Japan Shoegazer Festival ’12 Announced

The weather is going to start warming up over the next couple of months and in preparation for the summer all of the major music festivals both in Japan and worldwide are getting ready to make their big lineup announcements.  FujiRock got things rolling early by unleashing some musical big-guns and Summer Sonic recently announced an underwhelming, but nevertheless big-name lineup for their 2012 festival.
One festival that certainly won’t match the star power of the aforementioned music festivals, but surely will provide exceptional quality, is the just-announced Japan Shoegazer Festival 2012.  The show is being organized by Japanese shoegaze label High Fader Records in conjunction with various other labels throughout the country and will feature some of the best artists and DJs in Japan.

Japan Shoegazer Festival will be a two-night event, being played at Koenji HIGH in Tokyo on 4/21 and at club vijon in Osaka on 4/28.  The Osaka event will be followed by “Electric Fuzz”, an after-party headed by Tokyo’s DJ Manabu and High Fader Records’ own Masashi Imanishi.

One note on the High Fader/Lemon’s Chair blog is that these shows will branch out and feature some non-shoegaze bands as well.  Looking at the lineup though it should definitely be something to look forward to.  There are also expected to be some changes and new announcements in the coming weeks so I will do my best to keep them coming.

Entry to the Tokyo show will be 3,000yen in advance or 3,500yen at the door.  For the Osaka show it will be 2,500/3,000.  The Tokyo event will start at noon and the Osaka event at 2pm.

For more information on specific bands check out Lemon’s Chair’s event blog.  If you scroll to the bottom of the page there will be links to music or videos for each of the bands on the bill.  Otherwise for non-Japanese speakers follow Muso Japan on twitter (@musojapan) or Masashi Imanishi’s Japanese twitter (@HIGH_FADER) for more information as it’s released.

The lineups for Japan Shoegazer Festival 2012 are as follows

Japan Shoegazer Festival 2012 – Tokyo – Koenji HIGH (4/21)

Lemon’s Chair(Osaka) (featuring Masashi Imanishi of High Fader Records)
Aureole
Bertoia
clione-index(Osaka)
dario
inner bug
kanina
moskitoo
PLASTIC GIRL IN CLOSET
PLASTICZOOMS
The 2nd colony
shelling
死んだ僕の彼女 (My Dead Girlfriend)
少女スキップ (Shojo Skip)
sugardrop
Tokyo Shoegazer (members from Plastic Tree, Kara, Acid Android, etc)

DJs
manabu(ELECTRIC FUZZ!!)
AOKI(My Bloody Valentine NIGHT)
hisao(Daydream Wonder)
黒田隆憲[シューゲイザーディスクガイド]
mitsuko strange[Oeil] (friend of Muso Japan!)
NORIKA[My Bloody Valentine NIGHT]

Japan Shoegazer Festival 2012 – Osaka – club vijon (4/28)

Lemon’s Chair
kanina(Tokyo)
speaker gain teardrop(Hiroshima)
Flower Triangle(Hiroshima)
boyfriend’s dead
PURPLE(Kyoto)
kuramitsuha
clione-index
RESTALONE
EUPHRATES
Shetland Sheepdog

DJs
manabu(ELECTRIC FUZZ!!)
AOKI(My Bloody Valentine NIGHT)(Tokyo)
NORIKA(My Bloody Valentine NIGHT)(Tokyo)
MORIKAWA(Fastcut Records)
gonzaresu[daphne.](Gifu)
maiko shee(High Fader RECORDS)

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。
2008年以降もライブでは新曲を演奏しています。
新しいアルバムはこれまでの作品からヴィジョンを大きく広げたものになるでしょう。

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。
更なる発展の余地はあると考えています。
インディーズシーン全体については、多種多様なスタイルのバンドが存在していて充実していると感じ
ます。私達も常に最新のものから刺激を受けています。

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

My Bloody Valentine Night vol. 8 – 2/18

The annual Tokyo event “My Bloody Valentine Night” is coming up, with 2012 marking the eighth installment. This tribute to the Irish shoegaze pioneers will feature a live act and a number of DJs spinning shoegaze and alternative music with My Bloody Valentine tracks naturally being woven in throughout the night.
The event will take place at Bullet’s in Tokyo’s Nishiazabu district on February 18 and starts at 8:00. It is ¥2000 to enter, but if you bring chocolate or wear pink or red to the show you’ll get ¥500 knocked off the entrance fee.

