Kyo at Maquinaria Festival in 2009
February 16, 1976|
Kyo (Japanese: 京 Hepburn: Kyō, born February 16, 1976 in Kyoto) is a Japanese musician, singer, lyricist and poet. He is best known as the vocalist and lyricist of the metal band Dir en grey. He was formerly in a string of visual kei rock bands, with the most notable being La:Sadie’s from 1995 to 1997. He then started Dir en Grey in February 1997, following La:Sadie’s disbandment with three of its members, and formed the experimental rock band Sukekiyo in 2013. Kyo was inspired to become a musician when he saw a picture of Buck-Tick vocalist Atsushi Sakurai on the desk of a junior high school classmate. When he then discovered X Japan he was particularly fond of hide and had his parent's buy him the guitarist's black signature model guitar. But after realizing how difficult it was to play guitar and then bass, he switched to vocals.
With a tenor voice spanning just below five octaves, Kyo's vocals are considered a pivotal aspect of Dir en Grey's music. He has gained wide recognition for his large range and versatility, being able to "howl, croon, emote cleanly, scream, shriek, growl, bellow, and make nearly inhuman sounds." Loudwire wrote "Sporting incredibly low death metal gutturals, Kyo can also turn a complete 180 as one of metal's highest shriekers." Dane Prokofiev of PopMatters said that his "natural ease at and inclination towards striking such a stark contrast between the two opposite ends of the human vocal spectrum can be obtained as only a kind of pre-birth winning lottery ticket—you know, that much coveted prize we call “talent”."
AllMusic's Thom Jurek has compared him favorably to experimental and avant-garde vocalists Mike Patton and Diamanda Galas. Kyo's own bandmate Die said "he's like a guitar or an effect. Kyo is an instrument. That inspires me. That allows me to grow as a guitarist as well."
While he has only composed a handful of Dir en grey's songs (for example, "The Domestic Fucker Family" and "Hades"), Kyo is responsible for all the lyrics, which usually have negative implications and touch on a variety of dark, sometimes taboo, subjects, such as sexual obsessions ("Zomboid"), child abuse ("Berry"), and mass media ("Mr. Newsman"). Several songs deal with specifically Japanese issues, such as the country's casual attitude towards abortion, which Kyo strongly opposes ("Mazohyst of Decadence" and "Obscure") and its conformity-oriented society ("Children"). Others deal with more traditional subject matter such as personal feelings, emotions, and lost love ("Undecided", "Taiyou no Ao", "Mushi").
When asked why most of the band's lyrics are in Japanese instead of English, which has more broad international appeal, Kaoru said that "We consider our music [to be] a piece of art. [...] The language is part of that artwork." He explained that Kyo prefers "the sensitivities that Japanese language offers. There are expressions and nuances that can only be conveyed in Japanese; he values that."
The vocabulary used ranges from vulgar to exalted, with wordplay and double entendres occurring frequently. For example, the title of the song "Mitsu to Tsuba", which is about rape, means "Honey and Saliva", but is written with the kanji inverted, suggesting reading them with an inverted pronunciation - "Tsumi to Batsu" - which would translate to "Crime and Punishment", a more appropriate title.
His stage performances became known in the mid 2000s for their shock elements such as full-body makeup resembling heavy burns, fake vomit of varying color and consistency, and various acts of self-mutilation. The authenticity of the latter is debated, given how frequent certain practices occur, sometimes firmly in place within a tour's usual set-list. For example, Kyo would regularly engage in fish-hooking during the performance of "Kodoku ni Shisu, Yueni Kodoku" throughout the "It Withers and Withers" and "Inward Scream" tours. However, after 2008's Uroboros, he largely removed these shock value elements from his performance; while he still sometimes wears costumes on stage, he no longer performs self mutilation, real or simulated.
While in a 2010 North American co-headline tour, Kyo performed with Apocalyptica, singing "Bring Them To Light" along with Tipe Johnson. Later that year, he recorded vocals for Daisuke to Kuro no Injatachi's debut album.
In 2013, Kyo gathered artists from various visual kei rock bands to form the supergroup Sukekiyo. The band opened the first show for Sugizo's tour Thrive to Realize, and performed the next day for the Countdown Japan 13/14 festival. Their first album, Immortalis, was released in 2014. The band has subsequently released an EP, Vitium, in 2015, and a second studio album, Adoratio, in 2017. Kyo provided vocals for the song "Zessai" on Sugizo's 2017 album Oneness M.
Throat and ear problems
Throughout his career, Kyo has been hospitalized multiple times: once in 2000, due to hearing problems (remaining partially deaf in his left ear) and again in 2006 and 2009 with edema of larynx (inflamed vocal cords). In late 2011 to early 2012, Kyo had yet another problem with his throat and vocal cords. After being diagnosed with vocal nodule dysphonia, Dir en Grey was forced to pull out of the "Still Reckless" tour which was set to begin in March 2012. Although Kyo had been diagnosed and hospitalized many times, this time he faced the possibility of surgery. In an interview, Kyo stated that his vocal polyps were treated with medication. Right after a May 2013 show in Shinkiba Studio Coast, he was again hospitalized with tonsillitis.
Kyo has released two volumes of poetry, published through Media Factory. Both books are accompanied by short bonus CDs. In 2013, Kyo launched a new website and released two collections of photography, "Shikkaku", which features Kyo as the subject and "For the Human Race", which features photography by Kyo himself.
On July, Kyo announced a new poetry collection book which entitled as "Gasou no Shi" and would be released on August as the first volume in a series.
|August 31, 2001||Jigyaku, Rensō Furan Shinema (自虐、歛葬腐乱シネマ)|
Bonus CD: Daisanteikoku Gakudan (第三帝国楽団)
|December 3, 2004||Zenryaku, Ogenki Desu ka, Saihate no Chi Yori Namonaki Kimi ni Ai wo Komete... (前略、お元気ですか、最果ての地より名も無き君に愛を込めて・・・)|
Bonus CD: Furan Shinema Teikoku Gakudan (腐乱シネマ帝國楽団)
|June 2013||Shikkaku (失格)|
|June 2013||for the human race|
|August 2015||"Gasō no Shi" Jōkan (「我葬の詩」上巻)|
|April 2016||"Gasō no Shi" Gekan (「我葬の詩」下巻)|
|April 2017||Aun no Ari (阿吽の蟻)|
|June 2018||Shikkaku Ni (失格弐)|
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