Hoppy’s index: Hoppy Kamiyama; Pink; Optical*8; Pugs; ESP; O.N.T.J.; Saboten

--Hoppy has many talents (producer; God Mountain president; keyboards plus) and many faces--



On March 13, 2000, I met with Hoppy Kamiyama. He was friendly, personable, and I enjoyed the time I spent with him. Hoppy’s in-depth responses stretched the interview to an hour and a half. I've divided the interview into eight sections and interspersed the sections between Hoppy’s various bands!

Paul: You have a record company, God Mountain, where did that name come from?

Hoppy: God Mountain is my family name, Kamiyama. Kami means God. Yama means mountain. It’s easy to speak my label title. In America it’s a regular situation and many big companies put family name. You know? Ford! But in Japan it’s not regular putting family name. I know three or four companies: Suntory--very famous whisky company. The family name is Tori. Sun is: Japanese people say Kamiyama-san, and Paul-san, and Tori-san. Switching, it’s Suntory! One more company is Bridgestone--car tire company. Bridge means, Japanese say ‘hashi’; and stone means ‘ishi’. So, Japanese name is ‘ishibashi’ and putting in English is Bridgestone. This naming is an irregular situation in Japan, but I am very happy. Many people now understand my family name.

Paul: Where did the name Hoppy come from?

Hoppy: Oh, my name is a nickname, Hoppy. I started playing as a professional musician in late ‘70s. So, I’m doing as a professional musician for twenty-two years. The first time I joined many famous Japanese musicians. They were older musicians. I was very young, eighteen or nineteen years old. I didn’t know everything about the music industry situation. The other older musicians said, “You are very terrible.” “You are so stupid.” Everytime, I say, “Oh, I’m sorry.” It happened that I really like Japanese liquor, hoppi, Japanese alcohol drinking name. If you go to a Japanese izakaiya (drinking/eating establishments), probably you can see hoppi sheet. Every izakaiya staff stakes a hoppi sheet on the wall. It’s really cheap liquor, cheap and also has really great taste. I really loved hoppi, that alcohol, twenty years ago. So everytime, “I want to go to izakaiya for drinking hoppi. I love hoppi.” I said to older musicians. So, every older musician says, “Oh, your name is Hoppy.” So, one musician in a magazine article said, “We decided his name is Hoppy.”

Every magazine reader saw my name, Hoppy, so I never changed my name. I really like my name. Western people, especially American people can speak ‘Hoppy’, because you have Hopi people, Indian people, right? It’s the same thing. Your Hopi people are H-O-P-I. My name is H-O-P-P-Y. It’s very similar. Ten years ago I joined George Clinton. George Clinton said, “Oh, it’s an easy name. You are from Indians?” he asked me. I said, “I am Japanese.” He said, “Your name is Indian name.” So, George Clinton told me about Hopi Indians. I love American Indians. The music and culture is so great. The Japanese people are from Mongolia, and Mongolians are very similar to the American Indians. In the past, Mongolians moved to America and South America, the Incas, and Peru. So, American Indians and South American Indians are my brothers.


Ongaku Ou (King Of Music) -- (53:10) -- (1991) -- Toshiba EMI -- TOCT-6165

  1. New Life ~ Stiff Riff Miff
  2. (Welcome To) Hoppy’s Beat
  3. Let It Show
  4. Virus Is Heading Down To The Earth
  5. New Mexico (Modern Loop)
  6. Made In Heaven
  7. Star Child
  8. Planet “Danae”
  9. Peek-A-Boo
  10. Trick-Roc
  11. A Pillow Of Colours
This was the first solo Hoppy release, but, of course, he’s not solo at all. He’s got lots of his friends with him, and they’re funking it out in grand style, with lots of outer-space references and sounds. It feels like a party, and the musicianship is, naturally, first-rate. Six of these tracks made Groovallegiance, and those probably are the highlights. The one’s that didn’t are often just as good, but perhaps a bit less adventurous. There’s a bounciness throughout, with lots of fun twists and turns--a journey of sound into a big, beautiful, new world.

Ongaku Ou 2 (King of Music 2) -- (64:21) -- (1992) -- Toshiba EMI -- TOCT-6487

  1. E.S.T. (Electric Shock Treatment
  2. Pump
  3. A.M.
  4. My Dear Sight
  5. Naomi’s Dream
  6. Obsession
  7. Sarari Mambo
  8. Sleepy Blind Lemon
  9. Happy Valley
  10. Alter Of Heaven
  11. Giant D´janza
  1. Jubilee
  2. Au Naturel
Subtitled “Welcome to forbidden paradise”, the variety of styles presented here is frankly awesome. Some of them may never be returned to again by anyone. Five of these songs made Groovallegiance. Marc Ribot (guitar) is on almost every track, Sebastion Steinberg (bass) and Steve Eto (percussion) are on most of them, and lots of others are credited. ‘Au Naturel’ (listed as the bonus track) is over sixteen minutes, in a jazz improv vein, and is a magnificent, multi-faceted monument, which deserves to close this wonderful offering.

Groovallegiance -- (50:53) -- (1992) -- Zoom Republic -- PCDZ-1455

  1. (Welcome To) Hoppy’s Beat
  2. Let It Show
  3. Virus Is Heading Down To The Earth
  4. Obsession
  5. Happy Valley
  6. Empty Of Bank
  7. Naomi’s Dream
  8. Star Child (introduction) / Stiff Riff Miff
  9. E.S.T. (Electric Shock Treatment)
  10. Pump
  11. Trick-Roc
  12. Crazy Horses
In ‘91 & ‘92 Hoppy released solo recordings. They featured guest appearances by George Clinton (Hoppy joined FUNKADELIC for a gig in ‘90), Maceo Parker, Syd Straw, Yuka Honda, Steve Eto, John Zorn, Marc Ribot and many others from New York and Tokyo. After two years Toshiba EMI discontinued them. In ‘96 Hoppy released this collection from those recordings. Is it funk? Pop? Rock? Avante-garde? Yes, all of the above, in about that order, with big smiles. It’s great to hear a new version of THE OSMONDS’ ‘Crazy Horses’, too!

Hypnotique--Hoppy Kamiyama Visual Works -- (61:13) -- (1993) --God Ocean --GOCD-001

  1. Metaphysic Parts 1-4
  2. Yoru No Apple (Night Apple)
  3. Stag Party
  4. Sin-Sational
  5. Lullaby From The Womb
  6. (Untitled)
‘Metaphysic’ (30:16) is a quivering mass of sound, searching ominously, at times impatiently, for a soul. ‘Night Apple’ (6:39) is a pleasant, thoughtful tune. ‘Stag Party’ (10:29) is an other-worldly possession, eerily resembling the grinding whir of a torture machine. ‘Sin-Sational’ (1:34) is a few odd tapes. ‘Lullaby From The Womb’ (5:43) features Honey K (the only real vocal) singing sadly as her broken merry-go-round spins through a town of angry ghosts. The final track (6:32) takes a train to a beach, where the ocean washes away all.

