The opportunity to talk with Sigh's mastermind Mirai was very exciting to me. Their new album Imaginary Sonicscape is without a doubt one of the best releases of the year. Taking some time off from his vacation to talk with me, Mirai and I chatted about the new album, Euronymous, touring possibilities and the side project Enoch. Thank you Mirai for talking with me and to Century Media for setting up the interview. UM: Mirai, this has to be the best Sigh album ever and definitely one of the best releases of the year. Mirai: The response has been really great. It has been much better than our previous album. I am looking forward to more response from the fans and hopefully more people become interested in the album and buy the new album. UM: Imaginary Sonicscape is an album that just has so many different musical aspects to it. What was the main thing you were trying to accomplish as a band with this album? Mirai: We always choose the best way to express our feelings. The various musical styles are not on purpose they are the result of what we try to accomplish. Putting so many aspects of music is the best way to express our music. UM: What influenced you in particular for this album? Mirai: Our biggest influence is still from '80s heavy metal albums which is what we grew up listening to when we were teenagers. Also, I have been taking classical piano lessons for almost 20 years. So classical music is another big influence for Sigh and especially for me. I find myself interested in avant-garde stuff like jazz, classical music and Frank Zappa. UM: How happy are you with the way Imaginary Sonicscape turned out? Mirai: Personally, I am quite satisfied with the result. This time I recorded the synthesizers and sampling parts at my house with a digital recorder. I was able to play until I was totally satisfied without any time limitations, without pressures like we would have in the studio. So all the synthesizer parts came out totally perfect, the way I wanted them to be. Of course, it has been a few months since we finished the recording so I can see some parts that could have been better but it is inevitable because I always come up with a new ideas. As time goes by I could always hear some parts that could have been better. But that doesn't mean that the album is bad. I am very satisfied with the way the new album came out. UM: How does a Sigh song come together? Do you actually sit down and decide that you will put a Minimoog solo here, a Hammond solo here or is it more a process that happens in the studio as the song takes shape? Mirai: (Long pause). It is very hard to explain. Usually I am composing in my head and my mind. So I always bring a musical notebook so whenever I come up with a new idea I write it down. Then I sit down in front of the synthesizer and play and sometimes put them on MIDI in the computer. I try how my idea sounds. If it works I will record it. If not I have to rearrange it and sometimes I throw it away the whole idea. So it is quite complicated and it takes a lot of time from the first idea getting assembled into a complete song. It also depends on the song, how it progresses. I am sorry but it is very hard to explain in English. UM: Sure, don't worry about it. You have progressed from a black metal band in Scorn Defeat to something completely different now. What has led Sigh to this point? Mirai: I personally think that the musical background has been the same even from the beginning. When we started the band 10 years ago we wanted to create something like we do now but we don't have the ability, the knowledge of the compositions. From the beginning we always had the idea to mix aggressive heavy metal with some beautiful, symphonic, classical music. What we could do 10 years ago was the demo and Scorn Defeat. Some people may have the impression that we started as a black metal band and grew out of it and started something new. I personally agree with that. Of course we used to be on DSP (Euronymous's label) and we used to wear corpse paint and now we have a total different image. I can understand that people feel we changed the musical style but the background stayed the same. UM: Did you ever consider Sigh as a black metal band? Mirai: We don't want to stick to the word "black metal" anymore. Being categorized as a black metal band, some people refuse to listen to us because they think that black metal is something worthless musically. On the other hand black metal fans may not take to our music because our music is so different from the so-called black metal trend. Being classified as a black metal band just limits our listener. So we don't want to stick to black metal anymore. We want more and more people interested in our music. UM: Since you want to have more people interested in your band is that a reason you signed with Century Media? Mirai: Of course. When we were on Cacophonous Records, they didn't do any promotion at all. They didn't do anything right. So many people told me that they couldn't find our CDs at all, at the local store. Cacophonous had a really bad distribution. Even if people are interested in us, they