World's End Girlfriend

Q&A: World’s End Girlfriend

World's End Girlfriend: Seven IdiotsWorld’s End Girlfriend: Seven Idiots (Erased Tapes, 6/21/11)

World’s End Girlfriend: “Teenage Ziggy”

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For more than a decade, Tokyo’s World’s End Girlfriend has produced electric and electronic music that stubbornly resists tidy classification. Though elements of post-rock, IDM sample-weaving, and classical melody are present in WEG’s dense soundscapes, the thrilling sum of the music is much more difficult to define than its individual parts.

World’s End Girlfriend is the solo project of Japanese composer Katsuhiko Maeda. Despite enjoying a sizable cult following in his home country, Maeda has garnered relatively little exposure in the United States. In fact, American audiences probably are most familiar with the 2006 album Palmless Prayer / Mass Murder Refrain, WEG’s collaborative effort with renowned Japanese post-rockers Mono.

But all of this is poised to change following the domestic release of its most recent effort, last year’s Seven Idiots, in June. Simultaneously hyper-melodic and abrasive, Seven Idiots easily ranks among WEG’s best work and should serve as a fine introduction to the band for American audiences.

When he’s away from the studio, Maeda spends most of his spare time at the helm of Virgin Babylon Records, a label he created last year. Virgin Babylon handles all of WEG’s regional distribution (Seven Idiots is being distributed in America through UK-based Erased Tapes Records) and is currently home to diverse stable of artists that includes Matryoshka, About Tess, and Joseph Nothing Orchestra.

How has WEG drawn on and altered the history of post-rock in Japan?

I don’t want to put my music in the small framework of post-rock. If you look at music as a huge tree, my music is a tiny branch of it. But that branch is a part of tree that is rooted deep under the ground. I can answer your question, talking about that tiny branch part, but I’m not interested.

You originally recorded Seven Idiots with vocals and later deleted them after finishing the songs. Why?

[In] the beginning, I decided to delete the vocal parts after the initial making. The reasoning of that method was to use strong melody and ’60s-like pop-sense as a melodic core, and then to mash that with other elements — mixing “pops” and “un-pops” together unconsciously through distraction and reconstruction.

David V. D'Andrea: Ulver album art (photo by Roger Johnsen)

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The connection between visual and auditory art seems natural to graphic artist David V. D’Andrea, who notes KISS album artist Ken Kelley, Metallica’s merchandise designer Pushead, and Dischord Records founder and designer Jeff Nelson as fundamental influences. “The artists I looked up to when I was young were all music based,” he says. “Early on I saw the music and visuals as one in the same.”

Since the early 1990s,  D’Andrea has gradually become a staple in the West Coast music scene. Growing up, D’Andrea produced zines and fliers – generally in the DIY fashion of Xeroxing – for a variety of underground bands in the Oakland, California area. By the mid-’90s, the artist’s work began to receive well-deserved attention: D’Andrea soon had a commission for an album cover.

David V. D'Andrea: Swans poster
David V. D'Andrea: Swans poster
Helen Money

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