It had been two years. Two years of thinking about it. Two years of listening to tracks from the bands who played there last year. I gathered up my resolve and promised myself that I would go to Japan Nite at SXSW this year.
What precisely is Japan Nite? Why a concert sponsored by SXSW-Asia that goes down once and only once a year during the SXSW music conference in Austin, Texas. This year, eight Japanese bands will be in attendance and I know virtually nothing about any of them.
Naturally, you can understand why I’d be hell-bent on attending.
That fortitude served me well as the restrictions for attending (especially given the journalistic permissions I was seeking) were formidable. How I managed to acquire press access for myself is a story that will have to wait for another blog post, but rest assured that I got in and have already booked my plane ticket.
Which leads us to the point of this inaugural posting. There is much more to discuss than a mere trip to SXSW but there is not a better place to start. It is at Japan Nite that all barriers, both language and culture-based, are dropped and American audience members can expose themselves to Japanese music without pretext. That is precisely what I hope to accomplish with Nihongaku.
Without divulging the entire history of how I came to be so enamored with Japanese music that I would construct a blog about it, let me say that first and foremost I am an absolutely an advocate of music from the Land of the Rising Sun. Professionally, I’m also a bit of a journalist which means that I’m a bit at odds with myself simply by writing this. What you will receive by visiting Nihongaku is not purely objective, nor pure advocacy, but a mixture of the two. If the new Gran Rodeo album sucks, I will not hesitate to say so, but I will also freely admit my generally positive bias toward (just about) any music that is Japanese in origin.
Nihongaku is not a portal for Japanese music news. I will report news from time to time as I become aware of it, but there are plenty of sites that are already doing a fine job of covering that. At least, I hope there are.
No, Nihongaku is an active record of how one American boy stumbled upon Japanese music and never looked back. I’m sharing this story in the hopes that you’ll look beyond listening to the music in your country and your language.
Trust me, there’s so much more out there.