I believe that words have their own spirits and even if we don’t understand the meaning of the words, we can still connect with the feeling and energy of the lyrics.

Yama Warashi, translating from Japanese as “small childlike mountain spirit”, is the brainchild of Bristol based Japanese artist and musician Yoshino Shigihara. Sharing a love for experimentation, fusion and DIY culture, the exploratory art-rock ensemble fronted by Yoshino create mystical and dreamy soundscapes inspired by Japanese folk dance music, free Jazz and tribal African rhythms.

We caught up with Yoshino at her home in Easton on a windy Saturday morning, a few hours before hitting the road with her bandmates for an evening gig in Birmingham. Wearing a most welcoming smile paired with the whimsical moon earrings made by jewellery designer Chloe Paull, Yoshino talked to us about her journey into music, the influences she absorbed to produce Yama Warashi’s latest album, Boiled Moon, and took as along for a walk around the neighbouring windswept Purdown hill.

Yama Warashi (山童)はイギリスの南西にある街、ブリストル在住のアーティストである鴫原由乃さんのプロジェクトです。盆踊り、フリージャズ、アフリカ民族音楽などに影響を受けたドリーミーで神秘的な音楽は、実験的な音楽とブリストルのDIYカルチャーが混ぜ合わされたアートロックのバンド形式で奏でられています。 風の強い土曜日の朝、由乃さんがバーミンガムでのライブに向かう前に、イーストンというエリアにある彼女のお宅を訪問しました。お友達のアーティスト、クレオ・ポールさんが作った新月と満月が対になったピアス付けた彼女は、満面の笑みで私達を暖かく迎えてくれました。 どのように音楽に関わるようになったのか、Yama Warashi のニューアルバム、Boiled Moon について語っていただき、彼女がお気に入りのパーダウンという丘を一緒にお散歩しました。


Yoshino, what is your story? あなたのストーリーを教えてください

It’s the story of a person who grew up in Japan, who never played in a band. She moved to Bristol because of the music she liked and ended up becoming a musician just by meeting amazing people and experimenting what she liked.


What is your most vivid childhood memory? 子供の時の思い出の中でもっとも印象深いものは?

I don’t know how old I was, but this is my earliest memory: I was watching my mom sitting in front of her sewing machine. She was facing the window, I was on the floor, the sun was setting and the room was filled with the beautiful orange/pink sunset light. A mellow music was flowing from my mom’s cassette tape, a song by the Japanese singer-songwriter Yumi Arai.


How did you get into music? What are the milestones of your journey? どうやって音楽と関わるようになりましたか?今までで達成したことは?

I started playing piano when I was 3 years old because my parents took me to a music kindergarten in my hometown. It was quite an experimental school I guess. Basically all day we were playing music. Playing piano, singing, learning rhythm etc… I wasn’t a very good student. I remember doing completely different rhythms from everyone else.

I continued playing classical piano until I was 12, then I stopped practising altogether and started playing whatever I liked. I was playing anime songs and game music. I completely forgot how to play classical tunes. I was fascinated with Middle Eastern and Indian music in my teens but I was busy learning to draw and paint so that I can go to Art university. I was also busy doing Japanese archery after school. I loved music but I never thought I would be a musician back then.

I went to lots of gigs when I was in art school. After finishing university, I worked for a while in a craft shop. One of my colleagues had just returned from London and she told me all about the cool music scene in London. Then another friend gave me some CDs with 90’s Bristol music, Portishead, Tricky and Massive Attack. I loved that music, and that’s what made me decide to move to Bristol.

Upon my arrival in Bristol, I enrolled to UWE to study Arts and Media. I started doing visuals for nightclubs and worked with theatre companies making visuals and promotional videos.

After a while I started playing piano again, improvising at home. At that time, I was living with musicians that had a studio in the house. One day I went to Cube Cinema (a volunteer run venue) for a jam night called “Cube Orchestra”. It was cool a jam night, basically anyone could just turn up and play music and improvise together. That night I met a Mauritian guy called Kushal, we got on and started jamming almost every day. I found a Yamaha keyboard and an amp on the street, other people joined us and we became active as a band under the name Zun Zun Egui, it was quite a unique band.

We got signed by record company Bella Union and played many gigs. We toured in the UK, Europe, America, Vietnam and Mauritius and I had a crazy and wonderful time as a musician in this band for almost 10 years. It was tough and fun at the same time.

In 2015, the band split up and I started Yama Warashi. I asked some friends to join the band. I self-released the first EP, Moon Zero, in 2016, then Stolen Body Records released our first album later in the year, and in November 2018 Small Pond released our second album, Boiled Moon. I am so lucky! It’s been such an incredible journey up until now!


