"If you have a dream you have to fight for it" - An interview with Moon and Azure Shadow
Metal Saves recently took a look at the second full-length album from one man Black Metal project Moon And Azure Shadow. This week, the mastermind behind it all Sean Yoshioka spent time answering some of our questions and giving us a look into the creative process and inspiration behind his work.
MS: What first inspired you to begin Moon And Azure Shadow and what continues to inspire you?
I went to middle/high school in a small town. I remember trying to do homework and I would just stare at a mind-numbingly boring math or biology textbook and get depressed. I knew there were people doing cool things out there in the world but I was just stuck being a nobody wasting my life. I would flip through CD booklets and stare at members of bands. Or listen to interviews with filmmakers, animators, musicians over and over obsessively
That was the dream. To be a creator and break free from a horrible existence of mediocrity the system wanted to force on everyone. Things reached a boiling point around 23 when I realized I still had not accomplished anything I could be proud of. I found I could no longer enjoy any of the films or albums that used to mean so much to me.
They only served as a reminder of how much of a failure I was. I decided it was do or die at that point and created the self-titled album by any means necessary
MS: What challenges do you face as a one man project?
Basically you are the only one who cares if your album gets completed or not. You end up having to cut out everyone else out from your life. Other people will not be understanding of how much time or effort it takes to get your project completed on your own.
Also, the system we live in wants obedient 9-5 office worker slaves who are too tired to question or do anything at the end of the day. It’s not designed for you to be living out your creative dreams as an artist. If you have a dream you have to fight for it and make the necessary sacrifices. When you are on your own it’s easy to go down the wrong path and waste a lot of time
If you have a dream you have to fight for it and make the necessary sacrifices.
MS: What are your immediate plans for Moon And Azure Shadow?
The CD release is coming with full booklet art by animator M dot Strange.
If you are a fan of dark animated films check out his work “We are the Strange, Heart String Marionette, I am Nightmare. I am also thrilled that there will be a tape release this time. The cassette version will have a different cover created by the master himself Igor Mugerza! Very excited for this!
MS: What are your long terms plans?
It’s all about playing the long game. I haven’t completed nearly as many projects as I hoped for at my age. But I have learned from trial and error and will be more dedicated than ever with extreme level 3 passion burning inside!
MS: Can you talk us through the process of recording/making music as a solo artist?
I grew up playing piano so I compose most of the music with keyboard, sometimes on guitar or voice. Everything is a struggle for me - sequencing all the instruments, the structure, writing lyrics, recording vocals, trying to mix or balance the music, endless struggles with technology. Nothing comes easy, I put a lot of time into each step of the process
Since music is very abstract I have a story or scene in mind that I’m trying to convey. This helps keep things grounded and moving in the right direction
MS: If you could have any guest artist appear on one of your tracks who would it be and why?
One of my favourite artists ever is Susumu Hirasawa. His sound is completely unique and just blows my mind. Whenever I fly in a plane as it's taking off I listen to his music. It makes me feel like even if the plane crashes I will be at peace listening to his music. Recommended albums: Sim City/Philosopher’s Propeller/Berserk Soundtracks
MS: How, if at all, do you think your music or your creative process has changed since your debut release?
The first album was a work of desperation and more minimal in comparison. For “Age of Darkness and Frost” I decided to go all out and try to create this epic immersive experience.
Working on it turned out to be a nightmare, I was over-ambitious considering I was working on a 2007 laptop that was in really bad shape. I had to bounce every track down to audio and even then the computer would overheat and restart every 10 or 15 minutes. It was complete mind-numbing agony and I thought about giving up on it many times.
I will be more realistic going into future projects
MS: Your latest release Age Of Darkness And Frost feels like it has a story to tell, is there a concept to the album or were you simply looking to create a certain atmosphere?
Yes both the music and lyrics are made to convey a story that builds throughout the album. The story of the first album is set in a post-apocalyptic world where little life remains. It is a lonely world of ruins and shadows. The story of “Age of Darkness and Frost” is set in a dark ages/fantasy setting and is more epic and vast in scope. Inspirations in terms of atmosphere would be things like Berserk, Vampire Hunter D, Angels Egg, Ico, Panzer Dragoon Saga, Dark Souls, Diablo, various fantasy novels
MS: Do you perform live? If so what is your set up?
My vision of black metal is not to play live. I go to many live shows in [the] Los Angeles area and see many respected/successful metal bands. I believe live music suits the brutal/punk/thrash type bands well. But for the more atmospheric bands I am usually disappointed in how the music translates. I created the music in a way that is similar to Burzum or Summoning. It is personal or spiritual music that the listener can dream to and escape reality. It is not beer-guzzling headbanger party music so it will just be boring to most metalheads anyways
I realize that it is extremely important to play live these days though so I will be starting a different project for this. The material will be more inspired by 60’s music such as the Zombies, the Beach Boys, Strawberry Alarm Clock, Donovan, The Left Banke, Sagittarius, etc.
MS: Lastly where can people find your work?
Look out for the CD and tape releases coming soon to the Moon and Azure Shadow Bandcamp page! Thanks for the questions and interview!
Metal Saves thanks Sea for the time, be sure to check out the links above and pick up both releases.