French shoegaze 4-piece and Muso Planet volume 1 artist Venera 4 has just released a free on its Bandcamp page. The album consists of acoustic versions of the band’s music. It’s an absolutely beautiful Christmas gift for fans of one of the planet’s most impressive groups. Download it here:
The Blog That Celebrates Itself today released its Cocteau Twins tribute album featuring a number of artists from around the world. The album is available on Bandcamp for whatever price you’d like to pay for an outstanding homage to the legendary dreampoppers.
今日The Blog That Celebrates ItselfがCocteau Twinsトリビュートコンピレーションアルバムをリリースした。 Bandcampで好きな値段でダウンロードができる。
Muso Planet volume 2 is in the works and is due out at the end of December. Volume 1 featured some great bands and the follow-up promises more of the same. The lineup of content for volume 2 is as follows.
-Interview with Jairo Manzur, the man responsible for the wonderful blog Latino America Shoegaze/ラテンアメリカシューゲイズのブログを担当しているJairo Manzurとのインタビュー。
-A year in review of Japanese shoegaze/日本のシューゲイズの２０１３年回顧
Stella Diana (Italy/イタリア)
Elephant Stone (Canada/カナダ)
The Megaphonic Thrift (Norway/ノルウェー)
Afor Gashum (Israel/イスラエル)
Sonic Hearts Foundation (Scotland/スコットランド)
Over the last year there has been a lot of evidence that shoegaze is re-emerging as a popular genre in Japan, as well as all over the world. Sure, it’s never really gone away, but thanks to My Bloody Valentine’s resurrection this year and all of the anticipation, the global shoegaze scene is booming once again.
Lamppost Records is a new Glasgow-based DIY label focused on showcasing the globe’s finest up-and-coming shoegaze artists. Founded by members of The Cherry Wave, Lamppost has just put out its first release – a 4-track shoegaze compilation titled Under the Wildflowers Volume 1: A Lamppost Records Compilation. The CD features one track by the Cherry Wave as well as songs by Beach Volleyball (London), Shallow (Arizona), and Fluorescent Tiger (Alabama). The album is currently available at bandcamp as a “Pay-What-You-Like” release, though really the quality of the music is well worth a few bucks if you’re willing to part with it for a good cause.
In addition to managing releases by The Cherry Wave, Lamppost is looking to put out some more compilations featuring artists from different countries. Though primarily a shoegaze label, Lamppost features noise and psychedelic sounds as well as “pretty much anything that’s fuzzy”. They are looking for acts that fit the bill for future volumes of Under the Wildflowers. It’s my hope that the next edition will feature some artists from Japan. Regardless, I’m looking forward to future releases from a label with a brilliant mission to globalize shoegaze music.
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.
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!
The Shoegazer Festival Extra hasn’t even wrapped up yet and High Fader Records’ Masashi Imanishi has confirmed three events in the fall. With the Osaka leg of the extra event coming up this weekend, Imanishi announced via Twitter this evening that there will be a third Shoegazer Festival in 2013. The big news is that the event will be coming to Nagoya for the first time.
The first two shows will be held on the final weekend of October, starting in Osaka on Saturday the 26th and heading to Nagoya on the 27th. The third show will take place on a to-be-determined weekend in November. According to Imanishi, the venues have mostly been determined, though they will be disclosed at a later date. At this time bands and DJs for each date are being sorted. More information is expected in the coming weeks.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.