Author Archives: ryotaroao

The Japan Times: J-pop duo Scott & Rivers on writing Japanese lyrics

When American musician Scott Murphy first came to Japan in 2001, he could only say a few phrases in Japanese. “I learned how to say little things on stage, like みんな、楽しんでる? (Minna tanoshinderu, ‘Are you guys all having a good time?’)” he says. “When you say it on stage the kids just go crazy. So […]

The Japan Times: Figuring out who to watch at this year’s Fuji Rock Festival

Young acts like Yogee New Waves, Never Young Beach and DYGL are bringing feel-good vibes, but for something more moody check out The Novembers at the Red Marquee on Sunday, or the haunting post-rock combination of Jun Togawa with Vampilia. And don’t forget to see reformed shoegaze legends Slowdive on Sunday. Catch Nengu on the […]

The Japan Times: For Uhnellys, surviving Tokyo’s live-scene circuit has been an exercise in perseverance

When you’re an independent rock band, maintaining a do-it-yourself ethic long-term can be difficult. Many acts eventually have to scale back, and dreams of a musical career turn into the reality of having a really cool hobby. Uhnellys, however, have kept up the fight. “I see other bands our age and I can’t help but […]

The Japan Times: Rock act Boris marks 25 years with an album inspired by fans

Halfway through my conversation with Atsuo, drummer and spokesman for drone metal trio Boris, I bring out an original CD copy of the group’s 1996 release, “Absolutego.” “This sure brings back memories,” he says, looking at his band’s self-released debut. The record is, in a way, relevant to the group’s latest release, “Dear,” because depending […]

The Japan Times: Review: After Hours provides powerful rock and a strong statement of intent

“Standing against those that ruin art,” was the tagline for the After Hours festival, which took place across four venues in Shibuya on April 9. The sponsor-free event, curated by the bands Mono, Downy and Envy, featured more than 30 artists from a wide range of backgrounds and genres, coming together to provide an antithesis […]

The Japan Times: Dustin Wong is open to opinion on his latest album with Takako Minekawa

Musician Dustin Wong returned to Japan five years ago and, despite having grown up here, he encountered a few cultural differences after coming back. Sipping on a strawberry milkshake at a cafe near Shibuya Station, the composer and guitarist speaks carefully, but candidly, about those differences, one of which is a general lack of critical […]

The Japan Times: Envy, Mono and Downy devise a dream lineup for After Hours music festival

It’s no secret that the Japanese music industry has a hollowing-out problem; you are either a pop act on a major label with high levels of exposure or an obscure underground act for whom not losing money on a show is a major success. Guitarist Nobukata Kawai of hardcore band Envy knows the latter reality […]

The Japan Times: Noise outfit Endon takes a hard look at itself in the mirror

The term “noise music” has come to define a variety of artists and sounds, from guitar feedback to drones to white noise. Japan is certainly no stranger to the concept, birthing formidable pioneers of the genre such as Merzbow, Hijokaidan and Incapacitants over the years. However, singer Taichi Nagura of self-described “noise band” Endon has […]

The Japan Times: Yoshiki: ‘We had to make our own world’

Yoshiki Hayashi hardly sleeps. The drummer, pianist, songwriter and leader of rock band X Japan has been in and out of the country constantly these past few months, promoting his band’s new documentary film, “We Are X.” At the same time he has been performing solo concerts, recording and squeezing in all the things the […]

The Japan Times: What’s in a name? Just ask Cairophenomenons

When a band changes its name, it sometimes signifies a switch in artistic direction. For indie band Cairophenomenons — previously known as Cairo — the decision was far more practical, even if the new moniker is a bit of a mouthful. “Our band didn’t show up in any searches on the internet or Twitter,” shrugs […]