Interview: High Fader Records and Lemon’s Chair’s Masashi Imanishi (English ver.)

Lemon's Chair - コピー
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!”

Kinoko Teikoku

きのこ帝国 (kinoko teikoku)

kinoko

Homepage: http://www.kinokoteikoku.com/
Twitter: @kinokoteikoku

Genre: Post-Rock, Alternative, Shoegaze.

For fans of:  Three Out Change-era Supercar, catchy hooks, good female vocals

Lineup:

Sato – Guitar, Vocals
Aa-chan – Guitar
Taniguchi Shigeaki – Bass
Nishimura “Kon” – Drums

Bio:

Kinoko Teikoku formed in 2007 and began performing live in 2008. Drawing inspiration from the post-rock and shoegaze genres the band is based in the Tokyo-area, where a large number of their shows are held. The band released their first full album under Daizawa Records/UK Project in May of 2012, after independently releasing a demo (titled “First Demo”) and the mini-album 夜が明けたら (“Yoru ga Aketara”). This debut album, titled 渦になる (“Uzu ni naru”) was well-received leading to testimonials from such Japanese indie-music icons as Kinoshita Riki (Art-School, Killing Boy) and Nakamura Koji (Supercar, Lama). The band finished off 2012 appearing at the year-end Rock in Japan Festival.

In February 2013, Kinoko Teikoku released their follow-up album “Eureka” as well as a video for the title track.

Muso Japan’s thoughts:  Kinoko Teikoku is a must-see show.  They bring a ton of energy to a venue and Sato is an extremely gifted singer.  Their recordings are wonderful, but the live show is beyond brilliant.  One of the best up and coming bands in Japan.

Sample:

 

Band Profile – The Chome Chomes

Rock music can often offer escapism from the strictly defined norms of Japanese society. The country is littered with edgy punk rock venues which feature independent acts on a nightly basis, acting as havens for people seeking noise and momentary disorder. It’s an interesting culture, but there is rarely an appealing balance of “edge” and a quality sound. One such act, which maintains this balance beautifully, is Aomori-based punk rock/no-wave band The Chome Chomes.
Also referred to as The XX’s (not to be confused with England’s “the xx”), The Chome Chomes offer a wonderfully chaotic sound, drawing inspiration from the 1970s New York and London punk scenes. At first glance one might wonder how frontwoman Natsumi could possibly produce the sort of aggression necessary to emulate the genre. Upon hitting play, however, it becomes clear that this adorable girl is up to the task. My first impression on listening to The XX’s was how awesome it was to see this small package produce such nasty guttural vocals. In a country whose popular music scene boasts a ton of cute girls in skimpy clothing dancing in unison on big stages, it is refreshing to have Natsumi’s disregard for the gender-related themes so prominent in Japanese mainstream popular culture. As the band proclaim, their music is not about fashion and culture. It’s gender art, embodied by an abrasive female lead and a crazy support trio.

Having formed in 2010, the band made their name on the Rookie-a-Go-Go stage at Fuji Rock ’11. In October the band released their major label debut “Pop Town” for which they are currently touring. This is certainly just the start for a promising band.

For more information visit the band’s official website at .

Here is a video for my personal favorite track of theirs titled “Heisei no Antoinette”

Band Profile – The Earth Earth


I am always looking for recommendations when it comes to good Japanese music and recently it was suggested that I check out The Earth Earth, an Aomori-based rock band.  For many fans of Japanese music, the first thing that comes to mind when “Aomori” and “band” are mentioned in the same sentence is Supercar.  Since the band broke up in 2005 there has been an Aomori-shaped hole in many hearts.  The Earth Earth are one band doing their best to remind us that the prefecture still has quality music to offer us.

The Earth Earth, at first glance, look like a throwback to goth-rock bands of the 80s and 90s.  Their sound also offers a blend of vintage styles ranging from textured shoegaze-type noise tunes to somewhat poppy hook-driven songs.  There is a nice variety from track to track, but it is all held together by a consistent amount of fuzz and muddiness.

