Dustin Wong (ex-Ponytail) on his newest solo LP, collaboration with Takako Minekawa, and upcoming tour
Dustin Wong has released so many solo albums, there’s probably no need to specify that he used to be in a band called Ponytail. Yet it is interesting to look back for comparison’s sake. He’s gone from the Baltimore group’s spastic rhythms and hyper energy to dreamy loops and improvisation. He’s also moved to Japan. I look forward to hearing his meditative and loopy but intellectual jams in a live setting when he returns to the United States next week, accompanied on many dates with his frequent collaborator and Japanese subculture icon, Takako Minekawa. Here’s the scoop…
MW: You’re on a roll with new releases. Have you been out of your mind creatively or do the releases just happen to be coming out around the same time?
DW: 2012 was a really productive year for me, writing-wise. Only a moment after finishing the mix for the last album, Dreams Say, View, Create, Shadow Leads, I started writing new songs. Since I finished this record I haven’t been writing as much for myself but I have been writing with Takako more, which has been really fun and imaginative.
MW: After leaving Ponytail and doing so much solo work, what is it like to collaborate again? And with Takako Minekawa!
DW: Oh my god, so much fun! Making music with her is like recess, running around the playground. In the beginning, we were definitely trying to figure out how to work together but once we got it going it’s been really amazing. We are working on a bunch of songs right now and hoping to put something out next year!
MW: How has moving to Japan affected your process and energy?
DW: It’s been really peaceful here but I still feel relatively paranoid about politics and the Fukushima leaks. I was absolutely shocked when Tokyo was chosen for the 2020 Olympics, and am very worried for many reasons. But people here who share my thoughts and worries remain calm and full of humor, so that calms me down. In many ways, it’s been a really humbling experience to be here.
MW: Is there anything you miss about the U.S.?
DW: Sandwiches! And of course meaningful conversations with my close and dear friends living in the U.S.
MW: The month-long tour will be fun but grueling. How do you balance the daily grind of shows with your experimental, spontaneous process?
DW: The only way to enjoy a tour is just experiencing it day by day. Once you start a countdown to your last day of tour, you are in trouble! Visiting places along the way, like some nature preserves and strange towns like Marfa, TX, really makes the tour more than just shows. Without these things it would be quite boring.
MW: Anything you look forward to doing in certain cities during the tour? Restaurants to eat at, bookstores to visit, people to see…
DW: Oh man. For sure, it will be seeing my friends and just having conversation. And also playing shows with Takako along the West Coast starting in Sacramento. She has never seen the Redwood Frest, and I can’t wait to see her face when she sets foot!
MW: Have you been collaborating with anyone else lately?
DW: I played a show earlier this year with Greg Fox, who leads the band Guardian Alien. He also plays drums for Zs. He is such an incredible drummer–one of the best around, in my opinion. We did an improvised jam at a small-but amazing-venue in Tokyo called Soup. He is so quick on his feet, in many ways. I’d change the modes and he would just go along with it. I dunno if we’ll end up doing a recording, but I would really like to.
Also, Mark McGuire was in town a few months ago and I had the great honor of playing a show with him. I invited him to my place and we recorded some improvisations. A lot of cool stuff came out that we were both into. Once we both have the time, it would be amazing to do something together.
MW: Can you tell me a little bit about The Dodos and how you hooked up with their tour?
DW: To be quite honest, I have never met them before! I really like what they do with just guitar and drums, though. They go in-between each other and the vocals just sway over. The chords he chooses are very eloquent, too. Actually, my booking agent just casually asked me if I wanted to tour with them and I was like, sure!
Find out more about Mediation of Ecstatic Energy (to be released on September 17) and get the U.S. and Japanese tour dates (starting in Chicago on September 20) at thrilljockey.com.