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Yuma Natsume is tired of being thought of as beautiful. She’d rather be known as the powerful voice fronting Die Database, and the one that made 99% Natural so memorable. I talked to her a few weeks ago, and like her bandmate Masae she made sure we used the Agartha Labs Narrative Engine for translation from Japanese.
Junk Magnet: How has it been going back home in Hakone?
Yuma: So many tourists! Like always, it’s pointless to ride anything that connects to the Hakone Tozan Railway, unless you just love crowds and switchbacks.
Junk Magnet: Isn’t it normal for Japanese to put up with masses of nearby bodies?
Yuma: Remember, I’m practically a country girl! I did whatever I could to stay away from the the constantly crowded areas around Hakone, and when it was absolutely necessary to mingle with crowds, I would just zone out with my MiniDisc player.
Junk Magnet: Aren’t you a bit young for MiniDiscs?
Yuma: Not really – I got the player when I was a little girl. I think my father wanted to make up for my horrible childhood.
Junk Magnet: Surely you’re joking..
Yuma: No! I was chubby with more braces than teeth, and my yell was little more than a whisper. I always got made fun off. I was a daddy’s girl, though, so he compensated with gifts.
Junk Magnet: Like what?
Yuma: All sorts of Game Boys. Fancy clothes, especially for a pre-teen. I even had my own private English tutor.
Junk Magnet: Tell me more about that – I didn’t know you were holding back your English skills.
Yuma: Yeah, right before I hit puberty, Kaia was my tutor. She would come over just about every night, and we would have lessons for an hour. She was pretty good, because she had lived in the US for a while. She had a German accent, though, even when she spoke Japanese.
Junk Magnet: That’s weird… do you know where in Germany she was from?
Yuma: Bavaria? Munich? I was never that good at foreign cities. Anyway, Strauss-sensei was so nice to me, and she made me feel less awkward.
Junk Magnet: Hold on for a minute – Kaia Strauss from Munich? What year was this?
Yuma: Umm.. I was 12, so around 2000. She lived in Hakone for a few years.
Junk Magnet: I’m going to send you an email. Let me know if this was your tutor.
Yuma: You mean you think you might know her? OK, I got something…. Yeah! That’s her alright. She looks a bit younger in that picture, though.
Junk Magnet: Younger? OK, that’s just too weird. That was taken a few months ago.
Yuma: Kaia always looked either much older or much younger than you’d expect. For example, when we used to hang out in Tokyo….
Junk Magnet: What? When was that?
Yuma: Yeah, about a year before 99% Natural started, she ran into me on the set of [Tokyo Tower Suicides]. Well, we were location shooting, and she was just there in the crowd. Of course I got her into the shoot, it had been so long since I last saw her. That was almost 8 years later, and she didn’t really seem to have aged at all.
Junk Magnet: I’m sorry I’m spending so much time on this, but it’s just so crazy. You know Kaia Strauss!
Yuma: Sure. After we met again, we used to hang out all the time. And the funny thing is, on the night I first met Masae at the Circle X, Kaia was waiting outside for me, smoking. We had just finished a late dinner, and she wanted to stop at that particular store. I don’t know why, but I’m glad she did.
Junk Magnet: Oh God, that’s too much.
Yuma: If she didn’t make me go in to get her something, I don’t think there would have ever been a 99% Natural, or even Die Database.
Junk Magnet: Don’t tell me she met Satomi, too.
Yuma: No, I don’t think so…. she had to leave Japan right after that, and I haven’t seen her since 2008. It’s too bad, I really miss her.
Junk Magnet: I’m going to talk to you more about this when the interview is over. Crazy. So, how is your family?
Yuma: They’re alright. The earthquake didn’t hit too hard in Hakone, but it was still a big mess. Things have recovered somewhat, but our hearts and minds haven’t. At least, my mother is still really shook up. She ordered me to leave Tokyo and come home as soon as possible. Only now did I return back to my place.
Junk Magnet: Are you still in Ueno?
Yuma: No, I moved to between Shibuya and Harajuku, – almost next to the Design Festa Gallery.
Junk Magnet: I love that place! I saw it in 2009 right before that day you took me on the Shinkansen to Hakone.
Yuma: Yeah, but I don’t know why you made me ride the Hakone Ropeway. Fuji-san isn’t going anywhere.
Junk Magnet: At least we took the bus from the train station – those valleys are so beautiful.
Yuma: I always love hiking when I’m back home. It feels like a piece of heaven.
Junk Magnet: So I wanted to get back to you as an awkward pre-teen…. when you do think you blossomed?
Yuma: Oh, do you consider me a fragrant flower? Or are you just poking around my budding breasts?
Junk Magnet: There’s no way that phrase can’t sound awful in English after being translated. But yeah, I want to know if there was a time when you started to feel empowered, attractive…
Yuma: The stereotype would be that puberty made it all happen, but honestly I think I wasn’t really noticing, not even when the braces came off. I think it took the attention of that talent scout before I actually realized that something was up.
Junk Magnet: I know you’ve gone over that story over and over in interviews. I guess I’m less interested in what happened – you’re discovered and you start modeling – than in how it affected you.
Yuma: OK. One of my favorite movies is [Hana & Alice], by Iwai Shunji.
Junk Magnet: Yeah! I saw that when I first visited Tokyo in 2004. Do you mean you feel like Alice?
Yuma: Yes, and I think Aoi Yuu did such a marvelous job with that role. I think she really captured that charge you get when it’s like the whole world starts to notice you. Of course, she went through a very similar experience in her personal life, with modeling and acting.
Junk Magnet: You still haven’t met her, right?
Yuma: No such luck! I wish she was a Die Database fan, then I could invite her to a concert as thanks for expressing that feeling, and letting me see when it counted. In 2004 I was 15, 16, and my talent agency was really pressing me hard for more extensive Junior AV video work. I’m sure they cared in theory about my “career”, but mostly they wanted to use my barely covered body as a money machine. Not that it didn’t work for hundreds of naive girls and their enabling parents…
Junk Magnet: I sense you’re not a big fan of the bikini videos you made.
Yuma: Honestly, I could only look at each one once, right after they were filmed. I’ve never even torn off the shrink wrap of the copies they sent me. I think they will be good to look at when I’m an old lady, but it’s not like I want my potential grandchildren to see them or anything.
Junk Magnet: How do you feel about the constant reference to that part of your life, by fans and critics?
Yuma: No one really seems to think it’s a huge deal – it’s not like they’re shutting down all of the online stores that sell videos of young “sexy” girls. Sure, some cities like Tokyo are starting to crack down a bit on manga and such, but I guess it’s just a very Japanese thing, for good or ill.
