next music from tokyoCarpe diem! Seize the day! Early in 2010, Steven Tanaka did just that. With no experience and armed with a dream — he took it upon himself to book, promote and execute Next Music from TOKYO tour! Bringing 5 Japanese bands to Canada, for a week long tour.

Next Music from TOKYO!!! vol 2 is now counting down to October 14th thru 19th for this newest showcase of four extraordinary bands from Japan. With two new sponsors involved: Canada’s leading media source for new music across all genres and CiTR 101.9 FM the broadcasting voice of the University of British Columbia (UBC) — October’s line up includes: MASS OF THE FERMENTING DREGS (MOTFD), susquatch, Sgt. and uhnellys!!

I talked to organizer Steven Tanaka, first tour veteran Ryogo Kobata (Violin, Guitar, Vocal) グーミ (goomi), Next Music from TOKYO!!! vol 2 Vocalist & Guitarist Kenta Oshikiri of susquatch, Kim (Bass, Guitar, Trumpet, Beatbox) of uhnellys and the members of Sgt — about the first tour and the excitement surrounding this latest tour!

In May 2010, you organized the first Next Music from TOKYO tour Canada. What was the greatest surprise and unexpected part of that tour? What is your most treasured memory of that trip?
Steven Tanaka: The greatest surprise was how incredibly well the entire group of band members got along with each other. We became a close-knit family. Everyone was so supportive. When one band played the rest would dance and make noise to cheer them on with all their might. Without a stage manager or roadies it took an immense amount of teamwork to set up and run each show smoothly with minimal delay. If someone broke a guitar string, before you could even blink multiple members from other bands would have already rushed backstage and brought their guitars to lend to that person.

There was so much camaraderie and the bands really brought out the best in each other. グーミ (goomi) in particular seemed to emulate mothercoat and OWARIKARA by raising their energy level drastically and becoming maestros at crowd interaction.

The unexpected and worst memory was that of Ryogo (グーミ) collapsing after getting electrocuted on stage. And the most treasured memory was the loud heartfelt ovation he and the band received when they played their hearts out the very next day.

In May 2010, you toured Canada on the first Next Music from TOKYO tour. What was the greatest surprise and unexpected part of the tour? What is your most treasured memory of the trip?
Ryogo Kobata グーミ (goomi): First of all, we were surprised that Canadian audiences warmly welcomed us and our music. We really enjoyed every shows with them. And my getting electrocuted is an unforgettable accident too. But, by no means is it a terrible memory. Many people were worried about me, and came to the show the next day. Now it has become a precious treasured memory.

Another Canadian tour and Next Music from TOKYO!!! vol 2 is about to begin. Could you please tell me the tour schedule, dates and times.
Steven: Sure, the tour schedule is as follows:
Oct 14 Vancouver @ the Biltmore Cabaret 9pm – 1am
Oct 16 Toronto @ the Rivoli 7pm – 11pm (Indie Week Music Festival)
Oct 17 Toronto @ the Velvet Underground 7pm – 11pm
Oct 19 Montreal @ Club Lambi

Who are we going to see in tour 2, and what was the process of choosing each band?
Steven: The four bands on the 2nd tour are MASS OF THE FERMENTING DREGS, susquatch, Sgt. and uhnellys.

MOTFD have been one of my favorite bands for a long time. Japan has a lot of great female rock bands and I wanted to show Canadians one of the best. susquatch was a band I invited on the first tour but they were late in getting back to me. Kenta (Guitar, Vocal) and I are good friends and he has an amazing band with a killer drummer so it was a no-brainer to invite them again. Since I am paying to fly the bands over, I thought to myself who are the best band in Japan for the buck. That would have to be uhnellys. They put on a breathtaking show that no youtube clip has successfully captured.

You are going to tour Canada on October 14-19 with Next Music from TOKYO — How did it come about?
Kim uhnellys: Steve TANAKA watched our show in TOKYO.

Kenta Oshikiri susquatch: When susquatch played a gig at Shinjuku, Japan, about one year ago, after the gig this Canadian guy spoke to me in English. But, his face is perfect Japanese face. So I asked him; “You’re not a foreigner? You look like a perfect Japanese to me. Why do you speak English?”

