Japan

Minoru ‘Hoodoo’ Fushimi interviewMinoru ‘Hoodoo’ Fushimi was not short of recognition before one of the very best compilations of 2017. His private press LPs did well in Japan and there were rumblings in the record community about this talisman. But thanks to Left Ear Records, this innovator, who combined traditional instruments with vocodered rap and electro-funk, has been elevated from his 1980s niche to a hallowed one among aficionados globally.

World Treasures Music spoke to the producer based in Zushi, in Kanagawa, Japan.

What were your musical influences at this time?

“As for the music I was into those days, electro-funk and hip hop, but I was not so keen on jazz-funk as it sounded too smooth to me…The first and earliest impetus was Paul McCartney’s first solo album released in 1970. But those days I was still a low teen and the equipment was still very expensive as well. Back in the day ordinary people couldn’t have owned their fully sound insulated studio with the drums in their home (so I just kept on practicing the guitar). My guitar hero was and has been Jimi Hendrix, and there were no scores and handbooks on his technique, so I just had to copy it by ear. But that was a good music training to me, I think. Because I was so bad at music classes in my school days and used to hate it. And in 1980 Stevie Winwood made his great solo album all by himself, and the key was the digital drum machine. At that time I hoped I’ll be able to do the similar work in the near future . And when the electro-funk came out, that ignited me for starting to work. Then the hip hop appeared, and that was so fresh to me, and changed my idea on vocals.”

Minoru in 1987 when interviewed by a music magazine in Japan after ‘Kenka Oyaji’ was released

“As a listener, I got interested in many other genres of music after I graduated university and started to work as an office worker. Maybe I was so tired of working hard and needed more music in my spare time. So I paid most of my salary for the records and audio equipment, and on my way home from the office, I went straight to Akihabara (a place in Tokyo famous for records and audio gear those days ). From Western classical music (I was more keen on Middle Ages and renaissance music) to world music and Japanese traditional music. I think that was useful for making my music as well.”

Can you take us through some of your tracks?

“The original hand drawing for the insert of Thanatos… was lost… I seem to have had strange love for the earth. You might not believe it, but actually the oil painting for the Thanatos… album artwork was stolen. And the only photo I have is the one in my hand, though it’s out of focus.”

Furarete Nambo (It’s Ok To Get Dumped): “Let me explain what the lyrics say and its concept in this song, basically the lyrics are to cheer up the BOYS who got dumped by girls or broke up with them, as those days in Japan it was said there are much more boys than girls in number. Plus, the bubble economy days had begun…so it was a hard time for them. So the lyrics say that it’s not bad to have broken heart because it’ll be good experience and make you get better and progress and grow up. I aimed for the ‘tender cheering tone’ in vocoder!”

Ai Wa Nohshintoh (Love Hits Like Concussion): “Decades ago I suffered from a concussion, being collided from behind by accident. That caused a serious faint and days-continuous headache. And that bad experience gave me a hint of this song.  Ai Wa Nohshintoh is also based on that.”

I said some of the themes and lyrics of my songs are based on my real experiences, but of course not all of them. Many of them are from my imagination. For example, in Nikudukue ( Living Desk of Flesh) I criticise the tendency of Japan’s fiercely competitive university entrance examinations in which lots of elementary school kids are made to study so hard for entering “better and high ranked” private junior high schools by their parents.”

How did you get the name ‘Hoodoo’?

“Hoodoo comes from that Junior Wells album title Hoodoo Man Blues. I loved this album, but that was not the only reason. Before that Jimi Hendrix’s Voodoo Chile had been familiar to me. And I got to know Hoodoo is a variation of Voodoo then. Back in the day Japan saw a big ‘band boom’ and there were lots of rock bands springing up like mushrooms after the rain, but very few of them sounded so interesting to me as they seemed to be dull uniformity. So I thought, ‘Ok, I’m going to be ‘Hoodoo’ (a person or thingy that brings bad luck) musically’.”

“I loved Jimi Hendrix so much, I even imitated his guitar action—playing the guitar with teeth—on a stage when I was young , and I hit my front teeth strongly to the guitar body so hard, I had my front teeth chipped, and even now you can see the artificial part and my real teeth.”

What happened after your amazing releases then? Are you making any music now?

In an acoustic mood.

“There was a time when I was so tired of dealing with new computer-based (Macintosh) harddisk recording as it always ended up suffering crash and freeze. That was after I let go of all the multi track recorders and more gear…I just wanted to touch the acoustic instruments again.”

“As I said, I began to make music again, and this is the newest work I did this year. This is a cover of a Japanese traditional folk song (of Miyagi region), and I use my BiwaOud in it as well as the electronic equipment.”

Listen to Minoru’s new music: Click here for his Bandcamp.

How did you come into contact with Left Ear Records?

The boss Christopher Bonato contacted me through Facebook.
Have you had much contact with new fans after this recent reissue?
“Yes. And it’s fun to have communication with them.”

Drawing for the insert of ‘Thanatos’

Today Minoru also invents instruments, visit his instruments website for more information.

 

The beautiful cover art of the selections for Even A Tree Can Shed Tears: Japanese Folk & Rock 1969-1973.

V/A – ‘Even A Tree Can Shed Tears: Japanese Folk & Rock 1969-1973’ LITA 156 album cover. Art by Heisuke Kitazawa.

Gu – ‘Akari Ga Kietara b/w Marianne’ single cover.

Takashi Nishioka – ‘Man-in No Ki’ album cover.

Kazuhiko Yamahira & The Sherman – ‘Shichigatsu Niju-Ichi Nichi Socho Ni b/w Sotto Futari De’ single cover.

Kazuhiko Kato – ‘Supergas’ album cover.

Happy End – ‘Kazemachi Roman’ album cover.

Gypsy Blood – ‘Rokkou Oroshi’ album cover.