I get really excited any time I hear about a new shoegaze band popping up here in Nagoya. Though Nagoya is a big city with its own rich music scene, there isn’t a whole lot going on in the way of shoegaze or even the dreamy indie pop that’s been taking over elsewhere. Bands like Tokenai Namae and me in grasshopper are the flag bearers for the genre in the Tokai region, and there’s enough of a fanbase to support it – the 2013 Japan Shoegazer Festival in Nagoya sold out Tsurumai Day Trip – but even here the scene is mostly driven by bands from Japan’s two largest cities. Occasionally, however, a new band does pop up, as was the case last year with the emergence of Anjo-based Haguki. This year’s impressive newcomer to the Nagoya shoegaze scene goes by the name Softsurf.
Softsurf started up in January of 2016, and largely went unnoticed until July, when they took part in the Nagoya Shoegazer Expo event in Tsurumai. Shortly thereafter, their two-track single “Blue Swirl/Beautiful Day”, was released for free. Under founding member and band leader Kitamura, they underwent some lineup changes before settling in and focusing on gigging more. Though the band’s members are each influenced by a number of genres and styles, Kitamura’s vision is largely focused on 90s shoegaze. He does admit, however, that bands like Pink Floyd and the Beach Boys have naturally worked their way into his sound (and in the case of the latter, into the band’s name as well).
Each track on Softsurf’s single offers something a little different, sound-wise. “Beautiful Day” is more of a twinkling pop tune that floats along, whereas “Blue Swirl” hits hard with a blend of big guitars and airy synths. “Blue Swirl” is the track that the band has chosen to push on their Soundcloud page, and based on Kitamura’s stated creative goals, it would seem to be more indicative of the band’s future direction. “I like psychedelic and ambient songs with aggressive guitars and vocals that feel like they’re floating,” he explains. “I want to take that and shape it in my own way.”
Reviews of Softsurf’s live performances to this point have been really positive, and the small sample of music made available thus far has been really encouraging. The band will be taking the stage this coming January at Daydream Nagoya, and beyond that they are determined to have an impact on the shoegaze genre in Japan. Next up for Softsurf is a slot on the upcoming Daydream Nagoya bill, and hopefully a lot more shows and music.
Have a listen to “Blue Swirl” on Soundcloud: