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Fujirock Festival – Rebel Without A Raincoat

Fujirock Festival – Rebel Without A Raincoat

I prepped for FujiRock 2013 as I do any journey lasting a few days: I woke up early and hustled. My preparations involved organizing for inclement weather, as the weekend forecast for Naeba and its environs was rain, soft rain, hard rain, thunder-and-lightning rain, and finally, some more rain. I would have to get used to being wet. So I took five minutes to youtube the famous deluge scene from Woodstock. The split screen of naked hippies mud-sliding and an avid drum circle prompted me to to watch Santana and his band of crackerjack musicians blowing our minds with “Soul Sacrifice.” Shouldn’t have done that. I have enough generational envy as is without being reminded of it the day before submitting my rhythm to some institutionally average contemporaries.

Fujirock Festival – Rebel Without A Raincoat

But let’s face it: judging by the festival lineup I’m not the only one boostering for the past. Headlining Friday, Saturday, Sunday nights respectively were Nine Inch Nails, Björk, and The Cure, who were all much more relevant a long time ago (including Björk despite recent mainstream success). Yo La Tengo, My Bloody Valentine, The Sea and the Cake, Karl Hyde (of Underworld), Jurassic 5, Suzanne Vega, Aimee Mann, and Cat Power were also around for those old enough to remember being among the first listeners on our block to cry, “Huzzah, what a sound!” I wager many of us with an emotional investment in the festival are on a nostalgia high, and can you blame us with contemporary meh like Vampire Weekend, Mumford & Sons, and The XX, to say nothing of some earplugs-are-a-plus unmentionables such as Skrillex and its numerous derivatives of doggerel?

A festival the length and breadth of FujiRock is like an aural smorgasbord on the scale of the Sunday Brunch at the Four Seasons Hotel. The food is various indeed, but so overpriced you can’t help feel a bit disappointed after gorging yourself silly on as many dishes you can fit down your gullet. That being the case, no two experiences are alike. With dozens of acts scattered on different stages along a wide swath of colonized nature, you have to make some hard choices (Sparks vs. My Bloody Valentine, for example), though for me at least, I felt fine enough choosing the Burlesque Bar, where friends congregated and mojitos were plentiful.

Have you ever tried to boogie down in hiking boots? It's not very cool, but neither is grooving in wet socks. Click To Tweet

Tame Impala at Fujirock 2013

Tame Impala at Fujirock 2013

The first highly anticipated act, My Bloody Valentine, was received by a consensus of disappointment. “Not loud enough,” was the most consistent charge; when you’re famous for a Wall of Sound, your band’s acoustics will be missing a key structural element playing in the Great Outdoors. As if the collective shrug touched a divine nerve, the skies erupted at the end of the set, punishing those who’d lingered to the end.

Luckily, the young band I was most excited to see, Tame Impala, was playing in the Red Marquee, a covered stage area best known for all-night parties of DJs and their beatmaking bupkis (it ain’t FujiHouse you lollipoppers, it’s FujiRock– get your own rainy day soggy-bottom festival, suckers). Tame Impala have all the makings of rock superstardom– their sound leaps from the psychedelic cliff of the Beatles’ Revolver album (most specifically “Tomorrow Never Knows”). They’ve all the prerequisite vibes of a gloriously hedonistic career: good looks, headbanging hair, a psychedelic light show, and an authentically dope rock and roll sound.

But I had the same problem with Tame Impala that I had with My Bloody Valentine– in all those sonic waves the vocals were impossible to make out, the lyrics lost. I also realized that as talented as these lads were, I didn’t know a single player’s name. This seems endemic in the iPod generation– names, song titles, lyrics, a gist of details has lost its relevance. Within mp3 culture, depersonalization has become the norm. Or are we regressing as listeners so that lyrics– the poetry of language– is too much of a bother? Shall we assign blame to the DJ and his technophilic agenda?

This I pondered a bit in the Burlesque Bar during Trent Reznor’s performance. I heard the thunder and lightning show made for a dramatic set, though I suppose one would have to find some justification for standing out in the pouring rain for NIN’s somewhat celebrated pompousness. I missed out, safely ensconced in the Burlesque Bar where this writer endeavored his after hours intoxication and tried to dance when the DJ put on Blue Monday. Have you ever tried to boogie down in hiking boots? It’s not very cool, but neither is grooving in wet socks.

For those camping at the festival, finding equilibrium is just as important as having your mind blown by some ace guitar licks. The human body being a sensitive machine, one finds himself balancing heat against cold, alertness against rest, solitude against the crowd, quiet against bombast. The weather is so capricious: during Yo La Tengo’s set it must have changed from rain to sun a half dozen times in 45 minutes. You keep your raincoat next to the sunscreen in your daybag for convenient access. It can be a battle maintaining enthusiasm with all that rain, mud, and crowd. Some rest, a quiet beer, and good conversation can rejuvenate the overly sated audiophile.

Preserving some tranquility for myself, I skipped most of Saturday’s daytime performances, save for Aimee Mann (who still radiates indie-cool as a fiftysomething and whose songs from the soundtrack to Magnolia, “Wise Up” and “Save Me,” remain the only redeeming qualities of that most abominable film). Saturday afternoon was deluged with shitty rain, only tapering off in the evening. I missed Karl Hyde’s set because of relocating my tent to more level ground.

I was just in time to catch the second half of Canadian singer-songwriter, Daniel Lanois, who was charming and smart, a throwback for whom lyrics matter. His was a trio and the set was stripped down and straight, feelings wrought from life into art, creating an aura of intimacy, like you shared a bottle of bourbon with the band. It was my first time hearing him, and a pleasure to fall under a performer’s spell.

It’s somewhat treacherous to travel from Daniel Lanois to Björk (bypassing Kendrick Lamar: (Me) “Dick, don’t kill my vibe”). Though I’ve always respected Björk as a performance artist, I’ve never loved her music. As Rob, my companion most of the festival, put it, though he might not listen to her records he couldn’t imagine falling in love with a girl who didn’t. Anyway, for all I could glean on the Green Stage Björk was just a blue-looking freak-figure prancing and singing with a chorus of theaterical pixie chicks. I couldn’t make out how weird the costumes were– instead of Björk and her frolicking elves on the video screens, we suffered a visual montage of uninspired animation. Definitely something was off, as if Björk had overestimated the pretensions of her audience. After just two songs from her new album I was ready to move on. I really don’t get Björk, which feels like being the guy at the Four Seasons buffet who can’t get a handle on the chef’s piece de resistance. The patrons are gaga over its delectable piquancy but all I want is the apple being ignored on a fruit platter in the far corner of the dining hall. That apple is Garth Hudson.

