A mind melting new video from Tokyo’s progressive audio visual collective
Bo Ningen in Tokyo Pt 1
August 16, 2011
We discuss shamanism, art and music with the stylish reps of modern psychedelia
- Text by Sophie Jackson
Bo Ningen are an all Japanese band based in London whose diverse and elusive music and strong aesthetic image has garnered them quite a following over the past two years. They return to Japan fairly often for gigs and tours and I managed to catch up with them at last weekend’s Style Band Tokyo event down the love hotel filled backstreets of Shibuya. The band and their music have a strong spirituality and an almost holistic approach to music, and in conversation the cosmic, magic and energy do seem to come up rather often, are they the musical shamen of our generation?
Satellite Voices: Where are you all from in Japan? And where do you all live now in London?
Bo Ningen: We are from everywhere, Taigen is from Tokyo, Mon chan is from Gunma, near Tokyo. Kohhei is from Gifu, and Yuki is from Kobe, near Osaka. Again we are all spread around London, Taigen and Mon chan live north (Wood Green and Turnpike Lane), Yuki lives in Dalston, Kohhei lives near Vauxhall.
SV: How and when was Bo Ningen formed? It surely cannot be a coincidence that four Japanese men with long black hair and the same taste in music met by chance in London?
Bo Ningen: It actually all happened by chance. Taigen and Kohhei were in different bands, and played the same bill, then Taigen and Yuki's friend were in the same high school. Then Mon-chan was introduced by a friend. It all happened in London within a month, magical!
SV: What are the pros and cons of life in London versus life in Japan.
Bo Ningen: We just went back to Japan in the summer for the first time in three years, and found out it was so special. Obviously it's way too hot and humid, but it has special and magical events like MATSURI (traditional summer festival) and HANABI (fireworks, often combined with MATSURI). When these things and the hot and humid weather come together at night, there is a sort of magic-realism in the atmosphere. Also, we have a huge number of cicada ringing everywhere, they make a symphony. Without that sound, we lack the essence of the summer. That's what we realised through this Japan tour.
SV: How do you think that the music scenes differ in the UK and in Japan? Is it easier to be Bo Ningen in England?
Bo Ningen: As a band, it's absolutely easier to be in the UK. In Japan, we have to sell tickets to play gigs, if you don't sell all you have to buy these. Ridiculous. Also, in UK and Europe, we can get mixed audience from artists and fashion types to middle-aged metal lovers, to young trendy girls. This mixture of people make it easy to jump, to cross over different fields to produce something new.
SV: You have played with the legendary Damo Suzuki, do you think that his work and the music of Can have influenced who Bo Ningen are today and if so how?
Bo Ningen: We all like Can's music and their attitude. They deconstruct and destroy musical elements and re-construct them within the manner of pop music. They never excess the border to avant-garde nothingness, they rather stay within the form to expand the border. Magical people. Damo Suzuki, nowadays, is more like a field where all the flow of spiritual, musical energy gather. A shaman.
Check back tomorrow for the concluding part of the Bo Ningen interview
Photos by Martin Gadsden
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