Category Archives: Interviews


Tomoya.S and Sally#Cinnamon

With today’s announcement of new album ‘From the Basement’, Tokyo based indie rockers HEAVENSTAMP joined Beyond Senpai for a chat about all that has happened this year and their outlook for the year ahead.

BS. Welcome to Beyond Senpai, congratulations on joining the Setsuzoku records roster! Can you tell us how this partnership started?

Beyond Senpaiへようこそ。Setsuzoku Recordへ名を連ねることになり、おめでとうございます。この度どのようにこの関係に至ったのか、話していただけませんか?

HS. Heavenstamp was supposed to tour the UK in June and July of this year, but due to the new coronavirus, we had to postpone.

In order to make the most of the time we didn’t have to tour, we started to work on a new album.

After completing the album, we decided to release the album in the UK, which we had always wanted to do, so we talked to a British friend who was supporting us on our UK tour and introduced us to Setsuzoku Records.

Thank you for this wonderful encounter!



アルバムの完成後、私たちのかねてからの希望だったイギリスでのアルバムリリースを実現するため、UKツアーをサポートしてくれるイギリス人の友人に相談し、Setsuzoku Recordsを紹介してくれたのが始まりです。


BS. You have been working on new music, how do you find your inspiration for writing and what is the creative process like?


HS. It is a mind-blowing experience.
For example, it could be a great movie, a beautiful landscape, a conversation with a friend, a relationship with a family member, or the world news.
I think all the inspirational things we see and experience are a source of inspiration.

There are various forms of creative process, such as the two of us discussing the direction of the song and lyrics, or vocalist Sally writing lyrics to a song inspired by guitarist Tomoya, but most of the time we write the lyrics with the song first.
Sometimes Tomoya is in charge of both writing and composing lyrics.



BS. How did you develop your musical style?


HS. Both of us have loved and listened to all kinds of music from all over the world, from classical music, which we have listened to since we were children, to rock, hip-hop, and ambient, but we have also seen and experienced many wonderful live performances by foreign musicians who have visited Japan, which has had an important influence on Heavenstamp’s music.

I want to express the grooves that I feel with my body and the sense of unity with the audience in Heavenstamp’s music.
It also made me want to enjoy music with people all over the world.



BS. What artists have inspired you to make music and who would you like to collaborate with?


HS. Tomoya first composed music at the age of six, imitating Beethoven on the piano.
He first composed rock music in junior high school, probably due to The Beatles.
Since then, I have been inspired by David Bowie, Radiohead, Blur, Super Furry Animals, and many other UK rock bands, as well as Bjork, The Flaming Lips, and Yura Yura Empire.

The band I would most like to collaborate with now is the Canadian band Arcade Fire.

初めてロックの曲を作曲したのは中学生の頃、The Beatlesの影響だったと思います。
それ以降はDavid BowieやRadiohead、Blur、Super Furry Animalsなど多くのUKロック、他にもBjorkやThe Flaming Lips、ゆらゆら帝国など様々な国の音楽からも刺激を受けました。

今一番コラボレーションしたいのは、カナダのバンドであるArcade Fireです。

BS. 2020 has been a crazy year, how have you kept busy when performing live has  been affected?


HS. It’s a bit of a duplicate, but I think it was the production of a new album.
It was all done in Tomoya’s private studio, and we had a lot of new ideas to try, but we had plenty of time so we were able to complete the album on our own.

It was definitely a difficult time, but we are positive that we learned a lot and gained a lot from it.



BS. Do you think the live music industry will change due to the pandemic?


HS. To be honest, we don’t know.
But I don’t think it’s necessarily all doom and gloom.
Nowadays, people all over the world can watch our live performances wherever they are, thanks to the technology of distribution, so there may be more people who get to know our music.
However, there is still a greatness that cannot be replaced by actually experiencing a live concert in a venue.
I believe that the day will come when we will be able to safely enjoy live music with people all over the world.
All we can do is to make the best choice we can at that time and do our best.


BS. In what venue would you most like to perform live?


HS. After all, the Glastonbury Festival has been a goal of mine for many years.
I imagine the stage every day and every night.

Another one is Alexandra Palace in England, where I saw my friends Bloc Party live in 2018.
It was a lovely venue with a lot of history.

Then there’s Windmill, a venue in Brixton where I’ve played many gigs and have some great friends.

