Matsushita Makoto Interview (2019)

Here is a rare interview with Mr. Matsushita Makoto in which he talks about his career, focusing especially on his first two solo albums. Highly recommended reading for fans of this man’s work.

On a personal note, I might mention that in my mind First Light is one of the very best, genre-defining city pop albums of all time. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it, dammit.

Interview & text: Kawamura Yusuke & Takaki Rita (Japanese text)
English translation: Henkka

Note: You can buy Matsushita Makoto’s music from CDJapan.

Profile

At the age of 18, he was admitted to the Nem Conservatory where he majored in guitar, studying music theory, composition, and arrangement. At 19, he began working professionally as a live musician, playing more than 500 shows over the span of four years. At 22, he did his first studio work when he was in charge of sound production and arrangement on Yamane Mai’s Tasogare, after which he would go on to work with countless of artists as an arranger, producer, and guitarist at the heart of the Japanese pop music scene.

As a recording artist, he released three solo albums in the 80’s. Furthermore, he has done pop rock in AB’S, progressive rock in Paradigm Shift and Future Days, contemporary jazz fusion in Groove Weather, a cappella chorus music in Breath by Breath, funk rock in Rainey’s Band, as well ambient music and total improvisation in Nebula and other bands in his search of completely new types of sounds.

Guitarist and arranger Matsushita Makoto, known especially for his chorus vocal arrangements for artists like SMAP and KinKi Kids, his supporting work for a great number of artists, and for being a member of AB’S alongside Yoshino Fujimaru.

Now, two of the albums he released in the 1980’s under his own name are being reissued along with bonus tracks and the latest high-resolution remastering. Those two releases are First Light, featuring first-rate pop notable for its meticulous arrangements and musical performances, and The Pressures And The Pleasures, more closely reflecting its creator’s personal tastes with its strong prog rock influence. Even amidst growing appreciation for Japanese music from the 1980’s, these releases stand out as highly acclaimed masterpieces both in an outside of Japan. Both of these amazing albums shine with an evergreen glow.

In commemoration of the reissuing of these two albums, we conducted an email interview with the artist himself. In this rare interview, we asked him about the beginnings of his career, the time period of his solo releases, and what he has been up to since then.

Continue reading

Lamp “Akari Tsushin” Issue #1

I have an exciting announcement to make.

Akari Tsushin is the name of Lamp’s digital magazine, previously available only in Japanese. Today, I am very pleased to be able to announce the publication of the English-language edition of its first issue, now available at Lamp’s online store.

Akari Tsushin is created by the members of the band, with the English translation by yours truly.

Contents
■ Lamp in Conversation: “4 AM Chat”
■ Endless Rain Into a Paper Cup: “Language and Music” (Someya Taiyo)
■ Unaddressed Letter: “It Was Time Travel” (Sakakibara Kaori)
■ Pajama Travel Journals: “Winter 2009 Sado Trip” (Nagai Yusuke)
■ Casual Best 5: “The Beatles”
■ Yume Utsutsu: “First Encounters with Music and Instruments”
■ Photo Studio Reminiscences
■ Editorial Postscript

That’s 15 pages of Lamp goodness!

Lamp and I have worked closely together to produce a faithful English language edition of Akari Tsushin for their non-Japanese-speaking audience. I’m personally very pleased with the results, and it is sure to be of much interest to their listeners everywhere.

For a sneak peek, below is a small sample from the five-page opening conversation.

Continue reading

Mid-Air Thief “Crumbling” Interview (2018)

An interview with Mid-Air Thief (aka Gongjoong Doduk, Public Morality, Bird’s Eye Batang) about his sophomore album, Crumbling. I have a feeling that any further introduction of the album is unnecessary. Enjoy!

Interview & text: Someya Taiyo (Japanese text)
English translation: Henkka
Mid-Air Thief on the web: Bandcamp

When Botanical House released Mid-Air Thief’s first album Public Morality last year it created a buzz and sold quite well almost entirely through word of mouth, completely due to the high quality of its content.

Continue reading

Mid-Air Thief “Public Morality” Interview (2017)

Mid-Air Thief (aka Gongjoong Doduk, Public Morality, Bird’s Eye Batang) released his excellent debut album in 2015. It was also released in Japan by Botanical House in 2017, and this interview was conducted on that occasion by Someya Taiyo (who you might know from Lamp). Interviews with Mid-Air Thief are scarce at best so this is a rare treat.

Enjoy!

Interview & text: Someya Taiyo (Japanese text)
English translation: Henkka
Mid-Air Thief on the web: BandCamp

Not only does Public Morality easily transcend the Korean indie scene, it transcends our entire era itself. In it, I feel something that shines among the overall history of all popular music worldwide.

While I’d had a sense of the Korean indie scene gaining momentum since the mid-00’s, I had never really heard anything that left much of an impact on me personally. But when I heard this, I just thought, “Wait, this is from Korea?!” With that said, it might be that Mid-Air Thief is not so much related to the country’s “scene” or some such—he’s just one miraculous musician who happened to have been born in South Korea.

Even in South Korea the name “Mid-Air Thief” is still shrouded in mystery. Surely there is so much that people want to know and ask about the artist, so I believe this interview will be of much value.

Continue reading

Kitasono Minami “lumiere” Interview & Liner Notes (2015)

Want to know more about Kitasono Minami and more specifically “part two” of his debut, lumiere? If so, you’ve certainly come to the right place. Enjoy!

Interview & text: Kato Naoko (Japanese text)
English translation: Henkka
Kitasono Minami on the web: Website, Blog, Twitter, SoundCloud

Note: You can buy lumiere from CDJapan.

Interview

Following his initial popularity on SoundCloud, this artist just released his first studio recordings on last year’s mini-album, promenade. On it, he wrote, composed, and arranged (including the orchestral arrangements of) all songs, and showcased his multi-instrumentalist abilities on the bass, guitar, and various other instruments. Kitasono Minami has been displaying immense talent and competency on his recorded material.

At the young age of just 24, his pop sound incorporating strings and horn sections is so beautiful, mellow, and most of all accessible that it is almost frightening. His second release, lumiere, only strengthens that feeling. Framed as the counterpart to promenade as its “twin mini-album,” this release gives the impression of possessing even more sounds which were not present on the previous release.

We conducted an email interview with the artist himself in regards to lumiere.

Continue reading