Tooru Nishimura , who goes by his stage name Kyo, is a Japanese singer-songwriter and poet, best known as the frontman and vocalist of the post-Visual Kei
heavy metal band Dir En Grey
. Prior to this, he has been a vocalist for the short-lived alternative rock band La:Sadie's and a roadie for the influential Visual kei band Kuroyume
Kyo is widely known in the heavy metal scene as one of the most talented and versatile vocalists currently active; his style, which ranges from melodic singing to his signature unclean vocal style
, combining guttural death growls
and high-pitched shrieks
. His frequent hospitalizations can be attributed to this vocal style: he has been hospitalized for hearing problems in 2000 (his left ear has remained partially deaf) and, in 2006 and 2009, received surgery for inflamed vocal cords. Of equal notoriety is his manner of performance, which involves plenty of shock elements
such as fake (and real
) vomit, spastic-zombie-like twitching, large, open wounds of varying levels of authenticity, heavy makeup resembling corpse paint
, and various acts of self-mutilation
. However, he has recently toned down this violent stage persona.
Kyo writes poetry, and has released two volumes of poetry through the Media Factory label.
Kyo provides examples of
- Affectionate Nickname: Warumono, a nickname popularized by fellow bandmate Shinya.
- Ambiguous Gender: During his early days as a Visual kei musician.
- Ax-Crazy: Onstage. Actually a very nice guy offstage.
- Bad Liar: He has a fondness for telling lies during interviews. They come across as being funny, however, to the point where it isn't all that difficult to not take him very seriously.
- Berserk Button: Dislikes milk for some reason.note Also has a problem with his height.
- Butt Monkey: Very much so. He is often picked on by his bandmates for messing around. Kaoru also made fun of his singing, too.
- Careful With That Axe: If his singing can be described, it's this.
- Cluster F-Bomb: Many of his lyrics are highly explicit and contain loads of profanity. It's hard not to laugh at how he delivers them, though
- Dude Looks Like a Lady: Early in his career.
- Dye Hard: Has gone through a wide range of hair colors, ranging from black, brown, orange, red, purple and pink
- Elegant Gothic Lolita: During his early days, but averted in recent years.
- Emo: Implied, as he has made it a point to never write happy lyrics. Arguably due to being Born Unlucky and a woobie. It shows somewhat in his visual style, more specifically, his side-swept hair. Apparently he also listens to American post-hardcore/screamo bands.
- Expy: Early in his career, he was a Kiyoharu clone, later on he copied many other artists such as Ume from Tokyo Yankees, hide and TM Revolution before adopting his own visual style.
- Fan Nickname: Kyo-chan.note
- Follow the Leader: He was inspired to become a Visual kei musician when he saw a picture of Buck Tick vocalist Atsushi Sakurai on the desk of one of his classmates. Also, early in his musical career, he was once an Expy of Kuroyume vocalist Kiyoharu.
- Fun Size: He stands at around 5'2"/5'3", around the same height as a 14 year-old girl.
- Gratuitous English: Very, very often in his lyric writing.
- Handicapped Badass: He screamed his own eardrum out early in his career, and had to undergo multiple surgeries on his vocal cords due to his insane voice acrobatics. Kyo even lampshaded this in one interview, saying that "even if he loses his voice, he will still find ways to express himself"
- Incredibly Long Note: One of the masters of this in the modern Japanese metal scene. There are only five Japanese vocalists who can come close at holding a note as long as Kyo does - ToshI of X Japan, Ryuichi Kawamura of Luna Sea, Eizo Sakamoto ex-Anthem, Koshi Inaba of B'z and Yama B ex Galneryus.
- Indecipherable Lyrics
- Man of a Thousand Voices: Joins the ranks of Christian Alvestam, Jonathan Davis, Devin Townsend, Travis Ryan, Mike Patton, Julien Truchan, and Roughton Reynolds as one of the most versatile metal vocalists currently active.
- Mean Character, Nice Actor: While he can be very shocking onstage, fans lucky enough to meet him report that he's actually a shy and reserved person offstage.
- The Mentor: Not only Yoshiki, but Kyo was also a roadie for Kuroyume (see above), whose influence is very obvious on Dir en Grey's first few releases.
- Metal Scream: Every single type and beyond, and to top it all off, he switches effortlessly between the various types.
- Mr. Fanservice: He would often take off his shirt/top/whatever he wears on his torso to show off his body and his tattoos as a form of Fetish Fuel.
- Motor Mouth: Whenever he sings in Gratuitous English.
- No Indoor Voice. One of the LOUDEST metal vocalists in the active scene.
- Nice Hat: One of his more well-known looks has him wearing a classy top hat.
- Older than They Look: Has the looks of a boy in his late teens despite being in his late thirties.
- One of Us: Likes Doraemon, collects Star Wars merchandise, plays video games (and has a lot of them), and has a an odd liking for ice cream note .
- Our Zombies Are Different
- Pint-Sized Powerhouse
- Piss Take Rap: This is how he usually delivers his Gratuitous English, though he raps surprisingly well. He can also do Japanese rapping, and he can even rap while screaming his lungs out.
- Promoted Fanboy: He is a fan of Kuroyume, and was a roadie for the band in his early days in the scene.
- Refuge in Audacity
- Scary Musician, Harmless Music: Inverted: he's tiny, cute, stylish and youthful-looking for his age. He's also known for being both a Nice Guy and a Shrinking Violet. You wouldn't normally expect such a person to sing songs such as this.
- Subverted to epic results during their Eroguro kei era, and once again during their most recent tours, with his return to a "zombie" image.
- Screams Like a Little Girl: The crowning example in Visual Kei and modern metal, with his long, wailing shrieks increasingly becoming a staple of his vocal style.
- Self-Backing Vocalist: The only person who can provide backing vocals for him is himself, no matter how hard his bandmates try.
- Shrinking Violet: Kyo is an extremely reserved person. The only person in the band closest to him is Shinya, also a Shrinking Violet.
- Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Baritone and Gravel: See Man of a Thousand Voices above.
- Spiritual Successor: Many people find him as this to Mike Patton.
- Stage Names: His stage name comes from his birthplace (Kyoto)
- Start My Own: He has formed an experimental metal side project called "Sukekiyo" which, apparently, is a revival of the "classic" Dir En Grey style.
- The Unintelligible: Even the Japanese don't understand him sometimes.
- Visual Kei: Has always been a part of the scene, even after going post-Visual kei.
- He returned to Eroguro during the Tabula Rasa and Ghoul tours.
- Why Fandom Can't Have Nice Things: The Funny Aneurysm moment, mentioned above, in addition to an Unpleasable Fanbase. It has pretty much died down in recent years, though he very rarely responds to fan mail.
- Surprisingly, he is rather active on Facebook, being the one who posts most of the official updates for his band.