Psychedelic sounds of a Japanese rock collaboration

Kikagaku Moyo, a psychedelic band from Japan, lean on collaboration.| Photo by Jamie Wdziekonski.

Psychedelic rockers Kikagaku Moyo bring their wavy, kaleidoscopic sound to The Imperial on Oct. 6. Since forming in 2012, the Tokyo-based five-piece band led by drummer and vocalist Go Kurosawa has released three full-length albums, with their 4th upcoming record, Masana Temples, set to release on Oct. 5.

Kurosawa became involved in music at a young age. He began piano lessons at just five years old and continued playing for the next decade into his teenage years. Kurosawa said that as his passion, creativity and his musical repertoire grew – Kurosawa has since honed his vocal and drumming skills – he became more interested in the prospect of a collaborative musical effort.

It was just after he finished studying abroad that he met Tomo Katsurada, a passionate and proficient guitarist, in the summer of 2012. The two shared a similar taste in the arts, including music, so the duo saw fit to form Kikagaku Moyo (or geometric patterns) later that year, eventually growing into the five-piece group it is today.

“We found Kotsuguy [bassist for Kikagaku Moyo] on a street where he was recording the sound of a vending machine for his solo project. Ryu [Kurosawa, Go’s brother] was in India and just came back after he learned sitar from a guru,” says Kurosawa.

Kurosawa notes that the themes of travel and collaboration have underlined not only the band’s history and formation, but also their intentions.

“[It’s] not really a goal, but we feel great if we can inspire someone or encourage someone to make some art. Through music we can learn other cultures and be more open minded,”
he says.

Creativity and spontaneity

Though Kurosawa says that although the band has an interest in being engaging and inspiring, he insists that any objectives the band has are rather loosely defined and far from being set in stone. Instead, he notes, the driving force behind Kikagaku Moyo might more so be spontaneity, adaptively performing in the moment.

“For live performance, we are always trying to listen to each other carefully and change the direction according to our moods,” says Kurosawa. “It’s like flock of birds flying together in the sky.”

Even when it comes to their album material, Kurosawa says that the band has stayed true to their original MO of never recording more than two takes of a given song, noting that even a mistake can become an interesting and engaging part of the musical experience. Kurosawa says that ever since the beginning, the band has insisted on staying genuine and being in the moment, sometimes out of necessity.

“We used to play on the street in Japan because we had to pay to play. We didn’t like the system, and as long as we play on the street, we can play as long as we could, until the police would come,” says Kurosawa. “We enjoyed the challenge of having no set times in front of audiences. We learned how to improvise, how we can make our listeners think what we are doing is making sense rather than that we’re just playing notes forever.”

Whether it’s getting a vibe for the concert venue and making a setlist minutes before getting on stage, or improvising and running along with any unintended factors, musical or otherwise, Kurosawa says that Kikagaku Moyo aim to stay fresh and authentic throughout their career, remaining constant only in their dynamism.

“When I perform, it makes me feel I am losing myself and forgetting about everything… only concentrating on the sound, stage, and audience. That’s a very special feeling and I love it,” says Kurosawa.

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