22 November 2013 (released)
22 November 2013
Last Saturday there was something of an international spectacle. The man behind the music for films such as Kill Bill, Transformers and Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas performed a stunning, visually imposing and one of a kind gig with members of Roxy Music and Jesus Jones. David Bowie’s drummer’s also flew over from New York to join the band. It was utter, utter geek-dom. The man in question is Japanese-born guitar slayer Hotei, who has now moved over to London to repeat the success he’s had in the East, which will take some doing as over there he’s one of the biggest selling artists in history with dozens of number one albums.
Playing to a packed house his set was an instrumental journey comprising recognisably Western elements in melody and impact, delivered with a very Japanese twist. I’ve been to many gigs at Shepherd’s Bush Empire before but have never seen the stage show that Hotei offered as huge screens hung down at intervals creating a 3D step effect of incredible visuals, all made bespoke for the night.
It takes a non-British person to come over here once in a while and show us what being a front man is, or should be, all about. British bands have some sense of reservation, y’know, something “British” about them. Then you have your Nick Caves and your Bruce Springsteens - artists who work a crowd, who work for your attention and create an aura on stage that’s undeniably alluring. Hotei does this, and he does it well, and that’s without actually singing a note. His guitar is his voice, and while special guest performers did inject the odd vocal, this was about him, his guitar and fuck to the rest. One of the world’s greatest guitarists, and certainly the best I’ve ever seen live, one can’t help but assume his move to the West will be a welcome, collaborations packed, one.
Before the show we caught up with him for some words:
Q- The show was amazing. What inspired so much work to be put into one London performance?
A: I played at the Roundhouse last year, but it’s been a while since then and I’ve been really looking forward to this show. London is my home now, and I really wanted to create something special for the audience here.
Q- You've contributed to the soundtracks of Kill Bill and Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas. That's awesome. How did those projects happen?
A: The song “Battle Without Honor or Humanity” is an original song that I composed years ago for a Japanese gangster movie. Tarantino saw that movie and later phoned my office asking to use the song for his film Kill Bill. I’ve always liked Tarantino’s work and his rock ‘n’ roll style, so I was definitely happy to have this proposal from him. It’s amazing to me now how people all over the world seem to know and love this song.
And yes, I was also really fortunate to work on the soundtrack for Terry Gilliam’s film “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” For this project I worked together with Ray Cooper and we made 3 original songs for the soundtrack.
Q- Explain how BATTLE WITHOUT HONOUR (Kill Bill) works in your live set.
A: Some of my music has been composed specifically for films, but not exclusively and songs like “Battle” really transcend the context and are great played live. Although this song is so recognizable and well liked, I’m sure most people don’t know my name or that it’s my original song. I’m still glad that my music is appreciated and this gives me more motivation for challenges in the future.
Q- Are there any artists you've worked with in the past you'd love to see be involved with future shows.
A: I’ve been really fortunate to work with so many great artists in the past, but if I have to name one who I’d most love to work with again - of course, David Bowie!
Q- Is there anybody you've not had the chance to work with yet, who you'd like to?
A: Actually, I’m really hoping to work with some new up-and-coming musicians, DJs, and young artists who have unique style and are doing different things. I want to jam with other artists, learn, grow, and find new sources of inspiration.
Q- Is there any plans for a UK release of any music, maybe a new album?
A: Nothing quite ready to announce yet, but yes, I’m definitely planning to work on a new album. It’s great to be in London, surrounded by so many excellent musicians and different sources of inspiration. I’m really looking forward to learning, collaborating, and working on new music.
Q- How much of Hotei is in the live experience?
A: As an artist, the stage is such an important place to be. I love playing in front of an audience, giving them everything that I can, and seeing how they react to my music. I know that outside of Japan a lot of people don’t know my name. And as an artist I’ve done many things in my career, and it’s a bit difficult to explain my music to people. I really want people to see my show, to hear me play, to feel something from my music, and to come to understand me and what I’m doing, and to connect with me. That’s really what it’s all about.
Q- What most excites you about playing the London show?
A: For the London show, [I was] really excited about the different artistic elements we brought together. I wanted to create something special, more than just a rock concert, with a really comprehensive artistic approach. I worked with some of Japan’s top young creators, and we used a special technique to project images onto a series of screens, producing a very cool and avant-garde expression of classical Japanese art and beauty. also collaborated with Yohji Yamamoto, one of Japan's top fashion designers, who specially designed my stage attire for the show.