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Peace Heavy mk II

Homage-系 - The Art of Being Someone Else

What do you think of this particular sub-scene?  

38 members have voted

  1. 1. What do you think of this particular sub-scene?

    • I love it. The nostalgia feels great to me, and it brings back an era of music I like that isn't around otherwise.
      12
    • I enjoy it. I like the references and enjoy the kind of music they're bringing back.
      7
    • I enjoy it, but prefer when older bands are referenced, rather than sourced. I'm not too big on carbon-copies.
      6
    • I did enjoy it, but now I feel like the concept is tired.
      1
    • I never liked it. Stop copying people who have already succeeded
      1
    • I enjoy the concept, but I wish people would stop only sourcing Dir en grey or Madeth Gray'll
      3
    • Wait, Grieva didn't write those songs???
      1
    • I like to vote in polls
      7


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The visual-kei scene is full of its own quirks and oddities that make it stand out from any other subculture in the music world; these hallmarks also appear to resonate at a national level, in spite of the culture stemming from several metropolitan hubs, each with their own small variants. One of these traits, for better or for worse, is how willing the scene is to reference itself. Since 2013, “willing” has become the incorrect word. “Obsessed,” “addicted,” “driven,” “obligated”; these words seem to fit the bill closer. References to older material is not uncommon in any medium of art, but visual-kei takes it four steps further to emulation. Today is the day we talk about homage-系 (Kei), kids.

“Homage-kei” is a made up word. It isn’t a real category to anyone else other than people who use this board, to be honest, but it is an apt descriptor for this phenomenon. This is when a band reuses melodies, thematic, aesthetics, and even titles from an older, typically more successful, band or bands. However: their music also contains many original elements, which sets them apart from being a literal cover band. It also needs to be more than a single occurrence as well: Dir en grey “””borrowing””” the main riff of Luna Sea’s “G” is not enough, but borrowing the front-man of 黒夢 (Kuroyume)’s aesthetic for several music videos is.

 

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There are several bands that would fall under this umbrella from the late 2000’s. Two I want to touch on are Ru:Natic and the infamous Vajra. The first was one of the earliest examples I can think of that tried to revive the aggressive and bloody punk-meets-goth-meets-pop style popularized in the mid-90’s. They wore black clothes, had neon hair, and sang about being a crazy person invited to dinner parties that they had no business attending. While they weren’t the only group doing this (re: Sadie’s Mary and Sadie’sla), they were the first to start reusing melodies from older bands, namely La:Sadie’s, Madeth Gray’ll, and Aliene Ma’riage. There was even a hard-to-come-by single that was a reinterpretation of Baiser’s “undersea” and they had a demo tape that contained covers from some of the bands previously mentioned. They even lost a bunch of members, changed record labels, and released a lot of rare material: all cornerstones of “what an old school band does.” In my memory of the scene, this was the first time we got a real taste of bands reinventing the 90s sound that many people liked, but had fallen out of favor.

 

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Vajra was fun for the wrong reasons. Their costumes were kind of similar to UnsraW and thematically they were a bit too close to Dir en grey for the fan base at the time’s comfort. One of their singles was apparently a near 1:1 facsimile of another Dir en grey track and that caused a shitstorm on last.fm . For days people were arguing back and forth about whether it was a copy or not. Our own dear @Zeus requested someone overlay it with the original so we could see how similar it was. I personally did not have a horse in that race, but for hours or entertainment seeing the bickering between the hordes of people in outrage vs that one person who apparently went to their shows regularly and gave sympathetic updates about how this was affecting the band personally. Take his with a grain of salt, as it is only a Western interpretation of what happened and I cannot speak to how it was received by fans who could actually go see them in person. Regardless of where you stood in this fight, history’s take is that it did not end well for Vajra; they broke up shortly after only to be remembered as “that band that tried to be Diru.”

