“The Samurai Guitarist” Miyavi
By: Sean Wall
His name is Takamasa Ishihara
Miyabi, 雅, MYV, 382, DJ 382, MYV 382 TOKYO, 雅-Miyavi- or simply Miyavi
Has become an international star for his androgynous style, extravagant tattoos, vibrant vocals, and Miyavi’s musical signature is to slap rather than pick his electric guitar, lending a frenetic propulsion to his playing, against which he growls his English-language lyrics of alienation and paranoia.
MIYAVI is gaining recognition around the world for his unconventional style of playing the guitar—not with a pick, but with his fingers and his “slap style,” which is like no other. MIYAVI has four successful world tours under his belt, totaling more than 250 shows in 30 countries across North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.
Back in 1999, was when the game-changing guitarist Tokyo, and joined the visual kei rock band Due le Quartz; a band that formed in December 1998 w/ vocalist Sakito. The stage name Miyabi was used during this time. Even with him being the guitarist he wrote lyrics, composed, and arranged most of the band’s music. However in 2002, he started his solo career and changed his name to Miyavi.
On his journey being a solo act and signed to the independent record label PS Company, he debuted his first studio album ‘Gagaku’ on October 31st. His mindset on proving why he wouldn’t let anything stand in his way the release of three new singles “Shindemo Boogie-Woogie“, “Pop is dead” and “Jingle Bell“. Only “Jingle Bell” managed to make the top forty on the Oricon charts.
Furthermore, he would star in his first movie role alongside former ‘Due Le Quartz’ bandmate Sakito; ‘Ryomano Tsumato Sono Ottoto Aijin’. It would prove well when in he starred as himself in Oresama. Miyavi would have a stellar year as he played his first solo concert at the Shibuya Public Hall and releasing three more singles “Jibun Kakumei“, “Tariraritarara“, and “Coo quack cluck -Ku. Ku. Ru-“, which charted as numbers forty, thirty and forty-two respectively on Oricon.
Miyavi’s maxi single Ashita, Genki ni Naare (2004) topped the indie charts, and in the same year, he signed up with Universal, releasing his first major-label single, Rock no Gyakushuu, in October 2004. After releasing the major-label debut LP with the modest name of Miyavizm (2005), he made a radical shift to acoustic pop, displayed on his Myv Pops and Miyaviuta — Dokusou albums, both issued in 2006, only to return to rock music as a member of the supergroup S.K.I.N., whose lineup also featured Yoshiki Hayashi of X-Japan, Sugizo of Luna Sea, Gackt, and Ju-Ken of Gackt’s touring band. S.K.I.N. debuted with a show at the Anime Expo 2007 in Long Beach, CA, and the group remained a strict live project after that.
Miyavi, meanwhile, continued to record: after the remix album 7 Samurai Sessions (2007), the double A-sided single Sakihokoru Hana no You Ni/Kabuki Boiz that debuted at number four on the charts, and a Japan/South Korea tour, he released his fourth major-label album, This Iz the Japanese Kabuki Rock (2008). The subsequent tour in support of this record spanned (in addition to Japan) the Americas, Europe, and Continental Asia.
The new decade of the 2010s gave a new light to Miyavi’s career as his 10-year contract with PS Company would expire and on April 8, he would found his own company, J-Glam Inc., where he’s the president. It would prove more successful where he can continue to live the dreams he fell in love with 11 years ago. The second world tour would commence on September 19th, ‘Neo Tokyo Samurai Black 2009/2010 which saw his list of countries grow as he held 17 concerts in Austria, Hungary, and Italy for the first time. Reaching the Americas, he took to South America, but couldn’t continue in the United States due to injury and illness, but managed to perform at Anime Matsuri, Texas in November.
From 2011-2013, he would continue to pave his way in the music industry, by becoming famous to evolving into an icon that makes new fans that hear his movie want to hear more.
On July 11, his thirteenth major single, “Day 1,” was released in collaboration with the French electronic producer and DJ, Yuksek. On February 28, 2013, “Ahead of the Light“, Miyavi’s fourteenth single, was released; a promotional tour of the same name followed. On June 19, his seventh studio album, Miyavi, was released in Japan. It is his best-selling album so far, reaching number eight on the Oricon charts. In the same month two more singles, “Horizon” and “Secret“, were released.
With his acting debut (the United States) in “Unbroken” directed by Angelina Jolie (2014), MIYAVI was inspired by the message of peace which he himself has strived for; he has been able to use all his performing abilities this time as an actor who considers his body and soul to be his instrument. Miyavi commented that as the movie was somewhat sensitive to the Japanese people, he had hesitated as to whether he should take this role. However, after meeting with Jolie, and given that the underlying theme of this story is forgiveness, he wholeheartedly decided to accept it.
In January 2015, he performed “Let Go” on Ellen DeGeneres show, from his latest album “The Others”, which was recorded entirely in Nashville and in L.A.
“Each project, I have a different concept. In the previous project, I was trying to express Japanese culture and modern style, hence the look. Now I’m going for a more sophisticated and simplified look as a solo guitarist or ‘samurai guitarist’ as some people call me. So now onstage, I don’t wear a kimono, only naked.”
—Quoted from Miyavi, excerpted from Ingspirations.
In a perspective look at Miyavi’s entire career until now, you can definitely see an evolution in his style and appearance. The sheer height of his international popularity may cause other Japanese acts to stop and think, however: on his 2008 world tour, Miyavi hit 33 cities in 14 countries. Selling out many of the venues, it was the most successful international tour undertaken by a Japanese artist in history. The man they call Miyavi will forever leave his mark on the worlds. His only mission in life as a musician is to consistently aim for the next level, as fans refer to MIYAVI as the “Samurai Guitarist.”
“Change without changing at all.“
Follow Miyavi: @MIYAI_OFFICIAL | MYV382Tokyo | MIYAVI.OFFICIAL | MYV382Tokyo.com