Fujirock Festival – Rebel Without A Raincoat

Fairies in the Wild

“Garth who?” was most people’s reactions when we told them whom we were seeing instead of Björk, to which query our most convenient answer was Bob Dylan’s organist way back. But of course for those who love late sixties folk, he was an integral member of the North American group, The Band. Dressed in black and a boater hat, his long white beard the kind familiar with nineteenth century daguerrotypes, Hudson was easily the oldest performer at FujiRock at 75 years old. You might not know his name, but you know the music he helped create, including such seminal singalongs as “The Weight” and “Up on Cripple Creek.” Sitting on a swivel chair amid a grand piano, electric organ, and keyboards, he remains a virtuoso instrumentalist. Along with a sax player/bassist with an uncanny pitch perfect grasp of the deceased Levon Helm’s and Rich Danko’s bittersweet wailing, Garth’s wife, Sister Maud, sings the old standbys. Wearing sunglasses and a cap, pushed onto the stage in a wheelchair, she beat time with a cane, and nobody could figure out why she had a MacBook Pro propped on her chair (for the lyrics? Live-tweeting? Pictures of loved ones?) This was folk in the folkiest sense of the word, a Kodak moment for benevolent globalization, an American surrounded by Japanese fans singing along to the band, “Take a load off fanny/ Take a load for free/ And put the weight/ Put the weight back on me.” Turns out R and I are not the only ones who prefer apples.

Sunday’s highlight came early for me with Yo La Tengo. They played mostly from their new album, Fade. Their performance was all too short and consummately beautiful. A scheduling SNAFU on the itinerary consequenced with us catching the tail end of the delightful New Orleans outfit, The Hot 8 Brass Band. Everyone was talking about the last chance to see Wilko Johnson, who was dying of cancer, but he seemed to put on a spirited performance of blues rock if you go for that sort of thing. Following some mid-afternoon recuperation, Toro y Moi put on a lively demonstration of chillwave, though to me at least, I found it wanting, regretting that I’d overlooked the set by “that Ethiopian guy” (Mulatu Astatke).

I am not an economist, an event planner, or a sadist, so perhaps I'm not the best expert on this, but it seems to me if a musical festival I organized had a bad reputation for rain, mud, and discomfort, I would consider either a… Click To Tweet

A Showy Climax during Björk's set at Fujirock 2013

A Showy Climax during Björk’s set at Fujirock 2013

Because Cat Power is wearying and Vampire Weekend a paradigm of contemporary banality, R and I rested in the tent, charging our batteries for The Cure. That was a good thing, because though they’ve been active for 35 years, you’d never guess they’re slowing down after a three-hour set. Robert Smith might be an older, heavier version of his younger incarnation, but the beautiful freak still has terrific vocal power and his energy never wavered. We were up near the stage, surrounded by Cure fanatics arguing over favorite albums and Robert Smith hairstyle epochs. Unfortunately, the crowd became most enthusiastic for the appallingly schmaltzy “Friday I’m In Love,” which was about the time I thought I needed to check out of whimsical nostalgia and check in with a burger. You know what they say about too much of a good thing.

At 6am, Monday morning, I was awoken by a bullhorn reminding me and fellow campers that we had to leave by 10am. Not wishing to be stuck in a bottleneck traffic crush in line for the free shuttlebus to Echigo-Yuzawa and the train home, I got up and moved. Packing your tent in the pouring rain on three hours sleep is a lousy way to end a weekend. I am not an economist, an event planner, or a sadist, so perhaps I’m not the best expert on this, but it seems to me if a musical festival I organized had a bad reputation for rain, mud, and discomfort, I would consider either a different venue or a weekend known for historically favorable meteorology. It certainly seems to me locating FujiRock between Japan’s two largest population centers– the Kanto and Kansai regions– would make attendance more convenient for thousands of fans. Also, booking the second biggest music festival– Summer Sonic– within two weeks of FujiRock fails to take account of concert fatigue. Would Japanese organizers not profit both festivals by having them bookend the summer, especially FujiRock if it were scheduled for Summer Solstice weekend in a famously dry locale? But this is Japan, and who knows what kind of backroom sweetheart deals have led to our awkward present circumstances? It’s politics, stupid. That change comes at a glacial pace in this country bodes that next year and the year after will be bogged down in mud too.

In the meantime the show must go on. Though I didn’t personally witness it I have a vision of a rock and roll hippie grooving in the crowd– he’s taken off his shoes and socks and his shirt is long gone. He’s dancing by himself to the music, younger than me, less jaded, more faded, impressionable, likable, a zen moment kind of guy with a fancy footloose, an elemental sort of man, super in a way, a starring role in his own daydream, a dude enthralled by the spirit, a sight to behold, a rebel without a raincoat.

Fujirock – Traversing Musical Landscapes

Fujirock – Traversing Musical Landscapes

“I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by MDMA…”

All the festivals I have ever been to ran like modern versions of Ginsberg’s “Howl”- there were boys with dinner-plate eyes rocking back and forth in darkened corners of tents, girls wailing that they’d dropped their baggies in the mudfield outside the mobile toilets, and the campsite was like the Somme, littered with trench-foot victims and burning piles of trash. Showers? Not unless you count the spray of warm beer and amyl nitrates flying overhead. They were, in a word, messy.

Now, considering any substance harder than Suntory or cigarettes is pretty underground in Japan, I wasn’t expecting to find so many revelers comatose in front of the main stage on Friday morning, looking like they’d all overdosed on the Kool-Aid. But then I remember that the Japanese national sport is sleeping- not Sumo, as everyone assumes- and that this was an opportunity for all the card-carrying members of Narcoleptics Anonymous to recover from their punishing working hours. In contrast to the behavior I’d observed at other festivals, the aim seems not to lose one’s memory/dignity/housekeys/lunch, but rather to survive the inevitable mud-bath with panache and dry socks. Hence the thousands of camp chairs. And the fashion for head-to-toe waterproofs. In fact, the whole festival looks like the North Face A/W 2010 catalogue, as if was actually being held on its mountainous namesake, as initially intended.

