Cornelius / Keigo Oyamada
Radiostation Kink FM had received an invitation to do an interview with Keigo "Cornelius" Oyamada, who was doing promotion for his upcoming album Point. Since nobody at Kink FM had any affinity with this Japanese artist, i was send out to do the interview.
The interview was scheduled on december 3 2001 in the American Hotel at the Leidsche Square in the center of Amsterdam. Upon arriving in his hotelroom (which was rather small), i was greeted by Keigo and his interpreter, plugged in the DAT-recorder and sat down to start questioning. It was rather odd, since everything had to be translated twice. Not very convenient for a radio interview. We ended passing through the microphone over and over until we forgot who was supposed to speak.
Here's the full transcript of the short half hour i got to spend with Cornelius:

Q: For the people who don't know you: Who is Cornelius?
A: I have the most difficult time when someone asks me "what kind of music are you doing?" For example my aunt would ask me: "So what kind of music are you playing, it's rock right? It's rock". And just to get rid of her i'll say: "Yeah, it's rock". But for me, whatever title is fine. To me it's music.
Q: The name Cornelius is not exactly Japanese. Where did it come from?
A: Basicly i got it off the Planet of the Apes, and it's a character in the movie, named Cornelius. It just happened by chance that when i was starting my soloproject, i came home one day and turned the tv on, and POTA was on and that's where i got it.
Later on i found out that Pierre Boulle, the writer of this story, was actually writing about his own experiences as a prisoner of war in World War 2 in Japan and he made that story into the Planet of the Apes. He was the prisoner of war, where he was like the human and the Japanese were the Apes and Cornelius is like the middleperson who understands the Japanese people, or the apes, and the humans. He understands both so i like that as a character too.
Q: What music did you grow up with?
A: I grew up listening to all kinds of music. Both my parents were also musicians who played Hawaiian poppish kind of songs. So there was that kind of music coming in, and from Junior High i started listening to rock music.
Q: Your father actually played on one of your cd's. Was that 69/96?
A: It was on the remix-album of 69/96 which was called 96/69. I had my dad's band actually play, instead of remixing, just play.
Q: Four years have passed since the release of your last album "Fantasma". Why did it take so long?
A: Fantasma was the first release outside of Japan, which was released in Europe and in the States. And i did a follow up tour which took about 2 years and then i did various remixes, and produced some things during that time and that took about 2 and a half years. Basicly i started recording for this album last year and it took a year.
Q: What were your influences for this particular album?
A: It wasn't necessarily just one thing, but things that happened just in the normal daily environment, the recent moods that i'm feeling. Just normal experiences or feelings felt within, like just normal life.
Q: When listening to your last album i got the idea: This guy is affraid of silence. Everytime a song was fading out your crammed in loads of samples in order to avoid a gap between the songs. This new album is actually the opposite of that. Why this different approach?
A: Basicly Fantasma involved lots of information, lot's of cut up images. This time i selected the necessary sounds that i felt, that i needed in there and let the music breathe more. Basicly i wanted to make it more simple this time.
Q: Fantasma was your international breakthrough and it was filled with drum 'n' bass and samples. There's not much left of that on Point. Aren't you affraid that your international audience might not get what they expect?
A: I didn't know what people were expecting, so i can't really say. But i feel that it's a bit different then last time's album.
Q: Then was Fantasma a small trip into another direction, because this album is more in line with the older albums, your first albums and the work you did with Flipper's Guitar. Was Fantasma just the odd one out?
A: I feel that it was different then the previous releases, whereas the first one was maybe like, a pop album and the second one involved more rock and then Fantasma was more like Disneyland. I feel that i'm making it different each time.
Q: You have said in a previous interview that every album is like a soundtrack to you. That you guide your listeners through different landscapes and countries. What image or feeling do you want to give your audience with this new album?
A: My concept wasn't about creating the whole full story for the listeners, but mixing my music with each individuals experience and/or atmosphere. For example it's like, when explaining what a cigarette is or drawing one. It's not drawing what the cigarette is but the things around it. So it's like mixing the atmospheres. Giving the atmospheres but putting your thought with the music.
Q: There's one song on the album that seems a bit out of place. Which is not as poppy as the rest of the album. I hate hate is an aggressive speedmetal track. What are you trying to say with this track?
A: With "I hate hate", I got together my stressfeelings, anger and negative feelings and just compressed it and put it into one little spot and made it fast. Basicly by having this one track it makes the rest of the album sound more gentle. And there's an irony about the title which is "I hate hate". This meaning there's still hate within myself.
Q: There's one song that's a cover. The song Brazil. It's a cover of the famous theme from the movie Brazil. Why did you cover it? Weren't you affraid that it would be critizised. Because the original has a certain swing and this one sounds a bit artificial because the vocals were programmed. Why did you do this cover?
A: Basicly, a cover is a cover so i can't do anything about that. First i was offered to do music for Honda's commercial where Honda made a robot and the robot comes out in the commercial and sings the song. It made me think of the film Brazil more where, in the movie, there's a high society and the people want to go back to the past style of life and live that way. The interesting part i thought about this commercial was that the robot, it's 2001, and the robot is singing that he wants to go back to the past and live the past lifestyle. I made the full version because he thought it was interesting and included it in this album.
Q: Drop will be the first single off this album. The Japanese version only had one track. Will there be additional remixes on the European release?
A: The remixes included on the maxi-single will be from Kings of Convenience and Matthew Herbert.
Q: Last year you had a second remix-album planned, CM2, but it was cancelled. Why was that and when can we expect it now?
A: The timing with the release-date of this album and the timing with when the remixes were made, didn't quite match. And there was one remix with which we had some trouble to clear the rights, but i plan to release it this coming year.
Q: There's going to be a tour this spring in Europe. What can people expect from a Cornelius concert?
A: I haven't started the rehearsal yet, so i don't know. Basicly it's gonna be with the same members as last time and i'll use the visual aspects too and it'll be quite simular to that but i don't know the details of it yet. I'm gonna come up with a concept, an idea, when i get back to Japan.

Related Links:
Cornelius Official website
Cornelius Matador site
Kink FM
Copyright 2005 Peter Zoon.