Japanese Indie Duo FRAGMENT and SUBENOANA label owners

During the Friday night show, I took a breather from the high energy atmosphere inside the basement of Club Freebird 2, and met with the Japanese powerhouse indie team of Kussy and Deii at Gorilla Café next door. Everyone had a beer and we got down to a high energy chat. Senshi Watanabe, their Road Manager/Production Coordinator, provided the crazy-ass translation.


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ER: Hey you guys, welcome to Korea, and thanks for this interview. How long have you been together?

FRAGMENT: For 15 or 16 years, we went to same university, same sociology majors. It was odd to also have the same music interest at that time.

ER: Musical background/instruments?

FRAGMENT: No instruments, we were originally into hip-hop and the sampling culture. Then we wanted to make our own music, and we said, hey, we can do that! So we tried it. [Kussy] plays the drum pad and everyday sounds or specially made sounds with his mouth or using the microphone. DEII does sound level equalizing, and sound effects such as delay, reverb, wow, etc. We do a normal live set of 45 minutes or so, and we push hard, but for an hour-long set, we kind of slow down a little bit.

ER: Have you played much outside of Japan? Is this club setting comfortable for you?

FRAGMENT: Our first overseas live event was a small festival in Hong Kong just two days ago, but this is our second overseas country here in Korea. Any venue is good for us, such as festival, club, stadium, whatever. We do just the same thing. No problem. We hope to be able to go to Europe as well.

ER: Can you tell me about your successes and failures over 15 years?

FRAGMENT: Well, we now own our own label together, Subenoana and after many challenges such as staying motivated, and some financial difficulties, such as CD sales, but we seem to be stable more in the last two or three years, with a really good vibe now. This is the 10-year anniversary of our label, We now have 15 artists.

ER: Do you intend to keep performing or just manage your label?

FRAGMENT: We will keep the same vibe and keep working our label and also keep performing. We are  located in a prefecture of Tokyo.

ER: Do you consider yourself to be independent artists and an independent label?

FRAGMENT: Yes. But we count on CD sales in order to keep the business running. There was kind of like a black hole in the label, kind of an empty hole, so we built up FRAGMENT to you know, cover up that hole. We had the time to do it, so that’s kind of why and how we did it. We mean, you have to stand your ground as a label owner, and it will pay off in the future as well, but not too greedy, of course, but we have to be practical. We are the only artists from our label here at Morph. This appearance will help us to promote our label back in Japan. Sometimes we face some difficulties to perform outside of Japan, but sometimes we see some information in the media, like in Hong Kong.

ER: That’s why I am hoping to give you some strong support by doing this interview.

FRAGMENT: We really thank you. We are not used to doing interviews so we are nervous about this. But we appreciate having this moment with you, in another country.

ER: Was this driving, energetic set you did tonight the only kind of style or genre that you enjoy or are there others?

FRAGMENT: Well, we enjoy all kinds of music as well, we enjoy sampling all kinds of music and putting it together.

ER: I thought I heard some East LA rap in there! We are very interested in drum beat syncopation. You guys played some heavy licks. Where does that come from?

FRAGMENT: Originally we really were into the hip-hop beats, simple beats, the basic, very underground drum stand stuff, and we asked people who played drums. They said hip-hop beats were all the same. So we just decided we were going to make different beats.

ER: Well, I was really feeling you as you played.

FRAGMENT: Thank you so much. Thank you for appreciating the music so much.

Kanpai! and KOM BAY!

 And it was a nice break to get an appreciation of the Japanese Indie scene from some hard-working, music-loving friends. ELECTROW wishes the best of success for FRAGMENT and their label SUBENOANA. Be sure to check out their links.

 Dr. Dave