Away from here

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I feel like something is changing in my life.

Breaking through my daily routine made of work and absolute nothingness, framed by fights and incomprehensions with persons around me, a new opportunity has been offered to me in a moment where I think I just can’t take it anymore.

I’ll be honest: It’s almost a jump in the dark. But it doesn’t look bad at all. Indeed, I may have found a way to finally leave Italy and get rid of all the things that are making me feel bad and have weakened me for all these years. I have the chance to move in another European city. Maybe the last city I would have ever thought of… Amsterdam.

My cousin has been living in the Netherlands’ capital for three years following his studies, and he offered me to go live there with some advantages not to underestimate. It really seems like I will leave my work (we are already searching for a replacement) and go live there for at least three months, and probably after that period too. I’ll need to find a work, a very “humble” one at first probably, and sustain myself. It’ll be a hard decision, a great challenge for me, but one that will finally represent a turning point in my life to change things hopefully for the better. Because my life in this place makes no sense anymore: And believe me, I’m not exaggerating. It’s just not life anymore.

As all the (big) choices in life, this may represent a sacrifice: Japan. Perfume have indeed announced the awaited September/October tour, and all the friends I’m dying to see since 2013 and all the ones I still have to meet will be there, in the place I love more than anything else in my life. My move to Amsterdam may represent a “problem”, economically speaking. And since I miss Japan like the air, this can be a stab to my heart.

But life is made of sacrifices, and thank God I’m no spoiled kid: I may go live in Amsterdam, and still make it for Japan. Hard, but I’m not excluding anything. Nothing is certain yet (even though things are getting concrete by the day) but after all there are only two choices: Not going to Amsterdam would mean reaching the boiling point here, go to Japan (if I don’t end up in an hospital first), have the time of my life, and then come back here to feel even worse, maybe to the point of no return. Going to Amsterdam and leave this hell could mean a great new challenge and lots of new inspiration, but also less time to dedicate to my project and maybe exclude my trip to Japan.

As everything in life, there are pros and cons. But I honestly feel like my daily life is more important than a vacation (even though it’s a wonderful one): You can’t be happy only for 15 days a year. Cause you’re not gonna make it.

It won’t be easy, neither I want it to be. For now, I’m just glad something is changing in my life, and I don’t want to miss any opportunity. Because, after all, this is only part of a bigger story, another piece of the road I’m walking to the final destination, the dream represented by my project I’m working on tirelessly.

Still, my heart aches. Not for my home, my friends, my work, or the people I know here… I honestly don’t care about them enough and anymore to generate sadness in me.
It’s Japan. The mere thought of not going back to my second (?) home kills me.

This will be the hardest part. I’ll need much strength to go through this. Cause my love for Japan is so visceral it’s almost unnatural: So much that I’ll never be able to find words to describe it properly. And even if I’d try, I’d probably sound too ridiculous to be believed.

– Alex

♪ Beautiful Pain

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When you stress yourself up too much with something, like it or not, you come to a point where you need a break. It’s not that you stop from doing a specific thing from one day to another: Your mind simply blocks you, leaving you in a state of both protection and inability, where the only thing to do for you is wait.

That’s what is happening to me right now: If you follow my website, you’ve probably noticed I haven’t been updating it for almost three weeks now. Which is crazy, considering I always damn myself when I can’t write new content each day, but now it doesn’t seem to worry me that much: I just can’t do much about it. I wouldn’t call this laziness, more like a (needed?) break I didn’t plan.

After all, even though my website has been online for six months, I’ve been working on it for more than a year, from the day I came back from Japan full of the inspiration only that country can give to me: From late winter, spring, the stressful summer and my holidays spent working at my laptop to build what you see today, from the launch in Autumn and all the work I’ve done until now, there hasn’t been a single day in my life in the past 15 months I haven’t dedicated to my website, while also doing my main job of artisan. I’m glad of this, as it’s the sign and proof of how much I believe in it from a personal point of view, but this unavoidably led me to this “catatonic” state: I stare at this blank page on my laptop, but no word is coming out of my mind. I can write small updates, but that’s just it.

This saddens me a lot, but I know it’s just a temporary state, cause I can feel my huge passion for music and writing alive inside of me: It just needs to rest a bit. I’m not sure if I should call this a writer’s block (it sounds cocky to be honest: I’m no best-seller writer or professional journalist) but I think this might be tied to other matters going on in my life now.

For now, I spend my days doing my regular job, running, playing videogames and listening to rap music, which is a genre that always helped me a lot in this kind of moments. I will be back writing again soon, when my mind will start collaborating again with my passion.