The band itself is still relatively young.  Formed in 2010 in Aomori City They have been playing out for just over two years and have released two albums:  “matador is dead” (2011) and “dead matador’s funeral” (2012).  The latter is more or less a re-release of the first album on a different label.  The current lineup is made up of Oshima Kosuke (vo & G), Ogawa Kaori (vo & G), Nomura (B), and Harada Ayako.

Here is a link to the band’s web page as well as their soundcloud profile and a Youtube video for one of my favorite of their tracks.  Enjoy!

http://the-earth-earth.com

Art-School Return With a New Lineup, New Album in the Works

Just months removed from the news that their rhythm section had left the band, Art School have announced the addition of three new support members to support core members Riki Kinoshita and Satoshi Todaka.  The future had looked bleak after it had been announced that bassist Takeshi Uno and drummer Hiroyuki Suzuki decided to part ways with the band.  With Kinoshita and Todaka focusing a lot of time on their side-projects (Killing Boy and Ropes, respectively) there were a lot of questions about whether Art-School was nearing the end, and some ominous tweets from Kinoshita made it seem like that was the case.
Now here we are in late-March and how things have changed.  The band has showered its fans with a series of exciting announcements.  The first of which is the addition of three new support members:  bassist Kentaro Nakao and drummers (yes drummers) Yuichi Sakurai and Isamu Fujita.  The new lineup will make its live debut at the also recently-announced “Kinoshita Night AX 2 Days” which will take place at Shibuya-AX on June 2nd and 3rd.  Both nights will be headlined by Art-School with Asian Kung-Fu Generation opening on Saturday and Straightener and The Mirraz supporting the Sunday evening show.

The last of the big announcements was that the band would be recording a new album.  Normally, this sort of news is exciting enough for fans of any band, but news that the band is currently in Chicago recording with legendary producer Steve Albini at Electrical Audio.  Taking a look at the laundry list of bands with whom Albini has worked (Nirvana, the Pixies, Mogwai, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, the Stooges, Helmet, to name just a few) it seems safe to say that his unique and distinct recording style should complement Art-School’s sound wonderfully.

Hopefully this is just the start of a resurgence of a band whose fans have spent the last few months worried and confused about what the future would hold.  At least for now, we have a lot to look forward to.

Kinoko Teikoku Announces Debut Full-Length

Earlier this year Muso Japan announced that Tokyo-based dreamy rockers Kinoko Teikoku had released their self-produced 2nd EP “Yoru ga Aketara.  Well in the midst of their Japan tour, the band has announced plans to release its debut full-length album to be titled “Uzu ni Naru.”  The album is going to include songs from “Yoru ga Aketara” as well as new tracks that I personally am very excited to hear.
The 7-track album will be released via UK.Project, Inc./Daizawa Records and will be available on 5/9 for ¥1890.  It can be pre-ordered at Amazon.  The track list is as follows:

01. WHIRLPOOL
02. 退屈しのぎ (Taikutsu Shinogi)
03. SCHOOL FICTION
04. Girl meets Number girl
05. The SEA
06. 夜が明けたら (Yoru ga Aketara)
07. 足首 (Ashikubi)

 

Japan Shoegazer Festival ’12 Announced

The weather is going to start warming up over the next couple of months and in preparation for the summer all of the major music festivals both in Japan and worldwide are getting ready to make their big lineup announcements.  FujiRock got things rolling early by unleashing some musical big-guns and Summer Sonic recently announced an underwhelming, but nevertheless big-name lineup for their 2012 festival.
One festival that certainly won’t match the star power of the aforementioned music festivals, but surely will provide exceptional quality, is the just-announced Japan Shoegazer Festival 2012.  The show is being organized by Japanese shoegaze label High Fader Records in conjunction with various other labels throughout the country and will feature some of the best artists and DJs in Japan.

Japan Shoegazer Festival will be a two-night event, being played at Koenji HIGH in Tokyo on 4/21 and at club vijon in Osaka on 4/28.  The Osaka event will be followed by “Electric Fuzz”, an after-party headed by Tokyo’s DJ Manabu and High Fader Records’ own Masashi Imanishi.

One note on the High Fader/Lemon’s Chair blog is that these shows will branch out and feature some non-shoegaze bands as well.  Looking at the lineup though it should definitely be something to look forward to.  There are also expected to be some changes and new announcements in the coming weeks so I will do my best to keep them coming.

