The Return of Whisper Voice Riot

Roughly two years after unexpectedly disbanding, Osaka’s talented young shoegaze band Whisper Voice Riot recently announced out of nowhere that they’re starting it back up.  Despite having emerged as one of the really impressive young bands in the Japanese shoegaze scene, the then teen-aged Whisper Voice Riot decided to call it quits in 2016, with two of its members going on to form indie rock outfit Mississippi Khaki Hair almost immediately after.  

Roughly two years after unexpectedly disbanding, Osaka’s talented young shoegaze band Whisper Voice Riot recently announced out of nowhere that they’re starting it back up.  Despite having emerged as one of the really impressive young bands in the Japanese shoegaze scene, the then teen-aged Whisper Voice Riot decided to call it quits in 2016, with two of its members going on to form indie rock outfit Mississippi Khaki Hair almost immediately after.  

It surprised a lot of people when, on January 24th, WVR and MKH frontman Taito Kimura randomly posted “we’re back” with a link to Whisper Voice Riot’s sound cloud page and some photos of the defunct band.  The response was overwhelmingly positive, which doesn’t seem at all surprising given the band’s reputation prior to breaking up.  However, Taito and WVR guitarist/MKH bassist Usui didn’t intend to make that announcement that the time.

“Usui and I had been talking about wanting to start up WVR again for a while,” Taito explained. “I posted ‘we’re back’ on Twitter to mean ‘at some point we’ll be back’, and everyone mistook it as ‘we’re starting the band back up soon’.  The response exceeded our expectations.”  Believing it to be some kind of “fate”, Taito and Usui had to find members.  They brought back former WVR bassist, Shibata, and added a two new members to round out the band’s new lineup.  

When I talked to Taito after the breakup, he stated that he was simply no longer satisfied with Whisper Voice Riot.  Talking to him recently he clarified that the pace of the band was too slow, and there were some personal issues.  “We were a band that started in high school and broke up while we were teenagers.  A few of the problems were inevitable.”  When asked about what changed over the last two years, Taito responded, “I got the urge to be in a band that is personal and is active at a slower pace.  So I started WVR back up.”

While he mentioned that Whisper Voice Riot is here to stay for as long as possible, Taito also plans to keep Mississippi Khaki Hair going at the same time.  “I’m an egotist, so if I want to quit, I’ll quit.”  For now at least it seems that fans of both bands won’t have to worry about any more sudden breakups in the near future.

Since announcing its return, Whisper Voice Riot had its first gig on April 30th.  Things have been relatively quiet otherwise, perhaps just due to the slow pace that Taito has come to embrace.  Whisper Voice Riot seems very near and dear to his heart, and after talking to him I get the feeling that he never intended to let it go forever.  His current approach to and goals for the band seem much more laid back than before.  “I just want to write good songs.  My dream is to be singing songs I wrote as a teenager, even when I’m old.”

Here’s a link to their first EP “Before the Morning Cleaves Our Night” on Soundcloud:

An Interview With La Casa Al Mare

Italian shoegaze trio La Casa Al Mare made waves this year with their This Astro EP.  The album was released in May and soon thereafter received a Japanese release via Tokyo-based label HANDS AND MOMENT.  The folks at the label had a sitdown with Alessio, Marco, and Paolo to discuss the band, the EP, and more.

Italian shoegaze trio La Casa Al Mare made waves this year with their This Astro EP.  The album was released in May and soon thereafter received a Japanese release via Tokyo-based label HANDS AND MOMENT.  The folks at the label had a sitdown with Alessio, Marco, and Paolo to discuss the band, the EP, and more.

イタリアの3人組シューゲイザーバンドLa Casa Al Mareは今年にリリースされた「This Astro EP」を通じて世界で注目を浴びました。5月にリリースされ、すぐ東京のレーベルHANDS AND MOMENTより日本でもリリースされましたHANDS AND MOMENTさんはLa Casa Al MareのメンバーAlessio、Marco、Paoloにバンドの歴史、EP等色々についてインタビューをしました。日本語のインタビューは以下です。

  • When was the band formed?

