Secret Secretとして「World ELE-POP Festa 2001」に出演した通称ロブことRobert Blaqueさんに登場いただきました。日本語表示も一部ある電気虎というレーベルも運営している、日本通のゴス系アメリカ人です。なお、インタヴューは英語を出来るだけ本来の意味に近くなるように日本語に訳しています。
Buggle San: Where does the band name come from?
Robert: You can get that from our website so let me evade this question a bit and answer it sideways. The name itself has taken on a meaning of it's own since having chosen it as a moniker. Every one has a dark side. A shadow of themselves that they really don't want to share with anyone else. Secret Secret is about that. The fascination with this hidden person. The one that we keep in check. This person that is us, but for society we keep this part of our personality in a controlled environment for fear that someone, somewhere might actually find out our very own secret secret. When you see me on stage that is who I represent.
Buggle San: How do you define your sound orientation. Is it a new generation of Darkwave?
Robert: Labels of sound and music are strange, and it seems that everyone is trying to avoid being labeled. And yet it's how your fans find you so it is a really important issue. I'll go along with Darkwave, Synthpop, Goth, House, Indies, whatever they want to call me. We tend to call it Dark Synthpop, but I really don't care what they call us so long as the fans can find the music.
Buggle San: You appear to like Japan a lot!
Buggle San: Why? Is there something special that you like about Japanese pop culture?
Robert: No reason and a lot of reasons. To me Japan is like a video game. It's totally surreal. Like I've walked in to a Dali painting. Everything is inverse. The cars drive down the other side of the road. The verbs come last, the words are all switched around. Even the simplest thing is a challenge for me in Japan. Where's the blue key for the red door. It's interesting and pushes the creative side of my brain into over load. As an artist I can't take it for more then about 3 weeks at a time, but those 3 weeks are fantastic.
Buggle San: Any particular Japanese artists you like?
Robert: There are a lot of Japanese artists that I like. Of course I'm interested in the synth bands, but I'm also fascinated by the Visual Kei and even the Tsunku bands. I'm a big fan of Tsunku. Many people give me a hard time about that, but the Tsuku production team knows their music. They sneak in some really cool stuff under the noses of pop culture. I admire that a lot. Oh and I think Faye Ray is HOT!
The Visual Kei bands I like because of their fashion sense. They have the coolest clothes and make up. But they are different then the goth crowd because they only wear their fashion on stage. They take it off as soon as they leave the stage. Gothic folk will stay in character much longer and actually walk the streets in dress. I don't really see that with the VK bands. But you can always tell them apart because of their hair. It's always very flat, cut almost exactly the same, and colored. So even though they don't wear their clothes and make up out a trained eye can tell who they are.
I also respect TM Revolution. He's the only guy I've ever seen on Hey! Hey! Hey! that can stand his own against Mat chan and Hama chan. Sometimes they get really mean, I've seen them make people cry on TV, but TM is so quick they can never quite trip him up. That's cool. Cho kakoii.
Buggle San: When I first met you, I remember that you had the video for Morning Musume's
"Love Machine". How did you like it?
Robert: I thought it was great. Goofy CG with cute Japanese girls doing first semester jazz dance to the Hit Factory version of Venus. Really great pop stuff, what can I say.
Buggle San: You finally did a show in Japan at the "World ELE-POP Festa 2001" sponsored by Mr. Kenzo Saeki on October 19th. Your dream come true. How did this all happen?
Robert: That's a long story. I was introduced to the band Gorgeous via Luli from Milk. They invited me to Kenzo's Drive from 2000 event in Chiba where I met Kenzo. We've kept in touch and when I was ready to come to Japan he put a show together. Ah, that's the really short version of what happened!
Buggle San: Mr. Saeki joined you on stage for "Nichiyobi," the last song you did that night. It had an especially strong appeal. You mixed Japanese female vocals into a Darkwave sound which produces something very original.
Robert: Thank you. Having Kenzo join us on stage was a great honor. We actually do make an effort to have our own sound. But you can't really stray too far. Nichiyobi happened more out of my fascination with how Japanese sounds with a French accent then anything else. Zutto Zutto.
Buggle San: How did you enjoy performing with Japanese support members,
Hiromi-san and Masami-san, in front of a Japanese audience?
Robert: Both Hiromi and Masimi were great to work with. My touring members in America couldn't make it for this trip to Japan so my friend Ikko at Keyboard magazine introduced me to Masami. You wouldn't believe this guy's synth music collection. I've never seen anything like it and I know a lot of people into this sort of music!
Buggle San: This event had a very good diversity in the line-up. I am curious to know how you felt about the artists you performed with. Any particular artists you liked?
Robert: Yeah I was a bit worried at first. With the exception of Kenzo's band and Secret Secret all of the bands were fronted by females. So I didn't know if we'd be well received in such an environment. Lucky for us we were. As to who I like, man they were all great. I'm a big fan of female vocals and it was a real treat to be there that night. Mamiko, Rumi, Tomoko, Yukako and all of the back up singers, just an awesome line up. Kenzo is sugoi at putting shows together. Every one I've even been to was a winner. Kenzo is great and his Kiss cover had me singing along. Tanoshi no omoide ga.
