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Shawn Despres

Shawn Despres has been contributing to the Japan Times’ music page since 2005, and he has a passion for writing about the independent music scene in East Asia. He spent several years living in Yokohama and currently resides in Seoul.

For Shawn Despres's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:

Nov 19, 2010

Envy take 'Recitation' out on the road again

Tokyo-based Envy issued their fifth full-length album, "Recitation," in September. To celebrate its release, the quintet embarked on their first North American tour in four years. On this, their longest international trek, the postrock and hardcore hybrid act played 25 shows in the span ...

Nov 12, 2010

Indie breakout, 'kimchibilly' rockers bring Seoul to Japan

While K-pop continues to gain greater recognition worldwide, South Korea's prolific, small underground-music scene is still struggling to find audiences outside of Seoul. Folk-rock group Chang Kiha and the Faces have, until now, brushed off the so-called Korea boom and focused primarily on their ...

Ryo the Skywalker's new hope

Oct 29, 2010

Ryo the Skywalker's new hope

Search the music section on social networking website Twitter and you'll see a long list of known global megastars, including Britney Spears and Kanye West. Directly under Justin Timberlake is Japan's only representative on the list — Ryo the Skywalker, the stage name of ...

Ling tosite sigure seek virgin fans on the road

Oct 15, 2010

Ling tosite sigure seek virgin fans on the road

Preparing to hit the road to showcase their fourth long-player, "still a Sigure virgin?," Ling tosite sigure have only one thing on their minds: arousing new fans. Dubbed the Virgin Killer tour, during the 13-concert trek the posthardcore Saitama trio won't be gently seducing ...


/ Oct 15, 2010


The music industry is like high school in a way: You become cooler and life becomes more advantageous after you make some well-connected, older pals. In 2007, Tokyo instrumental math-rock and postrock quartet Lite teamed with experimental bass and sanshin band Funanori for a split ...

Band A to headline Fukuoka club crawl

Sep 24, 2010

Band A to headline Fukuoka club crawl

Fukuoka recently ranked 14th in U.K. magazine Monocle's annual "Most Livable Cities Index." Alt-rock duo Band A are unsurprised their city fared so well. "I love Fukuoka," proclaims guitarist and vocalist Kouhei Hara. "It's very easy to live a comfortable life here. People are kind ...

Ling tosite sigure 'still a Sigure virgin?'

/ Sep 24, 2010

Ling tosite sigure "still a Sigure virgin?"

Building themselves into one of the country's more successful indie acts, Saitama trio Ling tosite sigure graduated to the majors for 2009's "just A moment." Since then, they've sold over 60,000 units of the record, toured in Britain (their first international gigs) and drew ...


/ Sep 3, 2010


Combining letters from the names of the instruments they play — piano and cajon (a South American box drum) — to create their handle, Pia-no-jaC's stripped-down keys and percussion setup has netted the Tokyo duo a fair amount of attention. Debuting in the fall of ...

Neon Gravity ready to jack the party at Fukuoka's Sunset Live

Aug 27, 2010

Neon Gravity ready to jack the party at Fukuoka's Sunset Live

Summer's end may be near, but music festival season is far from finished. Featuring 70 acts, the 18th edition of Fukuoka's Sunset Live will take place Sept. 3-5. Situated along the shore of Keya Beach, the event's picturesque surroundings boast plenty of greenery, sand ...


/ Aug 20, 2010


BXI is a collaborative effort between Tokyo's Boris and British vocalist Ian Astbury. The former are a prolific trio whose constantly evolving hybrid of heavy, avant-garde metal and psychedelic sounds has made them much revered abroad. The latter is best known as the frontman ...