He said, “I’m a Canadian. But my parents are Japanese. So you see me as a Japanese. By the way, you said the after party is now?  I want to join the drinking party.” I said. “Why not! Let’s drink together.”

It was the opening for our friendship. And after a half a year, Steve invited us on this Tour.

Steven: Originally, Mow Mow Lulu Gyaban was part of the tour but they had to back out due to scheduling conflicts. I had to come up with a replacement band right away. ミドリ (Midori) was interested but they chose to wait until next year. Nathan of Hear Japan once told me that Sgt. were very interested in touring North America. Although I have never seen sgt. perform live, Nathan has seen thousands of bands and if he feels Sgt. are among the best then I have to believe him. I called up Nathan, arranged a meeting with Sgt’s manager and ended up inviting one of the best post-rock bands Japan has to offer.

You are going to tour Canada on October 14-19 with Next Music from TOKYO — How did it come about?
SGT.: We have played only in Japan, however; since last year we’ve started to think if there is any other way that we could share our music with more people from other countries? Therefore, we’ve been thinking that going abroad is one of the greatest opportunities we could have. Then, we fortunately got this invitation, and we are so delighted for this great opportunity.

What does each band bring to the stage that you thought would showcase Japanese indie to a new audience?
Steven: There are female bands that may play louder and female bands that write better music but no female band has the amazing combination of raw power and great melody that MOTFD has.

Sgt. are immensely talented musicians that take the grandiose, “un-pop” structure of post-rock but make it more fun and accessible with the use of violin and fantastically creative drumming.

What do you personally want to get from the tour and what do you look forward to seeing the most?
SGT.: We can’t even imagine what we will get from this tour until it ends, yet we would love to experience their culture and their music through communicating with other artists and people there.  Also, we are looking forward to seeing some Canadian artists such as “Broken Social Scene” and “God Speed” whom we have been affected by their music.

Steven: Uhnellys are a band’s band. They are one of the best live performers in all of Japan. The casual music fan might not recognize that but the bands in Japan do. Kim’s ability to create an instrumental on the spot with multiple instruments and a loop pedal will astound you.

What do you personally want to get from the tour and what do you look forward to seeing the most?
Kim uhnellys: I want to connect the next Canada tour. That’s the most important thing !!!

Steven: There seem to be a number of Japanese bands that play power-pop with English vocals, “mathy” guitars and a Bossa Nova jazz tone. Susquatch are among the best at this particular style and they have a female drummer so good your jaw will drop.

What do you personally want to get from the tour and what do you look forward to seeing the most?
Kenta Oshikiri susquatch: I want to make a lot of overseas friends. As you know, Japan is an island among the seas. We really don’t have many chances that we can experience overseas culture. So, I want to have friendships overseas, and touch other cultures.

And I’m looking forward to seeing overseas audiences. Our gig is good? Or bad? ? As for either, I want to hear their honest impression. Thank you.

The artists in tour1 in cooperation with HearJapan released a demo of one song each for download. Is such a promotion going to be apart of this tour, and if so when would it be available?
Steven: Nathan is already working on another sampler for this tour. It should be available soon but only he knows when.

“Yokohama, Japan – September 24th, 2010 – HearJapan is proud to once again partner with North  America’s premier Japanese music tour Next Music from Tokyo and bring you more free music!”

What has been the greatest triumph getting ready for this tour and biggest challenge?
Steven: The greatest triumph was managing to find affordable tickets to fly the bands to Canada and back.

I literally canceled the tour at one point because it would have bankrupted me to pay for their travel and hotel costs. But by shifting the tour schedule a week later, the airfare costs went down by almost 50%. People who come to the shows probably think the bands are paying their own way to Canada but I’m actually funding the entire tour including travel costs by myself with no sponsors.

Is there anything the online Japanese music community can do to help?
Steven: Well if they could let their friends in Canada know about the tour I would be ecstatic and greatly appreciative. If they’re fans of a particular band on the tour, simply writing comments on their Youtube clips and pages would go a long way in showing support.

