It Ain’t Easy… that Peace stuff

So my reason for my first trip to Japan was to get away and think,
Think and to be alone.
I was doubting my future in grad school, and I had been doubting
my marriage for a decade, I wasn’t happy and I tried to figure out
a way out of it all. At uni I had met Japanese-American Rio,
and I had after our chats been listening to more and more of the
old Japanese music, that I used to like so much.
Mostly I listened to YMO way, way back when.

Rio introduced me to hide’s solo music and I got drawn to all of it,
and curious about Japan. The country I previously didn’t know
much about, and I HAD never really felt any interest in Japan,
or its culture.


I loved Chinese history, Chinese philosophy, Chinese everything….
but Japan in my prejudice mindset was all about robots,
manga, anime and men who have inflated plastic dolls for sex…
I basically didn’t know much!!
There were of course Japanese stuff I liked.
Japanese food for example ad always been my favorite.
And yes, X Japan and Yellow Magic Orchestra

So anyway as you know by now I took off to Japan,
first for a Japan Rail Pass, and while there experienced the magic
at Miura Reien and hide calling from the sky.
So I came over. I moved to Tokyo.
I went to live gigs, and I met Vagu*Project at the same live gig as
I went to see Swedish Seremedy.

Little did I know then, that Seike, back then Sermedy’s vocalist,
and I,  would cross paths again in Tokyo 4,5 years later when
Kerbera did a tour in Tokyo at a Live House I have been affiliated
with. Nor did I know then, that they would also participate in the
project I managed to bring Japanese artists to Sweden.
Japanese musicians collaborating with,
and getting to know Swedish bands.
Become friends!
I will return to this project… a lot more in detail at a later date.
Of course a zillion things happened in between the live gigs with
Seremedy and Kerbera in Tokyo – October 2011 and May 2016

The month after I had seen Seremedy and Vagu*Project at
Urawa Narciss in Saitama,  I went on an adventure.
Partially I followed X Japan on their
World Tour 2011 South East Asia part of it,
and partially I went on a traveling adventure and backpacked in
South East Asia.
X Japan in Bangkok was the best!!
What a feeling!!

Now when I came back in December 2011 I had this urge and
desire to really go see Vagu*Project again!
I loved them!!
I knew absolutely nothing about them, and I spoke zero Japanese.
They stood out.. they had something very unique about them.
I was totally spell bound by the stage presence and charisma
that radiated from their Vocalist Yui.
Their bassist Crazy Boy Ryo is also extremely happy and fun,
and a delight on stage.
So I set out to google and find these guys again….
There’s gotta be a live gig close to me coming up!!

Well now… if you don’t write kanji, and you don’t speak a lot of
Japanese, this can be an enormous task…bordering impossible..
to find a band in Japan.. and find out where and when they
play next, and then once you do…
find out how to hell to get tickets?
A lot HAS really changed over the past 5 years, but still it’s
usually only the better known bands that have professional, or
at least comprehensible web sites with English text,
or information on Facebook.
Back then very very few Japanese people had Facebook,
so bands didn’t really care about posting there.
I felt a rising need to do something about this!!!

February the follwing year I went to Australia for a few months,
and while there, I decided to start this site “The Pink Spider Web”
and to, at the very least be able to create some valuable help for
all people out around in the world,  who has an interest in
Japanese Rock or Visual Kei.
People who don’t necessarily read Japanese
I created the Venue index that one can find on this site and
I helped Vagu*Project and created a demo web site for them.
I showed them that one can now a days download songs directly
online (this was long before Spotify had made it to Japan).
Working with them back in 2012, I needed a translator.
I wish I also had known more about Japanese culture.
All of what I know today is by doing mistakes.
Some created terrible misunderstandings, and even conflicts.
Conflicts, often due to misunderstandings, can be solved easily,
but conflicts due to diverging ideas about reality, can be tougher
to solve.
It takes a lot of effort and stepping out of comfort zones from
all parties involved!
Vagu*Project per se went very well, and we had a good working
relationship for quite a while, and it didn’t end until they signed
up with a label demanding certain changes and commitment.
Mostly due to a big financial loans this label gave them
( I wold probably prefer the term slave-contract for what they the signed)

