After getting to know one another online, this duo will be playing their first live show at agnes b. in Ginza next week.
“Akio” (Keita Hatada) is a Japanese musician who has composed and performed with numerous projects (including Sugar’s Campaign), and “bo en” (Calum Bowen) is a British producer based in London. After knowing each other for some time via the internet, in 2015 they finally decided to collaborate, giving birth to their first collective EP in September 2016. As the the agnès b. shop in Ginza prepares to present their first live concert together on October 12, Laurier Tiernan touched base with “bo en” for Tokyo Weekender.
Tokyo Weekender: Thank you very much for doing this interview. I understand that you both had music industry careers before you joined forces for this project. Could you please briefly explain to our readers what you did before you joined forces?
bo en: I had been working mostly as a game composer for the past six years, but three years ago I started to work as an artist in my own right, under the name bo en. I released my debut album through netlabel Maltine Records at the end of 2013, and things started to take off quickly. From that point on, I continued to work on game music to make a living, but also toured, remixed and produced for other artists, as well as working on my next album.
TW: What did you hear in each other, or each other’s music, that made you want to collaborate?
be: I’d known of Akio for a really long time through his work with Avec Avec and Seiho in their unit Sugar’s Campaign. We’d spoken online for a while but only met in person last year in Osaka at one of my gigs. That was when we decided to do something together. We both have really similar tastes so it was very easy to decide on!
TW: What do each of you bring to this project?
be: We have a lot in common, so there wasn’t much to disagree about. I wrote and produced most of the songs, and Akio sang them. The first track was more entangled though! It was an interesting collaboration where Akio sang a melody he came up with, and then I wrote all the harmonies around it and sent them over to him, then he recorded them all and sent them back to me.
TW: I listened to your first collaboration EP “Bokura no Irotori Dori”, which was released on September 20, and although iTunes says it’s “Japanese Rock N Roll,” I personally couldn’t pinpoint a genre. How would you describe or categorize your music, for someone who hasn’t heard it before?
be: Because the genre is all over the place on the EP – each track is a different style, from a cappella to New Jack Swing, to disco and finally chamber pop – it was difficult to come up with something that encapsulated all of those things. I actually tagged some of the early demos with the genre “Japanese Rock N Roll” because Akio’s Skype status read “Rock N Roll”! So it was kind of a joke that Tomad, the head of Maltine, liked and suggested that we use as the actual genre tag for the EP.
TW: What are you trying to achieve with your music? Do you have some kind of goal or message?
be: With this EP, we are trying to make something that kids, grandparents and everyone in between can appreciate! I personally am very focused on the craft of songwriting – more than any particular political or social message beyond the story of the song – so, in essence, there is nothing but music here!
TW: Do I understand that you have never played live together before?
be: Yes, that’s true! Everything was done over Skype leading up to my trip to Japan.
TW: So, it’s true that you will have your first live performance together at the Agnes B. Galerie du Jour, in Ginza on October 12th?
be: Yes, I can’t wait!
TW: And it is a free concert?
be: It’s free!
TW: I read in your press release that it will not just be a concert, but that there will be other things happening, like a special announcement. Could you give us a hint as to the special things that will happen that day?
be: There will be a lot of first times at that show! (My) first time performing with Akio, also it will be my first time performing with a string quartet. On top of that, I’ll be giving a talk about my songwriting process, and showing off a new unreleased song!
TW: Do you have any special last message for our readers?
be: “Can’t wait to see you at the show. Thank you to everyone who has supported me thus far!”
TW: Thank you very much for doing this interview.
be: No problem. :~)
Akio & bo en will play their first live performance together as a free concert presented by agnes b. Ginza rue du jour in Ginza, on Wednesday, October 12th, from 18:30 to 20:00. For more details, head to our event calendar listing.