Lamp “Lamp Gensou” interview & liner notes (2008)

Lamp’s fourth album, Lamp Gensou, was released in late 2008. The band conducted a Tower Records exclusive interview in commemoration of its release, also publishing “liner notes” where all three members wrote about their thoughts on each song on the album.

Here are English translations of both the interview and the song-by-song commentary.

Original text: Masaru Yokota (interview), Lamp (liner notes)
English translation: Henkka
Lamp on the web: website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud, Botanical House

You can buy Lamp’s music directly from the band, both physically and digitally, on Bandcamp.

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— This is your first original album in three and a half years and I’m sure your fans have been waiting for it eagerly. How do you feel about the album now that it’s finished?

Taiyo Someya: Right. Well, let’s just say that if we got into a car accident or something and died right after this album was released, in effect making this our final album… I think I would be left with so much regret in the afterlife. If I’m going to die in the near future, I hope we at least get to release one more album before that happens. (laughs)

Kaori Sakakibara: That’s awful! (laughs)

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Uwanosora “Uwanosora” interview (2014)

Uwanosora is a great, new Japanese band who released their self-titled debut album last year. The following is to my knowledge the only published interview they’ve done so far and it’s an interesting, very in-depth read. Two members of Uwanosora are releasing a new album next month under the name of Uwanosora ’67 which you would also do well to check out.

I definitely recommend giving a listen to this band especially if you’re a fan of, say, Lamp.

Original interview, text: FUKUROKO-JI (parts one, two, three & four)
English translation: Henkka
Uwanosora on the web: website, iTunes, Twitter: Kadoya, Oketa & Iemoto

Note: You can buy Uwanosora from iTunes or CDJapan (physical CD, PayPal accepted).

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(L-to-R) Hirohide Kadoya (guitar, songwriting), Megumi Iemoto (vocals) & Tomomichi Oketa (guitar, songwriting)

As a resident of Kansai, the first time I heard the term “city pop” was around the time I moved from my hometown of Nara to start university in Osaka. I think the reason I didn’t really get what the term meant was because, for me, “city” had always meant “Tokyo.” Sure, I’d always lived right next to Osaka, but to me Osaka was a place that never had the image of an urban, polished city — I’d always just thought of it as this area that had been forcibly made to flourish. But these feelings of mine towards Osaka were also what made me so interested in the “city,” and once I’d gotten to know the streets of Osaka a little bit, I started imagining just what Tokyo must be like in comparison. This was also when I first became interested in the musical genre of city pop, but deep down inside, I was cynically thinking to myself how “this city pop stuff is surely something only people living in the suburbs of Tokyo are able to truly understand.

This blog, FUKUROKO-JI, is a place where I’ll be interviewing people I’m personally interested in. My honorable first guests and fellow Kansaians, Uwanosora, are a three-piece band consisting of Hirohide Kadoya (guitar, songwriting), Megumi Iemoto (vocals) and Tomomichi Oketa (guitar, songwriting). Formed in November of 2012, they produced an eight-song demo tape (unreleased) after just two months of being a band, and this July they released their first full-length album, Uwanosora, through Happiness Records.

I first heard of this band through the Nara record store Django, whose owner, Mr. Matsuta, I spotted praising Uwanosora on Twitter. I immediately bought it, and upon listening to it I was overwhelmed by the level of songwriting and arrangements that were way beyond the level of your average debut indie album. I desperately wanted to ask them about their approaches to songwriting and about the songs included on the album, and so with nothing to lose, I approached them about doing an interview. And, admittedly, at the back of my mind I did have an ulterior motive of wanting to know more about these people who — despite not living in Tokyo — had managed to release an album full of city pop.

Interview & text: FUKUROKO-JI

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Minami Kitasono “promenade” interview (2014)

This is an interview straight from Minami Kitasono’s homepage concerning his debut CD, promenade, released in October 2014. Like Tadashi Shinkawa, Kitasono appeared on Lamp’s 2014 album, Yume, on which he arranged three songs and played on several more.

Original text: Ryohei Matsunaga (original interview)
English translation: Henkka
Minami Kitasono on the web: website, blog, Twitter, SoundCloud, iTunes

Note: You can buy promenade from iTunes or CDJapan (physical CD, PayPal accepted).

