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…..

 

 

I can feel the kiss

I recorded this video clip in Vanuatu 2010.
The true beginning…as every day is a beginning.
I just wasn’t aware of it then, that the trip to Vanuatu
was going to set-off a chain reaction of events,
that lead from this moment in Vanuatu,
to my ‘new life’ in Japan just a year later.

The amount of accumulated special moments since then
until this present moment, is huge!
So what I am doing, is to spread them out on my
enormous time line.
I have divided the time-line spanning from little before this
video in Vanuatu until today, and on it I add photos.
To each photo I add a note with event name,
for example “Live gig at Meguro Live Station with xxx band”.

Under the line I also add notes like departure times for
flights, visits from abroad, and everything else.
Just to keep track of all the places I’ve been…
is a task in itself
During the years I cover (about 6-7 years), besides my life in Japan,
I lived in or visited (not in order and many I visited several times):
USA: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico,  Texas,
Utah, and Washington
UK including London and Wales, Sweden, Germany, Laos, Ukraine,
Azerbaijan, India, Nepal, Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan
Vanuatu, Mexico, Canada, Singapore
…. and more
and in Japan, I traveled a total of 6 weeks with Japan Rail Pass.
From northern Tohoku to Kyushu and a lot of it in between.

The program I use for this purpose is called ‘Scapple’
and it’s really invaluable to my book writing project.

In the photo below I combined two screen shots.
In the upper half,
one can see one year (of approximately 7 years total)
In the lower half one can see
how it looks closer up.
I still need to add more notes about each event,
for example names of band members at a live,
or who was with me at a certain bar and so on.

scapple

It is however time-consuming!
Often I find my mind wandering off.
A photo generate an intense feeling of
actually being there.
I can smell the flowers.
I can hear the music.
I can feel the kiss on my lips.
I can hear arguments and conflicts.
I can sense the love
It’s all embedded in this time line.
And the questions arise.
Why?  Why did we meet?
Why did I choose this or that?
It is also time consuming by the whole
metod in itself,
but in the end, I’m sure this is the best way!

Memories, but also a future.
My future.
Our future.
I have no doubt that even if I’m writing my book
about the past, it is not finished.
My story is not finished.
Friendship, and relationships,
continue in to the future.
My book is a snippet of this
continuum!
It really has no true beginning,
nor is it by any means
over yet!

Anna

 

Sugizo – Tree of Life

SuGiZo – Tree of Life

I bought it on a day when the moon was FULL….
and this was one of the few things that worked out great today…
a lot of stuff did NOT go my way..
so this will be about my life and my day, my tree of life and not much about Sugizo LOL

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 can 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…
but then when I looked at the whole picture….I saw something different, or maybe
I saw it differently
……
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 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/19:00 o’clock be a good time…
WOW… Yes yes yes!
by the way this is the text that will be embodied …or embedded or.. inked…
or ha ha ha ha  it will be 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
totally clear to me.….

Also I was upset at Tower Records in Ikebukuro for not having the Ra:IN album I wanted
to buy…but I should choose to be happy that they could put one on hold in the
Shibuya store for it…
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 toooo bad, but I was a little annoyed, but then, because of it, 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 still I felt negatively about it… weird),
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 abolishing evaluation, as well as not dividing life in terms of
good and bad is the WAY TO GO!!

I am sad, yes I am sad, to leave Japan, but 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….

oh and regarding my tattoo, I got it at Tokyo Hardcore Tattoo
Highly recommend them!
https://www.facebook.com/TOKYO-HARD-CORE-TATTOO-188100754537592/

 

 

 

 

 

Three venues and some thoughts on culture

Three Venues – Club Sensation, Zher the Zoo and Show Boat

I want however to take a moment and talk about three Venues in Tokyo/ Yokohama,
because a lot of the total experience stems from the layout and environment like
light- and sound engineering.

I think this especially called for after being at “live places” that represent the extreme
ends of the quality scale during this past week end.
Not in size or audience really, oh well to some degree maybe,
but for the general experience.

Friday I was in Yokohama at The Club Sensation

http://sensation-jp.com/
You can read about their history here:
http://sensation-jp.com/about/

This place is by far my favorite small place venue in the greater metropolitan
Tokyo area (Located in Hinodecho, Yokohama within walking distance from Sakuragicho).
I admit it I have not been to more than a teeny tiny faction of places in the greater
Tokyo area….. yet, but regardless it is my favorite spot.
Why?
Because the interior design is awesome,  the staff super nice and Michiaki himself
shows great hospitality.
To make it even better:…. the sound quality is top notch!
I have seen different artists here such as
Ra:IN, Kyoji Yamamoto and CUTT.
All world class performers!!
It has that cozy, intimate feeling, where you want to sit and hang with your friends,
and listen to really good music over a few drinks and bar food.
This is a place I will definitely come back to again and again every time I’m in Japan.

