dir en grey Return with Double London Date

dir en grey
Japanese avant-garde metallers dir en grey return to the UK this May, ready to perform tracks from their brand new album ARCHE for the first time live in the UK.

The band will be performing at the O2 Academy Islington in London on Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 May 2015 as part of the European leg of their TOUR15 THE UNSTOPPABLE LIFE tour, which also includes shows in Germany, France, Holland, Poland and Belarus. Regular tickets are on sale now from TicketWeb with a face value of £28.12. VIP tickets are available from See Tickets and start at £80.

Bold and sensitive, chaotic and melodic, over the course of nine albums, dir en grey have become one of the biggest names in Japanese rock to break outside of their home country. Embraced by the international rock media, support for the band has been overwhelmingly positive, especially in the UK, where they became the first (and so far only) Japanese band to appear on the cover of Kerrang! Magazine.

New album ARCHE is out from 2 March on double CD from Gan Shin Records (order from Amazon), and is also out now digitally on Amazon MP3, iTunes and partically on Spotify.

Hyper Japan Christmas Market 2014 to go Hyper for Japanese Music

Hyper Japan Christmas Marker 2014

With Hyper Japan Christmas Market only a matter of days away, we take a look at what the event has on offer for fans of Japanese music. Taking place between 14-16 November 2014 at Olympia in London, the Christmas Market sees the UK’s biggest J-culture event take a more relaxed approached than it’s massive summer event at Earls Court, focusing instead more on the market side of the event – yet, we’d say that the music line-up is equally, if not more, exciting than the summer’s event. Here’s why:

NeM: Japanese Fusion Band

NeMWhen: Saturday – 7:30pm
NeM is the combination of five traditional Japanese musicians living in the UK and Italy. Amongst their ranks is shamisen veteran Hibiki Ichikawa – the only qualified teacher of his instrument in Great Britain. The group’s name, NeM, holds the meaning of the sound of Japanese instruments dancing through peoples’ minds throughout the world – at least that’s what the Hyper Japan website says. Personally, we’re a sucker for the koto and can’t wait to hear what they have to offer. They’ll play a special collection of folk songs from all over the world, performed with a distinct Japanese flavour.

Naruto Singer Joe Inoue and Diana Garnet

Joe Inoue and Diana GarnetWhen: Sunday – 4pm.
Joe Inoue is probably best known in the UK for two of his songs being used in anime: “Closer” was used as the fourth Naruto Shippuden opening song, and “Kaze no Gotoku” was used for a season of Gin Tama. He’s also a regular part of J-MELO, a television programme by NHK World which airs in over 150 countries. You will be able to buy Joe Inoue CDs and merchandise from JPU Records’ booth throughout the event.
He’ll be joined on stage on Sunday with Diana Garnet who recently had her a major debut – the turning point for her was winning the Nihon TV 2013 “Nodojiman THE WORLD” contest.

SIRO-A

SIRO-AWhen: Friday – 2:30pm. Saturday: 12:00 noon. Sunday: 12-noon.
Tipped as Japan’s answer to the Blue Man Group, this team of techno wizards combine humour, music and live performance into a stage show that is a must to experience. They’re also the longest running commercial stage-show from Japan to ever hit London’s west end. Check out their YouTube channel for a taste of what to expect.

Anna Yano:

Anna YanoWhen: Every day.
Yano Anna is an Aomoji-kei model affiliated with ASOBISYSTEM, the same management company as Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. She’s also a singer, having combined her work with her love of anime by performing “All Over” and “Shape My Story”, the opening theme songs for Magica Wars and Stella Women’s Academy, Class C3 respectively. Don’t worry, we didn’t know what Aomoji-kei was either, so here’s what MTV81 had to say about it; “Aomoji is basically dressing the way you want as opposed to what society thinks looks good; in other words, it’s about dressing for yourself, and not for what the runway and chain shops dictate… and certainly not to please boys”.

Miyu Koike

Koike MiyuWhen: Sunday – 2pm
Having had her major debut with Victor Entertainment this summer, Idol Koike Miyu will now also be making her UK debut at Hyper Japan Christmas Market. As well as a singer with seven indie singles under her belt, Miyu is also a regular talent on Japanese TV and radio shows. She’s known for her quirky sense of humour and being a something of a “Dojikko” (extremely clumsy) personality. Let’s hope she doesn’t fall off the stage!

Tamashii Taiko Drumming

Tamashii TaikoWhen: Saturday – 8:15pm
Tamashii perform traditional and contemporary pieces using a variety of traditional Japanese rhythms while the players are allowed to explode into their own unique and colourful solos throughout the songs. The combination of uniformity and the individual freedom of expression is what give Tamashii its strength as a team and character as a performance group. The Group show that Taiko is not merely drumming, but an emotion that the whole body and mind can experience, apparently.

