Over the past 4 years, んoon (pronounced “hoon”) has been making the rounds over DIY venues and events across Japan, most notably in Tokyo and Osaka. The intricate rhythms by Naoto Sekijima (Bass) and Kensaku Egashira (Keyboard), soothing vocals by JC, and angelic harp by Yuko Uesu makes you feel incredibly content, carried away by the soothing sounds. After my initial discovery of them, I was dying to know more about their creative process as well as their experiences within the DIY scene in Tokyo and across Japan. I had the pleasure to get in contact with んoon and have a brief chat. Read the full interview below!
1) What are the origins of んoon, and how did the band get its start?
Some of the members have been friends since we were in our teens and early twenties, and tried a noise band together or tried to cross Japan with flip flops and all sorts of stupid things. We hadn’t had contact for a while but In 2014, Naoto (Bass) suddenly called Kensaku (Key) and Yuko (Harp), and we brought instruments to a studio in Shibuya.
It was not a fruitful session at all, but somehow, we decided to continue to play together. In 2016, JC (Vocal) joined the band and we changed a lot.
2) What inspires the eclectic sounds of んoon?
The genres that affect each member are different; experimental music, noise, electro music, progressive rock, psychedelic rock, jazz, hip-hop, soul, R&B, J-POP, etc.
3) When making music, what is your creative process like?
Each member brings their own ideas and repeats metamorphosis while experimenting. Even if one member makes a perfect demo, it doesn’t move on. We enjoy the process of deconstructing the first idea.
4) Currently, who are some of your favorite musicians?
There are so many artists that we each like personally. It’s hard for us to pick and list since we all have different tastes in music. But coincidentally we had several chances to see Hiatus Kaiyote’s performance together. Their last year’s stage performance at Fuji Rock Festival was so beautiful. We enjoyed the pure energy of their music.
5) I have always been so curious about the underground music scene in Tokyo. What is it like? Do you have a favorite music venue you like to perform at?
There are so many cool venues in Tokyo. We love performing at live houses but also we like unique venues that are not originally made for music venues, such as factories, abandoned schools, and historical places. Last year, we had a chance to play at Asakusa Little Theater which is expressed as “the smallest theater in the world,” originally a gateway to success for young comedians . Also, we often had a chance to play at a venue called WWW Shibuya.
WWW used to be a movie theater. With the movie theater remnants, there is a large staircase in front of the stage so that you can look down on the performers from any position. Venues with unique characteristics are our favorites.
And about the Indie scene…
This is more of a uniqueness of the Japanese music scene, but we were also initially surprised that young listeners buy CDs more than we expected. We have a culture to gift CDs after gigs as some sort of gratitude to the bands you played with. Once we tried that to artists from overseas but they preferred to know streaming links since they didn’t have a CD player at home. CDs are still a strong medium in Japan but we feel it’s slightly changing due to streaming services taking root in Japanese culture. Also, Twitter has a strong influence on both the mainstream and indie music scenes. Lots of fan communities appear on Twitter. They tend to enjoy describing (criticizing) the music and find someone who has the same taste.
There aren’t so many platforms for indie music to become widespread in Japan. Actually, we don’t know much about the traditional indie culture but there are so many interesting artists to listen to and unique events to follow.
Last year we performed at a DIY festival called “全感覚祭 (Zen kan Kaku sai)” . This festival was held by one of our favorite bands called GEZAN. It was a donation-based festival with a concept of FREE Charge Free Food, and the value relied on each audience. It was a full-of-energy DIY Festival with great bands and food producers from all over Japan. Backed with respect and passion, joining this festival was one of our bands highlights. We wish to hold our own festival someday. 🙂
6) In Japan, is the underground music scene different in each city?
Some people say that the indie rock scene is more exciting in Osaka than in Tokyo, but the feeling of accepting new things and enjoying them remains the same no matter where you go.
Our friend Dawa is the owner of a local record shop in Osaka, and he supports and has a strong influence on the Japanese indie scene. Both of our 1st and 2nd EPs were released on his label. Without his help, we wouldn’t have been able to do so much.
7) Your recent music video for “Amber (Summer Ver.)” is so cool! I love the use of experimental animation within んoon’s music videos. What was the creative process behind the video, and why did you collaborate with Akihiko Taniguchi specifically?
The MV director Akihiko Taniguchi and Naoto (Bass) have been friends since their teens. They formed a noise band and played together 10 years ago.
Akihiko’s works and his creativity are always inspiring us a lot.
8) Is there currently new music in the works?
9) Do you have any final words you would like to tell our KXLU listeners/supporters?
We are very looking forward to seeing you someday. Take care 🙂
Interview conducted by: Alexa Terry
Photography by: Natsuko Miyashita from ULUYUS HP