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!

 

 

 

Roppongi, May , 2013

Roppongi 2013
Reds during a day of video shooting in Roppongi, Tokyo May 2013.

So…. I mentioned before, that my first encounter with
Japan was spring 2011.
I was actually in grad school in the USA at that time.
The semester had just finished.
The year before I had been to Vanuatu.
The trip to Vanuatu inspired me a lot.
Fascinated me on a very deep level, because it was
so immensely different to anything I had ever
experienced before.
It drove me to do more linguistic research, as well as
interdisciplinary linguistic anthropology.
Did you know that Vanuatu has over 100 languages
but a population of just about 200000?
One of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world
when you factor in the tiny population!

And as you could see in the video below, they look and behave
very differently from any society (I have ever lived in).
However, on a daily basis, they eat, sleep, have sex, argue,
converse, greet each other….much like I do… WE do,
we humans.
However, being there, immersed in their society, I was aware
pretty much from the get go, that their society is different.
They look different.
Their surroundings and living quarters are very different.
Their social rules are different.
I wont go any further into this topic here, but let’s just
face it:
They look different, they have no cell phones, no gadgets,
and there are no stores (outside of Port Vila, and on the majority of islands),
there is not even electricity on most islands…
so we think, we believe, we assume that
they are different
and they certainly therefore must be more difficult
to communicate with.
In the past Vanuatu was colonized by UK and France in a shared colony.
Unique and interesting in itself, and I could probably write a whole
book just about that…
but
My book is about my life and experiences in Japan.

Japan is surrounded by stereotypes.
We all know them.
We know a lot about Japan in the west,
we really do, don’t we?
They are different in Japan.
They bow, they don’t shake hands.
The food is amazing.
They eat sushi in Japan.
They eat rice in Japan.
They eat with chop sticks.
Japan has a loooong history.
They have temples.
The country in itself is gorgeous with mountains and
they have Mount Fuji.
They also have Tokyo,
and subways that are so crowded one cannot breathe.

We know a lot, don’t we?
I also thought, they must be more similar to me,
more similar than the tribal people in Vanuatu.
Right?
I mean Japan is so high tech, isn’t it?
They make robots and stuff.

When I first arrived in Japan, that was pretty much all
of what I knew … the above…
I also knew some about their music.
X-Japan, hide, Luna Sea, Yellow Magic Orchestra,
L’Arc~en~Ciel, Nightmare, Kuroyume, Gazette….
That was it…
When I travelled around in Japan, in the spring of 2011,
I was also confirming it,
I shot photos of temples,
I went to concerts,
I saw exactly what my stereotypes have told me.

Then… suddenly I decided….
to change my life….
and
My life changed
A LOT!!
because after my first trip to Japan,
the trip when “the sky called me”,
I decided to move to Japan.
I wanted to go deeper, discover more, hear more music…

I met Shingo, a Japanese friend, whom I taught English.
We met every day… yes, every day for many months.
I met Yuka from Hachioji (Tokyo suburb).
Then I met Vagu*Project, a Japanese band,
and Vorchaos, and Dazzle! and…
many other bands followed.
We had meetings, talks, discussions
I started the Pink Spider Web.
I was in love with the country and its people.
I still am.
I still love Japan.

A few years later after I came back to Japan,
(I had been in the US to treat a colon cancer)
I met this man in the photo above: Reds.
He is the vocalist in AURA. A Japanese band that started in the
90s and was one of the front bands, and pioneers, for the Japanese
Visual Kei.
We met at one of my favorite spots in Japan:
The Club Sensation in Yokohama.
How we met, and the miracles I felt will be another story.
It was certainly though a very special encounter
and on a very deep level.
Deeper than rational brain can go,
and more amazing than I thought possible.
We truly connected!

He was delighted to see my work on the internet.
How I could reach so many people across the globe.
Because sadly, I had discovered by now,
Japan isn’t all like I perceived it to be during my trips.
Hanging with Japanese bands like Vagu*Project,
I had noticed that they somehow were out of synch.
Out of synch with how technologically ahead Japan must be,
but was not….
Because certainly a country with high tech industries must
have every single citizen on top of the game?
It seemed to me the more I got to know people like
Reds, that Japan is somehow,
Out of synch with the world!