     Hoppy Kamiyama -- conductor, gram-pot, samples & vocal
     Tadasu Yoshida -- drums, electric percussions & vocal
     Johji Sawada -- electric bass, acoustic bass & vocal
     Natsuki Kido -- guitar & vocal
     Steve Eto -- percussion, metal & vocal
     Kumiko Takara -- marimba, vibraphone, percussion & vocal
     Junji Hirose -- sax, noise-machine & vocal
     Yuji Katsui -- violin & vocal
Vocalists (Actors& Actresses)
     Kazuhiro Yamaji -- solo vocal
     Ken Osawa -- solo vocal
     Kazue Itoh -- solo vocal
     Masanori Ujigawa -- solo vocal
     Masayuki Oba -- vocal
     Shin Sugie -- vocal
     Tohru Nagasawa -- vocal
     Atsushi Yoshida --vocal
     Hiromichi Kawakami -- yodel

Gesshoku (Solar Eclipse) -- (53:52) -- (1993) -- Media Ring -- MGCD-1002

  1. Onna Ni Umarete Yokattawa (Glad To Be Born A Woman)
  2. Soushin Ashubin No Uta (The Song Of Soushin Ashubin)
  3. Dance For Ascetic Exercises
  4. Arujyuna & Rafura No Michiyuki (The Road For Arujyuna & Rafura)
  5. Maaradita Wo Tataeru Uta (A Song To Bless Maaradita)
  6. Song Of Night Goddess
  7. Otoko To Onna Ha Itsumademo Hitotu (Man And Woman Are Together Forever)
  8. Kono Fushigina Omoiha Nani (What Is This Incomprehensible Feeling)
  9. Onna Ni Umarete Yokattawa (Glad To Be Born A Woman)
  10. Happy Metempsychosis
  11. Song Of Docrine
  1. The Curtain Call
  2. Soushin Ashubin No Uta (Instrumental) (The Song Of Soushin Ashubin)
This is a stage production put on by some of Japan’s top avante-garde artists: Amon Miyamoto (director & choreographer), Tadanori Yokou (stage effects), Osamu Hashimoto (playwright & lyrics). Hoppy Kamiyama composed and conducted this music, which from the start had my jaw on the floor. It sounds colossal and interweaves musics from around the world, like a radio dial gone mad. It’s simply the biggest and best thing I’ve heard by him. Could anyone else have done it? The range is awesome. He was obviously inspired, and you will be too!

Nympho Has Some Great Elements--Hoppy Kamiyama Visual Works 2 -- (75:07) -- (1994) -- God Ocean -- GOCD-002

  1. Arh (Nympho)
  2. First Movement (Grome)
  3. Pause One (Symbiosis)
  4. Second Movement (Nariad)
  5. Pause Two (Symbiosis)
  6. Third Movement (Oread)
  7. Pause Three (Symbiosis)
  8. Fourth Movement (Salamander)
  9. Pause Four (Symbiosis)
  10. Fifth Movement (Sylph)
  11. Sixth Movement (Nymph)
  12. Arh - Blood Orgy
Most of the musicians (Masafumi Minato; Yasuhiro Yoshigaki; Kumiko Takara; and Steve Eto) play various percussion instruments. Even Junji Hirose, Hoppy’s other accomplice, plays some percussion. In the notes Hoppy writes, “...the sound image is primitive and cool trance, and exactly, the harmony between ancient and future.’ It’s very tribal (a future tribe?), and sounds like selected excerpts from a 24-hour, non-stop jam. These instrumentals are diverse and exciting! Plus, instead of an extra track, one is missing. Ha-ha!

Juice And Tremelo the works of chamber music -- ( 58:59) -- (1998) -- Sonore -- SON-02 -- U.S. re-release w/ new cover in late-February 2002

  1. The Philosophy Of The Torture, The Wired Heaven
  2. F.F.F.
  3. Madame Mantis (song for The Poool)
  4. Fantasm*B
  5. Flesh For The Jet Set
  6. Nucleon
  7. TVCM~The Chugoku Electric Power Co.
  8. TVCM~Phillips TV
  9. TVCM~Toyota Hilux Surf
  10. TVCM~J.T. (Japan Tobacco)
  11. Insects Dream
Sonore is a French label. The CD was recorded between ‘92 and ‘97. Much of this is Hoppy doing interesting things with classical music. Even among the classical pieces, there is a true variety. The first three tracks feature a string quartet. On ‘Fantasm*8’ a harp and percussion are added. ‘Flesh For The Jet Set’ is a pounding performance by OPTICAL*8. ‘Nucleon’(14:34) is a somber Hoppy on solo piano. The TVCM pieces are short, intriguing, and each unique. ‘Insects Dream’(7:21) is a quiet tape, oft repeated, of insects and a dog barking.

Paul: When did you form God Mountain?

Hoppy: I founded God Mountain eight years ago. In the early ‘90s I faced a really strong situation. The Japanese pop market, the commercial market, was terrible. They were making and manufacturing plastic and paper. It just sounds like plastic and paper. I love music! I really love music, but the commercial people, the industry people don’t love music. They are just manufacturing. They just copy western melody and structure, making really similar songs. I’m very ashamed of these songs. Commercial people, commercial major company directors, A&R people, really enjoyed copying from western melody, from western songs. I really hated that situation.

At that time, ten years ago, I met really great musicians in the underground scene. Japanese underground music is so great! They have really big character and originality. It’s very original music. Actually, sometimes western musicians copied from Japanese underground music. For example: hardcore band NAPALM DEATH are really like HANATARASHI. HANATARASHI are hardcore musicians, too. HANATARASHI is the eighteenth project of Yamatsuka Eye of THE BOREDOMS. NAPALM DEATH really like HANATARASHI. They want HANATARASHI’s atmosphere, so they copied that vocal style--just screaming, distorted screaming. Another example: American band FAITH NO MORE really like BOREDOMS, RUINS and Japanese underground music.

But Japanese commercial music people ignore that situation. They ignored everything. It was really bad. So, I had to organize a good movement for Japanese underground music. I wanted a big movement inside the underground scene. So, I founded God Mountain and I gathered good underground musicians: Yoshihide Otomo is a really good turntable player. He is very famous in western countries; and God Mountain released another project of THE RUINS; and Koenji Hyakkei; and TIPOGRAPHICA is a great band. I gathered so many great bands! I’m sure that God Mountain is the number one underground label in Japan now. I’m a musician, and I must keep going on forever! I must play music, wherever. We need good space for recording and performing good music. I made that good space from God Mountain.

