Jul

We’re off to Naeba!

fuji_14_b3That’s all for the preview folks. We’re off to Naeba tomorrow for the pre-fest knees-up, and we’ll be posting live reports throughout the weekend.

Point your browsers to fujirockexpress.net/14e, or click the pic above, to find out if the Flaming Lips do something brilliant, if Yoko Ono does something weird, or if Jack Johnson songs make any sense in the rain.

Let’s Rock!

Jul

Meet Jungle by Night

jbn

Jungle by Night

You may have been browsing the Fuji Rock schedule and noticed Jungle by Night. No, this isn’t up-and-coming funk/soul band Jungle playing at night. Although, Jungle is playing at night on Friday at the Red Marquee, but I digress. This is Jungle ‘by’ Night.  JBN is made up of 9 guys from Amsterdam all with diverse musical tastes and playing styles creating something new and exciting. Expect to hear a range of instruments like guitar, trumpet, congas, bass, sax, djembe and more. ‘Their music is a mixture of Afrobeat from Nigeria and Jazz from Ethiopia, played with a Western rock attitude.’ They are playing two sets on Saturday and one on Sunday, so you’ll have plenty of chances to check them out.

I got the opportunity to do a virtual sit down with Jungle by Night’s sax player, Pieter van Exter to find out more about the band, their future plans, what he thinks about Japan and more, let’s get to it.

You guys are relatively new on the scene and maybe new to many readers, tell us how you got started and how long you have been playing together as Jungle by Night.

We started 4 years ago in 2010 with a group of friends and family who liked to play the music they liked best: A mixture of instrumental funk, jazz, afrobeat, psychedelics and we never thought it would be picked up that well. Within a year we played several big festivals and we can spread our music to other countries as well which is great!

You guys have a wide range of interests in terms of music and playing styles. Could you do a short introduction of yourself, what instruments
you play. How long have you been playing, how were you taught etc..?
I am 23 years (old), (I’ve) play(ed) saxophone for 11 years now. First alto, but soon switched to tenor saxophone because I liked the sound much better. I really like saxophone players who play raw and scream, such as Pharaoh Sanders, Wayne Shorter, or saxophone players on records of Mulatu Astatke. It can be just like a human voice, (and) give you goosebumps.

You guys have a wide range of interests in terms of musical tastes and playing styles. Could you do a short introduction of yourself, tell us what instruments you play and how long you’ve been playing.

I am 23 years (old), (I’ve) play(ed) saxophone for 11 years now. First alto, but soon switched to tenor saxophone because I liked the sound much better. I really like saxophone players who play raw and scream, such as Pharaoh Sanders, Wayne Shorter, or saxophone players on records of Mulatu Astatke. It can be just like a human voice, (and) give you goosebumps.

You’ve been touring and playing with some real legends as of late, such as Mayer Hawthorne, The Roots, John Legend and Mulatu Astatke (who appeared at Fuji Rock last year). How has it all been? What are some memorable moments from the past year?

The support act for Mayer Hawthorne was our second actual performance and was a very important moment for us. It was not a big venue, but the programmer was so enthusiastic that he emailed all his colleagues right after the concert. And since then we have been playing a lot. It was also very special to meet Mulatu Astatke who is one of our heroes. He is a really nice and intelligent man. We really worked hard on the new album which we released in April, which was a big highlight for us this year. And since then we have been playing in Europe. We just played at Jazz à Vienne (in France) in an ancient roman theatre in front of 8000 people. With a line-up of all jazz legends: Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder, Ibrahim Maalouf, Sharon Jones, The Roots, etc. That was the highlight so far, but this summer will probably be full of special moments and we are really looking forward to our trip to Japan.

You’ve just released your new album, The Hunt. Can you comment on the album. What were some influences in making it, and are you happy with how it turned out?

For this album we wanted to have tracks with raw and clear arrangements and exciting sounds. For this album we were also inspired by Turkish psychedelic funk for instance or certain dance music. It is less afrobeat I would say and more our own sound. We also produced the album ourselves with help from others, which was a really nice experience.

More…

Jul

Rookie Roundup

by Matt
Rookie A Go-Go

Rookie A Go-Go

The Rookie A Go-Go stage at Fuji Rock showcases up-and-coming underground bands from Japan, giving them a chance to win a spot on the stage at the next year’s Fuji Rock Festival. It’s a brilliant chance to get a glimpse into the Japanese underground and see the next generation of musicians coming through. There’s a wide variety of genres, from soul through to punk and from blues through to indie pop. Whatever your tastes, you should be able to find something you like. It kicks off every night at 11pm, just outside of the main festival grounds near the Palace of Wonder. We thought we’d give you a quick preview of this years acts.

Friday

ARTIFACT OF INSTANT are set to lead the charge of the Rookie bands this year, their alternative rock a kicking ride with superb guitarwork and emotive vocals the highlight amongst plenty of dancing groove from the rhythm section. Check out the dizzy view of their live from their drummer’s point of view below (the action kicks off around the two minute mark).

odol only started this February but their sound is already polished, sliding comfortably between alternative rock, pop and occasionally an outburst of anger-filled distortion. The lyrics deal with anguish and relationships, but the songwriting and variety of sounds within each song really make this band stand out. You can get a free download of their first EP here.

Dizzy Sunfist is a joyous, noisy, messy three-piece whose girl-rock is set to rock the stage this year. It’s punk-pop but without the angst, the clean female lyrics duo harmonising above the crash of the three or four chord songs. All the lyrics are in English, for those visitors from overseas looking to catch a slice of the Japanese underground music scene that they can understand.

Pulling together rapper R-指定 (translated as ‘Designation R’) and DJ 松永 (Matsunaga), Creepy Nuts is bringing the beat and the rhymes to the Rookie stage this year. With R- 指定’s second consecutive Japan’s Ultimate MC title to his name, this should be worth checking out for anyone with a passing interest in the genre and anybody who wants to see how rapping in Japanese works.

SPARK!!SOUND!!SHOW!!’s genre is simply best described as party. The music is raucous, noisy and raises hell just for the fun of it. It’s funk, hardcore and metal hanging off a punk skeleton and fused together with probably more than a few Jagermeister shots. If you’re looking for a good time, find yourself at the Rookie A Go-Go stage as these boys close out Friday night.