I had, already during my first trip to Japan,
felt that some thing was ‘off’.
Buying tickets for example. –  not possible, at least not the way
I think of
Finding band info online another example –  web pages ill-maintained
and in Japanese only.
Adding Japanese friends on Facebook… was often met with a
stare:  “Facebook???”
This was 2013.. Where were the Japanese online?
They showed me ameoba.
They showed me their web sites…in Japanese.
I was like, but eh…. globally people don’t speak Japanese.
How do you reach your fans abroad?
How do you reach new fans?

Being with them, and later with Reds,
I learned a lot.
Japan was not what my stereotypes had informed me.
To write all that I discovered in Japan,
will take many chapters…. like ….a Book!!
so yes, I wont write it all here, because this is a blog,
and this is why I’m writing a book!
I will just leave some for the book…. lol

Working with the bands, seeing hundreds of bands,
yes hundreds, I got to spend a lot of time together
with them.
And now comes the tricky part, because I was still
somehow in an illusion, that by now…
I knew the Japanese. I understood them.
Their struggles with learning English,
(which by the way is perfectly understandable at
one level because it’s equally difficult for me to learn Japanese)
Their gender inequality,
their difference in gender perception altogether…
I got it!
What I also rather quickly learned was their power structures.
What I am not capable of though, is adapting 100% to their ways.

I naively thought of it as a bridge…
A bridge where we meet half-way while connecting.
I still believe we can do this (but I will return to this later and
more in detail in my book).
I really believed we could truly work together!

The implications though, run much deeper than
understanding that they have power structures,
or knowing that they are reluctant to the concept
of change.
Let alone to actually change anything.
Reds was a fresh wind.
He was curious.
He wanted to reach out.
He wanted to connect.
I thought it was a real wish,
I believed it was possible.

And I believed him…
in a way I still do.

The bridge however… is another story.
There is a thin line between
understanding and misunderstanding

To be continued…….

 

 

 

Editing

Yesterday I posted a short video with a tunnel.
I’m quite fascinated by tunnels as a metaphor for transformation,
transgression, change, and  …. life

Tunnels can be dark and murky, and we talk about seeing the light
at the end of the tunnel.
Those tunnels can be scary, and we hope, and often believe,
that the coming out of the tunnel we will be free, happy and content.

Sometimes the tunnel is like the one in the blog post below,
It’s not dark at all….
bright and illuminated,
but still a place that takes us from one ‘reality’ to another.
The walking in a tunnel is a walk with an aim,
you don’t want to stay in that place forever.
The goal is really to get out of there.
You just have to get going…
In September 2011 I was in such a  bright kind of tunnel.

I was really happy. I was at Inazuma Rock Fes
On stage were great bands like:
Def Tech, Dragon Ash, Abingdon Boys School, and Gazette
Yet at the end of one of my blog entries from that week end I had written:

… a PURPOSE …
Do I have one?
I believe I do!
I just need to find it.

Eventually later that year I did find my purpose.
My mission met my passion.
The music in Japan and the live scene.
Somehow I was out of the bright tunnel and had found my path.

And once out I met tons of amazing people!
Tetsu great drummer (for ex. mintmints, ex. Ra:IN)  here a night
when we had drinks together at his bar Boogie Stock in Shin-Daita.

Going to live gigs I met some amazing people,
often one contact introduced me to another,
and got to know, and work with, many Japanese musicians up close.
One such band was Vorchaos.
We discussed strategies for bands in general, and for them in particular,
how to make it in this new global world.
I’m so happy they still play together and keep on going!

and time went on .. I wasn’t in a tunnel.
I was on a path! Out and about!
I had direction and purpose.
When you are on a path you don’t contemplate much.
There isn’t the same feeling present, as there is when you are in a tunnel.
You don’t search for the light at the end.
You just enjoy the ride.


