Interview PINE*am

PINE*am comprises Tsugumi Takashi and Chizuko Matsubayashi engaged in a particular flavour of electronica that delights in low-fi quirky goodness.

From the electronic funk of Do I Know You through the crunchy electro goodness that forms Get A Choco, PINE*am have a unique sound that provides them with their own particular style of electropop.

The band have an unusual working relationship with members located in different parts of the world (Chizuko is currently based in Canada while Tsugumi is in Japan. A third PINE*am member, Taeca, left the group in 2006), but the power of the internet means they can write and work on music together regardless.

Their mini-album PINE*am was released in 2000 and generated enough interest for the girls to feature on various compilation albums – as well as a brief German tour in 2001. The band signed with US label Eenie Meenie in 2004 which resulted in the release of the album Pull The Rabbit Ears, followed by a US tour.

How would you describe the sound of PINE*am?

People tend to categorize our music as “electro pop”, as it is one of the genres in Japan, but we have Rock & Roll influences as well. So you can categorize it as “electro rock” maybe?

Is there a big difference between Western audiences to Japanese audiences?

It’s hard to say, because during our US tours, we played in many cities in the States and we found audiences were quite different in each place. So yes there was a difference between audiences in Japan and America but we didn’t really get a sense of a “typical” American audience. We did find North American audiences more direct to express their feelings towards us.

Are there certain songs that the crowds particularly love?

‘Get a Choco’ maybe? This is the only song we dance with, and I am sure people loves it!

What do the band like to do between concerts?

Eat Eat Eat! Good food makes us happy!

What is a typical PINE*am live show like?

We wear matching costumes and sing, play and dance! You will find that out if you come out to see us! We’ll look forward to see you all in our next show!

Would you like to play in the UK?

We would love to!

Chizuko, the guitar player had spent a year in UK with a British family and went to a sixth form when she was a teenager. She wants to go back there and would like her friends to see PINE*am, and the rest of us also would love to play there as well!

Pull The Rabbit Ears was a challenge to record because all the band members live so far from each other. How difficult was it to record the album under those circumstances?

It was very difficult for us, but probably not as bad as you would imagine. Definitely less spontaneous. Things had to be more planned. We miss playing instruments together for fun and pick up some nice chords and phrases in each other’s improvisations.

What are you planning for the follow-up to Pull The Rabbit Ears?

We are currently working on new stuff. It might be different than our other stuff. Hopefully we can bring that to you soon!

Are there any artists (both Western and Japanese) that you like currently?

My favourite artist is Towa Tei. I’ve always liked him since I was maybe in a high school, so, it might not be a suitable answer for the question, but I’ve always like him and I like his recent work, as well as his old stuff.-Tsugumi

He is not exactly a musician but I really like Michel Gondry. I will be thrilled if, if one day we could meet him, and have him made our music video!! -Chizuko

J-Pop Go gives its warmest thanks to Tsugumi and Chizuko.