French version : here


    Some people are « such stuff as dreams are made on ». There are a few such beings who, for a young man embarking on an artistic journey, somehow transcend their reality, their legendary status and their very art to become heroes who can comfort us like a loved one could, just like a brother from another mother. YOSHIKI is one of my main inspirations, someone I looked up to ever since I was a teenager. When the sun was setting on my days as a young French boy who was starting to compose my own music, I knew that in the land of the rising sun, there lived a brother that could be my father and that thought helped me fall asleep a little less lonely. I grew up listening to the fascinating vocal and string melodies of Tears and Say Anything, I knew every nuance of every arrangement of his classical albums, down to the harmonies of the orchestra (I was crazy about the work on Amethyst). I was learning piano with the help of the solo in Art of Life, I was under the impression I was the only teenager in the French countryside who loved Violet UK… Since the two missions of my existence are literature and music, and after being lucky enough to meet, befriend and turn my favorite writer into a mentor, I thought it would only make sense that one day I would get the same opportunity with my favorite musician. There is no such thing as coincidence. Even though my music resembles (which could be found under the name Sedona Sunrise) more so that of Nick Cave for whoever would not be paying much attention, anyone with enough of a musical ear would definitely be able to notice YOSHIKI’s fingers guiding mine on the piano. It might very well be the case that I am the closest thing to a French YOSHIKI! Destiny has such a way to connect people through centuries and frontiers: from Jacques Vaché, who died in 1919, my mythical ancestor and poet who invented surrealism to YOSHIKI, the biggest Japanese rock star who ever lived, worldwide celebrity, classical pianist and incredible drummer, fashion designer and now movie director, allow me to let the streams of life flow into one shared river. And so it was about time!

The Last Supper

     At the end of September, I interviewed YOSHIKI on Zoom for Playboy (coming soon!) following which I was invited to attend his classical show at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Unfortunately, there was not enough free time in his schedule for us to meet but it was agreed upon that we would make up for it the next time he was in Paris. Guess what? YOSHIKI was about to travel to Paris on the back of the release of his new movie « YOSHIKI Under the sky ». He would use that time to attend a few business meetings, with Pommery as he’s collaborating with the company on champagne or Baccarat whom he designed a crystal bottle with but mostly to promote Maison Yoshiki Paris, his new fashion line. I was asked by Totem Fashion to join him at the Mandarin Oriental hotel for the group dinner that was set to honor his presence.
     Amongst a crowd of prestigious guests – I got to meet the wonderful singer Ogee who was one of the first people in the world to wear Maison Yoshiki for a fashion editorial as well was YOSHIKI’s assistant from Moldova whom I spent most of the evening with –, it was an amazing opportunity for me to spend some time with the leader of X Japan despite the setting not being that ideal for what I had hoped for. But that’s a story for another time.

YOSHIKI interview

    The following day, I was to meet him again for another interview. This time, it was to be only a fifteen-minute window in the comfort of his hotel room on the 7th floor of a luxury hotel. My brother Julien was there with me so we could double team him with our questioning. There was YOSHIKI, all smiles, dressed as elegantly as we were:

Did you sleep well?


I was wondering about the title of the movie and the name Under the sky. With the scenery that you chose and the Los Angeles background… Did you pick the name before having the idea for the scenery or did you want to film on those buildings and it gave you the idea for the name of the movie?

Yes… It was actually a different name at first but Under the sky means we’re still « under the sky », still living, still existing, still breathing. The movie is kind of a tribute to the people who went up to the sky so basically, you know, they left this world so I think I went for that name because of that. So the name came up during the process of filming.

After the movie was released, you lost your mom and Heath passed away as well. Death has been following you around, how does it make you feel about your own mortality? Are you at peace with the idea that one day it will be your turn?

After losing all those people, it’s not easy but at the same time I try to seize this moment as much as I can. I took those people for granted when they were around. I thought they would be here forever but I was wrong. It made me feel like I need to live my life harder.

Since you had to go through a lot of difficult things in your life, do you think it was your destiny to create beauty out of pain? Do you feel like it was necessary?

