If you ask older music folk about Japanese music, they’ll most
likely point out to theme songs from anime such as Voltes V,
Mazinger Z, and Daimos to name a few. And pop-wise, there’d be
Yoko Ono, Tadao Hayashi, and Shonen Knife again to name a
But for the more adventurous and discriminating music-philes,
there’s a larger world out there — one that has touched down
on Philippines shores and making an impact.
Last Sunday, October 7, Japanese indie pop band Pictured Resort
performed at 19 East in Muntinlupa City.
The Osaka-based quartet is just the latest act from the Land of
the Rising Sun to hit Philippine shores. Previously, The Fin, a
three-man indie rock band from Kobe, and post-rock band Toe
were also brought over by that most excellent purveyor of great
indie music, Toti Dalmacion’s Terno Recordings.
Japanese hardcore bands Vivisick and Cheerio, grindcore band
Sete Star Sept, and metal outfit, Pukelization have also toured
and rocked Philippine shores.
Independent record stores such as Dalmacion’s This Is Pop in
Legaspi Village, Makati and others such as Mutilated Noise
(also in Makati) and Still Ill Records (in Manila) and even The
Grey Market sell albums from Japanese bands.
Local post-rock outfit Tide/Edit cite Toe as a major influence.
Although the local music scene is vibrant with its own sons and
daughters, it is just as eclectic with music from different
countries popular among the young. Japan is no different.
Explained Darwin Soneja of independent show promoter Sleeping
Boy Collective: “My view here is that because of the internet,
people are discovering more obscure artists and are growing
more adventurous in their music tastes.”
For some like Dalmacion, who has been promoting indie music for
the better part of three-plus decades, especially in the
pre-internet age, it is about growing up into it.
“It helps that I am also a Japanophile,” he disclosed in an
interview post-Pictured Resort. “I have been fascinated by acts
like the Yellow Magic Orchestra, the Plastics, Melon, Salon
Music, Miharu Koshi, Akiko Yano, Japanese Electric Foundation,
and Frank Chickens to name a few. I was also at an early age, a
fan of David Sylvain’s (British band) Japan and Ryuichi
Sakamoto. So it is easy for me to fall in love with Japanese
bands as well as non-Japanese bands.”
Francis Maria of the band Beast Jesus opined that “it’s a sense
of exoticism that is made familiar by Japan’s interpretation of
Western things. Malakas yung sense of otherness and it’s hard
to shake off despite the cultural and linguistic differences.”
Dalmacion, who has never cared for trends and has instead
charted his own path, pointed out to doing his own thing. “It’s
about the music that appeals to me and what is pop to my ears
and what I want to give to Filipinos who are open-minded enough
to accept what is not mainstream.”
And it isn’t only one-way for this cultural exchange.
Underground metal band Dreaded Mortuary has seen its second
album released by a Japanese label and has performed in a
festival in Tokyo.
Most recently Up Dharma Down released a specially curated album
for the Japanese market titled “Sun Shower.”
Added Dalmacion: “There is no conscious effort to influence UDD
to the newer Japanese bands that I champion. Though the last
single, ‘Sigurado’ was a tip of the hat to the sound of ’80s
and current Japanese city pop.”
The verdict? It’s a win-win situation for music fans in this
side of the world.