Making Music in Japan part 1 – A Brief Introduction

MusoBlogImgPart 1 – A Brief Introduction

Music is something I’ve always been interested in.  When I was a child I was obsessed with throwing together mix tapes, carefully choosing select tracks from my father’s casette and vinyl collections.  When I entered high school I started a band with some friends with whom I shared an affinity for metal.  From that point on making music is something I have been passionate about.  It was perhaps my own experience in a “garage band” (though later we made the transition to a “drummer’s grandmother’s basement band”) that I have always found self-production and humble beginnings an endearing and attractive quality in music.  My taste in music has of course changed over the years, but I still am overcome with a sense of nostalgia and appreciation when I hear a demo track from a home studio or a recording of a live practice session.

It is because of this, and the fact that I was preparing for a move to Japan, that I started this site. Coming from Chicago I grew up amidst a wealth of homegrown talent.  From high school and into my adult years I frequented some of the well-known local venues that young band members, including my teenage self, dream of eventually playing.  Moving to Japan I was instantly infused with the same sense of wonder I had when I was younger.  The country’s general music identity overseas is comprised mainly of J-Pop idols and Visual Kei artists.  This isn’t to say that there aren’t folks in other countries who aren’t aware of what a rich music scene exists in Japan, but simply that I don’t believe it gets enough credit or is easily accessible.  Being able to make a modest effort toward doing a service to fans of music that I personally find enjoyable is something that’s evolved into a cool little adventure.

Over the last few months or so my enjoyment of music in a Japanese context has led me to a new adventure however.  I recently moved to Nagoya and was lucky enough to find a relatively spacious 3-bedroom apartment.  One major selling point was a small icon of a guitar on the real estate papers indicating the apartment was music-friendly.  This was a huge bonus as a lot of apartments here have paper thin walls through which a person can hear more than they’d probably care to.  Two extra bedrooms and the thumbs up for music eventually led to one room being converted into a “music room”.  It’s been a few months since we moved here and it has gradually been transforming into a nice little humble (no amps, direct input, laptop recording-level of humble) home studio.  It is in this room that I kicked off a new musical project and can hopefully use as a starting point for my own journey into the local music scene in Japan.

MattStudio

I plan to use my own experiences from this point on as sort of ethnographic research into a music scene that I have been lucky enough to be involved in to some capacity.  It’s no secret that Japan is different than my home country in a number of ways, and the process of starting a band and making music is no exception.  It’s a topic that I find very interesting and really am excited to delve into on a personal level.  More progress and commentary to come in future posts!

Japan Shoegazer Festival Extra

As we mentioned, Masashi Imanishi had earlier announced on his blog a followup to this year’s Japan Shoegazer Festival ’13.  This announcement, not surprisingly, coincided with the news that My Bloody Valentine would be returning for a second stint in Japan at this year’s Tokyo Rocks Festival.  That event was shortly thereafter canceled, but we still get to look forward to what should be two more excellent nights showcasing Japan’s shoegaze scene.  With the Tokyo leg of the event coming this weekend and the Osaka show to follow two weeks later, there is a lot to be excited about.
Tokyo Shoegazer Festival Extra Flyer

Koenji HIGH will play host to yet another shoegaze event in Tokyo.  The first show will be a one-man show with Lemon’s Chair, with special guests The Sodom Project (who featured on this year’s Yellow Loveless tribute album) and Musu Bore (participants in this year’s Osaka show).  Though the lineup is not as stacked as the earlier Tokyo show, those in attendance will receive a special present; a 4-track CD (we’re not entirely sure as the packaging is actually DVD-sized, but we presume it’s a CD) featuring two Lemon’s Chair tracks and one apiece from Musu Bore and The Sodom Project.  Of the Lemon’s Chair songs, one is a demo titled “The End” and the other a cover of the Cure’s “The Only One.”  It’s a pretty neat show of appreciation for the loyal shoegazers who are certainly looking forward to this follow up event.

The Osaka Flyer

Back to Kita-horie’s Club Vijon we go for the Osaka leg of this event on May 18th.  This lineup is absolutely stacked.  In addition to Lemon’s Chair, which is always a treat, this card boasts two great bands who have recently put out fantastic new albums in the last couple months:  Shelling and Sugardrop.  Add to that Hiroshima shoegaze giants Speaker Gain Teardrop and some of my personal favorites in Ether Feels, Euphrates and Silica Gel and this show is something to be legitimately excited about.  The not-so-shoegaze-but-still-awesome ASTRO ATTACK will also be playing and the event is rounded up with moonlight, Doyoubi to Jinchou to Coffee and Akushumi.  I was in attendance at the earlier Osaka Shoegazer Festival this year and I certainly have no intention of missing this one.

 

Fuji Rock 2013 Lineup Announcement: NIN, Bjork and more.