Alessio: In 2012

Marco: It was a beautiful sunny day 

Paolo: I joined Marco and Alessio a couple of years ago, when I was still playing guitars in Sea Dweller


  • How did you all meet?

Alessio: by going at each other’s band gigs

Marco: I met Alessio because we used to play in the same rehearsal room with our bands. I knew Paolo for his webzine-blog Komakino, and for his bands Sea Dweller / My Violent Ego

Paolo: I met Marco after a show of Sea Dweller in Rome, and Alessio in his studio several years ago, where I went to see La Calle Mojada to rehearsal. They were all very friendly with me. Later, La Calle Mojada and Sea Dweller made some gigs together, so, it was fun to get along.


  • Who is the central figure of the band?

Alessio: there is no central figure: it’s like a triangle where every angle has its importance

Marco: I think guitar sound and the reverb that comes out..

Paolo: Yeah, we are a guitar driven thing, fuzzed out and blessed with a noisy vibe.


  • What is the meaning behind the band’s name?

Alessio: In the 70’s and 80’s, the forbidden dream of italian people from big towns like Rome was to own a seaside house. It refers to something about holiday, childhood, and bittersweet happiness.

Marco: a concrete possibility to escape, for all.


  • Please talk a bit about the history of the band.

Marco: the true history is the one that hasn’t been written yet

Alessio: I started to write songs  and I wanted to have my own band.  So I invited Marco and Michele (Toffoli) to join me, they were both former members of La Calle Mojada.  After a while, Michele quit to work on his own music project, so we needed a new drummer.  One night me and Marco saw Paolo playing drums in a gig, – we already knew him for playing the guitar in Sea Dweller and My Violent Ego, and we thought: perfect!


  • Who are some of the support members and guest musicians you work with?

Alessio: Michele Toffoli, our ex drummer, performed drums on CD Girl, alongside with Andrea Novelli, an old time friend of mine (and keyboardist for Snow in Mexico).  Livia just sang additional vocals on other 2 songs (I Don’t Want To and At All).  Michele Pollice (former guitarist of La Calle Mojada) is helping us for incoming live shows.


  • What kind of bands were you in before?

Alessio: I played in a emo-post rock band, many years ago.

Marco: I played in a dreampop band named La Calle Mojada

Paolo: Sea Dweller, and, before, My Violent Ego: both shoegazing


  • What is your favorite movie and book?

Alessio: Mulholland drive by David Lynch, and Les Particules élémentaires by Michel Houellebecq.

Marco: L’Atalante by Jean Vigo and Camere Separate by Pier Vittorio Tondelli.

Paolo: Naked, by Mike Leigh, and Budapest, by Chico Buarque.


  • Why did you work with Dave Cooley for mastering?

Alessio: I worked with Dave Cooley because he did an M83 record that I liked very much.  Getting in touch with Dave has been very interesting, for me, as a sound engineer.  He’s a pro and he respects music.


  • What are your favorite pedals?

Alessio: Boss TU-2: it’s very useful and reliable.

Marco: Electro Armonix Big Muff U.S.A. : totally anarchist and out of control..

Paolo: my kick pedal


  • I think ‘M’ is a very mysterious title.  What was the inspiration for the title?

Alessio: Sorry, I can’t answer this

Marco: She’s a mystery.. 

Paolo: M is for Mystery




  • いつバンドを結成しましたか?

アレッシオ:  2012年に。


パオロ:  数年前、まだSea DwellerでギターをやっていたときにMarcoとアレッシオと音楽を作り始めました。


  • どのようにLa Casa Al Mareのメンバーと出会ったの?

