Hello from Chicago!

Let your fellow fans know who you are, where you're from, why you love DCT, etc...
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cubdukat
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Hello from Chicago!

Post by cubdukat » Tue Apr 18, 2006 11:15 pm

I first got into Jpop around 1988, when I was stationed in Japan, but I didn't discover DCT until about 10 years later. I was trolling the Usenet for Jpop to reacquaint myself and I came across an MP3 of "It's So Delicious." Needless to say, I was hooked. "Best of Dreams Come True" was my first Jpop CD purchase in years, and I now have all of their Sony albums except for "Million Kisses" and "Magic." (I have copies I burnt from downloaded MP3s of those two, but I want the Sony versions.)

I think I like DCT because they remind me of another trio that is greatly underappreciated except in Japan--Swing out Sister. The two most beautiful voices in music today have to be Miwa Yoshida and Corinne Drewery.

I admit, I haven't thought much of their Virgin albums ("Monkey Girl Odyssey" was absolutely hideous), but after hearing "Jet!!!" I'm back on the DCT bandwagon again.

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Jei
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Re: Hello from Chicago!

Post by Jei » Fri Apr 21, 2006 7:18 pm

Welcome to the gang, cubdukat!
cubdukat wrote: I think I like DCT because they remind me of another trio that is greatly underappreciated except in Japan--Swing out Sister. The two most beautiful voices in music today have to be Miwa Yoshida and Corinne Drewery.
I'll agree with you on that....When I first got into the group, they reminded me of Swing out Sister too. They've also reminded me of Basia & Danny (power singer/great producer...underappreciate by US public ^^)
cubdukat wrote: I admit, I haven't thought much of their Virgin albums ("Monkey Girl Odyssey" was absolutely hideous), but after hearing "Jet!!!" I'm back on the DCT bandwagon again.
*grin* Welcome to their "Universal Japan" era ^^
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nogizaka
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Post by nogizaka » Sat Apr 22, 2006 3:38 pm

Hello cubdukat!

Also interesting that Swing Out Sister lost their third member (although it was much earlier in their career than Niehya's leaving was in DCT's). The two bands are pretty much contemporary, SOS starting out a couple of years earlier than DCT. Corrine and Miwa do seem to have the same sort of vibe going on, don't they?

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Post by tachikaze » Sun Apr 30, 2006 1:57 am

I kinda like their first Virgin album... Aisuru kokoro and PEACE! are kickass songs, top-10 among my favorite DCT singles. Certainly if you watch their concert video (Children of the Sun) you'll have a deeper appreciation of the album...

Like I've said before here, their later albums (up to MGO at least) seem to have stronger singles but less consistency at the album level.

In late 1999, I rented 10 of their albums, and ripped the songs I liked; from the first 4 albums (up to Million Kisses), I kept 16 songs, but only 3 or 4 of those were really "must-have", top-20, material... from the middle 4 albums, their peak, I have 36 songs / 12 must-haves; of their latter 3 (SoD - MGO), only 9 "keepers" / 4 must-haves, but these 4 must-haves are prolly 4 of their all-time top 5 (PEACE!, Aisuru kokoro, asa-ga mata kuru, SNOW DANCE).

Agree, good call on the SOS comparison. The two bands are clearly mining the same seam here. Via the iTMS, listening to "You on my Mind" and especially "Waiting Game" very, very DCT-ish. Much better touchstone than my previous English-language comparison for DCT, the Carpenters.

Now the million-dollar question, why can't/couldn't Miwa phrase her stuff dynamic enough in English???

I guess since DCT only do their own material, they've got a double language barrier.

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nogizaka
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Post by nogizaka » Sun Apr 30, 2006 8:50 pm

I don't think that Miwa's phrasing in English is so much a problem as singing English lyrics written with an English-speaking "assistant" is, meaning that not all of the English versions are very close translations of the original Japanese. On some of these, Miwa is singing a different song, albeit with the same music, and since she puts a lot into her lyrics, probably doesn't feel the same way about a song she only collaborated on. The closer the translation gets to the original, the more feeling it seems to have. Going back to the Virgin albums, some of the songs sound BETTER in English ('Dandelion Hill' and 'See You in My Dreams' come immediately to mind).

Miwa and Masa need to make the big jump to writing in English with no/minimal assistance, and not worry that it might not be perfect (from the heart wins over perfect most of the time, anyway). The million-dollar question really is, "How badly do they want that Grammy?"

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tachikaze
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Post by tachikaze » Mon May 01, 2006 12:23 am

part of the problem tho is that making lyrics is an iterative activity like sculpture, and if you're 'heta' at the fundamentals it's hard to have anything compelling come out.

