HESO Magazine

Photography, Music, Film, Hitchhiking, Craft Beer – Cultural Pugilist

Tag: Music

Japandroids at SXSW

Japandroids – Shugo Tokumaru – Harouki Zombie at SXSW

South By Southwest is much more than music. It’s a festival that’s takes over the heart of Austin, Texas, centered around the Austin convention center, and is going on now (March 8-17). Imagine a 10-day TedTalks presentation with both feature-length and short-film, conventions, tradeshows, interactive technologies, all converging in one of the best foodie cities in the Americas. It, in the words of the SXSW site, “offer(s) the unique convergence of original music, independent films, and emerging technologies.” Plus lots of great food. And beer.

Three great reasons to go:

Japandroids – Shugo Tokumaru – Harouki Zombie at SXSW

Japandroids:

03/12 The JanSport Bonfire Sessions @ Viceland (401 Cesar Chavez St) – 11 PM
03/13 Vans SXSW Showcase @ The Mohawk (912 Red River St) – 7:30 PM

Japandroids at SXSW

Japandroids at SXSW

Shugo Tokumaru:

3/12 Terrorbird Party @ Red 7 (611 E 7th St) – 4:40 PM
3/13 SXSW Day Stage @ Austin Convention Center (500 E Cesar Chavez St) – 12 PM
3/14 Brooklyn Vegan Party @ 603 Red River – 1:30 PM
3/14 We Listen For You & Sonablast Party (1106 E 11th St) @ 3 PM
3/14 Polyvinyl Records Showcase @ Red Eyed Fly (715 Red River St) – 11 PM

Shugo Tokumaru at SXSW

Shugo Tokumaru at SXSW

Harouki Zombie:

3/13 Saddle Creek Records Showcase @ The Parish Underground (214 E 6th St) – 1 AM
3/14 Polyvinyl Records Showcase @ Red Eyed Fly (715 Red River St) – 10 PM

Harouki Zombie at SXSW

Harouki Zombie at SXSW

Tim & Puma Mimi and the apple

The Stone Collection Of Tim & Puma Mimi

Tim & Puma Mimi and the apple

Tim & Puma Mimi and the apple

As the sparse synthesizer and video games breaks beep to life on the first track of The Stone Collection Of Tim & Puma Mimi we hear a Puma Mimi ask a question, “Acchi, kocchi, acchi, kocchi, dochi ni ikou?” (Here, there, here, there, which way to go?). It is unclear if she’s asking us or herself. And with the range of musical genres represented on the album (hip hop, dance, electronic, J-pop, crossover jazz, fruit), this might be emblematic of the album itself. At its heart, it’s a fun and accessible (even if you don’t speak Japanese) musical metaphor for modern Tokyo living.

Much as the album defies straightforward definition, so too does how Tim and Puma Mimi met (“We met at the Santa Klaus party in the Netherlands in the end of 2003.”), and eventually came to live and make music in Tokyo.

In places it is a throwback album of beautiful voicework and analog instruments, yet its modern synthesizers, canned drumbeats and use of fruit as instrument (what?!) belie the way it was made–not in the studio, but in Puma Mimi’s small 1DK (One Dining Kitchen Apartment) flat in Shinagawa, Tokyo.

HESO: How do you make music? digitally, analoguely, with fresh produce or all of the above?

Tim: All of them, we don’t have rules, how to produce, it just has to bring the song to a cool shape. The cucumber is electronic, the flute acoustic, mostly I use the micro Korg, but sometimes Fender Rhodes or Mini Moog, or even plug-ins, but I don’t like midi.

More than just the multi-instrumentalist genre-mashing, the way the songs are made reflects on the private/personal relationship between life and music, recording and touring, loving and playing. Having met and seen a bright future, both musically and romantically, they soon had to part because of the technicalities of bureaucratic life–visas, work, nationality. But long distance relationshipping didn’t stop them from making music. The Skype concert series soon sprang to life, with Tim touring clubs Europe and skype-casting Mimi singing live from her kitchen in Tokyo. This, plus their growing number of singles, created a following and got them into electro-festivals across Europe. But it wasn’t enough.

HESO: You wrote and recorded your album in Mimi’s tiny Tokyo apartment, but where are you now?

