My Japan Times column for October was about the "Mama's Tattoo" event collective, but also about women in Japanese music in a broader sense.
Read it here.
It was a tricky one to write because in part it was driven by something quite personal. Through my events and Call And Response Records, I've worked with a lot of female musicians, and I occasionally get these jokey little comments along the lines of , "Oh, you like girl bands, don't you!" from people. These comments aren't usually meant unkindly, but they play on a fear I have of how my being the man directing the project affects the narrative and could undermine the work of the musicians themselves.
I was interested in Mama's Tattoo partly because it seemed like an example of women taking control of that narrative. Therefore, in order to write it, I wanted as much as possible remove myself from the story and let them tell it in their own words. For someone as opinionated as me, that's always a difficult ask, particularly since I've been more or less consciously trying to put my own subjectivity more and more explicitly into my writing over the past couple of years, but Miuko, Mariko, Mayumi and Ingel ended up giving me far more to work with than I had ever hoped. I had to cut out pages and pages of really interesting material to get a 700-word article out of it, but after battering the story around for a few days with my editor, something that seems to more or less coherently express a couple of the big ideas seems to have emerged.
I should also note that one thing that really helped me get my ideas into shape was being on the other side of the mic, as it were, to Canadian journalist Samantha Edwards. She interviewed me while I was in the middle of my email exchange with the Mama's Tattoo crew, for an article touching on similar ideas for Now Toronto about Steve Tanaka's Next Music From Tokyo tours. She quotes me a little in the article, but more than that her patiently letting me ramble on for an hour over Skype helped me sound out some of the jumble of ideas I had.
I'll post the full interview on the Clear And Refreshing blog one day. In the meantime, here's the Falsettos.