Q&A with Teppei Miki of The Stone Records
March 11th, 2012 • Interview
Continuing our series of music industry interviews is Teppei Miki, founder of one of Japan’s most diverse and eclectic vinyl import shops The Stone Records. Not an actual bricks and mortar premises, TSR is run lovingly from Teppei’s house in Kawasaki, and appears to be constantly on the pulse and one step ahead of the game when it comes to brand new vinyl releases from all over the world.
The shop carries vinyl (as well as CDs and cassettes) from a huge selection of labels, from behemoths like Columbia and XL/Young Turks to US indies like Captured Tracks, Group Tightener, Fat Possum, White Iris and Third Man, to the output of London singles labels like Young & Lost Club, Chess Club, Killing Moon Limited and ourselves. Safe to say that if it’s hot, they’ve probably got some copies in at The Stone Records.
People like Teppei – and shops like TSR – represent Japan’s fanatical niche for independent music from the USA, the UK and beyond (and the much publicised upturn in vinyl’s commercial fortunes), something that’s also manifested at its Western themed rock festivals Fuji Rocks and Summer Sonic, which take place annually in July and August respectively. In a country where domestic music rules the charts, the desire to seek out different genres of music has created a thriving underground scene. We thought we’d pose a few questions to a man at the forefront of it all.
LFC: How long has The Stone Records been going?
Teppei: I started the store in 2008.
LFC: Is The Stone Records well known amongst indie music fans / vinyl collectors in Japan?
Teppei: I would like to answer yes. But there are many import indie shops in Japan, and I don’t think it’s quite as well known as some of the other indie stores.
LFC: Do you participate in Record Store Day?
Teppei: Yes, I’m participating in it. But I’ve never done something special on that day. Every year I think I should do something but I’ve always had no idea!
LFC: What type of releases do you specialise in?
Teppei: I stock vinyls and cassettes mainly, and some CDs. I’m not particular about genre of music especially, because I like any indie music.
LFC: How do you find new bands / releases?
Teppei: Basically I don’t find new bands and new releases so much by myself because good labels and some good people tell me about good releases. I just choose from them. I feel I’m always supported by many people.
LFC: Which are some of your favourite record labels?
Teppei: This is difficult question because I like all labels which distribute to me. But if I had to choose, now I like Portuguese Lebensstrasse and Czech label AMDISCS. Both are not born in major indie music countries. I’m very interested in each of their releases because I can feel they’re always looking for any music and bands from any country.
LFC: What is the market like in Japan for new indie bands from places like the UK, US and Australia, and what genres of indie are popular in Japan right now?
Teppei: I think Japanese indie music fans may be the most fanatical in the world. Here there are many import indie record shops and I feel that limited edition vinyl might amount to fifty percent of their sales (though this is just my expectation). I think some people like guitar pop influenced from the 80s/90s like Captured Tracks or Slumberland, and LA’s Not Not Fun/100% Silk’s electro/dance music is loved especially by some people. But I always feel many Japanese people like UK rock like LFC releases.
LFC: Do you have any plans to release records yourself at any point?
Teppei: I don’t have any plans to release. Now I’m satisfied enough to only sell and listen to the records.
LFC: Who are your hot tips for 2012?
Teppei: I like so much now Sheffield’s garage rock band Best Friends! They’ll release new EP soon on the amazing label Art Is Hard Records.