More…

Jul

You Will Get Wet: How To Deal With Rain At Fuji Rock

by Patrick
Fuji Rock Rain Look (Photo By Kevin Uttin On Flickr, Licensed Under Creative Commons)

Fuji Rock Rain Look (Photo By Kevin Uttin On Flickr, Licensed Under Creative Commons)

The very first year I went to Fuji Rock, it didn’t rain at all during the weekend. Ominous clouds packed the sky…and maybe, maybe, a minute or two of drizzle trickled downwards…yet they never opened up. I had spent the last three months bracing for the worst – I bought new water-proof boots and various other anti-rain measures – and carried them around with me at all times over the next three days. Yet I didn’t need them at all – my initial Fuji Rock was like the front page of a brochure, perfect weather every day. Which was perfect for someone like me – a Californian who loathed any liquid falling from the heavens.

“I’ve never seen a Fuji Rock like that before,” others said, stunned at the good conditions that had just passed. “There’s always at least a partial downpour.” I zoned it out – I’d just experienced flawless weather for and felt that all the precipitation-heavy caution was overblown.

A year later, as I stood in the middle of a mid-afternoon deluge, attempting to watch the band Foals play a set while standing in a puddle of mud, I thought…”geez, I was overconfident.”

Rain is an (almost) inevitable feature of the Fuji Rock Festival. Punters can expect on-again-off-again showers…along with some heavy periods…all weekend long. Yet the elements shouldn’t be too off-putting – I hate rain, yet despite being pounded by it and having to say farewell to several pairs of socks, I still enjoyed last year’s festival a lot. One doesn’t have to accept the rain – they just have to prepare in advance to make it less of a nuisance.

More…

Jul

Buffalo Daughter Interview: 20 years since Shibuya-kei

by Dave
Buffalo Daughter at Fuji Rock in 2010.

Buffalo Daughter at Fuji Rock in 2010.

Buffalo Daughter will perform at Fuji Rock for the fourth time on Sunday night. The trio (plus a drummer) known for its looping electro grooves has had a storied career, rising from Shibuya’s underground scene of the 90s, getting “discovered” by Luscious Jackson in Tokyo, moving to the US to work with the Beastie Boys and release a half-dozen albums on their label Grand Royale. And much of that happened in just the first few years of the band. But despite the successes, unstinting recognition from their peers, and a couple of songs licensed for television commercials, Buffalo Daughter has never had the huge breakthrough of many of the stars they’ve worked with, instead always remaining as a band’s band and musicians’ musicians. Maybe it was their avant-garde affectations, or their tendency to embrace the edgier aspects of punk or techno or shoegaze, so even the stabs at pop need to be prefixed as alt-pop or something similar. They have fans to be sure, but they have never been have never been the type of band to play to grab-all crowd of the Green Stage. Seeing them once again play a night-club style set in the Red Marquee on Sunday night, the last call for party time, will be an amazing treat. This band somehow continues to demand some discernment from its audience, and their Fuji Rock audiences have always managed to give it back to them.

Last year Buffalo Daughter celebrated its 20th anniversary with a compilation of remixes, “ReDiscoVer.Best,Re-recordings and Remixes of Buffalo Daughter”, and on July 23 they will release their 8th album, “Konjac-tion”, which includes new songs, new collaborations and a second CD of remixes by other musicians. I was fortunate enough to contact guitarist SuGar Yoshinaga by email and ask her why Buffalo Daughter got lumped in with Shibuya-kei, the unique path the band has taken, and after two decades, where they are going from here?
More…

Jul

Beer, Spirits, and Stuff

by Sean
SOME USEFUL THINGS TO REMEMBER WHEN FESTIVAL DRINKING

SOME USEFUL THINGS TO REMEMBER WHEN FESTIVAL DRINKING

Basically, the big  question about going to a festival is how to drink like a mofo all day and avoid going broke or doing the pee-pee dance while standing in super long lines for the toilet.  Or for the complete rager, how to party super hard without  becoming a pain in the ass who needs babysitting all night.

First of all, let’s talk about the reason to drink alcohol at a festival.  Four days of no work and nothing to do but chill and listen to good music, why not drink every goshdarn minute you are awake? This overwhelming positive is offset by the horrible reality that you are in a huge crowd of people who are pretty much thinking the same thing. This is why you need to a “drinking plan” or at least some things to think about before you order another mango daiquiri.

- Wake up a little before you start drinking. There’s probably a good chance you are hungover from the night before and it’s gonna be a long day so why not give the body some time to recover? On the other hand, you could just keep it rolling and toast the new day with a slug of vodka.

-Put some ice cubes into your wine, your beer, whatever. My friend, Brad, a horrible drinker who falls down a lot and has lots of UDI’s (unidentified drinking injuries) thought this silly trick would keep him hydrated. It actually doesn’t help at all, it  just makes the wine bottle last a little longer.

-Keep it slow and steady, i.e. just one drink at a time. Unless it’s the Pogues or the Waterboys or some holy-shit type band that you want to enjoy the hell out of. In that case, grab a “tray of beers” from the beer tent and kick it. But of course, not every band deserves this treatment.

-Drink some water. I know it can kill the buzz sometimes, but take a little sip.

Remember that you gotta be sober enough to stumble back to your hotel or tent, and that’s like a 30 minute or 1 hour trip. If you can’t make it, you will probably be sleeping in a ditch all night, and you better be prepared for the consequences.

-If you feel like you’re too drunk, try to eat some fruit. I saw an animal show on Discovery once and that’s what the monkeys did. Or was this how they got drunk in the first place? Anyways, I tried it once and it worked. The added benefit is that the regurgitation doesn’t taste so bad if its mainly mango and banana.

Keep reading for more tips, like saving money on booze, hangover remedies, etc.

More…

Jul

Into The Wild…Sorta.

A view from our campsite in 2012

A view from our campsite in 2012

Okay, so it might not be the wild, but camping at FujiRock is just as hairy a venture, albeit in different ways. Make no mistake – camping is fun, cost effective, and an incredibly and unique experience. Sleeping beneath the stars – or beneath a thin layer of nylon beneath the stars – in the thick of a the friendly Fuji community, surrounded by mountains, is absolutely worth it.

