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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Interview with Naoko of SHONEN KNIFE

Naoko



About SHONEN KNIFE






VKEIOS: Thank you for taking time to answer our questions! To begin, would you introduce yourself and your fellow bandmates for our readers?
Naoko: Shônen Knife is Naoko on lead vocals and guitar, Ritsuko on bass and backing vocals and Emi on drums and backing vocals.


VKEIOS: As an all-female group what kind of opposition did you face?
Naoko: There were already a lot of girls band when we started so we never encountered any real difficulties. On the contrary, I could say there were a lot of good sides to being a girls band. It may be because all our members were girls, but we got a lot of invitations to play at other bands live shows.


VKEIOS: What kind of advantages do you have by being an all-female band?
Naoko: We get to choose cute matching outfits, we have the same interests to talk about, we stand out on the musical scene, etc.


VKEIOS: Was there anyone in particular who influenced each of you to become musicians?
Naoko: The Beatles, late 70’s Punk New Wave bands (Ramones, Buzzcocks, Jam, XTC and more), 70’s British Hard Rock Bands (Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Rainbow etc), 70’s American Rock.


VKEIOS: In ways ways would you hope SHONEN KNIFE will influence other musicians?
Naoko: I have never thought about influencing anyone.


VKEIOS: What makes music your passion?
Naoko: I don't know if we are passionate about music. It has become a second nature to us, so I can't even think of an answer to this question. Sorry.


VKEIOS: Over 30 years since your formation, you are still around and staying strong. That takes remarkable dedication and it is impressive, what are the things you accredit to SHONEN KNIFE’s longevity?
Naoko: Maybe that's because we don't try to over-think it. We just keep on looking forward. We're too lazy to look back and reflect on ourselves. That and we are really serious when it comes to staying healthy. I play tennis once or twice a week.


VKEIOS: As the only remaining original member, how do you feel having seen the band through over three decades of success?
Naoko: I'm like "Has this much time passed already?"





MUSIC





VKEIOS: Your latest album, “Pop Tune”, released last year – What can you tell us about the songs on this album and the title track?
Naoko: The title track "Pop Tune" is a song stating that listening to music will make you happy and going to live shows will heighten your spirits. We wanted to give this whole album a pop taste.


VKEIOS: Where do you come up with your unique songs and how does your music speak about your band as a whole?
Naoko : I write down the things I find fun in my everyday life and use this as the basis when writing our lyrics. Usually, I write in English then I give them a melody. After that, I fix the lyrics so that they fit the melody. As for the melodies, I write them down when they come to my mind. Either using the voice-memo function on my smartphone or writing it down with a special code.
Then I send the finished song to the other members for them to listen and we get to the studio where we decide of the arrangement together. When we get to play it all of us, the band's style comes naturally.


VKEIOS: When creating new songs, has your source of inspiration changed over the years?
Naoko : No, it has not changed much, I think.


VKEIOS: What are some of the biggest ways that the Japanese music industry has changed over the years and has that had any effect on SHONEN KNIFE’s sound or activities?
Naoko : I don't know much about Japan's musical scene. I guess this is true for many countries, record stores are slowly disappearing and it's getting easier to listen to all sorts of music on the internet.
People are less willing to pay money to listen to music. They do not enjoy music on an album scale anymore, they listen to it in short spurs. Furthermore, nowadays, everyone with a computer can create music and spread it on the internet.
The line between music listeners and music creators is getting blurry. But the big difference is in the reason for creating music : do you do it for yourself or do you do it so that others can enjoy it ?
I can't really say if we are influenced by Japan's musical scene.
But one thing I can say is that "live shows" are becoming more and more important. What you feel when listening to live music is nothing compared to what you get through the net.


VKEIOS: Having formed in Osaka, in what ways do you think the city has influenced the band?
Naoko: This has a lot of influence on us ! Tokyo is a special place in Japan. Politics, economics, fashion, music, cinema, Tokyo is at the center of everything.
But cultural views between Tokyo and Osaka, between the Kanto and Kansai regions, are so different that you could say they are different countries. Osaka's people make a point of thinking by themselves. They are not biased and do not attach importance to appearances. Osaka's folk is free, friendly and frank. I think that is something you find in Shonen Knife. I guess that's why whichever country we go to perform, we can approach the audience naturally without betraying who we are.


VKEIOS: Which songs do you think best encompasses the spirit of SHONEN KNIFE?
Naoko: All of them. I just can't select one.


VKEIOS: Looking over SHONEN KNIFE’s body of work, what are you most proud of?
Naoko : The fact that no matter the country or the city we go to, there are wonderful fans waiting for us.





Touring | Live Concert





VKEIOS: You’ll be performing at TOKYO CRAZY KAWAII PARIS this September – what are some of the things you like or look forward to when performing at a festival?
Naoko : We are really looking forward to it. That is our second live in France. The last time, when we played in a Parisian live house, we were really happy with the public's reaction. So this time, we are planning to make it an even greater time. We love playing during festivals, because since the whole hall is already in a festive mood, the tension is really high. Everybody let's rock !


VKEIOS: This performance will come during your latest European tour. With over 20 shows in the tour, what do you do to keep up your energy from the first show to the last?
Naoko : Compared to an American tour, traveling time in Europe is shorter. Well, it's still 4 hours on average but whenever we can get one hour of free time, we like to check some famous places. Sightseeing is also a form of exercise. We try to stay healthy so that we can be at our peak condition when we play.


VKEIOS: What type of venues do you generally like performing in most; small, large, indoor, outdoor?
Naoko : We love every place. We enjoy especially rock festivals and vast outdoor scenes.


VKEIOS: Which of your songs draw the best, most energized, reactions from your crowds?
Naoko : When it comes to pop tunes, they usually ask : "Riding on the Rocket", "Banana Chips", "Twist Barbie", "Bear Up Bison", "Pop Tune", etc. On the hard side, they want : "Cobra vs Mangoose", "Giant Kitty", "Economic Crisis", etc.


VKEIOS: To date what do you think was your best performance, and where were you?
Naoko: We always give our all so it's really hard to choose one.


VKEIOS: What have you learned/gained through your ventures overseas?
Naoko : We have not "expanded" abroad. We just went to other places and other countries to play and sell our albums. We don't make differences between Japan and other countries. Music knows no borders.




Future





VKEIOS: What is something that inspires you to keep going in this industry?
Naoko : Our audience and fans.



VKEIOS: What are your fondest hopes for the future of SHONEN KNIFE?
Naoko: In the future, we hope to get the chance to have even more people from all over the world to listen to our music. And we hope to create even better music too. We want to give live performances which will make our audiences happy.


VKEIOS: Thank you again for your time! Would you please leave a closing statement for the Visual KEIOS readers?
Naoko: Let's rock !





SHONEN KNIFE Official Homepage





shonenknife

 

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This interview with Naoko of SHONEN KNIFE was written by Alicia R. Thomas with contributions from Michelle Gaynor and Kaitlin Maginnis. Many thanks to Naoko, SHONEN KNIFE's management, and Tokyo Crazy Kawaii Paris for making this interview possible!

[/author_info] [/author]

 

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