Since moving to Finland I have experienced reoccurring dreams which take place in Japan, and always in their language. After experiencing this several times, I wrote it off as my brain being unable to comprehend the rather alien Finnish language and subconsciously translating into the almost more familiar Japanese. While on a psychonautical adventure late last January, I found myself in a new friend´s apartment here in Kuopio. Laying under his old flag of the Japanese Empire, I told my friends about how I “have to go back to Japan” and ended up writing a song entitled “Do You Dream in Japanese” that night. Imagine my surprise when a few weeks later, totally out of the blue, my good old friend and tour member U Hang No Da from UTEROZZZAAA wrote me a quick question “Do you want to come to Japan?”
It goes without saying that my heart rate jumped, as did I....! The last time I was in Japan was 9 years ago when I had a wicked and wonderful tour with Anita and Hang from UTEROZZZAAA on the KILLING TOUR playing 5 gigs in 4 cities directly after a solo 3 week European tour. I will always jump at the chance to be invited to play and hang out with my friends around the globe and this time was no different, we booked the tickets quickly and Hang started with the promotion of his new DVD release, of which I was invited to play the release party in Osaka for.
Unfortunately or not, only a couple weeks after booking the tickets to Osaka and preparing myself for these travels, my husband had fallen into another violent rage which in this case made me leave him permanently under fear for my life. I had already been hospitalized by his abuse in the past and could tolerate this no longer. From that point on, I kept “Japan” as something to look towards, no matter what happened with my life or living situation as I had about 6 weeks from the time of leaving him until I made my journey there. Having this goal to work towards, I quickly found myself in a new apartment of my own, taking care of all of the legal things and paperwork surrounding my impending divorce and court cases. Somehow in the midsts of all of this negative chaos – I found the path to getting all of my things organized in time to enjoy my travels to what seemed a dream in itself.
While Hang was busy putting together the promotion and organizing the gigs, he added TOKYO onto to the list of cities for us to play and I was happy to hear we would also be sharing the stage with FIRE AT WORK from Rome, another good old friend of mine I have been in contact with since 2001. At the same time, I was in touch with DJ ELVIRA from the French run label DKP, another mainstay of the Paris hardcore scene for decades, who made the amazing decision to hop on a plane to Osaka and join us there for a well deserved vacation. Everything was shaping up to look like a perfect trip no matter my current stress or living situation. We were all ready to embark on what was sure to be an unforgettable time with friends, blasting our tunes and enjoying Japan and all the Golden Week has to offer. All packed up, totally organized and ready to rock... I boarded the bus from here in Kuopio – ready to head to Helsinki for my flights early in the morning of the 29th of April.
DAY 1- Everyone knows, when you board a bus, the driver makes sure to check your ticket and the destination, this case was no different. “Helsinki?” “Yes … Helsinki” Some hours into the drive – I asked again to the driver I was sitting directly next to... “Helsinki?” “Yes … Helsinki”... Ok, still not sure why I was now in Tampere I asked again.... to the same response. Due to arrive in Helsinki at 1.30pm – I was planning on having a leisurely lunch and a few drinks in the city before heading to the airport at 3.30 for check in. IMAGINE my absolute panic when the driver tells me to get out of the bus in what strangely did not look like Helsinki.... and when I asked in the station about the airport to find I was still over 2 hours away from Helsinki in TURKU of all places!!! I absolutely lost it! I was screaming “TUUURKU... WHAT THE FUCK TURKU???!! I HAVE TO PLAY OSAKA FUKKKKK” Well... somehow, luck was with me that day and I was just in time to change my tickets to the next day with a small fee and from there I decided to find the next bar for a couple of beers to calm the fuck down and figure out WHAT THE FUCK AM I GOING TO DO IN TURKU! After contacting a few people I knew in Helsinki, someone from the fetish scene I had already been in recent contact with told me I should get the next bus to Helsinki, where he would be waiting ready to pick me up – to take me to a nice Fetish meeting in the city and that I could stay safely at his place while the never ending Finnish blizzard continued to reign. Thankfully I have always maintained contacts in all different scenes throughout my life and I was pleasantly surprised to meet some new people and see some old friends at the Fetish meet up. In the end the 5.5 hour bus trip took a grand total of 14 hours with my unexpected detour in Turku of all places.
DAY 2 – The next day found me ready to depart from Helsinki with a nice ride to the airport from my new friend who even took me up to the check in with a warm hug before departing, warning me to take care as he will not be there to help in Japan. Lucky again, I had a fire exit seat with tons of legroom and no one next to me.... Relaxed with a few beers.... I slept most of the way to Osaka....
DAY 3- May 1st landing in Kansai airport, my great friend ANITA --- Ex UTEROZZZAAA member met me and after a quick couple drinks and food we made our way into the city, catching up on old times and new life situations. We relaxed at her place until Hang came to get us to meet up with Fabrizio of FIRE AT WORK. The warm temps and tropical feeling washed over me in sea of bright lights and the familiar feeling of being back in the city I was based in 9 years ago for over two weeks.
