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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:


/ Apr 2, 2010


The fifth Punkspring music festival takes place at the beginning of April. Usually held alongside its urban music cousin Springroove, this year only Punkspring has been scheduled and, in an interesting twist, despite selling out its last three editions in Tokyo, tickets prices for ...

Japanese bands go big in Texas at SXSW festival

Mar 26, 2010

Japanese bands go big in Texas at SXSW festival

AUSTIN, Texas — 'We want to conquer the world," says Okamoto's vocalist Shou Okamoto after their well-received gig at the 24th annual South by Southwest (SXSW) Music and Media Conference. Sharing a similar mentality as these young Tokyo rockers, some 1,800 major label and independent ...

Mudy on the Sakuban 'Pavilion'

/ Mar 19, 2010

Mudy on the Sakuban "Pavilion"

Mudy on the Sakuban turned out an awesome showcase of their energetic instrumental rock during their 2008 appearance on Fuji Rock's newcomer stage, Rookie A Go-Go. And while that year's "Voi" EP was a good disc, it paled in comparison to how powerful the ...

Moools 'Weather Sketch Modified'

/ Mar 5, 2010

Moools "Weather Sketch Modified"

Much has been made of the strong ties Tokyo's Moools have forged with U.S. indie imprint K Records. And while the relationship has helped the underground rock trio tour overseas and earn slots supporting the seminal label's visiting bands and other acclaimed U.S. acts ...

Kinoco Hotel 'Marianne No Yuutsu'

/ Feb 12, 2010

Kinoco Hotel "Marianne No Yuutsu"

With their first album proper, "Marianne No Yuutsu," Tokyo's Kinoco Hotel join the continuously growing legion of entertaining Japanese revivalist pop acts. Showcasing a similar fashion sense as Sendai throwback band The Captains, the attractive all-gal 1960s Group Sounds-inspired quartet sport matching short "Sgt. ...

Math rockers Toe take it slow

Jan 29, 2010

Math rockers Toe take it slow

Toe have their own record label, Machupicchu Industrias. It's not so much to flaunt a punklike DIY ethic, they're basically just slow. Based out of Tokyo and Kanagawa Prefecture, the instrumental math-rock (a genre characterized by angular rhythms and complex time signatures) quartet created ...

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

/ Jan 22, 2010

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

Pegged by a handful of blogs as a "band to watch" after their 2007 eponymous EP, there was a small buzz circulating at the start of 2009 about New York's The Pains of Being Pure at Heart and their pending self-titled full-length. Three days ...

Mountain Mocha Kilimanjaro 'Uhuru Peak'

/ Jan 15, 2010

Mountain Mocha Kilimanjaro "Uhuru Peak"

A mere few weeks old, 2010 is already shaping up to be a hell of a year for Mountain Mocha Kilimanjaro. To get primed for the release of their new "Uhuru Peak" sophomore full-length, the Saitama sextet started off January with a three-week live ...

Ghent's Das Pop goes overground

Jan 8, 2010

Ghent's Das Pop goes overground

His upbringing pretty much ensured that the thought of being in a band was the farthest thing from Bent Van Looy's young mind. Luckily, the front man for burgeoning pop rockers Das Pop had pals with more lenient guardians who opened a whole new world ...

BBQ Chickens 'Good Bye To Your Punk Rock'

/ Dec 25, 2009

BBQ Chickens "Good Bye To Your Punk Rock"

I was new to the country and eager to experience some Japanese bands back in 2002. Following an entertainment rag's recommendation, I went to see BBQ Chickens at Shinjuku ACB. After four hours of searching I finally found the punk dive, but disappointingly discovered ...