Zeke Deux // “To go further, we have to grow stronger.”

Zeke Deux are still a relatively young group, but despite the young age of the project, the experience the members bring to the group is quite overwhelming on it’s own. Existing out of Kakeru (ex-Scarlet Valse) on vocals, Haruka (ex-the Reveude) on guitar and Maya (ex-LuLu) on bass as members, and “project members” Satsuki (from GERTENA) on guitar and Loa (also support for DazzlingBAD) on drums Zeke Deux brings their aristocratic influence to the modern day by combining it with popular pop culture like anime and manga-cover songs next to their regular works. This combination creates a unique live show that manages to catch the interest of any music lover in the audience.

The guys were invited to Aki no Matsuri in Winterthur (Switzerland) as the main act of the convention, meaning they had their live performance at the end of the second day of the event, and a Q&A event during the third day.
This event was also the very first time for the band to take their music overseas, and the first time to visit an event like this as a whole. So for them it were three days full of impressions, recognizable characters from their favorite anime and manga thanks to the cosplayers and of course “Japanese culture appreciation” overseas.

Their appearance at the event was more than enough reason for us to ask for an interview already, but while we were preparing for this interview we were also surprised how little is known about Zeke Deux overseas. And who better to ask than the band themselves, right?

So, without further ado…


Let’s start!

Since this is your very first appearance on Arlequin Magazine, could you please introduce yourselves so the readers know who we are talking to for this interview?
Kakeru: I am the vocalist of the band, Kakeru.
Haruka: My name is Haruka. I am the guitarist.
Maya: I am Maya, on bass.
Satsuki: My name is Satsuki. I am a special guitarist.
Loa: My name is Loa. I am the drummer, but also the number one handsome boy in Japan!
雪 (Yuki): (Jokingly) Well there’s a lie in the first answer already…
(Everyone laughs)
Loa: (Shocked) I thought you said your Japanese wasn’t that good!
雪 (Yuki): Oh that wasn’t a lie actually…
Satsuki: A little goes a long way!
(Everyone laughs)

Now the readers know who you are, let’s talk about your project. Because “Zeke Deux” isn’t that old yet. Can you explain what the project is in your own words? What’s the message you want to bring to your audience?
Kakeru: “Zeke” is a way to say “zero”, and “deux” means “two” in French. So together they mean “zero zero”, and two zero’s together creates the symbol for “infinite”. As a person you start from nothing, and the same can be said about any band. The audience also starts from zero when they first learn about us, so to us the future can only be infinite.


The formation of Zeke Deux

Zeke Deux originally started with only two members, Kakeru and Haruka, while your previous bands “Scarlet Valse” and “the Reveude” were still active. But what made you start Zeke Deux at that time? Was there a specific reason?
Kakeru: We started this band when I was still in Scarlet Valse and Haruka was still in the Reveude, indeed. But we were friends for a long time already and wanted to do something together as well.
Haruka: We actually started the band with the intention of it being a session unit rather than a full band.
Kakeru: We were making music together, and then we came across Maya who was also looking for something new to do musically speaking, and he decided to join us.

The lineup of the band actually exists out of “members” and “project members”. But why make this clear difference between members? Is it because Satsuki and Loa are also active in other projects (GERTENA and DazzlingBAD respectively, for example)? What influence do they bring to Zeke Deux?
Kakeru: Loa brings a lot of power to our group, and Satsuki brings us good vibes.
Satsuki: And good vocabulary! I am a vocabulary comedian! (laughs)
Kakeru: His English is very crazy! (Everyone laughs)
Satsuki: To me it feels very good to play with them, it sets my heart on fire!

Like we just said, the band started when your old projects were still active. But at first glance people who are familiar with Scarlet Valse will see a lot of similarities with that group. Though I’m sure there are clear differences. Can you explain readers the differences between Scarlet Valse and Zeke Deux to clear this up once and for all?
Kakeru: The concept of both bands aren’t the same. Plus the music is different because we have changed the sound by tuning the instruments differently. The theme for Zeke Deux actually is “liberation”. Nowadays people are starting to like and appreciate Japanese culture, anime and manga more and more as well, so we want to bring all of these worlds together by also incorporating anime cover songs in our works and live shows.


Experiments and Japanese culture overseas

So far you’ve released two demo tapes, as in, actual cassette types like the norm was before CDs, and two mini-albums. What can you tell me about the decision to go for cassette tapes in this modern era of music?
Kakeru: The demo tapes we released were cassette tapes indeed. It used to be “the” way to get your demo out there, but like you said, nowadays it’s all about CDs. Not a lot of people even have cassette tapes or the equipment to play them, but we wanted to see the reaction from the audience. Which was overwhelming, since these tapes sold out really fast. We also released the demo on a CD later.

Getting something as limited as a cassette tape is really hard already, so let’s use the more modern medium of CDs for this next question. If fans are interested in supporting your music, no matter if they’re in Japan or anywhere else in the world, where can they do so? And what about streaming services?
Kakeru: If you want to support us by buying our CDs you can find us on the webshop of Starwave Records, which also ships internationally, and Amazon. But if you are more interested in digital mediums, we are on YouTube and other SNS (social network services – we call this social media in English) and you can express your interest there by liking our videos and posts.
We also want to go to other countries than just Japan, and this time it was Tamara who invited us to come to Aki no Matsuri here in Switzerland. Where you can also find our CDs and other goods at the merchandise table by the way!