With Derinjar at Chelsea Hotel  about 2 years ago.

And I sure enjoyed everything!

Now I am back in a tunnel… but another kind of tunnel.
This one is almost pitch black. Or it has been….
I’m beginning to see the light,
I’m going through change,
and I’m using the contemplative nature of being in a tunnel,
to think about what will be on the other side.
Often we just don’t know what will come…

What has happened … during my time on the path,
is that somewhere along the road,
I started listening to how other people thought I should act.
Where I should put my time.
How I should do things
How I should prioritize my time..

But now ….in the middle of the dark tunnel….
I woke up…
and Im back at a mental place where I am more in charge.
And I’m being creative.
I might not at all know what will come at the other end,
but I know this much..
there is an end also to this tunnel!

“This is my life,
my story,
my book,
and I will no longer let anyone else write it.
nor will I apologize for the edits I make”
Steve Maraboli

 

 

 

Vorchaos – First One-Man Live (Julia)

[English will follow below]

ジュリア·ミーク[Julia Meek]によるライブレポート。

「Vorchaos」11/8(土)吉祥寺クレッシェンド 11/8 吉祥寺クレッシェンドにて Vorchaos 初のワンマンライブが行われました! 私もピンクスパイダーウェブ(The Pink Spider Web) として参加!チケットはなんと完売! ファン全員へ感謝の印として、リストバンドをプレゼントしてくれました! チケット完売から予想していたとおり、会場は人でいっぱい!写真を撮るために移動する隙間もないほどでした!大きな声援で始まり、ライブが終わるまでその熱気は続きます。 彼らのエネルギーに胸はワクワク! ライブは四部に分かれ、アンコールでは2曲を披露。 彼らは力強いパフォーマンスでファンを盛り上げ、楽しませてくれました!7曲が終わって彼らがステージを去ると、バンドがこの夜に至るまでの道のりを描いたスライドショーのサプライズがありました。その後、JunとKazが登場し、Chaos Core のアコースティックバージョンの演奏。2人の中からあふれ出てくる感情は、美しく感動的でした。そして、ファンの歓声に応えるべく、Ushiが登場、ドラムソロを見せてくれました!ファンと会話し、シンバルでDJを演じながら、クラシックロックの曲を何曲かミックス。Fujiも加わり、残りのメンバーが出てくるまでの間、ちょっとしたデュエットを見せてくれました。彼らはその後、4曲を演奏。ファンのアンコールの声にも応えてくれて、さらに2曲を演奏してくれたのです! 彼らがすばらしすぎて、ライブが終わった後は悲しくなってしまったほどでした!   今回のライブを見逃してしまったというファンの皆さん、ご安心を!年内に予定されているライブはあと2つあります!ひとつは11/23 名古屋3Starにて、もうひとつは12/5 渋谷Crawlにて行われます!

セットリスト

Chaos Core
Decided Only Way Forward
-MC-
Gensou Dimension
Unchanged the world
シャイニー
-MC-
lml (yuzo曲)
Catastrophe
–Slideshow–
Acoustic Chaos Core end
-Drum Solo-
Monster
Tasogare
Ao Kagirinaku
Give a Cry

Encore:
Technobreak
Ano Oka no Mukuo

今後のライブ スケジュール

Live Photographer RYUMEI Presents nonLinear Metal DynamiX 2014
Vol.40 in NAGOYA
DATE 2014年11月23日 (日)
PLACE:  3 STAR (名古屋・今池)

☆ ☆ ☆
SOUNDWITCH TOUR 2014
“ROMANCE OF THE KILL” -Chapter 2- 「TOKYO Romanesque」
DATE: 2014年12月5日 ( Fri )
PLACE: 渋谷CRAWL

☆ ☆ ☆
Live Photographer RYUMEI Presents nonLinear Metal DynamiX 2014
Vol.42 in TOKYO -2014 GRAND FINAL
DATE: DATE 2014年12月21日 (日)
PLACE:吉祥寺CRESCENDO
GUNBRIDGE(from 大阪) / Vorchaos / SEVENTH SON

