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…..

 

 

The Bridge

Last blog ended with these words:

“And I believed him…
in a way I still do.
The bridge however… is another story.”

and then “To be continued…”
so now  will pick up where I left off…hopefully…

Right now I am going back in this very blog..
way back to 2011 when I first started blogging on Tumblr.
Once I started The Pink Spider Web I imported all the old
blog posts a total of 350 some pages, each containing 3-4 posts.
The migration didn’t go without technical issues though!
All titles got fucked up,
links broke, video plug-ins didn’t work and
all images got weirdly resized.
When I first started The Pink Spider Web, keeping up the
momentum was number one priority, so the old blog entries
got edited and fixed some 10 pages or so back in time…
the rest went on the back-burner.
That meant blogs about Seremedy in Japan,
Inazuma Rock Fes, concerts with TMR, MUCC, L’Arc~En~Ciel,
and many many more
… just had to wait for the day to come
and the need for it all to resurface.

It was OK, I had to focus on what I was wanting to achieve,
and the old blog wasn’t really aiding that
process.
Well now, when I’m in the process of writing this book,
all these hundreds and hundreds of posts,
the photos and videos are incredibly valuable.

When I now again read about my
dreams, hopes,
ideas, passion, 
motivation … the drive
that I had then 6 years ago,
it was very much the same as it is today:
Same dreams, hopes, aspirations, and motivation.
I want to build bridges.
Close gaps.
Help people reach outside their comfort zone.
Turn on passionate fires.
Increase Peace
Make people see their own values in all of this.
Help musicians understand and learn how to connect
with audiences they aren’t familiar with, or are even
physically far away from.
That HAS BEEN and still IS my ultimate goal!
I want people to learn from each other and
change in a good way. including myself!
Change their ways, become more open-minded to
‘the other’…
I wish to…
build bridges and show people how the can meet
at the middle of the bridge!

Rainbow Bridge

The bridge metaphor works well because it connects
two landmasses, two entities, and it is something tangible.
A bridge something we can step onto,  and walk or travel over,
from one side to the other.

When I first met Reds in April 2013, we instantly connected.
It was at a Live gig with Blade™ at Club Sensation.
The fact that we ended up meeting was quite amazing in
itself, but the blog is not the place to explain all that in detail.
I will go into more detail about that in the book.

I could feel his eagerness to wanting to reach out.
I had learned already prior to meeting him, that connecting
with Japanese people aren’t that easy in general,
and connecting with musicians maybe in particular.
Often the musicians in Japan don’t speak English,
which for our collaboration purpose at this level is
less of a problem.

Reds 04 2013

What is an issue however, is that they live on their end
of a bridge.
They are used to certain ways of doing things.
They have their ways of promoting themselves.
Their ways of reaching their fans.
Their already loyal fans, I might add, whom they wish to keep
and not scare by suddenly leaving them hanging.
Also most, like Reds, aren’t even aware of this.
Culture differences are more seen as peculiar ways.
Like we Westerners, we hug each other in public,
and we hug our friends.
The deeper differences cannot be seen, and are way
trickier to become aware of.
Because no one, is aware of them when we are around
people that are similar to us.
And keep in mind, Japan is a very homogenous society.
A society which also strives to stay homogenous.
We, as in mankind, cannot see how we communicate
within our own group,
how we socialize and hang out with each other,
as anything but .. well it’s the normal way!
that’s the way people are…
Not until we really start to get to know someone different,
from a different place, and meet with them a lot of over a
longer period of time.
So if you have few foreigners coming, and you cannot really
talk to the ones that do because you don’t speak English,
and you maintain an idea that the foreign is a bit scary,
then this bridge is seldom walked.

