Chakra Ogawa Mishio Interviews (2011–2012)

This is a conversation with Ogawa Mishio, vocalist of the Japanese new wave band Chakra who were active from 1978 to 1983. Chakra is also the main topic of this discussion. Enjoy!

(Note: This is, in fact, two separate interviews compiled into one post. Thus, the questions and the order of the questions have been slightly edited to maintain the flow of the conversation.)

Interview & text: Shikata Hiroaki (Japanese text: one & two)
English translation: Henkka
Ogawa Mishio links: Website, Twitter

Note: You can buy Chakra’s music on CDJapan.

Chakra — a band of the New Wave Era who radiated a profoundly mysterious charm. Now, their albums Chakra and Satekoso have been re-released with five bonus tracks each!

In this interview, we asked the band’s vocalist Ogawa Mishio about her time in Chakra.

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Kitasono Minami “Never Let Me Go” Interview & Liner Notes (2015)

This is an interview with Kitasono Minami about his third (and, as of this writing, most recent) EP, Never Let Me Go. Also included are his liner notes for each song. Enjoy!

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

Note: You can buy Never Let Me Go on CDJapan.


Kitasono Minami, who released his second EP, lumiere, this past July, continues to showcase his increasingly colorful realm of pop. But the artist himself remains shrouded in mystery, choosing still not to reveal his face in any promotional photos. The fact is, however, that even this mystique is something that gives his work a certain kind of charm.

Being in charge of writing all the lyrics and music, doing all the arranging and singing, performing all manner of instruments by himself, but also featuring in his captivating world of sound a great number of highly skilled supporting players—beginning with the strings and a brass section—Kitasono Minami surely offers one so many different ways of enjoying his music, capturing the listener’s imagination.

And now, bringing a renewed sense of inspiration to that sound world is his third EP, Never Let Me Go, which was just released a short while ago. With a focus on winter songs, this work features five warm, bountiful numbers that make for perfect listening as we near the Christmas season. With some new performers taking part in the recordings—Ishiwaka Shun on drums, Kusui Satsuki and Morita Yusuke on bass, Ogaeri Ami on piano—the involvement of these young, spirited jazz musicians is surely another important characteristic of the work.

Eager to learn more about this highly interesting EP whose lyrics stand in stark contrast to its bright sound, we conducted an email interview with the artist himself.

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Nujabes “Metaphorical Music” Interview (2003)

This is a 2003 interview with Nujabes about his debut album, Metaphorical Music. It’s kind of special in that it is one of very few interviews ever given by Nujabes. According to friends who were speaking about him in a posthumous Japan Times article, this is “the only interview they could remember him ever doing.” That certainly makes this a rare treat.

A special shout-out to members of the r/Nujabes community for pointing me in the direction of this interview. I only wish it was ten times longer! (Interestingly, while the article was first published in 2003 and reprinted online in 2020, both versions had a couple of sentences missing between them. I carefully compared the two to make this translation as complete as possible.)

Happy birthday, Nujabes.

Interview & text: Sound & Recording Magazine (October 2003 Issue) (Japanese text)
Photography: 八島崇 (except ※)
English translation: Henkka
Nujabes links: Website, Twitter

Nujabes is a talented underground hip hop track maker who has been gaining prominence for his work published through the Hydeout Productions label in which he takes his sampling sources and puts them to their best use. On his first solo album, Metaphorical Music, he makes the listener rediscover the appeal of said sampled music by interweaving it with spirited MC’s and jam sessions with live instrumentalists.

We visited Nujabes at his private studio where he made the album to ask him about his track making process.

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mouse on the keys “machinic phylum” interview (2012)

Here is an interview with mouse on the keys about their 2012 EP machinic phylum.

I should mention that Kiyota Atsushi left the band in May 2021, and he was subsequently replaced by Shiroeda Takumi. Furthermore, it appears that mouse have fully resumed their activities since late 2022—they just played a show in December. It’s good to have them back.

Interview & text: Kato Shota (Japanese text)
Photography: Nagamine Takuya
English translation: Henkka
mouse on the keys: Linktree

Note: You can buy machinic phylum on CDJapan.

Following the release of their first full-length album, an anxious object, mouse on the keys have been dedicating themselves to building up the band through performances both in and outside the country. The band’s transformation towards an increased sense of energy and more improvisation could also be seen on their recent video production, irreversible, which captured their European tour.

Breaking their long silence, mouse on the keys have just released machinic phylum, their first solo release in three years. On its four songs the band offer not only the condensation of the elements described above, but they also demonstrate the new direction of where it is they are headed next.

Now, 10 months since the release of irreversible, where have mouse on the keys set their sights going forward? On one early afternoon in Nishiogikubo, we sat down with members of the band to exchange some words.

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Uyama Hiroto “freeform jazz” Interview (2016)

This is an interview about Uyama Hiroto‘s third full-length album, freeform jazz. Joining Uyama here is close friend Hashimoto Toru. This interview is particularly recommended reading for fans of Nujabes, who comes up quite a bit during the discussion.

Interview & text: Sawada Daisuke (Japanese text)
English translation: Henkka
Uyama Hiroto on the web: Website, Instagram, Twitter, Bandcamp

Note: You can buy freeform jazz from CDJapan.

Hashimoto Toru & Uyama Hiroto

Nujabes’ right-hand man Uyama Hiroto & Hashimoto Toru talk “freeform”—
Uyama’s unconventional, “emotionally Japanese” new release

A longtime supporting member of the late Nujabes, in his own works the multi-instrumentalist Uyama Hiroto continues to weave worlds of beautiful lyricism. While his sound had already become quite varied on his previous release freedom of the son (2014), there was still a tendency for it to be summarily labeled as merely “jazzy hip hop.”

However, his new album freeform jazz—released two years later—is a work which clearly defies the aforementioned categorization. It is, as implied by the title, a work that is free in form. Alongside the beautiful ensembles characteristic of Uyama, the release is filled with freaky beats, experimental ideas, and dope song progressions, lulling the listener into a false sense of security.

In addition to Uyama himself we also welcomed a close acquaintance of his, editor and music compiler Hashimoto Toru (SUBURBIA), to discuss at length the tremendously adventurous freeform jazz.

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