Tim: Now we live in Zurich, bit bigger apartment, but still all instruments in bedroom. It’s in Kreis 4, the melting pot of underground Zurich (yes that exists too in Zurich, beside being a super-expensive and clean old town famed for the Bahnhofstrasse). Sometimes we rent a music-room, but it’s often underground and humid.

Tim & Puma Mimi Live at Womb in Tokyo

Tim & Puma Mimi Live at Womb in Tokyo

HESO: Tim, what is your impression of Japan? Puma Mimi, Switzerland?

Tim: Japan? First I was disappointed, I had a picture of crazy colorful people, but 90% of people in Tokyo wear black suits. But after two weeks you start to understand, why they don’t look into your eyes, that they have different lines to queue for next train. After two months you start to love it, but I’m not sure if I will ever feel at home there.

Mimi: I like Zürich very much because I can get both city and nature life at once. I grew up in the northern part of Japan where I enjoyed nature, but as a teenager, it was boring. No concert places, no exhibitions. Even the last cinema in the town went bankrupt, and turned to be a Karaoke house (yeah! of course we had Karaoke!). Then I went to Tokyo to study when I was 19. Tokyo was so exciting, creative fashion, fast information, music, arts and so on…. I enjoyed it a lot. But sometimes, I couldn’t breathe. I missed nature, fresh air, fresh water, quietness, the sky. Compared to Tokyo, Zürich is very small, but there are many things going on in this “little big city”. Lake water is very clean. And I can get to deep nature in 10 min by train. That’s perfect combination for me. Besides Zürich, I like mountain area in Ticino, old stone houses and sharp mountains. It’s so nice to walk there.

HESO: If your beats and words are inspired by the cramped and crowded Tokyo lifestyle, what happens when you have all of the Alps from which to take inspiration?

Tim: I would love to do calm, maybe even spiritual music, but always when I try it, I think that doesn’t work, audience would fall asleep, or just start talking. I would like to do live music for yoga or something similar.

Mimi:I try to write about something around me. So Alps could be a good inspiration too. But the problem is that the nature is very powerful. So, when I go to mountains, I become wordless. It takes more time to write about the nature than about concrete jungle… at least, for me.

Tim & Puma Mimi on the Phone by David Thayer 2011

Tim & Puma Mimi on the Phone by David Thayer 2011

On the lenitive “Tamago” the album takes a turn from the fun and playfully amateurish upbeat Electro-J-pop to a more serious and contemplative nature. It is not a coincidence that this comes halfway through the Stone Collection. From this point on, especially on “Green Blood Circulation”, even when the music returns to previous form, the songs retain a depth and a progressive movement toward some far-off point that we can’t quite see, but know is out there.

HESO: How do you come up with ideas for songs? Albums? Videos? Live performances? Who does what?

Tim: I produce the songs. Mimi writes texts and melody lines. Musically it’s just trial and error, sometimes it works, sometimes doesn’t. I give the recordings over to Mimi. In a bigger view I would say: The ideas grow in our heads and sometimes we can pick up the fruits. Inspirations are: fleamarkets, walking in cities and mountains, watching concerts, movies, reading books.

Mimi: About lyrics: I try to express my inner feeling by describing daily objects around me. For example, I came up with lines for “Giacometti” when I saw the poster of Giacometti hanging in the room where we were recording. And the text begins with “To talk to Giacometti, I don’t need words….”. Something like that. Melody line: it’s all depends on Tim’s music. When Tim gives me an idea of song, then I listen to it many times and try to jam (hum) with lyrics I already have.

HESO: The album has dropped. What happens next?

Tim: In a week we visit China for 3 weeks, travelling with a bunch of musicians and do live music to silent movies. Later this Year I want to build a do-it yourself-kit of my Fruitilyzer, that people can build their own Fruitilyzer and electrify new fruits and vegetables.

HESO: Can you write a very short song-poem about your favorite food?

Mimi: I wrote this quite long ago, and try to make a song out of it, but Tim never liked my melody lines with these lyrics. So it is still un-published. Tim doesn’t like Tomato Sauce either, by the way.

トマトソース / Tomato sauce
飛び散る飛び散る/ It splashes all over
白いTシャツ / on my white T-shirts
赤いシミ/ and leaves red stains
食べるのやめるか/ Should I stop eating
トマトソース/ Tomato sauce?

