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Ian Martin

Ian Martin is a freelance writer covering music and pop culture. He has been active in the Tokyo music scene as an indie event organiser, DJ and label owner since 2004 and has been contributing to The Japan Times music page for almost as long.

For Ian Martin's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:

Afrirampo leads 'Zero Generation' into adulthood

Jun 26, 2016

Afrirampo leads 'Zero Generation' into adulthood

Anarchic, anything-goes garage-punk band Afrirampo is defined first and foremost by feelings: The feelings that drive the duo as artists and the feelings they evoke in audiences. As the band returns to the live circuit after a six-year absence, guitarist Mayumi “Oni” Saeki is ...

| Jun 26, 2016

Wrapping up a musical trip across Japan

When I first embarked on my attempt to visit every prefecture in Japan and learn about the local indie music scene in each one, the idea that I would be able to draw any meaningful generalizations from the adventure seemed ludicrous. The music scene ...

The dream of the '90s is alive in Kansai

| May 29, 2016

The dream of the '90s is alive in Kansai

A big part of Japanese music’s wild overseas image is defined by groundbreaking artists from the Kansai area. Encompassing Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe, as well as nearby Nara and Wakayama, Kansai’s scene has exerted a powerful influence over international perceptions of Japanese music, particularly ...

Kyushu's music scene takes care of its own

| Apr 24, 2016

Kyushu's music scene takes care of its own

When the Great East Japan Earthquake hit on March 11, 2011, I was at home in my apartment in Tokyo. The ground lurched, the walls shuddered and my CDs began flinging themselves from the shelves. Mercifully, that was the extent of the physical damage, ...

| Feb 28, 2016

Icy Kanazawa, sunny Naha: A tale of two live scenes

I have been traveling around the country since September meeting people involved in different independent music scenes in such places as Hokkaido, and Iwate and Saitama prefectures. After taking a break over winter, I resumed my travels this month and headed to the contrasting ...

Melt-Banana, The Fin among acts at gig set in old bathhouse

Feb 7, 2016

Melt-Banana, The Fin among acts at gig set in old bathhouse

“To get the community onboard with the show, we made some flyers with photos of us on that make us look like cult leaders,” she says. “We were trying to look as wholesome as possible, which didn’t really work too well.” For curator Ella ...

| Jan 24, 2016

Afrirampo reunion may save 2016

While 2016 kicked off for most of the music world with David Bowie tricking hundreds of thousands of people into buying a jazz-prog concept album about death, the message from the heart of J-pop was loud and clear: “DO NOT WORRY, NOTHING WILL EVER ...

Z/nz finds the right kind of wrong on debut album

Jan 10, 2016

Z/nz finds the right kind of wrong on debut album

‘We were outside the station at Yahata in Kitakyushu and there was this festival going on — this group of old guys playing in a band with all these young people dancing. It was a strange scene — what kind of festival is this? ...

The best Japanese indie albums of 2015

| Dec 27, 2015

The best Japanese indie albums of 2015

While it remains this column’s firm conviction that J-pop is trapped in a self-perpetuating dark age, the indie and underground music scenes provide a far livelier picture of Japan’s musical landscape. In 2015, there was such a flow of fascinating new releases arriving from ...