For any Japanese rock and music fan, YOSHIKI is a household name. As the leader of X Japan and THE LAST ROCKSTARS, his name has been synonymous with “J-rock” and “visual kei” for the past 30 years. His accomplishments and accolades can barely be contained on a single page. Yet, many may not be aware that he is also an acclaimed composer and classically-trained pianist, having lent his talents to projects including themes for Attack on Titan and the Golden Globe Awards, and scores for movies such as the cult-classic rock horror musical, Repo! The Genetic Opera and horror film, Saw IV.
YOSHIKI’s next major public appearance will be the Requiem: YOSHIKI Classical 10th Anniversary World Tour. This incredible tour will take place at Tokyo Garden Theater (Tokyo, Japan) from October 7th to 9th, the Royal Albert Hall (London, UK) on October 13th, Dolby Theatre (Los Angeles, USA) on October 20th, and Carnegie Hall (New York, USA) on October 28th.
In mid-September, YOSHIKI was celebrated as the first Japanese artist to have his hand and footprint immortalized in cement in front of the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, CA. Promptly after, he premiered his directorial debut, YOSHIKI: Under the Sky, a concert documentary, at the same theater to a slew of adoring fans. The project, which sprouted during the pandemic, was a collaborative effort with an international music cast and showcased YOSHIKI’s powerful piano, drum, and guitar skills.
The Requiem tour is based on a song composition of the same name, a dedication to YOSHIKI’s mother who passed away last year. The song and tour is an emotional journey in coping with loss and grief, while also spreading comfort and love to those who may be experiencing the same.
As a known-perfectionist, YOSHIKI reveals that the show is still in the works, and likely will continue to be up until the start of the tour. He has a lot of creative freedom on where he wants to take the show, hinting that there may be a few impromptu changes to the performances up until the day of. While a setlist has not been disclosed yet, it is sure to be a unique concert experience, blending rock and classical with popular songs from his own discography along with famous classical pieces.
Given that the YOSHIKI Classical album was released 10 years ago, the live recordings from the upcoming performances could creep their way onto a follow-up second album, making the concerts a special treat for those who are able to experience it live and in-person.
Briefly hitting a pause to his jammed-pack schedule, we were able to speak with YOSHIKI for an exclusive introspective about the upcoming classical tour, his impact in the music industry, and what keeps him going.
Requiem: YOSHIKI Classical 10th Anniversary World Tour
In your upcoming YOSHIKI Classical Tour, you’re the first Japanese artist to headline all these historic venues – Tokyo Garden Theater, Royal Albert Hall, Dolby Theater, and Carnegie Hall. What excites you about bringing your music to these magnificent stages?
I feel very grateful. At the same time, I want to do something very challenging, the kind of show that’s out of the ordinary. Something people might not have experienced; something crazy. It’s a classical concert with an orchestra, but I’m planning on doing something very shocking.
What can fans expect from this tour that is similar or different from your previous classical tours?
Especially after the hand/footprint event at the TCL Chinese Theatre, I was thinking, “How did I get here? How was this YOSHIKI created?” I was trying to look at myself from the outside. It’s hard to be YOSHIKI, but at the same time, I’m very grateful I have a lot of support from my fans.
I think my strength is, I do rock and classical music at the same time. I‘ve been performing rock concerts as well as classical concerts. What if I somehow combined the two? Mainly, I’m going to be playing some classical tunes. It could be my composition, as well as some of the classical composers. But what if I put that really hard, heavy part of “musician YOSHIKI” into the classical show? Maybe I can play a crazy drum solo during the classical show with the orchestra? Something like this? I’m still contemplating. So, yes. I want to do something I have never done before.
Can we get any hints on potential musical guests?
It depends on the venue. I have some guests in mind, but I’m creating the show until the very last minute. Usually something may happen the day of the show. My show is not going to be already scripted or anything. It’s very, very live. I don’t even know what’s going to be happening.
The “Requiem” tour will be a tribute to your mother. How are you preparing for the emotions of performing the song you created for her?
I’m sure I’m going to cry when I’m playing the song. This tour was decided right after my mother’s death last year. I couldn’t stop my tears after my mother’s death. I had to go see my doctor (actually, doctors). “How can I stop crying?” The doctor gave me a prescription for that, but even that didn’t help. Then I started composing the song I named “Requiem.” I was like, “Wow, if this song can help me, then maybe this song can help a lot of other people too. So, why not do this world tour? Spread this kind of love.” It may sound cliché, but that’s the idea. So, let’s perform this song. Every time I play this song, I get very emotional and I start thinking of my mother again. For sure, when I play this song, I’m going to cry.
How long will we have to wait for the next YOSHIKI Classical album?
I’m going to record some of the upcoming shows. Maybe that could become the next classical album or be just a part of it. Let’s see how it goes.
As an Asian music artist, how does it feel being at the forefront, continuing to break barriers in the Western music industry especially in the present day?
I believe that in the past 20-30 years, the walls that used to divide the East and West have become shorter and thinner. I’m proud to be Asian. I came here not to become a Western musician. I’m proud of being who I am. These days, everyone has a chance. If I can make this happen, anybody can. All those Asian artists, they have more chances than ever to make it here in the US or the West.
YOSHIKI: Under the Sky
What inspired you to create and direct the music documentary film, YOSHIKI: Under the Sky?
That film project started during the pandemic. I wanted to do something to cheer people up. I think that’s the mission in being a musician and an artist. So, it just happened organically for some reason. Once I started, I couldn’t stop until it was complete. It was amazing to collaborate with those amazing artists, as well as the amazing fans.
There are so many musical guests and collaborators in this film – including The Chainsmokers, St. Vincent, SixTONES, HYDE, and Sugizo. How did that all come about?
I wanted to collaborate with artists from various genres, not just rock or classical music. I wanted to have a variety of artists from different genres. I had a team working on making these collaborations happen and working with these amazing artists gave me a great vibe.
You are always incredibly busy. When did you decide you wanted to become a film director? Are there plans for a sequel to Under The Sky?
Yes. I did not know what was going to happen after Under the Sky. As soon as the film was out, people began asking me if I wanted to direct another film, including a narrative. So, yes, I have received some offers.
But, as of now, I’m focusing on this upcoming YOSHIKI Classical World Tour. I’m going to have meetings and discussions about it after the classical tour to see what direction I want to go in.
You have so many on-going and concurrent projects. I’m often tired for you, just listing all of them. What keeps you motivated?
Same here. [Laughs] I feel very lucky to be in this kind of position where people want to work with me and collaborate on projects. So I feel very grateful. I don’t want to do nonchalant participation. When I commit to something, I’m always 100% in, or more than 100%. It’s not easy to do all those, but at the same time, I’m very grateful. So, I will just try as much as I can.
Special thanks to YOSHIKI and the amazing staff for making the interview possible!
Yoshiki Classical 10th Anniversary World Tour with Orchestra 2023 “REQUIEM”
- Tokyo Garden Theater – October 7-9
- Royal Albert Hall (London) – October 13
- Dolby Theatre (Los Angeles) – October 20
- Carnegie Hall (New York) – October 28
Tour Information: https://www.yoshiki.net/worldtour2023