Buffalo Daughter calls on some ‘konjac-tions’ for its newest album

by Daisuke Kikuchi

Staff Writer

Buffalo Daughter has a knack for recruiting influential fans. One of these fans, Tokyo-born artist Peter McDonald, is partially responsible for getting the band to record its latest album, “Konjac-tion.”

In 2011, McDonald (whose father is British and mother is Japanese) held an exhibition at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, titled “Peter McDonald: Visitor.” It showcased a series of brightly colored paintings featuring people dancing in front of a turntable at a giant block party. Being a Buffalo Daughter fan, he asked the trio to perform at the exhibition.

“We were preparing songs for the exhibition, and (what we chose as) the cover art of this album was actually being displayed there as well,” says singer and guitarist suGar Yoshinaga. “Since the exhibition room isn’t meant for playing music in, the sound system wasn’t too great. But it was fun and it inspired us to record the new album.”

Yoshinaga, Yumiko Ohno and MoOoG Yamamoto (who, like Yoshinaga, plays around with capitalization in his professional name) formed Buffalo Daughter in 1993. Coming out around the time of the booming Shibuya-kei movement meant getting tagged with the label even though Yoshinaga felt her band’s music had a different sound. However, the tag helped spread the group’s name and it was able to develop pockets of fans here and overseas. Among those fans was the band Luscious Jackson, who connected Buffalo Daughter to the Grand Royal label run by Beastie Boys at the time.

Counting the Beastie Boys among your fans leads to a lot of opportunity. Last year, Adam Horovitz (better known as Ad-Rock) joined Keigo Oyamada (Flipper’s Guitar, Cornelius) and some other high-profile names to take part in Buffalo Daughter’s 20th anniversary best-of release, “ReDiscoVer./Best, Re-recordings and Remixes of Buffalo Daughter.” The two-disc “Konjac-tion” sees many more high-profile names returning to the group’s block party.

“I thought ‘connection’ was the key term for this album, but the term was a bit too direct and straightfoward for us,” Yoshinaga says. “When I was searching online, though, I saw konnyaku (a Japanese food) spelled as ‘konjac,’ so we made up the term ‘konjac-tion.’ ”

Some of the “konjac-tions” include Shibuya-kei vocalist Kahimi Karie, who offers up whispery French vocals on “Le Cheval Blanc” (“The White Horse”), and psych-rocker Shintaro Sakamoto of the now-defunct Yura Yura Teikoku who sings on “Love & Food.” The second disc comprises remixes from Sean Lennon, Cibo Matto and Yoshinori Sunahara.

“We suddenly came up with the idea that it would be perfect if Kahimi could sing for us,” Yoshinaga recalls about the album’s initial brainstorming sessions. “Except for rapper Fuzati, we’ve known all the contributors for a long time and they agreed to our request to get them involved. That’s ‘konjac-tion’ in action.”

Buffalo Daughter just recently returned from a European tour that took in British music festival “The Great Escape.” The group is scheduled to perform at Fuji Rock Festival on July 27. Despite having a set at what is arguably Japan’s most renowned music festival, the members are nonchalant about it.

“We’re looking forward to it, but there’s usually problems with the equipment and stuff,” Yoshinaga says. “We’ll just try to stay natural and be flexible enough to adjust to whatever the environment up there is like. I guess that’s how we have been able to continue as a band for the past 20 years.”

“Konjac-tion” is in stores July 23. Buffalo Daughter plays the Red Marquee stage at Fuji Rock Festival in Naeba, Niigata Prefecture, on July 27. For more information on tickets, visit www.fujirockfestival.com.