With a new step taken by joining forces with the UK-based label Setsuzoku Records and a new album coming up, it was high time to talk with vocalist and guitarist Sally#Cinnamon and guitarist Tomoya.S to take a look at the past, the now and especially the future of their musical project Heavenstamp.
AVO: The first time AVO Magazine wrote about Heavenstamp was because of the announcement that you would return to the UK for a tour. That, unfortunately, didn’t happen due to COVID-19. Can you explain your connection with the United Kingdom, as you have had the opportunity to perform there many times before?
Heavenstamp: We first performed in the United Kingdom in July 2011 to shoot a music video. It was at pub The Angel in London. Even though the customers happened to drop in at the pub and only saw us for the first time, I was very happy and impressed that they enjoyed themselves, regardless of age or sex, by cheering and dancing. They stuck around! After that, we went to England in February 2016, June and October 2018, and October 2019 and played many acoustic sets. Recently we’ve been at Brixton’s venue, Windmill Brixton.
AVO: In 2019 you celebrated the 10th-anniversary of Heavenstamp. We are now two years down the road, but how do you look back at the first 10 years of Heavenstamp?
Heavenstamp: During our 10 years of activity as a band, I was happy to meet many fellow musicians and fans. I want to expand this circle even further.
AVO: What are the most important things you have learned from starting a band and making the first steps by putting out your own music?
Heavenstamp: At the root of our musical philosophy is the desire to be the soundtrack to someone’s life. As we went forward, we realized that everyone had more or less their own sorrow and suffering, but so often they hide it and continue on. And thanks to the fans who said, “I was saved by listening to Heavenstamp’s music,” we learned that this is the significance of the wonderful art of music.
AVO: What has been the high point of your music path?
Heavenstamp: We want to keep evolving from yesterday to today and from today to tomorrow, never thinking of our past careers. For now, let me tell you that the new album, which will be released on February 26th, is a masterpiece!
AVO: You made your major-label debut in 2011 and later on decided to make your own label to return to the indie music world. At the end of 2020, you announced that you signed with UK-based record label Setsuzoku Records to work with them to release your music internationally. What was the motivation to start this collaboration?
Heavenstamp: The UK tour in the summer of 2020 had been postponed and we decided to make an album so as not to waste this time. And we thought that to succeed in the UK on tour, and we will go on tour, we definitely need to get more people to listen to a full album. So, I consulted with a British friend who lives in the United Kingdom who is a staff member of the tour, and he introduced me to Setsuzoku Records.
AVO: The first step under Setsuzoku Records is the release of a new album, titled From the Basement, set to be released on 26th of February. What was the concept behind this album?
Heavenstamp: From the Basement is actually a companion to the previous album Love Builders (red. released in 2019). Love Builders, which contains songs all on the theme of love in various forms, was an album that expressed the importance of love in life, but From the Basement is like the day before Love Builders. It depicts facing the world, and yourself, asking questions and trying to expand your experience with inner strength. The title From the Basement also reflects the situation of many people being restricted in their actions and trapped in their homes due to the pandemic. I also have a desire to release a record called Love Builder from the Basement that combines two albums into one.
AVO: How did you approach writing these songs for this new album?
Heavenstamp: With the belief that we can overcome any situation, we wanted to produce an album with a guitar sound with energy close to the sound of many UK rock bands, including the Manchester sound that we truly love. This belief is reflected in the sound and lyrics of the album.
AVO: To what extent was creating and recording this album different with regards to the restrictions caused by the pandemic?
Heavenstamp: I’ve always had the idea of making an album that returns to a band’s organic sound, and when recording, I wanted to do a one-shot recording, recording at the same time with all of the musicians, live in the studio. The pandemic meant we couldn’t really do that, so we changed to the process of recording bass, guitar and vocals at guitarist Tomoya’s private studio and then programming the drums.
AVO: On the new album, you show the diversity of Heavenstamp. One moment you put down a strong ballad and the next you surprise us with a grunge or danceable hook. You don’t really fit into a specific box. How would you describe the sound of your new CD to any potential new fan?
Heavenstamp: UK rock, dance music, hip hop, shoegaze … it’s packed with various musical elements we love. There are different things for people to discover in this album, depending on the listener. We want people to enjoy that aspect of discovery.
AVO: Recently you decided on starting a fan community where you can bond with the fans all over the world. While it has just started, you shared on social media that many already had joined it to support you. How did that feel for you?
Heavenstamp We are really happy! The fact that there are people in need of our music is a big help. As the pandemic reduces the chances of interacting with people, it is so wonderful to be able to talk with fans in a safe and fun fan community.
AVO: For many people, the year 2020 is a wasted year because the pandemic prevented them from doing the things they could have done normally, such as going to events, meeting friends and enjoying concerts. How do you guys look at last year as musicians?
Heavenstamp: Certainly a lot of fun has been lost. We were really looking forward to the UK tour and I’m sorry that it was postponed. However, we always try to find the bright side of a situation and try to stay positive. As a result, we are happy to have completed the album and signed a contract with Setsuzoku Records.
AVO: Have you been able to do things in the past year that you normally wouldn’t have had time for, such as a new hobby or learning new things that you might be able to incorporate into your music?
Heavenstamp: Vocalist Sally began studying English and training in dance, albeit little by little. We believe this will be really helpful for Heavenstamp’s performances and songwriting. I (Guitarist Tomoya) have maintained a healthier routine, stopped drinking alcohol and started eating a healthy diet while doing fitness training at home. This helped improve our productivity and made us sharper as musicians, I think. I had plenty of time to devote my other hobbies of studying nutrition and philosophy. So it has been a time of mental as well as physical training and reflection. I could also do all the mixing and mastering to create this new album! It was my first attempt, but since I had time, I was able to give it a shot and bring the album to completion.
Big thanks to Heavenstamp and Setsuzoku Records for making this interview possible.