--Pink were a popular ‘80s J-pop band, and brought attention to Hoppy’s production skills--


Yutaka Futuoka--vocal & guitar
Hajime Okano--bass & guitar
Atsunobu Yakabe--drums
Hoppy Kamiyama--keyboards
Hidehiro Shibuya--guitar
Steve Eto--percussion

Pink -- (34:47) -- (1985) -- Moon Records -- 32XM-5

  1. Dance Away
  2. Illusion
  3. Young Genius
  4. Zean Zean
  5. Secret Life
  6. Soul Flight
  7. Ramon Night
  8. Jintaihoshizukiyo II (Human Body Starry Night II)
While listening to this, Pink’s first full-length, a friend noted a Roxy Music influence I hadn’t noticed before. Here it’s stronger than in the other releases, but it’s there too. It’s especially present in Yutaka Futuoka’s vocals, but when he’s really in his Bryan Ferry mode, he does it better, showing off the rich smoothness of his gifts. There’s a wide range of material here, and (except for the last track) it’s more uptempo than their later releases. It’s a strong introduction to the band, and if you're inclined, would serve you well in that capacity.

Hikari-No-Ko (Children of Light) -- (42:04) -- (1985) -- Moon Records -- AMCM-5002

  1. Hikari-No-Ko (Children of Light)
  2. Shishuno
  3. Solar Eclipse
  4. Hiding Face
  5. Gold Angel
  6. Don’t Stop Passengers
  7. Isolated Runner
  8. Aoi Hitsuji No Yume (Dream of Blue Sheep)
  9. Hoshi No Picnic (Starry Picnic)
  10. Luccia
This is PINK’s second release. They were very successful in Japan, and it’s no wonder. This is slick, ‘80s, AOR J-pop. You want a western comparison? It reminds me of Phil Collins, but the slick production is a bit more tasteful. ‘Don’t Stop Passengers’, with a YMO/Bowie influence, is the one song I can’t help but like. The musicianship is strong throughout, and the self-production is overly impressive. Like the best pop music, these songs are so warm and all-encompassing that they grow on you, even if you never really learn to like them.

Psycho-Delicious -- (40:11) -- (1986) -- Moon Records -- AMCM-5003

  1. Body And Soul
  2. Naked Child
  3. Keep Your View
  4. Love Is Strange
  5. Scanner
  6. Shadow Paradise
  7. Body Snatcher
  8. Slip Into Fire
  9. Electric Message
This is the third release for PINK. Again it’s self-produced, and again it’s an ‘80s, AOR J-pop sound. This time the production is a bit sleeker, and sometimes incorporates more of a new wave/dance quirkiness into the mix. The Phil Collins thing is still going on, but they’ve stirred in some Peter Gabriel. The song-writing, though better, doesn’t rival the brilliance of the production. Still, this is an improvement, and takes their sound in some interesting directions. Plus, the vocal/sampling shenanigans in ‘Scanner’ make me bounce.

(Hoppy continues his discussion of the indie scene in Japan:)

Now, in Japan, major companies make ‘major indies’. Indie labels are very popular now in Japan. Major labels just use the name ‘indie’. Every listener understands that means good music, but the music is very similar to major pop music. I was disappointed in the major company attitude. They were just using the name ‘indie’, and the music was so bad it sounded like demo tapes--just low-budget of major CDs. Really bad! Now, if we go to a big shop like Tower Records, they have a good indie section. ‘Major indie’ is eighty percent, and we find the true indie CDs are like twenty percent. Now original indie labels’s power is going down. Our sales are really going down. I hate major labels’s attitude. It’s really bad. Indie labels don’t have money or power. We have only spirit, inside our minds.

In America you have really good college radio stations, and uncommercial radio like WFMU. They are so great! In Japan we don’t have college radio stations. We have only commercial radio. Commercial radio is boring. They only play pop music. Record companies pay huge money to commercial radio, like sponsors--pushing money. So in Japan, commercial radio can’t play indie CDs, because indie labels can’t pay money to be commercial radio sponsors. Indie labels and indie artists don’t have a chance. From such a low level, we can’t take it step by step. In America you have a good situation. College radio stations play some good music and the audience catches some good music. The music can take the first step, the second step, and the third step. We have no chance. We need money. We just need money. In Japan, it’s really bad.

Good underground artists just don’t have a chance. Normally, a good artist will just go to a foreign country. Some bands are very popular in New York and America, but these bands are not popular in Japan. It’s a crazy situation. Japanese magazine critic people and commercial people ignore the foreign situation. They focus just on inside Japan, on the domestic market. THE BOREDOMS and SHONEN KNIFE got major companies in America. BOREDOMS got Warner, and SHONEN KNIFE got MCA. In the past, Japan’s major companies totally ignored BOREDOMS and SHONEN KNIFE, “Oh, they are just avant-garde.” After they got major company deals in America, Japanese major company staff said, “Oh, BOREDOMS are so great!” Then the Japanese Warner could release BOREDOMS titles, and Japanese MCA can release SHONEN KNIFE titles, but the major company staff can’t understand BOREDOMS and SHONEN KNIFE music. If Japanese A&R people ignore that American situation, BOREDOMS and SHONEN KNIFE getting major deals, critics and everybody attack the A&R people, saying, “Oh, you are very stupid!” I think everybody’s stupid! That’s the regular story.

--Optical*8 was Hoppy’s NYC project. It’s now a Tokyo foursome with a formidable range--


Hoppy Kamiyama--synth, samples & gram-pot
Marc Ribot--guitar
Sebastion Steinberg--bass
Douglas E. Bowne--drums
E.J. Rodriguez--percussion
Steve Eto--metals

Optical*8 -- (54:18) -- (1992) -- God Mountain -- gmcd-001

  1. Ambidextrousness
  2. Undercover Man
  3. Jungle Protects The Past
  4. The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name
This sounds like a collection of free-form jazz jams. Recorded in NYC, the musicianship’s top-notch. ‘Ambidextrousness’ starts with sampled “goodnight”s and “once again”s, and travels through a number of quirky, sometimes frantic terrains. The shortest (at 9:59) and spaciest track is ‘Undercover Man’. ‘Jungle Protects The Past’ starts in the jungle and eventually moves into a funk groove. ‘The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name’ runs through a series of disjointed musical dialogues. Each track is a unique world. You'll know if it’s for you.

