Podcast on Citrus and Emori Takeaki

citrus22.jpg

In a few days, Néojaponisme will publish an interview with one of our musical heroes — Emori Takeaki (江森丈晃) of the bands Citrus and Yoga’n’ants.

Citrus was a legendary and mysterious indie-pop band on the Oyamada Keigo (aka Cornelius) imprint Trattoria Records. Yoga’n’ants is Emori’s latest project, which just last year released the rough-edged French-vocal jazz-pop record Bethlehem, We Are On Our Own.

Most Néojaponisme readers may not have heard these two cult-favorite musical units, so we decided to first release a music-and-chatter podcast as an introduction to Emori and the enigmas of his existence. We called up the biggest Citrus fan ever — Trevor of the Queens, NY indie record label Music Related (home to artists such as “Marxy”) — and chatted with him about the topic for exactly 34 minutes (including musical interludes). Hear us indulge in serious music nerd discussion and misstate Citrus song and album titles in hundreds of different ways!

Links:
Yoga’n’ants MySpace
Tone Twilight (Emori’s record label and design office)

Download: Néojaponisme Podcast on Citrus and Emori Takeaki
General Néojaponisme Podcast RSS Feed: .rss

Songs included (in order):

1. Citrus “Blue Mercedes (Simply Eternal Reality)” from the EP Wispy, No Mercy (2000)
2. Citrus “Colo Colo Meets the Stripes” from the compilation Bend It! JAPAN ’98 (1998)
3. Citrus “No Milk” from the seven-inch Citrus EP (1994)
4. Citrus “My Room is Burning” from the EP Citrus Plant for Little Kids (1994)
5. Citrus “Cymbal Hit! (Like my feelin’’)” from the EP BOAT,DRIVE IN (1996)
6. Yukari Rotten “C.L.I.J.S.T.E.R.S (Te Killed The Drums & Stick Version)” from the CD single C.L.I.J.S.T.E.R.S. (2004)
7. Citrus “Young Fidelity” from the EP Wispy, No Mercy (2000)
8. Sonic Coaster Pop “Sunny Side up!” from the mini-album future electro star
9. Plus-Tech Squeeze Box “Early Riser” from the album Fakevox (2000)
10. Yoga’n’ants “Pas Touche!” from the album Bethlehem, We Are On Our Own (2007)
11. Citrus “Tuesday Sunday Lazy Jazz feat. Inazzma*k” from the EP Splash! (1999)
12. Citrus “Colo Colo Meets NANAppella” from the seven-inch Colo Colo Meets the Stripes (1998)
13. Citrus “Tuesday Sunday Lazy Jazz” from the EP Splash! (1999)

(Art above from the Boat, Drive In CD insert.)

W. David MARX
May 21, 2008

W. David Marx (Marxy) — Tokyo-based writer and musician — is the founder and chief editor of Néojaponisme.

22 Responses

  1. odot Says:

    this is wonderful.

  2. Maethelwine Says:

    Hey, I just wanted to let you know that I’ve listed you on Japan in Motion’s “Blogs on Japan” site. We’re trying to direct attention to Japan-oriented blogs that we especially like, written from a foreign perspective. This includes both well-known blogs and some that are flying under radar. If there are any Japan-based blogs you’ve enjoyed, or read regularly, maybe you could leave a comment and let us know. Thanks, and keep up the good work!

  3. Rory P. Wavekrest Says:

    RADICAL♪

  4. Rory P. Wavekrest Says:

    That was an interesting listen–thanks.
    Endo is pretty low-key about the band, and gives the impression that it was totally Emori in the driver’s seat, which probably comes as no surprise. Did you speak with her as well?

  5. W. David MARX Says:

    When I talk to Endo, she never seems that keen on talking about Citrus, and it makes me feel very fanboy by broaching the subject, so I don’t really bring it up.

    Apparently it was “her” band at the beginning though as we will find out in the interview…

  6. Gustav Says:

    I haven’t heard Citrus before this but it reminds me of some of the the stuff Mike Alway put out on él records like Bad Dream Fancy Dress and maybe some Television Personalities and Swell Maps.
    I liked it alot.

  7. Rory P. Wavekrest Says:

    I could see that. Although I’m more familiar with Louis Philippe, Would-Be-Goods, Simon Turner, etc.
    Mike Alway and El had a big influence on the Trattoria crew.

  8. W. David MARX Says:

    Momus is very knowledgeable about the Trattoria Records – El Records connection, and if he could find a new way to hang the sins of mankind on my back in talking about this history, he would probably post a comment.

  9. Rory P. Wavekrest Says:

    I would welcome that.

  10. alias pail Says:

    nice radio show and discussion. you guys should start a show…

  11. W. David MARX Says:

    Thanks. I have a long-term podcast series for Néojaponisme that I am planning out. Hopefully we can get that moving in a few months.

  12. Tae Won Yu Says:

    Great podcast, thank you nerds for turning me on! Citrus is fantastic. The early Citrus sounded just like Katrina Pastels’ old band, Melody Dog (and countless other 4-track bands of the 90’s), I for one can’t tell what’s “good drumming” or a “bad indie band”—what I heard sounded great.

  13. rajsank Says:

    Thanks for this podcast. I don’t understand all the words of the talk ( ’cause im not english speaker ) but the music of these bands are interesting, i like it !

  14. W. David MARX Says:

    Some of the words we use are not particularly English, so I don’t think it’s you. I use the word “bossy” in there to mean “bossa nova-like” which is unprecedented – in a bad way.

  15. Matt TREYVAUD Says:

    The correct word is of course “bossate”.

  16. Ryan Says:

    Thanks for introducing Citrus. After listening to a bunch of their stuff on Youtube, I added them to my “Great Japanese Bands” list, which previously had only Yura-yura Teikoku on it. There must be others, so keep writing articles to inform me and others who have fallen or have always been out of the loop.

  17. Mikey IQ Jones Says:

    Hey Marxy,

    Congrats on a well-done podcast, and a great interview with Emori, who is hands-down one of my biggest heroes/inspirations (both musically and visually in his design work). In fact, I’d be willing to duke it out with Trevor regarding his title as Emori’s #1 fan!

    As one of the only people who has imported the Yoga’n’Ants CD for retail into the USA at an affordable price (I ran the mailorder department of NYC’s Downtown Music Gallery for 6 years & am now actually going over to Other Music, where I’ll be hyping Y’n’A/Tone Twilight further), I’ve been extraordinarily ecstatic & enthusiastic about Tone Twilight’s operations since the KK remix & Yoshié 7″, and have been trying to expose Emori’s talents to a new cache of individuals. I even managed to get the record plugged on NBC News(!), much to Emori’s delight, during a short feature on the real-estate problems with which DMG has been struggling:

    http://video.wnbc.com/player/?id=268955

    A few notes, not necessarily of importance, but that are perhaps contextually relevant additions to the info provided in the podcast:

    * Y’n’A vocalist Sublime is probably best known in Shibuya-kei-related fan circles for her work with accordionist Coba; they released an excellent EP in 2000 titled “Coba et Sublime”, and has also worked with Jun Miyake alongside Koshi Miharu on an album whose title escapes me at the moment. She also contributed to the Serge Gainsbourg tribute album from the mid-90’s which also featured Kahimi Karie & Mari Natsuki.

    * Trevor’s comment about Citrus’s music never being available affordably in the USA is somewhat untrue. New York City’s Other Music (specifically via the work of Robin Edgerton & Tom Capodanno, the shibuya-kei buyers/fanatics who worked @ OM during the indie J-Pop craze) stocked huge amounts of the Trattoria catalogue (as well as the early ****Readymade & Escalator catalogues), with a few of the Citrus EPs being featured circa ’98-’99 in OM’s weekly email update with reviews & soundclips. They were priced at about $17 retail which, while being a lot of money for a 10-minute EP, is still significantly less than the average price of most of the imports coming in. While Trevor noted that he had discovered Citrus via file-sharing, it’s important to note that the records WERE coming in as they were released and at reasonable prices.

    * In regards to other drummers who have perhaps instigated Emori’s approach to trap-beating, I’d definitely cite Palmolive (first drummer of the Slits & Raincoats), and maybe Helen Wiggin of the Shaggs, who were also one of the few bands prior to Citrus who had mined similar territory, not to mention a similar approach to polyrhythms. It’s also interesting to note that most of Emori’s “contemporaries” in relation to drumming style are female. I wouldn’t necessarily, as you both state, call his drumming “bad” per se; I would definitely regard it as both heavily stylized and rather “unprofessional”.

    * Regarding the visual presentation of Citrus’s record sleeves, I think that much of that does indeed tie into Emori’s unique style as a graphic artist/designer, though the lack of J-cards was common in Trattoria’s EP series – many releases by Yoshié, Kaji Hideki, Freedom Suite, Kahimi, Indian Rope, and others all included a booklet & obi w/ the disc but no J-card. While I do feel that Emori’s sense of presentation of the band was very much in his control, I wouldn’t necessarily chalk all of that up to his doing.

