100% HEAVY / 100% Free / 0% Spam

Conquering The Oceans With ESPRIT D’AIR

Share This:

London based Japanese outfit Esprit D’Air has certainly kept themselves busy over the past twelve months, meticulously preparing for the launch of their second album Oceans while releasing new music in six weeks blocks in the lead up to its release.

Having already amassed over one million Spotify streams, Oceans is an intricate blending of djent, electronicore, industrial, goth, and power metal that contains the popular singles Leviathan (remixed), Dead Zone and The Abyss plus 13 more tracks that showcase the immense talent of the group which is led by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Kai.

Featuring guest appearances from Ryo Kinoshita (Crystal Lake) and Ben Christo (The Sisters Of Mercy), Oceans showcases Esprit D’Air in all of their sonic beauty, untamed by the trappings of society and a world in conflict.

Kai answered a series of questions posed to her by HEAVY earlier this week.

HEAVY: Esprit D’Air is releasing their second album, Oceans on February 18. Tell us about the album musically.

Esprit D’Air: My first album had a space theme. I wanted something that represented something similar—huge, epic, “unchartered/undiscovered” for my second album. Like space, the oceans are just like that. My music is all about exploring a new sound while being heavily atmospheric with cinematic layers, so I thought Oceans is a fitting name. Around that name, nautical references surrounding the lyrics and themes were made.

What goals did you have going into it and did you achieve them?

My only goal is to find people who connect with the music I create, and I think I am finally beginning to find my ‘tribe’. To have my music mean something to people is all I want, to get them through tough times, especially these days, and for people to enjoy it.

Oceans follows up from your highly successful debut album Constellations in 2018. How does it differ musically?

For a start, Oceans is double in length! In total, it’s about 76 minutes. I think the sound has also matured a lot sonically. It has been almost five years since Constellations, so I picked up a lot of improvements, like the delivery of my voice, and more intricacies in my production. Additionally, my guitar playing has improved, and I think I explore a lot more in terms of sound. While Constellations was quite diverse, Oceans takes musical diversity to another level.

There are 20 songs on the album, which is rare in the modern age where many bands are choosing to release EPs because of the shorter running time. Did you have to think about something like that before deciding to have so much material on the album?

EPs didn’t cross my mind, actually, but it’s something I am considering doing in the near future. I could certainly imagine future EPs having its own different moods, for example.

Two of the tracks feature guest musicians, with Ben Christo from The Sisters Of Mercy on Dead Zone and Ryo Kinoshita from Japanese metalcore band Crystal Lake on The Abyss. Why choose those particular artists to appear on the album?

I have shared the stage with Ben on many occasions. I admire his talent, his songwriting, and his way with words, and I really look up to him as an artist, as well as a friend and a mentor that points me in the right direction. When things are looking down, he picks me right up and motivates me to keep going. The process of working together was really smooth. We hadn’t done anything together before, yet the magic we made really clicked, and we made something very dark and haunting that we are both very proud of.

Ryo has a very powerful voice, and I really wanted to experiment with the deathcore and progressive metal style that I also really love. In my opinion, his voice is the best in that style. We share a similar fanbase, and coincidentally, we also shared some connections in the music scene, so a lot of fans were really stoked to hear we were doing something together. It was also one that made a lot of sense with the music I made—a melodic approach wouldn’t have worked as well, so Ryo really killed it and was really awesome to work with. I hope that I can learn to scream like him one day!

It’s interesting you used Ryo for the English parts on The Abyss, when he is actually Japanese.

Yes! He actually screams in English for all his songs in Crystal Lake.

There are also a couple of remixes of your previous single Leviathan. How exactly is it remixed, and why did you decide to give people another version of the song?

We have a drum and bass remix by Heavygrinder, who I actually followed since the days of MySpace. I thought, and still think, they’re an awesome duo who I love very much. It turned out Bobbie was a friend of one of my best friends, and that’s how we got introduced. They produced an incredibly energetic remix of our song “Leviathan”. It was like they breathed a new life into the song in a different way, and I love it!

Shirobon is someone I knew through my friends at JPU Records. When I first heard his music, I knew I really wanted to work with him to produce something in an entirely different style. As an artist who loves to experiment, I wanted one of the best people to do just that with my song. I love how he has his own style and way of thinking when he produces music.

You kept yourself busy during 2021, releasing a single every six weeks until the release of Oceans. It sounds like fun, but also a lot of work.

