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Japanese Rock on NPR

25 June 2006

Some say that once a cultural trend receives coverage on National Public Radio, its next step is to The New York Times and on to ubiquity. If this theory holds true, by this time next year DIR EN GREY will be taking KORN out as their opening act. On Wednesday, July 21, a show on JRock and JOSEPHINE YUN’s new book, JRock, Ink.: A Concise Report on 40 of the Biggest Rock Acts in Japan, aired on NPR via BBC’s The World. Below is an excerpt of the transcript taken from the beginning of the broadcast.

MARCO WERMAN: Not many Americans are familiar with Japanese rock. Rock is not what comes to mind when you think “Japanese music.” But Josephine Yun thinks differently. She’s written a book called JRock, Ink.: A Concise Report on 40 of the Biggest Rock Acts in Japan. Yun says the book doesn’t just list the best Japanese rock bands.

JOSEPHINE YUN: I did try to include a mix of more well-known mainstream artists that are popular there, but also maybe lesser known founders of the genre who’ve been around since the beginning, as well as a few indie bands and female artists, to kind of create a representative slice of Japanese rock music as a whole. It’s a very diverse genre and, of course, Japan also now has its own sub-genre called “Visual Kei” and I tried to include some bands from that genre as well.

MARCO WERMAN: What is “Visual Kei?”

JOSEPHINE YUN: “Visual Kei” literally means “visual style.” It’s a style of dress, there’s a lot of costuming and make up and it’s uniquely Japanese because it goes back to ancient Japan. Men would often wear women’s clothing; I guess if they were here today they would be the underground kind of independent anarchist type people who spend their time in coffee houses thinking radical thoughts for that time. A lot of times “Visual Kei” musicians are mistaken for women, when in fact they are men. It’s not really testosterone driven either, it’s very poetic and effeminate.

For more, listen to the show, or read the entire transcript posted on their website.