Ether Feels: the band & the interview
Earlier this week you discovered Ether Feels' music. Now it is time to get to know the artists behind it.
WHO are they?
Ether Feels was created 15 years ago by Tomo, composer, guitarist, and singer. He chose the name Ether Feels as he found that it gave the band the "sound of eternity".
The lineup is:
- Tomo: guitar, vocals, composer
- Yoshino: vocals
- Kita: drums
- Yoko: bass, backup vocals
- Takuya: guitar
You will discover a lot more about the band in the interview below.
WHERE to find them on the web
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/etherfeels/
- twitter: https://twitter.com/etherfeels
- YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/paddy295/videos
- Website https://tomoetherfeels.tumblr.com/
Some other posts in English:
NA: Where are you from in Japan? Where are you living now?
I was born in Wakayama. I live in Osaka now.
NA: What did you study?
General Academic affairs in Japan. Mathematics, Japanese history, English, and so on...
NA: What is your day job at present if any?
Clerical worker, for a facilities management company in Osaka.
NA: Do you dream to live from your music or is it a passion you do not want to spend your full time on?
Oh ~ Ether Feels! I would love to make a living from it. It would be the best! haha.
NA: Could you tell me how the band met and decided to do music together?
I mainly recruited the members on the internet.
NA: Can you tell me the inspiration behind your band? You can detect the influences of shoegaze and Noise pop but also Japanese pop songs.
My first experience was when I turned 22 years old, I listened to magical music in my brain: there were beautiful vocal melodies behind guitar noise. It was the best music for me. But I didn't know what it was.
My second experience, was when I was 23 years old. My friend introduced me to some great bands. MBV, Ride, the Pale Saints: it was a Shoegaze music. Shoegaze sound was very similar to my first experience. But I always refer to my first experience. The 1st experience for me is very important. That is the inspiration behind my band.
.. and yeah, certainly I love guitar pop, guitar rock music from UK and US mainly. indie pop, alternative, grunge, shoegaze, noise pop, noise, heavy metal, black metal, classic pop, jazz, bosa nova and so on. so, of course, there is influence from this music.
I am influenced by Japanese pop music simply because it is my mother country music. Japanese pop is everywhere in Japan. I grew up listening to Japanese music, Japan idol songs, Japanese animation songs and so on. This is my soul song too. I think Ether Feels is a mix of these 2 sounds.
NA: Was there a vision of sorts or did you know what you wanted to do when you started up? i.e. when you started in Ether Feels was it always a project to create a Noise Pop band? Or was it different from now?
Of course, as I said in the previous question, there were several visions in me from the beginning. In the early days, my songs were all crafted in my head, melody, chords, rhythm, everything.
At first, I had another band. Our genre was Power Pop with a more grungy sound.
Ether Feels was a side project. I started this band with Bobbie. Bobbie is his nickname, he is Japanese haha. The first sound of Ether Feels band was shoegazing, with our song "winter". It is included in our best album "when the first time we met".
Bobbie is doing another shoegaze band now in Japan, Boyfriend's Dead. do you know them? They are a nice Japanese shoegaze band.
NA: Do you have any other musical side projects apart from Ether feels?
Yeah, I want to do side solo project, or I want to produce underground female idol. someday haha.
NA: Could you tell me more about the band composition? Do you have plans to add new members, or is there possible departure scheduled from existing band members? I don't have plans to add new member now.
I don't have plans to add new member now.
NA: Can you tell us more how you came to have the band’s name?
The earth has air made of oxygen, carbon dioxide and so on. In the same way, Heaven is full of Ether. It is the band's name image.
The Creative process
NA: Who writes the song and the music and how do you get to the final song? Is it a community process, do you have leaders in composing or arranging music?
Basically, for every song, I write the songs and the lyrics. The band's member arranges the details in the song.
NA: Do you listen to the advice of your band mates? What would you do if they said a song was shit but you liked it?
Each member has different ideas. That is normal. Ultimately, the composer only needs to bring everything in a positive direction. I do my best.
NA: There’s a degree of unconventional songwriting with you guys. Was it kind of intimidating going to record knowing people might not be engaging with the songs in terms of hooks and such and trying to deliver an engaging sound on record?
This is a difficult question in English, I fear that I can't understand. However, I have no interest in such things as music theory, or cutting-edge chords progressions, or principles behind melody writing and so on. Nor am I interested in the way other musicians compose. What I'm interested in is my own imagination, those images that lie inside my head. Therefore, people often say that my melodies are peculiar. And that's just why I like the songs I make myself.
2.4 When listening to your music, noise pop is very present in sound, texture, and songwriting. But I seem to hear influences from Japanese mainstream pop. For example, “Winter”, the verse could be seen as almost “gaudy” if not for the use of strong voice and Noise Pop progression. The rest of the song is very noise pop. It is almost like breaking the code of the Japanese mainstream pop song by mixing it with shoegaze. There are other examples in your work. Could you tell us more on this?
I am sorry. I can't understand this question in English. Mainstream songs (TN: literally, songs taken from the so-called "Best albums", which labels a particular kind of product in the Japanese music industry. Basically, it refers to those greatest hits or singles compilations specifically released and edited for a large-scale audience such as radio and TV audience. In other words, he is referring to pop music Japanese people commonly listen to every day) are not gaudy, but I rather find them characteristic.
Since I was a child I was impressed by American/British indie rock and a mix of Japanese pop songs, I have always been listening to Japanese pop, so perhaps one could even say there were some uncool songs among those I would listen to but, well, this is my story. One night, as I was a child, my mother was cooking dinner while listening to a song by a Japanese idol (TN: literally, aidoru, which labels a kind of young starlets — performers scouted by talent agencies for their physical appearance and ability to sing, dance and play as models for the young — manufactured by the mainstream entertainment industry who rule in the pop music scene in Japan. The origins of this phenomenon go back as early as the 1970s. In more recent times aidoru counterparts have been gaining the same high popularity in South Korean, Hong Kong, Taiwanese and Chinese markets too).
There was always music in my life. However, I liked American and British indie rock as well. I naturally ended up mixing the two things. That's all. The lyrics to Winer are in English, but have you listened to Raindrop sparkle or Lightwave? What kind of impression did they give you? Both the lyrics in Japanese and the images evoked by the music are cool, don't you think? I think that Winter is a song you can't easily forget. Once you listen to it, it just sticks in your mind. (NA: completely agreed).
NA: Do you have a message that you want to get across in your music? If so, what are some of the messages you want to spread?
If you can heal your heart with our music and our guitar sound, I am happy, haha.
NA: Did your listening habits changed over the years and does it affect what you write?
Certainly. My favorite music changes year after year. I am influenced a lot by this. But my approach to music does not change. Ether feels has a clear vision of what we want.
NA: Tell me more about the following songs, how they were written, what they are about, any anecdote or story you want to share:
Please imagine that. If you listen to songs, feel sad, feel beautiful, feel comfortable, they are not a mistake. Every image is wonderful, I think. Ether feels song + your image = the real song completion. I think it is truly wonderful that songs can create images in your imagination.
NA: How is your recognition going in Japan and Abroad? Is it growing? Are you happy with it?
Ether Feels has many overseas fans. It is very surprising. It makes me so happy. And I am very thankful to our music listener. Also, we have a few fans in Japan. I would like to reach a bigger audience and will do my best to do so.
The path to music
NA: Is it easy to find producers and studios in Japan for indie-rock?
Osaka has many music studios, also live venues. Ether Feels has no producer. We do it everything ourselves, only hiring recording engineers.
NA: Your recorded sound is very good, which is not easy. Did you engineer the sound yourself, or did you have a sound engineer with you? If yes could you tell us more about him/her?
We hired a recording engineer. Of course, he is professional. He recorded most songs of the best album actually About all on the songs of best album. He did a wonderful job.
I want to have a great sound because I’d like the listeners to listen to a good sound.
NA: Was it a community work to try to have the best sounding music possible or mainly driven by the sound engineer or by the band?
We rehearse as much as possible. As the composer, I have a clear image of the details of the song. I think it is important.
NA: Can you tell us how the recording process was?
That is not easy. I always lose my physical condition after recording, but it is a precious time in my life. We put our soul in the song.
NA: Could you let us know some important technical tricks you learned during the process that could help other musicians not as experienced?
I sleep early on the day before recording, haha. But it is very important for good recording. Being healthy is important.
NA: How did the recording work differ over time?
1st I used MTR, 2nd I used DAW. Today we use a recording studio.
NA: Is the recording material yours when you are out of a studio or do you borrow/rent it?
We only use our instruments.
NA: Any interesting anecdotes on some recording session you would like to share?
We've been recording albums for quite a while. I made many mistakes before songs were completed. And I always ask myself if it is done? Really? Correct? Will this song last for eternity? Will my fans like this song? If not, this song has not been completed yet. Perhaps I made the sound engineer angry. haha. And one day it was completed into a wonderful song, and I could send the song best album master to the factory. for pressing .
But, I had a dream one night. I was listening to the completed album. I was surprised that the sound appeared a little different! I got up and called the press factory. "Do not start the pressing! I'll send you a new master." I did a new mastering with the engineer. The sound that changed most was "she 's wanderlust". It got a wonderful sound, and the album was really completed. For all the songs included into this album. I think of all of them as single songs. This album will remain forever, I believe. Also, the band members played really well.
NA: Did getting the live experience across on record create any pressure for yourselves in the recording process?
I always lose my physical condition after recording. But it is a precious time in my life.
NA: Instruments: you seem to be mainly a Fender band. Could you tell me what inspire you to use fenders rather than other brands?
The best guitar is a Fender Jazz Master or a Stratocaster, because they are easy to play. I love their sound. Other members are using Bacchus guitar and bass. Their sounds are also wonderful.
NA: A question for a future paper I have in mind: if you use often a Fender Jaguar, could you tell me more about what makes it good to play (sound, neck, …). I find there are a lot of noise artists that are using this guitar and I am interested to know why.
One of the gods of my music is Kevin Shields. He uses a Fender Jaguar and a Jazzmaster. These guitars have floating tremolo parts. Floating tremolo parts are very important for making an amazing shoegaze sound. I think.
NA: Do you have one favorite instrument or do you change often?
No. I have only a Fender Japan Jazzmaster. I think it is a good guitar.
NA: Tell us what you are looking when trying to achieve your sounds? Do you experiment a lot or have a clear idea of what you want?
Umm... I want to feel the drama and story of a new song, to feel the landscape. feel the love for my friends. I always look for such sound.
NA: Who is the more knowledgeable with pedals? You use them a lot, to great effect. What effects do you use?
For Ether Feels, effect pedals are not really important. Imagination, having a soul for the song, creating always fresh a feeling, that is what's important.
NA: How many concerts a year would you do on average and what would be the size of the venue?
I have hardly been to any. I have been very busy lately.
NA: What are some places around the world that you hope to take your band? Do you have any plans at present to tour in other countries than Japan?
I have many foreign country places that I would love to play Ether Feels' music LIVE. For example, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Wuhan, Beijing, Guangzhou, Indonesia, Singapore, Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, (i love Asia! haha) and the USA, Canada. South America and Europe are also very beautiful, but I have no money and do not have many holidays! I want to go someday. This is my dream, so It may not be my band member's dream. Good bands dreams, don't you think so?
Ether Feels will go to Taiwan next month, September the 16th. We will play in the alternative shoegaze music festival in Taipei, Taiwan! Shoegazemania and chaos recommend presents"meow bang party vol.2" please check!
The Japanese Scene
NA: Is it easy for Japanese indie bands to be known internationally? Do you have any example?
There are plenty of different cases, I suppose. I wouldn't know much.
NA: Has the scene changed since you began, and if so how?
I don't know. I just keep making my own music.
NA: Is there any Japanese / Asian band(s) you want to recommend in the indie/shoegaze/post-rock genres?
Yukino chaos, Forsaken Autumn, for Tracy Hyde, Sea of tranquility and so on...
NA: Do you have a label?
No, I don't.
NA: How did the funding work for the LP? Did you invest a lot yourself? Was your label supportive in that respect?
We paid with our own money for our CD.
NA: Where does the majority of the money go when you’re paying your own way?
The recording, the CD pressing, and jacket design.
NA: Do you make a decent revenue from your music or is it still very much a hobby?
We make our new music with the income the last past album. So, without music income, we can not Record new music. So, we are grateful to Ether Feels music fan, sincerely. Hobby? Not exactly. Ether Feels is part of my life. Forever.
5.5 How do you sell your recordings (shops, online, …)?
Mainly, Bandcamp and Amazon Japan.
NA: What is the next album due?
The next release is only one song. It will be released soon. Don't miss it.
NA: Any other project (ie movies soundtrack, …) or plans?
Please check our news on FB and Twitter.
NA: Do you plan to continue music for a long time or are you tired of it?
I already have been doing Ether Feels for a long time., 15 years maybe...
Ether Feels is my life's work. So, it will be a long trip I think.
NA: Is there any concert that you would do soon?
Concerts 2017.9.20 live in Taiwan Shoegazemania & chaos recommend presents
Meow Bang party Vol.2 , 2016.12.10 Kyoto shoegazer & Yukino chaos presents daydream Tokyo, 2016. 9. 17. Shoegaze music festival at Hidden Agenda in Hong Kong at Sep 17th. Sleepwalker Music Festival 遊夢人音樂節! , 2016.3.13 Taipei Taiwan shoegaze music festival, Shoegazemania presents" Leave No Trace But Gaze" and so on.
Sick (Yukino chaos, chaos recommend), my band's members Kita, Yoshino, Yoko, Takuya, Bobbie (boyfriend’s dead), Katayama (Kyoto shoegazer), Brit lu (Luuv label), Terry (Shoegazemania), Mayu Huang, Matthew Bedford (Muso Asia), Chun Ho Lee, Mike Chan, lam Hood, Sam Ng, Faye lam, Sca, and all of our friends.