I’m just devoting my entire life to art and beauty of art…

It feels like there’s something Christ-like about your destiny? I know that you wear a cross around your neck sometimes so is there something there?


Your destiny always reminded me of someone that has to take a lot of the suffering upon himself to help others.

The pain I went through also helped me to give more love to other people. I don’t know… I went through pretty hard times.

Based on the artists that you picked for the movie, such as Nicole Scherzinger and how you previously collaborated with other vocalists like Daughter, Katie Fitzgerald or singer Beverly, what attracts you to a specific singer? Are there certain qualities that you look for?

Each song has a specific range for the vocal, some of them are very wide range, some are high key so I just have a feeling… Usually when I want to work with someone, I’ll ask what their vocal range is. And it’s also a lot about timing.

Do you remember when you put out this trailer for a documentary about your life on YouTube? Is that ever going to come out?

Yes. It was supposed to come out before Under the sky but then this movie took over. It will come out.

How about the videos for Jade and Born to be free? Will they ever see the light of day in full?

Yeah… That’s a… I think so. There’s certain times when everything is going a certain way. Pretty complicated but at the same time, anything’s possible.

Most artists write lyrics about love, romance, heartbreak. It’s often the case with your songs but as well but at the same time you’re always been very private about this particular subject. You were never really seen with anyone for example. Is this by choice?

(laughter) Yes… So there’s a huge network actually asking me to do a show about my private life. I was like « Oh my god ». I haven’t decided what to do yet. Since I concentrate so much on art, my life became secondary. There’s not that much going on in my life.

You talk about love in your lyrics and sexuality is also an important part, even down to… You took pictures for the covers of Jade and Born to be free with the girls in the blindfold or with handcuffs on or even the picture of you on the cover of Jealousy where you’re not wearing too many clothes. Is sexuality important in your creative process at all?

Yeah in a respectful way. I think so… It’s like I’m trying to describe a freedom of being who you are. For me to express that, I created an art. For Jealousy, me being grabbed by someone, it’s about expressing trying to break free of something or trying to escape this world.

Do you feel like coming from Japan which is seen as a pretty conservative country had a role in deciding to dress up at the start of your career, bending gender roles, etc.?

Yes. It’s strange but a long time ago in Japan, I used to have blonde hair, spikey hair even. I couldn’t even stop a cab on the street. People were freaking out when I was walking down the street. I kind of enjoyed it. At the same time, with my family running a kimono shop, it’s as traditional as it can get. I was playing classical music… I was very confident in the fact I was an artist. That’s why I wanted to create a new identity to show the world you can do whatever you want, dress however you want… As an expression of freedom. You don’t have to be put in a box. I tried to do that with music, fashion, everything. I never felt like I belonged to this world so that’s why I decided to create my own.

Which city do you feel like would be easier for you to live in based on what you just said?


We were always surprised that you’ve been living in L.A. for so long…


Did you ever consider moving?





Here. Having a recording studio in Los Angeles is amazing so it will always be my home in that respect to pursue artistic projects. But I will spend more time in Paris.

Can you just give us a summary of what Maison Yoshiki will look like?

So I established a fashion brand called Yoshikimono around 10 years ago because of the family business ties. It’s still happening and I love it, it’s pretty successful. But it’s still just kimonos, even though I created edgier versions of it, it’s pretty hard to break away from the design. The reason why I established Maison Yoshiki Paris is because I can use it to do anything. It doesn’t have to be kimonos. I’m very fascinated by women’s clothes. I mean of course eventually I would like to start a men’s line but womens has so many possibilities… I’m working on a very fancy and outrageous fashion line. You’ll see something very soon.

Interview conducted by David Vesper & Julien Vesper for Playboy France. December 7th 2023, Paris.

