there for about a month. Things went very smooth in so far as getting around town. Weird experience? Though it is probably somewhat naive, but facing up to the fact that even in Japan people that you think are your friends will screw you over. I'm sure it's the same everywhere, I really didn't expect it to happen to us in Japan, but it did happen to us in Kobe. That was pretty weird.
Do you like their own brand of music? Please name a few Japanese groups that you believe are exceptional.
There are a lot of bands in Japan that I like. One of the first was Soft Ballet, though like just about every Japanese band they have already broken up. It is quite strange, but bands in Japan don't seem to stay together very long. I might be exaggerating a little but it seems like the mean time for a band to stay together in Japan is about two weeks. Of course Malice Mizer did some great music when Gackt was with them. I am quite fond of a girl that goes by the moniker Hitomi A. She has the voice of an angel, I just adore her. There is another girl going by the name of Tommy February6. She has a song called Choose Me or Die. Hands up bang bang! She's a doll, and her synthpop is some of the best that you'll find in Japan. Velvet Eden was great, as was Noir Fleur, but both of these bands have disbanded. The Spoogys are great, I met them in New York at CMJ. Then there is eX-Girl. They come to San Francisco frequently, I even griped on a movie they stared in that was shot in SF. Of course YMO, and there is also Shazna, but both of these bands have broken up. Hide did some fantastic stuff once X broke up. There's a girl called Fay Ray that came out with a hit a few years ago called Ura Ura Vibration. I very much like that track. There are so many!
Are you also trying to learn the Japanese language?
I speak it well enough to travel around. I really can't read the Kanji. I know maybe 200, but that is nothing. Dylan knows way more Kanji then I do, and he's gotten amazingly good at speaking Japanese.
I know I'm straying a bit, but I'm just curious to find out if the Visual Kei bands are gothic. What is your opinion on this matter?
Most Goths in Japan don't like Visual Kei. Some are quite vile in their attitude towards it. The very first Gothic show we did in Japan on the flyers in Japanese it said that if you are Visual Kei and you come to this event we will kill you! I didn't know this until years later. I was shocked, but it was funny. Personally I rather like some Visual Kei. The costumes, make up, hair can be quite amazing. Some bands like Velvet Eden, Schwarz Stein have done some great electronic VK music. There are even some bands like Mushi that are able to be both Visual and Goth at the same time. I have spoken at length about it with my J-goth friends that hate VK. I understand there position and respect it, thought I don't share it.
Did you come across Eve of Destiny, the famous asian gothic duo who partook in the Wave Gotik Treffen gathering? Are you familiar with them?
Yes I do know about Haruhiko Ash and Kozi's new band. They are great and I am looking forward to the album they are working on. I've not met Ash, but we both know many of the same people. One of the people that has helped me the most in Japan is who Ash first went to when he started his club Eve of the New Church. By the way Secret Secret would really like to perform at Treffen.
How do you feel towards magazines and publications in Japan featuring Secret Secret?
Guilty pleasure! The first time we were in the Gothic Lolita Bible we acted like silly fan girls. The current issue #14 has us in the street snap with our good friend Shisen. We have also been in Burst and that was great. Have you seen Burst? It's not a magazine I would show my mother, but we were happy to be in it, their photographers are quite good. They were the first Japanese publication to write about us and for that we'll always be grateful. Recently we have also appeared in Maison, a new gothic lolita magazine.
Who or what made your overseas tour to asia possible? Who invited you?
It seemed like it would be a lot of fun. My good friend Victor introduced me to Luli Shioi of Milk. Milk is one of the more famous live houses in Tokyo. She introduced me to many people in the Tokyo Music scene. Through her connection I met Saiki Kenzo who put together our first show. I met him at a CD release event that he organized in Chiba. He is incredibly talented and one of the coolest people that I've met in Japan. You really have to see him do his cover of Kiss's I want to Rock and Roll. When we did Nichiyoubi Kenzo came on stage and sang with us. That was a great honor and incredibly kind of him.
Our first gothic show was done with Genet of Auto-Mod and Tarou. This was the Tokyo Goth & Darkwave event, which has morphed into Tokyo Dark Castle. I met Genet and said that we really should do a show together.