Entry to the Tokyo show will be 3,000yen in advance or 3,500yen at the door.  For the Osaka show it will be 2,500/3,000.  The Tokyo event will start at noon and the Osaka event at 2pm.

For more information on specific bands check out Lemon’s Chair’s event blog.  If you scroll to the bottom of the page there will be links to music or videos for each of the bands on the bill.  Otherwise for non-Japanese speakers follow Muso Japan on twitter (@musojapan) or Masashi Imanishi’s Japanese twitter (@HIGH_FADER) for more information as it’s released.

The lineups for Japan Shoegazer Festival 2012 are as follows

Japan Shoegazer Festival 2012 – Tokyo – Koenji HIGH (4/21)

Lemon’s Chair(Osaka) (featuring Masashi Imanishi of High Fader Records)
Aureole
Bertoia
clione-index(Osaka)
dario
inner bug
kanina
moskitoo
PLASTIC GIRL IN CLOSET
PLASTICZOOMS
The 2nd colony
shelling
死んだ僕の彼女 (My Dead Girlfriend)
少女スキップ (Shojo Skip)
sugardrop
Tokyo Shoegazer (members from Plastic Tree, Kara, Acid Android, etc)

DJs
manabu(ELECTRIC FUZZ!!)
AOKI(My Bloody Valentine NIGHT)
hisao(Daydream Wonder)
黒田隆憲[シューゲイザーディスクガイド]
mitsuko strange[Oeil] (friend of Muso Japan!)
NORIKA[My Bloody Valentine NIGHT]

Japan Shoegazer Festival 2012 – Osaka – club vijon (4/28)

Lemon’s Chair
kanina(Tokyo)
speaker gain teardrop(Hiroshima)
Flower Triangle(Hiroshima)
boyfriend’s dead
PURPLE(Kyoto)
kuramitsuha
clione-index
RESTALONE
EUPHRATES
Shetland Sheepdog

DJs
manabu(ELECTRIC FUZZ!!)
AOKI(My Bloody Valentine NIGHT)(Tokyo)
NORIKA(My Bloody Valentine NIGHT)(Tokyo)
MORIKAWA(Fastcut Records)
gonzaresu[daphne.](Gifu)
maiko shee(High Fader RECORDS)

Interview: Oeil’s Mitsuko Hoshino (English and Japanese)

It has been a lot of fun looking at a growing shoegaze scene in Japan and finding a ton of cool bands who represent the genre well.  This week I was privileged  enough this week to be able to speak with Mitsuko Hoshino of Tokyo-based shoegazers Oeil.  Oeil has been active in the shoegaze scene for years and Hoshino has also participated at such events as My Bloody Valentine night under the alias mitsuko strange as a DJ spinning shoegaze tracks.
As a brief introduction, Oeil is a 3-piece band consisting of Takafumi Hibino (vocals/guitars/programming), Nina Kurosu (synths/guitars/vocals), and of course Mitsuko Hoshino (vocals/bass/keyboard).  I absolutely recommend checking them out as their tracks are wonderful and dreamy.

You can check them out and give them a listen on Facebook and Myspace.  You can purchase their first EP “Urban Twilight” here.

A big special thanks to Mitsuko Hoshino for taking the time to be interviewed.  Enjoy!

MusoJapan: When was Oeil formed?

Mitsuko Hoshino: The band started in 2006, and that summer performed its first live show as far as I know, as I joined in 2008. Oeil’s lineup underwent a lot of changes in 2008, so it can also be said that that is when the band actually formed.

MJ: Who is the band’s biggest influence?

MH: Kevin Shields [of My Bloody Valentine]. From what I am told, the band was initially “themed” after “Loveless.” We are also largely influenced by bands like The Cure and the Sundays.

MJ: Does Oeil have a principle songwriter or is it more of a collaborative effort?

MH: The songwriting is done by Hibino.

MJ: How would you describe your sound to someone who isn’t familiar with Oeil?

MH: A strawberry drowning in cream.

MJ: Oeil’s last album “Urban Twilight” was released in 2007, and in 2008 the band appeared on a shoegaze compilation album. Since then have you continued writing new songs? Are there any plans for a new album release?