Take a phrase from one song I wish DCT would cover/have created/match in brilliance, Dido's "White Flag":

AND WHEN WE MEET
AS I'M SURE WE WILL
ALL THAT WAS THEN
WILL BE THERE STILL
I'LL LET IT PASS
AND HOLD MY TONGUE
AND YOU WILL THINK
THAT I'VE MOVED ON

While I'm sure by this point DCT has the Eigo chops to fully hash out something close to this, to nail the 'compressed utterance' of the lyrics this brilliantly is pretty tough to do.

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Post by nakoruru » Mon May 01, 2006 3:03 am

[quote="nogizaka"]
Miwa and Masa need to make the big jump to writing in English with no/minimal assistance, and not worry that it might not be perfect (from the heart wins over perfect most of the time, anyway). The million-dollar question really is, "How badly do they want that Grammy?"[/quote]

There is a bigger problem. This year I had a oportunity to see that the Grammy people care about everything but talent. Kraftwerk was nominated for the first Grammy ever and they lost it to The Chemical Brothers. There is no doubt about their influence in music, they did unbelievable things like getting a tune sang in German in the charts in America. So I believe that it is nearly impossible, if not completly impossible to DCT to get a Grammy.

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nogizaka
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Post by nogizaka » Mon May 01, 2006 11:14 am

For tachikaze:

I am not familiar with Dido, and have never heard this song, but based on the lyrical content, I believe that Miwa has already made a statement in this direction, with some help. The lyric to 'It's All About Love' would be DCT's equivalent. As for the performance, 'It's All About...' is unique as an 'English only' DCT track. This gives it an advantage over a translated Japanese song, and I think Miwa presents it as something unique, not as a song with the same tune and different lyrics. Her vocal certainly sounds like she means it (I don't how you feel, but this song gives me chills every time I listen to it).

Comparing performers and their music is a tricky business (apples and oranges aside); each person has their own experiences and motivations. One performer will almost never give the same rendition as another (even with the same material), and if they do, it's probably not for the same reason.


For nakoruru:

Ah, American Popular Music Awards! I agree with you one hundred percent about the selection process. Unfortunately, it's the same for all of the different awards, not just the Grammys. What the American Music Business does to perfomers could be described as cruel and unusual (Although Eric Johnson will probably never win another instrumental Grammy, and despite the fact that he does songs with lyrics and vocals- good ones- he will always be classified as an "Instrumental Artist". Am I proud of him for winning a Grammy? I sure am.) Most performers look on it as the Business, but I'm sure they don't like it.

Looking at it from a different perspective, there are probably thousands of people who love the Chemical Brothers (I don't know anything about them besides that they exist) and think that Kraftwerk is the German word for "Power station" (I'm not being sarcastic here). Some of them may be Grammy judges- it would not surprize me.

DCT are savvy- do they really want a Grammy? Perhaps, but perhaps it's just Masa's way of saying that they aspire to something beyond the Japanese market. I think they would be just as happy with charting a U.S. single or album (even though the selection process in this case is just one more tentacle of the same octopus). We know that DCT already has a worldwide reputation for being the best at what they do (you and I are living proof of that), but a Grammy (or a chart position) is more tangible.

Can they do it? I think so. Will the powers-that-be try to stop them? Possibly. Does luck have a lot to do with it? I'm afraid so.

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Post by tachikaze » Sat May 20, 2006 3:17 pm

:) Sadly, It's All About Lost me about here:

When I close my eyes
I see inside of you
A sad or sweet surprise
Something clear or blue

Same thing with the English version of Ai suru kokoro, Will to Love. The Japanese lyrics are alien enough to keep the poetry of the song compressed, but the English versions just unpack strangely to me.

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Post by nogizaka » Sat May 20, 2006 8:30 pm

Sometimes, It's All About- confusion. That first verse talks about how well we think we know someone, and finding out differently. It doesn't mean we give up on that person, though. I liked what Miwa and Masa said on on the interview disc that came with 'Diamond 15' when asked what they thought about 9/11:

"We're apolitical musicians, but the song we released right around then was 'It's All About Love'. We think that says it all."

Things are not always what they seem, but love will always see us through.

I agree with you on 'Ai suru kokoro'- even if you don't understand Japanese, it flows better than the English in this case.

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Post by nakoruru » Tue May 23, 2006 12:35 am

Nogizaka: I never understood how some foreign artists "made it" be that Utada Hikaru in the US or BoA in Japan while so many others tried and failed. I honestly don't know what it would take to DCT to be popular in the US. Marketing perhaps? The music business is still a mystery to me.

I definitely agree with you there about "It's All About Love". Original english songs is the way to go but I'm realistic about it. They'd have to spend some years, release SOME albums in english to get confortable on this new situation to then try again. "Yuki no Christmas/Winter Song" aside which is a song that weewees in BOTH languages. :)

I [b]know[/b] they have enough talent plus more to me sucessful in the US market. I wonder if they have the knowledge and the right connections to make it work (and whatever else one might need)...