Don’t worry, you will never get rid of me 🙂

– Alex

♪ Guts over fear

How I’m doing (?)

credits: tokyoluv.com

credits: tokyoluv.com

It’s been five months since I opened my new website Land of Rising Sound, yet it doesn’t even feel like it’s been already almost half a year: Despite social networks these days are much more cruel with new realities than it was before, the website itself is going well, it’s starting to have its followers and I get a fair amount of visits everyday, which is good even though there’s still a long way to go to reach my achievement. Working six hours in the morning and other five-six in the afternoon/night isn’t easy, my regular work tires me physically, writing, while pleasant, it’s still psychologically tiring, which is why I’m always pretty destroyed before going to sleep, but ironically, I’m doing this also to change this routine.

My website is only at the beginning after all, and soon something new will be added to it, that will hopefully give it even more exposure, plus many other things. I’m happy with what I’m doing, so I can’t really complain about anything despite feeling pretty weak.

There’s one thing I feel like it’s missing though: Someone telling how I’m doing. Someone that could criticize my work and say if there’s something I’m doing wrong, or simply give an impartial thought on what I write and do with my new project. Like “That article wasn’t so bad, but those few lines were truly horrible” and things like that. Someone that could tell me how I’m doing things, to improve myself and my skills. Yet, I’m no one’s apprentice. I’m not someone who’s learning a musical instrument with a teacher explaining what to do, nor a soccer player with a coach or a student with a professor: Despite admiring the work of a few journalists in my field, the only thing I can do is to improve by myself, seeing mistakes by myself and trying to fix them. It’s maybe the most difficult part of what I’m doing, but it’s also a sign of progression, which is all good.

Though, the day some will tell me how I’m doing may come, if something is gonna change.

– Alex

♪ Phonat – All this time

Tokyo is relaxing

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I know it may sound like a blasphemy, especially to those who always lived in the biggest city of Japan and face its chaos every morning to go to work or school (forgive me my friends), but from the standpoint of the way too attached tourist I am, Tokyo is truly relaxing. I’m not gonna explain again why the place I live in is so small yet so stressful, or why everyone who never visited Japan sees Tokyo as the Tokyo they let you see in TV, made of streams of people and stressful traffic, but I genuinely think it’s a wrong image for this city. It’s like watching a documentary about Rome showing only beggars and the criminals lurking every corner instead of the Colosseum or the Vatican. Well, not really the same thing, but anyway…

Of course there are streams of people in the rush hours of Tokyo (not the same can be said for cars honestly), but as a tourist I can’t feel any of the stress several people inside and outside Japan claim. Not only because even the way people walk in Japan is ordinated and respectful towards the others, but also because it’s a city and a population that doesn’t make me worry about anything at all. I feel safe in Tokyo, and I feel like I’m home.

It’s waking up in my hotel room in the morning, dress up and walk down the half empty mid-morning spacious streets where only people that didn’t had to go to work or school walk, it’s stopping by a conbini to buy breakfast and then walk again in the fresh and cold winter weather and admire the grey sky that seems to flow into the city so perfectly, to the point where I’m not sure if I love the beautiful blue winter sky more than the grey covering the city in some days. No one is screaming in the streets, no one looks restless or stressed (it doesn’t mean they aren’t, but that’s another matter), no one is getting mad at someone. Sometimes I think people and the city are a unique being. The lines at the station platform give me a sense of tranquillity, as well as the silence filling the train while watching the Shinjuku skyline moving quickly in front of me. It’s walking in Omotesando, in Golden Gai, in Yasukuni street, it’s feeling the quietness of the morning, it’s seeing people wandering in the shops, or owners carefully cleaning the doors of their little restaurants, or all the people without a destination looking at an undefined spot somewhere while smoking in front of Studio Alta. The safety, the relax you feel isn’t defined by the number of people or cars around you, but by the way you can dive into the soul of a place, defined by your love and understanding towards it. Who knows, maybe there is someone in this world who would love the hellish place I live in…

Loving Tokyo is like having a long distance relationship with a girl: You can’t wait to see her again the more the days go by, you suffer when you’re not with her, and when you finally meet her again after a long time, all the magic of the first time is all there and intact to give you love and a reason to live. Maybe the magic will disappear a little bit when the day we will finally be together to spend all the days of our lives together will come, but the love will still be there, finally giving a meaning to life.