When I entered the music scene  in Japan, and I started
meeting with bands like:
Vagu*Project, DAZZLE! and Vorchaos to name few.
I almost immediately became aware of this.
Not soon enough maybe…. LOL
I presented for Vagu*Project some brilliant ideas,
only to later learn, that in their minds all this was good and
all, but really also very, very strange.
I had walked over the bridge and presented for them how
it looks on the other side of the bridge.
They liked it, sure they did, but added:
That only works on the other side of the bridge,
not here.
And Anna-san by the way…
What is Facebook?
We have ameblo アメブロ. (This was in 2011-2012)

I explained all this for Reds, I told him what I had learned,
and he said…Nah, I want this, my band (AURA)
and I need this:
I want to reach many people with my music.
This is wonderful and a great start!

Where I think I failed early on was to explain, truly convey,
is that this requires you to change.
This failure however, went on under the surface….
the whole time… and still is there ..unfortunately!
What I failed to make him understand is:
YOU must walk on that bridge and adopt to other ways,
at least 50%… HALF WAY.
You must do a lot of the work, and the change.
I haven’t been able to make this happen!
Also you have to change and you must be brave, 
and go against what people around you want you to do!
Being brave… hmm that is very difficult for anyone to be,
also for Reds.
For any artist, also for Reds, being liked, is so so important.
Being liked by others kind of clashes with the idea of
being brave, and doing things against those around you,
or as in Japan in particular, above you!

Thing is Japan … well..Japan is very demanding society
also for the Japanese themselves.
They are proud of their harmony,
proud of their low crime rates,
proud of having a stable society.
Which is great!
Great …but not yielding change.
You can’t go against the people above you!
You can never stir anything similar to conflict,
never oppose, instead instill group harmony.
So that doesn’t help any kind of change.

Neither negative change,
nor positive…
In a way it kind of muffles and even hinders creativity at times.
Not that Japanese might agree with me here,
but that’s OK. Because if everyone around you
.. on the same side of the bridge as you are…
agrees with you, and knows this to be true,
then it is.

This is of course true on both sides of the bridge!
I just happen to be writing about my experiences in Japan.
I need to adjust and take in to account the social rules
in Japan, and listen to how they do things and what they
desire and wish.
Also one cannot behave in a Western way and assume
people will listen to you or even like your
ideas. Often though they really do listen!
They just won’t act upon it.

This is why I was delighted to meet Reds though,
because he intuitively felt like it fit in with his own
ideas about the future, AND maybe more importantly
he smiled and was very positive.
We did have some problems communicating this evening,
because Reds did not speak any English,
and I still did not speak Japanese.

How did we communicate?
Very creative way actually…
and I will tell you in the next blog!

 

 

 

Opening My Eyes

Why write?
A memoir is a collection of memories.
My memories.
My selected memories.

Crazy_cool_Joe_me


Writing my story based on my memories from a series, or a selection,
of events and experiences in my life.
Certain memories will create a thread and with these memory threads
I will create a web of meaning and understanding.

I’m not writing an auto-biography.
Maybe I will later in life, but for now I’m just trying to make sense
of my life, by examining what I have gone through.
I am examining all my memories, and I’m already in the process of
getting ‘eureka moments’…
enlightenments and insights about myself.

The words of my mentor and friend echo in my head.
Over the past 3 years in particular she has been trying to
explain to me why I should refocus my energy…
stand my ground and
be true to my starting point.
Where was that? How did I begin?
What has changed?

Yui

And not drain myself the way I was doing.
Not giving of my time (and money) and energy
as much as I had been doing,
but focus on my foundation and my mission.
Yes,
Not follow the needs of others,
but stay true to my mission.

Stay true to my call from the sky.
True to my mission.
Keep my integrity.
And all along…..
this has been my responsibility to myself,
I can’t blame anyone else for this.
..and yet….. I wasn’t even aware….

hide

I wasn’t able to see it.
At all….!!
But ..well now seeing all these memories spread out on my time line,
I suddenly became aware!
I could see it!!
Aware of the change that has come into my work
into my life, over time.
And even if a lot of it was amazing, fun, wonderful memories,
I had also little by little changed my path.
I wasn’t even aware
and I was too proud to listen,
to even try to listen and understand.
and way too HAPPY with my life
just the way it was.
After all just recently I came out of surgery
and made it out alive from cancer.
I didn’t want to miss a single moment of the euphoria,
and the love I felt.