Fuji Rock has finally announced the first wave of artists to appear at the summer festival.  The list is headlined by Bjork and the recently reunited Nine Inch Nails.  Other notables are the xx, Coheed and Cambria, Flying Lotus, Killswitch Engage, and Tame Impala.
For the full list of announced artists check out the Fuji Rock Festival website here:  http://www.fujirockfestival.com/artist/

2/26 Festival Roundup: Tokyo Rocks 2013 Lineup, Taste of Sonar in Osaka

Tokyo Rocks 2013 Lineup

The bands have been announced for a bit now, but the lineup has been revealed for this year’s resurrection of the Tokyo Rocks Festival.  The event will take place May 11-12 at Tokyo’s Ajinomoto Stadium.  The days have been arranged as follows:

Saturday
Blur (headliner)
illion
Primal Scream
Carl Barat (Libertines)
Man With a Mission
Back Number

Sunday
My Bloody Valentine (headliner)
Champagne
andymori
The Brian Jonestown Massacre
Droog

DJ Lineup
Tom Meighan (Kasabian), Alan McGee, Simon Taylor (TOMATO), This Feeling, Mark Beaumont

With the event a little less than 3 months away this lineup is subject to some change, but it looks pretty good so far!

“A Taste of Sonar” comes to Osaka

The Japan edition of Sonar Sound will be taking place in Tokyo, but this year, folks further west will be given a treat as an abridged version of the concert will be flanking the Tokyo weekend festivities.  The main event will be taking place on the weekend of April 6-7, with the first night of “A Taste of Sonar” set to take place at Universe on the 5th.  The second leg will be at Umeda Club Quattro on Monday the 8th.  The “Taste of Sonar” event had only previously occurred in London, so it’s a pretty nice treat for electronic music fans in Japan.  The ticket price for the first night has yet to be determined, but for the second night the advanced ticket price has been set at 5,800 yen.  Here are the preliminary lineups for each night:

4/5 Fri @Universe (open: 18:00)
Nicolar Jaar
Sherwood & Pinch
Actress
…and more

4/8 Mon @Umeda Club Quattro (open: 18:00)
Karl Hyde
Darkstar
Altz
…and more

Lemon’s Chair

Lemon’s Chair

Lemon's Chair - コピー

Homepage: http://white.ap.teacup.com/lemonschair/

Twitter: @HIGH_FADER

Genre: Shoegaze, Post Rock

For fans of: Noise, Mono, Mogwai, Cocteau Twins

Lineup:

Masashi Imanishi (Guitar)
Kondo (Drums)
Yuko (Guitar)

Bio:

Lemon’s Chair was formed in 2002 as an instrumental “acid rock” three-piece featuring Masashi Imanishi and Yuko on guitars and Ryo on drums.  As time passed the band’s sound transformed into the minimalist shoegaze/post-rock blend that has since been a staple of the Japanese shoegaze music scene.

The band began to publish music actively beginning in 2009, having appeared on a compilation album for American label Series Two Records.  Later that year, on Masashi Imanishi’s own High Fader Records, the band released a split album with monocism title “high shoegazer”.  The following year the band released it’s first full album “I hate?  I hope?” while also appearing on a Rocket Girl Records compilation alongside Ulrich Schnauss and A Place to Bury Strangers.  In 2011, Lemon’s Chair took part in the “The Light Shines into your Dreams” compilation in aide of the earthquake relief efforts.  The shoegaze/dreampop charity album also featured My Bloody Valentine.

In 2013, Lemon’s Chair played a major role in the release of “Yellow Loveless”, a tribute to the quintessential My Bloody Valentine record.  The band submitted two tracks for the album: “To Here Knows When” and “What you Want”.  Released alongside the tribute album was “Japan Shoegazer as Only One”, a split single with fellow genre-mates Tokyo Shoegazer.  These releases coincided with not only the 2013 My Bloody Valentine tour of Japan, but High Fader Records’ Japan Shoegazer Festival.

While Lemon’s Chair are always accompanied by a “who’s who” of Japanese shoegazer outfits, the band have an impressive international resume.  Among the overseas acts they have performed live with in Japan are Ringo Deathstarr, Ulrich Schnauss, Sad Day for Puppets, Chapterhouse, and Spectrum.

Masashi Imanishi and Lemon’s Chair’s role in the Japanese shoegaze community has been very highly-regarded.  In addition to their contributions as a band, they are very active in organizing events such as the annual “Japan Shoegazer Festival” and the indie-music showcase “High Fader Night”, as well as offering services to shoegaze bands.

The band have slated the release of their second full album for the summer of 2013.