What exactly have I learned?
Well it is a lot, and this is one of my reasons for writing the book.
I have learned a lot not only about Japanese people and their
ways. I have also learned a lot about humans in general,
and about artists, bands, and the music industry in particular.
My ideals of bringing musicians together, for having them being
stronger together and learn from one another is plainly put:
Very naïve!
but it is also still a dream and my mission,
that the rest of the world get to see  more from Japan,
and that the Japanese learn more about the rest of the world!

AUTO-MOD Genet 目黒鹿鳴館 5-18 2014

A lot has changed over these 5-6 years that I have been
working, but a lot has also not changed, and might not ever change.
I am heart-broken that many Japanese artists often cannot see
beyond what they know and are comfortable with, but this might
only a matter of patience, on our part.. as audience.

What hurts me more is all the non-care about others that is going on!
It is one thing to be selfish, as an artist that is very obvious,
and many artists do everything they can for any attention.
This is not just Japanese… it’s global!
Personally though I’m getting a bit fed up with insta feeds
filled 
with selfies and nothing much more…

Not only musicians, many people in the industry also do everything
they can to grab a slice of the pie…
even if it’s on behalf of a friendship.
What happened to talk? and especially what happened to
team-work? 1+1= 3 or 4 or 5 or 6… or even more!
I will certainly be more clear and exemplify in the book,
especially I will use examples from last year’s project with
Reds  from Japan and Kerbera from
Sweden, to name a few.

Luckily I have also learned to kick back and enjoy the fun!
Enjoy the amazing music!
Below for example one of my absolute favorite bands:
ザ・ビールス – The Beers

What I think though, is that there are sooooo many people
involved behind the scenes,
and on the floor and the market with the $ ¥ £ . The people who
pay for concerts, for merch, and (sometimes) the music:
The audience!
Audiences, who deserve the truth, more genuin care about them!
For example if you have international fans, you should care to
provide the information for them as much as you can.
Even if it means working outside your comfort zone,
even if it is less glamorous part of the job.
Learn English at a basic level, collaborate with people, the admin
end of it all….
Tell them about your concert schedule, about your music and
and you should in my opinion stick to the truth.
Not telling your audience that you live part-time in Tokyo and
part-time in Sweden, when in fact that is a straight out lie.
Why? Why inflate?
Are we the audience that dumb?

The closing of Reds Facebook page is just the latest example
of this non-genuine-care-syndrom.
Only work for, and with your own people. Only work within the
ways one is comfortable with, reaping harvests of feeling good
about oneself from the many ‘likes’ that comes as a big
ego-boost after each selfie posted.
Is it really sustainable though? To write that you love your fans,
but never really be brave enough to build that bridge?

As I mentioned in the last blog, Reds and I couldn’t talk to
one another when we first met.
We actually communicated with Japanese ascii smileys on
twitter messages even though we sat next to each other.
(*^o^*)   (-_-)zzz     ♪( ´θ`)ノ    (T . T)      (=´∀`)人(´∀`=)
And of course also a lot via google translate… which more often
than not, gives you totally the wrong words ha ha ha
but it worked in the very beginning.

Over the years he has picked up quite a lot of English.  Not so
much as he is anywhere near fluent, but he can socially chat.
And well, I too picked up some Japanese over time.
What he hasn’t changed though is habits from the past.
And he is not alone in this by any means.
It goes all over the board… and you can probably exchange the
word ‘Japanese’ in the sentence below and put it in your own
nationality.
This is the way we do things… we Japanese.

Never really saying it out loud but that is sadly the notion.
It is the message.
Because why else don’t you want to learn new ways,
and learn from others enough to be able to reach a lot more
people?
I still love my Japanese friends.
I love a lot about Japan.

