Interview: Taffy

Bearded talks to Japanese pop tarts Taffy.

Posted on Mar 21st, 2012 in Features and Interviews, Taffy, Club AC30 / By Alex Yau
Taffy Taffy hail from the Land of the Rising Sun, Tokyo to be more precise, but their sound has much more of a Western influence. Compared to the likes of Echobelly, Teenage Fanclub and the Ramones, the four-piece have been receiving glowing reviews and have the UK set firmly in their sites. They have a new album out soon and single ‘So Long’ will be released on Record Store Day on the 21st April. Bearded caught up with them for a chat.

Bearded: ‘So Long’ is being released in the UK on Record Store Day. Do you have Record Store Day in Japan or something similar?

Taffy: Actually no, there is no such day or even a similar one. There is a “Rock Day” though which happens on June 9th and the name comes from the numbers of the date. Number 6 and 9, are ‘Roku’ and ‘Ku’ in Japanese. So some people decided to call this day a "Rock (Rokku) Day" from its sound. But it’s just named that way and it’s not something to celebrate nationally or anything, so nothing like Record Store Day there. A lot of the bands here book their gigs on that day though.

B: You’ve been described as “bubblegum pop.” Did you name yourselves Taffy to reflect your sound or are the two unrelated?

T: The two are so unrelated. We have never considered ourselves as “bubblegum pop.” I mean some of our songs are pop, but not everything we do is. And even when it is a pop song, we try to put a little bit of this and that into our music. It eventually that becomes that ‘Taffy’ sound.

B: What can we expect from Caramel Sunset. Will a lot of the tracks be like ‘So Long?’

T: Oh no, there are all kinds of music coated with our taste. There are mellow songs, up beat songs, middle beat songs…they’re all filtered by ‘Taffy sound’. People say our music is rock, pop, shoegaze, fuzzy, alternative, and bubblegum pop etc and I think it's all true and you can feel all that in our songs.

B: There’s a bit of sugary and sweet imagery that can be linked to your name and the title. Is that deliberate?

T: You’re right, we didn’t notice that till now! We personally like sweet stuff. Maybe that’s why, we don’t know, but it wasn’t deliberate. We love sunsets so much that we just wanted to use the word ‘sunset’. We were on our way to LA for the mastering of this album and we had to name the album before we got there. First there was this image of something brownish, like a beige colour, and then a word ‘cafe au lait’ or ‘macchiato’ came to mind. One of the crew said “how about ‘caramel’? as in ‘caramel macchiato’?” Finally, it hit us, ‘Yes! Caramel Sunset!’

B: You’ve been compared mostly to Creation Records bands and there’s quite a “British” sound to your music. Would you say you’re musical Anglophiles in that sense?

T: Flattered! We do like British music a lot, but the reason why it sounds like that is maybe because we grew up listening to The Beatles. It was always the The Beatles or classical music that was being played as we grew up. It's not intentional, but just happens to be that way.

B: You signed to ClubAC30 too. Why did you choose to sign with them?

T: We’ve known the label for a while and we always liked them, the way they are and everything. And last year, we had an opportunity to play at their party and it went quite well. After that, it all came together naturally.

B: You’re also formed from the ashes of previous bands. What have you learnt from these splits that you’ve taken on board with Taffy? Do you think you’d be as successful as you are without these experiences?

T: I'm not sure, but I would think that we must have learnt something from that, I hope. Actually, we have had some member changes with Taffy too, so I guess it's like a never ending trial and error thing to do a band.

B: You’ve got your sights set on the UK. Any particular things you want to do?

T: We want a tour and maybe to go around Europe as well. What we really want the most is to reach people.

B: Explain to someone, who’s not so familiar with the Tokyo scene, what it’s like - who are the big bands or what’s the big genre right now?

T: Most of the bands here are very ‘Japanese,’ they have these specific melodies. It’s either that, or bunch of ‘wannabe’s, like ‘Nirvana of Japan’ or ‘Oasis of Japan’ etc. The biggest genre now doesn’t include traditional bands: it's like groups of girls or boys singing and dancing along with their songs. It’s more like a performance show, you know? There are bands. And among them, us not sounding Japanese and singing in English, the scene here treats Taffy like an alien.

'So Long' is available on April 21st, with the album following on May 7th