アレッシオ:  互いのライブを見に行っていたので。

マルコ:  僕のバンドとAlessioのバンドは同じリハーサル部屋をシェアしていたのがきっかけです。Paoloとは彼がやっていたKomakinoというウェブジン/ブログと前のバンドのSea DwellerとMy Violent Egoを通じて知り合いました。

パオロ:  ローマであったSea DwellerのライブでMarcoに会いました。数年前La Calle Mojadaのリハーサルを見に行ったときスタジオでAlessioに会いました。2人とも凄く優しいと思いました。そのあと、La Calle MojadaとSea Dwellerが一緒にライブをして、交流するのは楽しかったです。


  • バンドの中心人物は誰ですか。

アレッシオ:  中心人物というのは存在しない。三角形の三辺ようにそれぞれが同じくらい重要なんだ。

マルコ:  人ではなく、ギターサウンドとリバーブが中心だと思っています。

パオロ:  うん、僕らはノイズに包まれたギターサウンドのかたまりみたいなもの。ノイジーなヴァイブと一緒にフワフワ飛んで祝福される。


  • バンド名にはどんな意味がありますか?

アレッシオ:  70、80年代イタリアでローマ等の都市に住んでいた人の夢は海辺に家を所有することでした。つまり休暇、子供時代、ほろ苦い幸福についてのことです。

マルコ:  誰もが持っている具体的な逃避の可能性です。


  • バンドの歴史を教えてください。


アレッシオ:  僕は曲を書き始めて、自分のバンドを結成したいと思っていました。元La Calle MojadaのメンバーMarcoとMichele(Toffoli)を誘いました。しばらくしてから、Micheleが自分のバンドに専念するため脱退したので、新しいドラマーを募集し始めました。ある夜は私とマルコはパオロがギグでドラムを演奏しているのを観た。(我々はすでにSea DwellerとMy Violent Egoでギターを弾いている彼を知っていた)そして私たちは彼は相応しいと思いました。


  • サポートメンバーとゲストミュージシャンについて教えてください。

アレッシオ:  元ドラマーMichele Toffoliとずっと前からの仲間Snow in MexicoのキーボードAndrea Novelliは「CD Girl」で参加してくれました。Liviaは「I Don’t Want To」と「At All」でサポートボーカルをやりました。元La Calle MojadaのギターリストMichele Polliceはこれからライブサポートメンバーとして参加します。


  • 以前はどんなバンドをやっていましたか?

アレッシオ:  昔はエモ、ポストロックバンドで活動していました。

マルコ:  La Calle Mojadaというドリームポップバンドのメンバーでした。

パオロ:  My Violent Ego、そしてSea Dweller。両方ともシューゲイザーバンドでした。


  • お気に入り映画、本は何ですか。

アレッシオ:  David Lynchの「Mulholland Drive」とMichel Houellebecqの「Les Particules élémentaires」。

マルコ:  Jean Vigoの「L’Atalante」とPier Vittorio Tondelliの「Camere Separate」。

パオロ:  Mike Leighの「Naked」とChico Buarqueの「Budapest」。


  • なぜDave Cooleyをマスタリングに起用したのですか?

アレッシオ:  Dave Cooleyがマスタリングを手掛けたM83のアルバムのマスタリングがとっても好きなんです。デイブと仕事をする事は私にとって非常に興味深い事なんだ。サウンドエンジニアとして。彼はプロだし、彼は音楽を尊重します。


  • あなたのお気に入りのエフェクターは何ですか?

アレッシオ:  Boss TU-2.  とても役立つし信頼できるペダルです。

マルコ:  Electro Harmonix Big Muff U.S.A.  とんでもなくアナキスト。混沌とします…

パオロ:  僕のキックドラムペダル。


  • M’は非常に神秘的なタイトルだと思います。あなたは何にインスピレーションを受けましたか?