Still, it can be a bit of a shock for those who are used to the conveniences of home. Or showers. Or sleeping horizontally. Here are a few tips I can suggest, based on my experiences camping in 2012. I figure they’re good ones, because four out of five we learned the hard way. More…

Jul

Ogre You Asshole: 21st Century Vinyl Boys

by Lisa

less violent than the name implies

less violent than the name implies

Ogre You Asshole (OYA) is not your average rock’n’roll band. Apart from the obvious PG13-rated name (taken from a line in the film “Revenge of the Nerds”; a suggestion by Modest Mouse’s Eric Judy as a joke), there’s more to this 4 piece band than meets the eye. While most Japanese bands strive to move to and succeed in Tokyo, all the OYA members are happy to stay where they feel at home, in Nagano.
Inspired primarily by groovy and psychedelic bands from the 60s and 70s, they use elements of those styles but the results is something completely their own, and far more catchy.

Vocal/Guitarist Manabu Deto took some time out from the band’s recording of their next album (yet to be named, out later this year) to have a chat with us.

This will be your second time performing at Fuji Rock Festival. What was the first time like, and what are your expectations this time?

That’s right, we performed at the Red Marquee four years ago (2010), and to be honest I don’t remember so much, apart from the fact that it was fun (laughs). We were there for all three days, and saw bands like LCD Soundsystem and !!! (Chk Chk Chk) were really great. We’ll be on the White Stage this time. As long as we can blow the minds of the audience with our performance, I’m happy. But yeah, Fuji Rock is definitely special. This year we’ll be playing on the Sunday. If I could, I’d love to see The Flaming Lips (who play on the same day), but if I could see anyone on the other days… Arcade Fire would be cool, and Steve Hillage, too.

More…

Jul

Sexo Y Violencia From Lucha VaVOOM

by Alisa

Witness some serious butt-kicking

Witness some serious butt-kicking


If you’ve been to Fuji Rock before, or have been following the Fujirockers blog posts, you know that the festival fun doesn’t just come from the music. On top of the world class live music, you get a stomachful of good food, a great view of the mountains, and this year, even a seat at the Mexican masked wrestling/comedy/burlesque show Lucha VaVOOM.

Hailing from Los Angeles, California, Lucha VaVOOM will perform three shows a night at the Palace Arena from Friday through Sunday. But what exactly can we expect from the wrestling, strip tease, comedy troupe?

Inspired by Mexican action movies from the sixties, Lucha VaVOOM puts on a classic Good VS Evil battle with Mexican masked wrestlers, or luchadores, slamming bodies and fly kicking until their moment of victory. Hilarious commentators smooth out the violence throughout the show with comedy, and burlesque dancers amp up the heat with strip teases in between matches.

If you don’t think that sounds like fun, just take these guys‘ word for it. Rolling Stone says, “it’s enough to make even the most jaded Hollywood insider jump up and yell ‘SMACK DOWN!’”, with actor/comedian Jack Black agreeing, saying that “Lucha VaVOOM is the sh*t!”.

As you may already tell by looking at their schedule – their first show of the night starting at half-past midnight – Lucha VaVOOM isn’t the best show to take your kids to. But if you’ve had a PG day and need to spice up your night with some R-rated madness, you know where to go.

Sneak peek the performance and get a taste of what you’re in for.

Jul

White Lung: Fuji Rock “Will Be The Best Show We’ve Ever Played Outdoors”!

by Shawn
Things will be loud and wild when White Lung Play on the white stage

Things will be loud and wild when White Lung Play on the white stage

The Japanese version of White Lung’s blistering third album, “Deep Fantasy,” comes out this week through Hostess Entertainment.  The offering sees the Canadian punk act tearing through 10 loud and aggressive cuts at breakneck speed.  Clocking in at 23 minutes in length, “Deep Fantasy” is a fantastic listen and is rightfully receiving glowing accolades from the likes of Pitchfork and Spin, while NME recently called vocalist Mish Way “the most electrifying frontwoman of 2014.”

As part of their world tour in support of “Deep Fantasy” we’re going to see White Lung at Fuji Rock on July 26 for what will no doubt be a raucous performance for lots of eagerly bouncing bodies at the White Stage.  If the band’s set list from their June 25 Brooklyn concert is any indication, Fujirockers can expect to hear nearly all of the tracks from “Deep Fantasy” with a few songs from White Lung’s equally good “Sorry” record (which Rolling Stone called one of “The 10 Best Albums of 2012”).

Guitarist Kenneth William took a few minutes from the band’s busy touring schedule to answer some of our questions.  Fujirockers should like William’s answer to the question about White Lung’s Fuji Rock set!

You’re performing at Fuji Rock in a few weeks.  Will this be everyone’s first time visiting Japan?

Yeah, and we’re very excited about coming to Japan.  Some of us are staying afterwards to hang out and explore.  Japan has always been one of the top places we’ve wanted to play in.

Why are you excited about playing at Fuji Rock?

I’m excited to see the other bands at the fest and the mountains look very nice.

What can people expect from White Lung’s Fuji Rock set?

It’ll be very good and fast.  I think it will be the best show we’ve ever played outdoors.

Aside from performing, is there anything else you would like to see or do at Fuji Rock?

We’ll be exploring the site and checkout out some of the other bands. More…

Jul

Barbarella’s Bang Bang

Barbarellas_Bang_Bang(new)

Explosive

Every year there’s one act that plays a half a dozen times over the weekend, and most of the time it seems to be an act signed to Uncle Owen records (named after Luke Skywalker’s uncle, nerds), which suggests that you should be really careful before you sign with those guys.

This year, they’ll be working Barbarella’s Bang Bang to death. And the band looks tailor-made for Fuji Rock.

They’ll be playing at the Palace of Wonder, the Naeba Shokudo, the Mokudotei, the Cafe de Paris… and you get the idea.

So we spoke with frontwoman Barbara Pugliese, and here’s what she said:

Can you give us a brief history of the band?

The band formed in London 3 years ago with musicians coming from different countries and went through a few changes. It then gradually reached a more defined shape, which is the result of what you’re going to bump into veeery soon: a bunch of 5 different international, crazy, happy, creepy, dramatic, loving and silly characters who cannot wait to perform and share their music and love with Fuji Rock!

What’s the best description of Barbarella’s Bang Bang you’ve read?

