Performing with Die Milch

Sometimes you have moments when you look around you and think, “My life is utterly ridiculous.” Standing in the changing room at The Quarter Note, Shinokubo, waiting to perform with Die Milch, dressed in Lolita fashion and surrounded by girls in even more outrageous outfits is near the top of my list.

“What kind of things do you get me into?!” says long-suffering boyfriend holding his viola and also waiting to perform. Unlike me, boyfriend is not into alternative-fashion in the slightest so his ouji stage outfit, complete with subtle frills, was a new look for him. One I was enjoying immensely.

How on the earth did two scruffs from Essex come to perform with a neo-classical Gothic Lolita outfit in Tokyo? A lot of hanging around at gigs mostly. I’d been a fan since last summer when I was told about Die Milch’s London gig. I almost didn’t go as it was a Sunday night and I was feeling lazy about doing the drive up the M11 to Islington. You can bet I’m glad I made the effort now! After that we went to a gig of theirs in Ikebukuro in the autumn where we got chatting to a friendly fan who was organising a car share to a special Die Milch birthday gig in Shizuoka and did a very good job of convincing us to come along. It was a great excuse to go to Shizuoka and at that gig the band were kind enough to invite us to go for seafood with them. Over dinner, we got chatting to Coco, the band’s keyboardist and vocalist and told her that we play the harp and viola respectively and she asked if we wanted to perform as guests in a performance. Whilst this was very exciting, it’s not exactly unusual for musicians to go ooh when I say I play the harp and nothing to come of it so I didn’t get my hopes up. But a couple of months later, she sent us an email with our parts and gave us the date of the concert! As long as our playing was up to scratch, this was happening!

I’m not ashamed to say that it turned out that ‘getting our playing up to scratch’ was no easy feat. Die Milch are real pros and pros in the classical sense – no offense meant to pop musicians, but difficult classical music demands boss technique. Our parts weren’t easy, we didn’t go to music college and we have day jobs so we worked really hard to get up to level. And when performance day came I was still terrified – if I cock up performing by myself it sucks but if I messed up on this stage I would not only let down a professional band but one which I hugely respected as a fan.

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Definitely the first time I wore pink frills since about the age of 6…

The theme for the gig was ‘Doll Special’ and so the other artists were suitably beautiful and doll like. The openers were colorpointe, a group who fuse singing and ballet with an alternative twist. They were followed by JULiC, a fabulously dressed gothic rock band. I really enjoyed chatting with these lovely people backstage and both of their live sets were fantastic. We were playing on sad~悲しき王子のため息~, a neo-classical instrumental on Die Milch’s latest album Imperial. Luckily, I did not vomit in terror on stage/break my harp strings/play in the wrong place and the crowd responded well to us and Coco’s typically fantastic MC-ing.

A real highlight for me was the fans of Die Milch. Even though my boyfriend Arthur Rei and I were only temporary members of the band they were so kind to us. A friend of Coco’s hand made me a beautiful ring to wear on stage to match the rest of the ladies in Die Milch. Afterwards members of the audience came up to us to chat and one kind gentleman told us that the song we were in was the best piece of the night!

I would like to thank Coco and the rest of Die Milch for this amazing opportunity. I feel like I learnt so much from you – not only musically but about how gigs work in Japan.

I hope to do more collaborations like this one in the future!

All photos taken by Yuki Yoshida

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Adventures at London Anime Gaming Con

I’m not ashamed to admit it, I grew up going to cons. My parents are old school sci-fi nerds and convention organisers (my Mum was organising a con in the USA when she was pregnant with me, so I never really had a chance at a normal life).

Pre-gig selfie with Megan Valentine
Pre-gig selfie with Megan Valentine

Saving up my pocket money to take the train down to London with my nerdy friends for MCM Expo and buy some pocky and an Edward Elric plushie was a defining aspect of my teenage years. So when I was asked to perform at London Anime Con, the answer was a resounding yes! I had never been to the convention before but I knew several regulars and I had done an interview with the convention’s sister publication, The League of Extraordinary Cosplayers, after my performance at the lolita event Enchanted six months previously.

I was also really pleased to be performing right before Heroine Syndrome, an anime pop punk band who I met when we were both performing at Enchanted. I really like their music, we’ve become good friends and have collaborated on a number of occasions. Arthur Rei was kind enough to play tenor guitar from me so we drove down from Leeds in my Vauxhall Vectra and had a great time enjoying the con and hanging out with Heroine Syndrome before it was our turn to go on.

IMG_7773For my set, I played a combination of original songs and anime, gaming IMG_7766soundtracks on the main stage. I performed my cover of Itsumo Nando Demo from the Spirited Away soundtrack, To Zanarkand from Final Fantasy and Hikoukigumo from The Wind is Rises. The latter two I had never performed before and I hope to record them as they’re both fun pieces. I had a lot of fun and the audience seemed to really lovely people, thank you to everyone who came up to me afterwards!

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Afterwards we had great fun dancing to Heroine Syndrome’s set. They played a lot of songs from their upcoming EP ‘The Wrong Side of the Road’ as well as some covers of anime soundtracks from Naruto and Digimon. I particularly enjoyed their catchy original ‘Songfic,’ which also seemed to go down particularly well with the crowd. And lead singer Megan Valentine looked awesome in her Sailor Neptune cosplay!

If all goes to plan I’ll return to London Anime Gaming Con in July. I hope to see you there!

Photo credit: Briarley Van Zyl
Photo credit: Briarley Van Zyl

Check out this awesome video of Heroine Syndrome’s performance, with hitherto unreleased audio from their upcoming EP. Also features exclusive footage of me dancing over-enthusiastically 😉