Sunday, February 26, 2012


After the devastating earthquake and tsunami shook Japan last year, the all-girl Japanese band, The Suzan came to the US to not only represent themselves as a band, but also their country after tragedy. The band, which formed in 2004 and released two albums over the years made their way to the US for some much needed international attention. While they were here last year, they toured with Titus Andronicus and Chromeo, played a few festivals but also set up benefit gigs for those affected by the earthquake and tsunami. A year later, while Japan still rebuilds in the wake of what happened by forces of nature, we spoke with members of The Suzan - Rie and Saori. Read our interview with the charming punks and see why they are a band the whole world should be listening to.

How did the band form?

Rie: I started to make some demos at our home in the end of 2003. And I asked Saori to sing demos, and we made 5 songs. This demo was released as our first EP called “SUZAN KINGDUM” from Japanese indie label in 2004. Then we invited Nico and Ikue to join.

Where does the name, The Suzan come from?

Rie: It’s my nickname. It come from our family name “Suzuki." Sounds like Suzan.

You have such a great sound; it is a cross between calypso, punk and dance hall. Who are some of your influences?

Rie: I like rhythm of traditional culture, It’s like Japanese drum called “Taiko”, African, roots music and calypso too etc…Our music are influence by them.I listen to everything. I just like good music. That transcends genres. We don’t like prefer not to categorize style of music at all….We are trying to overcome that categorization.

Being a band from Japan, what is it like playing in America?

Rie: The audience will feel the difference. The image you guys think of the Japanese audience, but I think images are listening quietly. You would be surprised how you see our fans in Japan. Japanese fans singing and dancing, I love a fuss.

Recently, a growing number of fans in America. Without knowing our song, seems like the music catchy and fun phrases. Sometimes, I even surprised to see that the energetic performance of our end, it all smiles. And every mouth, "Amazing!" "Excellent!" Hey, I'm coming to speak to us.

How have the American audiences been responding to you?

Saori: The American audiences are very honest. They can enjoy our music if they have never listened our music. They can try to enjoy and share good feeling with us by sing and together.

Last year you toured with Titus Andronicus in the US, what was that like? How did you get linked up with them?

Saori: They play different sounds than us, but their passion of music is same with us! The good thing is they manage all works by themselves. Sometimes it’s too hard for a band, But it’s good to express our self. we love DIY. Coincidently, Amy Klein who [was] a female guitarist of Titus Andronicus is a friend from when we used to be University students. She is one of a best friend in US even now.

You have been doing a lot of shows in Brooklyn, do you like it in Brooklyn? Any of it reminds you of back home?

Saori: Yeah, We love Brooklyn so much. Our favorite music instrument shop "MAIN DRAG" is in Brooklyn and we had stay in Brooklyn a few years ago for a couple months. It was really fun.

Good venues, good parks, good vintage clothing stores, good super markets, good neighbors.
Brooklyn is a meditative place for us.

Being an all girl group, is it difficult trying to muscle through the old boys club?


Given the events that happened in Japan last year, were you directly affected by what happened?

Saori: We were not affected directly, but mentally it was really shocking for us. After March 11th, every time we see happenings in Japan via email or news, we always worry about our relatives and our home country. We and our relatives are safe right now, but after that we realized the fact we all live close to dangers. It's not only in Japan but also in all countries... So sad.

How long do you think it will take for everything to get back to normal after the Tsunami?

Saori: It's really difficult to answer... We can't guess how long...It's almost impossible to rebuild everything as before. We mean our points of view to "normal" would be changed after Tsunami.

Now Japanese including us are thinking about creating new generation, new way to live, how to change our daily life better, more than getting back normal life as before.

You did a few benefit shows in the US to raise money for Japan, what is it like representing your country here in America?

Saori: Before we did benefit shows in America, we focused on "how our performance can entertain people in the world," but now we also think about "how our music can help people".
During benefit shows we tried to represent our love to Japan, responses from American people were also filled with love to Japan.

It's honorable things for us to be one of pipes connecting Japan and the U.S. by world's eternal commons as music and love.

What other Japanese bands should we know about that you like?

Saori: We can't think of Japanese band like us instantly, but if you like pop Japanese female unit, I recommend you Cibo Matto. If you like garage groovy rock band, Yura Yura Teikoku would be good fit. Unfortunatelly they were spilit up last year though....