Our biography written by James Ingham describes nicely our band:

‘Accordion-toting five piece ‘Barbarella’s Bang Bang’ is a cacophony of carnivalistic delights; a combination of European gypsy folk and theatrical pop musicality. With roots in Eastern and Roman Europe, Barbarella’s Bang Bang provide a soundtrack of ecstasy to all occasions. Fronted by the stunning Barbarella, the Bang Bang will take you on a ride from the eyes of a puppet in a world of lost lovers, to Bohemian dancehalls shadowed by broken Suns’.

Also, we had a pleasant review on thoughtcatalog.com :

‘…This band is brave in a whole different way. They are defiant. The way all good gypsies are. If there’s one thing you can say for a gypsy band, they have a survival spirit, they struggle, they hustle. And a gypsy band has a bull-rider’s grip on that aching throb of life. They hang on and if you can hang with a gypsy band you can hang with anything. The lead singer Barbarella has the sort of voice that wraps around your imagination and pulls tight. She has the girlish toughness of Gwen Stefani and the ache of a Billie Holliday with the playful vocal acrobatics of a Cyndi Lauper or Karen O’.


What is the bang bang in your group’s name?

It symbolises the explosion of musicality, expression, creativity and amusement of the band!

Your first album is coming out in Japan next month on Uncle Owen records. How did you hook up with them?

Last summer we played at the Salon Carousel stage at Glastonbury and after our set, Chris from Smash Productions approached us and invited us to play at Fuji Rock. It’s Chris that introduced our music to Uncleowen Records.

You used crowdfunding to make the album, and your blurb specified that you wanted to come to Japan and the Fuji Rock Festival. Is it safe to assume you’re pretty excited to perform here?

Yes we did use crowdfunding to record our album and be able to play at Fuji Rock! We can’t believe yet we are actually going to perform there. We feel so blessed to embrace such an amazing and magical experience in our lives!

Outside of the festival, what are you most looking forward to doing in Japan?

Visiting Tokyo and other cities of course… play as much as we can…meet a lot of people…drink sake… get inspired from the Japanese fashion…buy souvenirs…learn a bit of Japanese…have the most fun possible…feed our brains with all the visual madness of Japan!

Have you had a favourite gig so far?

Our Glastonbury gig of last year was fabulous! The Salon Carousel stage was the perfect scenario for us and the sound and crowd were wonderful!

Also…we just got back from Fusion Festival in Germany and had a superb time over there too: we got to play 2 gigs there…very different from each other but both fun and joyful in their own ways!
We also keep on having a wicked time when playing in London venues such as Cafe Cairo, The Bird’s Nest, Jambouree, Hootananny and many more. Every gig has its own magic… even when it goes wrong!

What’s the last song or album you bought?

Tune Yards album
Led Zeppelin remastered albums 1,2,3
The Pursuit by Jamie Callum
Dring by Nose

Jul

A Q&A with Ninja Tune’s Mr. Scruff

Scruff looking not so scruffy

Scruff looking not so scruffy

For a festival as diverse musically as Fuji Rock, a DJ like Mr. Scruff fits the bill perfectly. “As a DJ, Andy Carthy aka
Mr. Scruff plays across the board, flitting between soul, funk, hip hop, jazz, reggae, latin, african, ska, disco, house,
funk, breaks, soundtracks and loads more. As a producer he makes music that draws on these influences, with a large dose
of cheek and good humour. His cartoon drawings illustrate gig flyers, record sleeves and CD covers, and usually accompany
him at gigs as live animated visuals.” His record collection is notoriously massive; he always travels with his records to
gigs. Scruff was recently featured in an episode of Crate diggers, check it out to get a taste of the man.
I was lucky enough to get a chance to do a short Q&A with Scruff in anticipation of his Fuji Rock debut, peruse it below
and make sure to catch Mr. Scruff playing the Red Marquee at Fuji Rock July 27th.
You’re known for playing playing long sets filled with all different styles and genres of music.
Do you have a preference to a set length or genre to play out?
I prefer to play around 5 or 6 hours. Genre-wise, whatever feels right at the time!
You’ve played all over the world in numerous venues and festivals, what are some of your favourite, some stands outs over the years?
Band on the Wall in Manchester (home of my residency) Plastic People (London), Smart Bar (Chicago), Loop, Module (Tokyo), Womad Festival (UK/Australia/New Zealand). Beatherder Festival (UK).
How do you feel about your new album, Friendly Bacteria? It’s pretty different than your past work, what were some of your influences in making it? Do you enjoy the process of producing and making an album or would you rather be out digging for tunes and DJing?
I really enjoy making an album. This album was different due to the large number of collaborations, which really helped to push me as a producer, regarding how my productions sound.
What keeps you going this many years into the music game? Who are some of your influences and what are some of your goals in regards to the music?
I work very hard, and don’t do anything that I don’t feel comfortable with in order to make money. That way, I enjoy everything I do, and continue to grow & develop. Regarding influences, I would say that John Peel, Afrika Bambaataa, Stu Allan, Scientist, Sun Ra, Theo Parrish, Pete Rock, Tom Ze, Paddy Steer & Kaidi Tatham are those who come to mind today. tomorrow it will be a different set of names!
You’re also known to have a massive record collection, do you always travel with vinyl or do you have to resort to digital when overseas? Have you ever had any mishaps with lost records or baggage not showing up in time for the gig?
I Play vinyl overseas too. It is expensive to transport, and a lot more work to set up the equipment for vinyl, but I love playing it. I only had one mishap with missing records at Sonar festival in Barcelona, when one of my two boxes turned up a few days late. The gig still went really well though.
Similarly, speaking to your record collection, do you have an extensive collection of Japanese music?
Not massive, but I do buy a lot whenever I come to Japan, especially Japanese-only vinyl releases.
Who are some of your favourite Japanese artists or favourite tunes?
Sleepwalker, Soil & Pimp Sessions, Teruo Nakamura, Muro, Gagle, Kimiko Kasai, Rondenion, Riow Arai, Sadao Watanabe.
How many times have you been to Japan and where are some of your favourite places in Japan?
I have only been to Japan 3 times, to Osaka, Kyoto & Tokyo. I love the venues. We had some time in the hills in Kyoto, which is a beautiful place, and record shopping in Shibuya was amazing. I saw Prince Buster & Gaz Mayall at Yellow about 10 years ago on my birthday, that was a brilliant night.
Favourite things about Japan and Japanese culture?
The food, the attention to detail, and the obsessiveness, passion and knowledge of all kinds of music. Japanese people love to party, so the gigs are always really enjoyable.
If you were a piece of sushi what sushi roll would you be?
I prefer Sashimi to Sushi, so i would say Tuna Sashimi.
What can we expect from your set at Fuji Rock and is 90 min. going to be enough?
Not sure yet. 90 minutes isn’t really enough, but I may play a lot of 45s, so I can fit a lot of music in. Expect a party!
Do you go to many live shows? Will you have some time at Fuji Rock? Any acts you are particularly interested in checking out?
I try & see as many live shows as I can, really looking forward to seeing Theo Parrish live in July. I will have some time at Fuji Rock, and plan to see Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra, Syl Johnson & Chet Faker.
Finally, any message for the readers?
See you at Fuji Rock!