MH: We have been performing new songs live since 2008. As far as a new album, we will probably use the songs we’ve written to this point.

MJ: In addition to playing in Oeil, you also DJ. What sort of music do you spin?

MH: It all depends on how I feel and what sort of party it is. Lately though, I’ve been into Soft Metals, Grimes, and Echo Lake.

MJ: The underground scene has a wide variety of sounds to offer to foreign fans of shoegaze music. What is your opinion of the Japanese shoegaze scene and the overall indie music scene in Japan?

MH: When Oeil was first formed there weren’t many opportunities to see shoegaze bands out there, and Oeil was still pretty rare, but lately a lot of bands with sounds similar to ours are becoming less rare. Recently, the recognition of shoegaze bands has been rapidly increasing, but I feel like it is still early to call it this generation’s shoegaze scene. I think there is still room for growth.
As for the entire indie-music scene, there are lots of bands with a variety of sounds and I feel it is very substantial. We are always excited to hear this new stuff.

MJ: What are Oeil’s plans for 2012?

MH: We played live in January, and this year we will release music in some form. As soon as we figure anything out we will be sure to let Muso Japan know.

 

MusoJapan: いつどのようにOeilは結成されたのですか?

Mitsuko Hoshino: 2006年に結成され、その夏に最初のライブをしたと聞いています。 私が加入したのは2008年からです。 Oeilは2008年にメンバーと編成を大きく変えました。 ある意味では2008年が結成した年とも言えるでしょう。

MJ: Oeilの音楽に一番多大な影響を与えたのは誰ですか?

MH: Kevin Shieldsです。 結成当初のテーマはlovelessだったと聞いています。
他にもThe CureやThe Sundaysから大きな影響を受けています。

MJ: Oeilには主なソングライターがいますか?それともみんなで協力的に曲を作りますか?

MH: 曲は日比野が書いています。

MJ: Oeilを聴いたことがない人にOeilの音楽を説明するとしたら、どのよう表現しますか?

MH: 苺がクリームで溺死。

MJ: Oeilの最後のアルバム”Urban Twilight” が2007年にリリースされ、そして、2008年の シューゲーザーコンピレーションアルバムにも登場しました。それ以降も新しい曲を作り続けています か? また、新しいアルバムをリリースする予定がありますか?

MH: あります。
2008年以降もライブでは新曲を演奏しています。
新しいアルバムはこれまでの作品からヴィジョンを大きく広げたものになるでしょう。

MJ: Oeilに加えてみつこさんはDJ活動もやっているそうですが、その時はどんな音楽をしてますか?

MH: その時の気分とパーティの趣旨によって変わります。最近のお気に入りはSoft Metals、Grimes、Echo Lakeです。

MJ: 日本のアンダーグラウンドシーンは外国のシューゲーザファンに様々なサウンドを与えます。みつ こさんは日本のシューゲーザーシーンとインディーズシーンについてどのような意見を持っています か?

MH: 結成当初はシューゲイザーテイストを全面に押し出したバンドにライブハウスで出会う機会は少なく、 Oeilはまだ珍しいバンドでしたが、最近では私達のようなサウンドで表現するバンドは珍しくありませ ん。 シューゲイザーと言うスタイルの認知度は急速に増加しましたが、それを今の世代のシューゲイザー シーンと呼ぶにはまだ早い気がします。
更なる発展の余地はあると考えています。
インディーズシーン全体については、多種多様なスタイルのバンドが存在していて充実していると感じ
ます。私達も常に最新のものから刺激を受けています。

MJ: Oeilの2012年の活動予定を教えて下さい。

MH: 1月にライブを行いましたが、今年は何らかの形で楽曲をリリースするでしょう。 リリースが決まったら真っ先にmuso japanにお知らせしますね<3

blgtz Live DVD Release Officially Announced

As Muso Japan was told by blgtz singer Shota Tamura himself in an interview earlier this week the band is planning on releasing a Live DVD in the near future. The band confirmed this release at the final show of their “Douzi ni Kieru Ichinichi” release tour. According to Japanese music site skream.jp, at the conclusion of the February 5th show in Tokyo, flyers were handed out stating that the DVD will be released in the Spring. More updates to follow, but this is very exciting news for fans of blgtz!