I make my way through the sleeping bodies to catch Local Natives on the White Stage, eager to hear one of my favorite albums of last year-Gorilla Mansion-live. Having caused murmurs in the press following their “big break” at Austin’s SXSW, they unfortunately don’t seem to have made waves in Japan just yet- although a mention of the country in the nostalgic single “Airplanes” raises a cheer. The record’s quiet/loud orchestral dynamic translates to their live show extremely well, while the soaring three part harmonies are beautifully led by Freddie Mercury-lookalike Taylor Rice. Their sound is modish enough to have been described in terms of their contemporaries- a “cheerier Fleet Foxes”, or “a West Coast Grizzly Bear”- but their raw honesty and genuine energy punch through to make them sound quite unique.

Next up are Broken Bells, the unlikely collaboration between The Shins’ James Mercer and producer Danger Mouse, which produced some addictive pop gems last year. Mercer’s unmistakable reverb’ed vocals stay intact, while Danger Mouse provides diverse backdrops that veer from neo-psychedelia to the ethereal, spliced with a little old fashioned indie. “October” is the stand-out, with its violin intro, squelchy guitar and spooky chorus of “Does one want to get more used to/The mall and the misery, the dead mouths it costs to be alive?”

The weather gods must have known that the XX were up next–a band best listened to in damp weather, under the covers, suffering some form of heartache–for the rainstorm suddenly worsens, thundering down on the Red Marquee as dozens huddle by the edge. Yet even the uninitiated are pulled in with the hypnotic “Intro,” which is all ‘80s revival synth and jangly guitars. Vocalist Romy Madley Croft stays rooted to the spot for the whole of their atmospheric and minimalist performance. Having lost one band member last year, I thought they might sound sparse- yet the sound emitted from just the keyboard and guitar is enough of a foil to Croft, who seeps emotion with every syllable. The somber mood lifts for a jazzy “Basic Space” before they close with a subdued, but quietly powerful “Infinity”.

With the rain having receded, it’s time for some dancing. I head over to the most un-google-able band in the world, !!!, who sound as close to an aural equivalent of exclamation marks as one can get. Nic Offer struts around in his tiny shorts like a spaniel with ADHD, licking glow sticks, jumping off the stage to get intimate with the audience, and pulling dance moves camper than a row of tents. Shannon Funchness holds fort at the front of the stage shaking her tambourine like a woman possessed, as Offer bounces around her like a pinball. The other band members are infected with the same energy, thrashing around to their distinctive mélange of disco/punk/funk/jazz to the delight of the revved up crowd. The banter with the crowd is hilarious, music impossible not to move to, and the visual spectacle the highlight of the day’s acts. Ending with a cover of Saturday headliners Roxy Music’s “Virginia Plain,” they bowed out, leaving everyone hungry to get their hands on the upcoming album, aptly titled Strange weather, isn’t it?.

Maybe it was the rum, but staring at the pertest ass this side of Havana, I suddenly realize that when I grow up I want to have a day job where I can wear nothing but feathery plumage, satin heels, and a sassy smile. Click To Tweet

Fujirock – Traversing Musical Landscapes

Saturday’s line-up was simply a good reason for sleeping in late, taking a leisurely three hours to queue for a shower, and having a gin-induced nap in the most distant field. The festival is rather irritatingly arranged linearly, meaning that it takes a good half an hour to traverse even when the human traffic is good, and prevents much spontaneous flitting between the stages. It does mean, however, that the Green Stage’s sound system, possibly the loudest I have ever heard, is inaudible by the time you reach the boardwalk. Glinting with disco balls and swaying decorations, the passage way provides a pleasant respite- until it gets bottle-necked in the evening, meaning I miss MGMT and get shunted around like cattle in the thick crowd.

Wet weather in the afternoon brings about the day’s highpoint in the Cabaeret Fiesta tent, where I get wasted on mojitos and fall in Sapphic love with a salsa dancer named Carolina with the Willie Martinez and Mambo Loco band. Maybe it was the rum, but staring at the pertest ass this side of Havana, I suddenly realize that when I grow up I want to have a day job where I can wear nothing but feathery plumage, satin heels, and a sassy smile.

I come crashing back down to earth when I venture back to the Green stage, where John Fogerty, a relic from Creedance Clearwater, is blasting out his dad rock dirge. Never have I more wanted to unhear something- or felt more envious of all the oblivious camp-chair dozers. Fortunately, a few slices of the superlative pizza from the Niseko Pizza van brings my mood up again.

Another curious choice for the main stage was “special guest” Chris Cunningham, whose spastically dark electronica and macabre visuals gave everyone the heebie jeebies, prompting a mass exodus, bar a hardcore few raving it up. As a fan of his Aphex Twin-esque brand of nightmarish noise, I kind of relish the shuddering, apocalyptic beats as they boom around the valley. The night ends in the Vegas and Milk bar with a hefty amount of gin and the barmaid distracting everyone from the human cannonball by going all Coyote Ugly with a blond wig and PVC catsuit.

On Sunday everything perks up. I wake up to bright sunlight and manage to sneak into a friend’s room in the Prince Hotel for a luxuriously hot shower. On the way out I discover the best souvenir I have ever seen- Niigata Bust Pudding. Unhooking the cardboard bra strap reveals two pert breast-shape custard puddings, complete with nipples and sauce to splatter- I mean pour- on top. I still can’t bring myself to eat it.

I kick off with Yeasayer in the Red Marquee, followed by Vampire Weekend; two bands who both simmer their eclectic influences into their own distinctive sounds. Even those who gave a lukewarm reception to Yeasayer’s second album, Odd Blood, went as crazy for the single “ONE” as the crowd do here. Singer Chris Keating over-emotes just a tad- scrunching up his face and beating a tightly gripped fist in the air- but between songs, he’s supremely bouncy and enthusiastic, telling us all how excited he is to be in Japan for the first time, “Four minutes until my vacation starts, people!” The holiday vibes continue with Vampire Weekend, whose afrobeat-indie brings out some magical California feeling, just as the sun comes out.

I’m glad it dries the ground enough for a little dancing, as Foals provide possibly the most electric set of the weekend. There isn’t any banter with the audience, with the band breathlessly jumping from one song to the other, seemingly bent on driving themselves to exhaustion. Incorporating a few songs from their first album, including the high-octane “Balloons”, which builds from a wiry beat up to a furious crescendo, and the fidgety, spiky “Cassius”, the crowd is the most animated I’ve seen all weekend. Spent from running at full gallop, the fivesome then slow the pace for a few of the more expansive and emotional numbers from the second album, Total Life Forever. Yannis Philippakis’ heartbreaking falsetto on the standout track, “Spanish Sahara”, sends shivers down my spine.

