Die japanische Sängerin SAEKO KITAMAE veröffentlichte vor kurzem ihr Album „Above heaven, below heaven“. Auf der kürzlich abgeschlossenen Tour von DORO mit dem Classic Night Orchestra trat sie als „special guest“ auf und präsentierte drei ihrer Songs mit dem Orchester. Doch wer ist die Japanerin mit der großen Stimme? Steffi Mahsmann versuchte mehr über die Frau herauszufinden, die vor 2 Jahren ihre Heimatstadt Osaka verliess, um in Hamburg ihren Metal-Traum zu leben… COULD YOU PLEASE SUM UP YOUR HISTORY? WHAT HAVE YOU DONE MUSICALLY IN THE YEARS BEFORE YOU MOVED TO HAMBURG? It’s a long story. Actually, first when I was fourteen I first had this love for heavy metal music, and then I decided: Ok, this is the reason I was born. Ok, I will do this, I will play with a band like this and not only in Japan but in other countries. And then I tried, but it didn’t work out. It wasn’t so easy because I was only fourteen (giggles), and I was not so good – how can I say – as a person. I was just normal and I had so much of a bad self-image about myself, so I just couldn’t make it, and I gave up. And I went to the university, but then again I heard that kind of music, and I realized I cannot give up like this, because life is only once. And then again I started a band, and this time I handed out my flyers, and also I put those flyers on the walls of so many instrumental shops in Osaka and also in other cities, saying: Only the people who are really dedicated to the music! And so this band in the end became the band called Fairy Mirror. Actually, I was in that band for a long time, but most of the time we didn’t have real members. Most of the time some of them were missing. So we were playing with helping people. But after six years finally we found the real members for all parts, and I felt like: Ok – now is the time to do it! And so we did also some shows in other cities, and things started to work very quick, and I also got some offers from the labels. You know, I really felt like: Now finally my dream came true. But then I got ill and I had to quit the band. So after that I was in hospital and I was also doing some treatment, and it took me about two years to recover. Actually, while I was on the treatment, once I had a chance to come to Switzerland I got an email from a German guy, and he was very fond of Fairy Mirror, so we stayed in contact with email. So I just wrote him: „Oh, actually now I am in Switzerland!“ And then he wrote me: „Oh, that’s good, because I wanted to see you once, and how about joining to Wacken?“ And until then I didn’t know about – of course I knew about Wacken – but I didn’t know Wacken was going be next week. But I felt like: Ok, maybe this could be the only one time once in my life, because from Japan to Europe it really costs a lot. But because I was on a treatment my parents were helping me to go to Switzerland so I could feel happy again. So I thought: Maybe I couldn’t come back to Europe, and maybe this is my only chance to see Wacken. So I just wrote to him: „Ok, I’ll go!“ But then I saw that, I saw the festival and the feeling I got was so… It was like: Ooohh, what is this?!? It’s like heavy metal paradise, because in Japan we don’t have any festivals like that only for heavy metal. It never happens. And there are so many people only for heavy metal from all over the world. Until then I was always looking about the past, because I couldn’t accept it as a fact that I had to leave the band. DID YOUR BANDMEMBERS MAKE YOU LEAVE, OR DID YOU DECIDE TO QUIT THE BAND? Yeah, just because of my illness. You know, my body didn’t work. I was always taking the medicine, and when I went to Switzerland I brought so many medicines. My suitcase was really full of medicine (laughs). And so I had to concentrate on treatment, because I cannot stop taking medicine on one moment. Little by little I have to reduce, so it was not so easy. Sometimes when I did the music or when I moved a lot, that hangover came again, and the doctor said he cannot be sure about how long it would take to recover. So actually, I really wanted to do music more, but I had to understand that I cannot work, I cannot move so much, you know? But actually, I love music sooo much. This is my life. And so all I could do was just to forget about music, but it was very hard to forget something which you really love. Though it’s the best thing, the most important thing, but I