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nogizaka
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Post by nogizaka » Fri May 26, 2006 11:23 pm

Utada pretty much bombed in the U.S. (I know, she had a #1 Dance Club hit, but that's a niche market, and those clubbers who asked for her song then probably don't remember her now)- barely 20,000 units sold in 'Exodus''s initial release, and the singles didn't even appear on the Hot 100.

Marketing is a big question mark- Virgin Records didn't seem to put much effort into promoting 'Sing or Die'- very limited airplay for 'Song of Joy' (single and video) and a very brief tour in only a few cities in small venues for a limited number of shows. I know enough about the music business to say that almost no one makes money by ticket sales- where the money comes from is record sales. The object of a tour is to make the audience want to buy records, and tell their friends to buy records. It's expensive to tour, but it's even more expensive to bring a tour from across the ocean. If you're going to all that expense, you may as well book as many shows as possible, and try to get the word out. Otherwise, it's a lot of work for a limited return, and your record label may say "I told you so" (like Virgin probably did) and not allow another album release in that market. There's no problem with doing small venues, but they should have booked as many as possible. It's a shame Virgin would not allow 'The Monster- Universal Mix' to be released in the U.S. after all the effort DCT must have put into the English versions- this is a much more powerful album than 'Sing or Die' (although releasing 'Sing' in the U.S. was good marketing- it prepared the people who heard it for a second release. Too bad Virgin decided to disappoint everyone). You can feel the enthusiasm in this record as DCT must have been anticipating a breakthrough. But record companies usually don't see that far ahead. DCT got one shot- which is more than most Jpop acts will get in America- with a good but not great album and lukewarm support from their new record label. Most likely that's what Virgin wanted, so they could shut DCT up about a career in the U.S.

How do they get another chance? Probably with an independant release, which means they risk their own money but avoid dealing with their label's agenda. Can they do it legally? I don't know- they probably would end up having to deal with their label at some point. The recording business is such a load of crap... It's funny to look at the Jpop performer with the best recent U.S. chart performance. Kumi Koda gets a top 40 single a few years ago, then proceeds to ignore building on that success. Perhaps that's the way to approach the U.S. market- don't take it too seriously.

You'll cringe I'm sure when I tell you that I love 'Winter Song'! I think it's because it was the first DCT song I learned all the lyrics to AND could hit all the notes on! It's interesting that 'Yuki no Christmas' deals with an ongoing relationship, while in 'Winter Song' the relationship appears to be over. Back to Japanese versions versus English versions...

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Post by sdankoehler » Sat May 27, 2006 12:11 am

Is DCT still affiliated with Virgin? I thought they used their own label "DCT Records" now.

I wonder if they've ever considered Tofu records. Many Japanese acts, such as Puffy, T.M. Revolution, L'Arc en Ciel, and Nami Tamaki are marketed by Tofu Records in America. Hyde even had a Tofu sponsored tour in the US.

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nogizaka
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Post by nogizaka » Sat May 27, 2006 8:04 am

They have their own label now, but it is an affiliate of Universal Music, so they are still under a major label. I assume that Universal is not interested in promoting DCT in America, otherwise we would be seeing some releases. I don't know what kind of contract DCT has or how easy it would be for them to switch labels, or even if it would be to their advantage. I think they have learned from their Virgin Records experience that just because a label says they would allow a U.S. release doesn't mean that they should switch to that label. I imagine that DCT does a lot of searching and negotiating for someone who would consider letting them have a U.S. career, but so far they are not having much success. Doing it independantly would be a way to avoid the 'big business', but breaking/withdrawing from a contract is not easy.

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Jei
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Post by Jei » Sat May 27, 2006 9:49 am

sdankoehler wrote: I wonder if they've ever considered Tofu records. Many Japanese acts, such as Puffy, T.M. Revolution, L'Arc en Ciel, and Nami Tamaki are marketed by Tofu Records in America. Hyde even had a Tofu sponsored tour in the US.
Tofu Records has only been releasing artists from the Sony Japan label. Not sure if they're the US arm of Sony Japan or that's just the company they started out with...

While I'm glad Tofu is doing their thing, even if Tofu would accept them, I think DCT could get more play from a regular US independent label....

(Example: Pizzicato Five, Cornelius & Guitar Wolf were/are all part of the electic Matador label...and no I'm not saying Matador would be a match, it's just an example...)

I still think they could make some headway via the Smooth Jazz route, or via getting their music into commercials (or some film). Can't being tell you the number of times I've heard Tomoyasu Hotei or the 5.6.7.8's in the states since Kill Bill came out.
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