have been struggling with time and plane tickets for many years before
making it to Tokyo. I Had ten great days and nights there and I already
want to return to this astonishing town and wish to travel all over Japan.
Plane in Paris on Nov. 23rd, at 6 pm It's 2.30 pm. The Asian taxi driver who takes me at the Roissy Airport is a funny man. He is Chinese and doesn't speak fluent French. He says Japanese people run all the time, which is not a completely false vision, and then ask me if I am a celebrity over there, if people are running after me in the streets. Didn't mean it, but I reply that I am not BIG IN JAPAN, not yet, and we laugh about the fact that I plan to be. And then my phone rings and I keep talking until the taxi reaches the airport. Carry my big blue case, full of instruments and pedals, my guitar and bags through the terminal 2 hall, and queue the JAL path. God! my cases are way to heavy. Got to pay overweight expenses. Have a nice time in Japan! don't blame me.
the airport gate D92 or something. Almost already in Tokyo. Japanese, tourists,
wearing sanity masks. Reading French books. Respecting the marks on the
floor. Difficult to cough, without drawing attention of dozens of travelers.
Have and will have to cope with this, spiritually and physically, for the
whole trip. Don't even think of wiping your nose.
Taking off. 12 hours of flight, decent food, great Hitchcock movie, very bad recent movies. Poor sleep. Coffee, Japanese tea, breakfast, lunch. Sleep. Skyline. Clouds. Sunrise. Landing.
Narita airport. Limousine Bus . One hour and a half of Japanese baby sleep. Traffic jam. 20° C. November 24th. Borrow cell phone. Ring someone, French guys at the French institute, to pick me up at Shinjuku station. Jetlag. Jetlag. Jetlag. Heavy case, heavy guitar, heavy body. Heavy head. Suidobashi station, trains, people, coins, tickets, coins, tickets, Tokyo.
the hotel, four men behind the desk. All bending foward. Beginning of an
UFO english-hand-signs-japanese idiomatic experiment. Room 450. For eight
nights. Have a shower. Have a Japanese green tea. Plug the computer. Get
news. Give news to my wife and to my family. Check out if everything is
fine with Stephane Garry and Jean Michel Pires who will join the trip for
a one slot trio gig at French Institute on Nov. 26th.
Can't reach my friend Franck who lives in Tokyo to have dinner with him. Take a jacket. Go out. Search a cheap place to get food. AmPm. Fruits, juice. Peanuts for the next breakfast. God, it's the morning, but in France. Not in tokyo! Have dinner at 9 pm in a sushi restaurant. Very cheap, a bit depressing.
Difficulty to speak out. No English. Just signs and few words in Japanese. Arigato goysaymasu. Fascinated by the calmness and the knives action on fish flesh. Nice rest.
4 am. Impossible to sleep any longer. Work on the computer. Write to my wife. Beer? Tea. Check out Japanese and Tokyo main venues websites. Play a bit of guitar. A tune; D tune; go sleep again. Hotel room. Hotel room. Kimono. Shower. Cough. Cough. Meeting with all French labels representatives at 8 am in the hotel hall. Today, November 25th, I will be the Prohibited Records man. First day of meetings with Japanese labels and distributors. Nice organization at French Institute. Lots of nice meetings with Japanese record labels and agents. Nice cards. Nice cards. Exchanges. Ideas. Smiles. Red wine. White wine. French food. Sun. Sun. Sun. Nap? No. Meetings, cards, business cards, situation of the Japanese market. What about downloading music on your cell phone. Daydream? sort of nightmare. blahblahblah. Tired. Quick and nice dinner in a Japanese modern restaurant. Need rest for tomorrow. No TV. Never. No TV. Another tea.
|Day 2. 26th - Musicians Stephane and Jean Michel take a Aeroflot plane from Paris today to join me in Tokyo. First gig is tonight at the French Institute's Brasserie where many events take place. Rehearsal at 4 am in the hotel room. Tea. Shower. Bath. Emails. Busy morning. Meeting Japanese agents and professionals. Interesting. Bad door handling. Bang bang! Poor her. I'm so sorry. I blush. Very confused. For the better and the worse. French guy. French manners? Didn't mean it of course. At least we will remember each other. My dear. So sorry. Realize a few minutes later that she is representing one of the more important Japanese concerts agency don, you have to apologize again. Don't blame me.|
|Busy afternoon. After a rapid and informal lunch with the Japanese professionals,card, nice cards, bending foward, exchanges of contacts and ideas, and a lot of blahblah have to check the equipment and PA set up for the evening. From 3 pm set up the gear with the local staff. Amazingly efficient crew, the boy and the girl are really efficient and rapid. I stay a few minutes watching them working. Never saw this before. In the afternoon I meet Journalist Mark E. Rappaport, great encounter, we talk a lot about music and his wife Michiyo Yagi. Plan to hook up at the Superdeluxe show on Saturday night. Really worried about the Aeroflot plane. Have they ever taken off? Imagine Jean Michel as a new king of ecology, new master of sushi, new Japanese baby. Dodo l'enfant do I still don't know that they have been 2 hours delayed. They arrive in Narita at 2 pm instead of 12 am. They rush, go to the hotel. By luck, I manage to catch them on the phone at the hotel. They will be here at 6pm, right on time to rehearse and soundcheck a bit as a trio.|
Trio show. Grand piano Yamaha, of course. Acoustic Guitar. My black dan
electro Baritone guitar. Good drums. Fender twin amp. kalimba, melodica,
bontempi keys, small mixer. Good soundguy. Two sets.