いやいやそんな/ Noway, it’s
トマトソース / Tomato sauce!
だってだいすき / I love
トマトソース / Tomato sauce
ファッションは /Fashion has no chance against
食欲に敵わない / appetite

HESO: I love Tomato Sauce. Thanks guys. Check out their site for more fun with fruits and beats.

Interview with Tim & Puma Mimi is part of HESO Magazine’s ongoing (late) Summer Interview Series, where we interview photographers, musicians and artists about their work and what they think about the world of 2012. We may ask them similar questions, but the answers have been anything but the same old canned responses. Check out the entire series here.

Nisennenmondai (にせんねんもんだい) - Fan (2009)

Nisennenmondai Fan

Nisennenmondai Fan (美人レコード、2010)

Nisennenmondai (にせんねんもんだい) - Fan (2009)

Nisennenmondai (にせんねんもんだい) - Fan (2009)

Fan is not music. It is not the deliberate construction of an emotional narrative employing intervals of sound and silence. At thirty-five minutes and a single track, Tokyo trio Nisennenmondai’s (translated loosely as “the Y2K Bug”) 2009 recording for 美人レコード (Bijin Records) thwarts the listener at every turn.

It is played like a record, meaning you cue it up in your mp3 player or CD player or what have you, and, there in the room where you are located, your stereo’s DA converter decodes the acoustic impulses that have been converted into electrical signals in a faraway recording studio back into sound. It has a beginning and an end. But what has been recorded? After the initial sample of ambient room noise and birdsong, is the arrhythmic thrumming that begins and constitutes the core of the record actually the sound of an electric fan put through some kind of effects box? Is what you are hearing musical instruments or objects in a room that happened to have been mic’ed up?

Nisennenmondai guitarist Masako Takada (HESO Magazine)

Nisennenmondai guitarist Masako Takada (HESO Magazine)

Your attention is drawn back to the recording after some five to ten minutes. Some very slight new variations have been added and you, as listener, realize you’ve been engrossed in other thoughts. The recording has, by now, become part of room’s atmosphere, but the introduction of new rhythms has reminded you to listen. This new development bears some resemblance to musical buildup. It renews your expectation that the “song” will suddenly begin to follow the development arc you’ve come to expect from music. You expect the development of tension, its eventual resolution by way of some climactic point. But here Fan frustrates you again, because, though new repetitive elements are added to the composition, and the familiar sounds of traditional instruments such as drums or bass guitars do make their way into the mix, these developments occur over such a long period of time that the effect, in the end, when the mix is thinned back to silence, is that nothing seems to have happened at all.

Nisennenmondai Drummer Sayaka Himeno (HESO Magazine)

Nisennenmondai Drummer Sayaka Himeno

How about a list? Fan is the juxtaposition of ritual and the continuous, predictability and fatelessness, tenacity and adaptation, subject and object, ambience and artifice, ambivalence and intent, participation and affectlessness, action and passivity. It is practice elevated to the extreme that it becomes something emptied of, or even impervious to, intent. Going beyond itself, the practice of musicianship on this record becomes nature. It becomes sound as such. Fan is not music, but the paradox is that it needs a listener to exist at all. Without the listener, it’s just objects going bang in a room thousands of hectares of unknown forest distant, oblivious of itself, unaware of whether it can even be heard. Without a listener it is equivalent to that minute sample of birdsong that starts the record off.

Fan is a clever virus that pushes the listener to come to grips with the idea that, in as little as thirty-five minutes, manufactured objects such as fans, cultural objects such as music, and, by association, culture and human subjectivity can easily and without argument blend back in to the everything from which they were demarcated.

String Theory Gone Kaputtt

String Theory Gone Kaputtt

In the world of independent music there are no rules. When Bob Dylan was accused of lifting lines directly from Junichi Saga’s Confessions of a Yakuza (Kodansha, 1991) for Love and Theft (Columbia, 2001), people took notice, likely because this was a first for idiosyncratic Google-nerds to have a poke at a giant. Did it change the way Dylan works? Dylan himself has admitted as much that every good artist must borrow, beg and steal from his or her influences. Indeed, “if I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants”—itself plagiarized from 12th century Bernard of Chartres—is the natural way of things. To say otherwise would negate Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, Newtonian Physics and String Theory, which is to say, everything. Now that the possibility exists that everything can be scrutinized, does that change how we make things, especially art?