Julien Vesper, YOSHIKI et David Vesper

« Aux Champs-Élysées » (for Under The Sky)

     We took a couple awkward pictures and headed to the Champs-Élysées for the movie premiere. As I made my way to the theatre, I was granted a bracelet that would allow me to be one of the lucky few entitled to a little surprise after the screening… The room seemed to be packed with fans, excited to watch this movie which isn’t technically a film but rather a filmed concert that isn’t really a concert either. It’s also a little bit of documentary that isn’t really a documentary. It’s a combination of all those things, rolled into a big melodramatic event, polished and mixed as well as everything YOSHIKI touches. The movie was conceived and thought of during the pandemic and YOSHIKI was trying to prove, as he always dreams of, that music had no frontiers and no barriers and Covid was certainly not going to stop him from bringing people together. This was a gift to his fans during a difficult time. For the occasion, he surrounded himself with different artists whom he performs with on the roofs of buildings in Los Angeles or Tokyo which allow for splendid shots of the sky, the clouds and the skylines of various cities.

     Classical singer Sarah Brightman kicks things off with a rendition of Miracle, one of YOSHIKI’s most recent and daring compositions, with lyrics in italian. This piece is often used by X Japan as the intro to their live shows. It’s a demanding crescendo affair that soars in tensions and resolutions. Pop superstar Nicole Scherzinger from the Pussycat Dolls sings an early 2000 YOSHIKI composition that’s as obscure as it is a cult hit with his fans: I’ll be your love. It’s a sad yet comforting nursery rhyme that could be the pop equivalent of how Beethoven’s Ode to joy represents for Europe a melody that is universally recognized and shared. Nicole had already sung this song about twenty years ago and it hasn’t aged at all, very much like her beautiful face or YOSHIKI’s for that matter. Scorpions and Klaus Meine’s unmistakable vocals are also featured in the movie, performing a version of Wind of change that was orchestrated by YOSHIKI himself – just like every rendition in the movie – who plays a piano solo during the breakdown of the song. It’s a touching display of technology that allows for artists to perform together in a time when we could not physically meet. Many more artists show up throughout the movie: Hyde, SixTONES, St. Vincent, Lindsay Sterling, The Chainsmokers (YOSHIKI plays thrilling drums on their song) but also very notably Jane Zhang or Sugizo, who help YOSHIKI perform his most recent compositions such as Hero or La Venus. I also can’t help but think of Angel, Requiem or the splendid Kiss the sky that aren’t featured in the movie but are all magnificent showings of YOSHIKI’s new composing technique in this new era, as if he managed to make his music sound more refined, simpler and yet more flowy, angelic and cinematographic with all the 7th chords that lead to choruses to cry for. The most moving part of the movie is probably the non-musical sequence, where YOSHIKI gets to meet a fan, whose wife recently passed away. This touching story, the husband’s devotion to his wife, the power of YOSHIKI’s music and him meeting this broken-hearted man can’t really be put into words and is worth watching. Get your tissues ready!

The End (or was it?)

    The screening was followed by a Q&A session. We were told the audience was supposed to be involved and ask questions but as it turned out, it was all left in the hands of some type of boring journalist who spent forty minutes translating at length YOSHIKI’s answers to her very mundane questions… When this was finally over, my surprise bracelet and myself headed to the lobby where a grand piano had been set up for YOSHIKI to play a couple of songs, namely Forever love and Endless rain. For once, I was a VIP…  My brother and I could finally witness this hero of ours whom we consider to be a third long lost brother perform like we have so many times on a computer screen but this time in the flesh, almost just for us.



    I debated playing piano after he was done as I could even have played his own songs but decided against it. I thanked him instead for taking the time to meet with me during those two incredible days. I told him that if he was serious about moving to Paris, I sure hoped we could do it again, in a less formal setting. I told him I would write something about this encounter and also that I was working on a novel that, for a few pages, would touched on his music in a more literary way and how his life influenced mine. Let me also remind you, dear readers, that this interview is a little teaser for the longer version that I will publish soon…
    I went home, not so much starstruck as I’m megalomaniac by nature, at least just the right amount that allows me to feel more connected to the people I admire when I meet them as opposed to simply being worried or scared but I certainly felt a shimmering tingle in my heart in the shape of an undying star that will forever shine with the memory of these unforgettable moments.

David Vesper (@david.vesper)