Post-Birthdays in Japan [Article in English and Japanese]

Pretty & Nice’s Holden Lewis (left) and Birthdays’ Samuel Yager (right)

When asked how he ended up touring in Japan without a label’s support, American musician Samuel Yager explains simply, “I have a good friend in the U.S. who’s from Japan and worked with a radio station to get me there.”

Touring on the other side of the world in a very foreign country without a label to organize logistics and act as a helpful guide is no easy feat for any musician, but Yager managed to do it. From April 29 to May 6, Boston, Massachusetts’ act Birthdays played five concerts in Japan. The musician’s rising success in Boston helped make the Japanese tour possible.

When Yager looks back on the trip and the tour, he recalls:

It was surreal. I kept thinking I was going to wake up. Japan is like that movie ‘Demolition Man’ with Wesley Snypes and Sly. The toilets talk and everything is confusing. The people are really nice. Everything looks cooler there. I don’t really know how much I can elaborate on the musician side of tour there. It was soo surreal. I was treated like a real rock star or something. I autographed someone’s sampler, a toy fish, records (that were not Birthdays’), shirts, a shoe. We were in tons of photos.

To not be confused, “Birthdays” is Yager’s solo project he started while living in Saratoga Springs, New York. Before moving to Boston, Yager was bedridden with a blood infection for two months, during which he recorded his first EP, Mating Falls. His music slowly generated attention and when he moved to Boston, he met up with musicians who helped him foster his craft, such as Truman Peyote‘s Caleb Johannes and the FMLY network.

Since getting to the city, he’s released a cassette through Impose Magazines label and a recent 7″ through Firetalk Records, called “Howolding Girls.” The cohesiveness of Boston’s music scene is visible throughout Yager’s work; he’s part of a Lower Allston booking collective called Dreamhouse that hosts handfuls of great shows in the Boston area. The directors of the “Howolding Girls” music video are Boston’s film duo, Nick Curran and Addison Post, and Holden Lewis from Boston’s Pretty & Nice joined Yager on the Japanese tour as his backup guitarist.

The Japanese audience at a Birthdays show

Japan really struck Yager and Lewis as a country that approaches live music in a much different way than the U.S. According to the two musicians, curating shows in Japan is something very special; check-in times for bands are earlier in the day and venues tend to take bands very seriously, with an earnest interest in the band’s sound engineering. The promoters also reliably do their jobs and ensure crowds will be at shows, even when the bands haven’t “made it big” in Japan yet.

Yager adds that there’s also a vast difference in the way fans interact with artists in Japan. “In the U.S. I think people can often be too afraid to lose their shit and get really psyched. I think it’s because of people’s egos. Maybe they’re not comfortable with a huge separation between the performer and audience. This is a big reason why I prefer to play basement shows or at least not on a stage,” he says. “I think the Japanese people are more comfortable with the separation. It doesn’t threaten their egos and they enjoy idolizing an artist or performer. Any night we weren’t playing a show, we were invited to a show. This seemed to be the case everywhere.”

When considering shows elsewhere outside of the U.S., Yager hopes to organize a European tour sometime in the later part of the year, but says he has a lot to figure out first. He’ll be working on new music next year, adding a new member to play drums, electronic percussion and synthesizers, and he also has plans for some U.S. touring, perhaps by bike.

Yager is currently in the runnings to win The Boston Phoenix‘s “best electronic artist” award. He also has a full-length record he recently finished that he plans to self-release in a couple months.

For readers who are visiting Boston looking to experience some of the Boston scene Yager loves, the musicians recommends pizza. But not just any pizza:

“If I didn’t live so close to Peace O’ Pie (an awesome all vegan pizza spot) or date someone who worked there, I wouldn’t have written “Pizza Baby” and I would be way skinnier. Seriously, we have rad food. Especially if you’re vegan like me and many of my friends.”



細かく企画してもらったり案内してもらったりするレコード会社がないなら、外国で ツアーするのは誰にでも簡単なことじゃないが、このサム・イェガーはできた。四月の29日から五月の6日まで、アメリカのボストン出身のバースデーズというバンドは五個のコンサートを行っていました。




Photo time with fans










–Jen Brown (translation by Nino Moscardi from Yancha Digs)

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