    * I wouldn’t really go so far as to call the Y’n’A CD a bossa, post-bossa, or even post-Shibuya-kei record; there’s definitely a lineage of musicians/arrangers/producers/label owners who have blazed similar trails over the course of 30-odd years. When I reviewed the Y’n’A CD for DMG’s newsletter, I cited the similarities to Pierre Barouh’s long-established Saravah label in France, most well-known for fusing French music & poetry with American free jazz (Brigitte Fontaine & Alfred Panou’s respective work with the Art Ensemble of Chicago), Brazilian bossa & samba musics (many of Barouh’s own LPs as well as those of Brazilian percussionist Nana Vasconcelos), and even African music (Pierre Akendengué). I’d also recognize Tone Twilight’s operations as an extension, sonically as well as in terms of the strong visual aesthetics and its curatorial nature, to Belgium’s Les Disques Du Crepuscule label of the 80’s & 90’s. Emori has definitely acknowledged the influence (the inside of the Y’n’A booklet features he & Watanabe posed with a copy of one of Fontaine’s Saravah label LPs on the floor at their feet), and I feel that, much like Oyamada/Cornelius, one’s tastes and intentions change as you mature. Cornelius’s “Sensuous” certainly reflects that, and I’d definitely say that Emori’s operations as Tone Twilight/Y’n’A reflect a maturation of his exploits & intentions in Citrus.

    I’d also aesthetically link the Y’n’A record to works by Kikuchi Naruyoshi, who has in turn been heavily influenced by the American writer/producer/arranger Kip Hanrahan (who, coincidentally, is also a friend of mine). Hanrahan’s American Clave label has released over the years music as diverse as Astor Piazzola’s most highly revered tango LPs, albums of santeria chants & drumming, cuban rhumba bands, the early jazz works of Miles Davis producer Teo Macero (which incidentally also sound at times like a precursor to the Y’n’A sound), musical interpretations of the Arabian Nights, and most infamously the “Taste of DNA” 12″ by Arto Lindsay’s early no-wave band DNA. I’m not certain if Emori’s a fan of Hanrahan’s, but I know that he’s a big fan of Hanrahan’s current guitarist Brandon Ross, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he knows the Am Clave stuff, too. With that being said, I’m still slotting Emori in with a very small, very underacknowledged group of individuals sharing a similar vision.

    That’s all I’ve got to say (too much! I apologize for getting carried away!), but again, fantastic work and thanks for a great podcast & interview!

    Cheers!

  18. trevor Says:

    hey Mikey IQ.
    thats a post..
    well, i think i would lose the #1 Emori fan contest to you. luckly, i stated #1 Citrus fan.. ;)

    and yes! other music did indeed do a great job of shelfing awesome japanese indie pop. (trattoria and related).. witch they don’t anymore. sometimes darla would also have a couple copies of something. probably “splash”.. floating around (i know i picked up some doubles, cause they were there. so i bought them. and gave to friends). well i love me some other music. and their importance to my musical world could never be over looked. i’m not sure i can get behind, a couple citrus records on other musics shelfs.. as really all that available. i guess i ment in a broader term as.. a US license and release.. or.. even a UK one. if you weren’t into the “scene” in the late 90’s. you probably have / had never heard of them.

    you have a much greater knowledge of whats going on with the yoga n’ ants records then i do. (beyond getting it, and listening to it a bunch) and offer up no thoughts on your thoughts. as i would just be speaking out of my ass. it’s not a form of music i have much, if any knowledge of.

    anyways. i am glad to hear of your move to OM. hopefully YnG can make it on the shelf. as its an ace record. i would be more then happy to meet and chat citrus, emori, post-kei and akward drumming anytime. or we could have a good old fashion NYC knife fight for the #1 spot.. (i kid)

  19. Ian LYNAM Says:

    My 2 cents: one could only find Citrus imports in Portland, Oregon for a cool $30 well after they were released, and then only because the dedicated buyers at the now-defunct Ozone Records went out of their way to procure them (most likely from OM, and then resold).

  20. Ian LYNAM Says:

    And my ¥’s on Trevor should the blades come out. Sorry, Mike, dude’s scary!

  21. Robert Pearson Says:

    been a fan of Citrus since 2002….I am not intrigued by the mystery of the band, it’s purely the energy and pure emotions of the music that I like. I can see the high level of the graphics that Emori does as being one reason why the music is so good. the album “Citrus Plants” I find unlistenable….as far as the conceptual aspect of the band itself as artwork is not any “part of the appeal” to me….study the Proto-Surrealists of the 19th Century and ask yourself why this is always happening, that is much more appealing to me….in some respects the lack of
    respect for the music if there is any that any member may have is not really appealing but maybe they feel they were under some kind of grace and so are in some ways humble.

  22. jerko Says:

    thank you !!!
    citrus is the best !!!
    where i can find more citrus song ??
    only i have “wispy no mercy” :(
    pleaseeeee i want more !!!!

    repeat … very thank you from valparaiso, chile !!