Tokyo bass-and-drums rock duo Moja are making a fleeting appearance in Seoul this weekend, to play at two gigs organised by Korean musicians Apollo 18. Moja, who are characterised by their ‘fast-paced, abstract blend of noisy rock and dance-punk’, met Apollo 18 while performing at SXSW last year in Austin, Texas. The Japanese band are currently touring to promote their fantastic recent album ‘Super Ultra Gold 79’, which you can download for free from their website. Read this interview with their superbly talented female drummer Masumi and make sure you attend either their Friday May 18th gig at Club FF or the May 19th performance at Salon Badabie to see her and fellow bandmate Haru in action.
Chincha: Which artists have been most influential on your sound?
Masumi: I don’t think there are any specific bands that we draw influence from when creating our songs. But we do get inspiration from music all the time. Sometimes we get musical ideas when watching other bands perform at our gigs or sometimes when I go for a walk and listen to music I get ideas too. We also get ideas from other places. Sometimes when I go to art museums I get inspired by the pieces of art there. The world is overflowing with so many wonderful things to influence musicians.
C: You played at South by Southwest festival last year. Who was the best act you saw at SXSW? And the worst?
M: There were so many bands at SXSW, and we only got to watch a few of them perform because we were playing our own gigs. So it’s difficult to say who the best and worst bands were. One thing I can say, though, is that most of the bands performing at the festival are very high caliber acts.
C: What was the reception to your music like at SXSW?
M: I think the audiences we played for at SXSW really enjoyed our music. People cheered loudly while we played and we got many compliments after our gigs.
C: You met the Apollo 18 guys at SXSW and it sounds like you really hit it off. What kind of impression do you have of Korean rock from listening to Apollo 18?
M: We were shocked when we saw Apollo 18 play at SXSW. Before that, our image of Korean music was that it was mainly polished commercial pop music like Kara and Girls’ Generation. Those acts are very popular in Japan now, and were the first Korean artists we were exposed to. But when we watched Apollo 18 play we discovered that real music exists in Korea. Apollo 18 is a great band. They are very skilled and talented. We’re so happy we that we met them and got to experience their music at SXSW.
C: What do you think of Korean rock in comparison to Japanese rock?
M: We can’t really answer this question yet as we haven’t been able to experience the Korean rock scene firsthand. We’re really excited about playing in Seoul on May 18 and 19 and getting to check out the city’s bands, audiences, and venues. We played with Apollo 18 in Texas last year and in March we played a show in Tokyo with Vidulgi OoyoO. Both bands are really good so we have really high expectations of Korean rock music.
C: How would you describe the current Tokyo rock scene?
M: Tokyo’s rock scene feels like it’s stuck in a bit of rut these days. Not only indie for music, but also for more popular mainstream bands too. CD sales are going down and audiences at shows are decreasing too. Many good bands are breaking up, which is really sad. But Moja are working hard and will keep on surviving!
C: We’re sure you will! What has been your favourite gig so far and why?
M: We’ve toured in Japan, the US, the UK, Italy, Canada, and Hong Kong and have had so many fantastic experiences in each place so it’s hard to choose a favorite gig. Recently, our show on May 2 in Tokyo was really great. It was the final gig of our “Japan – UK 2012 Tour” for our new “Super Ultra Gold 79” album. So many people came to the show and everyone went mad when we played. It was so much fun. It was a historical and wild, chaotic night for us. There are live videos on YouTube of our songs “Hello Hello Hello” and “China” from that show.
C: What was the first album you ever bought and what is your current favourite album?
M: I can’t remember what the first album I bought was. Right now I’ve got Jack White’s new “Blunderbuss” album on heavy rotation.
C: You’re only releasing your own new album on vinyl and the net. What was the decision-making process behind this?
M: We’re not a general J-rock or pop band. Even if we try and promote our band the way those kinds of acts do, we won’t get the same results as them. So we wanted to try and find what the best way of promoting our band is for us. Selling “Super Ultra Gold 79” only on vinyl and making it available as a free download from our website too is our first shot at trying to find our own best way.
Also, we think our vinyl fits well with the sound of our music. Vinyl has a more three-dimensional sound than CDs or MP3s do.
C: Thanks Masumi, we’ll see you at the gigs this weekend!
Images courtesy of Moja.