やはり、長年の目標であるGlastonbury Festivalです。

他には、2018年に友人のBloc Partyのライブを観たイギリスのAlexandra Palaceです。


BS. What do you enjoy most when performing and do you have any backstage rituals?


HS. I love to see the audience enjoying themselves the most.
I play with a sense of wonderment that each of our lives can come together in the same place at the same moment.

Backstage, I warm up my throat and body to boost my spirits, but I am basically relaxed.



BS. We missed you in the UK this year, are there plans for you to return?


HS. The summer tour was postponed, but I am sure it will happen someday.


BS. Do you have a message for your fans?


HS. If you have known Heavenstamp in the past, or if you are new to us, we are glad to meet you.
People all over the world are going through difficult times, but we will continue to send out music.
I hope you enjoy it.
I believe that we will meet at a live concert someday. Until then, please be well.
I wish you all the best.


New single ‘Sail to Heaven’ will be released on January 22nd 2021 followed by the new album ‘In The Basement’ on February 26th 2021.

Beyond Senpai thanks SETSUZOKU RECORDS for arranging this interview and to HEAVENSTAMP for joining us.

Special thanks to Hideki Narita for his translation skills.



Yuffie Sakimura aka Garuda has been busy creating her upcoming debut album, The Battle of Nightmares, due for release on September 9th. Between filming her new MV, 支配者 (Ruler), and performing live with her idol unit Melon Batake a GO GO, Yuffie-san found time to answer some questions with Beyond Senpai.

Beyond Senpai: Yuffie, how are you?

BS: こんにちは

Garuda: I’m doing very well! Thank you. 


BS:  It has been 3 years since your debut. What is your most memorable moment?

BS: デビューして3年経ちますが、1番の思い出は何でしょう?

G: My most memorable moment was being able to perform live in the UK.
I’m so glad that I didn’t give up on performing.

It wasn’t easy for me to continue with GARUDA on my own. It is very difficult to think about what I want to express, what I am passionate about, what I am actually able to express, and how to create something that can be accepted by everyone. So I was really surprised when I was invited to play in the UK, and I was really happy that I was accepted as an artist there. I vividly remember all three shows of the tour. I think people could tell by my facial expressions that I was nervous at the time, and it was refreshing to get different reactions to each song than in Japan. I still can’t forget how tense I was.

G: 一番の思い出はイギリスでのライブ公演ができたことです。



BS: The new song is great. Were you part of the creative process?

BS: 新曲は素晴らしいですね。今回の制作のなかで、特にクリエイティブだったのはどんなところですか?

G:  Thank you. I’m glad to hear that.

This album was the first time I tried to write lyrics by myself. “Ruler” which I created the music video for, was the first song I wrote, and I completed the lyrics with the help of RIKA:NYAN from Bedtime Story. I didn’t have any knowledge of lyric writing at first, so she was the one who took my emotional writing and applied it to the song.

The whole album is about the struggle with life, and I built it around “The Dominator”. I think I was able to create a narrative in the order of the songs as well as one round. I hope it’s a fight song for myself, and I hope it’s a fight song for everyone.

G: ありがとうございます。そう言ってもらえて嬉しいです。

今回のアルバムは初めて自分で作詞に挑戦しました。MVを創った『支配者』は1番最初にできた曲で、Bedtime StoryのRIKA:NYANに手伝ってもらいながら歌詞を完成させました。最初は作詞に関する知識もなかったので、私の感情のままに書いた文章を曲に当てはめたのが彼女です。


Indie Idol and Infamous Tour (London) Photo courtesy of Peter Goodhew

BS: You have an industrial style to the music. Does this help you create your character and performance?

BS: あなたの’industrial style’の曲制作は、ご自身の成長、性格や能力にどのような影響を与えていますか?

G: My original influences were metal and hard rock, before I fell in love with idols myself. My current activities are rooted in the style I originally liked. I love pretty performances, of course, but I consider cool performances to be more suited to me. I think having plague masks and nail bats helps me to create a stronger and darker world.

G: 私自身がアイドルを好きになるよりも先に、元々の影響を受けていたのがメタルやハードロックでした。今の活動は元々私が好きだったスタイルを根源としています。私は可愛いパフォーマンスはちろん大好きですが、クールなパフォーマンスの方が自分に向いていると考えています。ペストマスクや釘バットを持つことでより強く、よりダークな世界を創りだすことができていると思います。

BS:  What was it like on the set of the music video with Neko?