Matching them for intensity is a more unlikely rock star: James Murphy. Tubby, stubbly and kind of shy, it is easier to imagine him as a shoeless drunk instead of fronting LCD Soundsystem, one of the greatest dance/punk band of the noughties, but then he’s always been a kind of outsider within the genre. Despite making his name with hits that scorn the hubris of the hipsters and poseurs that populate the “scene,” one wonders whether the fans actually understand that the joke is on some of them. Here, the language barrier means most certainly don’t, but he still manages to manipulate the audience with aplomb. While his backing band seem calm, even bored at first, he turns it up to 11 from the get-go, upping the energy generated by Foals by screeching into a microphone that he clutches with the desperation of a drowning man. Soon the whole band is swept up in his buzz, running through each of their funky, beat-driven hits as Murphy throws himself around the stage with masochistic glee. “I can change! I can change!” he screams to the audience, who look like they’d like him to stay exactly as he is. Darkness falls as an impressive light show begins, and they close with the explosive and epic “Yeah”.

Wrapped up in LCD, I forego the first half of much-hyped Atoms of Peace, even though the second half suggests Thom Yorke’s sartorially challenged performance seemed to be worth catching. Having assembled a supergroup to reinvent his solo album The Eraser, he seems to have made a break with his Radiohead stage persona (sullen, static) to take on that of a crazed, skinny P.E. teacher. Dressed in a head band, vest and white shorts, he dances like a bullied twelve year old alone in their bedroom. I had no idea how the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s Flea might fit in with Yorke’s surreal, epileptic vocals and muffled beats, but somehow he does.

While my friends made for the bar, I stuck it out to see Scissor Sisters. The first show to offer more eye-candy than aural pleasure, their uber-camp theatrics were received well by the audience, who completely fail to catch the innuendo flying around. It’s easy to dismiss the Sisters as fluffy pantomime, yet they are far more than their stage schtick. Their hits- “Tits on the Radio”, “Laura”- are pure manna for the disco fan, and their gutsy cover of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb”, complete with Beegees falsetto and taut guitars, is a masterpiece. Best of all is the chemistry that ripples between Ana Mantronic and Jake Spears, who bounds around looking like a kinky Nureyev in his chestless leather man-tard.

As the torrential rain threatens to dampen their proverbial fireworks, I retreat to the Vegas and Milk bar once again to drown myself in a different liquid (gin). It’s quiet, with all the day trippers having left and a Sunday mood creeping in like the mist outside. The North Face raincoats aren’t so box-fresh any more, and there’s probably a few sandal-wearers still trying to extricate their feet from the mud soup- but the most civilized festival in the world has left the best minds of my generation intact, and content.

Fujirock Festival – Rebel Without A Raincoat

Japan’s Music Festival Mania

As any casual observer can tell, Japan is all about seasons and as the Japanese summer gets underway, there are a number of ways to not only survive the onset of the rainy season (and soon thereafter the typhoon season), but revel in it, most of them having to do with the sundry music festivals happening across the country from Hokkaidō to Okinawa. If you’re going to try to hit all thirteen of Japan’s major music festivals you are going to need fairly deep pockets (less so if you hitchhike), access to more than one boat and just about all summer to do it. So pack your ponchos and portable chopsticks, your sunglasses and mosquito coils and get your thumbs warmed up. It’s Go Time!

Fan faces at Fujirock (Manny Santiago)

Fan faces at Fujirock

6/12-13 Miyako-jima Rock Festival: Often Japanese festivals are distinguished more by setting than by the music, located amidst amazing natural surroundings, the forest and the mountains, the sun and the sea, allowing us an access to the stars at night Tokyo wouldn’t think of dimming its neon for, yet more often than not it is the Zen sense of ephemerality that tinges the Japanese Music Festival with unforgettable moments. So you won’t be too disappointed that this rock and dub based festival on Miyako-jima is already over. Rather, your excitement for this festival held on the tiny island of Miyako in the Okinawan archipelago in its fifth year will continue to grow as 2010 swings around. Don’t dwell on the past (nor the future) and head north young traveler.

Japan’s Music Festival Mania

Info: 2-day pass ¥7000 – Miyakojima, Okinawa
Miyako Festival

7/16-23 Total Solar Eclipse Festival 2009: An opportunity to see one of the longest solar eclipses (7/22) in your lifetime comes two days before Fuji Rock and in possibly one of the remotest locations in Japan, making travel to and from difficult. But dem’s da breaks when it comes to experiencing the only total solar eclipse you’ll probably ever see on a lost little tropical island in the east pacific with all the other young, gyrating creatures and their summertime inhibitions at an all-time-solar-eclipse low. Mostly DJs spinning wax all week long. Though it’s probably too late to get a hotel anywhere, book travel and make tent arrangements asap.

Info: 9-day Pass ¥30,000 ¥5000 campsite – Amami Island, Kagoshima
Amami Total Solar Eclipse Music Festival

You will walk a lot...especially in the rain...come prepared

You will walk a lot...especially in the rain...come prepared

7/19-20 Nano-Mugen Festival 2009

Hosted by Asian Kung-Fu Generation since 2003, Nano-Mugen is one of the year’s major rock festivals, finally garnering the likes of Yokohama Arena in 2005. Of course Yokohama Areana is convenient and within easy reach of Tokyo so, depending on how you look at it, this could be a good warmup just before Fujirock, or your last chance at meeting a yamanba that’s not actually a mountain spirit. Featuring Asian Kung-Fu Generation, Ben Folds, Manic Street Preachers, Nada Surf, Straightener, OGRE YOU ASSHOLE, SPITZ, Sakanacushion, and more.

