J-ROCK MATTERS Press Conference, Singapore, 22052013

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Last May 2013, 3 Japanese rock bands flew to Singapore to perform a special free concert “JROCK MATTERS” as part of the 3 days Music Matters 2013. Described as “Bringing the best underground talent from across the globe to Singapore” and tag lined “Who will you discover?” this event encouraged the goers to broaden their genre of music. There were definitely many acts hoping to broaden their fanbases not only in the foreign land, but also around the world as the events were fully broadcasted on YouTube.

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J-ROCK MATTERS was no different. While the names headlining are definitely not ‘underground’, with Flumpool andWEAVER both having substantial following in home ground and having performed in Singapore before. After all, J-ROCK MATTERS was also sponsored by BARKS, a Japanese music news site which during the press conference, has launched their site in other languages including English and Mandarin. This was done in effort to make Japanese music news and live reports more accessible by people outside of Japan.

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During the initial address by BARKS, a short video was also showed with many familiar faces of J-music industry, from J-Pop idols to Visual-Kei, focusing especially on acts who have been performing in Asia outside of Japan for the recent years. Excitement and buzz could be felt in the air as hope for more Japanese music acts to step out and perform abroad is coming true.

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Without missing a beat after the address by BARKS, the conference moved on to introduction of bands performing for the night. WEAVER was called out first, and the members readily stepped into the hall and onto the stage. They seemed to be slightly nervous, but still full of their boyish charm and bright smiles. They introduced themselves in English much to the surprise of everyone in the room. The vocalist Yuji impressed even more with launching into full English when answering questions directed to the band, much to the delight of the people present for the conference, even though the questions were translated to Japanese for them. Many times they also focused on their wish to show how ‘J-Rock is wonderful’ and hope to deliver their music to many people around the world.

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The next band to be introduced was Flumpool. Smartly dressed in suits, only 3 out of 4 members were present for the conference, but they confidently waltzed up the stage. Eager to not lose to the previous band, the members introduced themselves in English and Mandarin (they also read their name in the later language). While the vocalist Ryuta was confident, the bassist Genki halted a few times especially in Mandarin, inviting giggles and laughs from himself, and also immediately made the atmosphere way more laid-back. And that was how the session went with the band, with some laughs and jokes thrown in. For example Ryuta sheepishly laughed after attempting a few words in English to answer the question but then asked if he could speak in Japanese. He admitted he tried because WEAVER did so well in answering in English previously.

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The band was extremely serious with their aim for the performance though, also focusing on delivering their music to many around the world by strengthening their live performance and of course, updating their page on BARKS. Ryuta also mentioned on how he felt that as a Japanese he was grateful for the support that the world had given to Japan when disaster strucked, and hopefully through music he can give back to the world.

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The last band to be introduced was SID. Visibly dressed more casually than other bands in streetwear, the vocalist Mao stepped into the hall and bowed to the crowd before leading his band onto the stage, looking somewhat shy and slightly tired. According to some, they had their rehearsal earlier in the morning before rushing down for the press conference. However, that didn’t stop them to attempt their introduction in English as well, however halting, you could feel their eagerness to be there.

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Going on to the Q&A session with the bands, the mc raised a question regarding Flumpool’s missing fourth member, guitarist Kazuki. It triggered some good-natured laughs from members of the audience which got louder as Ryuta answered as it was due to the bassist’s effort on dieting as he ‘was not able to press the F chord on his guitar’, and thus refrain from media appearances. But he assured that the whole band will be present that night.

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The atmosphere had lightened up further by that point, and when talking about Singapore as it was their first trip to the country, SID’s Mao commented how the band found the food there delicious and thus they have to watch out for their intake for the sake of their, with a nod to Flumpool sitting next to them, visual. This sent the whole hall bursting into laughters. When asked about what’s their secret to staying together as a band who is celebrating their 10th anniversary this year, Mao answered it was due to the members not just bandmates but really good friends and pointed out ‘Mr. Moodmaker’ of his band, drummer Yuuya who immediately grabbed a mic, struck a pose and exclaimed “Yes I am!” in English.

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That was how the press conference ended in an extremely humorous tone, as it proceeded to photo taking sessions, with everyone really more well-acquainted with the band and high expectations of the incoming night.

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Reported and photographed by CL

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