Modern Music 80s:Japan

What, then, is time?
“If you don’t ask,
I know. If I have to
explain, I do not
There seems to
want to be a uniting of perfection of thought
and feeling with perfection of form, resulting
in a subjectivity that takes you beyond the
ordinary self towards a confrontation with the
ideal self… so?
“So? Fear not to be young, precocious, hurry on,
if there is somewhere you can hurry on…”
Do you remember the last time?
“Yes, this now seems to be the right time. The last time
obviously wasn’t. But I did enjoy the conversation, even
though I could tell you were a little hostile.”
Then no-one gave you a piece of chance.
“Oh no, if you make mistakes around here it’s diffi cult
to ever escape. I know the fi rst album is rubbish, that all the hype that went with it was just wrong, but we were just fi ve boys, naive and trying to get something together.” When did you develop a self-consciousness about
what you were actually doing, a feeling towards what could have been done?
“After ‘Life In Tokyo’ I was in New York for about a month, and it was a real depression, looking back on what I’d done and disliking everything. From the appearance of the band to the people we’d worked with to the music itself. Just horrible.

“We talked about splitting, although we were getting on together fi ne. I started writing songs in a new way, on keyboards, which made a whole difference. Something as simple as that changed things around, everything sounded more mature, and there was a great change in
approach and attitude.”What was it about the adopted appearance that you hated?

80 singles
from The 80's
Somewhat ashamed of
being attached to an
outmoded gimmick,
Japan have been
recently attempting to pass the parcel, as it were, by singing lots of songs about Red China. This one is about ‘Ghosts’ of no particular persuasion; you know what it sounds like.David Sylvian has a bellyache and so we all have to hear about it. Jayne Mansfield once suggested to her manager that they bottle the Mansfi eld urine and sell it to her star-struck fans. Well, David Sylvian bottles bellyaches and (sometimes) idiots buy them. Men shouldn’t read books – knowledge
makes them miserable…Read more
Related Albums:
Japan - Tin drum


bulut on 8:43 pm said...

“It was a bad caricature. When I was
about 13 or 14 I didn’t like myself very much. I
didn’t like the idea that I was shy and introverted.
I disliked my childhood intensely, but from as
far back as I can remember I hated not being
independent. People were saying to me that I would
never do well in music because I was too shy… that
I couldn’t even go onstage to sing because I couldn’t
even face talking to people. Which was true, I couldn’t.
But I wanted independence.
“So I built, like, not an alter ego. I exaggerated a tiny part
of myself. I turned it into a gross caricature and wore certain
types of clothes that I could hide behind. I lived the part totally.
I believed that if I lived the part long enough, I would
become it. I saw it as like a salvation. But eventually I hated
this caricature so much I was forced to come to terms with
myself and fi nd a way to control myself.”
How do you see this exaggeration now?
“It’s diffi cult to pinpoint. When I started in the music
business – oh, disgusting phrase – when I fi rst started
making music I was doing it for all the wrong reasons, the
wrong reasons being to have fame, to boost the ego. I’m not
that type of person at all. So I stood back from it, and as
much as I was allowed, slipped away.”
Everything that motivated you to make pop music
you’ve had to shake away: those rampant desires, myths
absorbed as a teenager.
“You have to lose all those things to function smoothly.
You have to lose the desire for people to look at you in a
certain way. So that when you say write a lyric you have to
lose the desire to put in something about yourself which
you only want people to see but that isn’t true. You strive
towards a strange purity that is probably impossible, a kind
of carefulness that hopefully achieves the opposite effect – a
radical… bravery.”

In a lot of your songs the word ‘life’ appears.
“Because it represents so many different things. Ways of life,
patterns of life. That’s what the word represents; the way people
live their lives, the attitudes they adopt to their life, and it suggests
the learning, or what is involved in unlearning all these things
that are forced upon you from childhood – so that you can really
begin to learn. To me the learning is what is important. There’s
something vital there, and a reason for it that spins around inside
my mind. A reason for learning, and learning justifi es life.”
He not busy being born is busy dying.
“Someone asked me in an interview if I’d ever considered
suicide, and I did at a very young age. For some reason I came to
the conclusion that if I didn’t do it today there’s always tomorrow.
You know? It’s as if you’ve already done it, and everything else is
beyond it, some kind of bonus or something.”
It’s interesting that you should be asked about suicide. The
introvert, the melancholy boy, is seen to
be suicidal, when it’s obvious once you’ve
skipped about a bit that the quiet life can be
a manifestation of a seizing excitement.
“People always ask me about ‘depression’.
I never feel depressed. Or I say to them,
‘I enjoy my depressions.’”
Do Japan have a great justifi cation for
their existence?
“Me. My state of mind. Maybe I’m making records for myself.
And then it turns into that something we’re wondering about
which is where all the complications enter into it.”
It seems now that you’re treading water, dismayed with the
clutter of the pop context, apprehensive of what to do next.
“That’s true, I’m meandering. I’m not even sure about wanting
to continue with music. I’ve started painting recently and that
has led to discovery of new shapes and forms, seeing things in a
different way, and that’s exciting.
“In one way, I feel I can move away from
music easily, but in a way I’m apprehensive
about throwing away this slight public
position because of the potential that’s
involved to take chances in my life and
possibly communicate something that is
unusual if only in the context. I just feel I’m
here for a reason.”
What’s the time?
“I’m not wearing a watch.”

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