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:

 

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

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)