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Kazuyuki Kishino, who also goes by KK NULL, is a legend in Japan’s extreme music underground. Since the 1980s, he’s been exploring the harsh realms of guitar drone, electronica, and “cosmic noise maximal/minimalism.” His band ZENI GEVA is a testament to the sheer force of catharsis, its riffs punishing yet strangely intoxicating.
Kishino has collaborated with artists such as Fred Frith, Mike Patton, John Zorn, Keiji Hano, James Plotkin, Melt-Banana, Otomo Yoshihide, and Jim O’Rourke, to name just a few. He’s released records on Skin Graft and Neurot Recordings, and he performs regularly.
BTRtoday spoke to Kishino about his fascinating career and what lies ahead.
BTRtoday (BTR): ZENI GEVA really taps into what it is to be “heavy.” It’s deeply personal, cathartic music that suits your personality well. What role does metal play in your life at the moment? Who were some of your favorite heavy bands?
Kazuyuki Kishino (KK): I’m not sure exactly what you mean by “metal,” but if it means “heavy metal,” frankly speaking, I’m not a big fan of that kind of music in general. The following are my personal three best albums of “heavy metal” music: King Crimson’s “Red,” Swans’ “C.O.P.,” Slayer’s “Rein in Blood.”
BTR: The riff at the end of “Shi No Umi” (off 1995’s “Freedom Bondage”) is incredible. It’s the kind of riff that defies tempo and tone, but totally resonates. Where did that come from?
KK: Early Swans (first and second albums) was one of the most important influences on early ZENI GEVA. Now you can see it.
BTR: Your use of synths in ZENI GEVA is fascinating. It’s mysterious, fun, colorful, cold…everything synths should be. Do you have any favorite bands with synths?
KK: Actually it’s not a synthesizer, I used a cheap Casiotone keyboard (kind of synth, though) on the “Freedom Bondage” album. Thank you very much for your appreciation. No one mentioned it before. I was a big fan of Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream (only mid ’70s-early ’80s).
BTR: Going with that, do you have any favorite classical composers?
KK: In the 20th century though, Igor Stravinsky (“Le Sacre du Printemps”), Olivier Messiaen (“Turangalila Symphony”), Iannis Xenakis (especially orchestral works).
BTR: You’ve inspired many bands, one of which was Neurosis, who also signed you to their label, Neurot Recordings in 2001. What’s your relationship with those guys?
KK: As far as I remember, when ZENI GEVA played for the first time in San Francisco in 1992, Neurosis was on the same bill. Since then, we have been on the same bill a couple of times, including some festivals such as All Tomorrow’s Parties in the UK.
BTR: Do you prefer recording to playing live?
KK: It’s totally different, I cannot say which I prefer.
BTR: What’s new with ZENI GEVA? Are you guys working on a new album?
KK: I know some people have been expecting a new album from ZENI GEVA for many years, and I’ve been trying to compose new songs but I’ve been continually faced by difficulties. Sorry I cannot give you any promising words. Hope it will change in future…
Here’s a summary of my ongoing and future projects:
I’m just starting a new project, “Pulsar X,” which focuses on more rhythms and beats (say, sort of drum and bass, breakcore, etc.) with less/no noise. Will have the live debut at a small dance venue in Tokyo on October 15, 2016.
KK NULL will present a new surround composition, “Storm of Kronos,” at the Présences Électronique Genève festival on October 28, 2016.
KK NULL & BALAZS PANDI (Hungarian drummer) will have the first album, “Demon Core” 12′ LP, released on OHM Resistance Records in November, and do a two-week tour in Europe in late November-early December 2016.
I have a plan to record an album with Kasper T Toeplitz (Polish/French composer, bassist), and I’m allowed to play only a guitar on this album.
I have a plan to make a “noise opera” based on some sci-fi novels by James Tiptree Jr., with some dancers.
Well, there you have it! Until then, check out KK NULL’s website for more music and show dates!