Japan Society’s Concert For Japan was a 12 hour marathon of improvisational noise, j-rock, somber balladry, pop punk, and world fusion funk. Artists ran the gamut from Ryuichi Sakamoto, Philip Glass, Lou Reed, Laurie Anderson, and John Zorn to Ethiopian singer Gigi and up-and-coming Japanese acts like Hard Nips and The Suzan. This moving fundraiser for Japan somehow managed to retain a spark of ingenuity while deftly balancing emotionally wrought themes and a spirit of carefree fun. 100% of the proceeds went to Japan Society’s Japan Earthquake Relief Fund, which has raised over 3.5 million dollars since March 12, 2011.
I was lucky enough to be granted a group interview with Philip Glass, Lou Reed, Laurie Anderson, and John Zorn. All dressed in black (much of it weathered leather), the avant-old-guard of experimental music sat across from me as I asked them about their performance choices and experiences in Japan. Reed reverently described a three hour train trip in Tokyo to pick up one of the first computer calculator watches (of which he nabbed the last one) and his perceived connection between his own creative predilections and the Japanese minds that could dream up such cutting edge technology. He’s felt a kinship ever since, and frequents Akihabara (the electric district) on each visit to Japan.
Here's an edited version of the interview:
A full write up on the event can be found online at the NYT.