For a festival as musically diverse as Fuji Rock, a DJ like Mr. Scruff fits the bill perfectly. “As a DJ, Andy Carthy aka Mr. Scruff plays across the board, flitting between soul, funk, hip hop, jazz, reggae, latin, african, ska, disco, house, funk, breaks, soundtracks and loads more. As a producer he makes music that draws on these influences, with a large dose of cheek and good humour. His cartoon drawings illustrate gig flyers, record sleeves and CD covers, and usually accompany him at gigs as live animated visuals.” His record collection is notoriously massive and he always travels with his records to gigs. Scruff was recently featured in an episode of Crate diggers, check it out to get a taste of the man.

I was lucky enough to get a chance to do a short Q&A with Scruff in anticipation of his Fuji Rock debut, peruse it below and make sure to catch Mr. Scruff playing the Red Marquee on July 27th.

You’re known for playing long sets filled with all different styles and genres of music. Do you have a preference to a set length or genre to play out?

I prefer to play around 5 or 6 hours. Genre-wise, whatever feels right at the time!

You’ve played all over the world in numerous venues and festivals, what are some of your favourite, or some stands-outs over the years?

Band on the Wall in Manchester (home of my residency) Plastic People (London), Smart Bar (Chicago), Loop, Module (Tokyo), Womad Festival (UK/Australia/New Zealand). Beatherder Festival (UK).

How do you feel about your new album, Friendly Bacteria? It’s pretty different than your past work, what were some of your influences in making it? Do you enjoy the process of producing and making an album?

I really enjoy making an album. This album was different due to the large number of collaborations, which really helped to push me as a producer, regarding how my productions sound. More…

Jul

The Last Lineup Announcement for 2014 is Live!

by Lisa
MATE POWAHHHH

MATE POWAHHHH

With only three weeks to go to Fuji Rock, it’s time to get excited! Is there a better way to get pumped than checking out the very latest and very last lineup announcement with complete timetable for 2014?

The short answer is no. The long answer… is also no.

Get out your pens, papers, smartphones and excel spreadsheets. It’s time to plan your Fuji Rock experience down to the very last millisecond.

Mate Power will be playing at Cafe de Paris, on top of their originally scheduled Naeba Shokudo show. Both shows are on Friday, so you better be out there early! Tokyo’s DJ Emma has been turning tables since the mid 1980s and will be making Planet Groove…groovy.

Most important of all though, is the full Rookie A-Go-Go lineup! These are the bands that most people have never heard of before seeing them, but are most likely to be talking about after they’ve come home. Last year’s not-for-the-squeamish Oboreta Ebi no Kenshi Houkokusho. The name is impossible to remember, but their costumes, music and performance makes up for that, which is why they’ll be returning this year on Sunday at the Red Marquee. As for the newbies for 2014… check them all out here ahead of the fest.

(At the time of posting, detailed timetable information was only available on the Japanese Fuji Rock Festival website. More information will be available on the English website shortly.)

*Photo by Julen Esteban-Pretel used with the permission of Smashing Mag.

Jul

The Three Ways to Approach Fuji Rock

by Matt
The Campers in their natural habitat

The Campers in their natural habitat

How do you approach going to a music festival? Do you spend the week beforehand poring over the whole bill, sampling every band through Youtube? Or do you follow your ears once you’ve arrived? In my experience, those at Fuji Rock can be broken down into largely three groups. Which one do you fit into? Be sure to let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page!

The Timetabler
These people are easy to spot at the festival; they are the ones striding purposefully between stages, almost half running with their nose buried in a schedule as they struggle to get from the Orange Court to the Red Marquee in the five minute gap between acts. Before the festival, they hang on each new act release date and especially the timetable release so that they can plan their three days at Fuji Rock to military precision. They aim to get as much as humanly possible out of the festival and each day is scheduled from the bleary-eyed 10am start to the 5am finish in the magnificent Palace of Wonder. I do count myself among this group…

The Wanderer
This group of people will maybe glance briefly at the schedule before buying a ticket. To them, the festival is more about the experience rather than any specific bands. They’ll wander around the whole of the mammoth festival’s grounds, soaking in the atmosphere on the boardwalk and browse the stalls in the nooks and crannies of the Field of Heaven stage. Following whims, friends’ recommendations or simply their ears, they’ll stop and listen to bands as they please. A tip for anyone who’s considering doing this, be sure to give yourself a rest up at the Daydreaming stage. It’ll help you recharge and relax before descending back into the mud of the main festival streets.

The Camper
Once they’re at the festival, this group of people will do one piece of walking: from the gates to their chosen stage. Once they’ve arrived there, they’ll claim their territory by spreading their tarpaulin, setting up their chairs and placing their freezer box within easy reach. They’ll spend the rest of that day at that stage, listening to whatever comes on and napping if it becomes too much for them. This is especially popular among families and those with younger ones along for the festival. The Green Stage is the most heavily ‘Camper’ populated stage, its broad meadow providing plenty of space and big-name artists pumping out awesome music until late.

Jun

Subverse Pop: Oomori Seiko Brings Her Unique Style To Fuji

by Patrick
Oomori Seiko looks like an idol, but she has a lot of tricks up her sleeve

Oomori Seiko looks like an idol, but she has a lot of tricks up her sleeve

If one were to casually glance at some of Oomori Seiko’s press pictures, it would be forgivable to assume she was an idol pop singer. That’s a pretty lucrative path to take today, anyway – the Japanese music charts are clogged with idol groups, outfits featuring primarily young women singing upbeat numbers. Seiko looks the part, and she has performed at one of the nation’s largest idol gatherings, the Tokyo Idol Festival.

