We are running a couple of interview series starting with the ones where Fluttery Records artists interviews each other. We have asked Jan Hammer of Draff Krimmy to interview Jun Minowa of the post-rock band Gargle who also has his modern classical / ambient project, Yawning. Here is the interview between Norway and Japan. Enjoy!
Jan Hammer: How are you? How is Japan today? We haven`t forgot what happened last year in Fukushima.
Jun Minowa: Hi, Jan. I’m all right, thank you. I hope you’re all well, too. Last year, there were many shocking catastrophic disasters and incidents across the world and the news about the Norway terrorism was so shocking to me. As for Japan, we’ve generally returned to our normal lives, but on the other hand it’s still hard to tell if what they’ve told us about Fukushima is true or not. On the day it happened, some people from overseas were concerned about us and sent me messages. I have no words to express how encouraging to me their words were. I’ll never forget about them.
Jan Hammer: Fluttery Records released your new album GLOW IN THE GLOOM. What are your musical influences? It`s not so easy not to mention Mono or Envy, isn`t it? The song MEDITATION reminds me of the album PALMLESS PRAYER / MASS MURDER REFRAIN by MONO & WORLD`S END GIRLFRIEND (like I think, the best Mono album).
Jun Minowa: Yeah, I’m a big fan of them. I think I’m influenced by them in many ways – not only their music but attitude. It’s interesting and also my pleasure to hear you mentioned PALMLESS PRAYER / MASS MURDER REFRAIN. It’s a really beautiful album and a good collaboration as a whole. Like many people, I’ve listened to various kind of music. Nirvana, My Bloody Valentine and some other rock bands have still made big influences on me. It was also fun to discover some other related independent bands to them. It was a state like a school kid is looking for a comfort zone in a class. After a while, I wanted to be away from typical format of rock/pop music. It’s because I’d become to feel they were not my music. It was a state of leaving behind, or living in a shell. In those days I could encounter some good independent music. Godspeed You! Black Emperor was one of them. When I saw Mono’s show first, it may be an exaggeration but I felt they changed my life. And then I loved to listen to some stuff of Temporary Residence Limited. I though their music were honest, pure and beautiful. Notably Eluvium made big influence on me. At the same time, it was natural for me to start discovering some classical and contemporary music like Arvo Part, J. S. Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven, and also some modern classical stuff like Sylvain Chauveau.
Now I guess I only like music that appeals to me emotionally. I think I’m not so interested in music if it doesn’t appeal to me deeply even though it is technically competent or theoretically excellent.
Jan Hammer: What music do you like to listen to? What was the last album you bought?
Jun Minowa: The very last album I bought was a compilation album of Samuel Barber’s works which includes “Adagio for Strings, Op.11a” performed by London Philharmonic Orchestra & David Parry. I liked this recording. And also I bought an Arvo Part’s album “I Am the True Vine”. Also what I listen to often recently are Bosques de mi Mente’s new album “20 de Abril” and “Static Nocturne” by Eluvium.
Jan Hammer: How and when did you start making music?
Jun Minowa: I remember I at first started trying to write rock tunes with my guitar that were deteriorated version of Nirvana, Radiohead or The Smiths that required vocals. And then, about 8 years ago (?), I started writing simple instrumental pieces. Gradually, I started writing songs with a keyboard (piano) with my headphone. It’s just because I cannot play guitar at night in my apartment even though I don’t use a guitar amp, but eventually it made my composition develop. Recently I wrote both Gargle and Yawning’s songs only on keyboards and then I arrange guitar and some other parts.
Jan Hammer: What does inspire you – people, places, weather, seasons …?
Jun Minowa: Probably people. It might be an interaction, a miscommunication, an isolation or a misunderstanding, anyhow people inspire my feelings most. Of course places and seasons inspire me too but some of such feelings dwell after all.
Jan Hammer: What does the bandname Gargle means to you?
Jun Minowa: It doesn’t mean anything. Seriously, I am very bad at putting names to my bands. Song titles neither. I just wanted a mononymous name. I didn’t even realize that my both projects’ names are about around mouth movements before I was pointed out by a friend of mine.
Jan Hammer: Did you always want to be an instrumental band? If yes, why?
Jun Minowa: Yes. At least for now. Many of my favorite bands have vocalists but I don’t think I would want to do that in my projects. Because I think it’s really difficult to disconnect from vocalist’s ego and work out music as a whole, and yet I don’t know how. But in the future, I’m a little interested in collaborating with a vocalist or a choir.
Jan Hammer: What does the album means to you?
Jun Minowa: Honestly I am happy that GLOW IN THE GLOOM has been released. At the same time, since some of the songs were recorded a little while ago, I feel a bit that it is a kind of introduction. It may sound strange but the feeling is like when our next album is out, it makes sense totally.
Jan Hammer: Did your songs tell a story? Are they about anything
Jun Minowa: While there are specific themes on some of my songs, most of my songs don’t have specific stories but more fuzzy theme as a whole like searching a light in the dark or such. When I write a song, it usually comes out with a piece of melodies and emotion, and then forming into a song with mixed emotions eventually.
Jan Hammer: How was the feedback? I really like the music of Gargle and Yawning (which is the solo project of The Gargle guitar-player Jun. Also released on Fluttery Records – a album called NOAH).
Jun Minowa:Thank you so much, I’m really glad to hear you say so. Not so many at the moment, but thankfully we’ve got some good feedback. Their feedbacks always encourage us.
Jan Hammer: I know that you have collaborate with many other artists, like draff krimmy, Void`s Anatomy and Bosques de mi mente. Is it important for you to stay in contact with other artists? Why do you choose to be so involved in other peoples music?
Jun Minowa: Collaborating with good artists like you (draff krimmy) and Void’s Anatomy were exciting and precious experience for me. I’m always grateful for them. And as someone said, “music is a bridge”, it is meaningful. Since I’ve started Gargle and Yawning, I fortunately could have a lot of opportunities to contact with people around the globe. Because few people are interested in our music here in Japan, they have been my good motivation. I am planning to complete the song with Bosques de mi Mente and include it on our next release.
Jan Hammer: How does it feel like to be part of the Fluttery Records family?
– It’s my great pleasure to be a part of the family. It’s a great independent label and there are a lot of great artists.
Jan Hammer: What are your plans for the future? Are there any tourplans in the near future? Maybe Europe?
Jun Minowa:Though we know it’s not easy and haven’t set a definite schedule, we would like to go on a tour before too long. I’m not sure where it will be, but I’d like to go wherever possible as long as there are people who might be interested in our music. Besides tour, I’d like to make new records of Gargle and Yawning.
Jan Hammer: Thank you for answering my questions and for making such beautiful music.
Jun Minowa: Thank you, Jan. I’m expecting draff krimmy’s new album someday.