had to forget and so… That was the reason I left the band, because I didn’t want the members of the band to wait for me. So even though I really loved the band, I told them to find a new singer. And yeah, they found a new singer, and they kept on going. Of course I was happy about that, because I had loved that band. I didn’t want to make them stop, but on the other hand I was sad, because I was there, I was singing there, and then a different person came in, and they’d do a festival like that. I just couldn’t take it. And it was always like: Why did this happen?? I was always blaming my body. Like: „If you work, if you move – I could go back to the band. I can do music again. But because of you, my body, I have to forget about music!“ So I was always like: Oh, I cannot accept all my life, Oh, I lost everything. What is the meaning of life? But when I saw Wacken I felt like: Ok, Saeko… it’s true that you lost everything which you had in the past, but that means in front of you there is only white paper. I can paint I can draw my future as free as possible, whatever I want. And let’s take this „everything“ more positive. How can I make it positive? And then I thought: I can risk my life now, because I’m alone. If I’m not alone, maybe I cannot risk so much, because I feel responsibility. You know, if I have a band, and if I said to them: „Ok, let’s go to Europe and just try!“ If it doesn’t succeed then I cannot say to them so easily: „Oooh, let’s go back!“ Because to come to Europe, all members have to throw away something, they have to leave so many things behind. And if it doesn’t work out, I would feel very guilty in a way, like with responsibility. In that moment I felt: I’m totally alone, and if I risk my life and if it doesn’t happen, it’s just my life. I can say to myself: Ok, let’s go back! I don’t have to feel responsible for anybody because this is my life. So I thought: Ok, risk!!! SO, WAS THAT THE MOMENT WHEN YOU DECIDED TO MAKE A MOVE TO HAMBURG? Actually at this moment I didn’t decide Hamburg, but I felt I’d come back to Europe, probably Germany, and some day I will sing on this stage. That’s what I thought when I saw Wacken. And while I was still in Wacken I called Japan, and I said to my mom: „Now I’ve found the meaning of my life. Now I’ve found why I had to leave the band!“ After this I went back to Japan, and I still had to concentrate on treatment, but I said to my mom: „When I get recovered I decided I will come back to Europe again, because the scene I saw in front of my eyes is so magnificent. I have to try! This is the place of trying!“ And when I said that, she was of course surprised (laughs). But my mother said like: „I’m happy, because now it seems like you found something to live on in the future. If you really want to do so, just try!“ So that was the moment I decided to come to Germany. WHAT DID YOU FIND MOST DIFFICULT WHEN YOU CAME TO HAMBURG? THAT YOU WERE ENTIRELY ON YOUR OWN AND THAT YOU DIDN’T UNDERSTAND THE LANGUAGE MUST HAVE BEEN REALLY HARD IN THE BEGINNING… For me the hardest part was, in my life I’ve never experienced a moment when I felt so, so, so lonely. Because I didn’t understand what the people were talking about, and all family and friends is just far away over the sea. At first I couldn’t find out a place to live, because I didn’t really have anybody to come to. So I spent two weeks or a month or something like that at the hotel. And it was only one word: „Hello?!“ That was the word I would say 24 hours to the people at the condo, you know? And after that, because I had to get a visa, I was trying hard to find out how to get it. And I was not used to do those things, so sometimes I totally didn’t know what to do. And I often felt like: If I die on the street, maybe nobody would realize… Because it was really like this – my family and everybody is far away and there is nobody who knows me, maybe only the people at the hotel. So this made me feel so lonely, and even if I wanted to talk to somebody, I just didn’t understand what they were talking about, because I didn’t know the language. And then I started to feel so strange, like: Who am I? I realized the people were having their own image through maybe connection or through conversation with others. And so I experienced how a person feels when they loose totally every connection to others. That was kind of terrible for me. And sometimes I felt like: Oh, I want to go back! But for me to try in Germany or in Europe as a musician was for a long time only a dream. So I thought: Even if I miss everybody – I cannot go back. I will stay here and some day I will find something. And yeah, little by little I found a place to live, and I got a visa, and then I got a call from Lars (editor’s note: Lars Ratz, labelboss of Armageddon Music and producer of the album „Above heaven, below heaven“). So actually when I decided to work together with Lars, I was soo happy. It’s not because of only the contract, it’s because I felt: Now there is somebody who knows I am in Germany. You know, if there is something, if I have trouble, at least there is Lars who will realize. Somebody who would say: „Oooh, Saeko… Saeko is not here, what happened to her?!“ So this feeling for me was something like a relief (laughs), so yeah, I was happy. YOU’VE GOT SUCH A POSITIVE ATTITUDE – LIKE WITH EVERYTHING. BUT WHERE DO YOU TAKE THAT STRENGTH FROM? IS THAT INSIDE YOU OR DO YOU SOMETHING HAVE TO FORCE YOURSELF TO KEEP YOURSELF GOING? HAVE YOU EVER EXPERIENCED FEELINGS OF FRUSTRATION OR NEGATIVITY, WHERE YOU HAVE TO REMIND YOURSELF: „OK, THINK POSITIVE!!!“? When I was a child, I think I was afraid of everything, maybe more than normal. For example, I felt like, when I heard a story about a man who just died on a heart attack, then I felt: Oh… how scary. There’s no guarantee, maybe I could die the next moment…! So I felt like life is so unsure. For me just to go out was sometimes very scary, but one day I felt like I cannot live on like this. Once, because of those scared feelings, I felt like: Maybe I should die, because I cannot live like that – So… let’s die! But then I thought: Oh, wait a minute, wait a minute. If I die now that means that life from now, from this moment, is just additional, because I already died! And I said to myself: Ok, Saeko – now you die! And after this it is just additional. Just do whatever you like, just do it, because you already died. And that was maybe the first moment I moved one step forward. Then I tried many things I was scared of before, and then I found out that I was able to do those things. That’s when I realized: Oh, I was so stupid. And my motto became like: Just do what you are afraid of – then you will understand the meaning of it. When I left Japan I was so afraid of the idea of coming to Germany alone. And one day I prayed for God or something, actually I’m not so religious, but sometimes people pray for something. So there were days I prayed for almost 24 hours, I was so afraid. „Please give me the power to go there alone, please, please…“ But in the end, again, I felt like: Ok, do what you’re afraid of!“ I was afraid to go to Europe alone. Still I don’t know anything about my future, so sometimes I ask myself: What’s the meaning of my life?“ But still, I just have to go on. ON THE ALBUM A LOT OF MUSICIANS FROM HAMBURG HELPED YOU OUT. DID THEY JUST JUMP IN OR WOULD THEY BE ABLE TO GO ON TOUR WITH YOU AS WELL? ARE THEY GOING TO BE STEADY MEMBERS? Actually, we ourselves don’t know. Like I said, when I came here I was alone. And when I met Lars I was still alone. But anyway, we both decided to work together and to release the album. And then there was the question: Who is gonna play? And we just called our friends. Because Michael, he’s the drummer of METALIUM, and he’s both studied and certificated as a guitarist, so he played also the guitar. And the others, for example Hermann Frank or Sven (editor’s note: Sven Lüdke), they are also friends, and the bassist is also my friend. So for the moment, that was the thing we could do: Actually, Lars and I, we don’t plan so much about the far future. For us the important thing is to live now, to do our best now and take it step by step. So, it’s really our motto. We often say: Step by step. As for me, I’m very satisfied with them. They were really open and we could talk a lot about how to make the song better. It was a very good combination. So, I myself have no dissatisfaction. But about the future, I cannot say anything 100% sure, and also Michael (editor’s note: Michael Ehre) is playing the guitar and the drums on the album, and I know we cannot tour like that. So, maybe in the future some different people play. Actually we cannot be 100% sure at this moment. SO, YOU’RE ACTUALLY ON THE HUNT FOR OTHER MUSICIANS..? Wmmhm… We are not hunting (laughs), but focus more on how to do the promotion, those things come first. Because I still think most people don’t know anything about Saeko. For example I want to tour, and to do a tour we need the members. But also, even if I have the members – if nobody asks me to tour, then I cannot do it, if there is no demand, you know. So at this moment, I’m not so much concentrating on members, I want to do my best about what I can do. Because this for me is something very special. It’s just hard to explain. I’m just a small girl, and I released the album, so for me only to write the new songs, or for example being on tour with Doro, to give a really good show, was really the hot job. Of course maybe I should think more about members, but I just didn’t have so much room to think about. I really want to do my best, and I really want to express something. And almost 24 hours I think how I can express this. And so my mind is really busy with those things (laughs), and so about the future, about members in the future, I haven’t thought so much. BUT I BET YOU’VE GOT A POSITIVE FEELING ABOUT THAT, RIGHT? Yeah, yeah, of course. Actually, when I left Japan, before I met Lars, I’ve been always singing as a singer in a band. And so I was always thinking: Oh, I want to find a band. I want to belong to some band, not as a solo artist. YEAH, YOU COULD MAKE A CAREER WITHOUT HAVING STEADY BAND MEMBERS, MAYBE IN A WAY DORO OR DIO ARE HANDLING IT?! Right. But somehow when I met Lars, actually I felt he is the right person to work together, because, before I met him, several times I was asked the question: „Can you copy somebody else?“ Mostly from the people at the label or producers, those people. And I always said: „No!!“ Or if I said something like: „I’m not doing music only because I can be famous, I’m not so interested in being famous!“ Then they would just go away, because they thought they couldn’t make money. So if i say „No!“, I can’t do that because this is my expression of my life, I cannot change my life. And then they went away. But when I met Lars, I remember really clearly his first question was: „Can you copy somebody else?“ And I thought: „Oh nooo, not again..:!“ And I thought, again I will say „No!“, and again I will loose the chance.. But I thought I really cannot change my style because my music should come from the heart. So I said: „I’m sorry, I can’t do that!“ And then he said to me: „Perfect!“ He said he didn’t need someone who would copy anyone else and that he was looking for someone who was original and who wants to do their own music. And I was like: „What??? Really?!?!?“ And I felt like; Oh Saeko, finally in the end you met somebody who can accept me as I am and who says: Just do what you want! It was just solo, but just feeling-wise I felt it was the right decision. And then little by little I understood what I can do as a solo artist. Before that I didn’t feel that, but as a solo I can write more about my life. Maybe if I was in a band, maybe I shouldn’t write so much in detail. But if I am singing as a solo act, then I can really show my life. And I thought: This is great! (laughs) So now, actually, I’m satisfied with this style and the combination with the other musicians was also very good. IS THERE ANY CHANCE WE WILL GET TO SEE YOU ON STAGE AGAIN SOMEWHERE IN THE NEXT MONTHS, SOMETHING LIKE THE SPECIAL GUEST SLOT AT THE DORO-TOUR MAYBE? At this time I haven’t heard anything. But I myself want to tour, I want to sing in front of others. I really want to do that, but if there is no demand… So hopefully I can play and if there is somebody who wants to hear my songs… SAEKO, ALL THE BEST OF LUCK FOR MAKING YOUR DREAM COME TRUE! Actually, I’m not so good at answering questions about the future. And there is a reason. I have a motto: Don’t expect the future! I should have no goal, because I really want to go as much as possible. And this „as much as possible“ is something that I cannot imagine. So if I say: Ok, I want to do this, maybe that will be the limit. But if I don’t plan, maybe I could do more than that. So for me just to live every day and to live every moment as best as possible, this is it. And maybe when the future comes, it’s also now, it’s also the present. For me the goal of my life is just to live every moment as best as possible. And I hope something good will happen in the future.
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