Extended Dance Mixes: An Interview with Fujiya & Miyagi
In crafting three EPs to make the basis of their new album, Dave Best walks us through what sudden fame feels like, how he doesn't really care about album sales, and the most irritating aspects of Postman Pat.
The trials and tribulations of a band can harbour many regrets and frustrations.
As the musical landscape shifts, new fashions and trends can account for many a band. For a band to stay the course and survive is more difficult than ever thanks to ever-changing buying habits, revenue streams and good old fashioned apathy. Nevertheless, Fujiya and Miyagi have done more than merely survive. Ten years after their debut Transparent Things the band are in the midst of the release of three EPs, with each one showcasing the breadth of their styles and influences from Italo-disco and Krautrock to funk and soul. It's an exciting summation of the band, one that sees the band thriving.
Speaking with frontman Dave Best provides a fascinating insight into the mechanics of a stable band that enjoy nothing more than just making music. There are no tawdry tales of sex, drugs and acrimonious break-ups. This is the reality of how a band is able to keep going, doing a job that they love. As Best explains, "There are some people, not a huge amount, who really like what we do."
With that knowledge and the freedom to keep creating, Best discusses the position of the band, reflects on the early rush of excitement of their early years and the mind-set behind the creation of the three EPs that will provide the backbone of their fifth album.
So how does he sum up a career that has lasted the best part of 10 years, a period of time that has accounted for many band and genres. "I feel very lucky," he notes. "I mean I've managed to stretch something that's very minimal. Whispering synths and awkward funk. To be able to take it this far is pretty good. It's what we love and it has to be really. I think if we were more successful early on it would have capitulated but by staying at the same level has meant we can keep going."
Like any emerging band the idea of cutting a record let alone anyone hearing it seemed ridiculous. "I think at the beginning it didn't even occur to us that anyone would even hear what we were making." With that in mind, it's fair to say that the band weren't overly careful when choosing what to dub the newly formed quintet, "It doesn't even make sense to Japanese people! It's like calling yourself Ben Nevis and Rowntree!"
Commercial success seemed to be on the cards for the band very early on when the song "Collarbone" was used in a Jaguar commercial around 2006. The impact of which was fairly huge for Best and the rest of the band. "It allowed us to leave our jobs. Before I was working for American Express in Brighton then doing some nights at the Post Office. Every kind of rubbish job." Best remains adamant that this early part of their career was fundamental in shaping the identity of the band, "I'd rather have done that than the new breed of those over entitled rich kids. It wasn't just a whim, it's always been my passion to be in a band."
America was particularly quick to embrace the band's brand of Krautrock-influenced modern dance music. "At the start it was kind of exciting because we were going to New York and selling out," he reminisces. "Little places, but we were selling them out before we were selling places out in Brighton or London. When that happened it was like 'Wow! This is alright!' At the beginning it was just so exciting."
The whole period was something of blur for him: "We worked so hard and did so many shows that we didn't really have chance to second guess it. The funny thing is that we played so many shows that I kind of have flashbacks. I can be doing the dishes and suddenly think of a show we did in Seattle. It's a really strange sensation."
Nevertheless, Best is certainly not one to wallow in nostalgia: "I'm not particularly nostalgic, no. I still think our best stuff is in front of us so I tend not to look too far back." However, Best is quick to draw parallels between that time and where he finds himself with the band at the moment, noting that "I kind of like this period now and the period around Transparent Things; my two favourite periods of the band in terms of how I feel about it for completely different reasons."