Fujiya & Miyagi Interview

EP2 by Fujiya & Miyagi came out last Friday so we caught up with David Best and chatted about the new EP, his second favourite joke, new band members and collaborations. We kicked off the conversation by asking to be talked through the four tracks on EP2
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David Best : The first track is Outstripping (The Speed of Light). I always wanted a song with brackets and now we have so that’s one to tick off. It’s quite a simple song – some of our songs have many layers on them and some are quite stripped back and minimal and this one has only maybe five or six things going on. I suppose it’s just talking about grasping the moment, just get on with it and don’t put off to tomorrow what you can do today. It’s quite brutal sounding as well – It’s got a proper guitar solo in it which is quite fun. When we first started me and Steve had a ten commandments of things we wouldn’t do and one was “We will not have a guitar solo”. Then a few years ago around the time of Ventriloquizzing we thought “What would happen if we disregarded all these ten commandments?”

DB : Number two is RSI
Brighton Music Blog : Have you had it?
DB : No – a few bass players of ours have though because of the krautrock basslines. It’s about doing the same thing over and over again. What’s the point of doing the same thing over again to get the same results? It’s got a nice Can-ish tilt to the first bit, then it goes a bit full on rock which I feel a bit weird about. I still haven’t totally come to terms with that song because my gut instinct is to run away from rock.
Swoon is the third song which I’m really fond of. My favourite writers are Vladimir Nabvakov and JG Ballard, probably more Ballard than anyone. I love Concrete Islands and High Rise. He did a series of stories called Vermillion Sands which was short stories based around this fictional place, with singing statues and things like that. I read them ages ago but I re-read them again and again and I took little bits from each story and that’s what the song is – little bits of Ballard and my take on it. But you’ve got this Devo meets Joy Division beat which is quite nice which upsets it. I’m quite fond of it, it’s quite a sweet song.
Then the last one is Extended Dance Mix. I’m pretty proud of it. I just thought often lyrically maybe I’m guilty of disguising how I actually feel or what I want to say because I like hiding behind words. So I just thought what would happen if I said exactly how I feel about numerous subjects, whether that be my ankle clicking involuntarily sometimes or the trajectory of the band. It’s just a fun thing to do but to do it over a five note arpeggio disco thing – if the music was quite sombre and slow or melancholy I don’t think it would work so well because it would just Poor Me, but I don’t want that, I’m happy, I’m really chuffed with how things have gone.
BMB : One question I have to ask – is there an extended dance mix of Extended Dance Mix?
DB : Yes, there is. Initially the third verse started with my second favourite joke* which is “How do you turn a duck into a soul singer?” and I thought it would be so brilliant if I just put that in a song. And we did it and I thought it was going to be great and there’s lots of audio of me and Steve doing the joke together painfully so, and I really wanted it in there but some of the others didn’t get it so I got usurped. But I do want to do a version with it and I want to call it How Do You Turn a Duck into a Soul Singer (Extended Dance Mix). But there’s no more actual real verses other than that.
BMB :  EP2 is the second in a trilogy of EPs, which I’ve seen are then going to be combined together to form the next Fujiya & Miyagi album (which will be self-titled). Is the third EP going to come out at the same time as the album?
DB : Yes. The plan is that you’ve got the three vinyl bits that go into the gatefold packaging in vinyl one, but on release of the third EP it’ll be available on CD and digital, but there’ll be a different track order. We’re still doing EP3 so it might not have all the songs on it or they might be different versions. It depends how they fit together. You can have eleven or twelve songs you like but they might not fit together. But I don’t think we’ll be doing another vinyl version of the album, it’ll just be the EPs – a lot of people have bought it and I really appreciate that and I want them to have it and I don’t want to announce a cheaper version which you could have waited for and got.
BMB : One of our favourite tracks on EP1 is To The Last Beat Of My Heart, partly because it features our favourite couplet of the year which rhymes Jupiter with Stupider. It’s a very straightforward love song though,  which sets it apart lyrically  from most other Fujiya & Miyagi songs
DB : It’s kind of like the light side to Extended Dance Mix’s dark side. It stemmed from one of my boys saying “I love you to Jupiter and Mars” and I thought “Ah, you soppy fool, that’s quite sweet” and what about if I did a song about how I love them. And it’s quite nice because on that one Steve did the music on his own while he was waiting for his second daughter to be born and I wrote it about my boys. In the wrong hands it could be overly sentimental – If Sting did it, we’d be in trouble. I’m really fond of it and I think there’ll be more humanity in F&M as we go on because there’s something that changes in you – for the better – when you have children.