Jeff Hassay is hard to pin down as an artist. Is he a musician? A writer? A male model? A conceptual installationist? A d.i.y. foodie who roasts his own coffee and makes multi-vitamins? Composer of the short film score for the film short The Night Girl, player, multi-instrumentalist and composer for three American tours of Mango Productions’ Woven, uncredited engineer on RTX’s Transmaniacon (Drag City, 2004), self-producer of multiple albums of material under the names of Fission Works and Cockfighter, Hassay has now emerged from relative obscurity with a new album, Kaputtt. The album, released on January 24th, 2011—a day before Destroyer’s Kaputt (Merge, 2011)—under the newly dubbed moniker Creator, feels lighter and more off the cuff than Dan Bejar’s late 70s-early 80s tinged synth-pop storytelling. Of course, covering someone else’s mostly unreleased material will do that. As art critic Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer puts it, “So 2011: the cover preceding the original. Injecting a nonlinear hiccup into the historical flow.” Is this how revolutions begin? Not by invading nations with bombs and drones, but by self-immolating fruit vendors and hiccups in the flow?

String Theory Gone Kaputtt

Creator Kaputtt (Hill of Beans Records, 2011)

Kaputtt by Creator (Jeff Hassay, 2011)

Kaputtt by Creator (Jeff Hassay, 2011)

HESO: Where did you come up with the idea to cover an unreleased album?

Hassay: I thought it would be a cool conceptual thing to do, release a cover album before the actual album comes out. Disjunct time. It’s something Philip K. Dick would have done, if he were back from the dead, could play guitar, and liked Destroyer.

HESO: Thinking along the lines of where you come from and where you are going. Your last album, the 2010 Universal Field Theory Blues flows much like Einstein’s own forays into the unification of electromagnetism and gravitation: quiet, yet at times groovy and raucous, but mostly contemplative and ending much before its realized. Beside scientific principles, what else motivates you to create?

Hassay: 12 influences: Pliny the Elder, elder berries, Barry Mannilow, Sweet and Lowdown (Woody Allen, 1999), down in the tube station at midnight, Night on Earth (Jim Jarmusch, 1991), Eartha Kitt, kittens with string, String Theory (or the lack thereof), Theodore Roosevelt, Arise Therefore (Palace Music, 1996), formative years (including these now).

HESO: What’s your next project?

Hassay: My next musical project (literally) is a dubstep concept album about Teddy Roosevelt. The new band shall be called “_ship” pronounced “spaceship” and the album will probably be The Rise and Demise of Theodore Roosevelt. I want to do some of it acoustically. I have three poems for you:

summertime (in my mind)
you are now part of this

invite me
to
your pool party

oh teenage girl
swing that pillow at your pig-tailed friend
for the glory of god

Jeff Hassay might be so talented in so many different fields that unifying them all may prove—as Einstein found—too much to take on in the short time allotted to him, to each of us. For if we research all of the esoteric influences on every one of Dylan’s or anyone’s albums, we might find ourselves bound too closely by Heisenberg’s Principle of Uncertainty to affect not only what we do, but how it is done. So how then do we know if Schroedinger’s Cat is dead? How do we hear the lessons of life’s rich bounty without polluting it with our own desirous clamor? Realizing that Shiva the Destroyer, is also the Creator, might be the first step. The next one might simply be to hear with our hearts rather than merely listening with our ears.

Download Kaputtt by Creator
Links to Jeff Hassay’s previous work:

Cockfighter
A Way You’ll Never Be (Masterpiece in Four Parts)

Fujirock Festival – Sideshows Steal The Show

Two questions are typically asked surrounding Fujirock: “Are you going?” and “How was it?” Recently the answer to the first has been yes, while the answer to the second generally begins with “Wet” and gets more complicated from there. Despite the weather perpetually being an issue during the three-day megafest in the mountains of Yuzawa, a little known town in rural Niigata, the mainstay of the now 13 year-old music festival is almost always the sideshows. So a fan would be excused if they were lured to the expensive midsummer exposition upon hearing that the likes of Oasis, Weezer, and Franz Ferdinand were headlining, but despite often disappointing sets by Green stage acts it’s the smaller, more carnival stages which hold the real untold treasures, just waiting to be discovered by the intrepid, if muddied, troubadour festival-goer.