Info: 2 1-day passes EACH ¥9,600 – Yokohama Arena, Yokohama, Kanagawa
Nano-Mugen festival

7/24-27 Fuji Rock Festival

More than a month after the Miyako-jima Festival gave us a taste of pristine Okinawan beaches, some strong Awamori hangovers and a great variety of music, arguably the biggest-longest running festival rolls up her summer yukata to show a bit of backwoods leg. The Fuji Rock Festival being nowhere near the haunted forests of Mt. Fuji, but rather nestled in Mt. Naeba, a ski resort in Yuzawa, Niigata, a large rural prefecture located on the northwest shores of Japan (Yuzawa is the setting for Kawabata Yasunari’s classic Snow Country), which has been hosting the 3-day, 130,000 strong festival since Hidaka Masahiro started it in 1997. The morning fog, the inevitable rain and ensuing deluge, all add to the inescapably mesmerizing atmosphere of the self-styled “world’s cleanest festival”. Cleanliness aside, once the rain starts and clears and starts again, there will be plenty of mud and lots of space provided by stunned rubber-neckers should you opt to slip and slide in any of the eleven or so performance areas, so be sure to pack your slicker, a sturdy pair of shoes and extra beer money to treat all the people who pick your muddied person up (should you decide not to camp on an incline) hitchhiking to and from the isolated area. Featuring Franz Ferdinand, Paul Weller, Public Enemy, Brahman, Melvins, and Tortoise among innumerable others.

Info: 3-day pass ¥39,800 Camping ¥3,000/person Parking ¥3,000 – Naeba Ski Resort, Yuzawa, Niigata
Fujirock Festival

8/7-9 Summer Sonic: Little need be said about Summer Sonic. It’s a massive affair in every aspect, spanning three days of heatstroke inducing conditions in both Tokyo (the site says Tokyo, but it’s actually Chiba) and Osaka. Besides flaunting one its best lineups for its 10th anniversary, SS offers a maelstrom of interactive booths, exhibits, artworks, a movie and photo gallery, seaside village (depending on which venue), basically any kind of food you can imagine, oh, and lines…long ones. This being Japan bring plenty of cash, sunscreen, sunglasses, squirt guns, walkie talkies to find lost friends, anything to distract you from the improbable task of getting from Nine Inch Nails in time to see Mogwai. Cheer up though, if you can handle the crowds, maybe Beyonce will share her portable bootie fan with you backstage or the Flaming Lips will bounce giant water balloons through the crowd just as Lightning Strikes The Postman crescendoes.

Info: 3-day pass Tokyo- ¥39,500 – Chiba Marines Stadium & Makuhari Messe – Osaka ¥37,000 – Maishima Summer Sonic Osaka Site
Summersonic

8/8-9 Festa de Rama: The alternative to Summer Sonic’s massive commerciality, this demure festival offers a bit of everything for fans seeking a musical escape from the humidity of the mainland. Now in its fifth year, it’s slogan is a truism for the ages, “One good thing about music: when it hits you feel no pain.” While FdR- whose other mantra is “PEACE. MUSIC. LOVE. SUMMER. BEER.”- is technically in Hiroshima, it is actually in another world altogether. Set in Setoda Sunset Beach on Ikuchishima, one of many islands in the Seto Inland Sea between Hiroshima and Okayama, Festa de Rama has alternately kept a low profile among Japanese festivals while growing in abundant influence annually. A worthwhile trip, indeed.

Info: 2-day pass ¥9900/¥12,500 w/Campsite
Festa de Rama

8/8-9 Isla de Salsa: Come August Fukuoka is on the map with the largest Latin music festival in Japan, which is good news for all those who didn’t want to traverse the country during the high end of the tourist season for Summer Sonic. Stay at home, see a ballgame (the festival site is right next to Yahoo Dome where the Hawks play) and then head to the beach for some salsa, some grinding and what is described as “Borderless music, borderless mind” in its 13th year. Don’t forget your bikini. ¡Qué bueno! Vamos…

Info: 2-day pass ¥8800 – Momochi Beach, Fukuoka
Isla de Salsa

Over 2-3 days...gotta sleep sometime

Over 2-3 days...gotta sleep sometime

8/9 World Happiness 2009: So far as I can tell the only summer festival actually in Tokyo proper, World Happiness is, aptly enough, being held at Dream Island Park. If Gautama Buddha were here today (shhh…he is) he might suggest that this dreamy (manmade) island park would be the perfect place to catch some oneness with any of the number of artists appearing at the show with names like Love Psychedelico, Granola Boys, The Dub Flower or Moon Riders. The final performance is done around 8pm which means clocking in at roughly 8-9 hours this will be the pound for pound most expensive “festival” all summer. At least early has the benefit of allowing plenty of time to get back to reality for a drink before the last train home.

Info: 1-day pass ¥8500 or ¥9000 w/ 1 kid – Yumenoshimakoen, Koto-ku, Tokyo
World Happiness

8/14-15 Rising Sun Rock Festival in Ezo: Like anything in a country as collectively uniform as Japan, one must search a bit harder to find distinction, but once you do watch out someone doesn’t lose an eye or go out of their way to find yours and pick it up for you. The Rising Sun Rock Festival in Ezo, barely taking the prize for the northernmost festival in Japan (just beating out Teine Highland), is described as an “handmade, outdoor event,” but if the name “Ezo” gives any indication, this festival is its own little world. Ezo is the ancient name of Hokkaidō and was at one point (1868-69) a separate republic from Imperial Japan. Festival frequenter J. Hadfield attended last year’s event and called it “a two-day extravaganza where goodwill is taken to occasionally ridiculous extremes.” That’s old Ezo, where people smile and high-five, the winter comes early (dress warm for cool nights) and the music doesn’t stop until the sun rises.

Info: 2-day pass ¥21,000 w/campsite – Ishikari New Port, Otaru, Hokkaido
Rising Sun

8/29 Wire Music Festival: Started in 1999 The Wire is an all-night Techno Fest featuring more talented European (largely German) and Japanese DJs than anyone would even think about shaking a glow stick at. Not to fear, with a handful of live acts and a few VJs to round the evening, the Wire should prove to stick around at least another ten years. Located just a few minutes walk from Shin-Yokohama station this may very well be the most conveniently located festival in Japan, so why not hit it up for kicks?

Info: Advance ticket ¥11,550 – Yokohama Arena
Wire Festival

8/29-30 Sapporo Teine Highland All-Night Music & Art Camp: If you listen to talk on the festival circuit there is quite a bit of mystery surrounding what actually transpires at Teine Highland All-Night Music & Art Camp. Situated in the Teine Ski Resort, the website “about” section makes reference to a lot of “magical” this and that, dropping adjectives like “moving”, “unique”, and “living” alongside nouns the likes of “nature”, “forest” and “hope”. What do we get for our hard-earned yen besides hippy allegory? Apparently a tent space (which despite it’s “all-night” boast, might actually come in handy), possibly a bike (what is a natural bicycle?), lots of art (40 or so works / installations) and over 80 musical acts (50-50 DJ-Live). Is that worth the trek? If you have never been to Hokkaido before, that alone necessitates the journey, and likely the most “natural” festival experience you’ll experience anywhere let alone in Japan.