BMB : The next thing I wanted to move on to is the new line up. Things have changed a bit of the last few years. Matt Hainsby left a couple of years ago, but I can see  that you’re still friends from the banter between you on twitter every now and then
DB : We don’t see each other as much as we’d like. He decided he wanted to do something else. When you have kids things change and you’ll have to ask him why, but he’d done ten years, he’d done his time! And Lee a few years before that. I’m still good friends with Lee Adams who played drums. I’ve seen him a few times, but it’s kind of all consuming doing the band so I don’t really go out much. I hope we’re all friends, I think we are.
BMB : and you’ve got two new people on bass and drums.
DB : Ed Chivers is also in AK/DK. He joined first. When Lee first left we thought we might go back to being three of us and just have drum machines. Artificial Sweeteners was done with drum machines so why would we need an acoustic drum kit, but then it missed something. It missed dynamics and excitement so we got Ed involved who’s really good at that side of things. He’s a lovely guy and really technically proficient and he’s really good. He’s mixed the EPs as well. And then Ben Adamo replaced Matt on bass, over a year ago. And he’s from Belgium so I feel like we’re a properly European band now, flying in the face of Brexit.
BMB : I was going to talk about Steve’s new band after this
DB : I don’t know a lot about it. I haven’t heard it, but feel free
BMB : He’s doing that with Jo who used to be in the Woo!Worths
DB : And  also Imitation Electric Piano, Simon from Stereolab’s group, that Lee Adams was in as well before Fujiya & Miyagi, she sang in that for a bit. I can’t really tell you much about it because I haven’t heard it. I think there’s a couple of songs, I don’t think there’s an album. I think it got played on Gideon Coe last night, which is good. Yeah, I’m sure it’s great. Jo’s really into her synths as well and has got a great voice. All I’ve been listening to is David Bowie, so I haven’t asked to listen to it, which is a bit weird. When I did Omega Male I didn’t share it with anyone.
BMB : Is there going to be any more of that?
DB : No. Omega Male was really good fun, with my friend Sammy who lived in New York. The situation’s changed – When we did that I was in America quite a bit touring, he came over to England although we mainly just did it on the internet. Lyrically it’s the most passive aggressive negative record I’ve ever done. Maybe it doesn’t come across like that but I wish I’d just lightened up a bit. In that period I wasn’t annoyed, I was pretty happy but it was all “that’s annoyed me, that’s annoyed me”. But our situations have changed and it would be hard for us to do it. We’re still friends, we still keep in contact, but I can’t see it happening.
BMB : Are there any other collaborations coming up? You did that a track with Bomb The Bass a few years ago too, didn’t you?
DB :  We never actually I never met them. They just liked Transparent things,  so sent us a beat and some sounds and we put what we did on top, sent it back, he did some more. There’s plenty of people I admire and would like to do stuff with, but I feel like Fujiya & Miyagi’s been a bit reborn in a way, not commercially but in terms of my own enjoyment of it.
BMB : Is that the new line up, or is that doing it on your own label?
DB : It’s a combination of things. I think it’s pretty refreshing. It’s weird when people leave who’ve been there for a long time and you miss them a lot. I miss Lee and Matt a lot, and it was like really weird for ages, but then you have to adapt. And the other two are great. I think it’s more the fact that I just find it easier to write songs and I feel like we as a band can make them more interesting. I just feel like our best stuff is ahead of us which after so long is kind of quite nice.
BMB : We should give a mention to the gig at the Haunt
DB : Yeah, it’s going to be great
BMB : It’s been a while since you played in Brighton – about two years?
DB : The last time we played  a headline show was the first show after Artificial Sweeteners had been released and I remember being really nervous. I think we do tend to get a bit more nervous than we would with anywhere else
BMB : So you’re not more relaxed with Brighton because of the home crowd?
DB : The thing with us being very self-deprecating is that we never take it for granted that people will turn up. It’s more the fact that you know that your friends are watching. You need to get over it and I get over it pretty quickly but the first songs are harder. I’m glad that we can still do it and that people will still come to see us because it’s been quite a while since we played.
BMB : The last thing that I always ask everyone I interview is about other local bands to look out for.
DB : Someone who I really do love is Lost Idol. He’s great, his album is brilliant. It has Kraftwerk moments, it has it’s Beta Band moments. That’s the best thing I’ve heard from Brighton in quite a while.
BMB : They’re one of the supports at the Haunt as well, aren’t they?
DB : Yeah, and the first support is Monte Carlo who used to be in Fujiya & Miyagi when we first started, before Transparent Things, when we used to play at the Albert. We played there loads before Transparent Things came out, it was like our place, it was great, and he was in the band just before Matt Hainsby joined. He used to do keyboards and used to shout at people. So if you’re thinking of going, check out the two supports. He’s based in London, but really great stuff.
* David’s favourite joke is “Guess who I bumped into at Specsavers the other day?” “Everybody”
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