NMFT8: truth, rumours and planning
NMFT8 won't happen until May or June next year but I already need to start planning the line-up. First of all, many of you know that tricot was the first band I added to the NMFT 4 line-up back in 2011. But I ended up cancelling the tour temporarily and when I revived it I altered the line-up by replacing tricot with Praha Depart because tricot had practically zero support when I polled readers, fans and friends. But in ~2013 tricot blew up internationally in the youtube/blogosphere and everyone kept bugging me to bring tricot to Canada. (2 years too late peeps!!) Of course, tricot's management were pissed at me (rightfully so) for inviting them to NMFT4 and then unceremoniously removing them from the line-up and to this day hold a grudge. The awesome news is tricot will almost certainly be touring North America this fall. It hasn't been announced yet but most likely in Oct or Nov 2015. I know Toronto is being considered (maybe Lee's Palace) but not sure about Vancouver, Montreal or other Canadian cities. mouse on the keys might also do their own N American tour Oct 2015.
Helping popularize indie/underground Japanese music in North America and getting more bands to perform here are two of the main reasons I do NMFT and I'm glad bands like toe, mouse on the keys, and tricot are stepping up to the challenge!
It'll help me out a lot if you guys could give your opinions on the bands listed below in the comments section! Remember, tricot were supposed to come to Canada 3 years ago but I took them off the NMFT roster because none was interested in them. And when I removed them from the roster noone complained.
NONE of the the following bands have been secured for NMFT8 but if I were forced to pick a line-up today I am leaning towards:
group/inou skillkills 午前3時と退屈 うみのて
This year NMFT7 had a lot of variety but was straight up underground pop/rock. Next year I'd like to change things up a bit by adding at least 1-2 acts in the vein of group_inou, skillkills, Dalljub Step Club, 水曜日のカンパネラ etc.
group_inou were part of NMFT4 and received arguably the best crowd reaction of any NMFT band ever. They pulled a reverse-tricot and bailed on me last minute for NMFT6 so I hold a slight grudge against them (LOL!) but I think they are near the top of the list of bands NMFT fans want to see again. Their sets are an INTENSE blend of electronic/emo/hip hop/punk and they have one of the most energetic stage performances you will ever see. If they agree to come again (and don't back out!) it's a no brainer bringing them back next year.
gozen sanji to taikutsu (3am and bored) are a female band that are fresh out of high school and from the same hometown as Akai Koen. The influence that Akai Koen has on their music is pretty obvious in the songwriting and stage costumes. But 午前3時と退屈 (i'll abbreviate to 3am from now on) definitely try to use them more as inspiration instead of copying AK's style outright. My friend refers to 3am as the "female Black Sabbath." (LOL!) You wouldn't know it from watching the clip above but most of their songs are a lot more emo and darker:
The above clips might not seem impressive but that's because they're a year old. And a young band just out of high school who have only played a few shows together can improve exponentially by leaps and bounds in just one year when they start performing regularly. And no surprise 3am are way f*cking better now. They were actually supposed to be part of NMFT7 but they couldn't come because of exams (LOL!) so I ended up bringing Atlantis Airport instead. 3am however will perform as the opening act at the tour final in Tokyo on July 20. There are lots of all-female bands in Japan but nearly all of them play styles of pop, rock or punk that are very generic. 3am are one of very few female bands that try to be creative and unpredictable with their music without sacrificing quality for style and 'weird points.' They will probably never be as musically skilled as tricot or Akai Koen but the drumming and keyboards are already on point and they have the best singer of the three bands. (sorry Chiaki!) Hopefully studying/exams won't prevent them from coming next year. homepage
skillkills are one of the favorite and most respected acts amongst musicians and bands in Tokyo's underground scene. They play a stripped down, minimalist style of electronic funk that is HEAVY on bass and highlighted by complex drumming at a f"cked up cadence. I've listened to their first two CDs and seen clips of live performances on Youtube and to be honest I never understood what all the hype was about. The lack of variety in their music was another letdown for me.
But because skillkills' live shows are highly rated by so many friends and musicians in Japan and they've been adding more variety to their music lately I plan to see them live a couple weeks from now and I'm pretty sure I'll be blown away and kicking myself for not inviting them 1-2 years sooner. homepage
uminote is another band I've been considering for a couple years. They are one of Kinoko Teikoku's favorite bands and my friend Eric B also loves them to death. The singer has a gruff voice and very aggressive style that might turn off a lot of people which is why I've hesitated bringing them so far. Their first album "In Rainbow Tokyo" is one of the best releases to come out of Japan the last few years and they put on a truly intense live show. Their most recent album "21st Century Soundtrack" doesn't hit as hard on first listen but is also a very solid release.