can't listen to us because they can't find the CD. But now we are on Century Media who has a great distribution worldwide. They are doing really well in promoting our new album. It is great to be on a decent label like Century Media. UM: Sigh has been known more of a cult band, probably because a lot of people didn't know the band because of the problems you just described. Hopefully, this will open new fans and opportunities for you. Mirai: I hope so. Yeah! (Very excited) UM: Did you know Euronymous? Mirai: Unfortunately, I never met him in person. I talked to him on the phone. UM: What was your impression of him? Mirai: He was a really innovative person. Whenever I spoke with him on the phone he always came up with a new idea. I always was in awe with his musical ability and innovative ideas. He was really a cool person. UM: Where you sad about what happened to him? Mirai: I was really surprised. Only 3 days before he was murdered I spoke with him on the phone. About a week later I got a letter from Samoth of Emperor, he told me that Euronymous was murdered. I was really surprised and shocked. It happened so suddenly. Yeah, crazy! UM: How did you manage to get Bard Eithun to write the lyrics for "Nietzchan Conspiracy"? Did you know him from back then? Mirai: Well, I didn't have any contact with him before [he went to jail]. All of a sudden, last year he emailed me, probably from prison. We started having contact. He told me he was writing the lyrics for Samoth's band, I think its called Zyklon. At the time I was writing the lyrics for the new album. So I thought it would be a good idea to ask him to write some lyrics for us. I knew that he was a very intelligent person. He said, "Yes". The result was great and I really like the lyrics he wrote. UM: That is a really great song. Mirai: Yes, thank you! UM: What do you base your lyrics on and what are some of the songs about in Imaginary Sonicscape? Mirai: On the new album I wrote the lyrics based on personal views on life and death. To me, the horror in our daily lives is much scarier than imaginative horror, like zombies. Because you have to face death without failure and you have to face fear of getting old. It is really scary when you are very young that some day you will be 60 or 70. You are going to lose so many things when you get so old. I probably will not be playing in Sigh anymore when I am 60 or 70. It is scary. Most of they lyrics on the album are about life and death and fear of getting old, fear of losing somebody you love. It is really scary because there is the possibility that your girlfriend might be killed any day in a car accident and even yourself could be killed in a car accident today. Those are the topics I usually write about. UM: Not many people face those fears you talk about. Mirai: I think that most people are interested in that kind of thing even if they are not aware of it because they really like to watch those [car] accident TV programs. That is the proof that so many people are interested in death. I am aware of that. I am sure that other people are interested in death too. However, they are probably not aware of the fact that they are interested in death. UM: "Slaughtergarden Suite" is your most ambitious song yet. Could you tell me the process of developing that song? Mirai: I wanted to create a short 10-minute horror movie with "Slaughtergarden". It is a song that is divided into 5 totally different tracks like 5 chapters. It is like a movie because in movies the scenes are often sect opposed without any context or something, they are just silly horror movies. I didn't make each 5 tracks a completed song because they all sound much scarier like that, like a horror movie. It is the scariest song of the whole record. UM: It is definitely a scary song and there are other parts in the album that also has scary parts. Like in the chorus in "Corpsecry - Angelfall", it sounds like children crying or wailing. That sounds very scary to me. Mirai: Oh, the screaming! Those are my kids. I just made my kids scream. (We both have a good laugh) It just sounded so great, much better than me doing it. UM: While not really scary but just more like haunting is the instrumental piece "Impromptu (Allegro Maestoso)". Mirai: I think so. The biggest purpose to include the track in the new album is just showing off how fast I could play the piano. That is the purpose. (Laughs) UM: "A Sunset Song" is another favorite of mine and this song totally embodies the 70's spirit. It is a great song and I like it a lot because it has a very happy vibe to it. Mirai: Yeah, it sounds happy. But it is about, like I told you, the fear of getting old. That is the sunset of your life. It sounds happy but at the same time it sounds a bit sad. For me, I tried to create a song in a major key but is sounds a bit sad, a bit nostalgic. I think you can feel the sad feeling in a major key. I don't know how you felt listening to it. UM: Music wise in the beginning, with the acoustic guitars, it sounds very upbeat. Mirai: Yeah, I can see that. Our intent is totally different. I don't know if it worked well. UM: