With live entertainment on pause for the foreseeable future, the rumble of a rock concert feels like a very distant memory and while it's return is a reality that feels further and further away, the resilience of artists perseveres. However, though tough to spot, there are silver linings to be found in the mire of 2020.
Adjusting to a new reality, the pivot for many artists has resulted in innovative ways to reach and connect with their audience. As the streaming continues to become a much more viable outlet for performance artists, the vehicle has brought about fresh new ideas in what has started a sea change within the culture.
The trade off here is hefty, but important. While physical dynamic is no longer an option for an indefinite amount of time, those same physical restrictions are gone. The live streaming platform now gives fans, from everywhere, the ability to congregate at the same place, at the same time, for the very same reason.
Embracing the digital stage, Young Guitar Magazine has cultivated a concept that puts an emphasis on Japanese talent with global reach in mind. Assembling a collection the country's very best guitar shredders, Shred Racers is a unique production that essentially showcases the ethnical prowess of a guitar clinic, with the energy and excitement of a rock concert.
Showcasing virtuoso guitarists including Saki, 15 year old prodigy Li-Sa-X, and the cyborg shreddage of Ediee Ironbunny, the episodes of the broadcasts are referred to as "Frets" and deliver a unique platform to draw attention to Japan's ever-evolving rock culture.
The guitarists explained the concept behind Shred Racers and how something so ambitious came together.
Shred Racers showcases three different, very accomplished guitarists. Does the music get crowed considering there are three leads all playing simultaneously?
Li-sa-X: Yes and no, I can say that. In terms of harmony, it's very tightly constructed. On the other hand, there is also a free space for spontaneity in the lead parts of each of the three guitarists. There are two sides to that.
Ediee: Our tones are completely different from each other. We are three very different people with different approaches and our own concepts. If guitarists with different
SAKI: Ediee wrote a song called “Richromatic,” and we played the leads through the whole song. I feel that harmonies show our differences in styles and sounds.
How did Shred Racers come together? Who took charge in assembling the musicians and the concept?
Editor in chief of Young Guitar magazine: "Shred Racers" is not a unit or band, but a title for the live streaming program. There are a lot of great shredders in Japan, and this "Shred Racers" is meant to introduce them to the world. We'll be introducing more great players, young and old, men and women alike, so stay tuned.
What has the transition been like from working as a solo artist to working collaboratively? Have there been any challenges you didn’t anticipate?
Ediee: It was hard to establish the harmony of three voices within the chord, but it was unexpectedly hard to have three colors in the riffwork within the same range. Also, three is an odd number, so it was difficult to assign it to stereo 2 mix. I realized that after
SAKI: I’m playing in 3 bands, so there’s no stress collaborating with other musicians. I
Considering that guitar-driven music has become less prominent in mainstream culture, do you ever feel like expertise is less valued than it should be?
Ediee: I think the rapid development of digital devices and the Internet environment has generated creativity in many directions. This has given rise to an incomparable amount of genres and songs in the world. In this context, the guitar as an instrument and its performance techniques have become less popular. However, I think it's important to make the technique of the guitar not only in the world of hard rock but also crossover to other genres. That's what's needed for guitar shred to shine in the mainstream again, isn't it?
SAKI: I don’t think so. In Japan, a lot of mainstream cultures have elements of hard rock and heavy metal guitars. Anison (popular music derived from anime) is the most popular thing that uses the power of guitars.
Lots of guitarists look to you for inspiration. Who are some of the musicians and artists that challenge you to get better at perfecting your craft?
Li-sa-X: Paul Gilbert is my mentor. I've been studying with him for 6 years at his online school. And I usually listen to Periphery, Plini, and Polyphia a lot. Maybe I have a connection to the letter "P".
SAKI: I'm a huge fan of SEIKIMA-II and they are always my inspiration. Also, I like Li-sa-X and Ediee, who give me so many ideas.
The way in which you perform really requires the audience to pay attention. Do you appreciate that audience dynamic or would you rather see fans going crazy while you are onstage
SAKI: I want
Li-sa-X: If I was actually in a concert venue with an audience, I'd want to go crazy and have a blast with them. But especially with live streaming, it's up to you to have fun. One thing I can tell you is that if you've got popcorn to watch, you'll probably forget to eat it.
FRET 2 of Shred Racers was initially broadcast on September 26th but Young Guitar Magazine is hosting a special encore streaming of the event. Tickets will be available starting at noon on October 9th. The Shred Racers FRET 2 installment will available to stream starting October 16th at midnight and will go until October 18th 23:59 pm. All times are Japanese.
Tickets and information are available - HERE