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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Halcali in the Japan Times

If ever there was a band crying out for more exposure in the English language press it's Halcali. Which is exactly why Daniel Robson could do with an extra few pats on the back for his efforts.

Here's the first published results of his interview, from the Japan Times (March 23rd). I believe that a fuller version of this will be published in Neo Magazine on the 29th of March, and "probably one or two British websites over the next few months running up to the album". Let's keep a lookout.

The Japan Times article does it's job pretty well- i.e it serves as a quick introduction to the band, hopefully getting a few people interested during the run-up to the release of the new album.
It was a slightly frustrating read in some respects as well though, as potentially hot topics (the reason behind the label switch, and Halcali's thoughts about chart placements in particular) are only glanced through.
Again though, it's only meant to be an introduction, and naturally isn't the place to go into such things. Although Halcali seem to try to dismiss the question somewhat, I don't believe for a second that they don't know why it happened. That's a topic for another time maybe.

There's still things to savour for the long(er) term fan though. One thing I've always liked about Halcali is that there is absolutely zero pretence. Where as a lot of other bands of this type who don't write their own material try to sweep that fact under the carpet, the girls have never been less than open about it, often humbly acknowledging their debt to their producers and writers.
At the same time though, I think they do have a bigger input in what goes on than a lot of others in their position, and with a few lyrics credits under their belt, a bit of acknowledgement of those facts could easily be forgiven. Surrounded by such talent, and with some artist freedom to contribute, they're certainly in a better position than most. If only the pop charts would reflect that.

Anyway, go take a look.


Blogger ssslithe said...

"potentially hot topics (the reason behind the label switch, and Halcali's thoughts about chart placements in particular) are only glanced through."

Thanks for the feedback. Over the course of 80 minutes I did ask some pretty tough questions about this stuff. Bear in mind that the Japanese media is generally quite spineless and sycophantic, and as such the girls have almost certainly never been asked about these things. I pushed it as far as I could, but I got the feeling that they were genuinely out of their depth with it, rather than being evasive. After all, they're very young, and probably don't have a lot of say in those aspects of their career. Also, their management, label and A&R were all in the room, and the girls were looking to them for help when we talked business. But remarkably they stayed buoyant and excitable right through to the end. I think that's very cool.

There was more stuff in the transcript, but the JT feature was only short... but believe me, I got away with a lot more than I expect to when I interview Ayumi Hamasaki!

Also, my editor had urged me to be a bit more cynical with the story, but I didn't want to do that - I love HalCali, and I wanted that to come through in the piece.

Finally, you mention the failure of the pop charts to reflect HalCali's uniqueness and talent. But what's No.1 this week? That appalling Utada Hikaru ballad. Followed, I might add, by Koda Kumi, and a whole host of other shite. The charts are no reflection of quality, especially in Japan. You might be better off ignoring them...

Anyway, the Neo piece will be pretty different (much longer, more playful, different quotes), so please look out for it!

8:49 AM

Blogger jariten said...

I'd still be surprised if they didn't have a decent idea behind the reasons for the label switch, but I'm not too surprised that they didn't want to, or couldn't talk about it.
Good on you for asking them about it though, its probably a kind of depth that they just aren't used to in the usual Zipper or What's In interviews they're used to.
Also, something I should have mentioned in the post- I'm glad that you took your subjects seriously and gave them genuine praise- it sounds like your editor didn't want you going down that route (?).
Having all the big cheeses in the room with you must have been nerve racking too...don't suppose you spotted OTF by any chance?!

Anyway, looking forward to the Neo piece.

11:47 PM

Blogger ssslithe said...

Haha, no OTF... I don't like having label folks in the same room (or anyone else for that matter) for these things, but I've kinda gotten used to it since moving out here, not least because I often rely on the label staff to translate (not in this case though).

And my editor is a fan, but he's a cynical sod - and after all, newspapers tend to cover music more soberly than magazines or web. But hey, after three years of trying for an interview, I wasn't about to pull any punches.

2:55 AM


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