The Last Waltz From Distorted Honky-Tonk -- (40:16) -- (1992) -- God Mountain -- gmcd-004

  1. The Last Waltz From Distorted Honky-Tonk
The improvisation doesn't start with much momentum, but it loses it five minutes in and flounders for the next ten. Then Dougie Bowne picks it up, but that only lasts a few minutes. Several other attempts are made by various members to start something, but the band inevitably returns to disfunctional noodling each time. Nearly thirty minutes into the jam, I believe it’s Hoppy who starts off the most interesting section of the improv, and things pick up some with intriguing, and frequent, directional changes, till it again winds down and ends.
OPTICAL*8 (two)
Hoppy Kamiyama--synthesizers, samples, neuz-violin, gram-pot & vocal
Reck--bass, guitar & vocal
Yoshihide Otomo--guitar, turntables, bass & bg vocal
Masafumi Minato--drums & bg vocal

Bug -- (67:40) -- (1994) -- God Mountain -- gocd*011

  1. Deafening
  2. Penetration
  3. Summer Slave
  4. Night Fade
  5. Bug
  6. Mio Corazon
  7. Cripples & Kings
  8. Mind-roasting Grooves
  9. Bush Push
  10. Cuff
  11. God Speed
I believe this is OPTICAL*8’s third release. It’s a different band and a different sound. Though there may be improvisation, most of the tracks sound fully-developed. This is a rocking band, playing agressive music with elements of noise in the attack. A few songs stick fairly close to a hard-rock formula, but many radically shift directions unpredictably. Synthesizers predominate, with horns, bagpipes and unclassifiable sounds fighting for position. This music is meant to be challenging. Hoppy’s absurd humor appears only on the cover.

Gender -- (49:25) -- (1994) -- God Mountain -- GMCD-011

  1. Dare To Be “Uncool”
  2. Blessed Bloomer
  3. Otto Hypnosis
  4. Dispossable Heroes Do “Lunch”
It’s the same band as Bug and was recorded and released at the same time. It’s the darker, unstructured side of Bug. ‘Dare To Be Uncool’ is the cyclical feedback of various instruments intertwined. In ‘Blessed Bloomer’ a throbbing provides the foundation for a jam into distortion. ‘Otto Hypnosis’ (24:05) starts with an austere reverence, as if performed in an abandoned church. A distant rabble acts as its choir, then consumes the ceremony. ‘Dispossable Heroes Do Lunch’ is the spirited sound of machines joyfully breaking down together.

All Over -- (110:01) -- (1995) -- God Mountain -- GMCD-022 & 023

Liquid Disc:

  1. Bug
  2. Halle Halle (Sanctus)
  3. Penetration
  4. Riots
  5. Nightfade
  6. Godspeed

Gas Disc:

  1. Bush Push
  2. Mio Corazon
  3. Fate
  4. God Mountain
  5. Neurogenetic Circuit

This double-CD collection is the most satisfying OPTICAL*8 release yet. Excepting studio dubs on ‘Halle Halle’, these live recordings are selected from three ‘93 & ‘94 shows. Some tracks are improvisational and atmospheric, others engage in bold attacks, and, of course, most mix those approaches in subtle and/or startling ways. These performances are powerful, and have a grittiness, and a fate to the winds spirit that the studio recordings haven’t approached. It’s a band; you’re there; anything can happen; and two is definitely better than one!

Paul: Do you know offhand how many CDs God Mountain has released?

Hoppy: Thirty-four titles from God Mountain; two titles from God Ocean; and three titles from White Dog.

Paul: You are in New York now. What are you doing?

Hoppy: Oh, I’m enjoying being here.

Paul: You said you are recording?

Hoppy: I have a recording session tomorrow with Bradford Reed in Brooklyn. This time I have a couple of appointments and meetings with some people. I have a show in Austin at South by Southwest. I’m gonna join BROWN WHORNET, an Austin, Texas band. It’s a very good band. I joined them last year also. So this year they invited me, but our show is not South by Southwest. We call it ‘Off South by Southwest’. We’re gonna play in daytime. At nighttime South by Southwest has so many shows, so we’re gonna play in daytime. EX-GIRL also are gonna perform for South by Southwest this year.

Paul: You have produced many pop singles. How many?

Hoppy: I didn’t count everything, but one thousand...two thousand songs, I produced and arranged. I’ve played with lots of bands for recording sessions.

Paul: Could you tell us some of the more famous pop musicians you’ve produced?

Hoppy: Now I’m producing a Japanese pop duo, a male keyboardist and a female singer. Their unique name is SENTIMENTAL BUS. They had a really big hit tune last summer. Six hundred thousand copies sold. I produced everything on the first and second albums, and six singles. Sometimes I produce just singles.

Paul: Just name some of the most famous artists you have produced.

Hoppy: Kyosuke Himuro from BOOWY, a Japanese ‘80s band; Kyoko Koizumi--I produced a couple of her songs ten or twelve years ago, a really nice production; Tomoe Shinohara--She is very popular on TV, and joined BUFFALO DAUGHTER, CIBO MATTO, and SHONEN KNIFE on her last album; and I produced amazing million seller single of Chara three years ago, song name is ‘Time Machine’, it’s a wonderful piece...I have so many jobs in Japan...

--A supergroup chosen from Tokyo’s underground, their mission: to change pop music forever--

Honey K--vocal & trumpet
Hajime Okano--bass & bg vocal
Hikaru Yoshida--guitar & bg vocal
Hoppy Kamiyama--synthesizers, samples, tapes, violin & bg vocal
Steve Eto--percussion, gong, meat grinder & bg vocal
Kazuhisa “Roger” Takahashi--drums & bg vocal

Pugs -- (43:33) -- (1993) -- God Mountain -- GMCD-006

  1. My “Bee”
  2. Divine
  3. Dog House
  4. Superstition
  5. Happy Booster
  6. Electric Tales
  7. Kingdom
This, the first version of THE PUGS, also included a second bass guitarist (Keith Yokohama). It’s a pounder. This is rich, rumbling hard-rock, by a talented collection of Tokyo undergrounders. Honey K’s vocals are the cream on this rockin’ box of chocolates. She regularly gets caught up in the rough surf here, but she takes to it with an inspired glee and emerges triumphant, though not always in control. This is not straight hard-rock. There are certainly some crazed segments where art, jazz, and chaos have their say, but that adds to the fun.

Bambie Boo! -- (17:17) -- (1993) -- White Dog -- ???

  1. Bambie Boo
  2. Soul Free
  3. Pussy! Pussy!
  4. Rolling Boots
It’s nice to see an EP with no songs from other releases. Though two were justifiably repeated on The Memories With Pugs. Keith Yokohama is still in the band, as is Takashi Furuta, who was the drummer till ‘95 when Kazuhisa Takahashi took over. ‘Bambie Boo’ and ‘Soul Free’ are great PUGS songs. ‘Pussy! Pussy!’ is under two minutes, but memorable, as Honey K emphatically repeats the title regularly. ‘Rolling Boots’ is the filler here, but it pulls its weight with pounding drums and some rare horns. THE PUGS hath arrived! Bambie Boo!