Over food we commenced on our tour talks which focussed on the the title of the tour “ULTIMATED STALKED TOUR 2017” …. We all had to laugh at Fabrizio being the only one out of the 4 of us without a stalker. It seems that Hang had spent the past winter being plagued by a fan turned stalker who was dead set on ruining his life, while Anita had a very creepy strange stalker girl in the past month who would sometimes just show up randomly knocking at her door in the middle of the night and incessantly calling her, and of course I have had to deal with plenty of stalkers for years – the most infamous of them being Chris/Christopher Richards – who has been a thorn in my side for over 8 years and has made himself possibly more famous than me in the process of contacting every single person who I may have possibly spoken to either professionally or personally.
Getting on with things... we headed for some drinks in American Village.... the labyrinth of bars, all mini universes of their own recalling the KILLING TOUR while many memories and stories were being passed around the table. It was such a pleasure and honour to be invited to join in to help celebrate and promote UTEROZZZAAA´s new release and also to see how much he has done with his music, art, and touring since I last met him! Anita and I even joked about how much better his English had become in the past years as on my last tour he did not really speak fluently and Anita was our translator for most of the tour. With a rather early night behind us, Anita and I got to bed to enjoy the sunshine the next day. Lord knows, it has been way too long since I spent a warm sunny day outside after the ultra grim and cold Finnish winter.
DAY 4- Based again in Nishitanabe, the same district I stayed in last time in the old place of Anita and Hang with their rooftop studio and cyber punk palace of sorts which has now been abandoned after the roof completely collapsed, we were once again very close to the Botanical Gardens and beautiful park. Anita and I laughing at the fact that I have completely blacked out my last visit to the park 9 years ago as I must have been totally smashed.... We made our way in the gorgeous golden light snacking and drinking some of the awesome Japanese specialities, while I proudly sported the extremely rare (3 in existence) UTEROZZZAAA armband Anita presented to me as a surprise gift. We found our way through the botanical garden to the famous Rose Garden as the sun shone high in the early May sky.
The evening approached and we made our way to meet Hang so we could finally record together which was high on my list of things to do while I was out there. Not being known for my guitar skills I have only acquired since January playing occasional left handed guitar since then, we laid down some riffs I was working on and I did some vocals for a new collab piece we have entitled “I DONT WANNA WANNA ESCAPE” . From there Hang invited me to record some guest vocals over his for a different collab he is working on with an American producer. That all went smoothly, Hang jokingly referring to our work style as “Steelworkers” and then it was time to promote the gigs at some more bars – which I was keen to do of course... I just can not get enough of the Osaka bar culture!
From there we met up with some Osaka bad boys who toured LA with Hang a few years ago and headed to an underground electronic party which also featured some brilliant live painting from two women during the night. I have to say all of the music was really good, the only downside being the drunk French man who repeatedly pushed into people trying to start some imaginary mosh pit. After the second time he pushed me – I back handed him very hard and told him I had an abusive ex and no tolerance for him touching me – so LEAVE ME ALONE. While he terrorized some other ladies and continued grabbing people I stayed as far away as possible until he once again bothered me – this time I landed a lit cigarette on his exposed neck – much to the laughing Japanese ladies surprise. And – Again – I spit a huge mouthful of beer at him. And AGAIN – This time I just punched him directly in the face telling him he is giving French people a bad name. He finally left after that one, where we could all enjoy the rest of the music and performances. Hang and I headed for some late night drunken Udon and got some rest for our Mountain Temple journey.
DAY 5- After meeting up with the ever so cute friend of Hang´s, Yuko, in the station where we rented the car to drive to the mountains, we met up with Fabrizio and started on our journey. Somehow the 2 GPSs did not agree with each other and we were soon speedily facing a highway divider with everyone screaming at the top of their lungs as we almost ran head on into the concrete wall. Hang taking a quick right to get out of the situation, we realized we turned the wrong way. The detour was better than dying in any case as Fabrizio and I sat in the back suddenly dumbfonded by the majestic structure facing us. I have NEVER seen anything like it, nor have I ever heard any mention of the religion surrounding what is known as the “PERFECT LIBERTY” Church and Tower. Mouths gaping, we found our way up the mountain from there. As I was the only one drinking off my drinks from the night before, with Hang abstaining as he was driving I was faced with confronting my smoking and drinking habit as we made our way up and up and up and up this mountain trail which Hang assured us was home to the Temples. I silently contemplated “how fukking sadistic ARE these Buddhist monks” while huffing my way up... Yuko steps in front of me in red high heels which I must say was the cutest thing in the world. We finally checked the GPS to find we took the wrong way up the mountain after about a 40 minute hike – by which time I was actually feeling extremely high on endorphins and laughing my ass off finally.... making our way back down the trail... Yuko wins this one again without one complaint in her super cute outfit and cherry red shoes.
After scoring a beer for me, we made our way to the glorious unfolding Temple space which is over 1000 years old. Pictures do not do the land or architecture justice, nor would any written words suffice to detail the beauty. The weather perfecting the cherry blossoms in full bloom, we wandered and enjoyed all we could until the closing hours. See the gallery below for what we could capture on our phone cams.
Fabrizio and I napped the entire way back. Anita and I finished up the night at the local Tempura restaurant... once again sharing all our thoughts on life and the some tenets of Buddhism before passing out rather early so we would be fit for the first gig the next day.