After the largest earthquake in Japan’s history hit in March 2011 – a 9.0 off the Pacific coast of Tohoku – Blonde Redhead frontwoman Kazu Makino knew that she wanted to do something to help her homeland recover. The New York-based singer found herself in shock trying to reach her family in Japan on the day of the earthquake. “Communication went down in all of Japan and I couldn’t find my parents for a whole day,” she recalls.
As it turns out, her family was fine and the earthquake and subsequent tsunami didn’t touch their home near Kyoto, but Kazu couldn’t sit idly by as hundreds of thousands of people were displaced from their homes and the nation struggled to recover. What’s more, the tsunami caused several nuclear accidents and radiation leaks that have had a devastating impact on the entire country.
“After the tsunami happened I wanted to do something because the shock I felt was quite significant,” Kazu tells Music for Good. “It didn’t feel right to watch and do nothing about it. I thought that (making a record) was what I could do to contribute. I wanted to take my time and do something substantial.”
The result is the benefit album, “We Are the Works in Progress,” which features songs by Interpol, Deerhunter, Nosaj Thing, Broadcast, Liars, Four Tet, Karin Andersson of Fever Ray and Blonde Redhead. The album comes out February 7 on Blonde Redhead’s own new label, Asa Wa Kuru.
“It was quite easy to get friends to contribute because everybody cares,” Kazu explains. “One of the climactic points in all of our careers when we go to Japan. It’s quite amazing to visit there as a band, the way the audience receives you and crew works with you is one-of-a-kind. All my friends who play music there are huge fans of Japan, so it wasn’t hard to get yes from all of them.”
“They were really into following our wishes to spend it in a way we were interested in—sustainable energy and things that connect to the future,” says Kazu of the two charities. “And they’re doing it in an ecological way, which is really great.”
The idea behind “We Are the Works in Progress” is that almost all of the tracks are just that—unfinished demos or songs that just didn’t quite make an album’s final cut. “Most of the songs are totally exclusive and quite phenomenal,” Kazu says. “It sounds really ambient and spontaneous.”
Click here to purchase “We Are the Works in Progress” and contribute to the rebuilding of Japan.
1. MOMA – FOUR TET exclusive
2. NO FACE – KARIN DREIJER ANDERSSON Fever Ray/The Knife, exclusive
3. G SONG – TERRY RILEY exclusive reworking of a song from the 70s by Terry himself, including new vocals
4. NIGHTCRAWLER – NOSAJ THING exclusive
5. BERCEUSE – JOHN ROBERTS exclusive
6. PENNY SPARKLE – BLONDE REDHEAD Drew Brown exclusive remix of album track
7. BIRD ON A WIRE – PANTHA DU PRINCE exclusive
8. IN HERE THE WORLD BEGINS – BROADCAST re-release of a tour vinyl-only track
9. DRIP – LIARS/BLONDE REDHEAD previously released track remixed by Blonde Redhead
10. CURVE – DEERHUNTER exclusive
11. STALAGMITE – STALACTITE Susumu Mukai of Zongamin + Drew Brown, exclusive
12. CASTLES IN THE GRAVE – JOHN MAUS exclusive
13. BAMBOO HOUSE – DAVID SYLVIAN/RYUICHI SAKAMOTO previously released
14. SONG SEVEN – INTERPOL previously released b-side