Shunkan - Interview


Since leaving the self-confessed anxiety of LA Marina Skaimoto has found refuge in New Zealand and by doing so has perfected her sound to a heart-wrenching wonder.

Tracks like ‘Strawberry Hair’ and ‘Little Rat’ feature on the most recent EP シュンカン I, which we are reliably informed translates to Shunkan One. They are heartfelt, honest and dance with electronic sound without conscience, remaining distinctly tinged with ethereal dream pop necessities – and even a glockenspiel for good measure.  

This EP follows the fantastically fuzzy debut Honey, Milk and Blood which really catapulted Shunkan into the eyes of critics and cult followers alike. Where Honey, Milk and Blood had the edge of a sharpened dagger, シュンカン I has a more modern touch and delights us with cascading chemical warfare.

It’s after these critically acclaimed triumphs then that we speak to Marina Sakimoto based out of a small town in New Zealand, she sends subtle synth lines and candid cyber smiles across the world to connect to the heart with a devastatingly gentle and veracious touch.

The name Shunkan has a pretty deep origin, for our readers who don’t know tell us how it became your stage name. 

I didn’t know it had an origin until a couple other publications wrote about it, actually. I struggle with being present in the moment, so I wanted a name that reflected something positive like being in the moment. Coming up with a name can honestly be the hardest part of making music, ha.

You recently played a free show back home in New Zealand, do you think allowing fans to come watch bands for free is something that should happen more often? 

Yeah, as long as the band gets paid and treated fairly, which we were. I think everyone should have the opportunity to see a live show.

When will we next see Shunkan over in the UK? 

Hopefully next year! The label and I have talked about it, but all I can do right now is keep my fingers crossed. It would be incredible to tour with my guys over in the UK… I know we would have a ridiculous time.

You’ve contributed to the soon to be released 20th anniversary cover edition of ‘Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain’ as part of Cassette Store Day, how was that for you?  

Anyone who knows me well enough knows that I have a big crush on Pavement, and particularly Stephen Malkmus. Pavement is one of those bands that I can’t even explain why I love them so much… whether it’s the cool carelessness of the vocal and guitar tones blended with the abstract scenery painted by Malkmus’ lyrics, I’m not sure… so when I was asked to be a part of this project, I was really excited. I recorded the song close to when I recorded Honey, Milk and Blood so it’s very lo-fi, no drum track, just a shitty mic and my guitar plugged straight into the computer. I hope I do just a little bit of justice to the song and the project.

Like the vinyl, do you think the cassette is a format that can make a more mainstream return? 

I think so… it’s certainly cheaper to manufacture and to buy, as well. Like with vinyl, it’s fun to collect and there are creative ways for artists to package the cassettes as well so it’s a lovely compact package for the collector. I know a few people who buy cassettes from bands but don’t have a cassette player, which is kind of a bummer. Maybe someone should come out with a nice line of tape decks, like what J. Mascis did with his custom turntable. Or just go to an op shop.

You music is often described as ‘Shoegaze’ something that originated here in the UK, what kind of bands influenced your sound?  

There’s so many… there’s never one band or one sound I have in mind to emulate when it comes to writing a song. Some parts, maybe it can be obvious, but the song as a whole sometimes ends up being a mix of many things. A lot of bands I grew up with seem to leek into my songwriting, like Modest Mouse, Arcade Fire, Sigur Ros, MBV, Pavement, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, American Football… then bands that I’ve newly been accustomed to come into play, like Deafheaven. They’re riffs are fantastic. Surely all of these elements will be more obvious in the upcoming album…

If Shunkan could collaborate with anyone (past or present) who would it be and what sort of track would you release?  

Ah, that’s tough. I’ll just say Joe Hisaishi so I could be a part of a beautiful Ghibli soundtrack.

What can we expect from Shunkan over the next year? 

A new single, music video, album, and some touring. As long as everything goes according to plan!

With all that to salivate over we would like to point you to the below where you can help Shunkan release the album and get the band over to the UK for a few more shows. With her first EPs recorded with her laptop our mind wonders what the album would be like with the backing she deserves. Come on now, we all need to hear that.

Jack Whatley