Alone or with his band, Yoshiki’s talent stuns everyone around him. Founder and emblematic leader of the rock band X Japan, the androgynous drummer is the pioneer of the Visual Kei movement, in which visual effects (from make-up to pyrotechnic effects) are as important as sound. Also performing as a piano soloist, he oscillates between playing Tchaikovsky concertos and staging frenzied performances, worthy of the American band KISS. His wild drum style will eventually lead him to undergo several surgeries, his body being on the verge of breaking down. For all these years, Yoshiki searched for breaking down his own limits… and those of his own music. He turned his music and taste for fashion into a true way of living, moulding a zany and explosive aesthetics. Today at the height of his art, Yoshiki tells Numéro about his dazzling success, but also about the grimmer reality lurking behind his character.
Numéro Magazine: Is it true that some of your fans waited for 23 hours to see you and get a small scribble on the corner of a paper at the Japan Expo in France back in July 2007?
Yoshiki: Yes, I think so. It might be hard to imagine, but I remember each special moment when I can meet my fans face to face. Without my fans, I wouldn’t be here today. My life has been filled with tragedies... my father’s suicide, the deaths of my band members Hide and Taiji, the dark suicidal thoughts I had for many years… The support of my fans brought me back to life. They saved my life! Now I am trying to tell my story so I can return that inspiration to them and, as a musician, I try to compose beautiful music to hopefully save people's lives.
At the end of your concerts, you sometimes violently smash your drum set against the floor. Is it not a huge lack of respect for those who simply hit packs of bottled water during summer music festivals?
There is a fine line between dreams and reality, and it is the same with art and conventional morality. It depends on where people draw the line. Don’t get me wrong, I do have an enormous respect towards instruments. Perhaps I would even kill myself in order to complete my art… like my father did. That was an extreme and excruciating memory, but I consider that some of my destructive actions could be art… even though I would like to exclude self-destruction!