So he recruited Tarou, probably the best promoter in the goth scene in Tokyo, to join there by creating the biggest gothic event in Tokyo. Since that event both Genet and Tarou have been very supportive. These days I consider them to be dear friends. Last January I talked Genet into taking it to Kobe and in June we did. It was an enormously successful event with people from all over Japan traveling to this event.
Tarou is now involved with an event called Alamode. This is a Lolita affair that he produces once a month. For Alamode 4 he asked me to come and sing a few songs in a sort of Kareoke style. It was kind of strange though the people there were exceedingly warm. We have since play and participated in multiple Alamodes. I adore this event.
Back to the US, how is the dark music scene in San Francisco? You guys have a great compilation on which Forgotten is included, my fave Secret Secret song.
That's very kind of you, thank you very much.
San Francisco is a city of enormous creativity. The last few years we have been under siege because of the most terrible mayor that we've ever had to endure. He really did a great job of destroying the arts, and making SF a place you wouldn't want to even visit. He's gone now and we are rebuilding. Once again in SF we have gothic or related events on almost every night of the week. DJ Bat from the Metropolis band Xorcist and the club House of Usher and I have started up a new event called Tokyo Dark Castle - San Francisco. We've followed the theme started with Tokyo Goth & Darkwave. The first event was huge and we are very excited about it. People as far away as New York and Japan were there. Halloween weekend 2004 was our grand opening. We even had a gothic waltz at this brisance!
The compilation San Francisco Goth Synth Industrial was put out with my label Denki Tiger. It took me over 3 and a half years to compile it. It has tracks from 15 SF Bay Area bands, a CD rom section with an artist portfolio for each band, 30 scene related organizations such as magazines, fashion designers, etc., and the entire rom section is in both English and Japanese. The cover art was done by one of SF's most amazing artists Katie Miranda, and the packaging is an original pop up cd design that makes people go ooh! The Secret Secret track on this album is the version of Forgotten that Kurt from Information Society did a guest vocal.
Please give us a brief review on your first full-length CD, The Living Secrets.
This is a live presentation of the music that we performed at our first CMJ. The studio track of Nichiyoubi is decently done, and the video is fun. TLS is now sold out and no longer available. We are currently working on an album to be called Into the Darkness. While we have suffered numerous delays it is coming along.
Forgive me, but who or what is Denki Tiger?
Denki Tiger is my record label. It allows me to put out things like the San Francisco Goth Synth Industrial album, and of course Secret Secret albums. It started off as an extension to Secret Secret, but it has since developed a life of it's own.
I was at your website, and found a menu on both sides, which led me to these different music websites with a tightly-knit group of artists and tour schedules. Are you part of a big musical syndicate?
Those are events that I've produced, or I've had something major to do with them. The most recent of which was Tokyo Dark Castle San Francisco. Early on I realized that getting deeply involved in the scene would be exciting. There is a lot of support in the Bay Area, but not always opportunity. I'm not one to really sit by and wait for things. Same as with Japan. I wanted to play in these various places so I went there and sought out or created the opportunity. Through my efforts I've met some wonderful people that have become dear friends.
You've done covers of Siouxsie and the Banshees' overplayed track Cities in Dust and Gary Numan's Metal.
Can Cities ever be over played? (smiles) I can be totally exhausted, hear that track start up and I'm on the dance floor. It's just a great song. As for Metal, I'm a huge Numan fan. I saw him do this song live and felt that we could do a credible version of it. It's now one of my favorite songs to perform.
Is your heart dedicated solely to synthpop? What about other forms of electronic music?
I was in an experimental group called XevenT. We were all electronic. The concept was to take Oberheim Xpanders, they are synths with no keyboards just knobs and buttons so you have to program them to make sounds, and do a performance. We did our first event during a solstice or equinox at 111 Mina St. Gallery. There are some samples on the net if you look for them. I also play acoustic instruments like the soprano saxophone, and the mandolin. But these aren't used for what we are doing with Secret Secret.
Thank you very much! Any last words?
Yes thank you as well, and thank you to everyone supporting us and our