For anyone who’s seen TOW’s performance, which blends a swelling, beautifully eerie vocal style with understated acoustic guitar accompaniment, Kai’s assertion is self-evident. But to the vast majority of music fans, it’s a completely novel idea. After all, neither Kai nor Nue are ‘pro’ musicians. They keep an affable tight lip on their personal details, including their last names and respective ages, but don’t hesitate to admit that music isn’t their full-time job or even a sizable source of their income. This makes them ‘amateur’ musicians, in the strictest sense of the word – unsigned, or, more generously, indie.
And surely the musicians who manage to support themselves with their music, who are turning their art into real, profitable careers, are doing so because what they can create is simply better?
‘I had that image, too,’ admits American expat Justin Sachs, founder of the indie music event series More Than Music. As the man trying to change the image of indie music in Tokyo, Sachs is the first person to tell you that he was not a diehard indie fan from the first, but rather a convert himself. ‘I was just expecting to have fun in the beginning,’ Sachs explains. ‘And the bands were better than I expected. That’s probably why it continued. I was surprised at how good the music was.’