12歳の時までクラシックのピアノの練習は続けましたが、そこでぱったりやめてしまいました。中学生の時はゲームやアニメにハマって、ピアノを弾く時はそのテーマ曲とかばっかりでした。残念ながら昔は弾けたクラシックの曲はすっかり忘れてしまいました。その頃にインド や中近東の音楽にすごくグッときたのをを覚えています。こういう音楽って本当に好きだなあと思いました。その頃、洋楽はビートルズ以外全然知りませんでした。高校に入って弓道部で弓道に打ち込んだり、美大に行くためのデッサン教室に通って毎日いそがしく、まさか自分がバンドを始めるなんて夢にも思っていませんでした。




ブリストルの住民は、いらなくなったものを家の外において、「持って行ってください」と張り紙をするリサイクル精神の高い市民がたくさん住んでいますが、そういう感じで置いてあったヤマハのキーボードとアンプを拾い、メンバーも増えてそこからバンド形態で演奏するようになりました。それがZun Zun Eguiという名前で活動するようになり、ロンドンのレコード会社Bella Unionに契約していただいて、たくさんのライブをしました。イギリス国内、ヨーロッパ、アメリカ、ベトナムやモーリシャスでもライブをさせていただき、約10年に渡るすごい時間を過ごしました。

2015年にバンドが解散して、自分で曲を作って演奏してみよう、という趣味程度な気持ちで Yama Warashiを始めました。最初のEP「Moon Zero」は自主制作し、ファーストアルバムの「MOON EGG」はブリストルのStolen Body Recordsから出していただきました。そして今年2018年の11月にセコンドの「BOILED MOON」がブライトンのレーベル、Small Pond からリリースされました。私は本当にラッキーだと思っています。ここまでやってこれたのは、素晴らしい人々に支えていただいたからだなあとつくづくありがたく思っています。

How would you describe Yama Warashi’s sound to those unfamiliar with your music? Yama Warashiを知らない人にどういう音楽だと説明しますか?

I am definitely influenced by Mauritian/African music. I love spiritual jazz like Alice Coltrane or Pharoah Sanders. I love crazy freestyle sax and guitars. Also really love Japanese folk dance music too. On top of that I love psychedelic music, so it’s all a mixture of influences. I also used to love dub music and dubby bass line is one of my favourite things too.


You just released a new album, Boiled Moon. What kind of musical influences have you absorbed for this record? 新しいアルバムの「Boiled Moon」ですが、レコードを作るにあたって影響を受けた音楽は何ですか?

I love a Japanese band from 90s called Fishmans. They made dreamy trip-hop music and the song Sole Wa Alu is totally influenced by their music. I used to play a computer game called Dragon Quest when I was a kid. The game’s music score is amazing, I used to learn and play these scores on the piano. I think some of the parts of title track, ‘Boiled Moon’, was influenced by this particular game score. ‘Jyomon Doki Doki’ and ‘Parallelogram’ has African/Mauritian rhythms. Also, ‘Set fire to the village’ was influenced by Middle Eastern music from my band mate’s mixtape but I don’t know the detail of the tune.

日本のバンド「フィッシュマンズ」が大好きで、「Sole Wa Alu」それはある、という曲は完全に影響を受けています。(ところでSole Wa Aluのローマ字表記のスペルがRでないのはイギリス人がLで発音した方が日本語に近いなとおもったからです)
タイトル曲の「BOILED MOON」は、ドラクエ3の宿屋で寝たときの音楽をアレンジして曲にしています(笑)気づいた人はいらっしゃるでしょうか。「Jyomon Doki Doki」と、「Parallelogram」は、在籍していたバンドZun Zun Eguiのモーリシャスやアフリカのリズムに影響されています。「Set Fire To The Village」はビートが5つのスーフィー音楽のリズムを使っています。

Tell us a bit about the band members. How did you meet them and how do you complement each other? バンドメンバーについて教えてください。どうやって一緒になりましたか?どのようにお互いに影響を与えていますか?

Long story short, we were all friends, and our guitarist Conrad and drummer Dan Truen play in this amazing band called The Evil Usses. I’ve been their fan since they started. Their bassist, Leon, was the first Yama Warashi bass player. He suggested I should have these guys in the band. When we first played as Yama Warashi, it was Graeme Smith on sax and Lewis Fitzjohn on bass, so we were a trio. Graeme also has an amazing project called Dubi Dolczek, most of us plays with him too. After while I managed to convince Conrad and Dan to join us. Sometimes I ask Lorenzo Prati from The Evil Usses to play the sax. The Evil Usses are busy playing so now we have different members playing at different gigs from time to time. We all belong to BLOOM Collective and many overlapping members play in different bands.