Junk Magnet: But how do you feel – knowing that anyone can buy a DVD featuring your 15 year old self…
Yuma: I don’t like it at all, OK? I felt pressured, like this was the only path leading to stardom, away from all of the tourists and Hakone. I don’t want to talk about it any more right now.
Junk Magnet: I’m sorry. I guess I was just trying to contrast that part of your life, to now, which seems to be far more comfortable for you.
Yuma: I know you’re just doing your job. Yeah… things really turned around once I was able to realize my dream to be a real actress, and musician.
Junk Magnet: Do you have any particularly fond memories from the past few years, since 99% Natural started?
Yuma: It goes without say that I love [Massive Cloud Burst] – I just can’t help it. I know you’re aware of Satomi doing the score… did you know they actually let us talk to the writers about our characters?
Junk Magnet: Really?
Yuma: Yeah! I totally got to fix up Hikari a bit – at first she was just too much like a random harem girl, just throwing herself at the feet of Hinata. There was lots of sex, too – I had them cut out a bunch of things. Don’t get me wrong, I love sex, but I just didn’t want to see Hikari used that way.
Junk Magnet: That explains so much! Fans were always wondering why MCB was so much less hentai than the other games coming out at that period. And there have been miles of forum posts spent trying to figure out if the plot and characters were just accidentally so similar to Die Database.
Yuma: I’m not saying that we wrote the story or anything, but once we agreed to be the faces of the game, we wanted our say.
Junk Magnet: And you wanted to keep the Cosmic Kimono.
Yuma: You better believe it! I tolerate all of the other cosplay as long as it means I can still dress up as Hikari.
Junk Magnet: That reminds me – Die Database is really known for not just its intense live shows, but for you in particular. You really dominate the stage like few others can.
Yuma: Thank you. I know you can see Yuki in my stage presence, but I was also influenced by Natsu from Sentimental Bus, not to mention Sheena Ringo, Yoshimi from Boredoms and OOIOO, and Yako from Melt-Banana.
Junk Magnet: I also see some Puffy in there.
Yuma: Sure! Sometimes at practice me and Satomi do our Ami/Yumi thing, even the cute dances.
Junk Magnet: Please tell me you have that on video.
Yuma: Don’t you wish!
Junk Magnet: Alright, now for the game show lightning round! Are you ready?
Junk Magnet: What cities do you want to visit in the US?
Yuma: Yuma, Arizona! Do they have a huge sign that says “Yuma”? If so, I will steal it! Or at least have Masae take a picture of me in front of it.
Junk Magnet: That’s your grand itinerary?
Yuma: OK – Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, and anywhere else that will have us.
Junk Magnet: Didn’t you already go to New York for Fashion Week last year?
Yuma: Yes! No key to the city, but at parties the non-gay designers kept passing me their room key cards. I didn’t take up their offer, but now I have a collection of keys to the best hotels.
Junk Magnet: Didn’t you wear Satomi’s dress?
Yuma: It was magnificent. I was so sad, though – on the last day someone stole it out of my bag! They even stole all of the holographic tech that attaches to it. I want that dress back! If the thief is reading this, I will forgive you as long as it’s returned in one piece.
Junk Magnet: Throw in some of your teenage bikini DVDs and I’m sure you’ll have a deal.
Yuma: I hope you don’t mind the view when I’m standing over your dead body.
Junk Magnet: Next! Is there something you just can’t wait to buy in the US?
Yuma: I want to go to one of those insanely big Targets or Wal-Marts and get some clothes that have flags and eagles on them!
Junk Magnet: Something you really want to eat?
Yuma: Anything from one of those big food trucks! Line them all up in a row and I’ll spend a few days constantly eating. Little yet satisfying bites of joy.
Junk Magnet: Any requests from your fans in the US?
Yuma: When I jump into the crowd, please don’t grope my body too much!
Junk Magnet: That time it’s not the fault of the translation engine.
Yuma: I’m not naive – all of the guys in the front row have crazy hands. Just try to respect what I’m doing – some songs just aren’t the same unless I’m right there next to you, singing and shoving and punching away.
Junk Magnet: Punching?
Yuma: I’m trying to establish an aura of danger, so people will actually want to attend.
Junk Magnet: I think the guys and girls that want to be punched by you would make the perfect fans!
Yuma: Yes! And the ones waiting for hugs and kisses better wake up – Die Database rides puppies and kittens like roller skates!
Junk Magnet: I wish I could share your expression right now – even your scrunched up angry face is cute.
Yuma: Die Database eats cuteness for breakfast, and poops out puppies and kittens! That we ride! Plus there’s cosplay!
Junk Magnet: Any last words?
Yuma: We’re taking requests! Twitter @DieDatabase and let me know what songs we should play from other artists! We promise not to make fun of you too much!
Junk Magnet: That’s what you told me when we first met, and look where it’s gotten me.
Yuma: You better shape up, or we won’t put you on the guest list ever again!
Junk Magnet: Make sure to buy [Knee], Die Database’s amazing debut album, out this summer at a store near you!
Yuma: Keep kissing up and you just might deserve one of our punches. Dangerous, highly entertaining punches of love.
Masae Ekiguchi is simply awesome. She’s the musical powerhouse behind Die Database’s drumset, and the visionary that started the short lived yet long loved 99% Natural. We chatted a few weeks ago, and since she wasn’t satisfied by my translation skills last time, she insisted we use the Agartha Labs Narrative Engine for real time shifting between English and Japanese.
Masae: Are you understanding my words? Do you even comprehend rigorous machine translation?
Junk Magnet: You’re laying it on a bit thick, don’t you think?
Masae: I just don’t want to find out that you’ve been butchering my beautiful language. I can make grown policemen cry in their little substations, simply by waiving hello.
Junk Magnet: After reading that last sentence, I can guarantee that the essence of your communication is coming through loud and clear. You are hyperbole personified and walking about on cute feet.
Masae: Stop it with the cute feet already! I let you see my unsheathed toes only because I really needed to try on those Pumas when I showed you Landmark Tower and Queen’s Square.
Junk Magnet: Yes, your Yokohama shopping tour was extra special, but those little feet!
Masae: Everyone knows that my feet are huge, like cruise ships docked at Minato Mirai 21. That said, they are the most beautiful feet in the world, so I have to keep them under wraps.
Junk Magnet: Too late! Now, whenever I hear your drumming, I focus on the bass and imaging them going up and down and up.
Masae: You’re doing this on purpose! You know I’m a totally serious artist, full of sonic lightning, and yet you persist with fetishizing my cute bits. Face it – I’m irreducibly awesome!
Junk Magnet: I give you that. I’ll save my fawning over your feet and knees for another time.