This blog can at times now seem a little negative, but it is part
of the process. We must all see and understand the bigger scope.
It is not only the Japanese who need to change.
We all do!
We all need to listen! We all need to actively support those
around us that are different, that come from somewhere else,
that don’t work or talk or love in ways that we do…

Peace as I wrote on my insta (@The_PSW)  the other day…

Peace is not just a beautiful word,
it is action!
Peace is not only action,
it is to be brave and step out of self-love,
it is to support others,
it is to speak up and  defend others,
even when they are very
different from you!
It is easy to be at home,
it is easy to surround yourself
with friends who love you,
but
it is honorable and brave
to stand up and support
Others!

Peace and Sparkles!

and by the way
the same goes for Love and Friendship…
We have to WORK IT!

To be continued…..

 

 

Shinjuku Live Freak June 2, 2012

Bijyomaru Sakagawa at Shinjuku Live Freak June 2, 2012

I have been really spoiled for three nights in a row now!!

Miyavi at Shibuya Quattro on Thursday, then Okahiro and DENIAL Friday night at Shibuya Star lounge and now Friday night Bijyomaru Sakagawa.

Three great guitarists in three nights…. Think I’m in paradise!!

I want to add though that, yes, there are less good guitarists and musicians here in Japan, as there are anywhere in the world. However, I have been very lucky and found some guitarist gems and well…
I just happened to hit a grand slam this week!

So yes it is a dark video, due to poor lighting, but if you watch it in full screen it is a tad better!

OK so now when you listened you want to know more….
Bijyomaru has a homepage here:

http://www.bijyomaru.com/

and you can buy his music here
http://www.amazon.co.jp/gp/product/B001RPNK18/ref=as_li_tf_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=bijyomarucom-22&linkCode=as2&camp=247&creative=1211&creativeASIN=B001RPNK18

Okahiroさん

Okahiro-san and me after DENIAL’s LIVE at

渋谷 ライブハウス

Rarely do I post photos of myself but I will make an exception here because I do want this photo up of Okahiro-san!

I had never been to a LIVE with DENIAL before this evening and didn’t know what to except. I have heard the drummer Okaji-san before, and knowing he is an awesome drummer, I knew it couldn’t be bad.
The reason is because Okaji-san also plays drums in HeavensDust.

Every gig I go to I tend to the feel the music as a whole, but also listen to balance, genre, and over all composition of songs.
Sometimes a band can have a great guitarist, and even be ALL skilled, but still I just don’t like their style.
Sometimes I really like their music but can feel that there is something lacking, or a stage presence just isn’t there.
Sometimes …..it is like tonight….
…at DENIAL’s Live it was like this in my mind:

WOAH what a great drummer, but wait the bassist is really really good too… and then came the guitar and the guitar solos and yes I was floored… WOW!
Add to this evening a bunch of wonderful people, friends of my friend Atsuko-san, that all were so kind to me and  really made this evening a wonderful one!
We had some language issues, but music really breaks all barriers!

DENIAL’s music is filled with great rhythms, and everyone on the Star Lounge floor just had to move, to dance and be one with the music that filled the room.
Then as I said, Okahiro-san is a great guitarist, and when a great guitarist plays awesome guitar solos.. I’m totally sold!
Add to it he has a contagious smile and good looks…and I’m speechless!

Toshi-san played bass like a god, and a few songs were rather complicated rhythmically, and I must say I was impressed!
They also played a few songs acoustically and that too they managed with great skill.
It was rather fun to see Okaji-san sit on a box and drum on it!

So when a great drummer, gets together with a bassist who can really handle his strings, and a awesome guitarist, who is all smiling and charming on stage, all while playing music that I really like (because I like to move)
then…
there you have it … a great band! 

I really hope I will be able to hear them LIVE again!

DENIAL has a blog here:
http://www.denialand.com/ 
There music is here
http://www.denialand.com/sound.html

Shibuya Star Lounge was a very pleasant and nice Live house as well. Not the dark basement kind, nor the Shibuya Trump Room style, but somewhere in between.
The lighting was good and the sound and volume just perfect, so yes a great evening indeed and a intimate live concert in Tokyo when it is at its very BEST!