If only there was a way to hug Studio Alta…

– Alex

♪ Sakanaction – Shiranami Top Water

My Music Collection (November 17th 2014)

I listed all my music collection, so I thought I’d share it with you. 🙂

INTERNATIONAL ARTISTS

[CD]

Angra – Angels Cry

Blind Guardian – Follow the Blind
Blind Guardian – Tokyo Tales (Live)
Blind Guardian – Imaginations from the Otherside
Blind Guardian – The Forgotten Tales
Blind Guardian – Nightfall in Middle Earth
Blind Guardian – A Night at the Opera
Blind Guardian – A Twist in the Myth
Blind Guardian – At the Edge of Time
Burzum – Hvys Liset Tar Oss
Burzum – Hliðskjálf

Children of Bodom – Something Wild
Children of Bodom – Hatebreeder
Children of Bodom – Trashed, Lost and Strungout
Children of Bodom – Stockholm Knockout Live (Live)

Daft Punk – Homework
Daft Punk – Alive 1997
Daft Punk – Discovery
Daft Punk – Human After all
Daft Punk – Alive 2007
Daft Punk – Tron Legacy OST
Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
David Gilmour – On an Island
David Gilmour – Live in Gdansk (Live CD + DVD)
Dream Theater – When Dream and Day Unite
Dream Theater – Images and Words
Dream Theater – Awake
Dream Theater – Falling into Infinity
Dream Theater – Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory
Dream Theater – Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence
Dream Theater – Train of Thought
Dream Theater – Octavarium
Dream Theater – Systematic Chaos
Dream Theater – Black Clouds & Silver Linings
Dr. Dre – The Chronic

Eminem – The Marshall Mathers LP
Eminem – The Eminem Show
Eminem – Music from and inspired by the motion picture 8 Mile
Eminem – Recovery

Helloween – Keeper of the Seven Keys: Part 1
Helloween – Keeper of the Seven Keys: Part 2
Helloween – Keeper of the Seven Keys: The Legacy
Hammerfall – Masterpieces

Iced Earth – The Blessed and the Damned
ICO – OST
Iron Maiden – Iron Maiden
Iron Maiden – Killers
Iron Maiden – The Number of the Beast
Iron Maiden – Piece of Mind
Iron Maiden – Powerslave
Iron Maiden – Live After Death
Iron Maiden – Somewhere in Time
Iron Maiden – Seventh Son of a Seventh Son
Iron Maiden – No Prayer for the Dying
Iron Maiden – Fear of the Dark
Iron Maiden – Brave New World
Iron Maiden -Dance of Death
Iron Maiden – A Matter of Life and Death
Iron Maiden – Different World (single)
Iron Maiden – The Final Frontier

Judas Priest – Screaming for Vengeance
Judas Priest – Painkiller

Led Zeppelin – Mothership
Limp Bizkit – Three Dollars Bill Y’all
Limp Bizkit – Significant Other
Limp Bizkit – Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog flavored Water
Limp Bizkit – Results May Vary
Limp Bizkit – The Unquestionable Truth (part 1)

Mastodon – Crack the Skye
Metallica – Kill ’em all
Metallica – Ride the Lightning
Metallica – Master of Puppets
Metallica – … And Justice for All
Metallica – Death Magnetic
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater – OST

Nightwish – Dark Passion Play
N.W.A. – Straight Outta Compton

Obituary – Left to Die
Opeth – Orchid
Opeth – Morningrise
Opeth – My Arms, Your Hearse
Opeth – Blackwater Park
Opeth – Damnation
Opeth – The Roundhouse Tapes (Live CD + DVD)
Opeth – Pale Communion

Pantera – Cowboys from Hell
Pink Floyd – The Piper at the Gates of Dawn
Pink Floyd – A Saucerful of Secrets
Pink Floyd – (Music from the Film) More
Pink Floyd – Relics
Pink Floyd – Ummagumma
Pink Floyd – Atom Heart Mother
Pink Floyd – Meddle
Pink Floyd – Obscured by Clouds
Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of the Moon
Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here
Pink Floyd – Animals
Pink Floyd – The Wall
Pink Floyd – The Final Cut
Pink Floyd – A Momentary Lapse of Reason
Pink Floyd – The Division Bell
Pink Floyd – P.U.L.S.E. (Live)
Pink Floyd – The Endless River
Porcupine Tree – In Absentia

Rage Against the Machine – Rage Against the Machine

Sigur Rós – Ágætis byrjun
Sigur Rós – ()
Sigur Rós – Takk…
Skrillex – Bangarang
Sting and The Police – The Very Best of Sting & The Police

The Game – The Documentary
The Killers – Hot Fuss
The Killers – Sam’s Town
The Killers – Sawdust
Tool – Lateralus
Tool – 10.000 Days
Tupac – All eyez on me