Masae: And I’ll listen at that time. I love it when my subjects talk about me.
Junk Magnet: So, you’re still insisting about your princess status.
Masae: There are pictures, illustrations, Nico Nico Douga video and all sorts of evidence!
Junk Magnet: But that’s for Sekigai – not you.
Masae: Everyone except you has immediately understood that [Massive Cloud Burst] was in fact a thinly veiled documentary, and that I am solar royalty. You have lack of faith fail!
Junk Magnet: OK. OK. That explains why I’ve never seen both you and Sekigai in the same place at the same time. Like Cutie Honey and all of her disguises you are one and the same.
Masae: Out of all the transforming cute anime girls, why pick that robot? She’s not even worthy to rust in the sweat I kick off when performing.
Junk Magnet: What two fictional characters that are the same person would you prefer I use?
Masae: How about Tommy February6 and Tommy Heavenly6?
Junk Magnet: Ooh – well played. You are definitely Heavenly.
Masae: Now why didn’t you flirt this hard when I showed you Yokohama? Then I could have even more firmly destroyed your advances.
Junk Magnet: Hey! I’m actually going to start the interview now. If you ever get bored, and need a quick ego boost, let me know – I have a few virtual cans of 5 Hour Big Head I can send you.
Masae: May I kill you, ever so slightly?
Junk Magnet: First question! Everyone wants to know more about your life before Circle X.
Masae: You mean there’s a world before convenience?
Junk Magnet: Yes, the inconvenient world of Yokohama.
Masae: I grew up fully in love with my home town. We went out for a few years, but it always wanted to hang out by the Broadcast Library and watch random reruns. It broke my heart with free dramas!
Junk Magnet: And you wanted instead to hang out in Chinatown and eat everything.
Masae: I wanted to set the dolls free from their museum! I wanted to shop at the Red Brick Warehouse and buy cute t-shirts and stuffed animals.
Junk Magnet: Essentially, you wanted to start a T-Shirt and Stuffed Animal Museum, in Chinatown.
Masae: Do I even have to answer that? No, it would have to be next to World Porters, so I could duck in there on my break.
Junk Magnet: Besides shopping, what made you the awesome woman you are today?
Masae: I think it was fish and vitamins. Plus music! I would sneak out of the house at night so I could play it all even louder!
Junk Magnet: You didn’t do that.
Masae: I would climb onto the roof with my [Say Anything] boombox and draw all of the boys to me like stray cats!
Junk Magnet: You were the Joan Cusack of Yokohama, fighting off the boys with Judy and Mary.
Masae: Mean Machine! Yuki all the way – even in the snow I’d have to double up on my tracks, so they couldn’t follow me home.
Junk Magnet: You were the mild-mannered Lily Chou-Chou that turned into Salyu and then flew off of the roof.
Masae: Now you’ve taken it too far. When Salyu flies in the [Peaty] video that was a school girl fantasy. When I fly it’s more regal.
Junk Magnet: Not even going there. Would you say there were many boys stalking you?
Masae: A few. But [Judy Is A Punk Rocker], you know? I would sneak out of the house, climb on the roof and sneer like Joan Jett or Joan Gordon.
Junk Magnet: Ah, you were a Suspender fan.
Masae: Intruder Alert!, baby. Suspender was too famous for my tastes.
Junk Magnet: The old Operation Ivy versus Green Day paradox.
Masae: Exactly! There’s the magical point beyond which diluted orange juice just becomes cloudy yellow water. I need pure, concentrated vibrations. Hanatarash and not late groovy Boredoms. Self-titled Sleater-Kinney with Lora Macfarlane. Any Melt-Banana! If the amps weep, I’m there.
Junk Magnet: And you wonder why I adore you.
Masae: Why worry about the inevitable. [Everyone Much Touch The Stove].
Junk Magnet: Little Masae In Slumberland. How much music did you import in the 90s, anyway? Weren’t you in sailor suits then?
Masae: I don’t buy music. Music knocks on my door and asks to come in.
Junk Magnet: I’ve seen you buy CDs. With money.
Masae: That was just for show. Honestly, I just stream or download everything. If I buy something, either it’s on vinyl or from Yuki.
Junk Magnet: Do I need to leave you and Yuki alone? Love hotel connection?
Masae: You know you love her too. I’ve read your meager fan gushings.
Junk Magnet: Another question! I want to hear you talk about Atsushi Kaneko.
Masae: My eyes have been replaced by huge 5-pointed stars! [BAMBi] and [SOIL] forever!
Junk Magnet: Who would you be: Roach, Fly, or Mouse?
Masae: BAMBi. I am the Last Action Heroine.
Junk Magnet: Don’t tell me you download movies, too.
Masae: If they have big guns or Yuma in them, I’m there.
Junk Magnet: So when is the wedding day?
Masae: Yuma and I are star-crossed music lovers, not actual kissers. She comes from the Kaela Kimura clan, and I’m all about Unicorn. So we meet under a Tamio Okuda banner of truce. Besides, I’m strictly all about the otaku boys – it’s like fishing in a full lake!
Junk Magnet: Fish and vitamins, right?
Masae: Yes! And the vitamins are [Comic Beam] and [Kikan Gelatin].
Junk Magnet: I need to quickly get this interview back on track, with actual nuggets of Die Database for everyone to find, after sifting through mounds of random dirt.
Masae: Die Database is coming to the US. You shall be our chauffeur!
Junk Magnet: I shall point you in the direction of Bing. The secret is you click on the flights that Satomi will pay for.
Masae: You will run our merch tables, but we won’t let you buy anything. No set lists, either!
Junk Magnet: That’s right…. those holo set lists are a pain in the ass. There’s nothing to snatch off the stage after the encores.
Masae: I’m going to travel up the Mississippi and catch all of your huge jumping fish.
Junk Magnet: That would be very nice of you.
Masae: I’ve seen video about hamburgers the size of 12″ records. You will film me hunting them down like bison and eating them!
Junk Magnet: I’m getting a sense of your mythic journey, but I know there has to be more.
Masae: I will go to Tower Records!
Junk Magnet: That went out of business in the US.
Masae: I don’t care! My friends in Shibuya are counting on me to take pictures.
Junk Magnet: OK, make sure you go to Sacramento then.
Masae: Do they let you pet the muscles of the governor?
Junk Magnet: He’s not there any more. The new governor only has a shiny head, but I don’t think you can pet it.
Masae: You and your complicated American politics! I’m going to storm the halls of Congress and demand vinyl thicker than 300 grams.
Junk Magnet: You’re insatiable! Is that even possible?
Masae: So thick your needle will only last for the first play through.
Junk Magnet: I’m telling you now, you’ll be the death of analog.
