TENTENKO – Interview

TENTENKO: “It is music that I always want to challenge”

Tentenko, photographed in Tokyo on 7th of December 2019 by Sarah Szczesny at Organic Music / Planet Baby Tokyo

The first time I heard about Tentenko was through her contribution to the „Paredo Ep“ on Tal Records, where her track “Parade” appeared alongside works from Kopy, Miki Yui and Lena Willikens. The track stood out cause of its very special sound aesthetic, bringing together influences of techno, industrial and experimental music as well as a significant pop sensibility. Quickly I learned about the fascinating Idol band background of the Tokyo based producer – Tentenko was a member of the idol band BiS early on in her career and is still also releasing in the Idol world.

Tentenko just released a split lp with Kopy on Tal Records and will be for the first time on tour in Germany from 13th till 20th of December. 

Tentenko, your first appereance in pop culture was your involvement in the Japanese Idol group BiS (Brand-new idol Society – Shinsei Idol Kenkyuukai). Can you tell us a bit how that came up?
Tentenko: During my time as a college student I had a band with some friends, but unfortunately the audience was only a few people. So I decided to go to the audition for BiS , because I wanted to understand why so many people like Idol groups. At that time I thought that this might be an artistic direction for me – but I experienced it and felt that I had to keep doing what I really believe in.

That‘ s why you made very fast the decision to stop being a member of the group and explore the world of music on your own. Was this a difficult decision?And what made you recently also work again with them?
I come originally from Sapporo in the North of Japan. From my early high school student days on, I often went to shows of my favorite artists likes Tenniscoats, Boredoms, Deerhoof and  bought a lot of cds of them and artists like The Residents, Malaria! and BLACK DICE. To me all this was sooo exciting. I mean, I like Japanese pop music, but I also like experimental music. So, working with BiS I experienced what it means to be liked by many many people within the Idols world – and I felt some inconsistencies.
So after the group broke up, I didn’t exactly know what I wanted to do, but I wanted to get closer to what I like.
The reason that I worked with the BiS members again is very simple, we became friends since we were no members of BiS.

After working with BiS you established a very DIY setup with your own label imprint Tenten Records, where you do not only release a lot of your home recorded music (and sell via your bandcamp site), but also magazines, video magazines and a lot of merchandise. Would you say that for you the world of Tentenko is definitely bigger than just music?
Yes, I released pretty much every month music –  DIY style. It was for listeners as well as for “me”. As I had never produced music before this self arranged challenge was a good opportunity to learn a lot. I like the idea to challenge myself, that‘ s why I challenge myself not only in producing music, I also tried to draw pictures and take photos for the artwork…
But the most impressive challenge was happening on a stage when I participated in a theater company named “Fai fai” for about a month and performed in a play with them called “Rebirth”. It was very hard experience for me, one I will never forget. Not the challenge I need all the time – it is music that I always want to challenge.

I know you are well connected with the Osaka based musicians Kopy (with whom you already share two records on Tal Records) and YPY. How did that came up?
A group named DREAMPV$HER invited me to play and party with them at a venue called  “2-chome paradise” in 伊勢 (ISE). That night I experienced a lot of special encounters with many people – YPY and KOPY are two of them.
“2-chome paradise” is a very very wonderful space I am going back to as often as possible.

Tentenko, with Chee Shimizu & at Organic Music / Planet Baby Tokyo. Photo by Sarah Szczesny.

Looking at your biography the music you release on TAL Records is not coming in with total surprise. From early age on you worked with your childhood friend Takizawa Tomoe and your projece Floria on ambient music – can you name some electronic music artist who influenced this?
The Residents, Suicide, Bruce Haack, Throbbing Gristle, SYMPATHY NERVOUS, Andreas Dorau, Lolina (Inga Copeland), TTT (label)…

Tentenko, you are about to start your first Germany tour. What´s your expectations? What are you most curious about?
I am interested to see all those venues and the people who gather there. I usually perform in Tokyo – my favorite venue there is called “Forest Limit”, it is very small and  the people are very very unique and interesting. I am sure there are such places all over the world. Now I gonna see those in Germany.

Anything else you wanna share with our readers?
I’m very very excited I’m in Germany now!  Please don’t miss my performances!

Tentenko will be on tour in Germany from 13th till 20th of December:
13.12., München, Alien Disko Festival
16.12., Köln, Acephale (+ Frank D’Arpino)
18.12., Düsseldorf, Salon Des Amateurs (+ Tolouse Low Trax) 13
19.12., Leipzig, Pracht
20.12., Hamburg, Künstlerhaus Wendenstraße





Tentenko’s 3 favorite tracks right now

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