[sic] Magazine

Interview – Japanese Gum

A couple of months ago a promo arrived in the [sic] mailbox that totally blew me away. One day later I was fully immersed into the world of Japanese Gum, an Italian duo who serve up lunatic songtitles, bizarre photoshoots and a glorious, life-affirming noise. Theirs is a guitar ‘Wall of sound’ mixed with subtle, glitch electronica and choked vocals. Me being me I had to understand the ‘hows’ and ‘whys’. Luckily Paolo and Davide consented.

Spaceman: What is Japanese Gum?

Soft gum

Paolo : Japanese Gum is just a good sounding name we chose without any special reason. And behind it there are two people doing freely their own music. I think, in particular, this project is something I believe in and a sure thing in my life.

Davide : Japanese Gum is a kinda desire to explore all the sound areas we are attracted in and the will to experiment different ways and different approaches in writing music.

Spaceman: How would you describe your music?

Paolo : Describing our music is quite hard for us. It’s like talking about a dream you have just had. You know it, but you cannot explain it because it’s too confused. Our music is a cloud of sound moving on and back like waves in the sea.


Davide : Mmm… Not so easy if you mean our musical aesthetics. I guess that what we compose has got many influences, from music to other things… We love travelling, have good food and drinks with friends, reading, watching films and so on. I attended the Academy of Fine Arts, and I’m in graphics and photography… So I guess that all the elements of our lives can move our way to make music… Our sound is really similar to our daily life: it’s quite melancholic but always with the right self ironical mood, it’s deep and cerebral but also with an “expressionistic” and a sensitive way of being; could seem intellectual but actually it ain’t… And that’s how we are in daily life. 😀

Conceptually our music is simply the reflection of what we are at the moment of the recordings. And we often change our mind and inspiration, so for us it’s really more important to find the way to say in music what we want to and do it with the better tools and ideas we have, than simply get a specifical style or genre to wear. We don’t care about finding a place in a specific music scene, because we simply don’t feel to be part of a scene but the only one from our place. Genoa includes so many different kind of bands, and if we feel to be closed to someone is just because we are friends. I guess that this phrase could be not so popular, I mean in the indie scene, but I think that a scene must have something more than simply a style, a scene needs to have peeps who share something with the others, peeps that do things perfectly aligned, at least in the will and in the ideals. Do something together, build something together, and so at the moment I couldn’t ever feel my band part of something I really don’t know. Btw I guess I did not answer to your question, perhaps?! 😀
Or I told more than I should?!

Spaceman: Not at all, it’s perfect. What is your masterplan? Ambition? Objective?

Japanese Gum

Paolo : Our ambition would be live with our own music, but it seems quite hard now, above all in Italy. And we’d like to reach more and more people. But that’s all. We’ll keep on doing the music we like without caring too much about the goals we could reach. So, things are going on.

Davide : We are dreamers, so we still keep a little tiny hope to live making music, but actually we are aware about how hard and away this dream could be… So we simply focus our energies and creativities inside music and sound. And we put our energies and creativities also into the research and experimentation of new gear and way of composing music. I think that for Japanese Gum the victories could be the ones we could get doing music with all the honesty we have.

Spaceman: The new album is called Hey Folks. Nevermind. We are all falling down. Do you want to explain that choice of title to the readers?

Paolo : We were recording when Davide asked me if I liked it as the title of the whole album. And I immediatly said yes! It’s something that captured my attention. For me it’s a way of saying: “Hey guys, we all are in the same shit, so just do not worry too much about that”. Something comforting in a bad moment.


Davide : That title, in the origin, was the momentary title of Raskol’Nikov, because those are the words I say in the vocal drones in that song. After a while, I thought those words were more meaningful for me, more than just for 5 minutes’ music. The meaning of that title was really influenced by the other tracks of the album too, so I suggested Paolo to use it for the album. He liked it and it became what it is! The meaning of it, it is sorta of something which could be a little consolation for people, because even though the collapsing of a rotten society is in act, nobody is alone: we are all falling down; it is a spontaneous resignation, that doesn’t mean we should waste ourselves, simply thinking about the single person, but try to think about the community, and society.