Then you watch the video, and realize something isn’t quite right.

More…

Jun

Pogues and Me

by Sean
THE INDOMITABLE POGUES

THE INDOMITABLE POGUES

The Pogues may be the most unexpected addition to this year’s line-up, a last minute addition to close out the Green Stage on Sunday. It’s a fitting time to see this genre defining Celtic-punk band, and hopefully,  the legions of Pogues fans will be carefully spacing their drinks on Sunday to allow them the legs to remain upright at this late period of the festival.

By my  calculation, the Pogues  reunion tour  is nearly 13 years and running,  nearly the same amount of time the Pogues existed as a group.  The very first reunion date was a brief Christmas tour in 2001, and since then, they have strung together a handful of dates every year or so, including brief US tours that are no more than jaunts through cities with large Irish populations such as New York, Chicago and Boston.  And this year’s tour is something of a minor miracle,  especially with mercurial Shane MacGowan helming the ship.

My first  encounter with the band was a brief conversation with Pogues tin whistle player, Spider Stacy, about the poor state of health of  MacGowan in 1991, and how the band had recruited Joe Strummer to perform in his place.  In years leading up to this, it wasn’t uncommon to see MacGowan flat on  his back during a show, leading Stacy to do most of the vocals.  But Stacy was no model of sobriety either, and my conversation with him was in an Irish bar next door to the Beacon Theater where the Pogues were scheduled to go on in 30 minutes for a crowd of 3,000!  His  loose-limbed slurred speech indicated he had  spent much of the afternoon consuming Guinness and whisky shots. And only now was rushing to the backdoor entrance of the Beacon Theater, toasting all the bar patrons and promising a ripping show.  The encore that evening was London Calling, and I still find it hard to believe that Joe Strummer is gone and Shane MacGowan is still soldiering onwards. More…

Jun

Fuji Rock: A Late Night Party Guide

by Dave

It's better after dark

It's better after dark

Fuji Rock is a long festival with something for everyone blah blah blah, but let’s face it, for some of us, after midnight is our permanent time zone, and sometimes the fun goes even later — “fun” being a concept that is obviously open to interpretation, as stumbling sideways in the rain, having somehow lost your shirt, in a parking lot, sloshing your rum Coke all over yourself and the people next to you, may not meet everyone’s definition of “fun”.

There are at least three major late-night parties built into the Fuji Rock schedule: All Night Fuji, the rave at the Orange Court on Friday night; the Red Marquee lineups each night from 11pm onwards (Planet Groove on Friday, Tribal Circus on Saturday, and Sunday Sessions on the final night), and the Palace of Wonder, a sort of fallback afterparty that does not function at all outside the hours of 10pm to 5am, and as I peruse its performance schedule, I see it is sponsored by Bacardi.
More…

Jun

Owen Pallett Scares Off The Squares

MUSIC Owen Pallett 20140526

Pallett will play solo and with Arcade Fire at FRF '14

Owen Pallett will take two Fuji stages this year. That’s about right – with Pallett, there’s always a minimum of two things happening at once. A blogger, violinist, sought-after composer/arranger (Oscar-nominated, no less – for his work on the film Her), solo artist and touring member of Arcade Fire, Pallett is used to the pace – even if, occasionally, he has to force himself to keep it.

“When you are creatively employed,” says Pallett, “when you’re your own boss, you’ll generally make decisions based on the ‘path of least resistance.’ You are more likely to post on Facebook than you are to practice violin. If I get an exciting offer to work on an album, or write a violin concerto, or whatever, my fingers itch to work on it and I can’t say no. By far my favourite activity is playing shows, but the travel is often gruelling.” More…

Jun

Darkside: Electronic rock ‘n’ roll

by Elliott
NICOLAS JAAR AND DAVE HARRINGTON WANT YOU TO JOIN THE DARKSIDE

NICOLAS JAAR AND DAVE HARRINGTON WANT YOU TO JOIN THE DARKSIDE

New York native Nicolas Jaar’s secret to creating music is quite simple: slow it down. Nowhere can this be better summed up than at the opening of his two-hour BBC Radio One Essential Mix debut in May 2012, where he samples Angelo Badalamenti discussing the impromptu manner in which he came up with the soundtrack for “Twin Peaks” on an old Fender Rhodes keyboard with director David Lynch. Voted the radio station’s mix of the year, it was a bold statement that mashed together Beyonce, Aphex Twin, Marvin Gaye, Shigeru Umebayashi (”Yumeji’s Theme“) and Ricardo Villalobos, among others. Even by today’s standards, it’s still an extraordinary listen.

Dave Harrington joined Jaar on a tour to promote his debut 2011 album, “Space is Only Noise.” In hindsight, it was a match made in heaven and the pair’s three-song debut EP, “Darkside,” arguably remains one of the highlights of that year. It’s electronic music as you’ve never heard it before, offering a heavy dose of blues-infected rock with groovy basslines that would get any cowboy out of their chair and onto the dance floor. Yes, even Lucky Luke.

More…

Jun

An Interview with James Smith From Fuji Rock Organizer Smash

by Shawn
James Smith (left) and Jason Mayall (right) at Smash's office in London

James Smith (left) and Jason Mayall (right) at Smash's office in London

Every year Smash’s staff work very hard to put together one of the world’s most amazing music festivals, Fuji Rock. So we thought it would be cool to touch in with James Smith from Smash’s UK office to hear about the things he does leading up to, and during the fest. Smith has been working at Smash since 2008 so this summer with be his seventh Fuji Rock. Read our interview with him below and make sure you check out his recommendations of acts to see at Fuji Rock ’14 at the very bottom of this post.

What’s your job at Smash?

I’m one of two staff at Smash’s subsidiary office in London. Although everyone in the company takes different areas of responsibility, no one really has a fixed job title except the boss! My responsibilities with regards to Fuji Rock include seeking out breaking artists at an early stage, feeding info on what’s buzzing through to the rest of the office, and liaising with agents over here throughout the booking process. It’s not always the case, but you often find that bands have two agents – one in the US, who represent them just for the US, and one in London, who’ll be doing the rest of the world, even if they are a US act. So we’re well placed between our offices in Japan and people here and can pick up the phone or meet face to face when needed. London’s also – in my biased opinion – the centre of the universe for new music. It’s usually the first stop for bands from around the world when they first play abroad, and of course we have a long history working with British artists in Japan.

