All good things come to an end, and tend to do so rather quickly. The guys have gone back to Japan and we’ve all started to unwind after what was a memorable three-week adventure. During the last week I came across a quote I’m now unable to find again but which summarised what happened rather neatly. The paraphrased version goes something like this: an adventure is something stressful that is recollected calmly with the benefit of hindsight. Which nicely sums up the Kidsuke and Guests tour for me, with the precision that any stress that arose from our adventure was rarely very negative and had nothing to do with the artists. I couldn’t have hoped for a better bunch of people to do my first tour with.
We all learnt, shared and laughed a lot. We put on some seriously amazing shows, amazing enough that witnessing the ‘same’ live performances close to ten times in three weeks never left me feeling bored. We played at some of the best venues in the UK – Plastic People in London, which I think witnessed its first live beats show in the new layout, and Roadhouse in Manchester – and for the first time since starting the Original Cultures adventure we linked up with friends in various cities as opposed to bringing them to us in Italy. That last part was particularly important to me as I’ve spent most of the last three, four years telling people about what we do and was finally able to bring it to them. Words only go so far after all.
Most important of all we managed to turn an idea into something real with much bigger repercussions than any of us could have imagined. In an age of interconnected social atrophy, where words on a screen at times attract more attention than ‘real’ actions, that feels particularly important to me. We went out there, we did something that had real meaning and impacted the lives of both the artists involved and those who came to see us.
If I was to pick something above all else that really summarises this tour and experience, it would have to be the story of Jealousguy. Having brought Masami over based on recommendations, a liking for her work and a hunch she would be a good fit, nothing could have prepared us for just how amazing an addition and performer she would prove to be. More than this though it was seeing her transformation during those three weeks that really made it all worth it. From a slightly shy Japanese woman seemingly unsure as to what she had got herself into she became more relaxed, more open and much more excitable as the tour went on. Night after night she wooed the audiences with her charm, honesty and incredible funk. With every show she became seemingly more and more convinced that this was what she wanted to do, that making music for a living was something she wanted to devote herself to and it showed in every performance she gave, all the way to the last one in Bologna. Anyone with knowledge of what it’s like to be an underground artist in Japan will understand how difficult a decision that can be. Daisuke, and other established Japanese artists I know like Goth Trad, regularly mention how difficult it can be to survive as an artist in Japan these days. The society doesn’t embrace someone’s will to live off their creativity in the same ways that western societies do (not that it’s any easier to make a living off art in Europe, but socially it carries less stigma say).
A week after the tour ended Masami emailed me to thank us again for showing her that this was something she really wanted to do. Whether or not she now decides to really plunge into being a musician full time remains to be seen, but knowing that we may have had a hand in helping her make that choice and go forward is precisely why I started doing this four years ago. I always wanted Original Cultures to be something that benefited the artists in a personal manner just as much as it may benefit us. And so far it seems that we’ve managed to do just that when I look at all the people we’ve worked with and how and where some of them have ended up while our own journey has taken strange turns and continues to surprise me. I feel proud. If it was all to end tomorrow I’d have no regrets.
Where we go to next is still to be decided. We’re hoping to make a Kidsuke Japan tour a reality in the new year and we’ve got plans for both the label and the events which I am very excited about and will be revealed in due time. For now I’d like to personally thank Gerard, Daisuke and Masami for believing in us to do this, Japan Foundation and Elastic Artists for their help, the whole crew for their work and everyone we worked with on the shows for their enthusiasm and willingness to bring us to their city. A last batch of photos from the road are below alongside links to live shows and videos currently available. Keep an eye on the site for more being made available in coming weeks. And we should hopefully have a docu of some sort in the new year.