Sports? -- (43:16) -- (1994) -- White Dog -- WDCD-002

  1. Chim Chim Cherry Boy
  2. Spock On (Miss Gloria)
  3. Bomb-OK
  4. Bullpen
  5. Shizku Is Color Of Tears
  6. Tequila
  7. Backy
  8. Victor Ken 1-go (Victor Ken #1)
  9. Victor Ken 2-go (Victor Ken #2)
  10. Tsuburaiya Pool
  11. Tkatchov
This was THE PUGS’ second full-length, and Keith Yokohama was still in residence. ‘Spock On’, ‘Bullpen’, and ‘Shizku...’ appeared on both the collections. ‘Chim Chim Cherry Boy’ made The Memories With Pugs, and ‘Tequila’ (a classic PUGS restyling) made Pugs Bite The Red Knee. Not a bad showing! They had found their sound here, and are obviously having a great time. It closes with some short out-takes and a noisy jam, as if they ran out of material, but till ‘Victor Ken #1’ this is a classic PUGS CD that defines their unique strengths.

The Memories With Pugs -- (67:53) -- (1996) -- God Mountain -- GMCD-025

  1. Winter Memories
  2. Bullpen
  3. Divine
  4. Soul Free
  5. Spock On (Miss Gloria)
  6. Bambie Boo
  7. Space Kappa
  8. Happy Booster
  9. My “Bee”
  10. Chim Chim Cherry Boy
  11. Superstition
  1. Shizku Wa Namida Iro (Shizku is the Color of Teardrops)
  2. Summer Memories
Pugs, Bambie Boo! and Sports? provide the material for this collection. Two short instrumental pieces, which frame the CD, and a nearly ten minute ‘Space Kappa’ (w/vocals) are not previously released and seem improvised. Except for these three cuts and two from Pugs, all songs appear on either Chimato Kubiki or Pugs Bite The Red Knee, both of which I prefer. This is certainly a good collection of early PUGS material though, and displays a less pop approach to their artful experimentation.

Otona No Kimochi (Adult Feelings) -- (51:47) -- (1996) -- Nippon Columbia Co., Ltd. -- COCA-13274

  1. Koi Shiteru Mari (Mari’s In Love)
  2. Damedameyo (No, No, No)
  3. Namida No Caruso (Caruso’s Teardrops)
  4. Dora! Dora!
  5. Happy Boo Booster ‘99
  6. Watashi Wa Einstein (I Am Einstein)
  7. Shizuku Wa Namida Iro ‘96 (Shizku is the Color of Teardrops)
  8. Kiroi Melon (Yellow Melon)
  9. Divine No Namida (Divine’s Teardrops)
  10. Ha O Migake Wa! (Brush Your Teeth!)
  11. Tambara No Theme (Theme of Tambara)
  1. Naite Mermaid (Crying Mermaid)
  2. Chanelraa No Theme (Theme of Chanel Freaks)
THE PUGS here include a bassist/percussionist (Atsushi Tsuyama). Otherwise, the personnel remains the same, but the modus operandi is much more eclectic. Every song seems to come from a different direction. The rock still rules, and only the tango numbers slow things down, but there is a wide diversity of crazed influences that stick out of these songs like pipes sticking out of a motorized scrap-heap. They reach impressive speeds, veering dangerously, but not too far off the road, and Honey K’s classy vocals add a nice pop sheen.

Mushi Mushi Tengoku (Insect Heaven) -- (52:58) -- (1997) -- Nippon Colombia Co., Ltd. -- COCA-14011

  1. Viva Viva Dinosaur
  2. Non Non Cecil
  3. Galaxier
  4. Punky Pirates
  5. Abeli-Baba
  6. 99 Trouble Monkey
  7. Majo Sensei (Witch Doctor)
  8. Spider Woman
  9. Immortal Beloved
  10. Scott-san, Matte (Scott, Please Wait)
  11. Godess of A.D. 2000
  1. Kumikyoku ‘Fu Lin Ka Zan’ (Wind-Wood-Fire-Mountain Suite)
  2. Mushikera Domo O Fumi Tsukero! (Trample the Peons)
  3. Machine-Gun
Diverse influences are at play. Fact is, they’re loose and running wild! Sometimes THE PUGS don’t even seem to be in control of this bizarro world they’ve created. We don’t care, as long as it keeps revolving around Honey K. She’ll make sure we remain out of harm’s way, I hope. The band is now wacky beyond comprehension, and its powers and habitable terrain are growing at an abnormal speed. If they could contain this energy, and streamline the design they’d be incredible, but the craziness is obviously way too much fun!

Pugs Bite The Red Knee -- (59:03) -- (1997) -- Casual Tonalities -- XOCD9702X (US release)

  1. Mari In Love
  2. Divine
  3. Spock On (Miss Gloria)
  4. Bullpen
  5. Pop Corn
  6. Bambie Boo (English Version)
  7. Shizku Is Color Of Tears
  8. I Am Einstein
  9. Happy Boobooster ‘99
  10. Tequila
  11. Theme Of Chaneller
This is THE PUGS only U.S. release and is a kind of ‘best of’ collection compiled from their first four Japanese CDs. I didn’t get it at first, but now I love it. The musicians are obviously quite accomplished. I’ve read it’s a super-group, hand-picked by Hoppy from the Tokyo underground. Honey K is the star, but it’s led by Hoppy and is easily the most accessible music of the bands listed here. It rocks in a rich and wonderfully wacky way, and regularly mixes up the salad with odd sounds. They try many styles here, and everything works!

Chimato Kubiki -- (55:23) -- (1999) -- Wax Records -- TKCA-71612

  1. Chim Chim Cherry Boy
  2. Galaxier
  3. Sumo Conjure UTA
  4. Non Non Cecil
  5. Hoochie Star
  6. Cossack’s Dream
  7. Doghouse
  8. Smoke Gets In Your Black Hole
  9. Viva Viva Dinosaur
  10. Soul Free
  11. Chimato Kubiki
  1. Revenge Of Publisher
  2. Raw JungleKingdom
  3. One Way Or Another
This is a wonderful collection, and many of the selections seem to be remixed or rerecorded. Joe Yabuki joins the party as a second bass guitarist. There’s some powerful rocking going on, with some very strange undercurrents, but Honey K is no longer perturbed by any of it. As the percentage of English lyrics grows, her poetics are impressively revealed. When the band slows down, the sound is often ominous. They break it up with short humorous bits, as they have in the past. BLONDIE’s ‘One Way Or Another’ closes the show in wild style.


