Artist Interview: Shunkan

Hailing from Los Angeles, Shunkan is the ‘90s-influenced indie rock project of 26-year-old musician Marina Sakimoto. Sakimoto’s sophomore album, Cumberland Falls, debuted on September 13 and will be accompanied by a seven-date tour of the East Coast. The third stop, on September 27, is William & Mary’s own Meridian. In advance of the show, Features editor Hannah Lowe chatted with Sakimoto about her inspirations for Cumberland Falls, the indie ethos, and what to expect from the Shunkan show in Williamsburg.

[Hannah Lowe, ROCKET] According to your biography, Shunkan is a “‘90s-inspired indie rock band.” What does it mean to you to be “indie”? 

[Marina Sakimoto] I know the term “indie” is a bit general, but for me it represents [the] original intent of being an independent artist. However, I know that the term “indie-rock” has cultivated its own sound and representation, so I stick with that most of the time.

On that note, what elements of the ‘90s are you reviving? (Anything about that decade of music that’s best left in the past?)

Musically, I love a jangly and/or distorted guitar. My favorite bands are from ‘90s indie-rock era, so I like to interpret those sounds along with everything else that I like. Definitely keep the hand-drawn cartoons and VHS tapes, but honestly, I’m not mad at the bubblegum pop and boy bands. If anything, all of the cringe-y music from the ‘90s just makes me giggle. Eiffel 65’s “Blue (De Ba Dee)” video has the most insane PS1-cutscene-looking CGI. 

Your biography mentions influences ranging from Liz Phair to Waxahatchee to the American and Japanese cultures in your household growing up. What most influenced your forthcoming album Cumberland Falls?

It’s kind of all over the place. Like with the track “An American Life,” that for sure is inspired by early Rilo Kiley. While I was recording the album I was listening to Dum Dum Girls, Angel Olsen… but I think old influences like Pavement, ‘80s Flying Nun bands, and Rilo Kiley are definitely in there. 

For the most part, I listen to what other people compare me to and use those comparisons because it can be so hard to listen to your music objectively like that. The comparisons are different every single time which is always great to hear. Liz Phair, Waxahatchee, Soko, The Cranberries, Adult Mom… lots of wonderful acts there.

“I absolutely love being forced into the bubble that is your car, void of most outside sound and influence and you just deep dive into

 an album. The sun is setting. If you don’t have a car, cuddle up in your room. Put a candle on or two, lights flickering. Maybe smoke.”

If you could create the perfect environment to listen to Cumberland Falls for the first time, what would it be?

Wow, what a wonderful question. Straight up on a visual mediation flow. Okay… I would love for someone to listen to this album in their car for the first time while driving around or on a road trip. I absolutely love being forced into the bubble that is your car, void of most outside sound and influence and you just deep dive into an album. The sun is setting. If you don’t have a car, cuddle up in your room. Put a candle on or two, lights flickering. Maybe smoke.

What are you listening to at the moment?

“She Plays Bass” by beabadoobee is infectiously good. That chorus is perfect. I just bought some records recently: Bakesale by Sebadoh, Time And Tide by Split Enz, No Secrets by Carly Simon, and …Famous Last Words… by Supertramp.

This fall, you’re playing shows up and down the East Coast. What are you looking forward to on this tour? 

Aw man, I’m so stoked to just visit the east coast. I’ve always wanted to visit all of these towns and now I get to with my music. It’s great. I’m excited to meet folks that I’ve only known over the internet, documenting my travels, and bonding with my bandmates.

What should William & Mary students expect from your upcoming show at The Meridian? 

Students should expect lots of guitar, as we’ve got three guitarists including myself. I don’t typically sing quietly. We’ve got some catchy hooks. Maybe bring some earplugs.

“I don’t typically sing quietly… Maybe bring some earplugs.”

Out of curiosity, how did you come to work with the ladies at Concert Moms? [Concert Moms is a DC-based “boutique artist services collective and witch coven.” The Moms booked Shunkan’s Cumberland Falls tour.]

If I remember correctly, they followed me on Instagram and I loved their style and mission. At that time, I was feeling pretty lost and felt like I needed more help than ever. Artists services were definitely on my mind, so I figured I’d give it a shot and ask if they wanted to work together. Their name is very fitting and they absolutely take care of me. More Concert Moms should exist!

 

Answers have been edited for clarity.

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