May 6, 2013

Interview with Makigami Koichi: "We really look forward to visiting Canada."

On May 3, we met Makigami Koichi, the leader of Hikashu, at LaMama of Shibuya, Tokyo where he appeared as a prompter of John Zorn's Cobra, and had a chat with him about the forthcoming Canada Tour of the band. This is the first time ever for the band playing in the country.

Would you tell us how this tour happens in the first place?

It's thanks to Michel san. He's the general and artistic director of the Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville [FIMAV].

I sent him a copy of Uragoe [Hikashu's latest album]. He quite liked it, and offered us to appear in the Victoriaville festival. Not only that, but he arranged a tour in the country.

As a matter of fact, for the Ottawa's gig I was booked as solo artist. Even in the first place, it was originally proposed as an event for sound poem. But being heard of Hikashu's visit to Canada, the organizer graciously decided to change the program and book the band instead.

How about your impressions of Canada as country?

Well, mention of the country instantly makes me think of the Victoriaville festival because I've appeared there several times before, and I know the festival is really great.

The first time I performed there as a member of the group called the Five Men Singing. The performance has been released on CD as well ("Five Men Singing," Victo, 2004). Then in 2011, I appeared there with АЯ [pronounces "Aya," sometimes billed as Tokyo Taiga - a trio with Bolot Bairyshev from the Altai Republic, and Sato Masaharu, the Hikashu's drummer]. This year there's John Zorn @ 60, and I can hardly wait to see the special program.

You have performed in other parts of the country.

I've been in Canada for four or five times. At a festival in Vancouver, I appeared with other voice performers like Paul Dutton from the Five Men Singing, and Sainkho Namtchylak‎.

For this tour, I'm looking forward to seeing Nobuo Kubota's performance in Ottawa. He'll perform on the same stage with us. I've heard he is a Japanese Canadian artist based in Toronto.

Speaking of Canadian artists, you saw Buffy Saint-Marie performing before.

It was 1970. I went to a music festival called Hakone Aphrodite and saw her there. I was impressed. She played mouth bow as well. I too play mouth harp, and I think I was somewhat influenced by her.

I also saw there other acts like the 1910 Fruitgum Company, and Pink Floyd. Pink Floyd brought their own PA, and played very loud.

A few years later, I went to London and participated in a fringe theatre called "Lumiere & Sons" as stage actor, and I met Roger Waters there! He was a sponsor of the theatre.

Plan to do some sightseeing?

We'll go to see Niagara Falls, but that's it. Unfortunately, the schedule is very hectic.

After the Canada gigs, you'll go to New York and record an album. Have you already had enough material?

Right now, we've had four songs. Other than that, I've written three or four lyrics.

So surely it looks no problem. Anything to the audience in Canada?

I bet you'll like the band. We really look forward to seeing you.

Thank you for taking the time.

Hikashu members apparently delight in visiting Canada. On April 12, the last gig before the tour, during a break on stage, they mentioned the tour and listed Canadian artists like Leonard Cohen, Gordon Lightfoot, The Guess Who, Backman Turner Overdrive, Neil Young, Céline Dion, Gino Vannelli, and k.d. Lang etc. Do not miss this premiere appearance of Hikashu in Canada.

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