Bebe Taian: Revisiting Old Loves: Dir en grey

August 15, 2012

Revisiting Old Loves: Dir en grey

Way back in the day, when I was younger, most people were on the Britney Spears/NSync love affair train. I... was a "special" kid. ::laughs:: Properly, I guess that should be spelled 'speshul'. I was into 80s hair bands, New Wave (still am), and J-rock. It was an accidental thing, the J-rock. Here's how it went:

I was on the internet, finally having access after moving to a place with more than one school in the city, and looking for anime stuff after someone had introduced me to Rurouni Kenshin/Samurai X. I was also very big into learning to code my own websites, and I'd taught myself some basic HTML. I was looking to bring the two together by building a site on something I really liked, getting in coding practice and exploring new stuff (kind of like why I blog here on culture). One of the characters in Rurouni Kenshin is a woman named Kaoru. Searching for images of her, I ran across another person named Kaoru- Kaoru of Dir en grey.

Napster was still alive and well, so I downloaded a few of their songs... but being a Japanese band, it wasn't exactly a set of files that was easy to get. And being distracted by my original goal, I promptly forgot about them, and when searching through my music, I tended to skip over stuff I hadn't heard of before...

Fast-forward weeks later. 

'Cage' was the first song I'd listened to. It was so different from anything I'd heard before, but the rock element was there, so I gave it a go. I didn't like Kyo's voice at first. Sometimes, I'm still not sure whether or not I like his style as a vocalist. But it was one of those songs that grew on me. 'Yurameki' might have been the next one. I don't remember now. All of this was over a decade ago.

At the time, there were all of three English websites mentioning Dir en grey. One of which was in-depth (for the time). Everything else was in Japanese. I was still on my coding kick. It only made sense to mine as much of the scattered information there was about them to create one site where you could get pages and pages of photos, information on each band member, what instruments they preferred, etc. For awhile, I had a Geocities site, but I ran out of hosting space, and found myself creating multiple usernames for the images alone. Ugh. My uncle is a hoopty frood though (Hitchhiker's lingo for a 'cool guy'), and hosted a domain for me for a couple of years. Of course, real life intervened eventually, and I moved on to other things.

But I won't forget this: to everyone who says that downloading music illegally hurts artists, without Napster, I would have never bothered with Dir en grey. And you know what? Before any of their stuff was available in the US, I spent $80 on their album, "Gauze". And after that, I bought the 'Yurameki' single, "Complete Singles II" (there was never a "Complete Singles I", but whatever.) and the "MACABRE" album. And then I moved on from them to half a dozen other artists, which I also begged to have imported for every Christmas for a couple of years. For a kid who had little access to stuff like money for books, or for better-quality food, or for medical stuff, my mom spent a hell of a lot on foreign music that I COULD have downloaded for free to make me happy. Dir en grey, and their recording people, made a hell of a lot of money off of me, thanks to an illegal file-sharing program.

I'm no longer a real fan of Diru. I loved the older stuff, but I don't care for the current style as much. I think I dropped off around the time "Vulgar" came out. I'm really glad that they've survived and evolved as a band, and from what I've heard about the band mates themselves, they're all pretty cool people. I think I'd really like Kaoru and Shinya if we ever met. Even so, I listen to their older work from time to time, and remember the thrall of discovering a new world of music.

"Gauze"-era Dir en grey: Kyo, Toshiya, Kaoru, Shinya, Die
I blame them for my gothy style, my love for bright blue hair, and my need to really pick apart music. Before, I was a passive listener. Now, I look for a myriad of traits in songs, styles of playing, musical cohesion (do they sound like they're all playing in the same room? Some bands don't.), and technical aspects of recording. I also look at the musician's lives sometimes. I want to understand why they wrote a song the way they did. I have less respect for 'artists' who sing, but can't play music, don't compose, don't write, and... well, some of those people can't sing very well, either. Having to really think about a form of music so new to me has opened me up to analyze the work of others as well. It's given me a new appreciation for quality and artistry. So, really, I can't thank them enough... and for that, I'll always be a fan. ^_^

A few of my favourite songs: Hotarubi, Akuro no Oka (and the KNY mix), JEALOUS, Cage, and Zakuro.

No comments:

Post a Comment