In the short time that I’ve been exposed to the J-ROCK scene, I have to say it’s one of my favourite elements that I cover for Kakkoii Club. Back in August 2015, I had one of the most enjoyable days in Trafalgar Square covering the Japan Matsuri event! Throughout the day I made a lot of new friends in the photo pit that I’ve bumped into at various events or concerts since and it’s always great to catch up and see what projects they’ve been working on since the last time we met.

Before jumping into the J-ROCK scene, I had been taking photos of various acts at my local venue and I’ve always tried to introduce myself to other photographers at these events or make small talk before the main band hits the stage but I’m usually faced with a cold reception. The J-ROCK scene (for me) has been nothing short of warm welcomes while making some great new friends and we all help each other out in terms of finding contacts for bands so we can obtain press passes or arrange interviews as trying to locate a rep in the UK can be a challenging task at the best of times!

VAMPS performing at the O2 Shepherds Bush Empire. © Narine Chalabi

VAMPS performing at the O2 Shepherds Bush Empire. © Narine Chalabi

I first met Narine Chalabi at the Japan Matsuri event last September and it’s been a pleasure working with her in the photo pits at the various concerts we’ve covered together. One thing that’s clear with Narine, is her passion for music, photography and MIYAVI!!  This feature looks into the J-ROCK scene, making new friends and travelling Europe in support of your favourite artist. Being in the UK, we’re lucky many Japanese bands perform here but there are the ‘die hard’ fans that will travel to all of their European shows as it could be a while until they see their favourite rock stars perform on their soil again!

I wanted to start at the beginning and find out what sparked Narine’s interest in the J-ROCK scene:

“It’s a funny story to be honest. I had initially discovered MIYAVI back in 2007. Through his music, I met a friend on MySpace who happened to live in the same city as me. She was more knowledgeable about J-ROCK so she recommended different bands to me. I don’t know if the answer to this would be MIYAVI who “introduced” me to a friend who introduced me to more J-ROCK bands OR my friend who introduced me to more J-ROCK bands!”

We all come across that one band or artist that we instantly connect with. It could be a particular theme or style of the band that initially grabs our interest but for Narine, there was one particular link with MIYAVI’s music:

“His lyrics. They always contain a certain positive vibe and energy that gives you power to keep on going if you’ve had a rough day!”

MIYAVI performing at the O2 Shepherds Bush Empire. © Narine Chalabi

MIYAVI performing at the O2 Shepherds Bush Empire. © Narine Chalabi

Meeting like minded fans at your artists shows (either through ‘meet and greets’ or chatting to fans before the show starts) is a great way to expand your social circle through your common interest. Narine travelled to Italy to not only meet friends that she has met through MIYAVI’s music but Narine was lucky enough to meet the man himself!

“I loved every second of it! I got to meet my co-miyavi friends who I had met thanks to MIYAVI, I met my best friend for the first time too and we all enjoyed MIYAVI’s music as a big happy family! The biggest highlight was meeting MIYAVI with my three friends as a group before the show since we were all part of his fan club MYVCREW. We had prepared a t-shirt for him, asked him to sign stuff we had brought and the best part was being able to take a photo with him and my three really good friends.  For me, this was one of the best memories I’ve created which involves MIYAVI. Being able to enjoy his music with my really good friends is one of the greatest things I could ever ask for and I wish I can experience such precious memories again in the near future!”

Asian Kung-Fu Generation at the O2 Islington Academy. © Narine Chalabi

Narine & I are a few of the lucky ones that you’ll normally find in a very tight space in front of the stage trying to get the best shots we can in the three song limit we usually have. I love the challenge of not knowing how the stars are going to perform, trying to anticipate where they will be on stage and if I can, try and catch ‘that moment’ when a guitarist has that rockstar look on his face or leaning back while blasting through a riff. Every photographer has their own angle that they hope to achieve in their shots as Narine explains:

“I really enjoy the energy, the challenge and seeing the interactions between the artist and their fans! It’s something really unique and I wish I can capture those moments in the future when I have the correct equipment.”

Being able to be within feet of your favourite stars is a privilege we both respect and enjoy immensely but it’s the friends you meet along the way that makes it all worthwhile as Narine confirms:

“For me, it’s been the friendships that I’ve created with people across the globe, thanks to our interest in J-ROCK!”

Which countries have you visited in support of your favourite artist or band? Share your experiences in the comments below!