Info: Natural Bicycle & Magical Campsite ¥7,500 – Sapporo Teine Ski Resort
Magic Camp

9/4-6 Sunset Live: Sunset Live takes the prize for longest running music festival in Japan, going on its 17th summer out at Keya Beach on the immaculate Maebaru peninsula just an hour south of Tenjin in Fukuoka. Surrounded by mountains and the ocean the ongoing mantra is “Love & Unity”, which should ward off any stray Yakuza if the granola and hackey sack doesn’t work. If you’ve seen Sonatine you know it could take a lot of sand to do that. Crossover artist Gilles Peterson, instrumentalist extraordinaires Special Others, and Fukuoka’s own Zazen Boys headline this laidback event on three stages.

Info: 3-day ¥16,300 – Keya Beach, Fukuoka
Sunset Live

If you happen to be in town all summer, you’ll notice that the beaches have mysteriously become vacant some September. While the new school year and the jellyfish migration may have this effect on the majority of the population, there’s no reason for your hitchhiking adventure to end because of a little sting in the water. Keep on trucking! Though if you’ve made it this far you may be having a touch choice to make come the first weekend in September when the Metamorphose and Otodama Festivals both compete for your musical yen.

9/5 Metamorphose: Originating on Mt. Fuji, this all-night festival will showcase about 30 – 40 eclectic international and Japanese artists on three different stages just outside of Tokyo’s megalopolis in Shizuoka. So while you’re in the area, why not head on down to the Izu peninsula to close up the summer festival season in style, get yourself in a hot spring, and try to recreate Hokusai’s majestic view of Fuji through The Wave? It’s definitely one of the better places Japan has to offer. Featuring Prefuse 73, Afrika Bambaataa, Richie Hawtin, Tangerine Dream.

Info: Advance ticket of ¥11,500, parking ticket of ¥2000, tent ticket of ¥2500 are available from 7/1 – Cycle Sports Center in Shizuoka
Metamorphoses Festival

9/5 Otodama: Otodama, meaning the “Spirit of the Sound” is the official festival of Shimizu Onsen, or vice versa. It’s unclear from the website. As is much about the festival altogether, except that there will likely be guitars, amps, meat on sticks and lots of beer, which could all be good enough reasons to trek into the heart of Osaka’s harbor area. Though not exactly the forbidding place it must have been during the samurai’s reign there could be some action. After all Osaka can be seen as the tough and cool little brother to Tokyo’s buttondown sterility. Even Osakan salaryman walk and talk fast. You never know what great bands or trouble (or both) you might find.

Info: 1-day ¥6500 – Itsumiotsu-Phoenix in Osaka
Otodama

Taicoclub’09 Kawasaki: This all-night festival in Kawasaki Higashi Ogishima Park will close out the summer festival circuit in Japan with what looks to be a promising lineup, featuring Múm, British electronic duo Plaid, Isolée, and techno DJ Carl Craig. All the way the future in mid-September away, the staff probably figures they have time to work on the website, you know, providing maps and prices and other small details like that. A big suggestion to all festival websites that don’t already have them: English versions will increase sales! Annoying but true. Let’s rock, trance, jazz and samba out on islands (manmade or natural), in the mountains (ski resorts and golf courses), on the docks or in seaside big parks (like where the Taicoclub will be held in Kawasaki- whose lead-in description begins “the park will serve as a staging ground for foreign aid and staff in the event of a major earthquake disaster in the Tokyo metropolitan area), better than before and do it together.

Info: 2-day ¥? – Kawasaki Higashi Ogishima Park, Kanagawa
Otodama

To see a bit more what kind of hot water you may be getting yourself into, check out the plotted trip map below.

View Japan Music Festival Mania in a larger map

*Big thanks to Madman Hadfield for providing many of the above links.

Ed Rodriguez of Deerhoof plays guitar live at The Liquid Room in Tokyo

Deerhoof Tokyo Interview

On paper they read like a relatively run-of-the-mill, up and coming alternative rock band: two guitars, bass, drums, female vocalist all playing their hearts out for an eclectic independent label from backwoods, USA. Yet Deerhoof is not your typical San Francisco band. Nor is KRS (Kill Rock Stars) your typical label. Though somehow the two are a perfect fit, Deerhoof ranking as the all-woman-run, Olympia-based label’s oldest and best-selling act. Originating as a drums and guitar duo in the mid-90s, it has taken over ten years, ten albums and ten (or so) musicians rotating in and out to solidify the current four-member lineup (Drummer Greg Saunier, Satomi Matsuzaki (Vocals/Bass), John Dieterich (guitar) and Ed Rodriguez (guitar)) into the band that Radiohead, for one, likes listening to.

The classically trained Greg Saunier, fresh out of Conservatory, got into the Bay Area music scene with Nitre Pit, a short-lived quartet, where he met bassist Rob Fisk, the other founding member of what would eventually become Deerhoof. Nitre Pit broke up and, suddenly a rhythm-heavy duet, they nonetheless fulfilled their remaining dates, one of which had a young Slim Moon, the founder of Kill Rock Stars, in the audience.

In typical Rock and Roll Dream fashion, they were signed after the show to produce the first of Deerhoof’s numerous recordings. When HESO sat down with the band on their recent mini-Japan tour, Greg had this to say about how many lives has the band been through.”A zillion (laughs). If we count the time some guy came dressed as Milkman (Milkman, Kill Rock Stars 2004) to a show and jumped on stage, that’s its own lineup for one night. Every time we do a record or make up a song it actually does feel like we get a new life, radically changing the way we work.”

It wasn’t until 1996 or so when the band set into place the distinctive skeleton of the modern Deerhoof by adding the diminutive Satomi Mastuzaki, just off the Tokyo boat to San Francisco and looking for adventure. Besides Matsuzaki’s high-pitched voice adding a pleasingly disjunctive aspect to the duet’s oft-improvised artrock, she tempered their tonal testosterone with a demure yet powerful cuteness, not to mention a rhythmic bass once Fisk left in 1999. Thus beginning the band’s love affair with Japan.

Satomi Mastuzaki of Deerhoof plays Live at The Liquid Room in Tokyo

Satomi Mastuzaki of Deerhoof plays Live at The Liquid Room in Tokyo

Deerhoof Tokyo Interview/h2>

HESO: How many times have you toured in Japan? And what are your overall thoughts about touring here?

