You don’t need the crutch of language to appreciate the brilliant plumage that bedecks Shugo Tokumaru‘s musical universe. His decade-plus run has seen him penetrate Western indie consciousness and arrive at a place of prominence without the olive branch of English. His singularly melodic and pullulating musicality, that, in its evocation of a panoramic sense of whimsy, escapes the straightforward quality of button-downed indie rock and speaks to the listener in gloriously polysemic ways, is a cross-cultural delight. At his Mosaic Music Series performance, he’ll treat you to his gifts live – as well as cuts from his new, legacy- furthering album TOSS. Before that, hop into this rabbit hole of an interview and enter his colouristic world.
You are due to play the Mosaic Music Series in Singapore. What are your thoughts going into your performance?
We will be a six-piece full band on this tour and will play some songs from my latest album TOSS, too. I’m looking forward to it.
TOSS is a fantastic record! What sort of headspace were you in when you were making it?
Whenever I make records I ask myself what kind of music I like and what kind of album would please me. I don’t know yet if I found the right answer with TOSS, though!
“I don’t write love songs or say anything radical or extreme, so it would just be fine if people can imagine what I’m singing about as they like.”
How did you link up with Deerhoof’s Greg Saunier?
I got acquainted with Greg when Deerhoof came to Japan and toured together with us many years ago. He’s an amazing drummer and I always thought I would like to collaborate with him someday. I think he’s the best drummer, ever!
Do you see your music as escapist fantasy or a way to help you deal with reality?
I cannot tell myself what my music would mean to others, but I do like music that sometimes excites my feeling, helps me escape reality or just calms me.
How do you feel about the fact that Japanese artists such as yourself and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu are highly regarded in the West?
It’s always a pleasure for me that my music gets heard in other countries. I’m always wondering if there’s any interesting music made in some place far from this tiny country where I live called Japan, and I’m actively looking for it.
Do you ever worry about non-Japanese audiences being unable to understand your lyrics?
I don’t really care. I don’t write love songs or say anything radical or extreme, so it would just be fine if people can imagine what I’m singing about as they like.
Why is melody so important to what you do?
I love instruments, so I think I like to play various notes and melodies with various instruments. For instance, some instruments fulfil their potential by adding movements to the sound or without adding melodies. I like making music while thinking that kind of thing.
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