“The Fuji Rock Experience is about more than just the artists”

  • “The Fuji Rock Experience is about more than just the artists”

Photo by Nina Cataldo Text by Nina Cataldo

Posted on 2021.8.23 19:14

An interview with this year's international attendees

While catching DJ Quietstorm’s set at Day Dreaming on Sunday, I couldn’t help but notice the barely handful of dancers in the audience. Noticing that they were fellow international folks during a year where about 95% of attendees were Japanese, I had to interview them and hear about their thoughts on the festival.

Meet Rue (left), Anjelika (center), and Tao (right) who have mixed Japanese and American roots. They’ve all been to Fuji Rock numerous times, and a domestic lineup nor restrictions didn’t veer them away from coming this year.

Rue, in particular, had a lot to say about his relationship with Fuji Rock. He grew up coming to the festival every year since he was a kid, because of family ties to the vendors at Field of Heaven. “It’s great to see the kids running around and having fun this year. I was doing the exact same thing as them when I was a kid,” he said as he pointed at the kids running around at Day Dreaming, chasing and catching dragonflies.

When asked about what he thought about this year’s unique Fuji Rock experience, he said, “There’s a different vibe, and that’s kind of exciting. Especially, to be here is to see how it’s different from usual so it’s a totally new experience”.

He went on to mention that these sort of times are when we should support each other the most. In that, he meant the artists, vendors, everyone involved in a festival like this that make it happen. In addition, there are more first time Fuji Rockers this year than usual. There are many younger Japanese attendees, and Rue feels like it’s important to welcome the new folks into the Fuji Rock culture and supporting their journey.

In regards to the lack of Japanese attendees dancing to an American DJ’s set which incorporated a lot of Western Hip-Hop and Pop, he noted how it can be intimidating to others. “We grew up on this music, so we know them and know how to dance to them. But if you don’t know the culture, it can be intimidating because you don’t even know how people dance to it.” In saying so, he still sees people going out of their comfort zones at Fuji Rock and ‘getting jiggy with it’.

But Fuji Rock isn’t just about the dancing, or even the artists who are playing. It’s about the whole experience. I mentioned how many international people I knew chose not to come because they didn’t know any of the Japanese artists and wanted to see international acts. While nodding in comprehension, he said, “[The festival] is all what you make of it”. His friends Anjelika and Tao chimed in saying, “We didn’t know most of the artists, and we were talking sh*t at first. But then we were completely blown away by some acts. There are low key some amazing artists in Japan”.

In particular, the friends enjoyed DACHAMBO and ROVO’s sets. “Mainstream music in Japan are often very curated and censored. But at a place like Fuji Rock, you get a chance to see such a vast variety of Japanese musicians. It’s been a good year to discover new artists”. In saying so, they once again emphasized how it’s important not to rely on artists to have a good time. After all, it is what you make of it.

Finally, I asked for some words from them that they would like to pass on the future international attendees of Fuji Rock. Rue, who is bi-racial and bi-cultural Japanese-American, said, “Japanese people aren’t afraid of [foreigners], they’re just shy. If you put a hand out, they will take it. So make [future] Fuji Rock a place to reach out. If you’re the one engaging first, they will follow”. As a fellow bi-racial and bi-cultural Japanese-American, I understood what he meant as we have both been in positions to help bridge the cultures.

Once the doors to Japan – and to Fuji Rock – opens again, it’ll be great to see more cultural and human exchanges happen under the commonality of the Fuji Rock Experience.

[Photo: 1 All photo]