Masae: When I was young, I used to sneak out of the house at night, climb on the roof, and radiate analog waves of joy.
Junk Magnet: Please let me know how I can bribe you into understandable responses.
Masae: I’ve heard that in the US you can get bottles of cola that are the size of infants. 3 liters? That’s like my Bigfoot. Promise to send me a picture of such a monstrosity and I’ll answer 5 more questions all Wikipedia like.
Junk Magnet: Deal! Number 1 – What is your favorite TV show of all time?
Masae: Hey! Hey! Hey! Music Champ. My goal was always to get slapped around by Downtown.
Junk Magnet: Number 2 – What is your favorite non-Japanese meal?
Masae: Italian. Maybe some amazing pasta with pesto sauce. If some fish snuck on to the plate, I would show them a good time.
Junk Magnet: Number 3 – What is your creative process?
Masae: Finally a question I can chew on! While I was still working at Circle X, I would read the ingredients of every food and drink item in the store as I shelved them. I tried to imagine how even the most non-musical list of additives could be turned into an amazing hit song. Then, I’d forget all of that crap, and pull out a guitar when I got home from work. I’m all about the demos – new musical ideas every night, or when I’d wake up in the morning. All of the boring piano lessons when I was breastless paid off, and now I’m bigger than [Nana]. Not bigger than Anna Tsuchiya or Mika Nakashima, just those skinny anime girls with the same name. I tower over all fictional drummers. Even Animal.
Junk Magnet: Number 4 – What is your dream?
Masae: Picture this. There’s a really big pile of money – all denominations. It’s the sum total of all the cash that can possible exist – a quadrillion? Quintillion? Anyway, it’s totally there, and you can see it from space. I would take a handful of money from that pile, stuff it in my pocket, and then set fire to the rest of cash mountain. Then I’d be the richest person in the world, with only a few thousand yen to my name. I’d barter that money for Treepeople vinyl. OK, I’d also accept early Built to Spill, but absolutely no Halo Benders!
Junk Magnet: Number 5 – Why are you so insane?
Masae: When I was young I used to sneak out of the house at night, climb up to the roof, and yell that very question out to the world. “Why are you so insane? Why am I so not?” The world would get confused at my word choice. We’d get into an argument, and finally the spirit of Yokohama would come between us and defuse the fight. It was such a handsome city then! I was crazy about it until it started to see Kamakura behind my back. Some things just can’t be forgiven.
Junk Magnet: For that command performance, I owe you a 4 liter bottle of generic soda. They have to exist somewhere!
Masae: Alas, some things just aren’t meant for this world.
Junk Magnet: Like your amazing feet.
Masae: While you’re out looking for soda, be a dear and pick up a restraining order for me.
I’ve known Satomi Kurogane, the secret power behind Die Database, ever since she moved to Berkeley, California in 2005. Not that she lives there now – she was only in the US for a few years, but she made a big impression on me during that time. In any case, I’ve been taking unfair advantage of our friendship ever since, and this interview is a perfect case in point.
Junk Magnet: How did your trip back home to Kamakura go?
Satomi: It was great, but I wish there had been better circumstances. The earthquakes and tsunami have been a horrible burden – even if much of the trauma was localized, it affected everyone.
Junk Magnet: Is your family doing OK?
Satomi: There’s been a big hit when it comes to tourism, but it’s starting to pick up a bit for Spring. In the end, no one can stay away from the Daibutsu for long, and what better way to commemorate the trip than with refrigerator magnets and pencil toppers?
Junk Magnet: I know I couldn’t resist. I wish you were able to be there in 2009.
Satomi: You’ll never forgive me for that. I know you went to see Masae in Yokohama and Yuma in Hakone during your trip, but I was out of the country for Agartha Labs business. Next time.
Junk Magnet: Speaking on next time, so you’re really going to come back to the US for a tour?
Satomi: That’s the plan. Right now we’re just trying to get a buzz going, but it was a big drag not being able to attend SXSW.
Junk Magnet: I think the Street Team idea has a lot of promise, though!
Satomi: You would, considering your constant pestering for us to start one. I have to agree, though – we’re already starting to get some attention, although mostly in the non-music-buying set.
Junk Magnet: You mean just-about-everyone?
Satomi: Well, yes. But I have been happy with the cover songs so far – thanks.
Junk Magnet: I wanted to bring that up, and get your official comments. So – what do you think of [Karmic Freedom] by Baby Teardrops?
Satomi: Oh, that was brilliant! Very different from the original, but I really like the paired down arrangement. And the male/female chorus is quite nice.
Junk Magnet: How about [Massive Cloud Burst Theme] by Ben Morey and Nick Maynard?
Satomi: Really amazing…. I would have never taken that lo-fi direction, but it really works. In some respects I think it’s actually an improvement on the original, mostly because it has a lot more room to breathe.
Junk Magnet: I’m still negotiating with a few more bands for you – I’m hoping the one I told you about pans out.
Satomi: I get the feeling you’re shaping this interview so I’ll have to constantly thank you. Are you still that desperate for validation?
Junk Magnet: You had to go there! OK, I’m going to take off the kid bicycle gloves now….. In our last interview, you said that you studied English at the Berkeley Adult School, and that “I took just enough classes so I could stay on a student Visa”. You and I both know that after 1996, the US cut out a lot of loopholes, including the ability to use adult school ESL classes to satisfy a F-1 visa.
Satomi: No comment!
Junk Magnet: In fact, this was one of the first things we talked about when we met at that concert. A few of my friends did just that in the early 90s – take a few easy classes and then fill their spare time with adventure. I was assuming you were doing the same, but you gave me an impromptu immigration reform lament.
Satomi: You’re really not going to drop this, huh? Let’s just say that I had a visa, and that I spent some time in school. That’s all we’re going to discuss about that, right?
Junk Magnet: Fine. I’ll take another path to get to the heart of the story. Tell me about you and Jenny Samuels.
Satomi: Really? Are you trying to make me mad?
Junk Magnet: Quite the opposite. I know that your breakup was rough, but I’m more interested in the beginning, because that’s where I see the real genesis of Agartha Labs and Die Database.
Satomi: I’m going to owe you a beating when we go on tour…. Fine. When I was in school, a school that shall rename nameless to prevent potential incrimination, I actually did study English. I was always pretty good at it, but when I first came to the Bay Area I was overrun by strange and powerful idioms and slang, and I didn’t want to sound as foreign as I was. So, I put an ad on Craigslist for an English tutor in the East Bay, and Jenny answered.
Junk Magnet: What was the first thing that went through your mind when you met?
Satomi: I thought she was totally crazy! In retrospect…. well, maybe I shouldn’t use the word “crazy”. Let’s just say she was intense. Brilliantly locked on and ready to fire.
