Dazed Digital


Bo Ningen in Tokyo Pt 2

August 17, 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?

Part 2 of our Satellite Voices interview

Satellite Voices: 

I remember your set in Offset a couple of years back which had everybody talking, could you tell me what the breakthrough moment for Bo Ningen was in your opinion?

Bo Ningen: I think we had two important gigs, the first one was the Vice Magazine launch at the Old Blue Last, that was 2008. At that time we were still nobody and having a hard time even to get a gig in London. They replied to us after the supporting band pulled out, saying “do you want to play?." The venue was packed and obviously lots of people saw us for the first time too, lots of promoters and labels.

Then the next one was definitely Offset Festival 2009, we played in the New Band tent, and were surprised that so many people came and squeezed into such a small tent. The gig was amazing, at the end of the set Kohhei kicked Yuki out from the back, Yuki fell off the stage and banged his chest into the iron pole then came back on stage to start breaking the drum kit. Mon-chan then dived into the audience climbing up the pillar, everyone looked hypnotized.

SV: What’s been your career highlight and also the lowest point?

Bo Ningen: Without a doubt, the worst gig we've ever done was at the Tower Tavern in central London. We were interrupted by the sound engineer saying we were too loud after our first song. Can you believe it? He cut off all the electricity then we got mental and started throwing all the mic stands everywhere while Mon-chan was still hitting his snare. Horrible. The highlight is more difficult to decide, really. An improvised set for the Yohji Yamamoto retrospective exhibition at the V&A was another key event for us. The festival in France called Nuits Sonores was amazing too, we played with Jaki Liebezeit from Can and Tortoise.

SV: Who have you most enjoyed working with so far as a band and who would you love to get a chance to work with in the future?
Bo Ningen: 

Working with the artists Tim Noble and Sue Webster was a lot of fun. Such sweet and powerful people who gave us a chance to jump to a higher state through collaboration. We also worked with some musicians as Bo Ningen Collective (Kenichi Iwasa, Sarah Anderson, Hi/Zo/U/Bu/Tu, Niiyan), and did one off gig at Cafe Oto a few months back. Hope to continue doing this with them, they were all peculiar and great. In the future we'd love to play with Holger Czukay and Irmin Schmidt of CAN, to complete the living members of the band.

SV: What is next for Bo Ningen? What are your upcoming projects?

Bo Ningen: We are playing a Vice party in the US, our first time there. We're releasing our new 7" single around October / November in UK and Japan, probably going back to Japan again for small release tour. What else... yes we've been talking about the second album too which will come out next year. It's going to be beyond psychedelic for sure.

Photos by Martin Gadsden

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