About Jasmine You

This is a post I wrote on my livejournal back in August, but I felt it needed a place here.  I hope Versailles’s performance at V-Rock Fest this weekend is everything they could hope for.

As some of you on my flist are aware, Jasmine You, the bassist for Versailles passed away earlier this month. While Versailles are not at the level of love for me that X Japan and Dir en grey are, I still love the band, their music, and their members. Hell, it was at Versailles’s Knitting Factory concert in June of 2008 where I got the most knocked around in a pit EVER AND had two guys wrestle on top of my foot for one of Hizaki’s picks. I found out about Jasmine’s death while I was on vacation, on the only day I happened to go online. What freaked me out, other than the fact that I had no idea he’d been ill, was that he wasn’t much older than me.

I listened to Versailles’s music for the rest of that day, feeling a little empty when I heard the bass, and during some of my favorites like “The Love From the Dead Orchestra” and “Aristocrat’s Symphony” I remembered the concert, seeing all of them up close, and being particularly amazed that Jasmine You could play in his elaborate costume. When I got back to California, in the midst of moving, I hopped online to JRR to find a 10 page thread about Jasmine’s passing. I started crying while reading all the messages fans had to say, and was most upset when I remembered it was only about a month ago that the band officially went major and had their major debut album coming out. It’s like time’s frozen for Versailles now, and I can’t imagine how each of the members must feel.

Playing in any small group is like a family. Not only do you work together and help each other out when things get rough, but you know how to read each other and you become close to each other. Depending on one’s upbringing, the ties of musicianship can be stronger than the ties of family. I don’t know if that’s true for Versailles… My mind is wandering…

When the American vigils were announced for NYC and L.A., I wasn’t sure if I was going to go or not. Part of me felt silly, like it was a lesser version of Michael Jackson’s death. But as I researched and read more about Jasmine, and saw what the fans thought as well as what his own family posted, I found it increasingly difficult to think of Jasmine You as just a member of an awesome band. Instead he became a vibrant presence, and even though I’d never met him in person, I felt that I met him in a way he would have liked – sharing in music.

After wrestling with my thoughts (and a little advice from my friend’s mom) I decided to go to the L.A. vigil. The dress code was elegant, in a style that reflected Jasmine You’s, so I wore my hour recital dress from Crane – sleeveless black with a panel of white down the left front, and a starburst of jewels above the panel – with my platform boots. I knew they’d be filming people for their comments, but up until this exact moment of typing I’ve been unable to put my feelings into words. Without hesitating, I picked up my violin and played the first movement of the Bach G minor sonata. It was rough at first, as I haven’t played it in years, but it didn’t take long to smooth it out. Then I picked up my viola and played the first movement of Bach’s D minor cello suite. It’s a bit easier, but brought back some suppressed memories of grad school. I didn’t know which to play, so I brought both instruments to L.A.

The vigil was outside. An easel adorned with roses displayed Jasmine You’s picture. A banner with his picture was set up for us to leave messages, and there were candles around. I met up with Sarah, Nikki, Andrea, and Krista, and put my instruments down. It didn’t feel right to play at that time, but I couldn’t say anything either. I watched the people around but didn’t really say much. I couldn’t figure out why I felt the way I did about someone I’d never met. As the sun set we took a group picture and held candles. That was when the police or security (I couldn’t see which) told us we needed to leave because we were on private property. Confused and saddened that we had to leave, we packed everything up. I didn’t get to play, and that made me more sad. I talked to Sarah, and we decided I could do it the following day, so even though it wasn’t at the actual vigil, it would still be added. Then she invited me to the restaurant where Versailles went for food after their L.A. show. The six of us there remembered that night and what little we knew of Jasmine.

As I drove home I realized part of what bothered me. When I think about the things I’ve done working for JRR and the concerts I’ve been to, I only think of the good. I don’t think about the negative side, with bands dissolving, members fighting and leaving, or members passing away. I don’t think about it because the music lives forever, and, being on the opposite side of the globe from this music’s point of origin, it’s not often that I get to see a band from their beginning and watch them grow into something amazing. In a way, I feel the same way about Versailles as I do Cinema Bizarre or 46ink (though with the latter, I actually KNOW them and have played music with them, but same concept – I saw them in the beginning and I can’t wait to see where they go) in that their music moves me, I enjoy it, and I’ve loved all their live performances. I couldn’t wait for Versailles to come back so I could see them again and marvel at how Jasmine You played in his costume….and I won’t see that second part ever again.

I got to Sarah’s apartment later than I wanted to, so I changed quickly into my dress and boots and pulled out the viola. We set up the easel once more and put up a satiny black sheet as a backdrop. Krista held my music and I played the D minor opening in memory of Jasmine You. I made some mistakes, but I didn’t want to do it over. It wasn’t about perfection, it was about emotion, and if I’d done another take my gut reaction would have been lost. After it was over, I felt peaceful.  That performance was for Jasmine You, and whenever I play that Bach movement again, he will be the one I think of.

In my heart, I’m dedicating the third movement of Respighi’s Ancient Airs and Dances to Jasmine You when I play it in Corona Symphony’s concerts this weekend. While the Bach is dark, the Respighi is light, peaceful, and comforting.

I hope Jasmine can feel all the love of his fans. R.I.P. Jasmine You. ❤

~ by violarockstar on October 23, 2009.

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