Junk Magnet: Oh, I like that! And I have to say that I like such intensity in a woman, but when we were still talking, it became a bit much.
Satomi: Is that why you stopped publishing antizine for her?
Junk Magnet: Do you really want me to go there in your interview?
Satomi: Why not? Especially if it’ll make you look stupid.
Junk Magnet: I’ll ignore that. Anyway, I knew Jenny and Laura when they were working on antizine. We go back a long, long way, since we were teens.
Satomi: Now that’s a story I want to hear more about!
Junk Magnet: And you already have, in private.
Satomi: You mean just like our private visa conversations?
Junk Magnet: Well played. So, around antizine issue 26 or so, I started to publish my own zines, and I included some of their “stories” as a favor. A few times I came right out and credited them, but after they stopped working together in late 1994, I just took everything they funneled me and published it under my own name. It all stopped after the year 2000, but I kept up the charade and posted everything online, as instructed.
Satomi: Jenny asked you to do that?
Junk Magnet: God no. Frisbee. She kept it all coming until she died. None of the interested parties really cared, because we’re talking 200 largely-unread copies of each issue. Online, it all just faded into the noise.
Satomi: OK, I’m trying hard to bring Jenny back into this. What point are you trying to make?
Junk Magnet: Right. So, she was your intense tutor.
Satomi: Correct. We worked together every week for months. At first, it was purely a professional relationship – we would meet at Au Coquelet on University and just go over my lessons and questions. Then… it became more personal.
Junk Magnet: I’m not going to push it. I’m just amazed at how much the both of you changed once you started going out.
Satomi: For a while, she was my pulsing, guiding light that kept me from crashing into the rocks.
Junk Magnet: Where did you live again, in South Berkeley?
Satomi: Yeah, on Alcatraz. It was a really dismal one bedroom, with bars on the windows and barely any natural light, but we did our best to make it work. Not that we spent much time at home – almost every night we went to whatever concert, gallery, installation or event that would have us, and she really came out of her shell then, especially when it came to photography.
Junk Magnet: Which makes sense, considering – she was the “staff photographer” for antizine, and personally documented the rise of innumerable punk bands. We used to keep running into each other at 924 Gilman, and she was so perfectly in her element, she could blend into the wall graffiti at will.
Satomi: I’ve seen some of her pictures of you, and your mustache and afro stage – watch yourself or I’ll post scans!
Junk Magnet: Watching!
Satomi: Thinking back, Jenny and I had some amazing nights – all of the art events, that is! But the days… is it safe to say that she can be a bit of a zombie?
Junk Magnet: I’m not sure that’s strong enough. And, I don’t want to talk about her this way without giving her a chance to rebut. I just wanted to remind you how much of your current work came out of that time.
Satomi: You know, I think you’re right, for once! In fact, a lot of my contacts in the whole O’Reilly/Maker community came from her. And she always cheered me on though my strange and sparking experiments…
Junk Magnet: You refer of course to your first big gallery show.
Satomi: They never forgave me for setting off the sprinklers! Every time I see the other artists at that show, I still feel like I have to beg for forgiveness.
Junk Magnet: Pay them in Agartha Labs prototypes. They can then start charitable foundations and have a few million left over.
Satomi: You’re such an annoying tease. And now, I’m still not going to send you the tech you want.
Junk Magnet: But you said it was inspired by that first night we met!
Satomi: Ah yes, with you taking incessant pictures of TsuShiMaMiRe – I bet you don’t even remember what I was wearing.
Junk Magnet: Trick question! You were actually wearing nothing. A white t-shirt with “nothing.” in Helvetica across the front.
Satomi: Shit! I forgot you have tons of pictures of me wearing that shirt.
Junk Magnet: You have to remember that I pulled you and Jenny aside, and after our secret visa discussions, I started laying out my vision of simulcast club concerts all over the world. Why blog about Noodles and The Pillows when you could actually see them live, wherever you are.
Satomi: Then I had one in a series of flashes, and decided to run with that idea to the extreme – what if you could actually be at any concert, wherever you are? I had to immediately kiss Jenny for good luck after such a great idea – I even bought her extra merch! A few months later I was already working on the first, early prototype projectors, but the real problem was modeling. The Ghosts were so awful!
Junk Magnet: I like my Ghost 1.0! It’s very Dreamcast.
Satomi: Naomi boards are really useful in a pinch.
Junk Magnet: And now…. I still don’t understand how you’ve done it. How you’ve gone so far since you left Berkeley.
Satomi: Sometimes I don’t, either! I came to the US a girl-woman with artistic dreams, and left a business-woman with artistic realities, and I haven’t stopped a second to look back.
Junk Magnet: Are you still in touch with Jenny?
Satomi: Hell no! Eventually the zombie in her won out, and I just couldn’t wake up one more morning with her standing next to the bed, staring at me. Or following me around aimlessly. Things were never abusive between us, yet I felt so stressed out, like we were constantly fighting without ever laying a finger on each other. The month we finally broke up is when I laid the true foundations for Agartha Labs, and the last time I ever heard from her.
Junk Magnet: I’m sorry. I do see her every so often – we don’t live that far away from each other. However, she never accepts any of my invitations, and she seems so run down – nothing like when we first met as barely teens. Back then, she was a powerhouse punk that could punch holes in guitars…
Satomi: Figuratively speaking
Junk Magnet: No, she actually punched a hole in the back of a steel string acoustic once, at a Fuck Traffic show. Then she started to play it from the inside out. Man, she was awesome back then….
Satomi: I just realized – what about Masae and Yuma? Don’t you want to embarrass them as well, under the flag of promotion?
Junk Magnet: Don’t worry, I’ll post the other two interviews soon. Any last words for now?
Satomi: Just that my visa usage is beyond reproach, so much so that there’s no reason for any Immigration Officials to pay my upcoming paperwork any mind. I not only love the laws of countries that aren’t my own, I want to marry any and all statutes that will have me.
Junk Magnet: That sounds like awesome performance art – marriage between pro and anti-gay laws.
Satomi: If two state constitutions fall in love and have children…. that’s it. I’ve got nothing else.
Junk Magnet: That, and your new album [Knee], coming soon to all major US retailers.
Satomi: All’s well that ends in shameless promotion….
Die Database Street Teams are coming to the San Francisco Bay Area this weekend, at WonderCon 2011.
Fan Cloud members will be wearing white Die Database hats and t-shirts, and will share information about the band with the public. If you see them, make sure to tell them if you’re already a fan of Die Database – you can receive extra gifts.
Check at the corners of 3rd and Howard or 4th and Howard to meet the team.
