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Japanese Popstars - Turning Japanese

Author: Scott Henderson
Tuesday, 7 October 2008

3D’s Scott Henderson speaks with Decky Headrock of The Japanese Popstars, supporting Booka Shade at Stereosonic Sydney.

How did the band get started and how exactly do three Irish lads into house music come up with the name The Japanese Popstars-
The band technically ‘birthed’ at the Oxegen Festival in Ireland about two years back. We were drunk in a field and decided that we could blag passes and go to the festival for free the next year by forming a live act and playing out. We left it a little late in actually writing any music and getting on the line-up for the following year, but our hearts where in the right place.

I’ve actually known Gary Curran for about 10 years. He gave me my first gig. I was producing music under another alias and I used to take my tracks to Gary to play when he DJed at a local nightclub. We got asked to play a full live show off the back of a promoter hearing our first Japstars track Rodney Trotter, we agreed to the gig and then wondered how the hell can we play one hour live with only one song-

Here’s where Galo (Gareth) comes in...

Gary had met Gareth a few months earlier at a club night he was DJing at and knew that he could produce music in a live environment using his laptop – as Gary and I didn’t have a clue how to. He called him up and Gareth said he’d be right up for this, even though he only actually met Gary twice in his life! We all decided to meet together at a Radio Soulwax gig in Belfast, so we could steal ideas for the live show and get drunk (best way to judge character!) – that’s where I first met Gareth.

As for the name, we are three Irish lads making house music – it makes sense really, if you think about it.

You’ve already been compared to the likes of Orbital and Chemical Brothers, but who/what do you think you’ve been most influenced by musically and otherwise-

We all have different influences ranging from The Prodigy, old school hip hop (e.g. Eazy-E Ultramagnetic MCs), ELO and Guns N Roses to Daft Punk, Chemical Brothers, Duran Duran, EMF and The Monkees. It’s what we grew up with and music that influenced us at different intervals during our lives. I feel that in some way we take all these in when we sit down to produce music or a remix. As for people to compare us to Orbital or the Chems, we take it as a massive compliment, as these were pioneers of the dance scene and played a big part in shaping what we are also.

Can you tell us about your album We Just Are and what it was like to produce that debut LP-

We are all pretty excited about the release of our album. It’s been two years in the making and we tried to make it reflect what The Japanese Popstars have been about these last two years. We’ve also tried to make it so that it can be listened to in your car, home or when you’re going clubbing. It’s been hard to get the balance right for these aspects and we are both very happy with the result and that it’s out now, so people will hopefully enjoy it as much as we do. It’s very surreal to actually hold our very own album in our hands. We are extremely pleased with how it’s all come together: from the artwork, to the sleeve and obviously the music – we’ve had various people involved in the creation of the album as a whole, and we feel that its been worthwhile the amount of time, effort and hard work that was put into this by everyone.

The new single Rise of Ulysses is a really great electro track; relentless, thumping and dirty in all the right ways. Where does it rank in terms of what you’ve produced so far-

This is such a monster for us. It’s big, angry, epic and almost scary. I love it. It was inspired as a marching type song to be blended into our live shows, for two big build-ups. It’s slightly changed now from how it was originally written and it’s one of my favourites off the album. The music video we used for it is actually licensed from the old ’80s cartoon, Ulysses 31, which we were all massive fans of as kids. Our record label hit the ball out of the court by pulling off that one for us.

WHO: The Japanese Popstars
WHAT: Play Stereosonic at Enmore Theatre
WHEN: Saturday 22 November
MORE: stereosonic.com.au

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