Music

DYGL soaks in New York’s garage rock and politics

by Patrick ST. Michel

Special To The Japan Times

The life Nobuki Akiyama has been living since moving to the greater New York City area in March sounds like a dream come true for any young musician.

“We wake up at around 11 or 12 and start listening to music,” the lead singer and guitarist of the garage-rock-inspired outfit DYGL says. “After practicing, we hang out at night to see some other bands’ shows.”

Akiyama’s decampment to New York isn’t aspiring urbanite fantasy, though. He’s splitting “an Airbnb-type place” in Jersey City, New Jersey, with five people — the other members of DYGL (pronounced Day-Glo) along with those in the other project he fronts, Ykiki Beat — to learn as much as he can from scenes beyond the one in his native Tokyo.

It comes before what is shaping up to be a busy summer for both of Akiyama’s bands. The mellower, synth-featuring Ykiki Beat will play festivals across Asia in the coming months, while the feedback-dunked DYGL will tour Japan behind its first EP “Don’t Know Where It Is,” out this week.

“This is more like the best-collection of our releases so far,” Akiyama says about the EP. DYGL — consisting of Akiyama, guitarist Yosuke Shimonaka, drummer Kohei Kamoto and bassist Yotaro Kachi — has existed for three years and shared EPs and the odd single over that time.

“We recorded (those songs) at friends’ houses and did the mixing ourselves, but this time we tried to work with engineers outside of the band.”

Late last year, DYGL holed up in Los Angeles to record “Don’t Know Where It Is,” at “a proper studio, on analog.”

The six-song set jumps from the surf-rock-tinged pop of “Let’s Get Into Your Car” to grimier number “Slizzard.” The title track even finds the group tip-toeing into political territory.

“Governments are going blind/ People try to stand in line/ there’s no difference in a way,” the words go at one point, the song ostensibly about youth making sense of the world. It’s made up of broad strokes — Akiyama admits it is politically charged, but isn’t about any specific issue.

“There are musicians living here, who really pay attention to politics. We are really inspired by their ways of thinking about politics and music.” DYGL has also peaked into the U.S. presidential campaign. “We went to a Bernie Sanders rally last week,” Akiyama says.

Beyond dabbling in politics, Akiyama and his bandmates are working on new Ykiki Beat material while overseas. As for DYGL, Akiyama sees its first proper EP as something they had to get out into the world after being together for three years.

“We want to make an album as soon as possible, this year,” he says. “We believe the album will be the real first step for public recognition.”

DYGL has played a variety of shows across the city, from celebrated independent venue Cake Shop to intimate house parties they just got swept into.

“We’ve had the chance to see so many shows here — American, British, sometimes Danish bands,” Akiyama says. “We could already listen to their albums and I could imagine how they made the sounds, but seeing shows directly, we learn so much more.”

“Don’t Know Where It Is” will be released May 4. DYGL plays Kyoto’s Metro on June 10 ahead of shows in Osaka, Nagoya and Tokyo. For more information, visit www.dayglotheband.com.