• Mr. AQ himself, Albert Kuwano in his element.

    Fujirockers chat to Albert Kuwano of AQ Bevolution!

    Mr. AQ himself, Albert Kuwano in his element.

    Mr. AQ himself, Albert Kuwano in his element.


    Starting last year, with the addition of Craft Beer Market at Fuji Rock, bringing along 4 booths of the country’s top brewers and importers, (concurrently offering a total of around 20 different craft beers at one time) the standard for quality beer at the festival was substantially raised. This was great news for beer fans all throughout Naeba.  READ MORE

  • Interview – Big Willie’s Burlesque


    “Big Willie” McNeil is a long-time friend of Fuji Rock, playing just about as along as the Palace of Wonder has existed, also inhabiting new stages like Cafe de Paris. You could say these places were built for him and his love of burlesque, one of the first forms of musical theater. We had the good fortune to catch up with Willie as he was packing up feather boas for the flight over.

    1. Tell me the truth Willie, do the burlesque girls look as good in the morning without the makeup?

    It’s amazing what make up, push up bra’s, dancers fishnet tights and heels can do. False advertising actually! But they do call it make up… One time I did a big show in Chicago with around 20 dancers and the next morning on the flight home when everyone was in their sweats and tennis shoes, I didn’t even recognize some of the dancers who I didn’t know well!

    2. What can we expect from you at Fuji this year?

    A special international show! I have two Cuban musicians, an Italian guitarist, my Argentinian dancer Carolina plus for the special ‘G&G Orchestra’ show Elvis and two background singers. We’ll play Cuban and American music.

    3. Any acts you looking forward to?

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    Fujirockers Interview: Jim “Vinyl Nasium” West

    Vinyl mania has long been part of the Fuji Rock culture, including musicians, DJs, fans and the festival production team. Now that passion manifests as the Blue Galaxy Stage, an expansive circus tent powered by two turntables and a roster of DJs with truly immense collections of rare ska, reggae, world music, Japanese garage, and all manner of vinyl rarities. The man powering the Blue Galaxy is Jim West, a British vinyl nut who’s been coming to Fuji Rock for 20 years. He will DJ four and a half hours each evening of the festival (though only three hours on Sunday). Now a full-fledged festival area, the vinyl stage is in reality Jim’s baby.  In 2011, he launched the Fuji Rock’s first vinyl-only DJ stage, Jim’s Vinyl Nasium as an experiment in the World Food Court. Over the following years, the Vinyl Nasium got better and better. After the 2016 Fuji Rock, the organizers couldn’t help but make it into a proper area, so in 2017, they expanded it to become the Blue Galaxy Tent. This year, guest DJs will include Sim Cas, the Cumbia Kid (aka Jason Mayall), Caribbean Dandy, Astro Black (US), DZ (Basque Countries), Koichi Hanafusa (Fujirockers.org), King Nabe and the Club Ska All-Stars and several others. Yet for the meat of each evening, it will be powered by Jim West and his fellow vinyl maniac Salam Unagami. To learn more of the backstory for this unique DJ stage, we caught up with Jim for a quick Q&A interview.


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    Space-Out With Tanizawa Tomofumi


    Get your head into the clouds

    Get your head into the clouds


    Sometimes a solo musician’s artistic evolution can progress in surprising ways. Tanizawa Tomofumi debuted as a pop singer-songwriter with good, quirky production and unique songwriting. After making a splash and a paycheck off of penning the opening theme for popular anime Kimi Ni Todoke, he spent a year traveling the world. The whole world. All the way to Antarctica and back. He returned significantly more psychedelically cosmic and with a lot of new world-music influences to add into what was already a super-strong pop sensibility. The result is some of the most sonically and artistically unique music to come out of any ‘singer-songwriter’ you could hope to find.


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    Fujirockers Interview: Esne Beltza!

    Esne Beltza is a large ensemble from the Basque Countries, the mountainous region that rests in the north of Spain and the south of France. Basque is one of the most ancient languages in Europe, predating the arrival of Latin and the Romans and having no relation to other contemporary European languages. People have spoken Basque – or Euskal, as the Basque people call their own country and language – in Spain’s mountains for literally thousands of years. So tradition runs deep, and Esne Betlza proudly accepts it, mixing traditional melodies and lyrics of modern Basque poetry with Latin rhythms, punk rock energy and various modern styles: hip hop, reggae, soul, rock, folk and Cumbia. In their own words, their music represents “the journey from the small Basque Country to the large world.”

