SXSW 2019: ASTERISM talk about their battle metal sound, inspirations & influences, goals

When I initially checked the rosters for SXSW 2019, ASTERISM was a name I knew nothing about. What I ended up finding were three young, extremely talented ass-kicking rockers who stole the show and left me so amazed that I hunted them down after for the chance to learn more.

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ASTERISM is comprised of three members, a guitarist who was wildly vicious with her riffs, a bassist with the biggest bass I’ve ever seen in my life, and a drummer who proceeded to beat the living hell out of those drums with an expert level of speed and accuracy.

After their set, I stood in line with a pile of new fans eager to buy merch and meet the band. When I finally got to meet them, there was a genuine sweetness, kindness, and excitement to be in Austin and the United States for the very first time and to meet so many new people. The language barrier didn’t stop them from conversing with fans, signing merch, and posing for pictures.

Their manager was kind enough to agree to an interview with the help of a team translator.

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Asian Junkie: Hello, ASTERISM! Please take a moment to introduce yourselves to our readers with each of your names, your ages, and your role in the band.

HAL-CA: Hi, I’m HAL-CA, guitar, 16.

MIYU: 16 and bassist!

MIO: Hi, I’m MIO! 19 and drummer.

AJ: We caught ASTERISM’s live show at SXSW and found ourselves completely hooked! For those of us who are new, how did Asterism start?

MIO: Trigger is a competition presented by YAMAHA Group. Before forming ASTERISM, HAL-CA was solo, while MIYU and I were a unit. Both of us performed at the competition, held at different venues, and staff from YAMAHA said, “Let them be together. It should be exciting!” Later he introduced us to each other. That’s the start of ASTERISM.

AJ: Describe your music style for us.

HAL-CA: ‘Battle Music’ is our theme, writing tunes or playing at lives based on it. Yes, we three battle each other in playing, we want to assist people to fight against something bad or stepping forward. We love to create music to inspire people. It may mean ASTERISM’s music is close to daily life.

AJ: During the creative process where does most of your inspiration come from for your music?

HAL-CA: A lot! I am inspired by many things but the most, by people challenging to make own dream come true, or fighting against something put them in difficulties. When my psychological condition links to it, my emotion comes out as sound. There’s something in myself that I want to blast, but hardly to say verbally, I blast it in writing new tune. For example, “BLAZE” from ‘IGNITION‘. An athlete’s stoic presence linked to my emotion, then I put out the sound, expressing something like ‘fighting to myself’.

MIYU: For me, it’s in playing a bass! I get sharp in a sense of something like ringing a big bell — ding-dong, ding-dong. Phrases and ideas flow over and over.

AJ: Is there a particular memory that stands out to you that initiated your pursuit in music?

HAL-CA: It’s definitely I’ve been to Loudness live for the first time! I strongly wished I could play a guitar just like Takasaki Akira up on a big stage. Sometimes I get tired of practicing guitar, but my first Loudness live reminds me of that excitement and pushes me forward. So, that first Loudness live is very much a special moment.

MIYU: When I got a small bass as a birthday gift when I was a kid. Then I touched it and I just thought, “OK! That’s it! It is my fate!!!

MIO: It was TOTO led me to music. I wished I could create excellent piece of music just like TOTO builds every single instrument firmly into sound. Also I want to be a great drummer like Jeff Porcaro or Simon Philips. That’s why I started to pursue music.

AJ: Is there an achievement as a band that you are most proud of? If so, why?

MIO: Fans, no doubt! Fortunately, we have about 90,000 fans on our Facebook page. They always support us and encourage us a lot. We played at a live that never-met-fans managed and operated. Isn’t it great? Every single fan is the most precious, we are proud of them!!!

AJ: Your talent as musicians is pretty hardcore and amazing. What made you take up your respective instrument and how long have you been playing?

HAL-CA: Well, thanks! First I played drums since second grade at elementary school, then an instructor recommended me to see professional artists’ live. I’ve been to Judas Priest, Dream Theater, Loudness, and so on. Among them, Takasaki Akira from Loudness grabbed my heart! I simply wished “I wanna play a guitar like him!” and ask for a guitar as a 10th birthday gift. I play my guitar anytime I can, every day.

MIO: Thanks a lot! My parents love hard rock. Every day, anytime, some videos of hard rockers were streamed at home. Among them, Cozy Powell from Whitesnake caught my eyes and ears. He was soooo cool, I was like struck by a lightning. That’s how I started playing drums.

MIYU: Billy Sheehan from Mr. Big. He is a reason I choose a bass. I started at seven years old, which means I’ve already been playing for 10 years.

AJ: Why is your bass guitar so wildly big and where can I get one?!

MIYU: My hands are in quite a range of movement, and I’m not satisfied with four-strings bass. That’s why. You cannot find it at any shop. ESP fully customized it for me, so it’s the one and only in the world. I think I want more strings in the bass! *Laughs*

AJ: What would you say is your biggest influence in music?

HAL-CA: Takasaki Akira from Loudness, Michael Armott from Arch Enemy, and Victor Smolski from Rage is who I am especially influenced by. Both playing and live performance are really cool!

MIYU: Billy Sheehan from Mr. Big. Aggressive performance and techniques like shredding or tapping, I am influenced very much.

MIO: Dave Weckl changed my drumming! His sound plays out from drums — complex but fluent fills, great groove, multicolored with jazzy and Latin rhythms — it surprised me a lot since I didn’t know drummers in other genres but heavy metal. I myself play heavy metal, but I always try to be conscious of his fluent groove and kaleidoscopic drumming. I want to improve.

AJ: What was your favorite part about SXSW?

HAL-CA: This is the first time ASTERISM has executed a live in the U.S., and I think our sound could unify whole audiences. I was really happy to hear great cheerful noise, as I felt ASTERISM was delivering our music. It truly helped me to have confidence.

MIYU: I communicated with other performers, fans, and more, which inspired me a bunch. SXSW let me feel the world more closely. I can say we will perform much much more powerfully than ever from now on.

MIO: Whole Austin was full of joy and music, that’s my most favorite point! SXSW was a never-experienced view in my life, it’s like a … paradise!

AJ: Finally, you’re currently on a tour in the US, what other future goals do you have as a band?

ASTERISM: We’d love to tour not only in the U.S., but many more countries and cities around the world. We want to be a big name such that everybody knows ASTERISM. That’s our goal!

ASTERISM turned out to be one of the few bands that really stuck with me from the festival this year. Their talent, stage presence, and all-around uniqueness really brought them to the forefront of SXSW and I really hope to get to see them live again soon!

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You can check out ASTERISM on their website and across social media like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Yaaaaaas
I'm not drunk enough for this.