This year’s full-length from noisy Japanese
guitar-pop quartet taffy is
called Nyctophilia. The word means love of darkness, or of night. Many artists
and musicians love the night and feel they do their best creative work in the
wee hours. And for those of us deeply passionate about music, night life—as the
context for so much of live music—is a setting for discovering exciting new
sounds and for transcendent performances we’ll never forget. So nyctophilia is
a sentiment many WTSH readers can no doubt connect with, and Nyctophilia an
album they’ll very much appreciate.
The title of taffy’s immediately preceding release
offers a similar nocturnal allusion. The wonderful coined titular word for this
2015 EP, Darkle, immediately suggests the sparkle—or the allure—of the dark. It
brings to mind things that sparkle in the dark, like stars, fireflies, and
ordinary objects silvered into mystery by moonlight.
Such iridescence is amply present in the sparkling
sound of Nyctophilia, one of the most exciting records of 2017 so far. The
first track, “RunicWade,” opens with complex rhythms, an intricate guitar
ostinato, and a concisely angular bass pronouncement, elements that almost seem
like they could be signaling the commencement of a prog epic. Then Iris’s
clear, simple vocal line begins, providing a perfect contrast to the complexity
behind it, deftly taking command of the strange groove for purposes of pop. The
defining combination that makes this album such an enjoyable and often
surprising ride has been established: Iris’s straightforward, inspired pop
melodies, delivered with simple ease and grace, in partnership with the
surging, luxurious, complex noise of the band’s sound.
Taffy’s history stretches back into 2011; the band
played live in London in December of that year. Debut single “SO LONG”/”in the
fields i lay” was released in February of 2012, followed by debut full-length
Caramel Sunset in May. The following year saw the release of two singles and an
LP called Lixiviate. A collection of B-sides and early material called taffy
plus+++ came out in 2014, while 2015 brought us the Darkle EP, featuring a
remix of “Young Tines” by The Brain Jonestown Massacre that we posted here.
The project’s label home has long been London’s wonderful Club AC30, which has released material by
a number of bands celebrated in this space including Flyying Colours,
Pinkshinyultrablast, Ringo Deathstarr, and Exit Calm. The present lineup
features Iris on vocal and guitar, Asano on lead guitar, Ken on Drums, and
Takeshi on bass. The members prefer not to capitalize the band name, and we
have followed suit here.
We’re very excited to feature the following
conversation with Iris, who, in addition to her vocal and guitar duties, writes
all the songs for the project. Many thanks to manager Hiroaki Hayashi for
arranging this interview.
and when was the band formed?
I gathered my friends who might be interested in
playing the songs I write. Many people have come and gone and I can't quite
remember when this journey began...
you tell us what the band has been working on and what you've got forthcoming
in the near future (new releases, tour, etc.)?
We have just released our latest new album,
Nyctophilia, and are now getting ready for the upcoming UK tour in July.
you consider your music to be part of the current shoegaze/dream pop scene, or
any scene? Defining one's sound by genre can be tiresome, but do you feel that
the band identifies closely with any genre? How do you feel about genres in
music, in a general sense?
A lot of people call us shoegaze, grunge-gaze,
dream pop, psychedelic pop, etc., but I don't really mind what genre we are
called. I think it's all up to the listeners however they take it. We're only
playing and making whatever sounds suit us at the moment, not intending to
categorize anything, so…what comes out from us is the taffy sound. We have bits
of this and that in our sound but the bottom line is, I like to put melodic
song along with it.
In general, it might be better and easier to
understand if your band can be categorized in a certain genre, but personally,
I am proud that taffy can't quite be categorized because, in a way, it means
that we are doing our original sound, the taffy sound.
do you think of modern shoegaze/dream pop/psychedelia artists, any favorites?
As long as they have good melodies, melodic lines
that make me want to sing, I like them. There are so many nice bands and music
that’re hard not to like.
"I'm sure everything I have listened to, even the noises and sounds of everyday life, have influenced my music."
is the most important piece of gear for your sound? Any particular
guitars/pedals/amps that you prefer?
Something to create distortion so that the sound
is not too clear, but clear enough to flow. If there are any pedals for that
and two guitars, a bass guitar, and a drum set, we can pretty much make the
There was this one time that we arrived at a venue
in Manchester without any of our gear—I mean none, nothing!—and we borrowed
everything mentioned above and still were able to do a show just like we always
do. That was quite an experience, and taught that it's all about the people who
make the band sound, not the instruments.