Street Team Hours:
Friday from 11-3PM
Saturday from 9-1PM
The members of Die Database thank all of their fans for their support during this tragic time. Currently, Satomi, Masae and Yuma have left Tokyo, and are visiting their families. Everyone is safe and healthy, but still shaken up after the earthquakes and tsunami. Agartha Labs have made a significant donation to the relief efforts, and Die Database encourages everyone to give as much at they can.
They’re not sure of the exact timing yet, but they are ready to announce that Die Database will be visiting the United States in the late summer or early fall of 2011, for a cross-country tour. More details about this exciting event will be released soon.
Satomi Kurogane is home from the hospital, and starting to feel better. Due to her doctor’s advice, the current tour is cancelled. The members of Die Database sincerely apologize for this.
The tour will be rescheduled later in 2011. Fan Cloud members who already registered for tickets will automatically receive new invitations.
Satomi Kurogane was attacked during the sold out Die Database show in Shimo-Kitazawa on February 19, 2011.
She was not seriously injured, but her assailant died on the scene. He has not yet been publicly identified.
The current tour, which began last night, has been put on indefinite hold while Satomi recovers. Die Database apologizes to their fans for this unexpected circumstance.
I was quite lucky to arrange an interview with Die Database right after New Years – they Skyped in from a cafe in Ikebukuro, and gave me their fully divided attention. It took me a week to translate everything from the Japanese, but believe me, any weirdly exuberant phrasing is all theirs.
Junk Magnet: Happy New Year!
Masae: Yes! Where are our big, fat envelopes full of money?
Satomi: I’m afraid that ship has long since sailed.
Masae: Well, at least I hope you sent us cute postcards.
Yuma: I’m eager to start my bunny card collection.
Masae: Did you at least send me some mochi?
Satomi: He doesn’t want you to choke before the interview starts.
Masae: I’m very upset. Give me a moment while I mentally compose a haiku about my first disappointment of the year.
Yuma: Please, start asking us your questions before we have to listen to her poem!
Junk Magnet: How are preparations going for your first tour of the year?
Satomi: Excellent. We’ve spent the past month practicing the Sheena Ringo songbook, and now we’re ready to play [Muzai Moratorium].
Junk Magnet: Your fans have been very perplexed by that – why is the first tour composed entirely of playing her albums in order?
Masae: Well, it’s not like we won’t play any of our songs, too.
Yuma: I lost a bet, and so instead of a tour full of Judy and Mary albums…
Satomi: We thought it would be an interesting challenge. Plus, no matter how amazing Tokyo Jihen are, I wanted to draw attention back to our mistress, my muse.
Masae: It’s true – she knows every moment of every album.
Yuma: And she has that big red [Ringo Book] with the eye on the front.
Masae: We like to hide it from her, or take pictures of us with it at scenic spots around Tokyo.
Satomi: I’m going to take it back home to Kamakura, and hide it inside the big Buddha, so neither of them can bother it again.
Junk Magnet: How does your family in Kamakura feel about Die Database?
Satomi: My father doesn’t really care one way or another – he’s too focused on the lucrative souvenir trade.
Yuma: Don’t listen to her! When we played Kamakura her whole family attended, and they were right up in the front row.
Masae: They even sell Die Database merchandise at their shop.
Satomi: Yes, they are supportive. However, I think my parents would be more impressed if my art was displayed in the Museum of Modern Art.
Masae: Didn’t you use to hang out there when you were younger?
Satomi: Both sites. The Annex opened when I was a little girl, and I used to love to walk up the hill from my parent’s shop, and then run around all of the sculptures out front. When I was a bit older I actually went there to appreciate the art, and I quickly decided that my life’s goal would be to make art good enough to become part of their collection.
Yuma: We think she’s good enough right now.
Masae: That’s right! When she first contacted 99% Natural, we were blown away by her sculpture.
Junk Magnet: Tell me more about when you all first met.
Yuma: Well, in 2008 I had just finished a series of swimsuit DVDs….
Masae: The kind that are all thongs and ass and hands over breasts, oh yeah!
Yuma: Let’s just say that I wanted to be an actress, but since my early teens I was being groomed as an AV Idol. So, I was getting more and more upset with my talent agency, but their attitude was that I was lucky to have that kind of exposure, so to speak.
Masae: Did you ever see [Tokyo Tower Suicides]? Yuma was so awesome in that movie! I must have watched it a dozen times when it came out on DVD – she’s just as good as Aoi Yuu or anyone else.
Yuma: I wouldn’t go that far. Still, I thought I should at least try to keep what remained of my clothes on before I turned 20. I was having problems finding good roles, since everyone wanted me to play some version of a whore, and modeling was the only thing really paying the bills.
Masae: When I worked nights at the Circle X, I would always read the latest magazines in between customers – my manager hated me for that. When Yuma started appearing on more covers, I would make sure to study the photo spreads, and read the interviews, and I had such a crush on her!
Satomi: She still does!
Masae: Stop messing with me! Satomi is convinced that the reason I keep breaking up with guys is that I really want Yuma instead. I can’t speak to my lack of luck with men, but I can say that Yuma is still dreamy!
Yuma: Actually, I think Satomi is on to something! That night I walked into Circle X to get a C.C. Lemon and some onigiri, Masae just about jumped over the counter and rushed at me hands raised, screaming.
Masae: Come on! I admit that I did walk over to you while you were browsing, but it wasn’t like I was making a scene or anything.
Yuma: Seriously – she came over and pushed a flier into my chest. “I’m making a band!” she said, “You must be the singer!”
Masae: For the past 5 months I had been trying to find the perfect singer and guitarist to go with my amazing drumming…
Satomi: Her drumming is definitely like a maze – you can get lost in it.
Masae: Absolute stunning drumming, and I had posted fliers all around Tokyo, not to mention hitting all of the message boards online. No one had answered, and then Yuma walked into the store that night. It was a sign!
Yuma: I think she must have read that interview when I said if I wasn’t going to be an actress, then I wanted to be in a band, like Kimura Kaela or something.
Masae: She’s so much cuter than Kaela, and I love Kaela, so I had been dreaming of Yuma as the lead of my imaginary band with exciting drumming, and then she walks in right in front of me.
Yuma: At first I politely ignored her, but when she went back behind the counter in order to ring me up, she secretly put a CD-R in my plastic bag. I didn’t notice it until I got home, and I actually loved her music. She played every instrument over multiple tracks, and it already sounded totally ready for the radio.
Masae: When she left that night, I was both excited and depressed. Excited because Yuma came into Circle X! Depressed because I really doubted that she would ever come back.
Yuma: But I did, every night that week until Masae was working again. Then she was mine.
Satomi: Notice the possessive. The two of them have always had the hots for each other.
