Register Recover account


Archive: 2017-04-05

“What's Soleil?” A brief history

Someone on Monochrome Heaven asked for some information about Soleil, so I thought I'd type something up! Since it became a little long, I decided to post it here. Hope it's helpful!

In the early '90s, the “visual kei scene” was only just starting to coalesce, but Nagoya-based bands were already differentiating themselves enough to be lumped together as a sub-scene called “Nagoya kei.” The two biggest in that scene were KUROYUME (who you already know) and Silver~Rose--a band which was formed in '89 by bassist KAIKI, the central character of this article.

By 1994, both bands had become popular nationwide--but while KUROYUME capitalized on that momentum and went major, Silver~Rose disbanded.

ex-Silver~Rose leader KAIKI immediately joined fellow Nagoya band Rouage, and also founded a visual kei label called noir, in collaboration with visual/rock shop YENBANYA (円盤屋). For a brief period, noir was the home of several important Nagoya bands who were just on the cusp of going major: FANATIC♢CRISIS, Romance for~, Shizuku (雫...), and so on. ROUAGE soon joined that list, announcing a major debut set for early 1996.

In a surprise to fans, KAIKI seceded from the band just before their major debut. Soon after, noir closed its doors.

Later in '96, KAIKI joined former-noir band WITH SEXY, and founded a new label called Soleil. The new label took in some of noir's less popular acts (CROW-SIS, JULæY, Lakshana) and quickly began signing new ones (DlociA, DELAY, etc.) The label didn't release much during its first year of operation, and its bands weren't especially exciting, so this period seems largely forgotten-about.

➡️ Side note: I know Wikipedia says otherwise, but Soleil wasn't a sublabel of Free-Will. Beginning in the later '90s, Free-Will acted as a for-hire marketer/distributor for several labels, but those were partnerships rather than parent-child relationships, if that makes sense. Same thing goes for Matina and UNDER CODE PRODUCTION.

Some time in 1997, Soleil moved its headquarters from Nagoya to Toyota, Aichi. The label become less “Nagoya kei”-ish, with bands like La'Mule, D'ELSQUEL, and Birushana joining. Tons of small bands would flow in and out of the label over the following years (see this page for the full list), many of which had their own inconsequential sublabels.

➡️ Side note: The only sublabel that really amounted to anything was Osaka-based Soleil Matina, which was founded by MIRAGE bassist KISAKI. (Side side note: it was initially independent, but became a Soleil sublabel after only a month or two.) Soleil Matina essentially acted independently of its parent label, and became really popular in its own right. Matina officially became independent from Soleil in 2000.

After WITH SEXY's disbandment in late '98, KAIKI focused exclusively on managing Soleil, and the label increased in popularity, becoming known for its bands' wide breadth of styles, and for their aggressive live schedules. In 2000--when bands like La'Mule, S, and Vasalla were active at the same time--the label was even popular enough to hold an event at Shibuya (渋谷) Koukaidou (公会堂).

Unfortunately, Soleil was also known for what some lovingly call “Soleil quality.” This refers to extremely cheaply-made releases sold for full price; releases that were delayed over and over and over; flyers that were photocopies of photocopies, densely packed with barely-legible information for several bands; freely distributed items released guerrilla-style with no prior notice or future mention; and so on.

After 2000, Soleil and its bands seem to have run out of steam. Maybe it was due to that “Soleil quality,” or maybe it was the loss of Soleil Matina as a sublabel, or maybe it was just the decline of visual kei's popularity in general... Whatever the reason, Soleil closed its doors in 2002.

A few ex-Soleil bands followed KAIKI to a new label, inner dream group, but it seems to have had the same management issues, and dissolved later in the year. All three bands (La'Mule, Birushana, S) were disbanded or basically inactive by the end of 2003.

KAIKI's final foray into management was a label called beast beat, which formed in 2008(?), and whose most “famous” band would be JACK+MW or MILKY EMILY.

To sum it up, KAIKI is essentially the Nagoya version of KISAKI. Both fucked up their chances to go major twice, and both had unique, mega popular indie labels, but mismanaged them into the ground. But both also have a charismatic fighting indie spirit that makes visual kei so endearing--at least in my opinion.

If you'd like to get more familiar with Soleil, please check the artist page and read up on any of the bands in the Soleil section. Information about the label and its bands is often really hard to find, so I promise that you'll find some stuff that's not written anywhere else. As for music, I'd suggest the aforementioned D'ELSQUEL, La'Mule, S, Birushana, and Vasalla, and also MARRY+AN+BLOOD. There are several CDs and VHSs called Face of Soleil, and all of those are a good place to start.

And if you have any well-sourced corrections or additional information about any of the above-mentioned topics, please send it my way! 💕 (Much of jp Wikipedia's information is incorrect, but sources like first-hand-accounts, flyers, release scans or magazine articles are all helpful.)

Thanks for reading m( )m

April, 2017 View 2017 calendar

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29