アレッシオ:  申し訳ないけど、僕はこれに答える事が出来ません。

マルコ:  謎に包まれている、、

パオロ:  MはMysteryのMです。




Translation – Matthew Bedford and HANDS AND MOMENT

Interview: Next Music from Tokyo’s Steven Tanaka

Muso Japan exists as a means of exposing fans of Japanese music to bands that may be difficult for a foreign audience to access.  Japanese music is something that I, like many people, am passionate about.  Thanks to the internet and social media, there are a growing number of resources through which a curious mind can find the hidden treasures of the Japanese music scene.  Typing words and posting them online is a valuable way to get the word out about the things we love, but it only brings the reader so far.  It requires special efforts to bring the experience directly to an audience and allow them to witness first-hand the things about which we share a passion.  One man has figured out a way to get this done.
Steven Tanaka is the founder of Canada’s “Next Music from Tokyo” tour.  He is so passionate about Japanese music that he, almost singlehandedly, brings bands from Japan to Canada to showcase their talents for an audience which seeks access to Japanese music. Traveling to Japan at every opportunity to go to shows and find bands, Steven is a man who takes his love for the music scene to the next level.  Not only does his event bring quality Japanese music to an excited audience, it provides Japanese musicians with the opportunity to perform overseas.

Next week brings the fifth installment of NMFT, in which bands will perform four shows in three cities (Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver).  This year’s lineup boasts four excellent bands:  Mouse on the Keys, Chi-na, Hara from Hell, and, one of my absolute favorites, Kinoko Teikoku.  Steven was kind enough to take time out of his extremely busy schedule to answer some questions for Muso Japan.  It was an excellent opportunity to get insight from a guy who does what many people (myself included) wish they could do.  A very big thanks to Steven Tanaka for not only granting the interview, but also for all of his efforts in organizing Next Music From Tokyo.

(for more information on the tour please visit or follow the tour’s twitter account @NextMusicTokyo.  Cover photo used from NMFT’s site.)

Here is a promo video for this year’s NMFT.  Enjoy!

Interview with Next Music from Tokyo’s Steven Tanaka

1. Why did you decide to start Next Music From Tokyo? How did you grow so fond of Japanese music to the extent that you were willing to start a non-profit, out of pocket operation to bring bands from Japan to Canada?

Music has been an integral part of my life for as long as I can remember. And Tokyo has the largest and most progressive music scene in the world. For me nothing is more fun than travelling to Tokyo and watching my favorite bands play at tiny live houses and discovering new amazing bands along the way.
I wanted other Canadians to discover how breathtaking and fresh Tokyo’s live music scene is. Since most of the Japanese bands I feel are the best can’t afford to travel to Canada on their own I decided to pay out of pocket and fly the bands here myself.
Even if tickets to the shows sell out completely I’m still guaranteed to lose an insane amount of money due to travel costs alone. Planning these tours is extremely time-consuming, stressful and expensive but it has been one of the most enjoyable, memorable and rewarding things I’ve ever done in my life. The amount of fun I have doing these tours is worth more than all the money in the world.

2. What is the band selection process for each event like?  How do you go about finding these bands and then narrowing down the list to the final few?  Are there specifics that you look for when choosing bands to take part in NMFT?

I travel to Japan 5-8 times a year and see 1-3 shows almost every night I’m there.  So I go to more shows than a lot of music fans who actually live in Japan. (lol)   Before each trip I research into which shows I want to go to and discover a lot of new bands via Youtube, Myspace etc.  But videos and studio recordings are often misleading and the only true way to measure a band is by watching them perform live.

From the hundreds of shows I’ve been to I pick the bands that blew me away the most with their live performance.  Unfortunately, even with the offer of a free expenses-paid tour many bands I’d like to bring to Canada can’t come because of work, family, or other conflicts.  Sometimes bands have crazy demands in addition to me paying for everything; in which case I usually tell them to f*ck off.

For each tour I usually pick one “headlining” band that may draw fans in Canada who are already knowledgeable about Japanese indie music.  For example andymori (vol 1), Mass of the Fermenting Dregs (vol 2), NATSUMEN (vol 3) and ZAZEN BOYS (vol 4).   However, in Canada the Japanese bands are all on a level playing field and the lesser known acts frequently upstage the “headlining” act during shows.

In terms of narrowing the list I choose a “headliner” and an unmistakably great band that most people are sure to like as the core and then add two or three more great bands with a much different style/genre to inject variety to the line-up.  Last year, ZAZEN was the “headliner,” group_inou was the sure-shot and Charan-Po-Rantan and Praha Depart were the dark-horses that some fans liked even more.