 

Both examples were, in retrospect, unsuccessful. Ru:Natic, in their heyday, missed the boat on people eating up old-school revival acts by about 3 years, then only played again in one-off events. Vajra, on the other hand, failed for a couple of reasons. The first is that the fan base wasn’t ready for their style of tribute-meets-original-works. Secondly, there wasn’t enough time passed between what they performed and when their source material was released. Based on later act’s success, time helps prevent “a homage” from being seen as “a rip-off.”

 

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Earlier I had mentioned 2013 being the starting point for “homage-kei,” in a more official (but still unofficial) sense. That’s because グリヴァー (GRIEVA) happened and caused a shift in the scene. For those unfamiliar, Grieva’s whole schtick was that they dressed like a modern version of 1998 Dir en grey and made music that sounded like it could have came from from the same time frame. However, after people got a hold of their first album, it became alarming clear that it was one big tribute to “Gauze” (Dir en grey’s first album). A lot of songs “borrowed” the melodies of Gauze-era songs, their music videos were kind of like high school kids reenacting their idol’s work for a class project, and you were even able to draw parallels to the lyrical content. Grieva handled this clearly stating their theme is to bring back the feeling of the old days, and even fabricated a whole interview about how they went on a quest for band members that held the same ideals. Unlike Vajra, when people confronted them by saying “You’re just stealing,” them saying “Yeah, but that’s like the point???” it worked. Granted, there were plenty of people who weren’t buying this act and loathed the whole idea, but there was more than enough support for it to keep them at the forefront of the scene up until 2015. In fact, it worked so well that their label made it happen AGAIN, but this time with a band that pretended to be The GazettE and another that mixed all different concepts from the eroguro scene and western nü-metal together. This was the first time in visual-kei where blatantly copying on purpose wasn’t met with more backlash than praise.

Several other acts spawned at the same time, due to a strong desire for “bands that sound like old school groups.” This was in part due to Cell, an offshoot of La’Mule that made somewhat similar music, Lin, a Kisaki band that came after he swore he was retired, and a general sense of boredom from the run-of-the-mill bands that dressed like host boys. Other groups that come to mind include Gauzes (a La’Mule homage-kei group), DEZERT (their first singles were nü-metal interpretations of groups like D’espairsRay and Nega), and AvelCain (who took more influence from groups like Lamiel than their fan base wanted to admit). Suddenly, it was cool to be like someone else.

 

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Eventually, the hype waned a bit. Grieva started writing their own music and then eventually split after being worked to death by their label. It was mostly the same case for AvelCain, Cell went on break because frontman Kon can’t keep focused on one thing, DEZERT found (and then killed) their own style, and most of the other old school sounding bands weren’t big enough to really make a lasting impact. This was the death of homage-kei.


Or was it???


Interestingly enough, in recent years, this scene metamorphosed along with the scene at large. We started seeing groups now begin to “take influence from” more recent acts (which I guess are still old if you’re younger than 20??). We had メディーナ (Mediena), who took a lot from Phantasmagoria, ガンミ (Ganmi), which sounded like an early 2000s band without a real influence to pin point, and Mamireta, who tried to restart the subculture in high gear with their refreshing takes on 蜉蝣 (Kagerou)’s music. There are even big acts forming side projects that “sound like a 90’s band!!”, like Diaura(who are not guilt-free themselves, when it comes to Pierrot worship) and ぞんび (Zonbi). Even Gossip-ゴシップ- went from copying The GazettE to emulating their label owner’s old band (albeit at gunpoint (allegedly!)). It is worth noting that another significant change: aside from a few examples, the current trend has become "I want to sound like ___," rather than "guess which ___ songs I combined!!!" Arguably, the style should have started with this mentality, but controversy creates buzz.

