BO NINGEN are a Japanese four piece acid punk band based in London. The band will release their third LP, III, in May on Stolen Recordings. Our friend Ryan Muldoon at Revolt of the Apes has compiled a list of 10 questions for Bo Ningen in anticipation of their APF 2014 performance. Odd Numbers answered by Kohhei, even Numbers answered by Taigen.
Have you ever considered how your music might be different if your personal geographic evolution were altered â€“ if, perhaps, you grew up in the U.K. and decided to move to Japan for your studies? Do you think you’re consciously aware of how your surroundings have impacted your musical development? If so, in what ways has it been most surprising to you?
Never really thought about it. But the surrounding environment such as buildings, weather etc must have huge impact on our lives thus on the music we play. It’s nice though, to think about that theme. Nick Drake or Syd Barrett would have written sunnier song in California. In that sense, every music is site specific.
What were the circumstances that led to your coming together to play music under the Bo Ningen name? Where there any experiences that you had beforehand, playing with other, unrelated groups â€“ or, perhaps, with each other in other forms â€“ and how did those experiences impact the formation of Bo Ningen?
We all from different part of Japan and all met in London. I(Taigen) met Kohhei(guitar) first and we made one quiet song and one free-form noise show at Art University I was studding at that time, some people throw some stuff to us because it was too noisy for some of them.Then we met Yuki(Guitar) and Mon-chan few weeks after and become “Bo Ningen”. We all do solo,and we sometimes do shuffle duo unit, such as SOBAMESHI & PORNO(Kohhei&Yuki), Inu to Sanpo(Taigen&Mon-chan), Futodokimono(Taigen&Yuki) etc, which we can try something totally different from what we can do as Bo Ningen. couple of Bo Ningen’s song’s somg idea came from those solo&duo.
Was there any particular sound â€“ or collection of sounds â€“ that provided a central point of focus for the band to explore outward from as Bo Ningen? Was there anything as concrete as a â€œvisionâ€ for the band, whether directly stated or not? What has been most surprising and/or pleasing for you about how that vision has been altered over time?
We never talked about a “vision”, we talk about songs/ structure of songs instead. A vision is defined backwards. From texture/surface through the outer/inner/upper/lower structure to the core of yet to be defined vision. It changes over time as we get better in analyzing song structure and understanding the new historical context.
In your mind, what bands or artists have had the greatest impact on the sound of Bo Ningen that you believe would perhaps be a surprise to most listeners? What type of sounds do you enjoy the most that you think are generally absent from the sound of Bo Ningen? How have the other members of the band contributed to any changes in your own habits of listening to music for pleasure?
Yes, I believe that people can’t really tell love some of Japanese pop&idol music and UK heavy bass music, UK grime and GORGE. And I listened to those music a lot. We all listened to quiet & tender music as well as Noise/Psyche music which might be unexpected too?
If you were to compare the sound of your soon to be released third album, â€œIII,â€ to an artistic discipline or single piece out artwork existing outside of the confines of music, what would it be, and why? What elements of the new album are the most energizing to you, now that the recording has been completed?
I always wanted to compose songs like Duchamp’s “The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even (Large Glass)”. I don’t know if we are successful this time. It’s about history, or ending a history. To start a new one, or to forge one. Sounds from the new album are the pieces of sounds from made up history. We altered the history. We re-coordinated / spread / collaged the cosmic debris to form a never-exsisted-but-actual solar system.
Although we’ve yet to experience Bo Ningen performing live, the songs on both your self-titled debut and â€œLine the Wallâ€ have us convinced that anyone that resists the urge to become physically involved in the live listening process may in fact be a corpse. What reaction has been most surprising to you in regard to your live performances? What would the perfect Bo Ningen show look like for you if you hand a magic wand and/or an unlimited budget? What was the most surprising, instinctual reaction you’ve ever had from see a band perform live?
The reaction we gets are so depends on where we played. For example, we made a massive mosh pit at University Stuident Union show in US. but we also get really polite(not in bad way, focus and show respect to the performance) reaction in Japan. I think the mosh pit in US was most surprising to me. most suprising instinctual reaction I’ve ever had was from Keiji Haino’s show in London. I can’t stop crying after the show, It was pure purification/Detox experience.
What music have you been listening to lately? If push comes to shove, what’s your favorite song by The 13th Floor Elevators and why?
I’m listening to loads of Arthur Russell stuff recently. His use of echo is really special and I’ve been trying to analyze it. And early Brian Eno, like before ambient era. Another Green World, Before and After Science etc.My neighbor played me Roky Erickson’s “I Walked With A Zombie” last night and I loved it. What a repetition.
How did you first hear of Austin Psych Fest? Are there any particular bands that you have never had the chance to see perform live playing at this year’s festival, whom you hope to see while in Austin?
I probably first heard about Austin Psyche Fest from Makoto Kawabata from Acid Mothers Temple.(Taigen has a side project called “Mainliner” with him) So many friends band will play this year(The Horrors, Temples,TOY and ofcource AMT), so I’d like to catch their show, I’d expect something special from them as Austin Psyche Fest has special vibes.
Filmmaker Jim Jarmusch â€“ who cast fellow Austin Psych Fest performers White Hills in his most recent film â€“ once wrote the following: with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery – celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: â€˜It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you
take them to.’â€ Your thoughts?
Totally agree with both Jarmusch and Godard. Not because â€œNothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates.” I’m a big fan of the two. These words explains what I’ve been aware of and trying to do. My answers to Q3 and Q5 tell a bit about my thought on this theme.
What’s next for Bo Ningen?
Release the 3rd album in May, more festivals in US/UK/EU in the summer. We’ll try to open the door with our new record for people who haven’t hear us or even our kind of music.
Catch Bo Ningen at APF 2014 May 2 – 4. Tickets and camping passes are available for purchase HERE.