X Japan's triumphs and tragedies are documented in 'We Are X'

posted on February 4, 2016

Three years ago, documentary filmmaker Stephen Kijak had never heard of a band called X Japan. Most Americans hadn't either, even with more than 20 million albums sold around the world, but Kijak was intrigued.

He learned of a sound that incorporated thrash metal and classical piano with big prog-rock flourishes and a flamboyant Japanese "Visual Kei" image of mascara, mohawks and neon attire. "Now I drive 90 miles an hour in L.A. whenever your songs come on," says Kijak with a smile, sitting across a table from bandleader Yoshiki Hayashi last week at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

The documentary "We Are X," which premiered at Sundance on Jan. 23, is the latest in a series of music films directed by Kijak. He's made documentaries on the Rolling Stones ("Stones in Exile"), the Backstreet Boys ("Show 'Em What You're Made Of") and collaborated with executive producer David Bowie on 2006's "Scott Walker: 30 Century Man." The new film had Kijak following X Japan around the world, from an explosive concert in Madison Square Garden to gravesites in Japan and back to Los Angeles.

For the leader of X Japan, who usually goes by the single name Yoshiki or Yoshi, the film is another step toward the quintet's career-long goal of crossing over to American audiences. It's no accident that Yoshiki has lived in Los Angeles for nearly 20 years.

source by latimes
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