Is Japanese Indie ready?

I can still remember the first time I went to a concert of a J-Rock band in Germany.

I was 16, super hyped and had no idea WHAT exactly I was singing. But standing in this crowded hall, which was way too small to fit all the Cyberpunks, Visual-Kei fans and mid-puberty kids like me, was one of the best feelings ever. The band was LM.C, and if you don’t know them: Put neon colors and some kittens in a mixer and season it with some kind-of-Metal-but-not-really, and there you have it.

Luckily my taste in music has changed for the better. I got introduced to the 80’s (who doesn’t love some Synthesizer-sounds), learned that Electro is more than David Guetta and that Indie and Progressive Rock are probably the best genres ever. Therefore, I lost interest in Japanese music for quite some time as it was hard to get to know new, unpopular artists without Japanese friends and no Spotify, which is now basically my holy grail to discover new artists.

And, well, let’s be honest. Japanese Pop hasn’t been a goldmine for music lovers in the past 10 years. A lot of pink, a lot of fan service. But luckily, there is some movement. Inspired by British classics like The Clash, the already very productive Japanese Punk scene, and the big influence of Electronic Music in Japan recently, young Indie artists are able to create a new way of shaping the music scene.

Even if this kind of style already existed years ago, I feel like now is the perfect time for alternative musicians to create AND be successful with their work. Indie is booming. Let’s take a look at the band DYGL, founded 2012 in Tokyo. Their sounds is somewhere between The Kooks and The View, very British with some Punk elements. Singer Nobuki Akiyama has basically no Japanese accent and practiced his Scottish accent alone by imitating his favorite artists. Whoever listens to their music without knowing their origin wouldn’t know where they’re from. It’s not just the accent, the whole package is just so far away from what we are used to from Japanese music. They are currently touring through England and are quite successful. I desperately hope they’ll play a show in Nagoya soon.

There is also the pop project “the fin”. Very 80’s, very artsy, maybe a bit pretentious, but definitely something new. Their lyrics are English as well, and I do think it is kind of sad. To me, their sound (mesmerizing synthesizer combined with surf rock guitars) would fit perfectly to the Japanese language. But well, it’s not like ALL of Japan’s new bands abandoned their mother tongue.

Let’s welcome Brian the Sun to the stage. Japanese only. Even though they are playing in their current lineup since 2011, they just signed their major label deal with Epic Record Japan in 2016. And with a major deal, there comes opportunity. Their song “HEROES” is part of the OST of the Anime “My Hero Academia”. Even though their style can simply be categorized as J-Rock, they mix Indie, Punk and Pop. Basically no song sounds the same, a quality a lot of J-Rock bands lack of. If you want to convince yourself, they are playing a show together at CLUB UPSET with LAMP IN TERREN (also fabulous, singer has an amazing voice) and 神はサイコロを振らない.

A perfect combination that shows, that one genre can be extremely rich in style and sounds. And that’s what I love about Japanese artists. They are not afraid to experiment, to step out of the comfort zone and, and this is simply based on my own observation, they support each other.

I can’t wait for the show and I hope there will be more positive movements towards a more creative form of music by Japanese musicians who are brave enough to push boundaries.

Beyond Shine
December 4 18:30~
¥3,000 adv ¥3,500 door
Club Upset
Amusant Ikeshita Bldg.
1-4-23 Ikeshita, Chikusa-ku

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