Nihon Buyo and Folk Music

Nihon BuWhen: Saturday – 2pm. Sunday – 10:30am
Nihon Buyo is a refined form of traditional Japanese dance and has been improved over four centuries. It has its strongest influence from Kabuki Buyo, but it was also influenced by the circular movements and props of Noh and the spinning and jumping expressions of Japanese Folk Dance. While performed independently by specialists, it is particularly known for being the style of dancing performed by geisha.
Make sure you check out the performance on Sunday, as shamisen star Hibiki Ichikawa and enka singer Akari Mochizuki will join the performance.

Of course! JPU Records will be another highlight – visit their booth throughout the event to buy and talk about music! They will also have a very special one-off clearance sale of third-party CDs. A great time to grab a bargain or just try something new.

Japan Underground and JPU Records’ Artists Nominated for NEO Awards 2013

Don't click these.. it's just a picture.

Don’t click these.. it’s just a picture.

Woo ha! We’re very happy to announce that Japan Underground has been nominated for an award in NEO Magazine for the second year in a row! Last year we were lucky enough to walk away with the award for Best Specialist Company 2012 for our efforts promoting Japanese rock, punk and alternative music  in the UK. Our sister company JPU Records also had one of their artists, the GazettE, voted Best Music Act of 2012 too.

Now, 12 months on we’re in the finalist list once more! Plus! We’re joined by no more than five of JPU Records’ artists! Yep, the likes of the GazettE, SPYAIR, BOOM BOOM SATELLITES, POLYSICS and the mighty Ling tosite sigure are up for ‘Best Musical Act 2013’ alongside VAMPS, Crossfaith, FACT and more! Who wins is entirely in your hands.

We’ve had an extremely busy year, from organising sold-outs shows in London for FACT and N’SHUKUGAWA BOYS, to releasing some of the biggest Japanese albums of the year through JPU Records. We just want to thank you for reading this, supporting us, and continuing to buy music and attend shows. Cheers everyone!

Voting ends 18:00 GMT on Friday 13 December, and winners will be announced in NEO Magazine #120, out 23 January 2014!

Make your vote count!

SOCIALive vol.2: 8 Artists, 1 Stage… £3?! Sunday 30 December

GAKUNOWA is seeing the year out by organising its second show, aptly named SOCIALive vol.2. The event, taking place at The Old Queens Head between Angle and Essex Road Station in London on Sunday 30 December, will showcase eight London-based artists that have a Japanese element. Doors open at 7pm, the same time the first band hits the stage, and entry is a steal at a mere £3.

The schedule for the night is as follows;
7:00-7:20pm: Unisun
An eclectic collective of musicians that play music from a variety of sources (primarily Japanese) as well as original material. Check out their cover of Faye Wong’s ‘Eyes on Me’ here.

7:25-7:45pm: Kajon
We caught her supporting S.S.ROCKET’s at their final show and were blown away by her heartfelt, dreamy take on ambient pop. If you like KOKIA you’ll love Kajon.

7:50-8:10pm: Tito
To be fair, this is the one artist on the bill we’ve never heard of – and we can’t seem to find their homepage either.. but! According to the GAKUNOWA crew, Tito (pronounced ‘Tea Toe’) consists of spontaneously gathered pop creatures that will ease your mind with catchy and melodic tunes.

8:15-8:35pm: Flaviyake
Okay, we lied. We don’t know Flaviyake either. Its front lady says the name is a ‘combination of my Italian name Flaviya and a Japanese ending, created after visiting an exhibition of a Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake’. So there. Anyway, if their set’s anything like their song ‘ELECTRONIC BOY‘, expect a Euro-pop dance feel.

Akari Mochizuki

8:40-9:15pm: Akari Mochizuki & Hibiki Ichikawa ft. Chapa
The most established of all the acts, this twosome combine enka classics thanks to vocalist Akari, with the craftsmanship of the shamisen with master Hibiki. This performance will include flute too for the first time, courtesy of Chapa.

9:30-9:55pm: The Common Sense
A brand new indie-rock band from Japan, based in London! So new, in fact, that their Facebook page linked above had only two likes before we came along and boosted it to three. They have a few live videos on YouTube, one being this one – all songs are in English too!

Jun Okada

10:00-10:25pm: Jun Okada
You might remember the lovely Jun as the opening singer-songwriter at our event on 19 October with four Japanese girl bands. Expect a slice of acoustic pop-rock.

10:35-11:00pm: Colors
According to their site they’re an 80s J-rock band formed in 2010. Make of that what you will, but vocalist KenG and drummer Paul are top blokes, so definitely check them out. They even have a PV.

If you like the sound of all that, click your attendance on the Facebook event page.

%d bloggers like this: