Many serious collectors will be aware of Inoxia Records, who been behind the release of many of Boris’s releases starting with their 1998 Keiji Haino collaboration, Black: Implication Flooding. Based in Tokyo, Japan, they have operated for over 24 years, bringing the world important experimental music releases from Boris, KTL, Rollo, and others.
Enju Tanahashi of Inoxia Records was kind enough to conduct an email interview with us ahead of the release of Inoxia Records’ new website, which will be published soon. Inoxia Records stocks music from various record labels in Japan, including Daymare Recordings. We encourage readers to sign up for their mailing list by sending a message here and we encourage readers to follow them on social media.
dronevil: Can you tell us about the founding of Inoxia Records and some of its history? What inspired you to begin the label?
When I was young I thought good music only existed abroad such as from the UK and the US, until one day when my older sister let me listen to her Ruins CD “Infect”. That was a shocking introduction to Japanese music to me. I realized I had been thinking that way, just because I didn’t know that there was good music in Japan. I thought there must be many people like me and I wanted them to know that good music exists from where they may not realize. At that time I didn’t know Boris in person and I started my label for this very listener-sided reason. As a Japanese I felt it important to spread good music from Japan.
dronevil: Can you describe your relationship with Boris and what has been like to work with them?
I wanted Inoxia’s first release in 1996 to be a compilation album and I asked Boris to be one of the bands on it, as I had been enjoying seeing Boris play live. I think I spoke to Wata after a show. That was the first interaction.
Then the next release was Keiji Haino with Boris, out of which I first became Keiji Haino’s manager. That only lasted about 2 years but then I was asked to become Boris’s manager. They were looking for an English speaking person in the music business.
I was their manager until 2008 and I think I toured with them on almost all of their international tours. Some customers noticed me at the merch table and it was fun to see them in person around the world.
To me Boris was like my family. When we’d go on tour we were together all day for sometimes around a month or more. At that time not many Japanese bands were going out to that extent so there wasn’t much information about touring abroad; we couldn’t just ask someone. So everything was uncertain and sometimes I must have got on their nerves. At times it was extremely difficult but I am so glad I got to share time with them at the time when they started expanding to the world.
dronevil: When did you see Boris start to reach popularity?
I think even their first international tour in the UK (in around 2002 if I’m not mistaken) surprised me with the number of people who came to the shows and the energy of the audience. I think there was already a sense at that time they were better received overseas than in Japan. After that I felt the audience increased with every tour, which also was influenced by the Southern Lord reissues and then Pink in 2005 when their popularity began to really explode.
dronevil: Fans want to know, do you have any interesting information about “Flood” or “Heavy Rocks” (2002)? There seems to be little historical information about both.
They are very important releases. I am glad Flood is still available from Midi Creative. Those releases were before Pink came out and thus before Boris established a popularity to the level they have now. I really respect labels and staff at that time for taking risks. I believe their motivation was a sense of vocation to provide good music that they felt must be provided to the specific audience, no matter how small at the time, rather than business motives. That’s something I identify with heavily. Sorry that I don’t have much historical information to add about the releases.
dronevil: At the moment, does Inoxia Records have any planned releases or reissues for the future?
I am working with Boris on something that I will be happy if it can do some good for people in some way.
dronevil: What role does Inoxia Records have in the underground music scene?
I started the label to introduce Japanese bands to listeners, but I don’t think I did much to help those Japanese bands. The Inoxia web store began to allow people from all over the world to buy Japanese releases and others, but at that point I am not sure how underground it is anymore.
So I just went with the flow. Instead of servicing Japan’s underground I seem to have become a sort of liaison between the Japanese music scene and abroad. Because I could speak English I helped bands touring Japan from abroad by taking them to dinner or drinking. Sunn called me the “leisure manager”. I think having good meals on tour is very important from my experience.
dronevil: For you personally, what has it been like to be involved with the Japanese underground music scene? We see you have managed acts like Fushitsusha in the past.
Like I said I was Keiji Haino’s manager for a short time like one or two years, before Boris. But again, I didn’t play an important role. I just did what I was asked. At his shows I felt strange that all of the audience wore black, so I always wore a light yellow or pink shirt. So maybe I was in fact not helping at all?! (haha)
dronevil: Do you have any currently favorite records or artists you would recommend to the readers at dronevil.com?
In terms of artists that I have to see live every chance I get, Masonna is at the top of my list. Whenever he comes to Tokyo I make sure I can see his live show. In terms of recent great bands I have to mention Endon. I was deeply sorry to hear about the loss of Etsuo Nagura.
I should also mention some bands from the US my husband got me into recently, Failure and Hum. They both put out new music recently that my husband has been listening to a lot and it sounds great.
dronevil: Is there anything else you would like the public to know about Inoxia Records?
The new version of our website!
We feel very sorry for many inconveniences on our current website. Everything should be fixed when the new site is released!
You will also be able to view the sold out items so I hope you enjoy seeing the history, and most of all it should be better organized and be more convenient for smartphone users. Please join our mailing list and/or follow us on social media for info when the site finally gets released.
dronevil: Are there any plans to restock the infamous “New Album” underwear?
Hahahahaha!! Infamous?! Why?!
I never ever thought it had a reputation like that! To me it’s not really different from T-shirts and bags. Maybe because I’m a woman and it’s not intended for me I haven’t thought much about it. Do men care because the face is there…?
We’d like to thank Enju Tanahashi again for answering our questions, which were submitted by other Boris fans. Please support Inoxia Records!