July 2012


“You have arrived at the LOW NOTES, which is a collection of notes, pictures, tunes I would like to share. Thanks, Oliver.”

“You have arrived at the LOW NOTES, which is a collection of notes, pictures, tunes I would like to share. Thanks,
“I will be returning to Japan in August 2012 to play some solo shows (see poster on home page) and perform in an opera. Here is an interview I conducted with an artist named Junichiro Tanaka, after seeing him perform in Tokyo of October 2011 – he had an extra-ordinary live presence (The interview has been translated by Rie Nemoto – many thanks Rie):

“NB – the first of my dates in Tokyo at “Nana Hari” I will be sharing with Junichiro Tanaka.”


Dear Junichiro,
The interview focuses on your show that I saw in Tokyo in October 2011, when you supported PWRFL PWR in Junichirou Tanaka (solo) – live in Tokyo. I saw you play in October of 2011. It was upstairs from a bar in a quiet corner of Tokyo. Audience members sat on tatami mats and musicians had to climb over the top of audience members to reach their seat. There were no microphones. You captured a playfulness as well as a thoughtfulness in your performance. The room you played in was barely bigger than a bedroom – which now seems apt. Do you ever have the feeling when you are playing a show that you could be in your bedroom all alone?


このインタビューでは、私が2011年10月に東京でみたライブ、 PWRFL PWR in のサポートアクト? ジュンイチロウタナカソロライブ イン東京、について質問させていただきます。私は2011年10月にあなたのライブをみました。それは東京の静かな角にあるバーの上階でした。観客は畳の上に座り、ミュージシャンたちは観客をまたいで自分の席に行かなければいけませんでしたね。マイクもありませんでした。あなたのパフォーマンスは遊び心と思慮深さの両方を捉えています。あなたがプレイした部屋は、ベッドルームにも満たない大きさだったでしょうか。今思うとちょうどいい大きさでした。ショーの最中、ベッドルームで一人っきりでプレイしているような気持ちになったことはありますか?



While I’m performing I’m concentrating on the sounds I make, the sounds the audience makes and their response.. and all the sounds in that actual space for that matter. When I play in my bedroom by myself I’m more concerned about fine tuning my voice and my way of playing the guitar. So when I play in front of a group of people I don’t feel alone and I certainly don’t concentrate on myself. Especially when I sing a song.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/24695740″ params=”auto_play=false&show_artwork=true&color=000000″ width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]


I remember your set very well. It was a stream of consciousness experience that seemed to run it’s course without full-stops or capital letters. There were pauses where people clapped as per usual, but for me the line between musical ideas was unbroken. Have you heard, or been to see, much narrative-based music or performance like Noh, Kabuki or even Western Opera?



演劇やダンスやパフォーマンス?などいろんな舞台芸術を観にいくのはすごく好きです。 もっぱら小さな劇場のものが多いです。西洋オペラや能や歌舞伎はお財布に余裕があれば行きたいのですが・・ 私はこれらの音楽以外のライブパフォーマンスにたくさんの影響を受けていると思います。たとえば演劇やダンスなどはまさにあなたの言うとおり.. 私も演奏する時はなるべくこうしたいのですが、ギターはチューニングが狂いやすいのでたまに予定していなかった時にチューニングをしたりするのが残念に思うことがあります。 でもハプニングはすごく好きなのでそれもOK!!って思ってもしまうのですが・・。

I really like to go and see performing arts like a play or a dance. I often go to small theatres.? If I had more money I’d want to go to opera, noh or kabuki but yeah… I think I get influenced a lot by these kinds of performance. As I said, like a play and dance. Actually, I’m always aiming towards that stream of consciousness experience that runs its couse but my guitar often needs tuning. So sometimes unexpectedly I need to tune my guitar, which can’t help but make feel a touch ashamed… But at the same time I’m kind of okay with it –because I’m a big fan of anything that just happens…



If so, have any pieces or performances influenced your solo original writings?




I kind of covered this in the previous one… But when i decide the set list, I always try to think about the whole flow. I’m not really good at speaking and if I was to speak in between songs i often feel that it might destroy the stream. So I try not to stop that flow yeah. So instead, I try to make a bridge or a connection between songs with something other than my words, like a sound or noise or something like that..

About making songs and creating music, I’m sure I have got inspiration from somewhere or someone but I’m not sure where or who or what that is… Sorry…
But ill tell you something thats funny. Isnt it uncanny when people in musicals? are talking about something and just burst into song…

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/24763425″ iframe=”true” /]


Your performance that night consisted of you, your guitar, a songbook
and a portable music player. At one stage you played a sample from
Handel’s beautiful air “Ombra Mai Fu”, from his opera Xerxes. Xerxes sings the song admiring a plane tree and the shade it gives her. The original lyrics, though the version you played was instrumental, run thus:

Never was the shade/
of any plant/
dearer or more lovely/
or more sweet.