Oh No. It is an excellent song and I have seen a lot of people list it as their favorite song from the album. Mirai: That's great. Thank you. UM: Are you a popular band in Japan? Mirai: If you are a heavy metal fan, you will know of us because we are with the major distributor in Japan. I think that if you are a heavy metal fan you will know of us. UM: How big is heavy metal in Japan? Mirai: Well it depends. The melodic power metal bands like Rhapsody, Blind Guardian and Helloween are very popular. Also, melodic death metal bands like Arch Enemy, Children of Bodom and In Flames are really popular. But unfortunately other genres like death metal and black metal aren't popular here. UM: Are you part of the popular bands? Mirai: No! Usually people do not support the domestic bands because to them heavy metal is the music of the western world. It is very hard to be a heavy metal band from Japan. UM: Do you know Shadow, which just came out with a new album on Century Media? Mirai: Oh yeah! The bassist is a good friend of mine. I have known him for almost 10 years. UM: To your knowledge, is it true that the new Prime Minister is a heavy metal fan? Mirai: I don't think so. Is it reported like that in the US? UM: When he was inaugurated, it was reported in the paper that he is a heavy metal fan. Mirai: He loves a band called X-Japan. For most normal people, X-Japan might be heavy metal but they are not! They are just a teenage pop band. They play some songs with heavy guitars and fast tracks. But those are just pop songs to a true heavy metal fan. He doesn't listen to AC/DC or Motorhead or anything heavy metal at all. He just likes one of the teenager idol bands of Japan. UM: Interesting. The paper here made it sound like he probably listens to bands like Iron Maiden or Metallica. Mirai: Oh No! No way! (We both laugh heartily again) UM: There are rumors that you may tour in North America, is it a possibility? Mirai: We are talking with Century Media for a tour there in November. But it is not for sure. We would like to tour in as many countries as possible. It will be great if it comes true. UM: How would you play some of the songs live? I imagine you need to use guest musicians. Mirai: We have been searching for a session keyboardist for gigs. It is really hard to find someone who can play the keyboards really well and at the same time who can understand what we are doing. Now when we play gigs we play with only 3 members. So we emphasize our heavy metal when we play gigs at the moment. We hope to find somebody who could play the keyboards on stage by the time we would start the tour in the US. UM: So then you play the bass live. Mirai: Yes I play the bass and sing live. I personally think that it doesn't look great playing the keyboard and screaming. It looks a bit ridiculous. UM: I can totally picture why you say that. Mirai: It looks much better playing the bass and singing. UM: What was the first instrument you learned to play? Mirai: The piano. UM: What do you like playing more, bass or keyboards? Mirai: I consider myself to be a pianist because I can play the keyboards a lot better than I play the bass. UM: Where does Sigh go from here, for the next album if you have thought about it? Mirai: I already started some parts for the new album. At the moment I am thinking of making it more ethnic and more dubbing of music. I think the next album will be more influenced by dubs more and more. But I can't promise you anything because I usually change my mind so easily. At least at the moment I am thinking of making it with more ethnic stuff. Two years ago I was asked what Imaginary Sonicscape would sound like and I said it would be like the song "Requiem - Nostalgia" because I was working on that song at the time. I was thinking of making the whole album like that song. The album came out totally different. UM: Are you involved in any other projects/bands? Mirai: Now I am working with Phil from Pantera and Killjoy of Necrophagia. That project is called Enoch. Enoch plays no metal but more like horror movie soundtrack music. I have already composed and recorded all the synthesizer and sampling parts. As soon as the Pantera tour I will go to the US and go to the studio and record the rest of the parts. Hopefully it will be done by the end of the year. UM: What label will release it? Mirai: I think it will be on Killjoy's own label. It will probably be out early next year. UM: That sounds really awesome! Mirai: You can imagine how it will sound by the synthesizer parts of Sigh. UM: Anything else you want to talk about? Mirai: We have a brand new website on the Internet. It is http://listen.to/Sigh. Please mention the URL on the interview. UM: Absolutely and just to let you know the URL was already on the review of your album. So hopefully people have checked it out already. Mirai: Oh great! People can get the latest information of Sigh on the website. They can email me if someone wants to talk to me. UM: Excellent! I guess that wraps it up Mirai. Thanks for your time. Mirai: You are very welcome. UM: Enjoy the rest of your vacation. Mirai: Thank you very much!