TEKE::TEKE photo by Andy Jon

LUCKY 7 is the feature where we ask artists to name their 6 favourite songs by others, and a lucky 7th song of their own… today it’s a new signing to Kill Rock Stars the trail blazing riot grrrl/punk label from Olympia, WA who are enjoying their 30th year in 2021, and with TEKE::TEKE‘s sharing platter “Shirushi” what a party to celebrate.  From Man or Astro Man? via Melt Banana to Goat and Jethro Tull, it’s a wild ride, peppered with cataclysmic flute solos, trippy Dagmar Krause-sque vocals and psychobilly surf freakouts. It’s an album for when it’s turned midnight, everyone’s already fully indulged in post neon nihilism and time bends infinitely so that before you know it the sun’s streaming on your sweat-drenched face.

TEKE::TEKE are a seven piece Montreal-based predominately Japanese psych punk band who use a veritable diorama of traditional Japanese instruments plus the aforementioned flute, trombone, guitars and a whip-tight rhythm section. The music is multi-layered, timeless and irresistible. The band got together when guitarist Serge Nakauchi Pelletier, drummer Ian Lettre, and horn player Etienne Lebel in a previous incarnation began jamming together while members of another artist’s backing band and tumbled into a love of Japanese surf and garage rock legend Takeshi “Terry” Terauchi whose tunes they appropriated during sound checks. They joined forces with rhythm guitarist Hidetaka Yoneyama, bassist Mishka Stein, multi-instrumentalist Yuki Isami, and vocalist Maya Kuroki and ostensibly became a Terauchi tribute act at a psychedelic music festival. Inevitably the work got bigger, broader and badder to know, and after woodshedding mostly in the Canadian countryside, it became an actual thing. This hydra-headed groove thing.

There is so much going on within the artful splatter of “Shirushi” that a Lucky 7 of other influences might be the perfect way to unpack the pantheon of sonic delights…so it’s over to Serge Nakauchi Pelletier to fill us in…but not before this…

1- ‘Rashomon’ / Takeshi Terauchi & The Blue Jeans

The first show TEKE ::TEKE ever played (in late 2017), we were actually a Takeshi Terauchi tribute band and we opened the set that night with the song ‘Rashomon’ from his 1973 album of the same name. The song has a great slow intro featuring a very badass guitar riff with on top of it a dissonant and ghostly flute, with some cymbal build-ups. The whole atmosphere is intense, dark and reminiscent of old Japanese film soundtracks. That alone was a huge influence on us and the aesthetic we were going to move forward with. The song changes speed very suddenly and then it’s all crazy surf-punk mayhem from there with sudden chromatic modulations (typical of instrumental rock songs of the times). We did our own take of it and dare i say made it slightly more punk, in addition to replacing the long middle-part guitar solo by having also the flute and bass do solos as well. We still love that song and love playing it from time to time in our live shows, usually at the end or as part of an encore. We like to think of this song as a sort of seed from which TEKE ::TEKE grew and took form, making us want to take this band further and write our own material.

2- ‘Uminari’ / Miyuki Nakajima

This intense ballad is on Nakajima Miyuki’s 1978 album ‘Aishiteru to Ittekure’. This is an important track for the band as it is the first song Maya (our vocalist) sang with us when joining the project for our second show. It is equally of a big deal on a personal level, as this is some of the first music, along with maybe The Kinks, The Beatles and Ennio Morricone, that i remember hearing as a child. It was playing a lot at home and I even remember hearing my mom singing to it. I have kept this record preciously and still listen to it often to this day. When I think of this song and this album, I just can’t help but think of my parents who met in Japan in the late 70’s. My father, a French-Canadian, who worked in cinema, TV and was also teaching French and English in Japan at the time, met my mom (Japanese), they got married and later came back to Canada together. I realize how everything about TEKE::TEKE in some way traces all the way back to that heritage, and that album is like a symbol of it all.