It sure was fun, and it sure was a LOT of work! For the most part, I had to do it on my own, but I had some help along the way, whether it was a friend to play bass or drums on some of the tracks, but for most of them, I have done almost everything. What made it much easier is that I stopped mixing the tracks myself because it was already a lot of work to produce and record everything. Once I finished one song, I already had to plan for the next. There was a lot of pressure to make sure every song I did sounded great and not rushed work. It was the most productive year of my life, and that even included quitting my job to focus entirely on Esprit D’Air.

Was it something people appreciated, or did you find it may have been too much for some?

I think it was appreciated! On Patreon, they always expressed a lot of gratitude, and I give them all the very same back. Of course, not everybody would have caught up with every single release. Our super fans have, but in today’s music market and the way people consume music, a lot of people, younger people especially, are always ready for the next song after just a month or so. Attention spans are lower and expectations are greater when there is just so much new music out there than ever before.

Esprit D’Air’s music is a cross-section of djent, electronica, industrial, gothic, and power metal. That is a very eclectic range of genres to mix with each other and doesn’t sound like it should work, but somehow you do. How much thought initially went into bringing those genres together?

I never thought about it, really. My inspiration comes from a lot of different music, and it’s never been about wanting to copy one artist or to sound like another. I think that’s what makes my music so diverse, as well as wanting to explore my style. Some days, I will listen to old-school thrash like Anthrax, or 80s metal, and glam like Mötley Crüe, some days more modern metal like Crystal Lake and Periphery, but I also have a soft spot for bands with more gothic undertones like The Cure and The Birthday Massacre, as well as grittier bands like Alice in Chains, and an appreciation for more technical music, electronic music, and ambient music. The list goes on. I sound nothing like these bands listed, but that’s because I just really want to make something that I could call my own.

Is there much trial and error in the writing process, or can you tell pretty early in if something is going to work or not.

I’d go through a lot of drafts, write riffs, and produce synths, drums, etc. If I am not feeling the energy or vibe from the first 8 or 16 bars, I’ll stop and start again. For example, if I come up with something that sounds like it’s been done before by another artist or is too “familiar”, I’ll start again. There’s a lot of trial and error, and I don’t always get it the first time. I am always very harsh on myself, too, and won’t settle for an “average” sound.

The electronica element seems to be popular amongst bands from Japan. I have been there on tour a number of times, and most rock and metal bands have the keyboard and/or electronic elements.

Yeah, I think so! Honestly, I think it was the British band Enter Shikari who first inspired me to use synths in my music, and they also inspired me to be the independent musician that I am. Now we see bands like Crossfaith and Bring Me The Horizon work with electronics crossing from metalcore to electronic rock, and I think that’s really cool.

To celebrate the release of Oceans, you will be performing a show at the O2 Academy Islington on February 20, which will be your first live performance since the sold-out gigs at the Boston Music Room and The Underworld Camden in 2018. That’s a long time between shows!

It really was. We actually wanted to make a comeback in March 2020, but you know what happened then. We postponed it until October 2020, which was still not possible, so we had to turn that into an online concert, which was actually very successful. 2021 also made it impossible for shows due to the coronavirus, so here we are in 2022, finally doing what we have wanted to do for so long! 

Since I work mostly alone with Esprit D’Air, I haven’t seen the band since August 2021, and the next time we see each other will be in the rehearsal room on the 19th, just a day before the show! I am excited to see Ryo, who has been stuck in Japan for a couple of years, and of course my friends Yusuke, Takeshi, and Vincent, who are not only my amazing friends but incredible musicians.

You must be a little bit nervous thinking about playing in front of a crowd again. What sorts of things are you doing to prepare?

I am a little nervous, actually, but I am not a person who prepares for shows and I like to go with the flow with very little planned. I like to feed off the energy from the crowd. I work with some preparation, but not so much to rehearse every line that I will say to the crowd. I find that uninspiring. I like to perform with spontaneity to give a unique experience every time.

Now the world is slowly opening up again, what are your plans for the rest of 2022 and beyond?

I plan and strive to continue doing my best. I would like to eventually tour with Oceans when the world is 100% safe. It’s difficult to plan things right now because of the uncertainties surrounding touring, which is why we have only planned the one show in the UK, where regulations are a lot more relaxed than in many other countries. Thank you for having me, and I hope to see you in Australia one day!

Pre-order Oceans here.

Discover more like this on HEAVY:

Our Picks.

Get the HEAVY

Get the HEAVY Digi-Mag in-boxed weekly. 100% HEAVY / 0%SPAM.