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!
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: http://blgtz.com.
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？
One of the goals of Muso Japan is to showcase wonderful Japanese artists that are otherwise difficult to find for a foreign audience. There is a huge number of bands and musicians who can be discovered on forums, in magazines, and in other accessible media. There are others that are hidden gems in a vast musical world.
One such band is maikotobranco, a veteran of Japan’s indie-music scene. Formed in 1999, maikotobranco’s current lineup is comprised of band founder and principle songwriter Kodo Ryuta (vocals and guitar), Tomikawa Genta (bass), Yoshijima Tomohito (drums), and Mori Masanori (keys). The band started out playing concerts in college circle clubs and local live houses, and soon after their inception released a self-titled e.p. which was recorded in the university’s locker room as well as a self-titled demo casette. In their early stages, maikotobranco gained notoriety in the indie scene sharing bills with such acts as Luminous Orange, Hazel Nuts Chocolate, and Japanese shoegazers Dive.
Maikotobranco’s sound combines shoegaze and dreampop influences and wraps them in a beautifully noisy psychedelic package, the likes of which could best be described as a marriage of My Bloody Valentine and The Mops. The band’s 2010 release “Grey Sky” in particular comes highly recommended by Muso Japan as it offers the most unique interpretation of shoegaze music with very catchy licks and a whole lot of noise thrown in for good measure. The band’s most recent release, 2011’s “The Rain Beats my Cheek” offers 3 tracks that offer more of what we loved in its predecessor.
There are a lot of bands that classify themselves as shoegaze or dreampop that are remarkable in that they produce beautiful music. Maikotobranco does just that, but separates itself by offering listeners a very unique sound as well. There aren’t many bands that they can be directly compared to, but if you are a fan of My Bloody Valentine, Mew, or Dive you should definitely check out any and all of the songs that maikotobranco have produced in the 13 years since they started.
Here are some helpful links if you wish to check out maikotobranco’s music:
Their albums “Star” and “Grey Sky” are also available on iTunes!
On January 21st, one of Japan’s most promising up-and-coming bands Kinoko Teikoku formally released their second EP “Yoru ga Aketara.” Formed in 2007, Kinoko Teikoku got their start in Shibuya playing at local live houses and soon established themselves in Japan’s indie scene.
The band’s sound can best be described as beautifully intense. Satou’s dreamy vocals carry the listener as the music, driven by a-chan’s guitars, flows from beautiful and melodic to thick and powerful. Their songs are beautifully composed and sophisticated and above all else extremely catchy. Kinoko Teikoku provides well-crafted and passionate music. A definite must-listen and a prime example of a hidden gem in the Japanese music world.
Maintaining their status as a true local indie act, Kinoko Teikoku had previously only sold their music at live shows. Until now. The self-produced 5-track CD “Yoru ga Aketara” is now available online through diskunion (http://diskunion.net/portal/ct/detail/IND8920#.Txo16e-s43I.twitter) for a very reasonable ￥1,050 (about $13.53 USD and well worth it) which will get you 30 minutes of some excellent music.
For a taste of Kinoko Teikoku visit their myspace page and sample some tracks at http://myspace.com/kinokoteikoku
A live version of Taikutsu Shinogi can be seen here. Enjoy this wonderful band!
Friday January 20, 2012 marks the 30th anniversary of Nagoya’s local indie live house Huck Finn. Located in Nagoya’s Chikusa Ward, Huck Finn is an intimate venue known for hosting punk rock, metal, hardcore and indie-rock concerts. It is one of Nagoya’s primary spots for catching some of Japan’s best indie artists. A prime location for local up-and-comers as well, Huck Finn even states on its recruitment site that as long as bands have a drive to play they will host them, giving visitors to this cool little spot a taste of the Nagoya indie-rock scene.
To celebrate its milestone, Huck Finn held a 30th anniversary live featuring Sapporo-based indie-rock veterans, and one of Asano Tadanobu’s personal favorites, Bloodthirsty Butchers. Also on the bill was Hidaka Toru, former frontman of the disbanded lo-fi rock unit Beat Crusaders. Kicking off the night was Nagoya’s own experimental punk group Dancebeach.
For information on future shows check out their website at http://huckfinn.co.jp. Still going strong after 30 years, we can look forward to many more years of Huck Finn as a local indie-rock institution.
abcdefg*record is a Nagoya-based independent label. Formed in 1998 by Nomura Masahiro and Hashimoto Sayuri, abcdefg*record offers its artists very unique and dynamic handmade-style packaging for distribution. Though a self-proclaimed “indie-pop” label, the company covers a wide variety of musical styles including, but not limited to, rock, piko piko, shibuya-kei, post-rock, and shoegaze. With a solid roster of artists including “naivepop or petitfool” and co-founder Hashimoto Sayuri’s own “miette-one” abcdefg*record offers a very cool and creative brand of indie music wrapped in attractive handmade packages.
In addition to distributing for independent artists, abcdefg’s founders use their label to promote their other artistic endeavors. The co-founders are not only involved in their own music projects, they also promote a free digital zine titled P+M Magazine. P+M is a bilingual (English and Japanese) written publication devoted to music and photography. Issues are available for free download at the zine site (http://onimaga.com) and each features various musical artists and photographers. Definitely worth checking out.
abcdefg*record is not only a very cool example of an independent label, but as an outlet for independent art in general. For more information visit http://abcdefg-record.net and do some exploring. It will definitely be worth your while!
The Muso Project was created with the goal of finding hidden gems of Japanese music and showcasing them for likeminded individuals. For people outside of Japan the most accessible genres of Japanese music tend to be J-Pop and J-Rock, many artists of which are discovered through anime programs or various conventions. Muso identifies that there are indeed those who seek bands outside of these genres, but are often unable to due to the lack of non-Japanese resources. The purpose of this project is to hopefully build a bridge connecting the world of local and independent Japanese artists to the audience that seeks it. Though not limited exclusively to these genres, the focus of the Muso Project will be on the strong shoegaze, post-rock, indie-rock, indie-pop, shibua-kei, and other forms of alternative music scenes that exist in Japan today. To do so, the Muso Project will strive to expose you, the music fan, to the some of the wonderful aspects of the Japanese music world.