We also plan the decorations and art throughout the site. We bring the teams who design the inflatable stars you’ll see in the woods, the legendary “Gonchan” Fuji Rock rocks, and other touches and details that really make the festival unique. We work on the production of the Palace of Wonder area too. Located just outside of the main gates, it’s the place where you can carry on the party after a long day of band watching. You’ll find bands and DJs in the Crystal Palace spiegeltent, the Palace Arena outdoor circus shows, a whole host of art installations, wonderfully bizarre sideshows, the Rookie Stage, and the always popular DJ bar and casino, Vegas in Milk.

The whole area is very fun, and our audience loves it for the unique vibe.  It’s also where most bands end up coming for a drink after they’ve finished!

More…

Jun

Hunter Hayes plays proper country

hhayes

I’ve been procrastinating this week by making a league table of songs we’ll hear at Fuji Rock this year, ranked by number of Youtube views. I know it’s a meaningless waste of time.

Number one (prove me wrong), by far, is this, with 108 million views.

And second, with over 40 million views, is “Wanted” by Hunter Hayes

I’m delighted to see country music at Fuji Rock. I love the music. My only worry is that I’ll be standing on my own in the field. Hayes isn’t alt-country like First Aid Kit, he’s proper Nashville style. But Japan does have a sizeable country music scene, based in Kumamoto, Kyushu (sister city: San Antonio). The Country Gold music festival there has drawn 20,000 punters in the past.

Maybe the country lovers will descend on Fuji Rock this year and I won’t be on my own.

Either way, here’s another clip:

Official website here.

Jun

Don’t miss the (pre)party!

So, you got your 3-day pass for the big festival, you’ve planned out your train route and are all set for an awesome 3 day party with your favourite bands. What could be better? Well what if I told you, you could extend that party an extra day, see some surprise sets from aforementioned awesome bands, enjoy a pre-party with the Naeba locals, take in a fireworks show, a traditional Japanese bon-odori dance  and it was all for free. Allow me to make the case why you cant truly experience this great festival if you don’t come up on Thursday. Let’s start off with the main reason you are headed to a ski resort in the middle of the summer, the music. As you can gather or have experienced for yourself in the past, a music festival the size of Fuji-rock, with 14 stages of acts playing simultaneously, you’re going to have to pick and choose. It certainly pained me last year to have to make the tough choices in what acts to sacrifice seeing to be able to take in others. Despite all the running around you’re going to do, it’s just physically impossible to take in all the good music (it can often take over 30 minutes to get from one end of the festival to the other when crowded). Why not relieve yourself of some of that stress and enjoy a bonus 3 or so extras performances. Last year featured fun and energetic sets from the likes of Turtle Island, Skinny Lister, and Rega. In all 3 I discovered great news bands that I wouldn’t have otherwise if I didn’t arrive on the Thursday.
Let’s consider a few more reasons to come on Thursday. If music is your priority, (and why wouldn’t it be) you want to catch as many acts as possible. Would you rather be scrambling around at the crack of dawn on Friday morning, battling through hoards of crowds on the trains or roads, finally arriving then searching desperately to find a campsite and set up your tent in time to make it to the 11 am timeslot of your favourite band? Or would you rather leisurely wake up at ten, grab some coffee and breakfast with friends and stroll down to to the white stage to catch your favourite band? I thought so…
Music aside, if you want a decent site to pitch your tent, something on flat ground, and not halfway up the mountainside, you’re going to have to arrive on the Thursday. As I mentioned before why give yourself the extra stress of bracing the crowds  and struggling to find a half-way decent spot to camp when there’s good music to be taken in. The roads will be less busy travelling up, the trains less crowded, why start a music vacation off with extra stress.
So, now that you’ve decided to come up on the Thursday you’ll be able to party with all the other like-minded Fuji-rockers who know that the best way to make this music 3-day vacation even better is to extend it to a 4th. More music, less stress what could be better? So what are you waiting for? You’ve already booked off the Friday, what’s one more day? A musical paradise in Naeba awaits.
You wouldn't wanna miss this, would you?

rega - rocking the pre-party.

So, you’ve got your ticket for the big festival, you’ve planned out your train route, packed your bags and are all set for an awesome 3-day party with your favorite bands. What could be better? Well, what if I told you, you could extend that party an extra day? You could see some surprise sets from said favorite bands, enjoy a pre-party with the Naeba locals, take in a fireworks show, witness a traditional Japanese bon-odori dance and it was all for free. Allow me to make the case for why you can’t truly experience this great festival if you don’t come up on the Thursday. Let’s start off with the main reason you are headed to a ski resort in the middle of summer, the music. As you can gather, or have experienced for yourself, a music festival the size of Fuji Rock, with 14 stages of acts playing simultaneously, you’re going to have to pick and choose. It certainly pained me last year to have to make the tough choices in what acts to sacrifice to be able to take in others. Despite all the running around you’re going to do, it’s just physically impossible to take in all the good music (it can often take over 30 minutes to get from one end of the festival to the other). Why not relieve yourself of some of that stress and enjoy a bonus 3 or more extra performances at the pre-party. Last year featured fun and energetic sets from the likes of Turtle Island, Skinny Lister, and rega. In all 3 I discovered great bands which I wouldn’t have otherwise if I didn’t arrive on the Thursday. Read a review of Turtle Island’s raging pre-party set here

If music is your priority, (and why wouldn’t it be) you want to catch as many acts as possible. Would you rather be scrambling around at the crack of dawn on Friday morning? Then, battling through hoards of crowds on the trains or roads, finally arriving and searching desperately to find a campsite and set up your tent in time to make it to the 11 am time slot of your favorite band? Or would you rather leisurely wake up, grab some coffee and breakfast, then stroll down to to the white stage with time to spare? I thought so.

Music aside, if you want a decent site to pitch your tent, something on flat ground, and not halfway up the mountainside, you’re going to have to arrive on the Thursday. As I mentioned before why give yourself the extra stress of bracing the crowds  and struggling to find a half-way decent spot to camp when there’s good music to be taken in.