Spaceman: Mine came with Japanese cellophane and Japanese lyric book. You’re Italian though. What’s the thing with Japan?

Paolo : Probably choosing Japanese Gum as the name of our project took us in that direction. Lyrics are translated into Japanese since there, according to what our label said, many people don’t understand English so well. It’s not something we decided and for me it’s funny seeing all those understandable things written in Japanese, but I like it.

Davide : Hahahaha, this is funny. It’s funny because as in most part of our lives, there are some weird events that make weird coincidences and we like weird bullshits and kinda stupid lame idiot jokes so, it happened that some years ago, when we were in our basement to play, in a break, having a beer, we began to talk about the Kjoto protocol and really can’t remember exactly where “japanese gum” came from, but we were quite high also, so not so easy to remember, seriously. Then, during 2008 fall, the guys from Friend of Mine records asked us the reason of our monicker, and we explained that… they got fun from that, and when last spring we sent our premaster album, they really enjoyed it and decided to release it! It was really nice!

Spaceman: Track ten is called ‘09’. Do you enjoy confusing people?

Funny guys?

Davide : Hehehe… Actually the title of that song means September… But we have a song that is titled with the name of a season (Sunless Summer), few lyrics are also focused on the concept of the time even if in an abstract way, so we preferred to turn the name into the corrispondent number just because even it’s a case that inside the lyrics I frequently talk about time, there isn’t any peculiar concept behind… ForReal… And we changed it when the tracklist was already compiled, so we decided to let the song in the same position in the album and with the changed title, so perhaps yeah, we enjoyed also this trick! We are really lame if we want, definetely! 😀

Paolo : He he, we absolutely like do stupid things sometimes. It happened by chance, but after all we didn’t mind at all keeping it. The self-irony is an important element for us since it allows us to live better with ourselves and other people. So, It’s inevitable using it in our works sometimes. So, why always taking things too much seriously? After all we’re not planning to save the world.

Spaceman: You’re from Genoa. The other group I know from Genoa are port-royal. I think you are acquainted with the royals. How did you come to meet? I know it isn’t a small city.

Paolo : Genova is a quite big town, but the music scene is not . Musician know each other, and if you try to come out with a certain kind of music, that for Genova is quite experimental, to know people is even more likely. That’s because you probably will play some gigs with those people. Anyway, we also had a band with Emilio. Besides we played some dates and songs together during some shows as well.

College boys?

Davide : Actually we are from little towns closed to Genoa, and yes, Genoa is quite big. I can’t exactly remember how, but I met Emilio something like five years ago, and we became friends. I met Giulio (that I don’t know if he is still part of the band) perhaps earlier, then Attilio and Ettore. You right, Genoa isn’t small, but the scene, the guys are into indiependent music, I mean bands, venues, promoters and labels are quite condensed. If you go to live concerts, play with a similar attitude and approach, run a label, etc, it’s really easy to get in touch. Anyway we are good friends, we played with Attilio as special guest few gigs, and we played with Emilio in another band, common friends and closed interests do the rest ;).

Spaceman: Emilio has helped with the programming and mastering of the new album, yes? That is a nice guy.

Paolo : Emilio helped us above all with the mastering. Yes, he’s a fantastic guy. Very kind. And he knows his job. So he can be very professional.

Davide : Totally. Emilio is rad!! He just helped us in some rythimc programmings, suggesting us some different stuff to use, and different ideas about the dynamics. And yes, he also made our master together with Martino.

Spaceman: Whose song is Paul Leni? Yours or the royals?

Paolo : Paul Leni is written by Port Royals and we remixed it.

Davide : Uh, we simply did some remix versions of the original that was written by the Royals. Did you have doubts bout? :-S

Spaceman: In the new year you will play a gig with Starfraenn Hakon, How did this come to happen? Is this the first such time you will play together?

Live 1

Paolo : Yes, It’s the first time and we’re pretty happy to meet him. We love his sound.