Muso Japan’s Thoughts: Lemon’s Chair are deservedly given a lot of credit for their contributions to shoegaze music in Japan.  Their recordings are most definitely worth checking out, but their live show is a must-see.  If you like extremely loud, beautiful music then do yourself a favor and make it out to one of their events.  Masashi Imanishi and Yuko work brilliantly together on guitars, while Kondo is a very very impressive drummer. Their tracks tend to be quite long, which works out brilliantly as each song builds up in it’s own way.

Sample:

2/18 Shoegazer Roundup: Shoegazer Fest pt. 2, New Shelling Album, Tokai Shoegaze

Need More Japan Shoegazer Festival

The 2013 Japan Shoegazer Festival went brilliantly and rode the wave of shoegaze madness brought about by My Bloody Valentine’s tour of Japan.  It was really nice to have a local supplement to the monumental event and it seems that we’re going to be treated again.  My Bloody Valentine will return to Japan in May for the Tokyo Rocks event, and it appears now that so too will the Shoegazer Festival.  Masashi Imanishi revealed the “Japan Shoegazer Festival Extra” that will take place on Saturday, May 4th (at Koenji HIGH in Tokyo) and Saturday, May 18th (at club vijon in Osaka).  This makes perfect sense as Tokyo Rocks is set for May 11th.  There aren’t any details as far as what this “extra” event will be exactly.  All we know is that Masashi is planning something to further appease the shoegaze community.

Shelling’s New Album and Video

Shelling’s new self-titled album will be released this Wednesday, February 20th, under White Paddy Mountain.  The band have recently released a music video of one of the tracks on the new album titled “Floating Area.”  If this song is any indication, this album is going to be something special.

Tokai’s Got Talent

As a resident of the central part of Japan and an avid music lover, it is sometimes frustrating to constantly see wonderful events in Osaka and Tokyo, while Nagoya often gets left behind.  One would think that the location, somewhere right between the two largest cities in Japan, would be a great spot to draw an audience.  Boasting a number of venues and it’s own seemingly diverse music scene, Nagoya needs more love.  One of Muso Japan’s goals for the year is to pull together some of Nagoya’s fine indie and shoegaze artists.  Wouldn’t a Nagoya Shoegaze Festival be a great thing?  We want to try to help make it happen.

Shelling

Shelling

Shelling_pic

Homepagehttp://shelling-info.com

Twitter: @shelling_info

Genre: Dreampop, Shoegaze, Sherbet Pop.

For fans of: Daydreaming, being wisped away to fantasy worlds, Thrushes

Lineup:

Aya (Vocals, Guitar, DTM, Music & Lyrics)
Shota (Guitar, Synth, Mastering)

Bio:

Shelling are a Tokyo-based self-proclaimed “Sherbet Pop” duo consisting of Aya and Shota. Aya, a veteran of the shoegaze scene having worked with various artists, is the primary songwriter as well as the vocalist. Shota provides the live instrumentation in addition to running the synths and mastering the tracks. The band’s sherbet pop sounds incorporates the floating sensation from ambient genres, the coldness of electronica, and the dreaminess of shoegaze. The product is a whimsical soundscape over which Aya’s soothing vocals are draped.

The band released four songs on a split single alongside IROTTO+ titled “Before Time Melts”. The 2010 High Fader records split featured songs previously released on their self-titled E.P. The band released their first full album – also self-titled – in February of 2013. They have been a mainstay in the shoegaze scene in Japan, featuring at events like the Japan Shoegazer Festival.

Muso Japan’s Thoughts: Shelling are one of the more truly inspiring bands in the Japanese shoegaze and dreampop world. Their sound is deep and dreamy and easy to be carried away in.

Sample:

Kinoko Teikoku release new video. New album “eureka” coming 2/6.

One of my favorite Japanese bands Kinoko Teikoku is still going strong. They wrapped up 2012 at the massive Countdown Japan year-end event and are getting ready for the release of their new full-length album “eureka”. On January 17th, the band released a new music video of the title track (watch below).
The album is slated for a February 6 release and will be available at stores for 2,520 yen. The track list is as follows:

01.夜鷹
02.平行世界
03.春と修羅
04.国道スロープ
05.ユーリカ
06.風化する教室
07.Another Word
08.ミュージシャン
09.明日にはすべてが終わるとして

The band have announced dates in support of the album:

3/13 Kanazawa vanvanV4
3/15 Fukuoka graf
3/27 Sendai PARK SQUARE
3/30 Chiba LOOK
4/6 Yokohama F.A.D
4/19 Osaka club vijon
4/20 Nagoya club Rock’n Roll

Here is the video for “eureka”. Enjoy!