Zedd – Clarity

[DVD]

Blind Guardian – Imaginations through the Looking Glass
Dream Theater – Score
Dream Theater – Chaos in Motion 2007 – 2008
G3 Live in Tokyo – Satriani / Vai / Petrucci
Iron Maiden – Live After Death
Iron Maiden – Maiden England 88
Iron Maiden – Visions of the Beast
Iron Maiden – The History of Iron Maiden Part 1: The Early Days
Iron Maiden – Death on the Road
Iron Maiden – Flight 666: The Film
Opeth – Lamentations
Opeth – In Live Conert at the Royal Albert Hall
Pink Floyd – P.U.L.S.E.
Pink Floyd – Live at Pompeii

[VINYL]

Eagles – Eagles Live
Ennio Morricone and Joan Baez – Sacco and Vanzetti Soundtrack
Iron Maiden – Powerslave
Iron Maiden – The Final Frontier
Pink Floyd – Relics
Pink Floyd – Meddle
Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of the Moon
Pink Floyd – Wish you Were Here
Pink Floyd – Animals
Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
Daft Punk – Get Lucky (Single)

_______________________________

JAPANESE ARTISTS

[ALBUMS]

Ayami Muto – Eien to Shunkan (Limited Edition)
BABYMETAL – BABYMETAL (Limited Edition)
capsule – Flash Back
capsule – PLAYER (Limited Edition)
capsule – Killer Wave (Limited Edition)
CAPSULE – CAPS LOCK (Limited Edition)
GACKT – Mars
Kanon Wakeshima – Shinshoku Dolce
MALICE MIZER – Merveilles
Momoiro Clover Z – 5th Dimension (Limited Edition)
Nagisa Cosmetic – Nagisa Cosmetic
Negicco – Melody Palette
Perfume – Complete Best
Perfume – Fan Service: Prima Box
Perfume – Game (Regular and Limited Edition)
Perfume – Triangle (Regular and Limited Edition)
Perfume – JPN (Limited Edition)
Perfume – Perfume Global Compilation: Love the World (Limited Edition)
Perfume – LEVEL3 (Limited Edition)
Sakanaction – DocumentaLy
The Gazette – Division
toe – New Sentimentality EP
Versailles – Holy Grail (Limited Edition)
Vocaloid – Project Diva: Extend Complete Collection

[SINGLES]

Kanon Wakeshima – Foul Play ni Kurari / Sakura Meikyuu
Perfume – Linear Motor Girl
Perfume – Computer City
Perfume – Electro World
Perfume – Polyrythm (Limited Edition)
Perfume – Baby Cruising Love / Macaroni (Limited Edition)
Perfume – Love the World (Limited Edition)
Perfume – Dream Fighter (Limited Edition)
Perfume – One Room Disco (Limited Edition)
Perfume – Fushizen na Girl / Natural Ni Koishite (Limited Edition)
Perfume – VOiCE (Limited Edition)
Perfume – Nee (Limited Edition)
Perfume – Laser Beam / Kasukana Kaori (Limited Edition)
Perfume – Spice (Limited Edition)
Perfume – Spring of Life (Limited Edition)
Perfume – Spending all my Time (Limited Edition)
Perfume – Mirai no Museum (Limited Edition)
Perfume – Magic of Love (Limited Edition)
Perfume – Sweet Refrain (Limited Edition)
Perfume – Cling Cling (Limited Edition)
Tokyo Girls’ Style – Partition Love
Versailles – Rose
Utada Hikaru – Sakura Nagashi (DVD Single)

[DVD]

Perfume – Fan Service: Bitter (Normal Edition)
Perfume – GameTour DVD
Perfume – Budoukaaaaaaaaaan!!!!!
Perfume – Perfume Triangle Tour 2009
Perfume – Perfume Live @ TokyoDome 1234567891011
Perfume – Perfume 3rd Tour JPN (Limited Edition)
Perfume – Perfume World Tour 1st (First Press w/ sticker)
Perfume – Perfume Clips (Blu-Ray Limited Edition)
Perfume – Perfume 4th Tour in Dome LEVEL3 (Blu-Ray Limited Edition)
Sakanaction – Sakanaquarium 2013 live @ Makuhari Messe
Sakanaction – Sakanatribe 2014 live @ Tokyo Dome City Hall

[VINYL]

Perfume – LEVEL3 (Clear Vinyl)
Negicco – Tokimeki no Headliner / Sayonara Music (single)
Negicco – Triple!!! WONDERLAND (single)

Crossroads

There’s no place like home. Wether it’s a good or bad thing, wether it makes you feel relaxed or restless, home is a unique place in the life of a person, and everyone has a personal way to see the town where we’re born and raised.

I live in a 100 inhabitants town (yes, one hundred), a place where originally people shouldn’t have lived, but only industries and commercial activities should have took place. But during the so called “Golden age of economics” that hit Italy from the 50’s to the 80’s, people started to build houses in this little piece of field that divides one of the main italian streets and a railway, and made this place an actual town where people live: Step outside home and see trucks and cars passing a meter away from you. In case you live on the other side, be careful of not being invested by a train.

It’s a horrible place. There used to be shops and even a school when I was a child, but with the incoming economical crisis that ultimately exploded in 2008, nothing remained here except for abandoned places and houses, and a few activities: One of these is my father’s activity, which is where I work at.

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That’s the portrait of the place where I grew up. But it doesn’t really matter that much in the end: Places are made of people, human beings that can make you feel great and make all the decadence around you disappear. I had the luck to feel like this during my teenager period, but it only lasted four or five years until almost everyone abandoned this place and left me and other few long-time friends alone. Having long-time friends is great, but once you turn eighteen, things unavoidably change: You start to work, and responsibilities hit you right in the head. Despite I’m basically the same 14 years old guy dressing like a thug with the same old passions that keep me going through the hard times of life (bless them), the others changed and fell into the trap that afflicts almost every person of this place: Work, go to sleep, go hunting during weekends, and let your stupid depressed girlfriend shouting at you everytime you come back home ’cause your shoes are filled with mud. That’s the average life of people here. Concerts? What are concerts? Going around? There’s no one around here, so it’s better to stay home anyway.

I never wanted to be like that, and never will be. And while I still see these friends, we’re not close anymore, we have completely different passions, we speak different languages. I spend most of my life alone. I didn’t accept the unwritten law that rules this place, that comfortable lifestyle that makes you die inside at 20 and buries you only when you’re 80.

Living a lonely life in a place like this isn’t funny, even worse if you’re a black sheep. Cause of several events, the last 8 years of my life haven’t been easy at all: Only one thing saved me from the worse, and that thing is Japan. My spiritual home. The only times I felt really alive and happy during these years have been those I spent in Japan, and also in France.

Beautiful places, beautiful people, beautiful passions, beautiful minds… the people I always wanted to have close to me and never had the chance to have here. And everytime I get a plane back home, it gets worse and worse. Sometimes I feel like exploding, having all this passion and things to share inside me that remain unexpressed drives me crazy. I tried to talk about it with someone around me here, to the closest people, but no one literally cares: There are days I really hate everyone that makes part of my life here. Screw them all and their dead lives.

2

Then I turn on my computer, my window to the world and the only place where I can express myself. I see a video: A group of people saying in chorus: “We miss you Alex!”

I think I have a tear on my eye: Here they are, my real friends. People I met during my trips and spent beautiful times with, and gave me wonderful memories to think at everytime I feel down, that keeps me alive. There’s also someone I never met in real life but that’s always been close to me, talking to me through this window that leads to the place where I’d want to live, wether it’s Japan, France, UK, America or any other place in the world.

Because that’s all I really want in the end: People to share my life and passions with. Even once a week, once a month, or whenever there’s time and possibility because we’re all busy with our lives at this stage. But the simple thought of having someone close who can listen and talk to me with sincerity, that shares something with me, would be everything.
___________________________________________________________________________________________________

There’s a crossroad in front of me: One road leads to a place with people waving at me. I can see skyscrapers in the back, and the sun shines bright. The other road leads to a black void that’s trying to suck me in: There are dead trees inside of it, and no one is there.

I’m in the middle of this crossroad, giving my life to take the right direction, to reach those skyscrapers and all my friends, those who are already there and those who will come. Maybe I still have a chance.

I can make it.

4

8 months

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Last Monday I launched my new project, a website about Japanese music (obviously!) called Land of Rising Sound, whose main goal is to spread the world’s biggest music market’s artists to everyone with several types of articles.

But let’s go back in time a little bit.

It all started after my second trip to Japan: After coming back home in January of this year I learned a lot more things about Japanese music and the culture surrounding it, and I felt like I should have wrote about it and dedicate some time to it. So I started to think about how to to englobe everything I learned and how to spread Japanese Music from a general point of view, and realized that Perfume Disco Blog wasn’t enough anymore; I’ll always love Perfume, they’re one of my favorite groups and the one that started it all, but the Japanese music scenario is so vast and filled with valid artists that writing exclusively about them would mean limiting myself and my passion. So I spent a good couple of months thinking about (i.e. torturing myself) about what to create and how to create it.

And so I ended up building a website about Japanese Music: It was easy to realize, but it took me a while (I’m like this).

Still, there are lots of good western online portals talking about the argument, some of them very good too, and if there’s something I hate to do is to create something that already exists. So I created a website apparently similar to the other ones, but conceptually different: I’ll explain myself better.

Most of the websites out there are all about news (sometimes even not related to music), often featuring interviews and live reports, but news are the main thing, which is really the smartest thing to do: They’re the kind of article that’s really quick to write and get you loads of visits, which translates into popularity and even money if you’re doing it for a living.

Now, let’s see this from a different point of view: You’re new to the Japanese music, you’ve just watched for the first time a Kyary or BABYMETAL video, and you want to know more about it, so you start searching for a website that could talk about this music market, the artists themselves or the genre they play, or simply why are they doing it in such a different way from the rest of the world: But what you get is only “Ikimonogakari to release a new single next month” and “Ayumi Hamasaki marries a random dude that’s 18 years younger than her”. At this point there are two possibilities: Search another website, or just go back to the world where Rihanna, Nicki Minaj and Pitbull feat. Romeo er mejo gatto der Colosseo reign supreme. And we Japan lovers don’t want that to happen.

So, here’s what I’m trying to do with Land of Rising Sound: Provide basic informations like News and Impressions on newly released material while also analyzing music (the absolute and only argument of this website) with Reviews of Singles/Albums/Live DVDs, plus Articles about the music scene and the culture surrounding it and how it influences the Japanese society. Guides are also another important feature of this website: With an in-depth introduction to the Japanese Music market and how the society reacts to it, full descriptions of genres and all the most recommended artists and how to support this industry, I’m trying to create a place where the newcomers can finally understand what they’re hearing and watching and long time listeners can come back anytime for daily news, impression and musical analysis.

So that’s what my new website is about. It took me eight months to realize it (cause real life duties are cruel) and I hope people will like it, and eventually see it growing. It’ll be hard, but I’m confident in it. I still have many things in the works for this website, and there’s gonna be a lot of new things to enrich it in the future (without becoming too dispersive). I’ll also need a Staff with members, and that’s why I’m currently searching for people who loves Japanese music and writing.

In any case, I hope you’ll enjoy Land of Rising Sound. All the reviews I wrote here on my personal blog are now available there, so be sure to check them out!

That’s it guys. Imma buy some noodles now. Have a nice weekend! 😀

“This is Tokyo”

During my two trips in Japan I’ve always been lucky to have great friends (and great people) with me to share the fun: Concerts, walks around Tokyo, trips to other cities, or simply hang out to have dinner. During my first vacation back in 2011 I should have met three people I knew on Twitter, which means three days with friends and the rest of the time alone: It ended up being three days alone and all the rest with a new company. Even better during my second trip, where I met all the friends I had the pleasure to meet in Paris the year before, plus new and old ones. I have the greatest memories with these friends, and I would never exchange them with anything in this world.

Still, I also had the chance to live Tokyo alone. And those moments are the ones where I really dig inside myself and understand deeply my relationship with this city. Because the entirety of Japan is plain wonderful, but Tokyo is the heart of it.

While I took some of my lonely days to visit other places outside the city, I spent most of them just sitting somewhere and watch people passing by. It’s like a moment of intimacy with a person we love: Watch the scenario in front of Studio Alta constantly changing, the people frantically walking somewhere, the neons changing colors, the commercials on the huge screens, the little lights coming from windows of endless skyscrapers: All details that probably most of the people who never went to Japan would find boring and maybe even stressful.

But I totally get lost in it. Seeing all these lives passing by, trying to imagine who they are or what they’ll become, where they are headed to, their problems, how they are linked to all the other people surrounding them. Because while they probably don’t think about it or even don’t want to accept it, they are all connected. Our lives are all connected in some way. And it’s wonderful to think about all the stories, the tales that connect each one of them through the series of events that compose our existance. Maybe the girl that’s walking in front of me is trying to become an idol, or the man reading the newspaper that’s sitting not far from me lost his family and is trying to rebuild his life. Maybe the middle-aged man waiting at the crossing is a psychologist, and the one on the other side will commit suicide the same night. Maybe the woman texting with her phone at the station is an employee that will make me smile with her kindness and beauty in a random shop of Nakano, and make me love this city and country even more. As Shakespeare said “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players”.

You can call me crazy, but I get lost in all these details. Because the life and the energy I see in this city I love so much makes me feel more alive than anything else in this world.