DH: “6 or 7. Usually more than once per album. Including Fujirock (2007) this is our third tour on this album (Friend Opportunity, Kill Rock Stars 2007). Japan’s music world takes care of a band in quite a different way. There’re more stagehands than people in the band and the room is what would pass for a smallish venue back home, but the PA system and lights, just incredible care. We have a very skewed perspective on it. We get invited and everything’s taken care of. We are the honored guests.”

Deerhoof are notorious for not giving straightforward answers to interviewers, though when HESO met them on a strangely cool June day in Shibuya, they were all ears and mouths, talking incessantly about their new album, Offend Maggie (Kill Rock Stars 2008) and whether creating new material, songs, albums, is a process of touring or more this revolving lineup or both.

“It’s not necessarily to do with touring, since music comes from someplace that’s unpredictable‚ it’s a matter of allowing your music to follow where your imagination is telling you to go and having an idea of what that’ll be tomorrow.” said Greg.

John Dieterich, who entered the band in 1999 and whose savant-esque guitar gave rise to the creation of their next album, Reveille, which caused many seminal bands the likes of Sonic Youth and the aforementioned Radiohead, to take note of, added, “It’s also affected by who you see every night. You have to react. If you feel something, you’re constantly reevaluating how you approach it‚ we’re touring with the Tenniscoats and XIU XIU right now and they’re such different bands. But the most valuable experience as a musician, for me is touring and seeing new and different bands all the time. You get to see different kinds of depth. You’re experiencing it as it happens and it’s penetrating all other aspects of your life, not just playing or recording, but it’s life. It’s human.”

HESO: How do you guys come to an album? Is it a collaboration or does, for example, Satomi always come with lyrics?

Greg: It’s magic if we come up with anything at all. If we finally think it’s good, well, why is that? I don’t know how we stumble upon it. Trying a different process every song‚ I’m always amazed that the well doesn’t run dry. I always think, well, that’s it. That’s probably my last song. I wouldn’t know how to find it if I had to, there are no rules, no system, no precedent to follow. Just guessing and making it up as you go along.

John: It’s an intuitive process. In any given city in the US, there’s no system set up other than family. Theoretically there’re schools indoctrinating everyone, but that’s completely different for everyone.

Greg: In my school 2 + 2 is 4.

HESO: Well, being left-handed we had to write that backwards. I didn’t like that.

Greg: Tom Cruise said that Scientology cured his Dyslexia. (Laughs)

Deerhoof in Tokyo (Manny Santiago)

Deerhoof in Tokyo

HESO: He probably meant that Dyslexia cured his Scientology. Moving on. Ed, what was the process of you entering the band?

Ed: John and I have known each other for about 15 years, been playing music for about that long and we were in a band
together in Minneapolis. The first time I heard Deerhoof was when he sent recordings. I was so happy John was playing, it was so perfect. That was 1999.

HESO: Do you walk into the studio with a time limit, say two weeks, to get it all done?

John: Instead of going for a long stretch of time, we went in one day in March, and our original idea was to record the whole album and we were sure it would be so easy. We ended up getting four (tracks), one of which we canned. We ended up going back in a month later and recorded and went through the rest of everything.

Ed: The thinking is that we should really do everything ourselves. Greg & John have such a developed sense of mastering sound and working with recordings that as a band we try not going outside of it as much as possible. It seems incredibly foreign, the idea of putting that much care into writing material and recording and then hand it to someone else, wait a while and get it back. If you can dedicate yourself to all aspects then.

John: It’s pretty amazing the things you can do.

Deerhoof’s latest album, Offend Maggie, comes out in October and they already have January dates in Japan to support it. Why not support them?

Check out the Interview with Deerhoof and a review of their latest album La Isla Bonita.

Deerhoof Live In Tokyo

Deerhoof Live In Tokyo – Photos of the Indie band Deerhoof live at The Liquid Room in Ebisu, Tokyo

This Is Cornelius – Interview with Oyamada Keigo

Fantasma

Cornelius is not a man. Nor, for that matter, is he an ape (though the name comes from Planet of the Apes). Cornelius is a musical group founded by Oyamada Keigo (小山田圭吾) in the early 90s after his Shibuya-kei duo with Ozawa Kenji, Flipper’s Guitar, split up. Suddenly a solo act, Oyamada spent the next five or so years crafting his persona and honing his production skills, a sabbatical ultimately culminating in what made it all worth the wait—the music.

1997 saw Cornelius break into various European and American indie scenes with the infectious Fantasma (Matador Records, 1997), a melodic blending of traditional and esoteric poprock elements alongside sounds of nature wrapped candylike around backdrops of digital wash. I remember driving down Venice Boulevard toward the beach when my friend first put it in the CD player, mentioning something about “addictive…” In the strange part of my mind which catalogues beauty, I’m still on Venice Blvd, heading toward the beach, listening to “Chapter 8: Seashore and Horizon.” I’ve never turned back.

Recently HESO Magazine sat down with Oyamada at his Nakameguro studio. Between sips of Oolong tea, cigarettes and stealing glances at his massive cd collection, we chatted about his defunct label Trattoria, his plans after Sensuous, and the supporting Sensuous Synchronized Tour (the final Japan performance of which HESO attended at the Grand Cube Concert Hall in Osaka), back in Japan after finishing up some dates in Europe. When asked about his success abroad, he laughed and demurred, talking about other bands. But in the end, he added, “on this past tour, quite a few people came out to see me in the US and I even played at Disney Concert Hall. I’ve been doing this now for ten years, and finally I get to play live in a hall—I thought that was pretty good.”

What he sensuously synchronized in front of that audience was an audio-visual extravaganza. A veritable smörgåsbord for the senses. Imagine two hours of expertly crafted electro-rock music synched to an ever-changing reel of nebulous videos featuring miniature landscapes a la Hieronymus Bosch, walking fingers, children and animals, and a million other things you will have to buy the DVD to catch.

Sensuous

Cornelius Live at Grand Cube in Osaka

Cornelius Live at Grand Cube in Osaka

This Is Cornelius – Interview with Oyamada Keigo

HESO: I’m guessing you’ve probably been on tours all over, but which has been the most interesting place so far?

Keigo Oyamada: Anyplace I’ve never been before is interesting.

HESO: I think most bands tour in the US and Europe, but Björk for example goes to places like China and Indonesia. Have you ever been to any places like that?