Masae: I’m not going to argue with you. Anyway – 99% Natural! We came up with a name and started writing songs right away.
Satomi: Since Yuma was pretty, and famous, and actually a great singer, Masae’s incredible drumming catapulted them to some kind of stardom.
Yuma: I was all ready to quit my talent agency, but they made a promise to stop pimping me out to the AV market if they could get a piece of 99% Natural.
Masae: It didn’t matter that much, since 4 months later 99% Natural was no more – Satomi killed it!
Satomi: Someone’s overdosed on drama pills. The complete and unabridged story is that I heard about 99% Natural from a friend, and so I attended their 2nd concert, in Shimo-Kitazawa. They were awesome!
Masae: Awesome drumming!
Satomi: Yuma, Masae, the whole package was cute yet powerful, and at that moment I knew I had to be a part of it.
Yuma: After the show, she bought some band shirts and gave an 10,000 yen tip.
Masae: Then she bought us drinks, even though we were getting some for free from the club. Score!
Yuma: Essentially, she asked the band out for a date
Masae: I didn’t even know that bands dated, but that’s a good description. She wanted to pay our way, and you could tell she wanted to take us home afterwards.
Satomi: Seriously, I told them then and there that they had the seed to stardom in their hands, and I wanted to water it with my resources. I wanted to bankroll 99% Natural.
Masae: I was a bit drunk by then, so I told her she could take us out to dinner the next night, and to make sure she brought big piles of money.
Yuma: Really, she mentioned huge piles of money.
Satomi: You see, when I presented my card to them at the club, they noticed I was the CEO of Agartha Labs, and I think their money detectors went into overdrive.
Masae: When I think of labs, I think of lots of glassware with chemicals, and you know that has to be expensive.
Yuma: I didn’t say it then, but I had actually heard of Agartha Labs in some magazine profile. So, I knew she wasn’t totally making everything up.
Junk Magnet: When did 99% Natural turn into Die Database?
Masae: Like I mentioned, she took us out to an Italian dinner, and at the end she placed three credit cards down on the table. One was for dinner, and the other two were for us. Big piles of money!
Yuma: It’s true – she had already added us to the Agartha Labs credit line, with a 1,000,000 yen limit for each of us, and told us to have at the music making.
Satomi: Well, there was some paperwork involved soon enough, but I wanted to start them out with no worries about how to finance the recording of their first single, and eventual album. At that point Agartha Labs was more than self-sufficient, so I had money to burn on my pet projects.
Masae: That’s right, she always pats me on the head when she hands over the money.
Yuma: Are you still upset that you didn’t get a New Year’s envelope full of money?
Masae: Yes! Leave me alone or I’ll recite my poem!
Satomi: Back to your question, 99% Natural used my financial backing, but never actually released anything.
Yuma: That’s because while we were working on song writing, and temporarily got stuck, Satomi handed us a big binder full of lyrics and music that she had been working on for the past few years.
Masae: It was like the god of music rang our doorbell and asked us to sign for a package full of brilliance.
Yuma: 99% Natural had always performed in Japanese, but Satomi wrote songs in English, and they really blew us away.
Junk Magnet: How did you learn English?
Satomi: A few years back, before I started Agartha Labs, I went to the US to study English. I ended up in Berkeley, near San Francisco, and studied at the Adult School. I took just enough classes so I could stay on a student Visa, and in my free time I worked on my art. I was there for two years, and met a lot of great people. It was then that I started to take music seriously – I had always enjoyed listening to it, but I never imagined that I could actually make it. Once I started to try, it all flowed out so easily, and it kind of scared me.
Masae: It scares us too!
Satomi: While I was in the US I had some life changing ideas – holographic sculpture was an element of that. By the time I got back to Japan, and incorporated as Agartha Labs, it didn’t take long to see those ideas into fruition. I guess I always had the “business gene” from my parents, but my new found success seemed just come out of nowhere.
Masae: I think she felt bad about doing so well, so she decided to adopt 99% Natural and run it into the ground.
Yuma: No, no, she wanted to marry 99% Natural, and did, and had Die Database as the baby.
Satomi: I was a good conceptualist, but not that great as a physical musician, so at first bass was just my speed.
Masae: Are you insulting bassists everywhere?
Satomi: Hardly – I’m just saying that I wasn’t very good, not like you and Yuma, but I learned quickly.
Yuma: She did. And she put beautiful words into my mouth.
Masae: Was she stuffing the words into your mouth with her fingers? Or, perhaps using some sort of vibrating tool?
Satomi: If you haven’t already noticed, Masae is orally fixated.
Masae: Yuma started it! She knows I can’t resist sexy talk.
Yuma: That’s the whole point. The history of Die Database is not sexy talk at all!
Satomi: Speak for yourself.
Masae: I think we should leave Satomi alone with her band, under the sheets…
Yuma: Aren’t you so glad that you interviewed us?
Junk Magnet: Who named the new band Die Database?
Masae: Satomi! I wanted to call us 101% Natural, since she would only be adding 2% to the band.
Yuma: And I wanted to call it Sexy Talk. Seriously – Sexy Talk Station.
Satomi: You must never believe anything they say. Except the part about my name for the band. Die Database has multiple meanings, and I refuse to disclose any of them at this time.
Masae: She told us that there’s this database in Germany that wants to kill her, and so she’s going to strike first with music.
Yuma: After we have our sexy talk time, she always confides in me. She said that there’s a list of everyone who’s going to die, and when, some sort of mystical record keeping.
Satomi: Again – emphasis on the not believing them.
Junk Magnet: Die Database first became known due to Yuma’s commercial for Agartha Labs.
Masae: She wanted to do it naked, but we insisted she at least start with some clothing on.
Yuma: I wasn’t sure how the holographic clothes were going to work, but I just treated it like any other fashion show.
Satomi: [Karmic Freedom] is a song I’d imagine you could enjoy between lives
Masae: Totally! She always threatens to kill me if I get the intro wrong to that song. I guess she thinks I could play it better if I was dead.
Yuma: Satomi is a philosopher. She believes music should be thoughtful yet confusing.
Satomi: Yes, that was our first hit song. But, I think that [Massive Cloud Burst] really got us going.
Yuma: I knew some of the voice actresses that were working on that game, and they told me the producer was still looking for a theme song.
Masae: He was kind of sketchy – he had every last one of Yuma’s half-naked DVDs in his collection.
Yuma: He only had a couple. Anyway, he did have a thing for me, and so he gave Die Database a chance, as long as we would agree to cosplay some [Massive Cloud Burst] characters for a promotional video, posters, and things like that.
Masae: Plus, he took some extra sexy Yuma footage for his private collection.
