What is Visual Kei?
A question frequently asked by [Actuate Eden] customers. Visual kei (literally "visual style") refers to a movement among Japanese musicians, that is characterized by the use of make-up, elaborate hair styles and flamboyant costumes, often, but not always, coupled with androgynous aesthetics. Some sources state that Visual Kei refers to a music genre, or to a sub-genre of J-rock (a term referring to Japanese rock in general), with its own particular sound, related to glam-rock, punk and metal. However other sources state that Visual Kei's unique clothing, make-up, fashions, and participation in the related sub-culture is equally as important as the sound of the music itself in the use of the term.
Visual Kei emerged in the late 1980s pioneered by bands such as X Japan, D'erlanger, Buck-Tick, and Color. The term Visual Kei was created with one of X Japan's slogans "Psychedelic violence crime of visual shock". Color vocalist "Dynamite Tommy" formed his record company Free-Will in 1986, which has been a major contributor in spreading modern Visual Kei outside Japan. In 1992, X Japan launched an attempt to enter the European and American markets, but it would take another 8 years until popularity and awareness of Visual Kei bands would extend worldwide. In the mid 1990s, Visual Kei received an increase in popularity throughout Japan, and album sales from Visual Kei bands started to reach record numbers. The most notable bands to achieve success during this period included X Japan, Glay, and Luna Sea; however, a drastic change in their appearance accompanied their success. During the same period other bands, such as Kuroyume, Malice Mizer, and Penicillin, gained mainstream awareness, although they were not as commercially successful. By 1999, mainstream popularity in Visual Kei was declining; X Japan had disbanded, and the death of lead guitarist Hideto Matsumoto in 1998 had denied fans a possible reunion. Soon after, in 2000, Luna Sea decided to disband. In 2007 the genre was revitalized, as Luna Sea performed a one-off performance, and X Japan reunited for a new single and a world tour.
"Think of it like a film. With a movie, the soundtrack follows the drama.
But with visual kei, it’s the other way around:
we begin with the music and then build the visuals around it."
There are several sub sects of visual kei but [Actuate Eden] focuses on three main ones:
Classic Visual Kei:
Which what was described above.
Examples: Silly God Disco by the GazettE, Gardenia by Malice Mizer, and 7th Rose by D
In lamence terms - horror. Blood, guts, chains, monsters, dead dolls and crazy scientists. They have it all. The term Eroguro stands for Erotic-Grotesque. The music tends to follow the theme having a darker more creepy feel.
Examples: 残 (Zan) by Dir en Grey, Neo Ark by Phantasmagoria and Muddy Cult by Nega
In lamence terms - candy. These bands are the other sects' counterpart. Bright in your face colors with a lot of spunk and flair. These outfits tend to be more modern style but not always. The music as the others, match the clothing with a bright happy feeling - singing of love, friends and good times.
Examples: I Love Scream Party by SuG, 88 by LM.C. and 夏恋★夏 GAME (Natsu Koi ★ Natsu Game) by An Cafe