If you are a fan of Japanese heavy rock, there’s a good chance you’ve run across LOKA. Since their inception in 2012, the dance metal dynamos have brought their brand of hard-hitting but dancable jams all over the world. With members crossing every genre from heavy metal and American alternative to Visual Kei, they rock a unique, genre-bending style that knows no boundaries. They released their second full length album QUATTRO almost a year ago to the day and it has yet to lose its shine. Check out the video below and read about what LOKA had to say about bridging genres after the cut.
Q. Please tell us a little about the origins of LOKA? How did you guys get together? How did your sound evolve into what it is today?
A. Kihiro and KEN’ICHI are the ones that happened to meet at a mutual friends party. Katsumi and SIN were met through mutual band friends.
We all come from different music genre, so our sound is still evolving.
Q. You just released the PV for “Breathe Me Out the Shadow,” a track from your September release, QUATTRO, this January and it is straight up heavy rock and roll. How does this track compare with the rest of the record? How would you describe QUATTRO to those who may not be familiar with your music?
A. “QUATTRO is an METAL album that you can DANCE to”, that is the concept of the whole album. Breathe Me Out the Shadow was written by SIN and Kihiro. The band needed a fast metal song that the crowd can just go crazy to.
Q. Your band is known for mixing genres, namely heavy metal and dance, to create something new and unique. What was it that first inspired you to blend such seemingly unblendable styles? Do you think such blending is the future of music in an environment where it seems like everything has already been done?
A.It’s a challenge to find something absolutely new in the industry now, but that is the fun part of the challenge. Like we said above, we are still evolving and constantly writing to find that. Our inspiration comes from the will of challenge.
Q. In addition to blending genres, LOKA also blends cultural influences. Though your sound is rooted in a distinctly American style, you can also hear the distinct sound of Japanese heavy rock and even Visual-kei. Do you think this blend of styles that feel both familiar and new contribute to the success of LOKA in both countries?
A. Actually, receiving this question tells us that we are different and unique lol. Japan music is spreading to the world now a days quickly, while inside Japan the music is evolving quickly as well. So yeah, the style we do, and whole concept of different genre musicians playing in the same band is fairly new here too. LOKA itself is a mix culture music, we are borderless, it’s how we want the different genre of crowds to react. The world as one.
Q. The internet and media consumption vehicles such as YouTube and streaming radio have certainly affected the business of music, but do you think it has also affected its creation? Do you think that access to a wider range of music and cultural influences has contributed to LOKA’s diverse sound?
A. Don’t know, don’t care. We only see it as a tool to spread music quickly.
Q. What advice would you give to bands trying to compete in this new global market? How do you make a living selling music in a time where people are buying fewer albums in favor of free or subscription-based streaming services?
A.Write a great song, let the music speak.
Q. As much as I don’t want to, I feel like I have to ask you about BABYMETAL. For many Americans, their pop-metal music is their first or only experience with Japanese heavy rock. Do you feel their popularity could be a help or hinderance to the genre? Do you feel like their obviously-manufactured band could affect the perceived legitimacy of the dance metal genre LOKA has helped create?
A.BABYMETAL is great entertainment. We think that their crowd also understands how good the instrument players are… they’re fxxking good. So, despite their concept, in a way we believe it’s helping to spread the Japanese metal scene. They’re fun to look at believe it or not, after that its up to whether you like it or not.
Q. If you could change anything about the global perception of Japanese rock music, what would it be?
A. You haven’t seen it all yet, dig deeper.
Q. What affect do you hope LOKA has on the Japanese heavy rock genre? How about global heavy rock?
A. We feel there is like a thin wall between J-Rock fans, V-kei fans and real Metal heads. That is what we wanna break. Like we said above, LOKA is mixed in culture, sound, and presence but still one band. We hope all music fans will merge into one when we get on stage.
Q. What are LOKA’s goals for the future? What can we expect to see from you in the coming year? Is there anything you’d like to say to your fans, both new and old, who are reading this interview?
We are producing to release a new CD early next year. We will tour everywhere. Globally everywhere, so be ready! Keep our music alive!
Special thanks to Mariana Madalina of Afterglow and the members of LOKA.