The Pugs--Coney Island High--4/5/97
        I was on my own. At 9PM I called up CIH and they said THE PUGS were due on any minute. I took a quick walk over there, unsuccessfully waited at the bar to get a beer, and the band took the stage. I was able to get up front and the band launched into good re-creations of most of its U.S. release. They’re made up of a drummer, a percussionist, two bassists, a guitarist, a transvestite keyboardist (Hoppy), and Honey K, their luscious lead singer. Each of the band members has a distinct style of dress. Every member of the band was obviously technically quite good. Honey K competed for the spotlight with the transvestite leader of the band, but every member was fun to watch. Honey K seemed to have about three conflicting personalities. None of them especially seemed to be trying to connect with the audience in any real way, but they did put on quite a show. I left shortly after they quit playing, and felt like I had seen a good show, very possibly by a band that will do quite well here. They may have to refine their songwriting a bit first, though..

Paul: Is it O.N.T.J., or is it OLIVIA NEW TON JOHN?

Hoppy: At first I put name OLIVIA NEW TON JOHN, but we performed in America two years ago, so we changed name in America because original Olivia Newton John is here in America sometimes. If we put the name OLIVIA NEW TON JOHN, probably she would complain. We don’t want to be sued.

Paul: In both THE PUGS and OLIVIA NEW TON JOHN, Honey K. is your singer. How did you meet her?

Hoppy: I met her the first time eleven years ago, and I produced her second and third solo albums. She used to be a soul singer. She had three solo albums. It was pop style...African style...good music style...good pop music. When I formed PUGS, seven years ago, I gathered good musicians including Honey K. She used to be a pop singer in that time, but I saw her behind a character. I saw a surface pop, and behind some very hard-core. So, I recommended she sing PUGS style--hard-core, strange style, screaming and strange lyrics.

Paul: When she did her pop stuff, did she write that material?

Hoppy: Yes, she composed songs, lyrics, everything.

Paul: Was she known as Honey K. for her solo work?

Hoppy: I put her nickname Honey K. She released her solo albums by her real name.

Paul: But you do not want to say her real name?

Hoppy: Yeah.

Paul: How many times have you toured the States?

Hoppy: So many, one or two times every year. For example: last year I came four times to United States--January, March, May, August and September--almost six months! I stayed in United States a long time. I can’t study English all the time, so I stay in United States. In New York I have a couple of projects/units. The other people, the other artists are all American, so if I join them, I can’t speak Japanese, just English. I can’t understand every point, so I learn English more and more.

--A one-shot expedition into the wilds of improvisational jazz--

Hoppy Kamiyama--grand-piano, synthesizer, samples, prepared piano, percussion, noiz-violin, ems & gram-pot
Kazuhisa Uchihashi--snake guitar
Kumiko Takara--vibraphone, percussion, toy piano & xylophone
Yasuhiro Yoshigaki--drums & percussion
Junji Hirose--saxophones & hand made noise machine
Hiromitsu Sakamoto--cello, electric cello & saw
Setsuko Chiba--vocal

ESP -- (48:28) -- (1995) -- Compozila -- SUB-1002

  1. Slur-xi
  2. Mother Destruction
  3. Destination
  4. Idiot Tube
  5. Suicide Ocean
  6. Pilgrimage
  7. Spatial Prophecy
  8. A Slug On The Rug
  9. El Dorado
Seemingly this is a collection of free-form jazz improvizations. ‘Mother Destruction’ and ‘Suicide Ocean’ feature Hoppy on piano. Setsuko Chiba’s vocals are featured on only two songs, ‘Destination’ and ‘Pilgrimage’, and are both spoken-word. ‘Idiot Tube’ and ‘A Slug On The Rug’ are atmospheric, rather sparse (though they both rise up toward the end), and are each over twelve minutes in length. The music covers a wide range of soundspaces, but is generally of an abstract nature, and often tends toward the ominous.

Paul: What is your favorite record?

Hoppy: Favorite record? I have so many favorite records. One of my most favorite records is THE SHAGGS’ first one. That album is so amazing! It’s very pure, and so soft and calm. Some people play avant-garde things with strange performances. They played very strictly and difficultly. It’s not a strange performance. They did the best performance. I was impressed with their record. It’s really great!

Paul: Did you know they had a reunion recently? (I show him a clipping.)

Hoppy: I didn’t know. Ooh! Oh, they don’t have the drummer. Aah, I love the drummer! Din-din Din-din-din-din-din. Amazing! Did they make a CD or something?

Paul: No, just a short performance.

Hoppy: Yeah, they are amazing. I didn’t know of their performance reunion.
Another one: Frank Zappa. I am really influenced from Frank Zappa, especially his first one, Freak Out, a really, really amazing album. I think Freak Out is the best album of Frank Zappa. I guess he was keeping the same taste of Freak Out for life. Freak Out is so good.

And I like FUNKADELIC’s double-album, Parliament Live / P. Funk Earth Tour. That’s amazing!

And I love classical music. I like many classical composers: Bela Bartok, Hungarian, early twentieth century; Karlheinz Stockhausen; Mauricio Kagel; and French composer Maurice Ravel. Maurice Ravel had a big hit tune, ‘Bolero’. His orchestral arrangements are so great! He has amazing, very complicated arrangements. I saw his score when I was a teenager. I was surprised. It was very beautiful and pop, but the score is very complicated. In the past I’ve asked many classical musicians, “How about playing Maurice Ravel pieces?” They say, “Oh, it’s so hard!” His pieces are very beautiful with smooth melodies, but very hard to perform. If a musician can accomplish the score, they will feel very satisfied in their mind. The score is hard, and playing it’s hard, but after a performance it’s a nice feeling. Every musician has told me the same thing after a show.

Also New York musicians: John Cage, and Steve Reich. I love Steve Reich!

And in the same way, minimal musician Brian Eno. He is my idol! He is such a great producer: U2; DEVO; and TALKING HEADS. He produced so many great bands. I saw his video from the early ‘70s ROXY MUSIC time. He couldn’t play keyboards, so his performance and costume is very wild. He wore fake fur and spangles, kind of dress things, and he played the tambourine in front, more in front than Bryan Ferry! I imagined that Bryan Ferry was very angry with Brian Eno, because the audience was just watching Brian Eno. Bryan Ferry was very dark side. Brian Eno is very bright side, shining side! Sometimes he played synthesizer interludes, just four bars, or eight bars of very wild noisy synthesizer. All the audience was surprised. I like his contrasts, really nice contrasts for performance! And his playing on records/CDs is really good. I read his book. His spirit for music and life is good. I am really influenced by his style and music.