Fujirock Festival – Sideshows Steal The Show

Fujirock Festival - Sideshows Steal The Show

Swedish gypsy punk band Räfven electrifies the audience at Fujirock

Truth is with over two hundred acts spanning the twelve or so stages it’s impossible to see everyone you would like to, or even a fraction of the talented musicians from all over the globe coalescing in the pine tree scented paradise of Naeba. So you pick, you choose, you try to schedule, but often you end up guessing or just plain stuck due to traffic jams, sudden downpours and mud delays. Sometimes these forays into chance take you toward the mini Naeba Shokudo stage on the edge of the Oasis foodcourt, sandwiched between the massive Green and more club-like Red Marquee stages, to happen upon bands like The Inspector Cluzo, a duet of drums and guitar who seem to have the classic bluesy-soul guitar rock highlighted with vocal bird call arpeggios sound down to a beautiful science. Or to the Orange Court, the farthest of the big stages (which was to host All-Night Fuji on Friday but had been turned into a field study in rainwater collection) to discover the gypsy jamband folk-punk stylings of Räfven (who performed an astonishing nine times), a infectively rabid band of street musicians all the way from Gothenburg. The Orange Court is also a place where someone like Juana Molina’s immense talent and ethereally disturbing voice and intricate instrumentation goes unappreciated on Sunday afternoon. Yet on Saturday evening in the more intimate Gypsy Avalon, it’s perfectly accompanied with a bit of wine from the nearby Organic Village and a space on the- shock and awe- semi-dry grass!

By far the best place to be a fan in the front is the Red Marquee, which was the only dry place in town all weekend. Potential electrocution might explain why Dinosaur Jr., who unloaded at least five more Marshall stacks on top of the already well-endowed PA equipment on hand, was scheduled to close the covered tent Saturday night. Not only is J. Mascis’ guitar – a massive wave of undulating sound wrapped in distortion in perfect time and balance to bassist Lou Barlow and drummer Murph- the loudest thing I’ve ever heard, it’s one of the most beautiful and melodic. Sadly, a few songs before they undoubtedly encored, I made a break for Public Enemy at the White Stage, headlining arguably the best stage / lineup combination of the entire weekend (Melvins, Zazen Boys, Bad Brains). Despite missing Flava Flav and Professor Griff due to “visa problems”, Chuck D promised a “real hip-hop show” and if the audience’s reaction was any indication, him promising to play their second studio LP It Takes a Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back in its entirety (broken up only by a tribute to MJ, name dropping various websites – publicenemy.com, rapstation.com, and introducing a new artist) was the performance they were waiting for.

Fujirock Festival - Sideshows Steal The Show

Band Member Teaches Crowd to Live Tweet During Bright Eyes final show at Fujirock

Starting off well is paramount to lasting on your feet all day and into the night, and the best way to do that is by taking the Dragondola, which claims to be the world’s longest gondola lift (despite that not being true), for a ride. Lasting about 15 minutes and not only soaring 5.5 km toward the 1800-meter high Mt. Takenoko, it provides a much needed and breeze-filled getaway from the muddied hordes milling about like so many insects below. As the early afternoon creeps closer and the big names crawl out of their luxury hotel suites to fulfill their 50-minute sets, hitting the airlift back down the hill and grabbing a couple of the tastiest and cheapest beers at the festival from Tokyo Brewing Company is a must before braving the over-crowded walkways for the likes of frenetic rock Nordlander Ida Maria and her succinct pop-punk ditties or the fragile-looking Nick Cave cohort Rowland Howard whose snaky, smoky, whiskey-honed voice will do things to you long after he exits stage left. And then there’s Bright Eyes who, according to Conor Oberst, is not a band anymore. So their appearance at Fujirock was part of a “one-night world tour”, and will disband after the release of their next album. All this didn’t seem to bother the largely perplexed and oddly small audience gathered to hear the strong Saturday afternoon set in the Red Marquee tent. What was confusing was the attractive young lady sitting in a chair, texting, twittering, and occasionally giggling, next to the caterwauling Oberst (who can pull some truly interesting sounds from a simple acoustic guitar), working the crowd up into mini Midwest tornadoes of passion, ennui and release until finally, our mystery lady pulled out her voice -alongside Mike Moggis’ Cornet- and stole the show. Sayonara Bright Eyes.

