Japan Artist Residency Journal

A collection of moments from my residency in Itoshima, Fukuoka, Japan.

 

Japan residency week one:

I arrived in Fukuoka exhausted; with a tired sense of wonder I ventured out into the city late at night and my phone quickly died. I was lost and without the language to communicate–I felt free. The next night I saw some psychedelic bands and had a stunted conversation about Can. I saw some head-spinning work at the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum and then took the bus to Itoshima: the quiet coastal town where I am living in a traditional rural home with two other artists.
During the day I drift around the countryside shooting video and work on a solo set for the shows I’m playing here. At night I drink Japanese whiskey, drone out, and try to write. I’m not entirely alone but it’s close enough.

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Japan residency week two:

This week was largely spent indoors with my music equipment spread out across the tatami mats on the floor of my room, practicing the live versions of new Drowse songs for the show. My first show in Japan felt like a true accomplishment–I played an entirely new set with a new setup, alone in front of room of people who had mostly never heard my music. I got lots of good feedback, some of the other artists came to watch me, and the other bands were so cool, from Maru303 with his modular synth trances to Kelp with their psychedelic, heavily experimental jazz.
After the show the people in Kelp took me out to drink and we wound up at a sushi bar at two in the morning. Standing there, drinking highballs and eating sashimi, talking music and literature while not totally understanding each other, and basking in leftover light from the show filled me with an indescribable warmth.

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Second Self Postcard:

Here is a flyer/postcard and description for Second Self, another Drowse show in Japan happening this weekend–it is an interactive audiovisual installation I’ve been working on this past month. It features twelve minutes of audio and video work that will be manipulated live and presented alongside twelve pages of writing. This show precedes and compliments a collection of new music I will be releasing next year.

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Japan residency week three:

I completed and exhibited my installation, Second Self,–twelve minutes of video and sound, 3,520 words–and gave a short talk about it (thanks to Katsura for translating). It was awesome to see all of the other exhibitions; I was also lucky enough to go to two pretty incredible shows, Acid Mothers Temple with Macmanaman, and my friend’s baroque/noise project, 密笑. Tonight I got to have a sake filled Christmas Eve dinner with my friends from Kelp (who also play in Macmanaman, and 密笑). A week of hard work and sensory overload.

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Japan residency week four:

The week began in a post-exhibition glow; I spent my last days in Itoshima biking around, journaling on the beach, and finishing up a new music video. Soon it was time to pack up my gear and head to Tokyo, where I stayed in a hostel in Koenji for five days. I had amazing luck with shows and was able to see Boris with Michio Kurihara, (they played almost the entirety of one of my favorite albums, Rainbow) as well as Keiji Haino (who at 66 played a wildly experimental set for three hours strait). I also went to a depressing exhibition called Catastrophe and the Power of Art at the Mori art museum, which clashed with my heightened mood: a grounding reminder of the sadness that never seems to be far from my chest.
On New Year’s Eve I stayed up to watch the sunrise on the roof of my hostel. As the giant ball rose above Tokyo’s skyline, I reflected: maybe years change like mood cycles, 2017 was one of the darkest years of my life, while 2018 was one of the greatest–I toured a ton with people I was close to (starting with SXSW), put out two records (one with Drowse, one with Floating Room) and a split, played shows and did residencies in Iceland and Japan, and made lasting friendships with people from all over the world. There will be a new Drowse record coming out that I am extremely proud of–I can’t wait to share it with you.

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Reflections on the 2018 Tour W/ Floating Room

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We’ve been home from the Drowse/Floating Room tour for a few days and I’ve been trying to think of what to say. The shows were consistently amazing–tons of people, awesome bands–and very vulnerable. Playing a two piece Drowse set every night was disarming. No drums or bass to hide behind, our voices right there with the guitars. Projected images separated us from the audience, creating an atmosphere that made the interaction slightly less direct. Setting up the projector before each set became an anxiety reducing ritual–it’s light helped guide me into the now of the performance. By the middle of the tour I started to feel good about our playing, I didn’t need to drink my way through it, and I felt proud of the mood we could create in any space. I could take this minimalist Drowse anywhere–the world felt open.

Beyond this realization it was incredible to see people from different cities traveling far to watch both bands. For the first time we had people following us to multiple shows, invested in our art: a dream almost as deep as getting to tour with people I love.

“Memory Painting” Shirt/More Tour Info

drowse memory painting shirt promo photo.jpgOur tour with Floating Room starts Friday. We made a small amount of these new “Memory Painting” shirts for these shows. We will also have the tour edition of our split with Planning For Burial, copies of Cold Air, and will be showing some new projection work. Message if you need an address for one of the shows. See you soon!

Reflections on our Shows With Planning For Burial

Four shows. We only played four shows on the West Coast last week, but the shows felt more meaningful and fulfilling than any month long tour I’ve been on. I want to do more.

Part of this was because we were traveling with Thom Wasluck, a human who records music that is relatable, affecting, and genuine; Planning For Burial is “real”. As a person Thom is just like his art: without contrivance. It inspires me to be around a self that knows exactly what it is.

Meaning also came from the impressions I felt at each show. People that had spent time with this record I’d made in my bedroom, this distilled expression of my self, came to speak to me about it. Their connection to my work chipped away at the barriers between our selves. My bandmates worked hard to help this expression come to life and made it sound incredible. In short, these shows felt good.

In life and art I value solitude. My favorite part of this music thing I’ve been engaged with for the past ten or so years is writing and recording, and I like it best when I’m by myself: alone making little sound worlds to better understand my life.

I know that for many people playing shows is the goal, but with Drowse–a self mirror–it has always been an anxiety inducing experience. There are moments of enjoyment, but they are usually coaxed with alcohol and volume. These shows were different. I felt that bedroom feeling, that joyful detachment, the world and self disappearing into the present.

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