I’m sitting here thinking about this most recent trip, listening to one of the many CDs I picked up during our travels to Japan, and I’m constantly reminded of why we’re doing something that feels right to me. On a personal level I’m feeling that ‘yes, you need to do this,’ and it’s not because I’m the only one that can do it, anyone can get up and do what we’re doing. Granted there is a ton of personal risk involved, but what’s life without a little danger?
Our trip was a whirlwind of club visits, artist introductions, music hunting, talent discovery, and occasionally, a moment of respite. Every day introduced us to new people, new music, and a greater appreciation for just how good Japan has it, and what we can do to spread that greatness to the US.
Now let me qualify that last statement. Think of your typical event on any given night in the states. You get in your car, because American public transit is kind of horrid with very few exceptions, you drive (sometimes 20 or more miles), you pay for parking, you’ve got your ticket (that you probably paid Ticketmaster a ridiculous fee for), you enjoy yourself, sure, even though you heard a lot of the same club bangers that are currently residing in the top 40, the show ends and you call it a night. You don’t remember that particular DJ, but he played a song you liked so it’s all good.
The American underground scene is thankfully a bit more varied in this regard, with specific artists coming out to promote themselves and the artists they enjoy. Our friends over at ZOOM LENS are particularly adept at the promotion of Japanese artists of the JPop variety that also fit their individual styles of music.
In Japan things are a little more simple. Mainly because of how densely the nation is distributed given their population. But their public transit makes it fairly easy to get to any one particular city where an event is going on. All of the shows we went to were in Shibuya, at locations like T2, Club Asia, Vision, 2.5D, and R Lounge, each a no more than 10 minute walk away from each other. There aren’t really tickets to these events, just cover charges, which usually include a drink. Day time shows make it possible for all-ages events, and these events usually run for about six hours. During these shows, we’re seeing artists who produce their own music, and play tracks by people who inspire them. This leads to a great variety of music being played at any one given show. Sure there are tracks that are played that have placement on the Oricon charts, and a few American club hits, but for the most part it’s a celebration of the individual artist who’s up there, showcasing his/her craft to some die-hard fans, and some new listeners.
That’s kind of the long and short of why we’re doing what we do. We wish to celebrate the individual artist and their hard work and expose them to a new audience. We’re pretty sure a lot of people who are reading this didn’t know who Banvox was before the most recent Hardcore Synergy.
But beyond that, the culture of music in Japan is just so vast and accepting, you’ve got shows dedicated to ani-song, JPop, EDM, Hardcore, Rock, and it’s all about having a good time. Everyone is accepting of other musical styles, while at the same time willing to try out something new. When people asked what I was in to, I wasn’t derided for having a differing taste in music, or saying I liked a particular style of music, if anything people were more interested in checking out artists after our conversations.
I want to share music with everyone out there, because it is something that has saved my sanity during some of my darkest times. I believe that it has the power to change people’s lives for the better, and I’ll keep doing it for people that visits our site or shows.