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Interviewed by
Martyn Pepperell
Tuesday 18th June, 2013 10:19AM

Stunning instrumentalists Mono of Japan return to New Zealand this week for two shows. Visiting for the third time, they are touring their new album For My Parents. In lead up to the the tour, Martyn Pepperell put a few questions to guitarist Takaakira "Taka" Goto who provides some insight into the bands approach to music writing and performance as well as their longevity as a band....

How would you describe Mono's collective philosophies towards creativity, creating, performing and releasing music?

I think music (and many other art forms) is a bridge that allows people to connect. We’re all in a room sharing the energy of a song, and in that space we remember that all humans derive from the same source. Narratives and concepts may contribute to a record, but I believe music has a sort of transcendence that can be felt, but not explained. Music transcends cultural definitions. It’s a beautiful experience to play our music on different continents and feel no disconnect between us and the audience. This is the universal language of music.

Close to a decade and a half ago, you formed as a band in Tokyo. What do you think have been the key factors in your longevity as a group? How has the dynamics inside the band shifted over that time, and in 2013, what do you see each of your roles as being in Mono? 

We feel very lucky to tour around the world and create music everyday. Somehow we've made it work and now we've become like family. Like all other bands, we'll have disagreements, but I think we just have a common purpose and we're on the same walk of life.

You hail from Tokyo, Japan. When you emerged as a band it seemed you were influenced by American and English rock and shoegaze bands like Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine. As the years progressed and you released more records, we started to see shades influence from classical and film score composers coming through in your work. Over your career, how often have you heard younger bands recordings or live performances and relealised they were influenced by Mono? And how does that feel? To have gone from being informed by to informing?

We do hear from younger bands who've been influenced by us and it makes us feel happy and proud to know that we we are giving some kind of positive inspiration. It feels surreal because we cannot believe how much time has past since we first formed. It's inevitable that all musicians will influence one another though, whether unconsciously or consciously. No matter how pure and unique an artist's sound is, he/she is still sharing and learning from others.

Over your career you have released six studio albums - Under the Pipal Tree, One Step More and You Die,Walking Cloud and Deep Red Sky, Flag Fluttered and the Sun Shined, You Are There, Hymn to the Immortal Wind and For My Parents. Could you give us a quick summary of what you see each of these albums as representing for Mono and the musical development of Mono?

Each album has been a stepping stone and learning experience. I think we've grown more confident as a quartet and are able to take larger risks in composition. Albums are separate entities, but each one feels a part of a continuum in a strange way. It’s almost like watching a timeline of a person’s life. We just try to translate our own personal experiences and emotions into sound. I think the root of each song and album has to come from an honest place. We are exposed to so many forms of art and music all around us, so the only way to give our music a unique life of its own is to become story-tellers of our own journey.

How important do you consider touring and the live experience as having been in popularising your group and helping you develop a cult following? What have you learned from, or gone on to release from performing across the globe?

We've tried to translate our own personal experiences and emotions into sound. I think the root of each song and album has to come from an honest place. We are exposed to so many forms of art and music all around us, so the only way to give our music a unique life of its own is to become story-tellers of our own journey.

I think we’ve learned and grown as human beings with each album. With every experiment, we learn something new about the music we’re trying to share with the world. The main change is that our vision is clearer now, and we’ve met many wonderful people who support our journey. This has enabled us to create more, tour more, and release more. We try to follow our joy.

Do you see Mono as being a lifelong thing for the four of you? Do you have long-term goals and plans in place? If so, what are some of them?

We've already started to prepare our next album and are very excited about it. We never think about the end of the band and hope to continue even when we are 80 years old.

What and who have been some of the key support mechanisms that have helped you take what you're doing to this level and allow you to stay there.

The love of family, audience, friends, partners, our label, and kind strangers that we meet on the road.

How would you describe your band's association with New Zealand? What have your past experiences here been like, and what do you look forward to about returning?

Since we do not get to travel to NZ very often, we always feel like we are on a very special journey when we visit. We are thrilled that our music has reached NZ. The audiences have welcomed us with such warmth over the years. Hopefully we'll bring shows with good energy, new songs, and old songs. We're really looking forward to seeing all our friends.

What do you consider to be some of the most powerful statements you've made through music?

I'd rather have the audience experience our music and then dwell in possibility. Music can be a visceral, spiritual experience. It has the ability to communicate a sort of transcendence from the chaos of everyday living.


See below for tour dates + tickets - here is a clip from their new album...


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