Yellow Loveless: Japanese My Bloody Valentine Tribute Album

In addition to this year’s Shoegaze Festival 2013, High Fader Records has another gift for shoegaze fans in the form of a My Bloody Valentine tribute album titled “Yellow Loveless”. The album is a reconstruction of the band’s quintessential shoegaze album “Loveless” performed entirely by Japanese artists. Among the bands on the CD are Lemon’s Chair (High Fader’s head man Masashi Imanishi’s band), Tokyo Shoegazer, and Japanese indie-rock legends Shonen Knife. The album will be released on January 23rd along with a Lemon’s Chair/Tokyo Shoegazer split-single titled “Japan shoegazer as only one” and will be available at select Tower Records locations throughout Japan.
news_large_yellowlovelessJAPAN

Yellow Loveless track list

1. Tokyo Shoegazer – only shallow
2. GOATBED – loomer
3. The Sodom Project – touched
4. Lemon’s Chair – to here knows when
5. Shonen Knife – when you sleep.
6. Tokyo Shoegazer – i only said
7. AGE of PUNK – come in alone
8. Boris – sometime
9. Shinobu Narita – blown a wish
10. Lemon’s Chair – what you want
11. SADESPER RECORD – soon

Japan Shoegazer Festival ’13

The start of 2013 is an exciting time for shoegaze fans in Japan. Shoegaze icons My Bloody Valentine will spend almost a week in Tokyo and Osaka as a result of the original three dates selling rather quickly. While this is the lead story of shoegaze happenings in the country, High Fader Records has been working hard to prepare shoegazers throughout Japan for the big event with another installment of the Japan Shoegaze Festival.
The Festival will again have dates in Tokyo and Osaka. The first leg of the event will be on Sunday, January 27th at club vijon in Osaka’s Kita-Horie area. The second leg falls on Saturday, December 9th at Tokyo’s Kichijoji Club Seata. As the My Bloody Valentine tour will be going on on the 7th, 8th, and 10th of February in Tokyo, the Festival will make sure that shoegaze fans won’t have to take a day off.

The Osaka show in particular looks to have received a major boost compared to last year, offering a more substantial lineup including this year’s headliners, Tokyo-based “cruyff in the bedroom”. Returning to the Osaka leg of the festival, from Hiroshima, Speaker Gain Teardrop will be supporting cruyff in the bedroom, along with the stars of the show Lemon’s Chair.

The Tokyo leg again boasts a strong lineup, headlined by Tokyo Shoegazer. In addition to some great shoegaze band, there will be an electronica stage headed by Age of Punk and featuring one of my favorite artists Shelling.

This year we will be attending the Osaka show and we couldn’t be more excited. For more information on the event please check out Lemon’s Chair’s site or follow them on twitter and of course follow for updates. Below are the details of each show courtesy of Lemon’s Chair (http://white.ap.teacup.com/lemonschair/)

1/27 Osaka Shoegaze Festival 2013 – club vijon

osaka
Open: 12:00 Start: 12:30. Tickets-2300adv/2800door +500.

Timetable
12:30 OPEN
13:00 ~ 13:25 古庭千尋(O.A)
13:40 ~ 14:05 The Somedays
14:20 ~ 14:45 シリカゲル
15:00 ~ 15:25 ウタカタ
15:40 ~ 16:05 ether feels
16:20 ~ 16:45 musubore (Tokyo)
17:00 ~ 17:25 EUPHRATES
17:45 ~ 18:10 Flower Triangle (Hiroshima)
18:25 ~ 18:50 Fragile
19:05 ~ 19:30 Magdala (Tokyo)
19:45 ~ 20:10 Lemon’s Chair
20:25 ~ 20:50 speaker gain teardrop (Hiroshima)
21:05 ~ 21:30 cruyff in the bedroom (Tokyo)

Tokyo Shoegaze Festival 2013 – kichijoji CLUB SEATA

tokyo
Open: 12:00 Start: 12:30 Tickets- 3000adv/3500door +500
Timetable

13:00 ~ 13:20 My Dead Girlfriend
13:30 ~ 13:50 Meme
14:00 ~ 14:20 sugardrop
14:30 ~ 14:50 花とワルツ。
15:00 ~ 15:20 inner bug
15:30 ~ 15:50 flannel (Nagoya)
16:00 ~ 16:20 dario
16:30 ~ 16:50 shelling
17:00 ~ 17:20 PLASTIC GIRL IN CLOSET(Iwate)
17:30 ~ 17:50 kanina
18:00 ~ 18:20 speaker gain teardrop (Hiroshima)
18:30 ~ 18:50 Magdala
19:00 ~ 19:20 Shojo Skip
19:30 ~ 19:50 Flower Triangle (Hiroshima)
20:00 ~ 20:20 Lemon’s Chair (Osaka)
20:30 ~ 20:50 AGE of PUNK
21:00 ~ 21:20 cruyff in the bedroom
21:35 ~ 21:55 Tokyo Shoegazer