Interview: macmanaman

Another feature I had in The Japan Times recently was this interview with Fukuoka post-rock band macmanaman. There’s not much to add here, but it does feel relevant in relation to a little incident that happened recently.

I launched into a bitchy little rant on Facebook a few weeks ago about the quality of English language coverage of Japanese music, which was provoked by a mixture of annoyance at the fawning idol worship that comprises most of the J-Pop blogosphere and my own frustration at the limited range of places for me to pitch my own ideas. A lot of people seemed to agree with my sentiment but it was also pretty clear that they all agreed for different reasons. Everyone had their own frustrations with the media but they were all different frustrations born out of their own particular pet faves not getting coverage, which is of course all I was really complaining about as well — I can’t honestly claim any higher motive.

Anyway, one friend of mine commented that for him The Japan Times was one of the worst because most of the bands featured were just groups that it felt like no one apart from the writer and a their friends cared about. Now I have strong doubts that many of my friends care about the bands I write about either, but I think this cuts to the core of the problem. Now I’ve had pitches to places rejected by editors because the band wasn’t big enough, and I get that. Media, especially on the web, runs on hits. Whenever I write about Babymetal or Kyary Pamyu Pamyu on this blog, my page view stats shoot through the roof, and in a media world where page views are money, it’s natural that media tends to naturally start skewing idol after a while. On the other hand, if music media isn’t about introducing new artists to people who’ve never heard of them before, what is the point at all? The fact that The Japan Times is the only place writing about so many of these bands is precisely the reason The Japan Times is valuable.

I’m lucky enough that I have an editor who trusts my writing to be interesting enough in its own right that I can write about bands like macmanaman and he’ll let it through without rigorously screening it for page view potential, and I daresay the fact that the JT still runs a paper edition helps too. Anyway, in my lonely little corner of the blogosphere, they’re an important band and they deserve every column inch they get.macmanaman: AxSxE-ken

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Interview: macmanaman

  1. Chris

    Honestly, I’ve always been wary of how you got a lot of these great underground artists published in the Japan Times; seems like it would be a no-go for most outlets. I remember being pleasantly surprised to see a column on puffyshoes in the print edition of the paper when it was delivered to my dormitory in Japan before. It’s a breath of fresh air when all you see in print is AKB48 and stuff that’s been beaten to death by the press. I mean, why read the Japan times if they cover the same bands everyone else? I’m sure some people must read stuff for that reason.

    I doubt theres hope for the j-pop blogosphere anyway, with most of it comprising of mechanical download link posting blogs and the like anyways. Maybe because of illegal downloading replacing actual blog posts and the brevity of social networking marking a decline in people who actual post…which is kind of funny since I don’t post on my blog as often as before.

    It’s a little unrelated but personally i threw my hands up in frustration when I went to a Perfume forum looking for info on their upcoming tour and found a fury of responses that despised the idea of them doing another tour without first putting out an album. I have no idea why anyone would be hostile(these responses were seriously negative) to an artist for touring like that; it just doesn’t make sense to me.

    Oh and I remembered a few days ago that I never sent an order for the CAR stuff, but I might be in Japan in August so I could probably wait until then!

    • These underground artists get published (and it’s not just me: other writers know stuff I can’t even imagine) because Shaun, who edits the music page, believes in publishing stuff about new music. Actually we do stuff about ultra-mainstream stuff too pretty often, so the balance isn’t so far towards the obscure as it might seem. For a lot of people it’s just, “I don’t know this one band, therefore these people only write about bands I don’t know!” when actually I’ve written about all that idol stuff pretty extensively. Just maybe I didn’t write the things their fans wanted me to write every time.

  2. Jace

    I’m currently taking Japanese and will be moving there next year, near Hiroshima. Are there any blogs like yours that are fairly accessible that I could start viewing them and use them to assist in my learning? And also maybe figure out where to go for shows, etc.? Thanks.

    Also, this アクマナマン track rules.

  3. Pingback: Getting hold of indie CDs from Japan — Call And Response Distribution | Clear And Refreshing

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