FOCUS // Paranoid Void: from Osaka to abroad

Over the last year, Paranoid Void have put each and every iota of their spare time into organising one of the greatest undertakings of a band: the booking of an international tour. The trio, who have taken the oft-pejorative ‘math rock’ label and proudly made it their own, have experienced the uphill battles of negotiating venues, confirming local supports, budgeting food and accommodation, and managing press promotion.

The reality is that a Japanese math rock band delving into a US tour carries an economic risk that may well turn into a burden. Flights are costly, the cities are far apart, the visa applications are cumbersome, and there is always a grey area surrounding the revenue that musician’s make during their stay. That said, it is not impossible: toe have enjoyed three successful US tours, LITE and tricot each have at least one under their belts. If you suspect you have a following you may have yourself a green light.

For Paranoid Void, it really came down to trust. Over the past few years, the band have garnered a cult following, both at home and, by virtue of digital media, internationally. Literary Math, released in 2017, is perhaps unsurprisingly the band’s magnum opus. The band’s full-length debut, almost entirely instrumental, features the characteristic jangly sound of Japanese post rock on full display, but it is the beautifully meandering and impetuously changing musical passages that make the album a truly Paranoid Void adventure. The album showcases the band’s fluid approach to rock music, their experimentation with rhythm tempo, and their ability to dazzle. Literary Math instantly struck a chord with fans and press, and remains a solid exemplar of math rock’s potential.

The band’s unique sound is really a product of personal expression. “We have feelings, scenes and worldviews we want to express,” Meguri tells me, ” we share the emotions, landscapes and concepts we want to express as specifically as possible. Then, we will search for a chord, scale, and rhythm suitable for the concept. This is very time consuming. If the phrase is good, but it does not match the concept, the phrase will not be adopted“. She has been friends with drummer Mipow since they were kids. Around 2015, Meguri was casually acting as a support guitarist with Mass of the Fermenting Dregs, but was also playing guitar in an all-girl punk band in Osaka. Mipow was occasionally filling in as a support drummer for Meguri’s Osaka band and, when time was well-aligned, started making instrumental music together. A friend introduced bassist Yu-ki into the fold and the trio eventually settled on a name: ‘paranoid’ from the Radiohead’s ‘Paranoid Android’, and ‘void’ to bring some extra rhythm and rhyme.

In the early days, we didn’t have the skill set to play instruments or the ability to write songs,” Meguri says. That said, the band would record their first song, “夜のレプリカ” (Night Replica) in 2013, which would eventually appear on their Pop Music EP, and remains a beautifully swaying instrumental post rock and shoegaze combo.

We have known that there are people outside Japan who love our music through the Internet. But we didn’t see them, so we couldn’t believe their existence,” Meguri tells me. A brief stopover in Canada for the Next Music From Tokyo festival in 2018 allowed the band to really come to terms with how much sprawl their music and brand had made. The band had a chance to not only meet but embrace the existence of international fans. The feeling was indescribable.

So how will a US tour go for Paranoid Void? Embarking on a multi-city campaign is a jump into the unknown for many bands, and undoubtedly even more intimidating for those unfamiliar with the language. That said, if there is a setting where the band’s signature sound is going to be enjoyed, they have hit the right target. Add to this the overwhelming enthusiastic and supportive nature of the math rock and post rock communities. This is likely the start of even greater things to come.

If you are in the US, you can check out Paranoid Void as they embark on their first US tour. Check the tour dates on their Facebook page here.