I plan to see them July 17 in Osaka although Atlantis Airport are also playing in Osaka the same night at a different show with another band I'm interested in called そこに鳴る. I guess it'll be another night of show hopping. homepage
Other new bands for considerations:
If group_inou can't come another non-rock act I'm considering is:
Suiyoubi no Campanella (Wednesday's Campanella) aka Suica (watermelon) aka wed_camp consists of singer Komu Ai, beatsmith Kenmochi Hidefumi and Dir.F who is like the Jarobi of A Tribe Called Quest in that noone's sure what the hell he officially does. (LOL) I've seen wed_camp four times now and Komu Ai is super charismatic on stage and always telling wacky stories and jokes between songs when she isn't handing out snacks and candy to the audience.
On her first couple albums she tended to use the same vocal delivery over and over again and the beats lacked variety. But more recent videos have shown different styles in both the vocals and instrumentals which is a pleasant surprise.
I've already asked Komu Ai about coming to Canada (she's totally down for it) and Wed_camp was actually shortlisted for NMFT7. Even though wed_camp are borderline idol-kei they are a LOT more interesting, creative and progressive compared to anything the idol jpop factory churns out. So I have no qualms about inviting wed_camp to NMFT8. Wed_camp are already getting pretty huge so I need to act quickly before they get too big (i.e expensive) like e.g. Oomori Seiko whose window I missed out on 1-2 years ago. homepageinterview with mtv
Dalljub Step Club Dalljub Step Club formed from the ashes of a band I was considering for NMFT called Dakota Speaker.
Dakota Speaker broke up 3 years ago just when I was going to ask them about NMFT. Luckily the drummer and bassist have formed a new band with Yuta from wozniak and Shingen from Alaska Jam. But it's a lot more electro/dub/dance compared to the more rock-oriented yet also quite dub/dance sound that Dacota Speaker had. Personally I like Dakota Speaker a lot more but Dalljub definitely have a more progressive sound with more potential to impress in the future.
Garasugoshi no Bouso are a female 3-pc band that play an energetic combination of folk, emo, blues and punk. Their songs are earnest and powerful with plenty of soul. They would have been the 5th band for NMFT7 had they not already set up a tour of the Kansai region in June. If I include a 5th band for NMFT8 they're the type of band that might not be strong enough for the core four but would perfectly round out the line-up as the 5th band. homepage
Ame no Parade were supposed to be the core band that I tailored NMFT7 around but when I changed the tour dates from May to June 2015 they were no longer able to participate since they were releasing a new album this month. The new album entitled "new place" takes Ame no Parade's music to a new mellower, completely innocuous habitat. A place I'm not too fond of that threatens their future with NMFT. They really impressed me the first time I saw them live so I will give them a second chance by watching them perform again this month in Tokyo. Hopefully their live show still kicks ass because "new place" was underwhelming to say the least.
Finally, previous bands I could bring back include:
In the clip above Kinoko Teikoku are performing on national television for a program called Factory on Fuji TV. Partway through they are interviewed by celebrity hosts Yo-King and Yumi. Yumi asks Kinoko Teikoku how they ended up performing in Canada of all places. Instead of mentioning Next Music from Tokyo, Chiaki almost goes out of her way to downplay my role in facilitating the whole process by saying "There's a Canadian who really likes Japanese music and he invited us to Canada." But Yumi & Yo-King are still baffled at how a Japanese band (singing in Japanese) could thrive performing in front of a Canadian audience that is completely new to the band. Yo-King says he would never have the courage to perform in front of a foreign audience like that. Chiaki sort of brags that people knew about Kinoko Teikoku from the internet, knew the lyrics to their songs and would sing along at the shows, and would mosh and stage dive and even get the band members to join in the crowdsurfing.
Nice of them to trivialize the importance of the tour and make it seem like any Japanese band with some foreign internet presence can come over by invitation and cross-over successfully.
Since NMFT6, Kinoko Teikoku have signed with a major label (EMI) and have become one of the most popular up & coming bands in Japan. Unfortunately their music now treads mainstream fluff territory as opposed to the emo-charged melancholic shoegaze that brought them their initial core fanbase. Many NMFT fans have asked me to bring Kinoko Teikoku to Canada again and I could but apparently any of you fans should be able to bring them here on your own. (LOL)
I would actually like to bring hyacca and otori back to Canada together in 2017 but who knows if hyacca will still be around then. Depending on how things with group_inou play out I don't mind bringing hyacca or tori back as early as next year.
And lastly I just want to give a shout out to my friend Nobumi and her band:
Bakyun the everyday
'Bakyun the everyday' was the name of a song by a band I used to like called ostooandell. Apparently Nobumi liked them a lot too since she named her band after the song title. I'm not sure if I could ever justify bringing them over but Bakkyun kicked ass live way more than I expected and it's fun rooting for your friend's band.