--Hoppy and Honey K travel the cosmos, tasting as many varieties of music as they possibly can--

Honey K--vocal, bg vocal, & sax
Tesshii--guitar, trumpet, sax, piano, violin, drums, & bg vocal
Bon Juro--tuba, trumpet, trombone & bg vocal
Whacho--percussion, ultsound, chinju & drums
Hoppy Kamiyama--Synthesizer, piano, violin, tapes, guitar, trombone & bg vocal
Olivia New Ton John -- (49:28) -- (1996) -- Benten Label -- BNTN-012
  1. The Fantasy Of The Eel
  2. Buddha Is My Co-pillow (‘till I Die)
  3. Bonjour
  4. Shibuya Gay
  5. Ha-shi De Bon
  6. Watashi No Uchujin (My Alien People)
  7. Hello Again ‘96
  8. Ahjan #1
  9. Vuitton And Chanel
  10. Okoge To Hoacho Dub
  11. Cherry Bomb
  1. Licky Stick
  2. Man Of Bulogne
  3. Ahjan #2
  4. Chicken Man
  5. Dogenzaka Ooky
  6. S.D.O.K.S
  7. Ahjan #3
  8. Asajan Key (Reprise)
The band-name itself is humorous. The CD moves from rock, through many modes of jazz, on out into the avant garde. Basically, it seems to be a number of quite varied experiments, interspersed with odd noises and comic bits. The musicians are good and when they know what they’re doing, the experiments work, but much of this seems thrown in just to keep you off balance. It succeeds. It’s an acquired taste, but the odd presentation manages to avoid any pretentiousness, and Honey K displays an unusually versatile voice.
Jöse -- (49:42) -- (1997) -- Benten Label -- BNTN-023
  1. Ego Saga
  2. Strawberry Punch
  3. Mosquito Heaven
  4. Tin-Poco De I Need You
  5. 5 Step-Ass
  6. Office Lady From Adult Oriented Rocks
  7. Bermuda
  8. Jasmine (Ver.0.54)
  9. Theme From Ozone Bros.
  10. Mongolfire-Vampire
  11. Tofu
  1. Raga Latin
  2. Pick Pockets
  3. Requiem From Olivia (Tinka)
  4. Morphine
  5. Night Of Speed Coaster
  6. Silicon Valley High
  7. His Name Is Chinju
  8. What?
  9. Jöse
  10. Chiclo
  11. Captain Drone Beetle
  1. The Course of Rastaman
  2. Raidon As Punk
  3. Sing Out
  4. Sing Out (Reprise)
This collection, though musically similar, seems to take itself and its audience more seriously, and benefits from that approach. This is wonderfully unique and original music, artfully performed. There are still short, odd pieces interspersed, but this time they seem more atmospheric. Even the experiments appear more fully developed. There is an incredible variety of musics borrowed from, and most of them are paid a tribute. The most questionably outrageous material is saved for the very end, and by then they’ve earned the right.

Watashi (Me) -- (31:39) -- (1998) -- Benten Label -- BNTN-036

  1. Heaven India (Bombay Mix)
  2. Suite: Tawashi Part 1--Part 7 (Dedicated to Olivier Messiaen) (Dirty Dishwater Suite)
  3. Ame No Airport (Airport of Rain)
‘Heaven India’ (12:11) is an extended song of seduction. Its offers of warmth, love, gold handcuffs, and the insistent pounding drums, are a pleasant introduction back into the world of O.N.T.J. Things become more difficult in the ‘Tawashi Suite’ (15:04), seemingly improvisation by eclectic musicians with short attention spans. The cover features pictures of the band dressed as Mexican troubadours, whose influences can finally be heard in ‘Ame No Airport’. Watashi takes us on an exciting journey. The adventurous soul will be well rewarded.


Olivia New Ton John/Electrolux--Coney Island High--3/17/98
        OLIVIA NEW TON JOHN, (so that’s how you spell it in English) came up. None of my friends had arrived. I was sitting there wondering what in the world O.N.T.J. were doing in NYC, playing upstairs in Coney Island High. If it hadn’t been for finding their CD in the used section at Adult Crash Records, and thinking that it was a funny name, and so, interesting, I never would have heard of them. So, who had? and why were they here?
        As it turns out, they did get a reasonable turn-out somehow, and they played a wonderfully wacky set. Instead of a bass guitarist, they’ve got a tuba player. During the set, the guitarist also banged on a drum and played saxophone. The keyboardist, Hoppy Kamiyama, had a number of electronic boxes, apparently a few of which were tape-decks, and he also banged on a drum, did some finger-picking on a violin and played saxophone. The lead singer, Honey K, came out in two-inch, platform tennis shoes with four-inch heels, which were a bright yellow that matched her fake-fur mini-dress. Their repertoire covered a wide range from sweet, soft jazz, to pop, to rock, and on to heavy-metal and noisy jazz squawkings. They did it all, seriously, professionally, and with a wacky sense of humor. It was like nothing I’ve ever heard. They did truly replicate their recorded sound, which very much surprised me, and I thoroughly enjoyed the show. It turned out that Hitoshi had made it in time to see most of the show and also thought it was wonderful. He had brought Misao and Yuki with him, which was a pleasant surprise. They seemed impressed as well.

Paul: What’s your favorite movie?

Hoppy: Fellini movies. Nino Rota is my favorite film composer, and Fellini is so great! Everytime Fellini joined with Nino Rota in the ‘60s, and ‘70s: Amarcord; La Dolce Vita;...many others.

I like one more film director, Tarkovsky, a Russian director. The film title is Nostalgia. Tarkovsky is so great, so beautiful, and his imagination is very simple. I feel Tarkovsky movies are very zen, very quiet and calm, but his spirit and his mind are strong. There’s a strong message for the audience.

Paul: You are obviously very busy. What do you do on your days off?

Hoppy: I have a black Labrador. I play with the Labrador. Normally I’m listening to music all the time, so when I have a day off, I like no sounds. Sometimes I go to Hachijo island. It’s very close, five hundred kilometers from Tokyo, close to the southside. They have a culture from four hundred years ago. That island used to be a prison island. The prison people brought good old Japanese culture to that island. That island’s people were keeping that good culture for three or four hundred years. We can find two special characters on that island.

They have old-style Japanese drums, which we call Hachijo Taiko. In Japan we have three old styles of Taiko drumming: Hachijo-style; Gion-style; and one more which I forget. Hachijo Taiko is very freestyle. Now, every western country’s people know Japanese Taiko Kodo-style. Kodo is a very modern style. They made a new style, twenty or thirty years ago, a modern style. Their style is not old Japanese style. Their style seems to me like a sport! They are hitting big drums. Everyday they have exercise. They have big muscles everywhere. It looks like a sport! It’s not typical Japanese style. In past time, when Japanese people hit drums, Japanese people drank alcohol, at a party or a festival event. They drank the alcohol and they excited their minds, and they were dancing and singing, and one person was hitting drums. They had freestyle, no exercise. Hachijo Taiko is very similar to old style. Very young people, kids, and old people, seventy and eighty years old people, every people hitting drums for carnival times and drinking alcohol times, inside the house and in the garden, everywhere. I think it’s like a regular lifestyle. So, hitting drums with life, life with hitting drums--it’s so fitting. It’s the same thing. So, they have a good freestyle Japanese drum style.

