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Into Your Car and Out of Your Speakers: DYGL

 DYGL (pronounced “dayglo”) is a 4-piece indie rock band. They sing in English, but they are based in Japan. Recently, they took time out of their work and tour schedules to answer a few questions about their influences, beginnings, and aspirations for the future.

Can you give readers a brief history of DYGL?


Currently, DYGL has three official members: Nobuki Akiyama (vocals, guitar), Yosuke Shimonaka (guitar, vocals), and Kohei Kamoto (drums). Recently, our bassist quit the band, so Yotari Kachi from Ykiki Beat has been playing the bass for us. We all attend Meiji Gakuin University in Tokyo, and we started the band there. At first, we just started the band for the music club at the University. I played the drums at first, and Kohei played the guitar. Gradually, we changed into the setup that we have now. Some organizers found us, and they started to book us for events in many venues around Tokyo. Before that, we did not know much about the music scene in Tokyo, so we were really glad to play at the events.


What is your inspiration behind making music?


courtesy of DYGL (2)It can come from anywhere, but listening to music and looking at visual art is a strong inspiration. And color, the color is important. The color of videos and drawings must affect my brain, and it allows me to make colorful sounds. Imaginary scenes and their colors also bring melodies to me. The connection between images and the sounds is really interesting, and that is why I also want to be involved with film and video even though I have not made any yet.


Who are some of your musical influences?


We very influenced by the music overseas, and there are so many, but I think that the strongest influence comes from 2000’s post-punk revival. The View, The Enemy, The Strokes, Kings of Leon, The Libertines just to name a few. We also love Britpop, U.S. indie, grindcore, hip-hop, American pop (I really mean it), jazz, Ryukyu folk, and nu disco. There isn’t one exact source of influence, so it is hard to say. I think that 2000’s music is a pretty strong influence because that is the music we listened to as teenagers.


Who are some of your favorite Japanese bands?


To be honest, we feel that there are so many shitty bands in the current Japanese pop and rock scene, so it is very hard to find a favorite. We do not have any interest in the artists in Japan’s major scenes, but sometimes the underground scenes have some good bands like Mitsume, Annie the Clumsy, Gloomy, and Batman Winks. There are some good DJs and composers like Boys Get Hurt, Seiho, Tofubeats. I think they are pretty good. The hip-hop scene in Japan is really interesting as well. I think they have found their own unique way of expression. S.L.A.C.K., PUNPEE, Otogibanashi’s, Public Musume, and PSG are Japanese hip-hop bands that are not just imitations of American hip-hop. However, we still love old Japanese folk music and kayōkyoku like Miyuki Nakajima, Folk Crusaders, and Happy End. These bands work with the Japanese language correctly, and it is an original form of expression that Japanese artists can do.


DYGL is from and based in Japan. Why do you choose to write songs in English?


Everybody asks us that question, and I cannot answer it correctly. I don’t know. I love The Strokes, not Exile. I love Katy Perry, not AKB48. So maybe that is why I naturally started to write songs in English. There was no choice for me to write in Japanese. I don’t hate Japanese, but I don’t think it works for this kind of rock music. The Japanese language has a unique vibe, and rock music cannot access that unique vibe. If I ever make Japanese kayōkyoku, then I will not choose English. It is very natural for us to sing in English for this kind of music. The cultural differences are getting smaller, so this might be another reason. Young people around the world have all grown up eating McDonalds, watching YouTube, searching on Google, and listening to Spotify. We all share the same culture, for better or worse. Anyway, we naturally chose English, but we also feel strange when we are asked about it.


Can you give an example of a normal day in your lives?


As I mentioned earlier, we are still students at the same university. But we are almost finished, so now we work more than we study. We are planning on relocating to the U.S. or UK in the future for music, so we have to earn money for that now. Kohei and I are also in Ykiki Beat, so our daily lives are composed of music, jobs, and a little studying. We often hang out with close friends in Tokyo, sometimes it is artist friends, and sometimes it is school friends. Recently, we played football by the Hutako Tamagawa River with a hip-hop team called NXNG and two photographers. The two photographers were Yuki Kikuchi and Shusaku Yoshikawa, and they recently took some photos of artists from LA’s Burger Records and are making a zine with music featuring original interviews. It is going to be pretty amazing. We do a lot of music and events with these friends; so hanging out is also an important aspect of our everyday lives.


DYGL recently played a festival in Taiwan. What was that like?


It was a totally awesome experience. The people, the food, the music: everything was fantastic. They treated us very friendly, and we were very moved by that kindness. We played two gigs during the tour, one was at the Taipei Artist Village, and the other was at a huge venue called Legacy. We were really excited to find out that Phoenix had played at the Legacy before. I think the indie music scene in Taiwan is not very big, but they actually have some really good vibes. Manic Sheep’s gig was really powerful and soulful. A lot of interesting bands were there. You can check out the other bands by searching the web for Pop Pop Festival.


Was Taiwan the first time that you played outside of Japan?


Yes. We have always thought about touring in Europe or America. Playing our first tour ever in Taiwan was an interesting surprise. The opportunity to play in Taiwan taught us a lot, and we all came to love the country. We are now interested in playing in other Asian countries as well. I have heard that there are some good bands in Indonesia, Hong Kong, and South Korea, so we hope to go to those places for music.


courtesy of DYGLWhat are some of the dreams and goals of DYGL?


We would like to play for festivals like Glastonbury, SXSW, Fuji Rock, Lollapalooza, Big Day Out, Coachella, Summer Sonic, etc… We hope to one day appear on the famous Japanese program Best Hit USA and talk with Katsuya Kobayashi – that is a pretty important dream of ours. However, we would first like to make an album that can combine both our energy and passion for music similarly to how Hats Off to the Buskers, We’ll Live and Die in These Towns, and Fidlar have.


What is the best way for someone to listen to your music?


It is really up to the listeners, but cassettes and vinyl are obviously great ways. We all love the analog stuff, so we appreciate it if the listeners respect the culture as well. But, YouTube is huge, and we also learn about new music from YouTube, so it is a good way as well. I hope our music can give listeners energy to do new creative things.


courtesy of DYGL (3)When is your next show, and why should people go?


We are currently making songs for an EP and an album, so we don’t have many shows coming up. The next show will be on Feb 7, but we cannot go into too many details yet. Please come if you are in or around Tokyo!







All photos courtesy of the band

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