I believe the purpose of music is to directly link with the people in order to have an impact for social change. My theory was strengthened a couple of months ago I went to my favourite haunt in Harajuku, to see friends Damien Dubrovnik from Denmark. They were more than warmly received.
With fit inducing strobe lighting further adding to the tension of that night, feelings of sheer desperation, isolation and fear were exhorted. It heightened that sense of confusion, and kept us mesmerised to the painfully thin and staggeringly tall front man Loke. Stricken across his face was a contorted expression of both passion and a vague far off stare of disdain, which matched his tortured vocals and flailing limbs. Their performance almost moved my friend to tears with their emotive and often frightening stage performance, with one particular song and personal favourite (their “hit” as Christian refers to it) causing a savage feeding frenzy, with Loke throwing himself into the crowd as I simultaneously made a beeline for him; I’d rather fight than flight. The entire audience swallowed him whole, ripping and pulling at his clothes and hair, knocking my poor housemate to the ground and almost chipped his teeth when he viciously thrust the microphone in glorious phallic metaphor towards his mouth, a fact at which Loke nonchalantly shrugged when we later informed him, instead substituting an apology for a cheers, and a smirk suggesting it was purposeful.
Thank you shout out to Christian for the guest list, the stoic one of the duo, the loitering looming figure who leers over his electronic implements with a perverted preciseness, executing Dubrovniks emaciated and anorexic soundtrack ferociously, towering a good head and shoulders above me even in my platforms. Christian also contributes to Mandatory and Loke, in conjunction with others, runs Copenhagen based records Posh Isolation., curators of music for the jilted youth.
Marching Church headlined that night and are just a modern echo of an early Bad Seeds, with an aggressive, unfriendly and uninterested front man who stole several of my cigarettes. But it is undeniable the sheer talent of the band; they have a true knack for songwriting, and a lascivious hunger for self expression and creation. As well as some members of Marching Church, Elias also fronts the punk band Iceage which is worth checking out for more Nihilistic, Birthday Party under toned Scandinavian tinged malady.
This music, as they say, tells it how it is. And that’s the heart of the matter I am drilling into when it comes to emoting, or taking on a persona, in order to survive the big ride we call Life. Music can rally us together in unison, rather than remaining in our despondent state at the helplessness of current situations.
Big Beats such as the ones amassed here allow me to stomp my big goth self around the city, to hold myself up tall like the Gaijin (foreigner) I am, to take up space and stand wide stance so as to intimidate any hopeful Chikan (groping pervert), and to smile at demure and diffident Japanese women with a fire in my eyes that says, if you want you can be fucking anything. Because I am angry at the way society marginalizes a majority. Japanese women are hounded by adverts which scream at them to lose weight BEFORE they get fat, and to aspire to Western standards of beauty they could never genetically achieve, thus rendering them in a catch 22 and forever feeling ugly and substandard, when they should embrace their own beauty. I hate the Japanese government for thinking that men are machines, working through endless nights, weeks, years, becoming alienated from their own families. Something’s got to give. Music should be a voice for the silenced. As Depeche Mode demand a revolution, it truly begs, where the fuck is it?
For me, music allows me to survive in the climate of Tokyo, where the incessant white noise hums in every street, and the tannoy announcements relentlessly berate our ears, with cries of “irrashaimase!” (welcome in!) on every street corner that permeate through every day, every conversation (should we dare to have it in public transport), every dirty little secret thought…
I’ve been absent from writing because my schedule has been too overwhelming. Mental illness is a serious issue which should not be ignored and which, tragically, goes severely untreated and undiagnosed in Japan. I left Tokyo for a couple of months to return to the peaceful and passive ways of Sweden in order to recuperate and regroup my strength; I was reaching breaking point. But even that reverted into a monotonous drone. However, I am fortunate enough to be attending weekly sessions for free through counselling services at my university Sophia. For I have been feeling the darkest of darks, struggling to juggle my studies, the impending doom of my future and inevitable death, my relationship, cultivating and maintaining friendships, while still making sure I get enough to eat and sleep. Tokyo is vibrant and full of opportunity, but if you are unprepared, it could grind you down.
This is where music steps in and soothes my soul, making commuting a far more manageable chore, for keeping me company in the lonely nights of my small dorm room, telling me I am connected to a society that loves these songs just as much as I do.
In Japan, Suicide is normalized, and has become part of my daily routine, just like everyone else’s. I am regularly the passenger of a train that has been chosen as the one some suffering soul has dived in front of, or are regularly delayed due to the same issue but with the train in front. People tut, roll their eyes on hearing the word “jisatsu” (suicide) and wait impatiently to get home. This is so sad. There are people just like me, sitting in tiny rooms, eating alone from individually wrapped meals, and looking out of their window to a concrete jungle, desperate for help. So, in writing this article and in curating this playlist, I’d like to dedicate it to anyone who feels alone, who suffers from some form of invisible illness and who feels too afraid or ashamed to come forward. You are not fucking alone and you do not deserve to live that way. Let this music be your saviour, your guiding light, an energy to make you laugh, surge you through angrily enough to beat down those walls, or simply to encourage you to leap from your slumber and dance manically about your room. Music is my saving grace, music can save us all.
Perseverance, fighting spirit and love,