Kaz Nakura om japrock

Japrock-uka, dag 4: 2007-intervju med Kaz Nakura, labelmanager for P-Vine Records i Japan.

Sadistic Mika Band

ØH: Have you read Julian Cope’s Japrocksampler? If so, do you feel that his is a good introduction to the history of Japanese rock? And do you agree that some of the best Japanese rock records are as great – if not better – than demigods like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, the Who etc? And do you like the term “japrock”, or would you prefer to use something else.

KN: No I haven’t yet. So all the below answers are all based on this fact that I didn’t yet read the book. I don’t know if it helps you.

ØH: Do you feel that Japanese rock is underappreciated and underestimated abroad, or not? Or are the artists more appreciated abroad than at home?

KN: Evolution of Japanese rock always comes from catching-up with something happening abroad – mainly UK or US. Japanese bands those days were always chasing somebody overseas. From this viewpoint, it makes sense that they were always underappreciated. They were always a «follower». Not the original.

However, some of them were trying to do something which would be «our own», using and borrowing the format which came into Japan from abroad, while others were trying to imitate the style completely.

I think Flower Travellin’ Band or Magical Power Mako was doing something really interesting even though we understand that the style is what’s borrowed from somebody else.

ØH: Julian Cope writes that “Japanese rock’n’roll informs so much of the interesting twenty-first-century music playing now”, but ends his book in the middle of the 70’s. Who are the most important artists since then, and why?

KN: Yellow Magic Orchestra? Is it correct to tell this name in this context?

Ryuichi Sakamoto – working with Tatsuro Yamashita, Taeko Onuki or Minako Yoshida and so on, all of whom are an important figure during 1970s, 80s and some of them even now.

Haruomi Hosono – one of the members of Happy End, which is one of the legendary group in the 70s. The group evolving into Tin Pan Alley, the producer team who produced Tatsuro Yamashita and Yumi Arai a.k.a. Yumi Matsutoya. He’s now running his own label Daisyworld – a home for Takagi Masakatsu (Morr Music/Carpark Records), World Standard or Terre Thaemlitz.

Yukihiro Takahashi – Sadistic Mika Band! Now famous for the re-union with a new vocalist Kaera Kimura, one of the very famous J-Pop female singer here. His band Beatniks, with Keiichi Suzuki (of Moonriders) is still a shining legend. Now he’s performing as Sketch Show with Haruomi Hosono.

All of the three guys had a huge impact and influence on the 1970s Japanese music scene and they are still keep a certain good influence. It’s amazing.

ØH: Cope mentions “eleki”, “group sounds” and “futen” as different forms of Japanese rock. What are the most important “schools” after that, and today?

KN: If we see the current big stream of L’Arc en Ciel and the like (starting with Boowy around mid 1980s), we have to point out that it would be «Visual-kei», although it looks a bit far away from what we think Japanese rock.

ØH: What about Japanese rock in Japan then and now? Is it important or just another subculture, while Jpop and their like catch the public’s main attention? Doesn’t the most challenging and forward thinking artists still have their main audience abroad? Why is this?

KN: Some of the bands around the «hardcore» scene is now catching the public attention. But most of others looks subculture-sque. But I don’t know why. If we can find an answer, we could sell Ghost far more!!!

ØH: And, finally: Are there really any Norwegian rock bands that are “big in Japan”?

ØH: Motorpsycho or Jaga Jazzist? Are they not big enough maybe?

 

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