Last November we introduced everyone to Lamp, a band that paints peaceful vibes and laid back sepia evenings in the form of music. Drawing inspiration from years gone by, their retro image paired up with Brazilian Bossa Nova inspired tunes is an homage to the 70s.
Lamp has turned 20-years-young this year and we’re very fortunate to speak to the trio behind the calm tunes and good times. Before you delve into the interview, their playlist makes for great reading music. You can find them on Spotify, YouTube, or Apple Music or on most major streaming platforms. When you’re ready, let’s poke around in the minds of Lamp.
For those who have yet to know Lamp, could you please tell us a little about the band?
Nagai: We formed the band in 2000, starting off as my dream pop band [laughs]. Our music can be characterized as melodic and harmonic, and we try to focus on those elements. The members are Taiyo Someya who plays guitar and writes songs, Kaori Sakakibara on vocal, flute, and keyboard, and I (Yuusuke Nagai) am on vocals, bass, guitar, keyboards, and I also write songs.
You’re a very multitalented band, it’s amazing that you can play so many instruments, especially Sakakibara as flutists are fairly unusual in bands. You mentioned that it was your dream to start Lamp, can you explain how it all began?
Someya: We started the band because of our hobbies and interests. We were—and still are—enamored with world-culture and music. Including music, I also really like movies and manga, in particular, the period in Japan from the 60s to the 70s. That is where everything starts for me.
I see. What’s the motivation that drives the band to stick around?
Someya: Until now, I think that we’ve—in some cases very stubbornly—continued to express ourselves through our music, by listening carefully to what we hear ringing inside, both individually and also collectively, less than the things happening outside.
On the note of “outside”, we believe you’ve not toured outside of Asia yet. After being active for two decades, your listeners abroad are probably keen to have you tour their backyard. Any thoughts or plans in the next few years?
Sakakibara: We don’t have any specific plans as of yet. In the past, however, we performed in Korea, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Indonesia. Of course, I’d like to tour again. Touring was a wonderful experience! And I would love to tour overseas, when and if the opportunities arise. Revisiting places we have and also places we have not—like the US, the UK, Europe, and Latin America.
They’ll be glad that you’re thinking about them. Coming back to music now, your most recent album is Her Watch which came out in 2018. If you can tell us, what sort of songs are you currently writing for your next release?
Nagai: We haven’t made any concrete decisions at the moment. Recently, for me personally, I like listening to the acoustic tunes of the 70s, so artists such as Hirth Martinez, Ned Doheny, and so forth. I thought to myself, I’d like to do something like that [laughs]. I’m also influenced by 80’s Brazilian music like Ivan Lins and Marcos Valle, so surely those influences are in mind—and perhaps will reflect in my songwriting.
Someya: Our songwriting hasn’t changed much, not yet at least [laughs]. I like the melody and chords of Brazilian music, and to try and create songs based on those influences. Our latest album “Her Watch” was influenced by the MPB (an acronym for “Música Popular Brasileira” is a trend in post-bossa nova urban popular music in Brazil) of the ’80s, but compared to that, the demo I’m putting together now is a little more musically diverse. As with our previous songs, some songs were created with this Brazilian influence in mind, while other songs were more oriented and akin to folk-rock.
Just hearing you talk about bossa nova and Brazillian music makes us miss traveling. What type of music do you enjoy listening to? Any particular artists you like?
Someya: I like old music. Artists such as Antônio Carlos Jobim, Toninho Horta, Piero Piccioni, The Beatles, and Simon & Garfunkel.
Sakakibara: I also like music from past eras, such as the Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, Happy End, Yumi Arai, to give you a few examples.
You both like similar artists! How about yourself, Nagai?
Nagai: For me, I’m into many of the same artists, as well as The Beach Boys, Todd Rundgren, Stevie Wonder, Marcos Valle, Michael Franks, The Zombies, The Byrds and stuff like that.
That’s a great list, I bet your fans will be itching to check them all out now. Lastly, can you please leave a message to our readers and your fans?
Sakakibara: Hello. Lamp is now 20 years old. We’ve managed to get this far somehow, thanks to our fans and listeners. I think there are people who still listen to our music since right from the very beginning. To old and new listeners, thank you so much for finding us, and listening to our music. While I can’t go out with the current Coronavirus situation, I enjoy listening to songs I loved when I was a young person, reading comics, and traveling all around inside my own thoughts [laughs]. Everyone, please spend your time in a way you can remain calm and hopeful.
Someya: I think the world is in a really tough situation right now, but it would be great if everyone could somehow find the happiness in front of them, within their own possibilities, and feel mentally happy and comforted. This is my hope anyhow.
Nagai: How is everyone doing? It feels like the world has changed with this pandemic. We’re writing songs and doing things one step at a time. I’m really looking forward to the day when we can go to the town where you live and perform for you!
We’d like to thank our friends, Lamp and their management for arranging this very special interview. What did you think of their music? If you didn’t have a chance just yet, be sure to come back when you have a moment. You’ll be grateful to yourself for that decision.
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