During Comic Fiesta 2016, we, the MAGIC RAIN team had the chance to interview K-ble Jungle, a pop/rock duo which consists of the Italian DJ Shiru and the Japanese singer, Eriko. They have a very mixed musical style which ranges from J-POP to Italian opera.
[S: DJ Shiru ; E: Eriko]
Q: Could you give us a brief introduction of yourselves?
S: Hello! To put it simply, there is an association in Italy that promotes Japanese culture. We organize festivals, exhibitions and workshops, invite Japanese artists, do demonstrations of traditional arts and pop arts. I was one of the founders and Eriko joined us later. Since she is a singer as well, we decided to put her on stage. She started singing and as she became more famous, it felt kind of lonely just to have one person on a big stage so I joined her since I have some experience as a DJ and sometimes we also have musicians and dancers with us, but that’s only mainly when we’re in Japan and Europe.
Q: How did the name, K-ble Jungle came about?
S: It comes from a ‘jungle of cables’. At first, it was just a funny name which we never thought we’ll use. It was actually the title of our very first demo CD. The artist’s name was Eriko + DJ Shiru and K-ble Jungle was the name. This was because every time we do a show, we have so many cables connecting to the microphones, the DJ stuffs, and it all gets jumbled and hard to detach, even though there’s only just two of us. But then, it got the meaning of connecting different things like rock to opera, and Italy to Japan. When you look at it from the outside, it looks like a jungle, so that’s also where the name came from.
Q: (to DJ Shiru) Why did you decide to go into Japanese music?
S: Hm. I’m Italian but at some point, I lived in Australia for a year, one year in Japan and my initial plan was to continue living a year in a different country. However, Japan was so interesting and I got involved in so many projects that I stayed more focused in Japan. Actually, I’ve worked with all sides of Japanese culture, so we also do kimono dressing, bonsai, ikebana, photography and others. This is some of the things we do, but music is probably becoming the main point of our activities.
Q: Since you’re a pop/rock duo, how do you find the balance of not overpowering each other on stage?
S: We don’t really know what we are. We get some critiques because we do everything and we don’t specialize. But it’s because our taste (in music) is so different like I hate what Eriko likes and Eriko would never listen to music that I listen to unless I force her to. So we’re trying to make everybody happy and sometimes we play rock, EDM, hard disco music, and also classical music as Eriko studied opera. So, we throw everything together and Eriko is of course the main point of the show and if there are any empty spaces, I do my best to fill in but I don’t really know why I’m on stage. You’ll see during our performance.
Q: (to Eriko) You started off studying opera, how did you end up in JPOP?
E: I started studying opera because I loved classical music, but it wasn’t my only focus. I also liked Japanese idol music, hip hop, karaoke, and I liked to dance a lot too. Even though I was studying professional opera, I didn’t think that I would really become an opera singer as I was attracted to different kinds of music. Since it’s a different type of singing because in opera, we don’t use microphones, I sometimes have problems with it. Overall, I like mixing things so even if it’s a JPOP song, I sometimes go off with the opera voice. (laughs)
Q: You have a song called ‘Akai Uta’, which is a mixture of electronic and opera sounds. Was it difficult incorporating the two different genres together?
S: It was actually the only solution. Akai Uta was a song that I wrote, but actually I can’t write music, I just play with the computer and sounds come out. Eriko always says that it’s impossible to sing words on these kinds of music. The only possible way was to sing opera, as that is more flexible and adaptable to my weird sounds.
Q: You’ve been performing in so many countries. How has the experience shaped your live performance and music?
S: Maybe not so much. It’s hard dealing with our own needs and what we want to do. We’re usually satisfied just seeing the crowd jumping and having fun.
E: It’s not about the countries we go to but it’s more of the concept of the event that we go to. We’ve been to many different events.
S: We’ve played in clubs where we perform more disco music there. In events like Comic Fiesta, we play anisongs. We’ve also played in very chic places, like those wine-tasting events with rich old men, and usually Eriko sings more of opera there.
E: We also don’t wear these kind of colourful clothes. I usually wear a yukata.
S: I would wear a jacket and throw it after the first 10 minutes because I don’t like it.
Q: What can we expect to see during your performance in Comic Fiesta?
E: Crazy. (laughs)
S: When we know the audience, we do weirder things. Like some of the songs I’ve wrote have stories behind them and we wear masks, and there’s more theatre in it. When we’re not familiar with the audience, we don’t want to risk damaging the reputation of the festival and organizers, so we usually play anisongs. The songs I write are usually quite dark so it has to fit the atmosphere.
Q: What has been your biggest challenge as a duo, especially since you’re both from different countries?
E: It’s very difficult, and we fight a lot. So, it’s kind of a ‘everyone is a boss in their own country’ situation.
S: When we’re in Europe, since I probably know more about the Italian and European audience, and what they like, I usually decide on the costumes. Songs are decided together. And when we’re in Japan, she takes the lead as she knows the Japanese audience better and I listen to her advice. But we really fight a lot ‘cause she doesn’t like my songs.
Q: (to Eriko) How do you find your personal style of fashion for performances?
E: When we go to comic conventions like this, everyone is dressed so colourful and crazily, so we need to do more. That’s kind of a challenge as we don’t want to be mixed with the audience. So, we pick the most colourful things. When the stage is big, you also need to be colourful to stand out. We usually walk around Harajuku as it’s easier to find weird clothes.
Q: Memorable incident that happened overseas?
E: There are quite a few incidents. We’re optimistic people so we tend to remember the positive ones more.
S: Once when we were coming back from Portugal, the airline told us that there was an overbooking, and we were like, ‘Ugh, we have things to do tomorrow’. They then said that they’ll give us 400 euros, a five-star hotel, a taxi ride, dinner and we went –
Both: YEA!! (laughs)
E: As for the negative ones, it usually happens when we are on the way to the festival or when going back.
S: My car broke down a couple of times on the highway and we had to call in people to bring us to the mechanic or our big fights…
Q: Since this is your first time performing in Malaysia, how do you feel about that?
S: When we entered the hall, we thought the sound was going to be awful. However, the sound check was really good from the stage and we saw one of the performances. The sound was much better than I expected and the audience seemed really warm. We’re really excited too.
Q: Is this your first time in Malaysia?
S: I’ve been here before. I really, really love Malaysia. It seems fake since every artist says that, but it’s true. I like that it’s so mixed, like three or even more ethnicities and you manage not to go to war every day.
E: It’s my first time here. It’s strange for me as it’s still Asia and the shops sell similar things. It kind of feels like I’m coming home but the signs are in romaji, not kanji and everyone speaks English. So, it’s like I’m home but I’m not.
Q: Your aspirations for 2017?
S: Be rich and famous!
E: Me too! (laughs) But we’ll like to come back to Malaysia to perform again.
For more info on K-ble Jungle, check out their website here.