…Tokyo was a vast megalopolis for me, I was relieved to walk around Yoyogi park for a few hours one day and seek shade in it’s tranquility.

Can you tell me, do you have a tree, or a place, or a record, or a book that you go to to replenish?

あの夜のあなたのパフォーマンスは、あなたとあなたのギター、ソングブック、ポータブルミュージックプレイヤーによるものでした。あるステージで、あなたはヘンデルのオペラ、クセルクセスより、美しい風情の”オンブラ マイ フ”をサンプリングしていました。

こんな木陰は 今まで決してなかった




私の今住んでいる場所は郊外で近くに小さな森があったりしてコンクリートと草木が私の中ではいい具合に混在していて、この混在感が私を充足してくれていると思います。特定の何かや場所よりも・・あ、公園はどこでも好きですよ! 秋葉原駅の昭和口を出てすぐの小さな公園もいいですよ!サラリーマンや観光客が入り混じってみんなタバコを吸ってすぐに出て行くようなスペースなのですが・・って充足とはまた別の意味になってしまいました。



しかし明らかに公園や森の中とは違うのです、それは何かなと考えていて・・ やっぱり外は全ての事がゆっくりでも絶えず変化しているので、しかも自然の中は特にゆっくりと・・ あ、このゆっくりと絶えない感が私を充足していくのかもしれません。

I live in a suburb with a a tiny forest. For me this kind of nature – a good mixture of concrete and greens – makes me feel replenished. For me, more than a particular place itself.. any park just about does the trick! The small park just near Akihabara station’s Showa exit is one off the top of my mind, which I seem to like.You can see a mixture of Japanese? Businessman, tourists and just an array of people. They seem to just go there, and have a smoke there, and leave there. Maybe this isnt about replenishment though..

In regard to music, I seem to be satisfied with drone music. But actually, if I concentrate on or focus myself on any one record, regardless of genre, I can get that feeling of satisfaction.

But this feeling is different from the feeling when I’m in the park or forest. I wonder what’s different…
When I’m outside I can feel everything is changing all the time even if it’s very slow. Especially in nature it’s really slow? and… Yeah maybe this slow and continuous feeling is replenishing itself for me.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/24696430″ iframe=”true” /]


I mentioned the songbook you had with you onstage – can you tell me
about this songbook?




あのソングブックを使った最後の曲はhappinessという曲で私の作ったものではないいくつかの日本の歌から「幸せ」という歌詞が出てくるものや、私が勝手に他の人の歌に「幸せ」という歌詞を付け加えたものや私の作ったものなどで「幸せ」という言葉で構成されていまして、ひとえに「幸せ」といっても曲により物語が違うので無理やりつなげていくと面白いかなと思って作りました。先ほどおっしゃっていた Handel’s beautiful air “Ombra Mai Fu”, from his opera Xerxes. もこの曲の中で使用しましたがオペラの曲とは知りもしないでお恥ずかしいばかりです・・たまたま家にあったCDで美しい楽曲をと思って使用しました。

That songbook is from singer-songwriter named Yutaka Ozaki who has already passed away… She’s a big influence on me. When I was a junior high school student I used to sing lots of songs from that songbook everyday. Which always annoyed the heck out of my family.

The last song in the songbook is entitled “happiness”, and it’s a song where I collaged some japanese songs which has the word ‘happy’ in the lyrics yeah, I actually added ‘happy’ to some of the songs that i felt needed it and I made some elements of this song as well. Anyway, it’s all about happiness. I thought it would be interesting to put a myriad of songs together even despite these all having different contexts.

I used “Ombra Mai Fu” – the song you talked about, in this song, but actually I didn’t know it was from an opera which is kinda embarrassing again….
It was just a coincidence that I found this CD at home. At that time I was looking for a beautiful song for my song and I chose this one.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/24763137″ iframe=”true” /]


Your recent LP release, which I understand is your first solo release
out of your duo work in Ju Sei, is an equally adventurous and gorgeous
record. I listen to it often.It takes me back to that night in October – I had just finished my tour playing shows in Japan the day before your show and had seen about twenty bands over two weeks and was tired, and wondering why had I come out when I really wanted to sleep. When you played I forgot that I was tired.

最近リリースされたLPー私の理解では、デュオJu Seiを離れてのソロ初のリリースとなるものーは冒険的であると同時に華やかなものですね。このLPを私は最近よく聴いています。そしてあの、十月の夜を思い出します。ー私はちょうどあなたのライブの前日に自分の日本ツアーを終わらせたところで、二週間で二十以上のバンドをみて、疲れていて、こんなに眠いのになんで自分は出歩いてるんだろうと思っていました。




Thanks very much. It would be great to see you play again!


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© Oliver Mann 2018