(Nick: couldn’t find a proper YT clip of the original, but here is an ace version of the song performed by TEKE::TEKE members Maya and Sergio during the recent lockdown)

3- ‘Trem Fantasma’ / Os Mutantes

We honestly could’ve picked any of the 11 tracks on the band’s first album. We talked about Os Mutantes constantly while recording our album ‘Shirushi’. It was definitely a reference we liked to go back to as we were arranging our music and thinking of our album as a whole. The energy, the sound and the way the album stands as a whole is just so raw and real. When hearing that song, that whole album, and their music in general for that matter, it sounds like complete freedom. The arrangements, their choices of sounds, the multi-layered vocals, the song structures… Everything is so colorful, fun, and so well executed, intricate and powerful. You hear one crazy world you want to take part in. A huge inspiration for us as far as creativity and possiblities in music.

4- ‘Yume ha Yoru Hiraku’ / Keiko Fuji

This song is a great example of the beauty of 60’s Enka-pop music in Japan. Its extreme drama and over the top orchestral arrangements makes it borderline cheesy but ends up winning you over with its good dose of darkness and dreamy vibes you just can’t remain indifferent to. Obviously, Keiko’s low and rich voice with that vibrato, omnipresent in Enka singing, is so powerful, you can’t help but feel the melancholy. All these nuances are elements we like to play with in TEKE ::TEKE, especially Maya (our singer), obviously. She likes to use ‘Enka’ as an influence for song lyrics, moods and also for her presence on stage when playing live shows.

5- ‘Osorezan’ / Geinoh Yamashirogumi

First things first, this is hands down the best album intro ever and without a doubt one of the best screams you’ll hear on a recording! ‘Osozeran’ is a 19-minute song, it takes up the whole side A of that record (actually, there are two songs on the record, side-B is also just one song). Listening to Geinoh Yamashirogumi is knowing you need to make time for it and be completely absorbed, it demands a slightly different kind of listening. It is transcendental, theatrical, cinematic and highly psychedelic all at once, it’s one intense trip. Geinoh has been very influential for the more experimental side of TEKE ::TEKE. Much like Os Mutantes, projects with that level of audacity is a constant and very hopeful reminder to us of how creative you can be and that there are no limits.

6- ‘It’s me’ / Adrian Younge

I was first introduced to the work of producer Adrian Younge with this song, which is from the album Something About April. I then went out and bought a bunch of his records and projects he produced. I noticed right away his obvious love for Ennio Morricone, Portishead and film soundtracks, which TEKE::TEKE and can relate to. Also a love for analog, but not in a ‘retro’ or nostalgic way, but rather ‘a love for using analog to make the music of tomorrow’, I heard him say that once on the radio and thought, that’s exactly it, TEKE ::TEKE can relate to that! Needless to say we’d love to work with him in the future if it was possible, we think it would be a great fit.

7- ‘Meikyu’ / TEKE ::TEKE The band unanimously picked ‘Meikyu’ as our ‘Lucky 7’ song. A lot of work went into this song, we tried a lot of different things with it until we really felt we had the definite best version of it, the most TEKE::TEKE version of it! ‘Meikyu’ is a 5 minute 37 second, 360 degree look into what this band is all about. It captures the band’s identity, its aesthetic and its multi-layered soundscapes. Sonically, there’s a lot going on here ; Melodic and traditional licks go hand-in-hand with the more experimental and noise side of T::T. The tribal rhythm section, the psychedelic guitar solo and the trombone one at the end, the break with the quiet flute, the use of the ‘taisho-koto’ (vintage electric mini-koto, kind of like if a type-writer and a slide guitar had a baby), the elements of surprise, the contrasts, etc…and Maya’s wide range of vocals showcased throughout the song building up in the end with an intense theatrical delivery of the song’s dark and powerful lyrics. We also made our first official music video for this song, a DIY amalgam of high contrast black and white individual shots of the band members with some animated artwork that Maya did. You can see it now on YouTube!

MANY THANKS TO SERGE AND TO RACHEL SILVER AT SILVER PR

“Shirushi” by TEKE::TEKE is out on Kill Rock Stars now

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