    This year, Esne Beltza will play several times at Fuji Rock, including sets on the White Stage and Crystal Palace Tent, a DJ set by band member DZ at the Blue Galaxy Tent, and also a pre-Fuji Rock warmup party at the Radical Music Network on July 25 at Club Asia in Tokyo.


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    The story behind Fishbone Soundclash, Basque Rockers and Mestizo Music Mania!

    Every year, Fuji Rock hosts at least one of those crazy Latin bands that play high-energy music makes you dance so hard your legs ache for the rest of the weekend. Their presence is almost always due to the work of Shogo Komiyama, head of the Japonicus, a music promoter who for nearly two decades has been bringing “mestizo” artists –– musicians mixing Latin, Caribbean and international influences –– from the Iberian peninsula, southern Europe and the Americas to Japan. This year, Shogo’s arranging much of the Friday night line-up at the Crystal Palace Tent, will host the Basque Country rockers Esne Beltza on the White Stage, and has set up a bunch of great vinyl DJs for the Blue Galaxy Tent on Saturday night.

    Shogo’s also organizing the only Fuji Rock pre-party, his own Radical Music Network party on Wednesday, July 25 at Club Asia in Shibuya. It goes from 6:30pm to midnight and will feature members of Fishbone as part of an all-star mestizo lineup. (Quick note: anyone with a non-Japanese passport gets a JPY 500 discount on the door admission price. So if you’re getting to Tokyo early, check it out!)

    To get the inside scoop on all the mestizo music action on and around Fuji Rock weekend, we caught up with Shogo for a quick preview of the Latin, ska and other music coming to Fuji Rock this year.


  • Magic in the Mountains

    Masato Moja: Add Some Magic to Your Fuji Rock



    The allure of magic is something that transcends age and culture. Basically, everybody gets a kick out of a good magic trick. But the best magic takes place in the context of a great show, courtesy of a great showman. Few are able to make magic an indie art form like Tokyo’s Masato Moja. Typically he can be seen busking around the country, frequently in collaboration with his partner in crime EPPAI (who will also be performing at Fuji Rock).  But his festival shows are always a special treat.


  • Two experts discuss Bob Dylan


    Two experts discuss Bob Dylan

    Toshiyuki “Heckel” Sugano and Ryosei Sato discuss Dylan.


    Few artists confound audiences like Bob Dylan. In fact, a whole academic field, Dylanology, has sprung up to make sense of his exhaustive body of work. Dylan may be deserving of such attention after recently winning a Nobel Prize and his role in popular culture, for example, playing his anti-war hymn “Blowing in the Wind” minutes before Martin Luther King gave his famed “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington DC. Dylan gave a voice and a melody to the counter-culture. His artistic influences came from the free-wheeling Beat Generation, at one point inviting Alan Ginsburg on tour with him.

    Fujirockers recently spoke to Mr. Toshiyuki “Heckel” Sugano who was an A&R man for CBS/Sony and producer of the album Bob Dylan at Budokan, and Humbert Humbert vocalist, Ryosei Sato. The two are devoted fans and the closest thing to Dylanologists that we could find.

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    Meet the Blues Brothers from Down Under


    A morning cup of joe to soothe the soul

    No, I’m not talking about some Jake and Elwood cover band from Australia, I’m referring to Josh and Sam Teskey, who along with two of their best mates make up The Teskey Brothers band. They’re a hard working, authentic sounding soul/blues band hailing from just outside of Melbourne, Australia. Their music honors the classic Stax and Motown sound, while staying fresh and original. READ MORE

  • EPPAI, busking and basking

    EPPAI, Clown Prince of the Madcap

    EPPAI, busking and basking

    EPPAI, busking and basking

    Generally punk and one-man band are not concepts that fit together neatly in a person’s mind. Also, one would assume that the real draw of a one-man band would be the skill of the performance, not the crowd-work and attitude around the edges.  Especially when the performance involves playing violin and piano at the same time. But Tokyo’s EPPAI takes the anarchy and musical/comedic sensibilities of the Marx brothers and repackages it for the 21st century in the form of a punk one-man band performance artist.