By Zach Schepis
Photo courtesy of Tashaki Miyaki.
The LA-based trio is a long way from home, rumbling in their van along the moonlit streets of North Dakota. The weather is getting progressively better as they head west, continuing their tour into Vancouver and down along the Pacific Coast.
“In Detroit they almost had to cancel our show,” says Rocky, the band’s guitarist. “People couldn’t even make it out to the venue because of the weather.”
Rocky is the only male in the musical trio that is Tashaki Miyaki, though he doesn’t seem to mind. There’s no shortage of male camaraderie on tour (or “sausages” as Rocky puts it) and going back to the hotel at the end of the night with two lovely ladies… well, it could be much worse.
“It’s nice to have a woman’s touch,” he says. “You know, do a face wash, maybe an exfoliating scrub. Oh, and it turns out girls like beef jerky and chips more than guys.”
A shout of protest can be heard on the other end of the line before the phone ends up in the hands of Lucy, the drummer and principal songwriter of the group.
“Don’t listen to anything he says,” she laughs. “I actually banned beef jerky in the car yesterday because I couldn’t stand the smell.”
Lucy, Rocky, and Dora have been friends in Los Angeles for a long time. They knew they wanted to form a band, and took advantage of the locale which provided them a warm alternative to the suffering cold of a city like New York. They revel in the fact that you can live fairly cheaply, play in houses for rehearsal spaces, and watch your favorite musical heroes roll on through.
“Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, Willie Nelson… I’ve seen Christina Apple sing jazz standards in a tiny room,” says Lucy. “No matter who you are, LA is a door you end up stepping through.”
So who exactly is Tashaki Miyaki? Don’t expect to find any answers to this question; neither the band name nor band members’ names will lead you down any conclusive paths.
Lucy was telling a best friend about her love for director Tashaki Miike’s film 13 Assasins, but after a few too many drinks she ended up mispronouncing the filmmaker’s name. She liked the way it sounded, and it stuck as the name of their band.
“I like that it doesn’t have any outside connotations to people,” she tells BTR. “Except maybe J-pop?”
You won’t find Lucy or Rocky while surfing through social media maelstroms because they’re not the real names of the musicians. Tashaki Miyaki share the sentiment that it’s better to have a certain mystique, to take the attention off of the personalities and shift it back to what’s most important–the music.
The intent was especially pertinent for Lucy, who was in an all-girl band before Tashaki Miyaki. After being constantly barraged by the press and media in regards to how she dressed and the “style” of the band, Lucy decided it would be best to take a different route with her new group.
The sense of mystery is fitting for Tashaki Miyaki, a band whose sound mirrors the bizarre obscurity. It’s hard to think of an adjective or genre without using the word “dream.” Listen to their new EP Cool Runnings (no relation to the movie, thankfully). It’s chill, ambient, and gently swirling. The harmonies wrap around jangling guitars and a lilting of strings, all the while Lucy’s steady and assured drumming moves the songs forward.
Despite a stripped down lineup, the trio make the most of their power. The songwriting is well-sculpted and often contains layer after layer for genuinely enjoyable ear-peeling.
Lucy does all of the songwriting for the band. While she helms the drum kit for Tashaki, guitar and piano are what she employs to discover melodies and song structure. She’d love to entertain the idea of playing guitar in the band, but can’t seem to find the right drummer.
“It’s hard to find a drummer who plays simply,” she says. “I’m interested in exploring minimalism and space.”
The explorations have taken Tashaki Miyaki all over the Western world, from venues in Canada to private garden parties in the UK. Their wheels are no stranger to the road, and have even been commandeered by some unlikely guests such as Norman Cook, the singer from Fatboy Slim.
“Some of your listeners might know him, or be a fan,” laughs Lucy. “Such a cool dude.”
To hear the rest of the Tashaki Miyaki interview, check out the latest episode of Discovery Corner on BTR.
Find your own way to interpret Tashaki Miyaki by clicking here.