Yuma: You wish. Anyway, I played Hikari, a princess who ran away from her home in the Sun, and came to earth to find a boy.
Satomi: As usual, she tends to simplify.
Masae: I was her sister, Sekigai, and I spent the whole game trying to protect her from evil spirits from the asteroid belt, kind of.
Satomi: I was Shigai, her other sister, and I not-so-secretly wanted to take over the sun from our dying father. I had the best costume.
Masae: No, you looked like a Black Rock Shooter reject.
Yuma: We all were cute, but Hikari was the star, and I fell in love with her cosmic kimono.
Masae: We got to keep the costumes, and she would wear hers to band practice.
Satomi: After the third or fourth time, we hid the kimono from her, and she got so mad that she forced us all to wear cosplay at the next show.
Yuma: From that point on we wore different costumes at each show. In fact, I hadn’t seen my Hikari kimono for ever, until they gave it back to me for this magazine photo shoot.
Masae: We knew she was happy since she took it, and her magical solar scepter, and locked herself in the bathroom.
Satomi: If Masae had her way, every conversation would be about money, sex, or money for sex.
Masae: That’s not true – I also like to talk about music, and food, and cute guys.
Yuma: She also likes to read manga. She carries Comic Beam everywhere.
Masae: It’s monthly, but I read it slowly to savor everything. SOIL is my favorite. Emma was great, too.
Satomi: We bought her the SOIL DVD set a few months ago, and she was so happy that she took it, and a portable DVD player, and locked herself in the bathroom.
Masae: I resent the implication that I had sex with my SOIL DVD set.
Yuma: We’re sorry – we know you never go past second base with your DVDs.
Masae: Please don’t get the wrong idea – they’re just so shiny!
Satomi: She’s just putting on a show for everyone reading this interview. In reality, Masae is completely chaste when it comes to all of her goods. She’s puts them on a pedestal.
Yuma: Yeah, she’s like that girl from Genshiken that dresses up in the big helmet and dress at the end, and is surprised that everyone wants her.
Masae: What does that have to do with anything? Are you talking about the manga or anime version?
Yuma: I rest my case.
Satomi: She has secret collection of Die Database doujinshi.
Masae: We can’t help it if we’re such a sultry band.
Yuma: I can’t look at them. I want to go to Comiket and burn them all to ashes.
Masae: Yes, she’ll cosplay in her cosmic kimono on the outside, and then when she gets tired of having her picture taken, she’ll spend a few hours in line, so she can go inside any buy up all of the Die Database sex comics.
Satomi: Then she’ll autograph them, and forcibly hand them out to the shy guys in the crowd.
Yuma: Liberation through intimidation.
Junk Magnet: What happened once [Massive Cloud Burst] was released?
Masae: It was amazing! The single actually hit the charts, and we made all sorts of promotional appearances.
Yuma: The video was bundled with the more expensive version of the CD single, and I think it turned out really well.
Satomi: Once the game was released outside of Japan, we started to get fan emails from all around the world.
Masae: There was talk of an anime based on the RPG, but that fell through. We did get a few statues and figures of ourselves playing the characters. For a while they were hot stuff, but now you can find them on clearance in Akiba.
Yuma: For a while we were hot stuff – now it’s just me.
Satomi: The game was a great breakthrough for Die Database, and since we were still an independent band, on our own label, we didn’t feel any pressure about what was next.
Masae: She’s a big pile of lies. As soon as we started to get famous, Satomi wanted us to start working on our first album, [Itchy].
Yuma: I’m not going to talk about it.
Junk Magnet: [Itchy] was your first, unreleased album – what happened to it?
Yuma: Seriously. I’m not going to talk about it.
Masae: We love her, but Satomi can be a big, busy body bitch sometimes.
Satomi: As producer of the album, I was unhappy with the songs we came up with. So, it was shelved for potential, later release.
Yuma: I’m not going to talk about how she said it was just too 99% Natural, and not enough her amazing ideas.
Masae: Don’t get her started. I better move on over to this other empty table…
Satomi: The album was not Die Database material. Yuma and Masae did a great job, but we needed to transcend our limitations, and break through to an even better place.
Yuma: I’m not going to talk about how I still want to kick her ass.
Masae: But then we heard her demos for [Knee].
Yuma: Then I heard the new songs, and after a few weeks I talked to her again.
Masae: And a few weeks later, they took a train to Sexy Talk Station.
Satomi: It’s still a sore point for the band. Once [Knee] is established, then perhaps we’ll release the missing album.
Junk Magnet: I’ve actually heard it – it’s really great.
Masae: So, you’re that IP address!
Satomi: Please welcome our lawyers into your life.
Yuma: We’re glad you like it – send us the spoils of your piracy.
Satomi: Now, back to an in-depth interview all about [Knee], our true first album.
Masae: Yuma, as the face and voice of Die Database, what makes you so special?
Yuma: I’m nothing without our workhorse drummer sitting somewhere in the dark behind me.
Masae: Is it true that when you grew up in Hakone, you would ride the ropeway back and forth all day, looking for cute tourists?
Satomi: Incorrect. She was searching for the secret gateway that leads inside of Fuji-san.
Masae: What’s the story behind the crazy light shows?
Yuma: For those not impressed by my sheer beauty, we mesmerize them with floating lyrics and fan ghosts.
Satomi: I take our work at Agartha Labs very seriously.
Masae: She takes her pico projectors, and portable body scanners, and locks herself in the bathroom.
Yuma: We often wonder just who visits her in there.
Satomi: Did we mention that Die Database plans to tour the US?
Masae: We wanted to go during SXSW, since other bands tell us that Austin, TX is super cool, but that’s not going to happen this year.
Yuma: It looks like we’ll be able to visit in the late summer, so we can support our album and make lots of friends.
Satomi: I’m eager to visit the San Francisco Bay Area again, and to show the girls the rest of the country.
Junk Magnet: I’ve heard something about your promotional plans.
Masae: We’ll have cute people on the street telling the world about us.
Yuma: We hired someone in the US to take care of everything for us, and build up a big buzz.
Masae: As I mentioned earlier, Yuma is all about the big buzz.
Yuma: Are you sure you’re even Japanese? All of Yokohama is so embarrassed by you.
Satomi: She’s just a vibrant, energetic girl that loves life. She’s the band’s heartbeat.
Yuma: She’s Die Database’s Nico Nico Douga.
Masae: I’m like that video of the keyboard cat, only with drums and more sexy talk.
Yuma: OK, let’s hear your haiku.
Satomi: Big piles of money / Put them in my hand, quickly / The rain dots my cheeks
Masae: Ooooh, she even did it in English. I quit!
Yuma: Die Database drummer quits! Print that on your cover.