|Head to the Sebastien Tellier show at les Etoiles. Nice venue. Nice people. Strange show. A saxophone and guest Kahimi Kari. Tellier mmm. Vodka. Vodka. Preferred the one in Paris as support of Air. Tell them. Drunk. Vodka. Spinning town. By foot with Koki, a&r at P-vine, in a restaurant, to have a bit of rest and funny time drinking Tea, Sake, having beans and Yakitoris, talking about records, life in Japan, in Europe, differences between cultures. Jean Michel Pires you Portuguese Garagantua ! It's almost 5 pm. Time to head back to the hotel?|
|Wake up pretty late, 10 am. Wow managed to sleep more than 4 hours at once this time. Think my mates might be sleeping. No way! Two messages at the hotel desk. Everybody went out They have friends in town. Give a ring. OK meeting at Ropongi in a few hours. Food, metro stations, coins, tickets, ask my way a few times, nobody is really able to help me. OK I manage it with my metro map. Easy. In fact, really easy to find my way to Ropongi station. Ropongi is comparable to Les Halles in Paris. The Ropongi Hills have been all rebuilt, it's Saturday. Crowded. Really crowded. We will be back in this disctrict tonight. That's where Superdeluxe is. Then we go to Ochanomizu district, where all the guitar / Music shops are. Of course, Stephane Garry buys a toy-guitar and I get a few things , including a toy-accordion made in china.|
|Have dinner in Shibuya. Nice place with Yoyo, friend of Stephane, and activist for electronic / experimental music, she did the tours for Deco label and knows my friends Erik, Sylvie and Lionel. Small world, of course. Great food, nice place, we are a bit in a hurry. We have to head back to Ropongi for the Superdeluxe show, where Afrirampo, great band from Osaka, and many other acts are performing, and Arto Lindsay later in the night copied and paste from the SDLX site : Psionic Distortion CLOSING party! LIVE DEATH TECHNICA Atsuhiro Ito (optron, toy turntable), Ujino and the Rotators + guest musicians: Tatsuhiko Asano (g) + Azmy (vo), Afurirampo, HairStylistics, UNIMONDY DJ little dick Special Guest !! ARTO LINDSAY !!|
|When we arrive, Arfirampo have just started, they are amazing. A drum/guitar duet. They have supported Sonic Youth on their last tour. Ujino and the Rotators, and Arto Lindsay's struggling with his open tuned twelve strings guitars, beautiful versions of his own songs or covers. Nice gig. Meet Mark E. Rappaport, introduces me to Seigen Ono, Really happy with this. I plan to visit Seigen Ono's studio. Also have a funny time with yoyo and my French mates, joined by French musician Manuel Bienvenu who now lives in Tokyo. It's really late, really early, 19pm, 5 am, we leave for a Chinese restaurant nearby where we take a bit of strength for the forthcoming long trip to the fish-market. Jean Michel and Stephane have their plane at 2pm today. Nuit blanche. Today, on my side, I have a solo gig in Koenji a 6pm. Will need to find a bit of rest.|
are lucky and unlucky. The market is open but empty, today is a day of rest
for the fishermen and the whole organization of the market. We wander in
a a huge hall, where tons of small wooden benches and small shops are absolutely
deserted. We feel like I the middle of a Japanese Ghost movie, in a strange
dream. Flavors of sea and alga. We walk through a huge bridge, on the Tokyo
bay. We stay here almost one hour, contemplating the view. Breathing. It's
9am, time to head back to the hotel. In two hours they will leave. I have
to wake up at 2pm to go Koenji. Should I sleep? Yes. I'm already worried
about carrying my big blue case and guitar.