Davide : Probably we’ll play some more with him, but they aren’t confirmed yet. Matteo, the guy who runs Marsiglia Records runs also Disorderdrama, kinda booking-friends-network who really helps the scene to exist, is booking for Starfraenn Hakon in Italy, and so proposed us to open for them in Genoa. That’s really nice… We never played together yet!

Spaceman: Do you re-mix any other artists? Would you like to?

Paolo : Generally speaking I don’t remix so much. Port Royal are friend and actually I loved doing it for them. But, if people don’t ask me, I don’t do any remixes. I prefer usually working on new stuff .

Davide : Yep, we did it. The first published remix was port-royal’ “Paul Leni” , we actually have three versions of that, one that’s on our debut, and two more still unreleased and also really didn’t finish… One is into a minimal-kraut stuff and the other one dubby… We also began the remix for a Populous track, but when it was almost finished, someone stole my laptop and couldn’t go on. Oh yes, Still Leven also had been remixed by us. We made a dubby-industrial remix of a track that should be released soon with a new e.p.I can say I personally like do remixes forSure! Because managing and working on different artists’stuff helps you to learn lots of new things. And it’s really important to get new inputs from the outside, you can’t evolve yourself just watching in your own world of ideas, everyone can give you something..

Spaceman: Would you tour outside Italy?

Live 2

Paolo : We hope to do it. But usually it’s hard, actually hard to me, since I have a job and it’s not always easy playing around. We play a lot in Italy since it’s easier. Recently we played in France and In Norway. We had good time there and we had the chance to know better other musical reality quite different from our scene. Now we’re planning to go to Japan, probably in May, to play there. And maybe in Romania.

Davide : Definetely yes! We just did some outside gigs, but never had a real tour. We are trying to arrange something for next spring-fall, but you know, it’s still early to say something more precisely. Btw, we should play in Romania next March, a couple of gigs with another band from Genova, Dresda.

Spaceman: Your earlier releases from before ‘Hey Folks…’ are available to download free via your website. Is this not rather generous?

Davide : Hum… actually don’t think so. We never gave free cdies but simply free mp3, with the possibility to donate money for them. I think that mp3 are not the best way of enjoying music, for many reasons, but I don’t care trying to stop the normal and obvious evolution of the technologies, re peer to peer stuff, social networking, of the internet. It would be stupid to want to control something you can’t. Sometimes it’s really scary thinking about the net. But I guess there are lots of good things from the web, so I simply accept the things happen.

Paolo : I prefer 3000 people having my album rather than 100 people buying it. It’s not important for us that people pay us for our music. For us it’s better to reach as many people as possible. And if they want a CD, they can buy it obviously.

Spaceman: What does 2010 hold for JapGum? Will Italy retain their World Cup in South Africa next summer?

hey folks!

Paolo : We hope that in 2010 we’ll finish our second album. We’re already working on it but we need to hurry up. There’s still so much to do, but so little time. About the World Cup, I hope that Italy will win, even if I don’t believe so. We don’t have that good team now. But it’ll be funny watching matches on tv with all my friends doing a lot of mess. I’m looking forward to do it!

Davide : Well, we began to record some new stuff, just demos at the moment. We would like to have something more concrete before the end of January… We actually dunno the destination of that stuff, but most part of it is really weird to be defined, cos songs are different compared to the older ones; we are working in another way, using more hardwares and less softwares, that means you can phisically interact with the carving of the sound: for example, for the electronic rythmical parts, we are now using some samplers, and we are almost not using the laptop anymore; using samplers instead of a software sequencer gives you the chance to control any single sample and work also live on it, that’s really da shit! So next year we hope to release some new stuff, touring and taking also a breath. About our football team, I guess it is not so strong as it was four years ago: actually it’s almost the same team, same players, and the problem is that those guys were around 30 years old four years ago, and they won with smartness, but now they are older and not so healthy… Hahaha… Anyway I simply support Roma A.S. I don’t care a lot about our national team.

[sic] Magazine thanks Davide and Paolo. Hey Folks, Nevermind, We are all falling down is out now. Click the link below for full review. Click the website link for other downloads. Photos with kind permission from Japanese Gum website, myspace and flickr.

Hey Folks, Nevermind. We are all falling down

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