So, now that you’ve decided to come up on the Thursday you’ll be able to pre-party with all the other like-minded Fuji rockers who know that the best way to make this 3-day music vacation even better is to extend it to a 4th. More music, a free party with the locals, less stress the next morning.  What are you waiting for? You’ve already booked off the Friday, what’s one more day? A musical paradise in Naeba awaits.

Photo : Yutaro Suzuki

Jun

Autopsy Report of a Drowned Shrimp

by Matt
535

Autopsy Report of a Drowned Shrimp at FRF '13

To the average foreigner, Japan has a lot of weirdness. From the phallic Kanamara festival to the street fashion of Harajuku and everything in between, there’s always just the hint of otherness lurking beneath Japanese culture’s serious demeanour. There is no other band that embodies this than Kyoto based ‘Autopsy Report of a Drowned Shrimp’ (溺れたエビの検死報告書 in their native Japanese). Their motto is simple: ‘Our heads are shrimp, our bodies are human’.

On stage, all members wear the band’s custom shrimp masks, fluoro outfits and become immersed in the world of shrimps, with the band’s leader communicating with the rest of the band’s 10 main members is in shrimp-like burblings, shrieks and taps from his stripped upright bass. It’s a totally in-character and vigorous show, with members cavorting around the stage and the boss shrimp taking time out to direct the band and audience equally with a large marching stick.

But the looks take nothing away from the music, with its wild, blasting mix of cacophonous funk and jazz. With the spine of the band’s sound coming from the percussion and the virtuosic slapped bass of its leader, this leaves the brass, piano and guitars to run crazy, melody rushing freely and fast. The band was originally formed in 2001 and it shows in their live shows, each musician a seamless part of the tight but effortlessly organic sound. There’s a shear primality to their sound, which is echoed by their dress that just compels the audience to dance along with this group of madmen in giant shrimp masks.

The band actually competed in the Rookie A Go-Go competition at last year’s Fuji Rock Festival and won it, sealing this year’s spot at the Red Marquee on Sunday the 27th. They were even good enough to make it onto a number of this blog’s staff members’ Top 5 of the festival, despite being an unknown rookie band. As a spectator at that last gig, I can only recommend that you embrace your inner shrimp and find some time to drift over to their gig at the Red Marquee to catch this art-funk spectacular. In the band’s own words, “ワシャワシャ!! グギャギャ!!! ”

You can follow them on their Facebook account here.

Photo: Yutaro Suzuki

Jun

Solo Turn: Gotch Goes For The Spotlight

by Patrick
The Asian Kung-Fu Generation singer steps out on his own

The Asian Kung-Fu Generation singer steps out on his own

Masafumi Gotoh is no stranger to the Fuji Rock Festival. He first played the event in 2004, and has returned frequently over the past decade. He even rocked out on the Green Stage in 2010, about as big as one can get without getting the largest-font treatment on the poster. Yet during all those trips out to Naeba, Gotoh wasn’t alone – he served as the lead singer for beloved alternative-rock band Asian Kung-Fu Generation, a group that remains highly popular even as they approach their 20th anniversary.

Gotoh will pack up for Fuji Rock once again this summer, but this time he’ll be making the trek alone, playing the Red Marquee under his solo moniker Gotch.

Asian Kung-Fu Generation has been kicking since 1996, but lately Gotoh has been branching into new avenues. In 2010, he launched his own music label, Only In Dreams, which releases music in Japan from domestic artists as well as foreign bands. A year later, he released his first solo record under his own name (the Gotch moniker came later), the “Lost” digital single. Although his vocals hit on everything he brought to Asian Kung-Fu Generation – the ability to swing between sounding focuses and sounding dramatic – the song was a bouncier affair, complimented by female backing singing. Plus, a really cute video.

In 2012, “Lost” got a vinyl release, and in 2013 he officially took on the Gotch name for all future solo endeavors. The first was a seven-inch for his new track “The Long Goodybe,” a song featuring thudding percussion and a big ol’ chorus that would sound great in the arenas his main band played, but here was rendered around slightly more intimate sounds. This year saw the release of his debut album as Gotch, the wistfully titled Can’t Be Forever Young. Along with songs veering more towards rock (albeit a less huge sound than his main group), Gotch’s first full-length features wrinkles like record scratches, horns and a lot of synthesizers.

His first Fuji Rock outing as Gotch won’t find Gotoh going it alone on the Red Marquee. He’s put together a band featuring other Japanese rockers to back him up. Still, this is all his own material, being displayed on a pretty big stage. Even if he’s graced the Green Stage, it’s gotta be an exciting feeling.

Official site

Jun

First Aid Kit Honors Alt-Country Greats

by Sean
FRESH FACED FOLK FROM  FIRST AID KIT

FRESH FACED SWEDISH FOLK FROM FIRST AID KIT

Swedish sister-act, First Aid Kit, will feel right at home in the woods of Naeba. Johanna and Klara Söderberg made waves in 2008 with a self-recorded Youtube rendition of the Fleet Foxes’ Tiger Mountain Peasant Song. The video has received a startling 3.8 million views, becoming a viral hit, and an unexpected audition tape for record companies who soon come a knocking. Though they no longer play this song in concert, their rendition of Simon & Garfunkel’s “America” is a similar winner and a common set closer for the group, and you can watch it here at the Swedish Polar Music Prize complete with orchestral accompaniment.

But perhaps the biggest reason to pay attention to this duo is their self professed love for the alt-county movement including Conor Oberst and his stable of artists on Saddle Creek Records. In fact, Mike Mogis who produced/engineered/and played on many of the Saddle Creek recordings worked on the duo’s breakout  second album, “Lion’s Roar”.

A single from the album “Emmylou” went straight to number 1 in Sweden, and did similarly well in England, no doubt helped by the white hot success of Mumford & Sons. “Emmylou” is a tribute song, name checking some of the all-time country greats: Emmylou Harris, June Carter, Gram Parsons, Johnny Cash.  First Aid Kit says they were inspired by musical duos and the magical musical chemistry they created as  June and Johnny were undoubtedly the first couple of country music, while Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris enjoyed a much darker and mysterious relationship, culminating in Parsons’ final album, “Grievous Angel.” As a further tribute to Parsons, the video for the single “Emmylou” was filmed at Joshua Tree, his final resting place, complete with a  makeshift grave/ altar of the late, country great. First Aid Kit play on the White Stage on Friday afternoon. Official Band Website