BS: ‘NEKO’さんとのMV撮影現場はどのような感じでしたか?

G: It was so great. She is a really nice lady!

I met NEKO when she was in a group called “Fetties”. I have had her perform at my birthday party. She is a real SM queen.

For this video, I hired a professional production company to work on the project. When I read the script, the first cast member who came to mind was NEKO, whose behaviour and demeanor fit the image I had in mind.
The extras were dressed in very hot outfits and we had to shoot for a long time, so she made everyone feel at ease and cared for them during the shoot.

G: とても最高でした。彼女は本当に素敵な女性です。




Garuda and Neko on set. Photo courtesy of Garuda) Twitter)

BS:  The new album will be out soon, what are your thoughts on how it has turned out?

BS: 新アルバムがもうすぐ発売とのことですが、今の心境を聞かせてください。

G: I’m so excited and looking forward to it!

I decided on most things myself including the artwork, compositional images, and lyric production. This album is the first album that I truly created by myself. I’ve learned how hard it is to make an album, and it took me a long time to make, but I’m really looking forward to seeing how people will listen to this album and interpret the meaning of the songs.

G: とても楽しみでワクワクしています!


BS:  This is your first solo album. Have you enjoyed working with the creative team?

BS: 今回初のソロアルバム、制作チームとは楽しくお仕事することができましたか?

G: Of course.

I’ve recorded in a group activity before, but most of it was my first time with GARUDA. In the time between adding lyrics to the songs and recording, we received a lot of advice on how to make them even better. Thanks to everyone on the production team, I think the songs turned out great throughout the whole process. I can’t thank them enough.

G: もちろんです。


BS:  What artists or bands inspire you? Is there anyone you would like to collaborate with?

BS: 最も影響を受けたアーチスト、バンドは?もし共演できるとしたら誰としてみたいですか?

G: My biggest influence is Marilyn Manson. When I saw their music videos, I was struck by lightning!

The artists I would like to perform with are “Queen Bee” and “”. These two groups have also had a great influence on me and I’ve always admired them.

G: 最も影響を受けたのはMarilyn Mansonです。彼らのMVを観たときは、雷に打たれたような衝撃を受けました。


BS:  Do you get time for yourself?

BS: いま、自分の時間は持てていますか?

G: Tough question….. it looks like I won’t be able to settle down much until after the GARUDA sponsored event. (LOL)

G: 難しい質問です…GARUDAの主催イベントが終わるまではあまり落ち着けなさそうです。(笑) 

BS: We miss you in the UK. Do you hope to travel overseas again?

BS: イギリスのファンは寂しがっています。また海外へ行きたいですか?

G: Of course I want to go!

I learned a lot from meeting fans in the UK. It was great to see not only people who live in the UK, but also people who came from neighboring countries to visit us. The reaction to each song was different, and I trained myself to think about what I was going to say during my MCs every day. In Japan, many people would stare at me as I flailed, but at the UK show, people welcomed me with open arms. When I returned to Japan, people would sometimes tell me that my staging had matured.

So far, I’ve had more international fans come to Japan, but if I get the chance, I’d like to visit the UK and many other countries as often as I can.

G: もちろん行きたいです!



BS:  You love Disney, who is your favourite character?

BS: ディズニーが大好きと聞きました。どのキャラクターが好きですか?

G: They’re all so cute it’s hard to choose!

The Nightmare Before Christmas ♥ Depending on my mood, I also like Gellatoni and Alien.

G: みんな可愛くて選ぶのが難しいです!

The Nightmare Before Christmas♥その日の気分によってジェラトーニやエイリアンも好きです。

BS: Do you have a message for your fans?

BS: あなたのファンの為にメッセージを送ってくれませんか?

G: Thank you for always looking out for me!

Thanks to everyone’s support so far, we’ve been able to put out this album. Thank you so much for waiting so long for this album. I hope this work will reach many people.

It may not be easy for me to do it again soon, but I look forward to seeing you again.

G: いつも私のことを気にかけてくれてありがとうございます!



Beyond Senpai thanks Yuffie-san for her contribution and taking the time to talk with us. We will continue to support Garuda!

Special thanks to Hideki Narita for his assistance with translating.

Photos are gratefully accepted from the official Garuda Twitter.

To support Yuffie