Anna Post cancer surgery Oxygen

Now I will just have to take these memories and put them into a story.
A story that will communicate my perspective and truth to others.

Tsuyoshi Smle Oct 2012

How I got from there … for example from  listening to
DAZZLE! and seeing Tsuyoshi’s smile.
….to this moment today!

According to http://writingthroughlife.com/
There are 5 reasons for writing

  1. Writing your memoir helps you to identify the threads and themes in your life and make sense of what you’ve lived.
  2. Writing about your life is a healing and transformative journey.
  3. Your memoir contributes to recorded history and is your legacy
    to family, friends, and the world.
  4. It provides a way to share your experiences, world view, life lessons, and wisdom with others.
  5. It connects you with others who have experienced the same or similar situations, providing encouragement, comfort, and inspiration. It helps others understand they are not alone in their experiences.

So yes this makes sense.
Number 1 I’m already starting to see the effects of.
The somewhat traumatic feelings in the beginning of this year
must have been a result of previous actions.
If I don’t examine those previous events, I won’t ever be able to grow,
to learn
to move forward
without understanding, I won’t be ale to heal
so number 2 is also a given because..
well, because I do want to heal,
I want to amend,
I want to forgive
and to be forgiven.
I want to be understood!

Number 3 Is a hope for me, that through my story readers will gain
a peek into scenes they might be interested in.
Maybe some of you have thought about a similar journey,
Maybe you want to know more on a personal level how I
with my Western background (whatever that is?)
interpreted what I experienced in Japan.
Maybe my Japanese friends, and Japanese people in general,
want to know more about who I am?
What I have done in Japan.
Who I met.
What the outcome was…
well nr 4 then ties in with the above.

Number 5 .. Maybe so… that remains to be seen if there are others
out there who feel they can connect with my journey..
because
yes I long for being understood,
and like all people I want to feel like I belong somewhere,
that I am connected.

So how do I go about this?
Well honestly I have never before written a book.
So I need skills and tools.
According to Stephen King, and many other authors,
reading is essential, as is writing.
So that’s why I started this blogging streak,
to get it going…
For reading I read both non-fiction and fiction.
Non-fiction for picking up skills,
fiction to improve my vocabulary.

Telling True Stories

This was it for today!
Tomorrow I’m thinking of sharing some actual memories with you!

 

 

 

 

New encounters – 三宿BLACK

First an important note about “the Pink Spider Web”….

Many of you have commented and asked about the  fact that when clicking on other menues on this site you get a log in window.
It asks you to please enter a membership ID and Password.
There is in fact NO need to register for a membership.
There is not even such a thing as membership at the moment.
This is just a way for us to technically keep the rest of the site “locked down”
while it’s being developed!!
So for now ENJOY the blog, don’t worry about membership,
and I will tell you all when the rest of this portal will open!
(It’s huge project so please be patient)

The Pink Spider Web site, or portal rather, is intended to become a meeting place, for all who have interest in the Japanese Rock Music Scene, but who aren’t necessarily living in Japan.
(but of course we also welcome all of our visitors living in Japan!!
Finding information about Japanese bands, can be troublesome if you don’t read Japanese fluently.
This is also why “the Pink Spider Web” has been collaborating with individual bands such as Vagu*Project, to create web sites accessible and understandable for people who don’t speak/read Japanese, and who want to download and buy their music from outside of Japan.
Currently many bands, like Vagu*Project, only sell their albums as CDs at Live Houses, and a few sell them also at record stores such as Tower Records.
Vagu*Project’s current web page (not working well outside Japan and only in Japanese) can be seen here:
http://homepage2.nifty.com/vagu-project/
But in a few weeks the new more international web site will open in conjunction with their One Man Live and new album release June 10th !!
So that is something we really look forward to!!