Thank you  ありがとうございます  ALL –  DENIAL, Atsuko-san, all Atsuko’s wonderful friends and the DENIAL fans and audience !

A late edit:
LOVE it when I get this kind of feed-back after someone reads this blog (sent to me elsewhere):
“ Listened to DENIAL and they sound great!!  ”

sugizo-tree-of-life-and-i-bought-it-on-a-day

SuGiZo – Tree of Life

And I bought it on a day when the moon is FULL….

and this was one of the few things that worked out great today…
a lot did NOT go my way..

Then again when I got home, around midnight, I summed it all up … 

…and you know it’s really funky how we tend to emotionally really mess up our experiences, whether it be over a day, a week or a life time…

I was upset because for a ton of silly mishaps and ‘emergencies’,  I ended up being so delayed that I (and well Phoe-Lo too) had to skip a LIVE tonight

The other ‘bad’ thing that happened was that I bought a Japanese iTunes card and my American account still blocks it out.
So these two things made me think gaaah what a day… (T.T)
but then when I looked at the WHOLE picture….
……
a hide-MIRACLE happened, and I got a last minute appointment for doing the tattoo that I felt was so important to me already before leaving for Japan, and was one of the MUST DO things here in Japan!
I was just sitting at dinner time and talking with Phoe-LO and I said to her:
“Well the tattoo I guess just wasn’t meant to happen, because the only time I have now would be Thursday after 6 pm, and the only place I know about said they didn’t have any times until next week….”
…..
Why does hide-sama always have to do miracles in very the last minute ???
ha ha ha 
After midnight I got an email in my inbox… one of the tattoo guys said he could come in on Thursday and do it for me.. would 7PM/19 be a good time… OMB!! Yes yes yes!
btw this is the text that will be embodied …or embedded or.. inked… or well tattooed…

ピンクスパイダー 空は呼んでいる

the very same words I heard at Miura Reien in May...when I decided that YES I should JUMP, leap, fly… and catch a pink cloud …and be in Japan….for a reason that wasn’t (isn’t) totally clear to me.….

Also I was upset at Tower Records in Ikebukuro for not having the Ra:IN album I wanted to buy in stock…but I should choose to be happy that they could put one on hold in the Shibuya store for…
See there is always a CHOICE on how to react.…but we all tend forget that..

Same when the Izakaya here downstairs had no table … first I was upset.. or well not soooo bad, but a little annoyed at that, but then we decided to go to the little Spanish place across the street.. and WOW I got a glass of the best Rioja Crianza wine with just the perfect temperature… so what am I really whining about and WHY?

To relearn takes time because we need to UNLEARN old ways of thinking first, old ways of reacting to our reality….

The BEST thing today though, was also the reason that I was delayed ( and felt negatively about),
was that I printed out the art work I have been working on.
It came out way BETTER than I could possibly have hoped for, so once again I had proved to myself that RETHINKING and ABOLISH evaluation of good and bad
is the WAY TO GO!!

I am SAD, yes I am, to leave Japan, on the other hand I am also sooooo HAPPY to be able to see some of my BELOVED people in the US.
Friends that I miss and LOVE..
and now tonight, when I sat online I received a few messages that means the world to me… and I felt how my inner core started to FIRE UP and SPARKLE by the thought alone of seeing this friend again!

oh you LIFE … I OWE you MY everything…
oh yes, my life has a life of its own and it is quite fascinating to UNFOLD it….

 

hide-sama-had-to-drink-chardonnay-this-evening

hide-sama had to drink Chardonnay this evening…. there would be enough strong sake to come later this week end, so wine it is…
BUT he is with us in everything we do, and because of the PINK CLOUDS watching over us, we had a great evening and a totally AWESOME week end. 
This Friday the 13th was setting the stage, and it was nice to charge up energy, and eat good (for a change). Most often eating is done in a rush here and there…. Onigiri-at-desk-kind-of-meals….