The list of performers is as follows:

Live Performance by inotsume takeshi.

DJs:
noriko (POiSON GiRL FRiEND)
シューゲイザーディスク ガイドDJs (佐藤一道(monchikon)&黒田隆憲(音庵)
Rodriguez(ELECTRIC-FUZZ!!)
die-o(in the clouds)
kurock
ueda(pop it)
noriko(マイブラ予備校)
miyazaki (Hacienda with love!)
Jun (mighty pop)
hitch (eguri)
DJ エメラルド
Norika
HARRY:淑蘭*
manabu (ELECTRIC-FUZZ!!)
aoki

For more information follow the event’s twitter account at

blgtz Live DVD Release Officially Announced

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!

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: http://blgtz.com.

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。
その後、何度もメンバーの入れ替えと活動休止を繰り返しながら、
ほとんどを田村昭太のソロユニットとして継続して来ました。

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?

田村:現在のバンドのサポートメンバーが揃ったのは2011年12月です。
それまで、ソロで活動してきました。

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。
一番というと・・・・・とても難しいですね。選べないです。

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。
サウンド的にはニューウエーブ、ポストパンク、シューゲーザー、ポストロック等の洋楽的な括りで言われますが、それらは歌にとっての一部なので、J-POP/J-ROCKとして隔たり無くカテゴライズして頂いてかまいません。

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。
それをスタジオに持って行き、バンドでセッションしながら注文を出しアレンジを仕上げていきます。最後に歌詞を書きます。無駄な言葉を削ぎ落とす作業が主なのでここが一番大変です。

MJ:2011年11月に三番目のアルバム「同時に消える一日」をリリースされましたが、このアルバムは前作とどこがどのように違いますか?

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。
誰にでも伝わる作品を作りたかったので、余計な物を剥ぎ取って歌に重きを置き作り上げました。しかし、以前と違い一聴するとシンプルな歌とバンドサウンドに聞こえますが、演奏面は色々と細かい処理や工夫がしてあります。
何度か聞いてもらえると分かると思います。

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、
メジャーとインディーの境目を設けて音楽をやっているわけでは無いんですが、
日本のインディーズミュージックの現状を考えると充実していると思います。
情報量が多すぎて良い音楽が埋もれてしまっているかも知れませんが、
日本のアンダーグラウンドでは良質な音楽が沢山眠っています。
いつか、リスナーの皆さんがワクワクするようなムーブメントを発信して
日本のシーンに風穴を開けたいですね。
そして、muso-japanさんの様にこういった個人発信の媒体で紹介してもらえるのは音楽の熱を感じられてとてもうれしく思います。ありがとうございます。

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。
3/23、3/24、3/25に札幌3daysツアー。
その後、LIVE DVDのリリースが予定されています。
それ以外にも都内でのライブ、各地ツアー等、色々と予定されています。
是非、webをチェックしてみて下さい。http://blgtz.com

Band Profile: Psychedelic Shoegazers maikotobranco

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:

Soundcloud: http://soundcloud.com/maikotobranco

Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/maikotobranco

Their albums “Star” and “Grey Sky” are also available on iTunes!

New Release: Kinoko Teikoku’s 2nd EP “Yoru ga Aketara”

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!

Nagoya’s Huck Finn: 30 Years as an Indie-Rock Institution

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: promoting independent art

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!

What is the Muso Project Japan?

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.