For many bands however, creating their own web site and making their songs and merchandise available for sale online just isn’t helping much, as the audience who really wants to do so, have a very hard time finding their sites. A needle in the haystack on Facebook, iTunes, Amazon etc. and many many Japanese bands don’t even have a presence at such places.
“The Pink Spider Web” intends to be like a small town square in the times before internet, or even before TV and Radio. Where people, who have a mutual interest in, and passion for, Japanese Rock music can find their band, discover new bands, and find the web sites for such bands, such as Vagu*Project.

Now then….what have the Pink SpiderWeb been doing since last blog entry..?
Well here it goes… this is a start….April 26th PSW went to Shinjuku as planned to see TSP and I was not disappointed. (also See earlier blog entry for more info.)

As you all might have understood now from the above text entry, is that  this ‘blog’ is not intended as some editorial reviews for Live gigsbut my idea with it is more to introduce you all to bands and places in Japan that might catch your interest, so you can find out more about them {elsewhere].

I will try to post as many links as I can to Official Home Pages , sound cloud files, or Facebook/ twitter pages etc etc
To TSP I didn’t bring the camera as this was for pure pleasure for myself and when I shoot a gig, I can’t rally relax the same way as when I’m not behind the camera.
This was a fun night together with my friend Miguel from Mexico who lives here in Tokyo and is engaged to a Japanese girl.

After the gig we went to a bar in my neighborhood called Hard & Sweet BLACK to meet up with the band members from
Re:VIBE, and with
Reds☆ (vo. AURA and Gu. 湾岸の羊 Wangan Sheep)
and Taka (Dr. BLADE_tm)

BLADE are by the way here below on the blog… a few entries down… and there will be more on AURA and 湾岸の羊 Wangan Sheep in a few days.

http://www.blackers.jp
http://ameblo.jp/revibe-blog
http://www.facebook.com/revibeofficial
http://aura-station.com/
http://www.blade-web.com/
http://www.tsprock.jp/

a wonderful FUN FUN FUN party and connecting night.
As I didn’t have my camera with me this night, photos below were taken with iPhones in Darkness… tough for any camera…
It is a totally BLACK awesome space kind of place ha ha ha, but you can probably tell beyond the image quality of the photos that YES it was FUN!
Just HOW FUN this was…. well… I did get in trouble the next day for VoRCHAOS Live gig at Kichijoji Crescendo, because I lost my glasses this night and was practically blind Saturday….(more about that later)

ReVIBE_taka_Junko_Reds_ego_042613_100000_92From left to right in photo:

Reds☆ (Vo. AURA and Gu. 湾岸の羊 Wangan Sheep) , Anna (the PSW), Junko,
村上貴洋 Takahiro Murakami (Ba. Re:VIBE) , 滝上修幸 Nobuyuki Takigami (Gu Re:VIBE),  奥村光幸 Mitsuyuki Okumura (Gu. Re:VIBE) , 江田智樹 Tomoki Eda (Vo. Re:VIBE)
In the middle: Masataka ‘TAKA’ Tokiwa Dr. BLADE
In front: SAJI Bartender at BLACK, DJ and host of Ustream channel http://www.ustream.tv/channel/mishukublack-aostv

and one more… same people….minus Junko and Saji

ReVIBE_taka_Junko_Reds_ego_042613_200000_91

Vagu*Project – Celebrating Shinya’s Birthday

Vagu*Project – Celebrating Shinya’s Birthday on stage at 大塚Hearts+

FUN TIMES!!!
Gotta LOVE these guys for radiating so much love, passion and LIFE to the audience through their music and entertainment….
They are NATURAL BORN Stage pros !!!
Video is however shaky in the beginning and at times… sorry but its partially due to me laughing and smiling and being all happy….