☆ ☆ ☆
“The Unforsaken”
DATE:2015年1月11日(日)
PLACE:新宿 WIld Side Tokyo
出演:XECSNOIN、Vorchaos、Ciel Nocturne、Re*(リアスタリスク),他

☆ ☆ ☆
DATE:2015年2月7日(土)
PLACE:心斎橋club ALIVE!
出演:激情★めたりっちぇ(主催)、Vorchaos、藤原トランキュリティ、APOCALYPSE、ほか全6バンド予定。

リンク:
ホームページ http://www.vorchaos.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/vorchaos

twitter: http://twitter.com/Vorchaos

Vorchaos on youtube:

Group Picture Julia with Vorchaos Nov 8 2014 画像は下にあります。More photos Below

Live report by Julia Meek. “Vorchaos” Saturday, Nov. 8 at Kichijoji Crescendo

November 8th was Vorchaos’ first one man live at Kichijijo Crescendo!
And I was there for Pink Spider Web~!! The live’s tickets were SOLD OUT!
and as a thank you to all their fans, they gave out wristband presents at the door!
As expected of a sold out performance, the venue was packed! There was barely any room to move around to take pictures! They started out loud and strong and kept it up the whole live. Their energy was very intoxicating!
Vorchaos split the live into 4 parts plus a 2 song encore. They started out strong in the beginning, keeping the audience alive and rocking! After about 7 songs, they left the stage, giving us a surprise present of a slide show of their journey together as a band, leading up to their big night.
Afterwards, Jun and Kaz come out to perform an acoustic version of Chaos Core.
It was beautiful and touching to see the emotion flowing from them both during the song. Then, to the crowd’s cheers, Ushi came out to perform a drum solo! He mixed several different classic rock songs to play along to, even interacting with the audience, pretending to dj on the cymbals. Fuji came out to join Ushi on the drums and they performed a quick duet together before being joined by the rest of the band on stage.
The band proceeded to play 4 more songs before leaving the stage. The crowd chanted and cheered for them to come back, which they did! They proceeded to play two more songs for the encore~! They did such a great job, it made me sad when they ended! If you missed this chance to see them, don’t worry! They have two more lives coming up before the end of the year! 11/23 they will be in Nagoya at 3Star and they will return to Tokyo 12/5 for a live at Shibuya Crawl!

All photos below by Julia Meek, edited by The Pink Spider Web

Vorchaos_110814_Julia_1000000_910Congratulations Vorchaos!

Vorchaos_110814_Julia_2000000_910Yuzo on guitar

Vorchaos_110814_Julia_3000000_97Fuji on Bass

Vorchaos_110814_Julia_5000000_98
Vocals with passion – Jun

Vorchaos_110814_Julia_6000000_Kaz_acc_Blue_lite_BW_912Kaz playing the acoustic version of Chaos Core

Vorchaos_110814_Julia_4000000_W500_97
Clockwise from left:
Kaz (Gu.) , USHI (Dr.), Jun (Vo.), Fuji (Ba.) and Yuzo (Gu.)

 

Vorchaos Crescendo Online Ad 110814

VoRCHAOS Love….

VoRCHAOS photos May 1, 2013

If you love them as much as I do, you can scroll back here on the LIVE feed, there are photos with Kaz for ex.
or do a  search for Vorchaos, or their names, Kaz, 淳, yuzo, Fujii, USHI
VoRCHAOS is truly one of my favorite bands in Japan, and I can’t highly enough recommend a listening if you like high quality, fun, fast metal from Japan….

Fujii Ba.
Fuji

 

淳 JUN Vo.

Jun

 
yuzo Gu./Chorus Fujii Ba. and in the background you can see USHI Dr.

Yuzo  Fuji USHI

VoRCHAOS online:
http://vorchaos.com
http://www.facebook.com/vorchaos

ANTIKNOCK
http://www.antiknock.net/