Saturday i was at Zher the Zoo, Yoyogi as you can see below here on the blog.
This is more your typical live house. A dark smokey place where you can’t really see
who is in the room, besides the person next to you.
BUT this is one of my favorites in this particular category. The stage is just the
right size for musicians to move around a little, yet it is that tight feeling that you
want from a venue of this kind.
They have tables spread out, and the bar is close yet not in the middle of where people
need to pass. Lighting on stage has been a tad annoying for me when shooting videos
for example too straight out set, but not really much worse than the majority of the
other live houses in Tokyo.
Tables for artist promotions and merch is in the rear of the floor, meaning people who
are looking and buying or chatting is not blocking any pass ways either.

http://www.ukproject.com/zherthezoo/

Photo above is me with Crazy Cool Joe (Bassist: Dead End)
at Zher the Zoo Saturday Jan 28th, 2012|

Last then, which I haven’t really blogged about yet, is Show Boat

http://showboat.co.jp/

I’m jumping ahead here since I haven’t posted anything about the Sunday Jan 29th
Live with Circuit9 YET….,
but I just wanted to use it as an example here of the other end of Live houses,
a place I did not like.. I mean I like the place, but from an audience point of
view it is horrible.

My negative feelings are probably also due to that such a good band as Circuit9
is doing a “one man show”, should have a place big enough for people to come see them without feeling like you are on a packed Tokyo Subway line during peak hours.
I’m casting no shadow at their performance, which I will write about in the next few days.
They are just worthy a  better place IMO!  Why on earth are they playing here
(edited 2018 Note .. years later I learned a lot about the social structures and dynamics in
Japan and that some places have greater influences and are more prestigious than others.
Tricky part is that you can’t tell from the looks of it or the quality of it. It’s all about who is who
on another dimension than quality)
Now if that is the case it would also be better if such a packed place at least
was designed to handle it.
– The bar is set in the back with very narrow ‘funnels’ to get to it,
– The floor area is smaller than the stage, or so it felt…
– The stage is deep and the sound amplification is on both sides really close and somehow… and yes I am definitely not a sound engineer here and talking from limited experience….
but it felt like I either could listen to them or see them. Somehow it felt like it came out
of synch because of the weird layout of the stage. Like the sound jumped around.

Luckily the drummer, in this case awesome Sakura, was set up a little higher on some
kind of platform, but he was still so far back (together with keyboardist) that they felt
like they were in another room behind the other three (the bassist, vocalist and guitarist).
Then to top it off, since this was a one-man (ワンマン – what they call a gig with only
one band performing, which is rare in Tokyo) , there are no breaks in the set-list (like
you do when there are other bands performing),  so you could only visit the bar before
or after the gig. Which is what everyone did!
With all that many people in the poorly designed space it was like a grid-lock in Manhattan
at peak hour….
Their gig wasn’t that long (if you compare it to a gig when you see 5-6 bands in a row)
and the looooong time waiting in line…and then taking the glass with me to continue to
chat with a nice Japanese fellow… staff came after about 5 minutes and said they
are closing and we had to leave, and no she did not do this nicely, but was rather rude.
Maybe if a favorite band of me came here I would still consider going, but better yet,
I will tell all my favorite bands not to play here ha ha ha
Maybe they even read this blog… who knows? and maybe I have misunderstood
something? ( I had as you could see in the edit above and I will write about that later in
a book I am now writing 2018).

Important addition / edit!

After a few comments I feel it necessary to add a few lines here.
Regarding the last review, I have received a few saddened comments from Japanese readers. This is an interesting culture difference in action here, and I want to make sure
that everyone get this right, and that no one misunderstands what I write.

This review was about the places, more specifically with a bias about physical lay-out
and audio/visual ability and quality of a venue.
I have not yet written any blog about circuit9, but will do so in the next couple of days.
They are skilled performers and as you can see from the little I do mention above,
I liked what they did and Sakura is for example a world class drummer.

Not every venue is really good, and not every venue is the same, saying this out loud,
and especially stating that you do not like something, is something I have noticed
Japanese people rather not read or see or do… it is a cultural difference for sure.

Dear Japanese readers my sincere apologies to you. I’m honest here, when I
tell you that I am sorry . Unfortunately the internet is international, and here all kinds
of behavior and writings occur. If I instead kept quiet, and avoided writing anything negative,
then I would probably hear from American readers that hey why didn’t you tell me you
didn’t like it.
So no matter how I do this people will comment back to me and being unhappy!
For example in the US, my experience is that people rather say:
“I like this, but I don’t like that!”
So if we all try to accept different ways, it is of course the best.

However this is difficult and we often act out of habit!
This means that I have a habit of writing, “I don’t like this!”, instead of keeping quiet.
A Japanese person, on the contrary, has the habit of staying quiet, instead of telling the world, “I don’t like this!”.
This does not mean our feelings really differ, or that some people are better than others,
all it means is that we have different habits and behaviors. Different ways of telling the
world how we feel. Also Westerners tend to have a bias towards verbalizing feelings,
where often Japanese tend to show in actions or body language how they feel.
As long as we understand this and have a forgiving and apologetic attitude,
we will be fine and remain in peace.
Thank you All, and I hope I haven’t hurt anyone with my blog.
It has never been my intention!
If you have comments about this please do not hesitate to send me an email:
thepinkspiderweb@gmail.com