 

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Unoriginality in the visual kei scene is nothing new. We even have an entire thread dedicated to specific instances where someone took a riff or theme and matches it to the exact source material it came from. But homage-kei really takes it to the next level. Bands want you to know who they’re sounding like. Could it be for nostalgia sales? Or because recreating a well liked motif makes it easier for someone to like a new creation (they’re already emotionally invested)? Or is it just a lazy cash grab, which requires 40% less effort to produce material? Maybe it is fulfilling a fantasy to reenact what you love about your idols? In spite of how much I adore everything mentioned throughout this article, I would be lying to you if I didn’t say that it is probably a mix of all four.

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On 9/11/2018 at 3:45 PM, Peace Heavy mk II said:

 

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There are several bands that would fall under this umbrella from the late 2000’s. Two I want to touch on are Ru:Natic and the infamous Vajra. The first was one of the earliest examples I can think of that tried to revive the aggressive and bloody punk-meets-goth-meets-pop style popularized in the mid-90’s. They wore black clothes, had neon hair, and sang about being a crazy person invited to dinner parties that they had no business attending. While they weren’t the only group doing this (re: Sadie’s Mary and Sadie’sla), they were the first to start reusing melodies from older bands, namely La:Sadie’s, Madeth Gray’ll, and Aliene Ma’riage. There was even a hard-to-come-by single that was a reinterpretation of Baiser’s “undersea” and they had a demo tape that contained covers from some of the bands previously mentioned. They even lost a bunch of members, changed record labels, and released a lot of rare material: all cornerstones of “what an old school band does.” In my memory of the scene, this was the first time we got a real taste of bands reinventing the 90s sound that many people liked, but had fallen out of favor.

This is my favorite kind of Homage-kei ❤️ 
I think that in vk scene there is a lot of creativity, but i love when a band make "revive" another old (amazing) band. (and even more if that old band is like kotekote kei)

Although sometimes appear bands that make old songs a shit bag.

Thanks for the post! ;)❤️ 

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Can I slip in my favourite band here? Kaitou Sentai Nusumunja have "stealing" as their theme and are doing parody songs of bands they themselves like.  

The parodies contain some of the original riffs, but they also have their own input. The lyrics are typically funny critical of the scene, be it in regards to bandoman, their fans or japanese VK slang. They do get a lot of hate from japanese fandom for making parodies, but they are still going strong. Announcing a Gazette parody next.

Their own fans seem to have increased somewhat, too.

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I said it once when I came across GRIEVA for the first time. I feel disconnected from today's Visual Kei, I'm not attracted to the current scene and music. Even though GRIEVA was clearly taking a lot from Dir en grey I didn't care because I love the sound and style of old school Visual Kei so it made happy to listen to a band that sounded more like the old bands.

 

Now, ideally it would be awesome if bands were genuinely  inspired by the 90's sound while being original.

 

 

Edited by seikun

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Mamireta has it right, in my opinion. They're not making cover songs, but the Kagerou influence is there loud and clear. In other words, homage is being paid  without downright plagiarizing (the closest they come to actual "plagiarism" is music video similarities).  It's nice to have that sound back in the scene. I hadn't liked a brand new band in years and Mamireta manages to paradoxically be both a breath of fresh air and nostalgic, which I think is what a reference band should be. 

 

On an unrelated note I still listen to Kuroyume's "Maria" and Dir en Grey's "Audrey" back to back just for the giggles.

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10 hours ago, Doesn'tEvenGoHere said:

Mamireta has it right, in my opinion. They're not making cover songs, but the Kagerou influence is there loud and clear. In other words, homage is being paid  without downright plagiarizing (the closest they come to actual "plagiarism" is music video similarities).  It's nice to have that sound back in the scene. I hadn't liked a brand new band in years and Mamireta manages to paradoxically be both a breath of fresh air and nostalgic, which I think is what a reference band should be. 

 

On an unrelated note I still listen to Kuroyume's "Maria" and Dir en Grey's "Audrey" back to back just for the giggles.

While I don't really like more than (maybe) 1.5 songs they've put out thus far, I do agree that they've found the correct balance of inspiration meets fresh ideas. I hope more groups follow their lead.

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