Masae Ekiguchi Interview

Masae Ekiguchi is simply awesome. She’s the musical powerhouse behind Die Database’s drumset, and the visionary that started the short lived yet long loved 99% Natural. We chatted a few weeks ago, and since she wasn’t satisfied by my translation skills last time, she insisted we use the Agartha Labs Narrative Engine for real time shifting between English and Japanese.

Masae Ekiguchi
Masae Ekiguchi (drummer)

Masae: Are you understanding my words? Do you even comprehend rigorous machine translation?
Junk Magnet: You’re laying it on a bit thick, don’t you think?
Masae: I just don’t want to find out that you’ve been butchering my beautiful language. I can make grown policemen cry in their little substations, simply by waiving hello.
Junk Magnet: After reading that last sentence, I can guarantee that the essence of your communication is coming through loud and clear. You are hyperbole personified and walking about on cute feet.
Masae: Stop it with the cute feet already! I let you see my unsheathed toes only because I really needed to try on those Pumas when I showed you Landmark Tower and Queen’s Square.
Junk Magnet: Yes, your Yokohama shopping tour was extra special, but those little feet!
Masae: Everyone knows that my feet are huge, like cruise ships docked at Minato Mirai 21. That said, they are the most beautiful feet in the world, so I have to keep them under wraps.
Junk Magnet: Too late! Now, whenever I hear your drumming, I focus on the bass and imaging them going up and down and up.
Masae: You’re doing this on purpose! You know I’m a totally serious artist, full of sonic lightning, and yet you persist with fetishizing my cute bits. Face it – I’m irreducibly awesome!
Junk Magnet: I give you that. I’ll save my fawning over your feet and knees for another time.
Masae: And I’ll listen at that time. I love it when my subjects talk about me.
Junk Magnet: So, you’re still insisting about your princess status.
Masae: There are pictures, illustrations, Nico Nico Douga video and all sorts of evidence!
Junk Magnet: But that’s for Sekigai – not you.
Masae: Everyone except you has immediately understood that [Massive Cloud Burst] was in fact a thinly veiled documentary, and that I am solar royalty. You have lack of faith fail!
Junk Magnet: OK. OK. That explains why I’ve never seen both you and Sekigai in the same place at the same time. Like Cutie Honey and all of her disguises you are one and the same.
Masae: Out of all the transforming cute anime girls, why pick that robot? She’s not even worthy to rust in the sweat I kick off when performing.
Junk Magnet: What two fictional characters that are the same person would you prefer I use?
Masae: How about Tommy February6 and Tommy Heavenly6?
Junk Magnet: Ooh – well played. You are definitely Heavenly.
Masae: Now why didn’t you flirt this hard when I showed you Yokohama? Then I could have even more firmly destroyed your advances.
Junk Magnet: Hey! I’m actually going to start the interview now. If you ever get bored, and need a quick ego boost, let me know – I have a few virtual cans of 5 Hour Big Head I can send you.
Masae: May I kill you, ever so slightly?
Junk Magnet: First question! Everyone wants to know more about your life before Circle X.
Masae: You mean there’s a world before convenience?
Junk Magnet: Yes, the inconvenient world of Yokohama.
Masae: I grew up fully in love with my home town. We went out for a few years, but it always wanted to hang out by the Broadcast Library and watch random reruns. It broke my heart with free dramas!
Junk Magnet: And you wanted instead to hang out in Chinatown and eat everything.
Masae: I wanted to set the dolls free from their museum! I wanted to shop at the Red Brick Warehouse and buy cute t-shirts and stuffed animals.
Junk Magnet: Essentially, you wanted to start a T-Shirt and Stuffed Animal Museum, in Chinatown.
Masae: Do I even have to answer that? No, it would have to be next to World Porters, so I could duck in there on my break.
Junk Magnet: Besides shopping, what made you the awesome woman you are today?
Masae: I think it was fish and vitamins. Plus music! I would sneak out of the house at night so I could play it all even louder!
Junk Magnet: You didn’t do that.
Masae: I would climb onto the roof with my [Say Anything] boombox and draw all of the boys to me like stray cats!
Junk Magnet: You were the Joan Cusack of Yokohama, fighting off the boys with Judy and Mary.
Masae: Mean Machine! Yuki all the way – even in the snow I’d have to double up on my tracks, so they couldn’t follow me home.
Junk Magnet: You were the mild-mannered Lily Chou-Chou that turned into Salyu and then flew off of the roof.
Masae: Now you’ve taken it too far. When Salyu flies in the [Peaty] video that was a school girl fantasy. When I fly it’s more regal.
Junk Magnet: Not even going there. Would you say there were many boys stalking you?
Masae: A few. But [Judy Is A Punk Rocker], you know? I would sneak out of the house, climb on the roof and sneer like Joan Jett or Joan Gordon.
Junk Magnet: Ah, you were a Suspender fan.
Masae: Intruder Alert!, baby. Suspender was too famous for my tastes.
Junk Magnet: The old Operation Ivy versus Green Day paradox.
Masae: Exactly! There’s the magical point beyond which diluted orange juice just becomes cloudy yellow water. I need pure, concentrated vibrations. Hanatarash and not late groovy Boredoms. Self-titled Sleater-Kinney with Lora Macfarlane. Any Melt-Banana! If the amps weep, I’m there.
Junk Magnet: And you wonder why I adore you.
Masae: Why worry about the inevitable. [Everyone Much Touch The Stove].
Junk Magnet: Little Masae In Slumberland. How much music did you import in the 90s, anyway? Weren’t you in sailor suits then?
Masae: I don’t buy music. Music knocks on my door and asks to come in.