However, I don’t always follow this formula.  But in order for a band to be considered for NMFT I have to love their music and more importantly then have to put on a great live show.

3.  From the time you select the bands, what all goes into getting them to Canada and making sure the shows go off problem-free?  How do you cater to bands who may have never toured overseas (language barrier issues, etc.)?

After the bands are selected I normally have a group meeting in Japan with representatives from all the bands to describe the tour and explain what I need done on their end.  Contracts need to be signed and I need CDs, photos, bios/EPK’s in order to promote the tour in Canada.

Back home I need to book venues at least 4 months in advance, book and pay for flights (NMFT vol 3 had 26 passengers; $1700/passenger), hotel rooms, and backline (drums, amps, special instruments).  The biggest headache used to be the mountain of paperwork and red tape involved with obtaining visas/work permits for the bands.  However, I found out last year I could book specific venues that don’t require visas and now I only book venues that are work permit exempt.  Score!

At the start I had to organize almost every aspect of the tour myself but with each tour more and more people have pitched into to help.   My friends Rob and Ryotaro have created fantastic promo videos.  Local bands have lent me gear to help save on backline and instruments.  Friends and fans have designed posters for me and helped distribute them in each city of the tour.  During the first tour my friend Nicolas came all the way from France to help me look after the bands.  And for volume 3, my friend Dan came all the way from Cali to help babysit the bands and he even helped pay for hotel rooms and car rentals.  My right hand man though is a guy named Geoff who has been absolutely phenomenal and indispensible in terms of promoting the tour, getting the media’s attention and securing interviews, articles and reviews.   I owe a huge amount of thanks to Geoff and any friends and fans who have volunteered their time to help me with the tour.

The vast majority of bands have never toured overseas prior to NMFT.  In fact, for many band members it’s their first time visiting a foreign country and they don’t yet have passports.  So most of the bands are in the same boat in terms of language barrier and culture shock but as soon as they hit the stage it’s second nature and they always manage to rock the crowd some how.

4.  The tour is called “Next Music From Tokyo” but have you considered looking to other cities with substantial and unique music scenes like Osaka, Nagoya, etc.?

Hyacca are from Fukuoka and they toured with us during Volume 3.  In terms of signing contracts and having meetings, it’s a lot easier if all the bands reside in Tokyo but in the past I’ve invited many bands from other cities:  Viridian (Nagoya), tricot (Kyoto), Midori (Osaka) etc.

It’s unlikely that I’ll pick all four bands from a region outside Tokyo and do a eg Next Music from Osaka tour.  Although some of my favorite bands right now all come from Chiba:  Happy!Mari, goomi, Harafromhell and Shaku.  Though Chiba’s so close to Tokyo they’re basically part of the same scene.

5.  What has the reception to NMFT been like?  How has the tour evolved since it was started?  

The reception to NMFT has been excellent.  There may be a few people who are disappointed that I don’t bring “crazier” acts but my goal isn’t to shock the audience with the weird and bizarre but to express the level of talent and creativity inherent in Tokyo’s music scene.   Most people who come to the shows really appreciate the skill and stage presence of the bands and the eclectic mix of musical styles.

Since the first installment of the tour it’s become a lot easier to gain the interest of ‘bigger” Japanese bands and especially in Toronto, the tour is popular enough to graduate to a much larger venue.  But bigger isn’t always better and personally, I prefer watching gigs at smaller, more intimate venues.  I don’t think the concept of the tour and nature of the bands has changed much but having fans help out with organizing and promoting the tour has made my life a lot easier.   If I can bring the same level quality of bands and performances each year I’ll be happy.

6.  Do you have any plans or hopes for future installments of NMFT?  Have you begun looking ahead to volume 6 at all?

I definitely hope to continue the tour each year until I unexpectedly get sick of Japanese indie music. Hahaha.   I’m hoping to do volume 6 this October but it may have to be put on hold until May 2014.  I’d like to invite group_inou and Akai Koen again and Happy!Mari is a new new band that is sure to kick Canada’s ass.