Buggle San: While I was not able to go, Secret Secret performed in another more Goth-oriented show Tokyo Goth and Darkwave Night with the Auto Mod, Neurotic Doll and others. How did it go?
Robert: In English we don't have a word like Otaku. Some people say neird, but that just doesn't cut it as far as I'm concerned. You might say that guy is "into it," meaning that he's really focused on his interest, but that's about as close as you get with English. The Japanese I find are really "into it" when they decided that they are going to become interested in something. The Tokyo Goth and Darkwave night was a prime example of this. The audience dressed better then most Goth and Darkwave performers that I've seen in the states. It was a bit intimidating. I was wondering if my make up and stage clothes were going to make the grade. At the same time it was fantastic. I must have fallen in love a 100 times that night.
Robert: As far as the bands that we played with, which may actually be your question, I didn't get to see all of them. This was actually the 2nd time I've been to an Auto Mod show and not seen the band. To my great disappointment I must add. I did see Neurotic Doll and they were great. Amazing vocals and a strong stage presence. I really messed up by not getting their CD when I had the chance.
Buggle San: How do you compare Japanese Goth with American Goth?
Robert: Funny how the easy questions are the most difficult to answer. Goth in general is all over the map musically. As much as any thing fashion is what holds Goth together as a community. To that extent it's very much an aesthetic. I think the Japanese have clued into this and are actually doing a great job at being goth. As far as the music goes the Japanese band that I've heard that seems to really get goth from a musical point of view more so then others that I've heard is Art Marju Duchain. Maybe they need to distance themselves from the whole Satan thing as I don't think it serves them so well, but their music, it's goth, and it's good.
Buggle San: While I like Depeche Mode, I feel that too many Neo Synth Pop or Darkwave bands follow Depeche Mode too faithfully.
Robert: It's understandable really. Name one successful synthpop band. Depeche Mode. Name another one. You can't. There just hasn't been another synthpop band that's been able to cut it like the Mode has. Sure there's Kraftwerk, and besides you, me, the folks into synthpop and a hand full of rappers the world doesn't even know they exist, despite the fact that they've had more effect on modern music then Prince. So if you want to do synthpop music and you want people to like you it's ever so easy to fall into the trap of sounding like the Mode. And it is a trap because it's not really their sound that people love - it's the songs. You can prove that by just looking at how many songs on the Mode CDs are written by A. Wilder.
Buggle San: But, as I mentioned, Secret Secret creates something original. What are the artists you are influenced by? From the track "Metal" on the album "The Living Secrets," I kind of get Gary Numan.
Robert: Well I do study music. I have my degree in music. I can play soprano sax and the mandolin. I listen to a lot of diverse types of music and all of this influences the choices I make when I'm writing a song. Gary Numan is a huge influence, as is Depeche Mode. If you listen carefully you'll hear the Mode influence. But because I'm not limited to a musical pallet of what's on a DM CD I can explore a Prince song, or a Benny Goodman tune. And if I want to slip in a Blue Grass chord change I can do that. It's little things like these that afford us some of the distance that you hear.
Buggle San: Is there any Darkwave scene in San Francisco where you are based?
Robert: Yes there is. We have a very dedicated goth scene in San Francisco. Every night of the week there is at least one goth club, and while not all of the clubs have live bands, they do all play local goth or darkwave music. The DJs are very supportive. We also have an email list just for local goth bands and DJs. So we communicate and help each other. It's very supportive.
Buggle San: How is Darkwave and Synth Pop being received in the U. S. today, and how does it fit in the American pop music scene?
Robert: Both are indies music. They have the potential to chart, as they have before. There is always a strong presence on the college and dance charts for goth and synthpop. The big hits of Brittney and Christina are, save for the vocals, very close to synthpop. So the world is open to it. The biggest thing keeping Darkwave and Synthpop out of the charts is the song writing. There just hasn't been much in the way of great songs written in these genres to make the world take notice. But the foundation is there and it could happen at any moment.
Buggle San: You also run your own label, Denki Tiger. In Japan it's not easy to manage the label financially. How are you managing it?
Robert: It's not easy here either, but Denki is a very tiny label and run very conservatively. The same kind of thing is being done by friends of mine in Japan. You just have to be really careful with your choices of what to put out. Mute records started out the same way and they are now one of the biggest labels of synthpop. It didn't hurt that they had Vince Clark write a bunch of great songs for them in the beginning to get things going, but it was started small and cared for by the people that ran it. One of my biggest heros is Daniel Miller. The guy that started Mute. Because of that one guy and his love of synthpop I've been fortunate enough to listen to a lot of cool music. I'm quite grateful for that.
Buggle San: Thanks a lot!