Junk Magnet: I’ve seen you buy CDs. With money.
Masae: That was just for show. Honestly, I just stream or download everything. If I buy something, either it’s on vinyl or from Yuki.
Junk Magnet: Do I need to leave you and Yuki alone? Love hotel connection?
Masae: You know you love her too. I’ve read your meager fan gushings.
Junk Magnet: Another question! I want to hear you talk about Atsushi Kaneko.
Masae: My eyes have been replaced by huge 5-pointed stars! [BAMBi] and [SOIL] forever!
Junk Magnet: Who would you be: Roach, Fly, or Mouse?
Masae: BAMBi. I am the Last Action Heroine.
Junk Magnet: Don’t tell me you download movies, too.
Masae: If they have big guns or Yuma in them, I’m there.
Junk Magnet: So when is the wedding day?
Masae: Yuma and I are star-crossed music lovers, not actual kissers. She comes from the Kaela Kimura clan, and I’m all about Unicorn. So we meet under a Tamio Okuda banner of truce. Besides, I’m strictly all about the otaku boys – it’s like fishing in a full lake!
Junk Magnet: Fish and vitamins, right?
Masae: Yes! And the vitamins are [Comic Beam] and [Kikan Gelatin].
Junk Magnet: I need to quickly get this interview back on track, with actual nuggets of Die Database for everyone to find, after sifting through mounds of random dirt.
Masae: Die Database is coming to the US. You shall be our chauffeur!
Junk Magnet: I shall point you in the direction of Bing. The secret is you click on the flights that Satomi will pay for.
Masae: You will run our merch tables, but we won’t let you buy anything. No set lists, either!
Junk Magnet: That’s right…. those holo set lists are a pain in the ass. There’s nothing to snatch off the stage after the encores.
Masae: I’m going to travel up the Mississippi and catch all of your huge jumping fish.
Junk Magnet: That would be very nice of you.
Masae: I’ve seen video about hamburgers the size of 12″ records. You will film me hunting them down like bison and eating them!
Junk Magnet: I’m getting a sense of your mythic journey, but I know there has to be more.
Masae: I will go to Tower Records!
Junk Magnet: That went out of business in the US.
Masae: I don’t care! My friends in Shibuya are counting on me to take pictures.
Junk Magnet: OK, make sure you go to Sacramento then.
Masae: Do they let you pet the muscles of the governor?
Junk Magnet: He’s not there any more. The new governor only has a shiny head, but I don’t think you can pet it.
Masae: You and your complicated American politics! I’m going to storm the halls of Congress and demand vinyl thicker than 300 grams.
Junk Magnet: You’re insatiable! Is that even possible?
Masae: So thick your needle will only last for the first play through.
Junk Magnet: I’m telling you now, you’ll be the death of analog.
Masae: When I was young, I used to sneak out of the house at night, climb on the roof, and radiate analog waves of joy.
Junk Magnet: Please let me know how I can bribe you into understandable responses.
Masae: I’ve heard that in the US you can get bottles of cola that are the size of infants. 3 liters? That’s like my Bigfoot. Promise to send me a picture of such a monstrosity and I’ll answer 5 more questions all Wikipedia like.
Junk Magnet: Deal! Number 1 – What is your favorite TV show of all time?
Masae: Hey! Hey! Hey! Music Champ. My goal was always to get slapped around by Downtown.
Junk Magnet: Number 2 – What is your favorite non-Japanese meal?
Masae: Italian. Maybe some amazing pasta with pesto sauce. If some fish snuck on to the plate, I would show them a good time.
Junk Magnet: Number 3 – What is your creative process?
Masae: Finally a question I can chew on! While I was still working at Circle X, I would read the ingredients of every food and drink item in the store as I shelved them. I tried to imagine how even the most non-musical list of additives could be turned into an amazing hit song. Then, I’d forget all of that crap, and pull out a guitar when I got home from work. I’m all about the demos – new musical ideas every night, or when I’d wake up in the morning. All of the boring piano lessons when I was breastless paid off, and now I’m bigger than [Nana]. Not bigger than Anna Tsuchiya or Mika Nakashima, just those skinny anime girls with the same name. I tower over all fictional drummers. Even Animal.
Junk Magnet: Number 4 – What is your dream?
Masae: Picture this. There’s a really big pile of money – all denominations. It’s the sum total of all the cash that can possible exist – a quadrillion? Quintillion? Anyway, it’s totally there, and you can see it from space. I would take a handful of money from that pile, stuff it in my pocket, and then set fire to the rest of cash mountain. Then I’d be the richest person in the world, with only a few thousand yen to my name. I’d barter that money for Treepeople vinyl. OK, I’d also accept early Built to Spill, but absolutely no Halo Benders!
Junk Magnet: Number 5 – Why are you so insane?
Masae: When I was young I used to sneak out of the house at night, climb up to the roof, and yell that very question out to the world. “Why are you so insane? Why am I so not?” The world would get confused at my word choice. We’d get into an argument, and finally the spirit of Yokohama would come between us and defuse the fight. It was such a handsome city then! I was crazy about it until it started to see Kamakura behind my back. Some things just can’t be forgiven.
Junk Magnet: For that command performance, I owe you a 4 liter bottle of generic soda. They have to exist somewhere!
Masae: Alas, some things just aren’t meant for this world.
Junk Magnet: Like your amazing feet.
Masae: While you’re out looking for soda, be a dear and pick up a restraining order for me.

Interview by Junk Magnet. Illustration by Paul Duffield.

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