Browsing articles from "March, 2012"
Mar 11, 2012

Q&A with Teppei Miki of The Stone Records

Teppei Miki: loves indie music on vinyl, and wants you to do so too.

Continuing our series of music industry interviews is Teppei Miki, founder of one of Japan’s most diverse and eclectic vinyl import shops The Stone Records. Not an actual bricks and mortar premises, TSR is run lovingly from Teppei’s house in Kawasaki, and appears to be constantly on the pulse and one step ahead of the game when it comes to brand new vinyl releases from all over the world.

The shop carries vinyl (as well as CDs and cassettes) from a huge selection of labels, from behemoths like Columbia and XL/Young Turks to US indies like Captured Tracks, Group Tightener, Fat Possum, White Iris and Third Man, to the output of London singles labels like Young Lost Club, Chess Club, Killing Moon Limited and ourselves. Safe to say that if it’s hot, they’ve probably got some copies in at The Stone Records.

People like Teppei – and shops like TSR – represent Japan’s fanatical niche for independent music from the USA, the UK and beyond (and the much publicised upturn in vinyl’s commercial fortunes), something that’s also manifested at its Western themed rock festivals Fuji Rocks and Summer Sonic, which take place annually in July and August respectively. In a country where domestic music rules the charts, the desire to seek out different genres of music has created a thriving underground scene. We thought we’d pose a few questions to a man at the forefront of it all.

LFC: How long has The Stone Records been going?

Teppei: I started the store in 2008.

LFC: Is The Stone Records well known amongst indie music fans / vinyl collectors in Japan?

Teppei: I would like to answer yes. But there are many import indie shops in Japan, and I don’t think it’s quite as well known as some of the other indie stores.

LFC: Do you participate in Record Store Day?

Teppei: Yes, I’m participating in it. But I’ve never done something special on that day. Every year I think I should do something but I’ve always had no idea!

LFC: What type of releases do you specialise in?

Teppei: I stock vinyls and cassettes mainly, and some CDs. I’m not particular about genre of music especially, because I like any indie music.

LFC: How do you find new bands / releases?

Teppei: Basically I don’t find new bands and new releases so much by myself because good labels and some good people tell me about good releases. I just choose from them. I feel I’m always supported by many people.

LFC: Which are some of your favourite record labels?

Teppei: This is difficult question because I like all labels which distribute to me. But if I had to choose, now I like Portuguese Lebensstrasse and Czech label AMDISCS. Both are not born in major indie music countries. I’m very interested in each of their releases because I can feel they’re always looking for any music and bands from any country.

LFC: What is the market like in Japan for new indie bands from places like the UK, US and Australia, and what genres of indie are popular in Japan right now?

Teppei: I think Japanese indie music fans may be the most fanatical in the world. Here there are many import indie record shops and I feel that limited edition vinyl might amount to fifty percent of their sales (though this is just my expectation). I think some people like guitar pop influenced from the 80s/90s like Captured Tracks or Slumberland, and LA’s Not Not Fun/100% Silk’s electro/dance music is loved especially by some people. But I always feel many Japanese people like UK rock like LFC releases.

LFC: Do you have any plans to release records yourself at any point?

Teppei: I don’t have any plans to release. Now I’m satisfied enough to only sell and listen to the records.

LFC: Who are your hot tips for 2012?

Teppei: I like so much now Sheffield’s garage rock band Best Friends! They’ll release new EP soon on the amazing label Art Is Hard Records.

Check out The Stone Records blog here, and like the shop’s Facebook page here.

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Mar 10, 2012

The Static Jacks on Daytrotter

Whilst on their tour of the US and Canada in November last year, The Static Jacks recorded a session for the legendary Daytrotter in San Francisco.

The LFC 7″ single tracks, “Into The Sun” and “Mercy, Hallelujah”, are both included, the latter an alternative take “played like The Smashing Pumpkins would”. Honouring their New Jersey roots, short covers The Misfits and Bruce Springsteen also made the cut, as did a couple of other tracks from their debut full-length “If You’re Young”.

Listen to the session in full here, and watch out for one from Channel Cairo coming soon, which was recorded at Daytrotter’s new studio in London’s Crouch End last month.

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Mar 2, 2012

Introducing: In Gratitude

From what we can see, Glastonbury town’s In Gratitude were a touring and recording band back in 2010 who released an EP (“Only In Youth”) to some mild fanfare before disbanding shortly after. As of December last year, their Facebook page informs us, they’re back in action, and have two sparkly new recordings to show for it.

“Only You” and “Eighteen” are the tracks they’ve chosen to usher in their new era as a band, and both suggest a group who aren’t overly keen to be slumming it on the pub circuit for too much longer: it’s ambitious, high-sheen and widescreen indie rock, with an eye on the larger theatres of the country at the very least (and almost certainly the more lofty slots at the annual shindig that takes place in their backyard).

The four members clearly have a plethora of influences between them – everything from The Smashing Pumpkins to U2 to Delays to The Temper Trap is decipherable somewhere in their sound, with front man Matthew Guttridge’s falsetto (and slightly androgynous) vocal bearing a resemblance to the singers of these bands at different points in either song.

In any case, it’s perfectly executed, hook-filled, feel-good and enjoyable stuff – which promises much for the rest of the year. Gigs will surely be on the agenda in the not too distant future, and we strongly suspect we’re not the only party keeping a beady eye on any such announcement right now.

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