Feb 262009
 
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Having started the Merzbow project under the influence and admirationof Dadaism and Futurism, Masami Akita has, over the years, taken hiswork into a new direction, namely animal rights defense andenvironmentalism, reflecting his own new vision of the world. In thisbrief interview, he explains why.

Chain D.L.K.: Last year was, as usual, a busy and prolific one for Merzbow. Whathave you been working on in 2009?
Merzbow: I’m working on a 13 CDs project for Important Records, entitled “13Japanese Birds”. Each CD will be released monthly, under the name of aJapanese bird. The first work is “Suzume”, meaning “The Sparrow”, andthe second is entitled “Fukurou”, which means “The Owl”.

Chain D.L.K.: Last year saw some peculiar Merzbow releases, namely thecollaborations with names that, at first sight, and in spite of theirwork in the improv scene, aren’t directly related with the “noise”world: Sonic Youth and Mats Gustafsson, as well as Richard Pinhas. Didyou find specially challenging to work with artists like these? How doyou relate to all these different, let’s say, conceptual visions?
Merzbow: These are just natural evolutions for me, because I know their music,as well as themselves. Jim O’Rourke invited me to play on the “Otherside of Sonic Youth” set, on the Roskild Festival, back in 2005. Asfor Richard Pinhas, well, I’m a fan of Heldon since the 1970s, so itwas an honour to play with him.

Chain D.L.K.: On a different note, you also presented the “Bloody Sea of Taiji -Stop the mass slaughter of dolphins in Japan” installation last yearat DSPS, in Rotterdam (The Netherlands). What was the concept behindits creation?
Merzbow: It was part of the campaign against cruel Japanese dolphin hunting.The main part is a CD called “Dolphin Sonar” (Important Records, USA),released in 2008. That was a collaboration of mine with US animalrights group Sea Shepherd, which is developing some very activeanti-whaling actions in the Antarctic Ocean. They are considered aseco-terrorist by the Japanese government… They’re also doing thisstrong action called “Operation Musashi”, in Japan. Sea-Shepherd’sleader, Captain Watson, submitted a great text for the “Dolphin Sonar”CD. You can learn a lot more about these subjects athttp://www.seashepherd.org/taiji andhttp://www.seashepherd.org/musashi.Surprisingly, dolphins are being unabashedly killed in the region ofTaiji, in Japan, with their meat being sold. Moreover, that same meatis also used for the lunches of the local schools, although it hasbeen polluted by mercury. So they persist in the fishing tradition,and children are made to eat mercury. I do not understand it at all…On the other hand, Japanese scientific whaling research is an absolutefalsehood. It is a cheated strategy of conservative traditionalistswho want to bring back whale meat eating to our daily life. OrdinaryJapanese people don’t eat whale meat anymore, but right-wingpoliticians claim that eating whale is a Japanese tradition. They fearthat, if whaling is banned, catching other fish like tuna will also bebanned, for Japanese people are the biggest tuna killers worldwide.

Chain D.L.K.: This leads us to the next question. You have been developing severalprojects focused on environmentalism and animal rights. At what pointdid you start finding yourself interested in these matters? How do youtry to express these concepts through yours sound?
Merzbow: Well, I first went vegetarian after acquiring a bantam fowls. At thetime, I did quit eating meat and, then, I’ve also quit fish and alldairy products… I guess that my initial ideas on being vegan werevery political.I thought that animal rights are an alternative to class war.Communism did never pay any attention to animals, because it’s onlyfighting a class war on humans’ behalf, not other creatures. I reallythink that anthropocentrism is quite wrong. The greatest cause of theenvironmental disruption of Earthis the human species. We must take care of other creatures if we wantto have any hope for the Earth’s survival.I’ve been vegan for several years now, and I can say that the musicwhich I’ve been making is all based on this concept of animal rights.I think it’s necessary to reflect it on my own sound, in order to getit transmitted to an audience.Actually, the “Bloody Sea” album was the first in which I collaboratedwith an Animal Rights organization. The theme was a protest againstJapan’s whaling. As for the second one, it’s about the theme ofAnti-Fur and it’s entitled “F.I.D.” (“Fur Is Dead”), being acollaboration with PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).

Visit Merzbow on the web at:
www.merzbow.net

[interviewed by Nuno Loureiro] [proofreading by Marc Urselli]