Hello Asia editor Johnny Au chats with Naokazu “Bobsan” Kobayashi of Japanese jazz/funk act Mountain Mocha Kilimanjaro. Combining the rawest, deepest soulful grooves, the fast and furious energy of rock and roll, and laying it all down in the classiest of funk manners, these six super-dapper gentlemen have been creating a storm around the world. This will be their first time Mountain Mocha Kilimanjaro will be performing at WOMADelaide after their last Australian tour in the summer 2013/14, the highlight of which was performing at Falls Festival.
It’s great to talk to you. We’re really looking forward to you coming back to Australia. You’ve been to Australia lots of times, what makes you want to keep coming back to Australia so often?
This is my fifth time. Every time I come back, I love it. I can feel the love from the audience, how much they love the music, and the passion. We just love the environment.
Why do you think the Australian audience has embraced Mountain Mocha Kilimanjaro so much?
I think Australia has a vast variety of music that’s already accepted, compared to Japan, so we have an appreciation for that. Also, we’re a Japanese band, so for Japanese people to play music that’s not from their background or origin… it’s perhaps one factor that makes people curious. It’s something different. We’re been playing this genre of music for quite some time so we’re confident that our groove is as good as the original, authentic, black African American musicians. So maybe that’s a factor that people accept and why people love our music.
I believe it will be your first time playing at WOMADelaide. What are your thoughts about playing at WOMAdelaide and what have you heard about the festival?
We’re really appreciative and excited as it is a very prestigious music festival throughout the world. The bands we will be playing with really compliments our soul, funk sound so we are very excited about playing at WOMADelaide.
The last album Mountain Mocha Kilimanjaro released was Perfect Times. Has the band released any new material since Perfect Times, and if not, are you working on any new material?
Since the last album, we have released another album, but in Japan only. The album is called Ichi Ni San Shi Go Roku, which translates as One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six. In the album we made the music more aggressive. This time we will bring our music with us to Australia, so we’re looking forward to seeing what happens. Hopefully our music will be accepted.
Can we expect you to play songs from the new album when you’re in Australia?
Yes, definitely we will play some songs from the new album, but we also have much newer stuff that we’re currently making that will be played on stage as well.
Looking at your music background, what are your musical influences?
We’ve been influenced by a lot of artists, but to mention a few: James Brown, and the band from New Orleans called The Meters, and also Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Looking back at 2015, besides releasing the new Japanese album, what have been some of the highlights for the band in 2015?
In 2015 we didn’t really play at many festivals compared to other years. However, we spent lots of time on new ideas, new approaches, building a new essence of the band. We spent a lot of time just working on our art so that we take the next step.
What are the band’s goals for this year? Do you have any specific plans for this year?
In 2016 we will be releasing a new album. We have been playing music with just six people, this year we want to try something new, like invite some singers. And invite some guest musicians to try something different.
Are there any specific singers you’re thinking of inviting on stage?
We can’t disclose the name of the singer at this moment, it’s still a secret. However, later down the track we would like to not only work with other Japanese musicians but also with musicians from all different places all over the world.
For people who are seeing Mountain Mocha Kilimanjaro for the first time at WOMADelaide, what do you want the audience to take away from the audience?
We would love first-time audiences to feel our groove and energy, and take it back home after the stage so that it can energise their daily life.
Mountain Mocha Kilimanjaro will be performing at WOMADelaide on Saturday 12th, Sunday 13th and Monday 14th of March. For more information on WOMADelaide and ticketing HERE.