2013 has begun in a wonderful way for shoegaze fans in Japan. We all owe this to the efforts of a large group of people who have helped to put together some spectacular events. One of the people largely responsible is Masashi Imanishi, the man in charge of High Fader Records and one-third of Japan shoegaze mainstays Lemon's Chair. Despite his hectic schedule organizing and performing at the 2013 edition of Japan Shoegazer Festival, as well as keeping up with all the My Bloody Valentine festivities, Mr. Imanishi was kind enough to take some time and give us an interview.
While Masashi Imanishi is extremely humble and thankful to everyone who supports shoegaze music in Japan, he refuses to take any credit for the events that he contributes so greatly to. One thing is very clear after speaking with him: he does everything purely out of his own passion for shoegaze music and his desire to bring joy to shoegazers throughout Japan. A very special thanks to Mr. Imanishi, whose work I personally adore, and whose time (and patience) has been much appreciated.
MusoJapan: First of all, what is attractive about shoegaze music? Why do you want to be involved in this particular genre?
Masashi Imanishi: As far as the aesthetic image or view of shoegaze, I believe it is something beautiful through which you can feel hope. I personally feel that the sound summarizes Japanese emotional and virtous things.
MJ: When did High Fader records begin? What were your goals at the beginning?
MI: High Fader was started in May of 2009. The goal was to make people aware of the music that I was personally into.
MJ: How many bands are currently on the label?
MI: Currently the label consists of sugardrop, boyfriend’s dead, and Lemon’s Chair.
MJ: What services does High Fader offer to bands?
MI: We help with live booking and CD releases, while also putting an emphasis on communication and conducting business with a sense of moral values.
MJ: The Shoegazer Festival is a great way to showcase the shoegaze scene in Japan. How many years has the show been running and how has it developed over the years?
MI: 2013 is the third year of Japan Shoegazer Festival. Since the beginning, the amount of young people coming to the event has been increasing.
MJ: Are there any plans for future Shoegazer Fests? Do you plan on having events outside of Tokyo and Osaka?
MI: The Shoegazer Festival involves much more than just my effort. The support of the people who come to the event as well as the labels, record companies, and artists involved is huge. As long as they continue to be involved I want to keep it going.
Since spreading shoegaze to more and more listeners is the key to the revitalization and growth of the genre, I have been considering holding the event in other cities outside of Tokyo and Osaka.
MJ: Do you have any plans to work with foreign artists or involve them in future events?
MI: As long as the timing was good, yes
MJ: In addition to organizing events and running a label, you are also involved you’re your band Lemon’s Chair. When did the band form and what is the current lineup? How would you describe your sound to people who may not be familiar with your work?
MI: Lemon’s Chair was formed in 2002. We are a three-piece consisting of me on guitar, Yuko on guitar, and Kondo on drums. Lemon’s Chair is instrumental guitar music in which the sound builds up and is brought together using minimalist sounds and tools.
MJ: Lemon’s Chair and Tokyo Shoegazer recently worked together on the split single “Japan. Shoegazer as Only One”. Looking at the title, do you see this as an essential album for fans who want a quick taste of the Japanese shoegaze scene?
MI: It’s just something that we personally thought was pretty cool, but the truth is it isn’t something we consider to be “essential”.
MJ: The tribute album and this year’s Shoegazer Festival coincide with the highly anticipated My Bloody Valentine Japan tour. As evidenced by the expansion of the tour from three to ﬁve shows there is clearly a substantial amount of interest in the shoegaze genre. As someone who works within the genre, what is your opinion of the shoegaze scene in Japan?
MI: I feel like the interest in shoegaze music in Japan is on the rise, but it’s something I attribute to a lot of different people: record companies, event planners, media members, record stores, music writers. It is the result of a combined effort, and so I can’t really give one representative opinion on the entire shoegaze scene
MJ: 2013 has started off in an exciting way for shoegaze fans in Japan. With the MBV tour, two Shoegazer Festivals, “Japan Shoegazer as Only One” and the tribute album starting off the new year, fans have had a lot to look forward to. What is your message to fans this year?
MI: First of all, I really want to thank all of the people who purchased “Japan Shoegazer as Only One” and “Yellow Loveless”, as well as those who have read this interview. While some things may not always work out well, I am always thinking about the enjoyment of others, which is something I hope everyone will keep in mind.
I believe that many of the people who are into shoegaze are sensitive people with good hearts. However, in life, this can also be a disadvantage. I want shoegaze fans to be proud of themselves and not get too down. “When you look down you see your feet. But be assured, those feet are standing firmly on the ground. Keep your head up!”