By Nicholas Jason Lopez
Despite their songs being in full Japanese, unsigned melodic metal/electronicore act Esprit D’Air have garnered a huge following among non-Japanese-speaking audiences in the United Kingdom, Europe and the United States with the anticipated release of their sophomore album ‘Oceans,’ which has seen success from a marketing strategy that involved single releases every six weeks funded by their Patreon backers.
‘Oceans’ will be released on Feb. 18, 2022, with the return to their hometown of London to play at the O2 Academy Islington just two days later, one of their biggest headline shows yet, following sold-out shows at The Underworld Camden and Boston Music Room in 2018.
Their first live audience show since those performances, the live band will be a five-piece with Kai on lead vocals/guitar, Ryo on guitar, Yusuke on guitar, Takeshi (ex-Knights Of Round) on bass and Jan-Vincent Velazco (Pendragon) on drums.
The debut album ‘Constellations’ won a “Best Metal Album” Award, judged by Slayer, Tom Waits, Sepultura and Amy Lee of Evanescence at The 2018 Independent Music Awards at The Lincoln Center in New York City.
The Music Bugle had the opportunity to talk with Kai about ‘Oceans’ and more.
Music Bugle – What do you feel has been your proudest accomplishment?
Kai – I feel the fact that I have not given up so far has been my proudest accomplishment. I have to celebrate that I am still working hard on what I love to do. I was also proud of winning the “Best Metal Album” award for my debut album, which was judged by bands and artists I admire, such as Amy Lee, Sepultura and Slayer.
Music Bugle – What makes you the proudest about where you come from?
Kai – I come from a non-musical background. I was also not good at anything in school and had a very difficult time in childhood. I started skipping school to learn guitar and I felt like that was my “escape” and my solace, my comfort in a distressing time. Discovering that passion for guitar really changed my life, as I started to realize what I really wanted to do in my life.
Music Bugle – What excites you the most about your style of music?
Kai – I really like to explore otherworldly themes in my music, yet write about topics that feel relatable in real life. It excites me to have an outlet to express this in the music I create.
Music Bugle – What inspired the band name?
Kai – Esprit D’Air is French and it means “spirit of air.” We came up with a lot of names and that was the name that stuck and it sounded beautiful. I wish there was a bigger story to tell, but that’s it.
Music Bugle – What was your thought process going into your marketing strategy to put out new singles every six weeks?
Kai – It has been a busy journey. I have been releasing new music every six weeks and I do not plan to stop. I haven’t had much of a break or time to relax, but I have to keep going. The response has been incredible though and I can see our fanbase is growing with every new release.
Music Bugle – Does social media help or hurt musicians?
Kai – A lot of our followers discovered us through social media and it’s thanks to that that we have a following that we do. At the same time, social media can also be harmful to our mental health. We are scrolling through pictures of perfect lives and it paints a very skewed image of the real world. Sometimes, I have to take a step away and disengage from the digital world to recharge.
Music Bugle – What does today’s music industry need more of?
Kai – The live industry needs to completely come back, first of all. Not being able to do shows and tour made me feel very sad. Artists also need a better way to earn in the digital world as streaming royalties – even in its millions of streams – are not enough for us to sustain.
Music Bugle – What was your most memorable moment while at a show?
Kai – That is a tough one, because there have been so many. I think selling out our shows for the first time in 2017 and then several times in 2018 really made me think, “Wow, our music is really making an impact now” and I couldn’t stop smiling meeting fans and hearing their stories of how they discovered Esprit D’Air and what impact it has given to their lives.
Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Kai – Generally, like many people, it has made me feel really down. I have been trying to make the most of it by creating a release schedule I can work with to keep me busy and focused on my goals. The positive side is that I have been keeping busy this way, in an otherwise depressing world.
Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise?
Kai – Various rock and metal bands, old and new. Right now, I am looking forward to the new Iron Maiden record.