Asobi blends influences

By Andi Berlin
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, March 10, 2005

Even though the band has an unending list of influences, it is impossible to group talented newcomers Asobi Seksu into any one genre.

Recently garnering major attention from media outlets across the country, the group has been compared to everything from Stereolab to No Doubt, from the entire J-pop scene to John Hughes' '80s movies.

Although some of these associations may hold a little bit of truth, Asobi's music is too original to classify. They have defied expectations by producing an album containing nods to particular bands and styles, but with a distinct sound that is all their own.

And the best part is, they haven't gotten big heads about it.

When asked about their recent success and recognition, Asobi bassist Glenn Waldman replied modestly.

"We haven't seen any fame. That's for sure. I think we get some free clothes on this tour from companies, and that's about the best we've seen," Waldman said.

Maybe so, but Asobi Seksu's grass roots support is burgeoning. Interviews and reviews from magazines, newspapers and Web logs are popping up by the dozen on the Net, praising the band for its eclectic sound.

Part of this diversity comes from the band members' thorough background in music. Lead vocalist and keyboard player Yuki (who usually goes only by her first name) was trained as a classical pianist. This knowledge and skill has only made the music stronger.

"It gives us a solid base of experience. It also gives us a solid base to experiment with, where maybe we might not know exactly what we're doing and why we're doing it, but we know it sounds good," Waldman said.

While the training definitely shows throughout their self-titled debut, Asobi Seksu is by no means held to it.

"We're not trying to be a classical group," Waldman said. "You know, we pretty much know what we're trying to do, and we use everything at our finger tips that we can to do what we have to do."

With a jazz/big band lyricist grandfather and "hippie parents," Waldman was surrounded by different types of music from an early age.

"I think if you have a good base to start yourself off, it's pretty much up to you to explore and find what else is out there," he said.

Asobi's multicultural music may have sprung from this exploration, but it stays ripe because of tolerance. The solely English-speaking band members have learned to feel Yuki's Japanese lyrics on an emotional level, even though the details aren't always completely clear.

"Everyone writes about the same things when they write songs. It's what's going on with people. It's what's going on in your life," Waldman said. "There's no reason why you can't develop yourself to the music and learn to love it, regardless of what language it is."

Asobi Seksu will be performing at Solar Culture on March 21. Doors ƒopen at 9 p.m., tickets are $8.