I have heard you are already planning Next Music From Tokyo 3 and 4? When are they going to be and can you tell us any details of the artists involved?
Steven: As I mentioned earlier, ミドリ (Midori) has already agreed to participate in the tour next year. Their preference is to come in April 2011. Mariko Goto has offered to personally invite other bands on my behalf. Along with Midori I am planning on bringing Rin Toshite Shigure, toe and possibly Clammbon for an all-star roster. Though I may have to limit myself to 3 bands for a tour like this.

The other tour will be focused on creating the most fun line-up possible. If Matt & Kim, Monotonix, Fucked Up and Japanther ever did a show together, that would be bananas! Well I want to do a tour with Japanese bands that would rival even that! Tentatively the bands on such a roster would include Mowmow Lulu Gyaban, the Mornings, Sebastian X and one of either Hyacca, FAR FRANCE, Wienners or Usotsuki Barbie. That tour might come as early as May 2011, or later on in Sept/Oct 2011.

What do you personally want to get from the tour and what do you look forward to seeing the most?
Steven: All my life I’ve listened to music that very few of my friends listen to. That’s why I love making mix tapes to see if other people might develop an interest in the type of music I’m passionate about.

I look at this tour as a giant mixtape. There is amazing music coming out of Japan that Canadians are completely unaware exists. If I can get just a small percentage of Canadians to develop a genuine interest in the Japanese indie music scene I will have felt I accomplished something great.

I look forward most to seeing music fans in Canada having the time of their lives watching the bands on tour. Despite the language barrier I’m sure none of the passion and energy the bands play with will be lost in translation.

Do you have anything you would like to say to the bands, fans, or new friends you met along the way?
Steven: I would love to thank each and every indie band in Japan for gutting it out and creating the most fun music scene in the entire world. Extra premium thanks to all 5 bands on the original tour: mothercoat, Kulu Kulu Garden, グーミ, andymori and OWARIKARA and the 4 bands coming up: MOTFD, susquatch, Sgt. and uhnellys. I hope the new bands get along well together and have just as great a time as the original 5. Huge thanks to Quynh and Kat for helping me take the bands sightseeing in Vancouver.

My utmost appreciation towards グーミ’s friend Atsuki Noguchi for designing the NMFT logo and brilliant 1st tour poster. A massive shout out and XXL thanks to my good friend Nicolas who traveled all the way from France to watch and help with the tour. Thanks to Nathan of Hear Japan and Jack of for their help and advice. Rob P from DC I wish you all the best with your TMGE (The Michelle Gun Elephant) tribute and filmmaking career.

My gratitude to Jenny Charlesworth for her awesome interview with Kulu Kulu Garden in the Georgia Straight and Yukiko Tsutsui for playing the bands’ music on her radio show.

Shout-outs to one80, rocketshinobi, substance and all the J indie music heads that helped me along the way. And THANK YOU Denise!!! For all your invaluable advice, help and encouragement. You absolutely ROCK!

Do you have anything you would like to say to Steve, Canadian fans, or new friends you met along the way?
Ryogo Kobata グーミ (goomi): I miss you everyone. Now, we are writing a new song which was inspired by the Canadian tour. Someday we want to go Canada again with the song. And I believe “Steven’s passion for indies music will  affect the music scene.” So I hope many people to go the show “Next Music from TOKYO vol.2.”

I would like to thank Steven Tanaka, Ryogo Kobata (グーミ), Kenta Oshikiri (susquatch) and Kim (uhnellys), Sgt. and Next Music from TOKYO!!! vol 2 for their participation in this interview.
~Denise Smith (interview 2010.10.01)

Next Music from TOKYO!!! vol 2 homepage. Buy your tickets now!

Next Music from TOKYO!!! vol 2 Tour Dates:
10/14 Vancouver @ the Biltmore Cabaret Open 20:00 Start 21:00 End 25:00
2755 Prince Edward, Vancouver, BC, Canada V5T 0A9
10/16 Toronto @ the Rivoli Open 18:00 Start 19:00 End 23:00
334 Queen St W, Toronto, ON, Canada M5V 2A2
10/17 Toronto @ the Velvet Underground Open 18:00 Start 19:00 End 23:00
510 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON, Canada M5V 2B3
10/19 Montreal @ Club Lambi Open 20:00 Start 21:00 End 25:00
4465 Saint-Laurent Boulevard, Montréal, QC H2W 1Z8



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