You just brought this up already, but we’re indeed doing this interview in the middle of Aki no Matsuri here in Switzerland. And I am going to assume that it’s your first time at an event like this, so what are your impressions so far? Minus the live show, of course. That’s planned for later tonight!
Kakeru: This is the very first time for any of us to be playing a live show outside of Japan. We heard about this event before, and I actually wanted to come with my previous band Scarlet Valse, but some things happened in March of this year and some problems that ended the band came to light at that time. So I decided to ask the members from Zeke Deux instead, and they were eager to come from the start!

You’ve probably seen that an event like Aki no Matsuri is very much “Japanese Culture Appreciation” by now, with lots of anime, cosplay and of course Japanese food and bubble tea drinks. What do you think about people “appreciating” Japan and Japanese culture like this overseas?
Haruka: Wait, what… What was the question?
(The question is repeated)
Haruka: Hmm… I have to think about this…
(Everyone laughs)
Kakeru: (Still laughing) Okay, we’ll get back to you, think about it for a second! What about you, Maya?
雪 (Yuki): Oh, leader Kakeru steps up to the plate!
(Everyone laughs again)
Maya: I really love Japanese anime, manga and music, so-
Kakeru: He’s very “otaku”…
(Everyone laughs once more)
Maya: As a Japanese I am very proud of my country and heritage, because I love Japan. And it makes me so happy to learn that overseas people like our pop culture as much as we do. When I was walking outside I saw characters from manga and anime I really like, and it was so nice to see that others so far away like these same things. It really made me feel like we have a connection despite not knowing each other yet.
Satsuki: I really like cosplay, so at an event like this I am looking at all of the outfits and costumes that people are wearing here. I also saw a cosplay of an anime character I really like, and just seeing that character made me very happy!
Haruka: (Finally recovered) Seeing all the people appreciate our culture here really made me feel a connection between all of us, it’s so nice that everyone here likes Japanese culture so much!


Plans for the future

Unfortunately we’re almost at the end for this time already, so let me squeeze in one quick question regarding your future plans…
Kakeru: One of the dreams for me personally would be to be able to do a full tour overseas. But we want to release a new CD first, and tour Japan with it. So far we’ve been to 大阪 (Osaka), 名古屋 (Nagoya), 仙台 (Sendai), 新潟 (Niigata), 福岡 (Fukuoka) and 北海道 (Hokkaido) most, other than Tokyo of course.
Haruka: Great udon there by the way…
(Everyone laughs)
Kakeru: To go further we have to grow stronger, especially with the foreign fans if we want to do an overseas tour.

And that sadly brings us to the last question on the list for today… Do you have a message you’d like to share with everyone reading this interview?
Loa: Some people who read this interview will know us already, but I expect new people to read it too. And I hope this interview has motivated you to check out our work and meet us in the future!
Satsuki: I want to know more about Switzerland, but also about other countries. I hope that you reading about us has motivated you to know more about us, since we really need more people to learn about us to be able to take more steps in Europe.
Maya: I’m looking forward to everyone being able to read this interview, and if you know me already then great! But if you don’t, please get to know me! And if you like me… Marry me!
(Everyone bursts out laughing)
雪 (Yuki): Well, this marks the fifth time, I think? To hear a “please marry me”-request during an interview in all my years of doing this. (Laughs)
Satsuki: Boy? Boys?
Maya: Boys only…
雪 (Yuki): (Jokingly relieved) Oh phew, well that’s a first! To specifically get a “boys only”-wedding request!
(Everyone laughs again)
Haruka: Thank you for taking the time to read our interview. In Japan we have ヴィジュアル系 (Visual Kei), so I am very happy to learn that people here are getting to know that too and it becoming more and more popular overseas here.
Kakeru: Thank you very much for reading our interview. We all have things we really like, and thank you very much for choosing Japan at this point. In Japan the interests are so wide, and from all the things you could choose from you chose to be interested in us. And this makes me really happy!


Extra information

Like the guys already mentioned in their interview, there are quite some ways to show your support from overseas. Aside from their YouTube channel where they also upload their cover songs there’s the option to buy their physical releases from the Starwave Records webshop, but another option is also Amazon, which is an option we haven’t heard that much but are very glad to hear, because it opens a lot more doors for international fans.

At the moment of this interview it seems like there are plans for a new release from Zeke Deux, but they couldn’t share any information with us yet at that moment in time. When they can share new information we’ll do our very best to share it with you as well, so keep an eye on their social media accounts, but keep ours in the corner of your eyes too. 😉


Live photos at Aki no Matsuri

Next to an interview we also took photos at the live show of Zeke Deux at Aki no Matsuri.
You can find these photos on our portfolio, Arlequin Photography, by clicking on the image below!


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雪 (Yuki) is the owner and driving force behind Arlequin.
She originally started the project in 2009 as a photographer under the name of Arlequin Photography, but developed an interest in journalism and translation ever since. Because of these interests interviews and reviews were added to the project, until it eventually hit the limits as a "photographer" in 2021, and Arlequin Magazine was added to the mix.

雪 (Yuki) is a native Dutch speaker with a graphic design degree, which means she is also the main person behind Arlequin Creations.
After all these years she is still the main person who does interviews the interviews and live photos that you see on Arlequin, but also a large chunk of the reviews and behind-the-scenes work and communication goes through her.

She speaks Dutch and English on a native level, but also understands Japanese and German.

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