Fujirock Music Festival

Fans Reach Out to Touch Peaches as She performs an out of her ind set at Fujirock

Other notables were Tortoise, DJ Towa Tei, Longwave, Simian Mobile Disco and the standout State Circus of Mongolia. Glam and electronica rocker Peaches wins for most mouth-wateringly fruitlike S&M-ish costumes, fuck you swagger and stage presence, the longest stage dive (that I was witness to) while maintaining the song’s chorus (“Harder, harder”) perfectly, and just overall raw sexual energy and love of music. As the forty-plus year old Merrill Nisker (backed by the Herms) deftly maneuvered her hour-long set to the audience’s rapt glee, in support of her latest album, I Feel Cream, no one was thinking, “Hmmm, who’s on at the Green stage?”

Holy Fuck opening for the Airborne Toxic Event on the White Stage was an auspicious beginning to Sunday which turned out to peak with Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s powerful set (see full gallery of CYHSY photos) of first album classics interspersed with a few newer tunes before petering out with Animal Collective’s introspective- at times masturbatorial- and overly hyped performance. By the time Röyksopp Nordic electro-magnetic vibes began spewing forth I had the good fortune to catch a guitarless Rivers Cuomo crooning the classic “My Name Is Jonas” while simultaneously being bitten by several ticks before passing out from three days of mud and blood, sweat and bugs, and of course lots of great side acts who deserve main stage attention. Like Räfven, Juana Molina, Diplo, Comeback My Daughters, Wilko Johnson, Justin Nozuka, Soil & “Pimp” Session, The Inspector Cluzo, Zaz and Seun Kuti & Egypt 80, among many others, who made multiple showings across three days in what feels more like an attempt to fill time slots than any genuine desire on the part of the lower echelon of artists’ to extend their stay. Perhaps I’m mistaken, but among other possibilities, it could be they weren’t invited to play at Fujirock’s sister festival in Korea, the Jisan Valley Rock Fest, like scores of other larger names were. Enough politics, the fans scream, give us more music. No problem.

Fujirock Festival - Sideshows Steal The Show

Patti Smith live at Fujirock

Ebony Bones takes home best costumes and most color amid the rock-steady downpours of Friday at the Green Stage. Despite hearing that Oasis wasn’t that bad (I couldn’t bring myself to actually watch) and stripping White Stage headliners The Neville Brothers of any audience whatsoever, the Green Stage redeemer is by far Patti Smith, who put on one of the more powerful performances I’ve been witness to at a festival. Shame that it came on Friday afternoon, as she seems as confident as ever, spitting and smiling alongside longtime guitarist Lenny Kaye and surprise guest Tom Verlaine. She sang as sure of voice as the wind pushing the sheets of rain down on the thousands gathered, watching her stomp through guitar romps and shake her trademark black beanie in the air declaring, “this one’s for the children!” amid dedications to Haile Selassie and MJ. Ending with the explosive “Rock and Roll Nigger,” aided by Verlaine’s intricate guitar work, Smith can still go blow for blow with the biggest names and walk away smiling.

Rumor has it Naeba’s days of hosting the popular festival are over and the days of Fujirock being nowhere near Mt. Fuji may be at an end. Who knows where the roving Japanese festival will end up? Likely I will be asked, “Are you going?” to which I will undoubtedly say yes (if I can hitch a ride out there…) and to the always difficult to answer, “How was it?” I’ll likely say, worth the time, effort and extraneous cash, if you should have it.

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

Beardyman - The Interview - HESO Magazine

BeardyMan – The Interview

Beardyman in Bern by Beard Radio on Mixcloud

Beardyman - The Interview - HESO Magazine

Beardyman Beatboxing live

The two-time UK Beatbox Champion takes time out of his packed schedule to tell Heso Magazine about the inspirational genius of Bach and recording his solo album naked while surrounded by monks…

BeardyMan – The Interview

HESO Magazine: Your hometown is Brighton. For the benefit of readers outside England, enlighten us about the little town by the sea that gave us Beardyman…

Beardyman: Brighton is a beautiful little place. Some people call it London-on-sea, but they’re just jealous and overly nostalgic. It’s an awesome place to try and make it in music. True, it’s almost as expensive as London to live there, but the character of the place is still as hippy-like and alternative as ever. It’s got so much character. And it’s just the right size that you’ve got loads of students and young people who love music and like being entertained, but still small enough to make a name for yourself with a couple of years worth of good gigs. For people putting on their own nights there are places to start out—less than there were, but still places. It’s much less harsh than London in terms of attitude. If living in London makes you crazy, Brighton is the antidote. It’s chill. I love it.

