‘So, was it fun?’ asks Quruli vocalist Shigeru Kishida, addressing directly the 11,000 strong crowd at the end of their set as the headlining act of Kyoto Onpaku 2017 in Umekoji Park, before explaining: ‘We wanted to bring you something completely live – just like the performances on the old TV shows from the 70s and 80s we used to watch!’
For their 11th appearance at the festival, the band wanted to do something new, so they decided to play and perform in the spirit of a 70s, 80s pop music show - complete with famous guest artists and accompanied by the Kyoto Onpaku Philharmonic Orchestra (mostly graduates of the Kyoto City University of Arts).
The performance clearly hit all the right chords – the response to Kishida’s question from the audience was an overwhelming roar of approval.
As one of Japan’s most successful alternative rock-pop bands of the last two decades, Masashi Sato recalls when Quruli first formed back in 1996:
‘When Shigeru began singing, his sound seemed to resonate with an energy I’d never felt before. That’s when I thought, “Hey, we might be able to pull this off!”’
Kishida and Sato first met as students at Ritsumeikan Senior High School. Upon arrival at Ritsumeikan University, they joined the university’s ‘Rock Commune’ music club, where they met Nobuyuki Mori and formed Quruli in 1996. (Mori left the band in 2002.) On hearing the news they were to be signed by a major label, the three went to the roof of the Student Center (the building in which the club was held), and, throwing their hands in the air in unrestrained excitement, they yelled at the top of their lungs: ‘Yes! We did it!’
Looking back on how the line-up of the band, and their music, has evolved in the 20 years since they formed, Kishida says he sees passing the 20 year point like a water station in marathon. ‘Some things have changed and some have stayed the same, but we have always tried to make the music we wanted to make. I think it’s important to keep trying new things, without putting up any walls or defenses.’
‘Quruli is often described as “genre-transcending”, but our style is, and always has been, to make our own music while borrowing from the genres that have influenced us. There’s so much we as a band don’t know about the world, and so much music we have yet to discover or listen to. Part of the excitement of what we do is actually just that: including references to something new we have discovered, and expressing the excitement and joy of those discoveries in our Quruli sound,’ says Sato.
Kishida expressed similar sentiments at the end of Kyoto Onpaku 2017 - telling the crowd, ‘I don’t like clichés,’ before adding charmingly, ‘But see you again next year... in Kyoto!'
Playfully leaping from style to style, Quruli invite listeners to expand the range of their musical ears, opening the door to new worlds of sound.
We look forward to hearing where they will take us to next.
◆Quruli Core Members
Shigeru Kishida (College of Social Sciences, Class of ‘99) / Masashi Sato (College of Law, Class of ‘99)
Quruli is a rock band on a never-ending journey under the influence of music from all times and all places. The band includes Shigeru Kishida on guitar and vocals and Masashi Sato on bass and vocals, and their major debut came with the single “Tokyo” in 1998. They performed their latest nationwide in February and March 2018.
Visit the Quruli homepage for more information: http://www.quruli.net/ (web page only in Japanese)