Dec 29, 2011

What Happened in 1996

The year of 1996 looks prolific for Hikashu. There were three releases of the group related; "Retroactive" in August, "1978" in November, and "Kawatteru" in December. And one thing to be pointed out - all those releases were from Toshiba-EMI, one of the biggest labels in Japan, and the company which signed the band for their first record contract, back in 1979.

The contract expired in 1983, upon the release of a single "Watashi Wa Baka Ni Naritari" [I Want to Be Like a Fool]. In 1998, Makigami Koichi produced a tribute album of Kraftwerk for the label, and it included two tracks of Hikashu, but it was a one-shot deal.

In October 2011, the remaster edition of "Kawatteru" was issued and it included a note written by Makigami. It revealed some interesting facts so we would like to paraphrase it here for you. By the way, the note's title is "Why we had to re-record our old songs in late 1996 - What we really wanted to do at that time was to record a new album, and actually we tried to do that but didn't succeed."

In spring 1996, an A&R man from Toshiba-EMI approached the band. He had an idea - releasing a remix album of early Hikashu recordings by up-and-coming techno artists.

At that time, the band had no record contract. Their last release then was "Acchi No Me Kocchi No Me" [Dazzling Eyes] in 1993. In the meantime, they performed regularly and wrote new songs. In beginning of 1996, the band spent some time at studio and tried to make some demos for an album, with no particular label for release in mind.

So there was no contractual obstacle for that remix thing. At first, Makigami was dubious. To him, the whole idea just sounded not worthwhile. But he finally agreed and consented to access the original multi-track master by the remixers. He was still reluctant, but thought that it might attact new audience from younger generations. Also, there was a tacit understanding between them - if it turned out good, a new album might be recorded and released from the label.

Around that time, Makigami was preparing to release their famous demo tape from 1978 for themselves, but Toshiba-EMI undertook the title as a publisher. Then, releasing a best album was proposed. Makigami was hesitated to that idea, too. It just sounded silly to him, and his top priority was a new thing. But he agreed to do that in time. He dared to commit, hoped it to taking the band's turn for the better. There was a tacit understanding between them - if everything went good, a new album was to be recorded.

The remix album, entitled "Retroactive," released in August. It had nothing to do with the band, except being the original artist. All the Hikashu members did nothing on the album; selecting the artists for remix, supervising the sound and the artwork, all done by the record company.

"Retroactive," an ill-fated derivative

Makigami was not happy with the result. Actually, he disliked it and publicily said so. It was a understandable opinion because the album is just a remix for remix sake. Maybe good for the fans of the remix artists, but not for the original band's audience.

The following two releases were welcomed by the audience of the band, but that's it. Regarding the "Kawatteru" album, the band was so intent on making it but the commercial result was not satisfying. The A&R man looked unconvinced, the idea of recording new album fizzled out. And we had to wait another album from the band for ten years.

"I like being in band. Especially, I prefer band which plays a kind of music produced only by a close interaction between its members, to one-leader-and-the-rest thing." - Makigami Koichi, 2011

Related Entries:
Hikashu - 1978 (1996)
Hikashu - Kawatteru (1996)

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