Interview: Ringo Deathstarr (English version)

It’s really interesting to hear different opinions about a lot of various aspects of the Japanese music scene.  I have been fortunate enough to interview a lot of Japanese artists and people within the music scene to gain insight into it and hopefully turn that insight into something useful for others with similar interests.  I thought it would be cool to build on it all by adding some foreign perspective to the mix and getting some reflection on what it’s like to come here and play.  So this is the first interview (with hopefully many to follow) with a band I absolutely adore and who are certainly qualified to comment on music in Japan.  They also have one of the best band names ever.
Ringo Deathstarr are no strangers to Japan, having played here a number of times alongside some of Japan’s more prominent shoegaze bands.  This year they also appeared in Crossbeat’s My Bloody Valentine/Shoegazer Guide and just recently wrapped up a Japan tour.   After the tour the band were cool enough to take some time and answer a few questions about playing in Japan and the country in general.  There will be a Japanese language version to follow.  Enjoy!

(For more info on Ringo Deathstarr please “like” them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.)

Ringo Deathstarr Interview

Muso Japan:  First off thank you for taking the time to do an interview!  How was your trip to Japan?

Ringo Deathstarr:  Hi Matthew!  Thanks for the questions! Our trip to Japan this time was the best one yet…of course it just gets better every time, and we never know what to expect!

MJ: Ringo Deathstarr seems to have developed a loyal following in Japan.  When and how did you first  make contact with Japan?  How do you continue to promote yourselves and keep interest from abroad?

RD: Well…back in the Myspace days, in 2009, we were contacted by Vinyl Junkie Records, and they released our songs and brought us out. We thought we were in a dream…because people knew our music and they made us feel like Elvis!   We try to keep people interested by using twitter and facebook, which are helpful in those matters.

MJ: How have your experiences been playing in Japan?  In what ways has it been perhaps different than playing in the U.S.?

RD: Playing in Japan is like living out a fantasy…like being part of your ultimate dream gig.  The clubs we played are really awesome…the sound men, the PA systems…no similar sized club ive ever been to in the states can compare with the level of professionalism.  Also, nobody is looking at their stupid cell phones while the band’s on stage…nobody trying to talk to each other over the music…you can see people singing along and dancing, and everyone is super excited!

MJ: Do you have any particularly fond experiences either playing in Japan or interacting with Japanese fans?

RD: I always enjoy jumping into the crowd or throwing my guitar in the crowd so they can play the solo…one time we pulled as many people we could on stage and broke one of the club’s microphones….The club owner was pissed!

MJ: The band was featured in this year’s My Bloody Valentine/Shoegazer Guide along with some of the genre’s quintessential artists.  How did it feel to be included in a project showcasing what is continuing to grow into a truly beloved genre?

RD: I think its amazing that we are in ANY book or magazine in Japan!

MJ: What is your impression of the Japanese music scene in general?  Are you interested in Japanese music?  (if so, “Are there any Japanese bands in particular that you are into right now?”

RD: Oh yeah, there are some bands that i will never forget…we have not been able to see a great deal of bands since we are never around for very long…but I love Guitar Wolf, Shonen Knife, Negoto, Civic, Cruyff In The Bedroom, Bertoia, Plastic Zooms, Lemon’s Chair, and Sugizo!

MJ: What are the band’s plans in the near future?

RD: Well, we are gonna play a few more gigs here and there this summer, and begin work on our next recordings (we eed to write the songs)

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!”

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。

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。

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

Interview: blgtz’s Shota Tamura (English and Japanese)

Recently, I was fortunate enough to be granted the opportunity to interview blgtz frontman and songwriter Shota Tamura, who took time out of what has been a pretty busy last couple months to answer some questions. This is a very special post because I am a huge fan of his work and it gives Muso Japan the opportunity to get some first-hand input from a musician who epitomizes what Muso Japan admires in an artist: a passion for what he does and a high-quality of craftmanship. I want to thank Tamura-san for taking the time to contribute his words as well as blgtz’s PR staff who made this interview possible. Last but not least a special thanks to Shiho Lukacek for being very patient and helpful! Enjoy.
MusoJapan: When and how was blgtz formed?