28th. It's 12 am, I wake up, take my stuff. Run to the station, take a train
to Koenji. Very interesting district, lots of secondhand shops. Some say
it's the hippie district. Don't have this feeling though. I am in despair,
my 110V transformer is dead. Have to find a solution or my set tonight will
be very improvised. Walk during one hour in the whole district trying to
find out a transformer. Again, talk with my hands. A few helpful people.
Manage to find a secondhand guitar shop but there is no chance to find such
a transformer over here. OK. I change my plans, take a sit in a fast-sushi
restaurant. 100 Yens for one plate. Old and gentle waitress. They help me
with the automatic tea tap. The small plate are on a sort of automatic chain,
and you take the plate you want. Japanese fast food. But not junk food!
Good makis and Tempuras. Then head to a coffee place. There I make up my mind to change my set for tonight, no way, I will never be able to use this looping pedal that I usually use for my solo acts. Then I think of a more traditional folk set. Write all my ideas on a paper, and the lyrics of a few covers, including "Purple Rain".
|At 4 pm I have a meeting with Franck Stofer who put me on the bill tonight in this very tiny and nice place called Tototo cafe. It's actually an apartment in Koenji, where artist Wantanabe Etsuko puts on intimate shows in here cosy living room. Forty people maximum can fit in. It's gonna be great. I plug my instruments in the huge Fender bass superdeluxe amp and make a brief soundcheck. Meet the two Japanese musicians who will open for me tonight. YU and MAIKO. Nice acts. Yu is a sort of young Japanese Syd Barrett, who plays in the middle of a black tent, enlightened by candles. MAIKO performs a theatre-poetic story, playing a bit of mandolin. And then I do my solo set. Real seasons. Reminds. Few seconds a day. Bus #28. Save My Language. Goutte d'or experience. A thousand Lights. Do The Skies. Southern Sister. Purple Rain. Long versions , impro and good time. The forty people, including people I have met this afternoon when I was wandering in Koenji, seem astonished and happy to be in this place. So do I. Probably my best remembering of this Tokyo trip. We go have dinner with Stephane's friend Julien, Manuel Bienvenu and guitarist Masayuki. A good good time.|
|The next day, Monday, I have a meeting with Seigen ONO at his Saidera office and studio. A beautiful space, not huge but very well thought and organized. I think one could draw a parallel with a Zen garden. Seigen makes me listen to his recent material on his 5.1 surround system. Beautiful compositions and mixing. We talk. He is really busy. We talk about Calexico, who I have met a few times in Europe. I buy a few Saidera records. Say Good-bye. And then lose myself in the Sendagaya and the pedestrian district that drives me to the way to Shibuya. Been walking during two hours; Head back to the hotel where I take a brief nap and organize my meetings with record labels and distributors for the following days. At night I take some of the French labels representatives to a great traditional Yakitori place in Koenji where I didn't have a chance to find a seat the other night. Great place. Funny time with them all.|
|Tuesday 30th of November. Canceled business breakfast. Nevermind I walk though my neighbourhood in Suidobashi, on the way to Ochanomizu, a great district with many seconds hand vinyl shops and second hand books many small restaurants and a very good atmosphere. Find out a vinyl by Japanese cult guitarist Isato Nakagawa at Turntable, a great vynil shop. The weather is fine, around 15° C? I'm having a great time. I go to the French Institute today to say good-bye to the people I have met there and who organized the show for me. At 2pm I have a meeting at the hotel with Julien who takes me to Yokohama. We wander in the small Chinatown district, searching for Dragons for my son Raphael, who's fanatic of dragons. Have some nice Chinese food. Noodle. Tea. We go to the seaside, to the port and peers. Great wind. At night we go to Shibuya Nest venue, where a few bands are playing, including Melt Banana, that I don't want to miss. Also very expected FreeBlood, side project of some !!! guys. Not my cup of tea. Strange and funny meeting with Gavin and Jeff from American band Karate. We had played some shows together with my former band Prohibition in 1997 or something, and it took me a while to recognize them, but in the end, we talked and talked and I missed Melt Banana. Anyway, I had a good time. Strange small tiny world.|
last day in Tokyo is really designated to meetings for Prohibited Records.
Meet really great people from distributions, agencies, venues and record
companies. We have lots of projects together. Among others, a project
of a Prohibited Records residence in Tokyo for June 2005 and a tour in
July 05. Difficult to confirm everything yet. More news later!
mmm last thing, before going to Japan I had a very sharp and negative judgment on Sofia Coppola's movie "Lost In Translation". Thought it was really racist and useless. Japanese audience loved it, some people I have met told me it reflects all our occidental awkwardness and the gaps between our cultures. They just loved it. I have to watch it again to change my judgments. I'm sure this Tokyo trio will help me read the movie differently. Dewa Mata.