HM: How did you get into beatboxing?

BM: I’ve always done it, since I can remember, but I didn’t know there was a name for it, let alone that you could make a living from it. Soon as I saw Rahzel though, I knew I had to give it a shot. That was in 2003 I think…I saw him rock a crowd for a whole hour, and just thought, wicked, I wanna do that! So I teamed up with Klumzy-tung, a ridiculous freestyle MC, and we just started seeing how silly we could be. We developed our own style of “silliness” mixed with hip-hop and drum n bass, and that showed me how silly you could be and get away with it. Since then I haven’t been afraid to be stupid on stage.

HM: When did you decide to commit to being a full-time beatboxer?

BM: It was a decision I took about two years ago. I hit a crossroads, where I could either try and be a musical artist or not sacrifice my degree and possibly my career in product design. It was the best decision I’ve ever made. I thought I’d starve, but actually I’m doing OK. For now…haha!

HM: Who are your biggest influences?

BM: So many people inspire me: Jimi Hendrix, for his improvisational and technical genius; Bach for being able to play a six part fugue with two hands and one brain and improvise the whole thing, which is a bit like playing six games of chess blindfolded. Bobby McFerrin for his incredible vocal accuracy and ability to control an audience to such an extent that he can play them like a keyboard with his feet. There’s this clip of him at the Montreaux Jazz Festival doing it. It’s required viewing for any live musician. Rahzel and all beatboxers worldwide – I’m fascinated by stagecraft, and every beatboxer has their own style of theatre that they bring to a performance. James Brown, Tool, Tim Exile. Tim Exile’s amazing! He regularly clears rooms because his sets are so scary. I love him.

HM: Your live performances are packed full of musical and mimical creativity. Where does your inspiration come from?

BM: Anything really. Whatever makes me laugh, or whatever I’m having a joke about with my mates. You’ve got to check out the Lyrebird of Southern Australia. It’s the best mimic in all creation. It could take any beatboxer down, I’m not even joking. Check it out on YouTube – it’ll fuck your head up. It makes parrots look like amateurs. There’s a quote for you…”Parrots are fucking amateurs!”

Beardyman - The Interview - HESO Magazine

Beardyman getting the crowd going

HM: When you’re up on stage how much is improvisation? How do you prepare before a show?

BM: It’s a mixture depending on the show. I practice routines but I always end up changing them on the day because every crowd is different and you gotta roll with whatever vibe is flowing. It’s pretty cool being able to just adapt a set to do whatever you feel like doing. That’s the advantage of making all the music at the same time with your mouth.

HM: You have a lot of collaborations in the pipeline at the moment. What should we be looking out for this year?

BM: I’m going to be cutting down on gigs in a big way this next 6 months. I need to get this album recorded. I’m doing a freestyle album with musicians and MCs, a podcast with recorded gig material, a studio album and various other collaborations: one with A-skills, another with the Quemists, and many others this year, some of which are too exciting to talk about… but if they happen, then awesomeness will rain down from on high and bless all da people dem!

Also though, and most excitingly, the club-night run by myself and JFB, the UK DMC champion, is going from strength to strength. We have a club night in Brighton and in London, both in excellent venues and at both of them we have complete artistic license. JFB scratches with sounds he’s recorded and we make the entire set out of that. It’s really quite unique—come see it before it gets too big and we’re packing out stadiums!

HM: What can we expect from a Beardyman solo album?

BM: I’m going to record the whole album naked, surrounded by monks of all different faiths. Then I will throw it away and make a new album entirely out of samples of fish being gutted. I’ll release that on a major label under the pseudonym “Robbie Williams” and go on tour with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra…But really…I’m going to be releasing a couple of different strands of musical recordings: the live improvised stuff, which will be more fun and dance driven, and then there’ll be some slightly deeper, more polished stuff which will be broader in scope and audience. I play instruments too so I’ll be using them. No need to hem in your creativity just to fit into the beatbox mould.

HM: Can we expect to see you out in Japan anytime soon?

BM: Definitely. If someone wants to book me, I’d love to see Japan. I hear the sushi is very good…

Beardyman’s debut EP Mr. Maybe is available from iTunes

Check out Beardyman online:
www.beardyman.co.ukwww.myspace.com/beardyman

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén