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Fujiya & Miyagi - Not Turning Japanese

Author: Fat Tony
Monday, November 3, 2008

Indie trio Fujiya & Miyagi aren’t Japanese, believe it or not – they actually hail from the very English seaside town of Brighton. 3D’s Fat Tony caught up with the genre-blending band.

English – not Japanese – outfit Fujiya & Miyagi are now three albums deep. Lightbulbs is the new disc, and you might well know the single Knickerbocker Glory from the generous airtime some of this country’s better radio stations have been giving it. Although the group formed in 2000, it was the second album Transparency that really caught the attention of the “cool” music press.

They’ve been touring the new tunes around the UK. Vocalist David Best reports that the Irish have especially taken to their sound. “We've been back there a lot, and we were playing the Spiegeltent, which was sold out to about 1,000 people. That’s been our biggest show headlining, they seemed to really like it, so yeah... chuffed.” F&M also played some festival dates during the UK summer that’s now waning, including Benicassim and the Big Chill.

Best met Steve Lewis – the pair form the songwriting core of the group – while playing five-a-side football in Brighton. “Afterwards we just started talking about music, and he was doing more techno. My band had just split up, I was the guitar player. He asked if I could go round there one day and play guitar on his electronic stuff and see what it sounded like.”

Those experiments morphed into the first record, Electro Karaoke. “[Then Steve] encouraged me to sing which I had no intention of doing, or speak softly, whatever you want to call it.” However since then David has found a comfortable satisfaction in his new role. “Yeah I quite like it, I’ve always written. Previously I’ve written words but I didn’t have the confidence to sing. I was always, like, scribbling stuff down. It took a while to get used to it, but we’ve done so many shows that I know what I’m doing now.”

The pair have since added third and fourth members Matt Hainsby on bass and Lee Adams on drums. “Anyone that’s got any ideas gets chucked in,” he says. “There’s no distinct ways in which we write, it could be rhythm, or I could have, like, a basic song with the words roughed up, or it could be a bass line. So everyone's welcome to chip in.”

David reflects that between the first and the second albums there was quite a dramatic change. “The first one was more kind of electronic, with a bit of singing on it. The second one was more about songs, we wanted to write songs, which seems pretty obvious if you’re in a group. The difference between Lightbulbs and Transparency isn’t as much, there’s a lot of similarities. Obviously we didn’t just want to make the same record. It’s a bit sparser, and I think the songs are better, we’re getting better, but I don’t think we’re ready to do a giant leap to anything else yet. There’s more room to do more songs just how they come out at the moment.”

The years, and indeed the extra attention, that’s been bestowed up them as they’ve gone along have given the group greater confidence, and the talents have been further harnessed. “It’s kind of like a bit annoying because you want them to pay attention, but it’s also quite nice because there’s no pressure. But you just get better. If you compare Lightbulbs to Transparency I think I’m singing better, which I didn’t really notice ’til I played the two together. It’s just sort of solidified what we had this record.”

WHO: Fujiya & Miyagi
WHAT: Lightbulbs through Full Time Hobby / Inertia
WHEN: Out now