And Hachijo has one more special character. They have old language from one thousand and five hundred years ago. I can’t understand their old Japanese language. Just the old people can speak the old language on Hachijo Island. It’s a really interesting, very soft language. Now Japanese people speak modern style. Nobody speaks old-style. So, Hachijo Island is very beautiful and they have two mountains and the ocean. The fish is so delicious. I have many friends on Hachijo Island, and sometimes I go to Hachijo Island and refresh my mind. Just watching the ocean is so great. It’s like cleaning my brain, cleaning everything: cleaning blood, cleaning brain, cleaning eyes... That’s my day off.

--Saboten is principally a soundtrack group, having completed several movie soundtracks already--

Hoppy Kamiyama--slide geisha & degital president
Hiroaki Sugawara--sexy buttom & speed king
DJ-Force--infamy table & vinyl impossible

The Saboten (The Cactus) -- (51:15) -- (1997) -- God Mountain -- GMCD033

  1. Toelly (Soul Cuaxing)
  2. Yoru No Shijima (Lenin Web) (Still Of Night)
  3. Orgasm
  4. Yummy, Homo, Yummy
  5. Zoe Achilles
  6. Time Cafe (Happy Dementia)
  7. Rituel (How To Sex)
  8. Yoru No Rugby (Night Rugby)
This starts out as a mild, repetitive, elevator muzac for a future space-station. ‘Orgasm’ adds a dance beat to the mix. ‘Time Cafe (Happy Dementia)’ is almost four minutes of a repeating test pattern, descending one tone each time. It’s easily the most annoying track, and wakes you up for ‘Rituel (How To Sex)’ featuring Emi Eleonola of DEMI SEMI QUAVER. That one rocks, when it’s not being dismantled. I like ‘Night Rugby’, but this CD sounds like background music, until it gets angry at you for not listening. Ouch! This cactus is prickly!
I.K.U. Soundtrack -- (88:18) -- (2000) -- Up-Link -- ULR009

Disc One: Red Jelly Side

  1. Pey
  2. Pollution
  3. Vitamin Deficiency
  4. Appleton Sax
  5. U-P (by On-Off)
  6. Cologne
  7. Unmitigated Audacity
  8. Freaks & Girls
  9. Sabia 1
  10. Zoo Motels
  11. At The Olympic
  12. Toilet On Bach

Disc Two: Blue Organic Side

  1. Our Gender In Nirvana
  2. Appleton
  3. Provacative Squats
  4. Confidential
  5. Sono Di Passagio
  6. Pink Tank #2
  7. Trick Or Treat
  8. The Ark
  9. Incognito Touch
  10. Pink Tank #1
  11. Sabia 2
  1. Schischgebab
  2. Strip Tease
  3. To Be Jelly
  4. As An Am
  5. Drowning Witch
  6. Hound Dog Cafe
This being a “techno porno” soundtrack, the repetitive nature of the tracks should be no surprise. The techy instrumentation fits the glossy, futuristic film. The first disc has a lighter feel than the more ominous second, but both display SABOTEN’s impressive range. Guest musicians add new sounds, widening the playing field. A somber, jazzy mood, hatches odd experiments. Light cocktail jazz, pop and traditional-sounding Japanese vocals, oscillating tones, and tapes are mixed sporadically. A CD-rom featuring clips from the film is included.

Kali -- (47:02) -- (2001) -- God Ocean/Consipio -- COGO-0103

  1. Night Falls On Tokyo
  2. Kali
  3. Crack Jack
  4. Heaven Heath
  5. Zanov
  6. Beneath The Climb
Saboten are now a space station lounge band. Go about your business and let their steady groove slowly soothe your psyche. That’s right. Relax, and enjoy its familiarities. Those strange sounds? No need to worry. They’re just passing fancies. ‘Crack Jack’ wants you on your feet though, and ‘Heaven Heath’ holographs the dance-floor into a tribal celebration. Enough excitement! It’s time to take that journey through the ship’s corridors back to your cabin near the engine room. You’ll contemplate its rhythmic pulse as you drift off to sleep.

Jeremiah -- (31:45) -- (2001) -- Saboten -- SBCD-002

  1. Jeremiah
A clicking and a mournful hint of melody soon give way to what sounds like sirens in an active harbor. That scene quiets and is replaced by a soft melody, which in its turn is replaced by waves of distant explosions. A synthesizer, using old broadcasts, attempts to pump itself to life, but recedes as the soft melody returns. Soon, the synthesizer is back with conspirators, and they hum a dark little tune as they continue their experiment. In time, the machines create a creature, and though it is unhappy and cries, they rejoice at their success.

Lotus Shade -- (43:19) -- (2001) -- Saboten -- SBCD-003

  1. Lotus Shade
This journey into space floats through the cosmos with synthesizers, samplers, and an inventive guitar as your guides. Occasionally, fragments of broadcasts drift by. One announces landing gear has touched down, but obviously not ours. Halfway through, someone sings a song from his homeland, after which things never seem quite as relaxing. No percussion or rhythm track ever intrudes on the hum of space and machines. A warning ping is followed by guitar pyrotechnics, growing static interference, and then everything fades.

Paul: What is a gram-pot? On many of your credits, they say, “Hoppy Kamiyama: synthesizer, banjo...” and then gram-pot.

Hoppy: Oh, gram-pot is my great idea from my mind. My motive is I want every musician, every audience, every listener, and also me, too, to be free. My idea is not a music idea. It’s more a human idea. So, gram-pot is my human idea. It’s like a moon. It’s like a sun. It’s like the ocean. It’s like every natural material, and the vibration from nature, and the great inspiration from nature, and everything. And it’s humor.

Paul: You have a lot of humor in your presentation.

Hoppy: Yes. I like humor. That’s why I name my instruments “digital president”, “fried geisha”, and “scum tape from garbage”. I don’t want to put the exact name: synthesizer something, organ something, and piano something. I like humor, and I like wit, and I like black humor.

Paul: In OLIVIA NEW TON JOHN and THE PUGS, you dress up. Do you have a name for your character?

Hoppy: It’s the same. My character’s the same. It’s Hoppy. It’s an entertainment thing. I want to perform unisex everytime. If I call myself male, or I call myself female, many people will say, “Oh, Hoppy is a male”, “Hoppy is a female.” In fact, I am male, but when I perform in drag-queen style, the audience understands, “Oh, Hoppy is middle gender.” I want to perform in middle gender, unisex. I don’t like the audience to call me male something, or female something. When we were all children, our parents said, “You are a male, so you have to do something, something, something.” If we are a girl, our parents say, “You are a girl. You have to do like a girl.” I don’t like that situation. I want to perform as the middle. Middle music, and unisex music is my credo.