O: Haven’t been to China yet. I’m going to Korea for the first time next week. That’s about it in Asia.

HESO: What about South America?

O: Never been to South America, either, though I’d like to go. I’ve been invited to Brazil, but it’s half a world away. Taking all my equipment there would incur enormous expenses, so it’s near impossible to do.

HESO: The last date of your Sensuous Synchronized Show was in Osaka I think…

O: Actually, we have a few more dates in Korea, but yeah, the last in Japan.

HESO: What are you thinking about doing after the tour? Collaborating with some other artists or making a new album?

O: I haven’t made any decisions yet. Well, maybe a few small things. I’m making a jingle for Tokyo FM.

HESO: Do you have any plans to exhibit your videos at any galleries or art institutions?

O: I made a DVD with images from my live performances using 5.1-channel sound. It’s already out in Japan, and will probably be out in the US in the summer. It’s coming out from Everloving, my label. That, and a tour DVD called Point from about five years ago. I’ll be showing those two at places like museums.

Flippers Guitar - On Pleasure Bent

Flippers Guitar – On Pleasure Bent

HESO: Are you doing all that by yourself? Or are you collaborating with anyone?

O: I have a film director for the video, Tsujikawa Koichiro. We’ve been working together for a long time. He made nearly seven or eight tracks. There’s also a film director in Kyoto—Groovisions. And then the Kyoto artist Takagi Masakatsu, who made one track.

HESO: Speaking of collaborations, you recently put out an EP titled Gum.

O: That was only in the U.S.

HESO: That’s right. And wasn’t Sakamoto Ryuichi on that third track?

O: Sakamoto did the chorus for me on that one. Hosono Haruomi is another of the members of YMO. It’s something Sakamoto and I did for a tribute album for the leader of YMO.

HESO: You were on tour with Hosono, weren’t you?

O: Yeah, as a guitarist.

HESO: If you could work with any artist you like, who would it be?

O: A band? Someone recent?… (He thinks for a while) He’s not very recent, but Takemitsu Toru—you hear a lot of him on film soundtracks. He’s from the 1950s or 60s. I listen to a lot of people who do contemporary Japanese music or film music.

HESO: Really? Recently, I’ve found the There Will Be Blood soundtrack by Johnny Greenwood to be pretty good.

O: Oh, I listen to a lot of Radiohead myself—In Rainbows for one.

HESO: If you could have dinner with any three people, alive or dead, who would it be?

O: Hmmm… dinner? Alive or dead?… People I would want to eat with?… My own family (laughter).

HESO: What first got you interested in music?

tenorionO: When I was about 7 or 8, we did taiko (Japanese drums) at school. In class, we would all dance, but the sound of those drums probably made me want to make my own music.

HESO: When did you first start thinking about becoming a musician?

O: Becoming a musician… I did music because I liked it, but I never really thought I could be a professional so I never really thought about becoming one. But then someone from a record company heard our band and asked us to put out a record. It was completely by accident.

HESO: It seems like your music draws influence from all over. You can hear natural sounds and Zen-like sounds like wind chimes. There’s a lot of East and West. With each album, do you think about which direction you are going to take it? Or do you simply listen to all kinds of sounds and go from there?

O: I love all kinds of music and am influenced by all kinds of music as well. I think most of those sounds just naturally come out. It’s not as if I like rock or only listen to classical—I have a great love for all kinds of music. My father is a musician, and I used to look through his record collection. It’s all because my father’s got some great records.

HESO: You mix sound and visuals and even produce it yourself—the DJ mixing, too.

O: It’s multi-media, isn’t it? I don’t do the DJ mixing, but I do kind of act like a VJ for the live shows.

HESO: I recently heard one of your old Breeze Block mixes on BBC’s Radio One…

O: Ah… I do radio programs. NHK, too. Now that you mention it, I was a DJ on NHK. I don’t DJ at clubs.

HESO: A friend asked me recently to sum your music up in a word and I couldn’t. What kind of music would you say do? How do you define your music?

O: Mmmmm, that’s a tough one. I don’t really know what to say, but basically it’s just Rock.

HESO: On stage, you play guitar, have keyboards and a Theremin, use a Tenorion with a projection behind you. How is it different from your process of making an album in the studio?

O: In the studio, I am playing most of the instruments myself. Live, I’m playing together with other musicians. I guess I’m basically interpreting the album.

HESO: It’s pretty common in the US, for example, to feature someone on your album, but do you ever play with anyone in the studio?

O: I work alone, but on Sensuous, I worked with the Kings of Convenience. They sang a track for me. Their acoustic guitar duet is kind of like Simon and Garfunkel. Other than that, I don’t really work with anyone else on albums. I do, however, work on quite a bit of collaborations and mixes with overseas artists.

HESO: How did you wind up with Kings of Convenience?

Oyamada Takes Photos of the crowd post show Osaka

Oyamada Takes Photos of the crowd post show Osaka

O: They just came to Japan for a tour and we happened to know each other—I had met them in England before. Hell, they were in Japan so I figured we should just do something.

HESO: It’s pretty damn good. I thought the synchronization between the sound and visuals was particularly strong. How did you start out with that?

O: I’ve been synching sound and visuals for about ten years now, since about the time I put out the album Fantasma. I gradually developed from there, and with the current title Sensuous Synchronized Show, I had the concept of synching everything—the visuals, the sound, the lights—and I’ve been doing it this way for about two years now.

HESO: Who made the videos in your show?

O: My friend Tsujikawa, whom I mentioned earlier, made about ten of them. After that, there are several other directors I’ve made some videos with since long ago. I guess I work with several people, but Tsujikawa is the main guy, and he makes most of them.

HESO: Where most other Japanese artists haven’t had similar success outside of Japan, why do you suppose you’ve had such international success? Some of the few Japanese artists with any popularity in America are Pizzicato Five and Cibo Matto.

O: What about The Boredoms?

HESO: Yeah, I guess them, too. And Ozawa Seiji.

O: (laughter) Before I was Cornelius, I was in a band called Flipper’s Guitar. It was in Japan, when I was about 20. There were only two members, but one of those members was Ozawa’s nephew!

HESO: Was it one of the so-called Shibuya-kei bands?

O: It was before Shibuya-kei. It was a little before that word “Shibuya-kei” came out. After we broke up we were labeled Shibuya-kei.

HESO: To finish up, what do you like to eat?

O: (laughter) What do I like to eat? I like rice.

Cornelius – Live in Osaka

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