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” Kimi ga iu you na samishisa wa kanjinai kedo omoidashita
Koko wa Tokyo
Sore wa sore de boku wa ikiisogu na “

♪ Sakanaction – Eureka

– Alex

How BABYMETAL is conquering the world and the metal community

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Kawaii Metal unit BABYMETAL just began their first ever World Tour that will see them traveling in three continents, and after bringing their mix of cuteness and heavy metal brutality to Paris and Cologne with two sold out shows, the three little girls from the ex Sakura Gakuin sub-unit in black and red outfits brought their sound to the audience of the Sonisphere Festival in Knewborth, England, one of the biggest and most important metal festivals in the world where bands like Iron Maiden, Slayer and Anthrax rule the stage regularly. And that’s why seeing these three little cute girls representing Japan’s innovative concept sharing the main stage with these living legends has been an amazing and, let’s admit it, surprising view; They could have just simply be located in one of the minor stages with unknown bands (and they effectively were in the beginning) but seeing their popularity increase thanks to their viral hit Gimme Chocolate!! they have been moved to the main stage where the monsters of metal reign. And they did show no sign of feeling intimated or overwhelmed in front of such a huge crowd of metalheads, but instead delivered a great performance as usual, leaving the audience in Knewborth visibly surprised and convinced that BABYMETAL isn’t a momentary trend nor a PSY-like metal phenomenon, but a valid reality where an impressive live band and three talented girls can build up a way more entertaining show than many other bands floating around in today’s stagnant metal scene.

That’s why the small fears about people dissing the girls on stage disappeared the second SU-METAL, MOA-METAL and YUI-METAL stepped on the stage and the Kami band started to rock the entire place with their Intro BABYMETAL DEATH, and the videos around the web are a clear proof of this: Part of the audience is motionless in a state of surprise mixed with growing appreciation, while others (many others) are just going crazy and enjoying the show at their best as the girls and the band play some of their iconic songs like Gimme Chocolate!!, Megitsune and also Ijime! Dame! Zettai!, where the crowd didn’t miss the chance to start some mosh’sh pit action between a Wall of Death, Circle Pits and more funny metal craziness.

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Credits: rollingstone.com

After all, it’s hard not to get excited in front of the talent exposed by these girls: Suzuka’s singing is clear, powerful and full of expression, a dote extremely appreciated by the crowd that never miss the chance to scream and applause any time SU hits the highest notes without hesitation, while Moa and Yui perform a choreography perfectly synchronized with the music with lots of energy and charisma, a role of primary grade for a show that expose technical talent and pure entertainment in a funny yet professional way. The result is nothing short of amazing, and everyone in the field in front of the Apollo stage can’t deny the freshness brought by this performance and the talent of the BABYMETAL team, and even the more snobby people couldn’t do anything but admit that yes, “it was a pretty amazing performance”. Of course the haters are always around the corner, especially in the metal scene where the “True Metal” concept is still brought on by some fans that (luckily, I’d say) today are slowly disappearing in favor of a more open minded approach towards the genre and new acts trying to innovate the sound with new influences, a category that BABYMETAL definitely belong to.

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So, taking all of this to a vaster point of view, how BIG is the success of these three little girls? If compared to other japanese acts that got worldwide attention in the past years (example: Kyary Pamyu Pamyu with her viral hit PON PON PON) the rise of BABYMETAL to the global scene has been way deeper and well though since the beginning.

But why? Well, It’s simple.

First of all, artists like Perfume and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, while creating their own overseas niche successfully, have never pretended to take their place in the global scene where the most famous worldwide acts reside, but instead created their space in a community of J-pop lovers that are able to appreciate their music and artistic value, and that’s a perfectly safe and legit move. But here comes the real difference between BABYMETAL and these acts, which is the musical genre itself: No one before them ever thought of fusing the Idol/J-pop concept and Heavy Metal music because, let’s be honest, it really takes a genius to make this happen in the right way: It can be a success or a total failure, there’s no middle way, and they succeeded in this perfectly. After their slow rise to gain attention in Japan after four years of career, right when they reached the mainstream reality, they wisely dropped a song like Gimme Choco!!, a catchy and funny piece that while it doesn’t appear at the top of of their best productions it successfully brought all the eyes of the world to them, using this song as bait to then surprise everyone even more with deeper and greater compositions like Akatsuki and Ijime! Dame! Zettai!, which is definitely the smartest move they could have ever made. Instead of choosing the huge and sometimes unfriendly panorama of global pop music they went with the metal scene, that while it may not look welcoming at all from the outside, nowadays is a genre that got so many variations and influences that most of its listeners have developed a wider sense of open mind towards new experiments and innovative acts, even though still ruled by bands simply doing the same thing over and over again.

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With their successful performance at the Sonisphere Festival, BABYMETAL reached a big milestone not only for them as group, but also for Japanese music. It’s safe to say that we’ve hardly seen a Japanese act entering with such a great and brutal impact on a vast music scene like the Metal one and successfully obtained general appreciation, and I bet Suzuka, Yui and Moa are surprised as well of this as they will fly back to Japan in the next days to take a break before the second part of their World Tour that will see them perform in America, Canada, and also as opening act for Lady Gaga.

After all, as an ex metal fanatic I can tell you for sure that were there’s talent, real metalheads will appreciate. And these girls have tons of it.

BABYMETAL – Ijime! Dame! Zettai!

– Alex

Under the streets of Tokyo

I still remember clearly the first time I took a step in the city of Tokyo: Coming from a hundred people town in the middle of nowhere in Tuscany’s countryside, walking in an endless city with huge skyscrapers and through thousands of people not even caring about your presence has been a fascinating yet confusing experience, and a huge impact under any aspect. I was so confused at first I didn’t even know if I liked all of that greatness surrounding me: After years of drooling on pictures and videos of this endless and beautiful city, I was finally there, alone with a feeling that couldn’t stop tricking my mind during the first three days in the Japanese capital.

But passion is way stronger than your mind’s tricks, and in a matter of days, also thanks to the company of a girl living there, everything disappeared in the blink of an eye. From that moment on, wether I was alone or not, I was genuinely happy and free like I have never been in my life before, despite all the people not even looking at you in the streets, the employees acting like robots, or a bartender talking to you for half an hour in Kirin City that you’ll never see again: In Tokyo you are never alone. Because if it’s not people who’s keeping you company, the City is always on your side to maintain that bond made of genuine love and appreciation. And while it’s surely beautiful to wander alone, the most fun is obviously when you’re with people sharing your same passions and interests, in hidden places that seem appositely made for you.

During Christmas Day on my second trip, after the final epic date of Perfume’s Dome Tour, I decided to go alone for dinner and then chill at the hotel for a while, to relax a moment and decide what to do later. But time passed, and at 1:00am, right before I was going to sleep, I received a message from a friend of mine who asked me to join him in a Perfume party in Shinjuku, just near my hotel. I accepted immediately saying “Fuck it, I’ll sleep when I’m dead”, dressed up, and in a minute I was out in the cold of the Tokyo night. Once I met with him, we reached the place where the party already started: It was an underground place, and after we entered and walked down the stairs, we reached a room with a bar, a small dance floor, and about fifteen people; There was a DJ playing Perfume’s songs and also videos on all the walls, for a pretty calm but cool atmosphere, but in just an half an hour the situation got way hotter as more DJs joined the party and the volume started to go high. Long story short, I ended up half drunk dancing with people I never knew, laughing and singing like there was no tomorrow, and as grand finale, most of them took positions and started dancing Akihabalove in perfect synchronization, and seeing them having so much fun and sharing the same passion and love for this group has been an exciting and wonderful sight: It’s pure and genuine fun, and yes, everything is full of love.

Another funny episode happened in a rock bar in Shibuya called Rockaholic, where you can sit down, have a drink and request songs to the DJ, while rock and metal music literally blast your ears. But probably due to the alcohol (it’s a constant, but never a necessity), around 11pm everyone is so drunk that the madness explodes and everyone just start to jump, cry and hug everyone, for whatever reason, but it’s so beautiful you don’t even want to wonder why. I went back there alone once and still had a blast, chatted with a girl for a while and failed in getting her twitter contact, literally drank and screamed like a mad man with the guys at the bar and knew an US army dude outside, where we talked about life and our futures.

I never saw all of these people again, but instead of being sad about it. I believe that’s what makes these experiences so special: Because while I’m here miles away from them writing alone in this room and aware they all probably forgot about me, they’re still part of the reason why I travel to Japan, wether I’m alone or not. Because little experiences make great memories when combined all together.

And while me and my friends are partying in underground bars, everyone above us is walking towards their homes, or to a host club, or feeling alone crying in a corner… But whatever those people are doing, we’re there, under all of them having the time of our lives. Like a world inside a world, like a secret place where to share our love and have fun, while the entire city outside keeps its eyes on everyone and takes care of us at the same time, like a mother with her child.

Not matter who you are or what you do, there’s always a place for you in this city. And it’s where no one can see you… Under the streets of Tokyo.

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♪  HiroyukiODA – Thirty

– Alex