全部説明するとすごく長くなるのでダイジェスト版になりますが、皆、バンドを一緒にやる前からお友達です。ギタリストのコンラッドとドラマーのダンは「The Evil Usses」というバンドをやっていて、それがすごく良くて、前からファンでした。そのベースをやっているリオンが最初にベースで参加してくれて、その後徐々に仲間を増やしたり変わったりして今のメンバーになっています。サックスのグレアムは「Dubi Dolczek」というコズミックなバンドをやっています。曲は基本、私が書いていますがリズムはほぼダンが担当していて、各メンバーは パートを即興で作ってくれているところもたくさんあります。私たちはBLOOM Collective という音楽のグループを作っていますので、興味があれば他のバンドはそこで検索して見てください。

Many of your songs are written and performed in your native Japanese. How can people relate to music whose lyrics they don’t understand? Do you ever worry about the loss of meaning in your exchange with the audience? 曲の一部は日本語の歌詞ですが、日本語の歌詞を理解できないオーディエンスの心配をしますか?

Personally, I really like listening to songs in a foreign language. I love Indian raga and African chanting. I believe that words have their own spirits and even if we don’t understand the meaning of the words, we can still connect with the feeling and energy of the lyrics.


How do you translate into words and sounds something that occurs with a strong sense of elsewhere? 抽象的なフィーリングをどのように音楽や言語に変換するのですか?

It’s not easy to describe, I guess it’s like doodling or painting abstract images. I just make them, then I often find the meaning of the song afterwards, almost by tapping into unconscious mind.


What metaphor would best describe how you feel when you make music? 音楽を作っているときのフィーリングを例えるとどのような感じでしょうか

I often improvise when playing the piano and I might sing as it comes. It’s organic. It’s like planting seeds and watering them, and then everything grows.


What objects, creatures or sounds appear most often in your dreams? あなたの夢によく出てくるアイテム、生き物、音楽は何でしょうか?

I often see Japanese landscape, mountains or cliffs. I fly around a lot in my dreams, it really is a great experience. Creatures are mostly human but sometimes dragon type things. Some of them sound like bells or make high pitch sounds.


What are three questions you don’t have an answer for? 答えられない三つの質問があるとしたら何ですか?

What will I be doing in 10 years time?
Where will I live in 10 years time?
What can I do to save the world?


How would you define home? What is home for you? あなたにとって「家(ホーム)」とは何ですか?

A place where I can be myself and be creative; where I can invite people I love. A place where I can make delicious food, have a warm bath and sleep well.


What new ideas are obsessing you at the moment and where do you think they will lead you? 自分の中で流行っていることやアイデアはありますか?

I have a slight obsession with the 80’s Japanese electronic music and would like to make more electronic music.


What can we expect from Yama Warashi in the near future? Yama Warashi の次の計画は何でしょう?

I haven’t decided what to do next year. It’s open. It’s exciting!


What other projects are you involved with? 他に参加しているプロジェクトはありますか

Occasionally I take part in other projects. I’ve been playing keys for Rozi Plain in the past few years and it’s been a great experience to play lines that I didn’t write. It’s good practice to learn other people’s songs.

たまに他のバンドに参加したりしますが、Rozi Plain のバンドにはここ数年たまに参加させてもらっています。彼女の曲はすごく素敵で、楽しいプロジェクトでかつ勉強になります。

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given? すごくためになったアドバイスとは何ですか

A few months ago I attended to a 10 days silent meditation course where I was taught to not react; this is called ‘equanimity’. If we don’t react to pain, sadness, anger and bad feelings, they will go away eventually. Everything changes all the time. It’s not easy to put into practice but it’s a great advice in general.

数ヶ月前に10日間瞑想するコースに 参加したのですが、その時にいただいた教えがすごくためになっています。何事に対してもいちいち反応しない、ということです。痛み、悲しみ、怒りなどはリアクションをせずにそのまま受け止めれば、割と楽に流すことができるようです。実践するのは難しいですが、すごくためになっています。

If your life would be a song, what would you name it and how would you perform it? もしあなたの人生が歌の曲名なら、それは何でしょう?

What a fun question! Hmm… Maybe ‘Constant Discovery’? But the song’s title will change every year though!

面白い質問ですね。「Constant discovery 」かな。私の人生は発見ばかりだったので。でもこの曲名は毎年変わると思います。