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Minami Kitasono: a mysterious singer-songwriter who suddenly appeared on the internet in the summer of 2012. A resident of Matsumoto, Nagano, born in 1990 — he has made little else about himself known besides that. He both fascinated and confused listeners with discerning ears with his original compositions featuring skillfully combined programmed sounds and live instruments. Poppy, mellow and eccentric. Rapid time signature changes and unpredictable song developments, and yet, an abundance pop sensibilities that make you want to start humming the melodies. All of the songs on his masterfully crafted first CD, promenade, feature a band sound as he is joined by a full lineup of guest musicians. With a little more dynamics in his music, it feels like Minami Kitasono might be dangerously close to changing the direction of pop music altogether.

Now as he is on the brink of releasing his debut CD, I got Minami Kitasono to peek outside of his veil of secrecy for me to interview him. So, please do tell us: “just who on earth are you?

Interview & text: Ryohei Matsunaga

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Lamp “Hachigatsu no Shijou” interviews (2010)

Hachigatsu no Shijou, a limited edition summer-themed album, was released by Lamp in mid-2010. Below you’ll find three interviews all pertaining to this great release — one of my personal favorites from the group (though who am I kidding: they’re all great.)

Original interview & text: mFound (original interview)
English translation: Henkka
Lamp on the web: website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud, Botanical House

You can buy Lamp’s music directly from the band, both physically and digitally, on Bandcamp.

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Lamp released their latest limited edition EP, Hachigatsu no Shijou, on August 4th. Always dedicated to producing uncompromising sounds and showing us the world of Lamp in all its forms — an obsession perhaps a result of the band hailing from the field of independent music. We caught up with the group to talk to them about their music at the beginning of spring, back when it was still too chilly outside to put away the outer jackets.

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Tadashi Shinkawa “Paintings of Lights” interview (2015)

OTOTOY conducted an interview with Tadashi Shinkawa regarding his third album, Paintings of Lights, that was just released on January 11 through Lamp’s record label Botanical House — the label’s first release. Fans of Lamp will have already heard Shinkawa on their 2014 album, Yume, singing on the track “Tameiki no Yukue.” Below is a full translation of the interview.

Original text: Jin’ichiro Iida (original interview)
English translation: Henkka
Tadashi Shinkawa on the web: official blog, Twitter, SoundCloud, Botanical House

Note: You can buy Paintings of Lights at OTOTOY (digital copy, alac/flac/wav/mp3, overseas credit cards accepted) or CDJapan (physical copy, PayPal accepted.)

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Tadashi Shinkawa — a singer-songwriter who works completely alone, having recorded all of his albums thus far all by himself. His 2003 release, sweet hereafter, was a work that mesmerized listeners with its blend of mondo, exotica, and his characteristic, aesthetical sense of melody. On Christy, released two years later, he further made known his abundant musicianship by bringing to the surface more traditional elements like folk and rock, while also featuring a very “Tadashi Shinkawa” home recording sound.

Ten years later, he’s releasing Paintings of Lights. This work, with its Western art motifs and 80’s synth sounds, is a pop album full of romantic and poetic sentiments. It’s being released through Botanical House, an independent record label started by close friends of Shinkawa — as well as fellow creators of high-quality pop — Lamp.

When buying the album through OTOTOY, you will receive a bonus exclusive 15-minute interview video with Shinkawa. Please enjoy the text and video interviews with this usually very secretive artist, along with his highly detailed and brilliant, and yet, transient style of 80’s pop.

Personally, I was label mates with Tadashi Shinkawa on a label called MEMORY LAB. I first met him around 10 years ago; we both liked the same kind of back-to-the-roots music, but our ways of expressing it are completely different. That’s why when I heard his earlier album, sweet hereafter, I actually felt deeply jealous of his musicianship. He was later discovered by the equally wonderful musicians of Lamp, and he’s now releasing his first album in 10 years. Honestly, I thought I’d never get to hear another new album from him again.

I hereby give you my word: this release is truly nothing short of a marvelous record.

Interview & text: Jin’ichiro Iida

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