Shota Tamura: Blgtz was formed in 2001 as a full group. Since then, a number of members have joined and left or taken leave from band activities. While this has been going on, the band has continued as mostly a solo unit.

MJ: What is the band’s current structure and at what points did you work mainly solo act?

ST: In December 2011 the current band’s support members joined. Until that point, it was a solo project.

MJ: What are your biggest musical influences?

ST: I’ve drawn inspiration from many records and CDs as well as from musicians who preceded me. As far as my biggest influence…it’s difficult to say. I can’t choose.

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

ST: My intention is to be making honest music that drives straight through the listener’s heart. As far as sound is concerned we have been considered a blend of Western music genres like new wave, post punk, shoegaze, post rock, etc. but those genres are just parts of music. You can even consider my music as J-Pop or J-Rock, so I don’t mind if my music is considered to be a part of any specific category.

MJ: What is your songwriting process like? Do you primarily write the songs yourself or is it a collaborative effort?

ST: I start by gathering all of the ideas I’ve come up with and then writing the songs myself. I then take the songs to the studio and have a band session where we finish the arrangement process. Finally, I write the lyrics. My main job is getting rid of unnecessary words which is the toughest part of the process for me.

MJ: In November, 2011 you released your 3rd album 同時に消える一日. How does this album differ from your previous albums?

ST: The big differences between this album and my previous albums are the vocals and the melodies. I wanted to make music that I could convey to anyone and so I tried to put an emphasis on too many things when making songs.
What is different now than before is that when you first listen the music and singing sound simple, but live there are all sorts of detailed inventions and changes. I think that when you listen to it a bit it becomes understood.

MJ: What are your feelings about the state of Japanese indie-music today?

ST: In my case, I am just active as an independent musician, which isn’t to say I am trying to create a gap between independent and mainstream music, but I think that indie music in Japan offers something very substantial.
There is an excess of information and good music which may be hidden, but there is a lot of high-quality music lying in the underground of Japanese music. Sooner or later I want to break through into the Japanese music scene and see a musical movement that excites listeners.
It makes me happy to see Muso Japan working as a medium through which indie music can be introduced, and to know that the passion of music is being felt.

MJ: You have recently been playing concerts on your CD release tour and have a big show scheduled with the Novembers on February 4th. What else can listeners look forward to from blgtz in 2012?

ST: On February 26, I will be appearing at the ”Yuubari International Fantastic Film Festival” as a solo act.
From March 23-25 blgtz will be playing a 3 day tour in Sapporo.
A release for our live DVD is being planned after that.
Other than that we are planning shows in cities as well as regional tours and plenty of other things.
For more information please check our website:

MusoJapan: いつどのようにこのblgtzは結成されたのですか?

田村昭太: 2001年、バンドとして結成しました。

MJ: 現在のバンドの形態とソロで活動をされていたのはいつ頃ですか?


MJ: あなたの音楽に一番多大な影響を与えたのは誰ですか?

田村: 多くのレコード、CDを聞いて音楽の先人達から影響を受けてきました。

MJ: blgtzを知らない人にblgtzのサウンドを説明するとしたら、どのように表現しますか?

田村: 胸に突き刺さる、嘘の無い音楽をやっているつもりです。

MJ: あなたの歌作りのプロセスはどのような感じですか?一人で作りますか、それともみんなで作り上げますか?

田村: まず、浮かんできたアイデアをまとめて一人で曲を書きます。


田村: 以前までの作品との大きな違いは歌とメロディーです。

MJ: 日本のインディーズミュージックの現状についてどう思いますか?

田村: 僕の場合は、インディペンデントなやり方で活動をしているだけで、

MJ: 最近はCDリリースツアーを行っていて、2月4日にはthe Novembersとの大きなコンサートが待ち構えていますが、その他に何かコンサートやイベント等、blgtzファンが知っておいた方がいいニュースはありますか?

田村: 2/26にゆうばり国際ファンタスティック映画祭に田村昭太ソロで出演。
その後、LIVE DVDのリリースが予定されています。