Tag Archives: Bob Vidler

Dragonfly – Closer to You

The Killer Beez were once big hitters on the local NQ original music scene. Back in the early 2000’s they did supports for luminaries such as Paul Kelly, Pete Murray, INXS, Alex Loyd, and Jon Butler. They recorded their debut E.P “One Something Beautiful” with Pandamonium Records (parent company of NQ Music press!) in 2003. Since disbanding the Beez, frontman and primary writer Bob Vidler has married and moved to Japan, and as we discover, creating a new buzz with his band Dragonfly. Dragonfly have just released a new song “Closer To You” with video. We caught up with Bob Vidler to get the lowdown on Dragonfly’s new track, and the transition from Cairns music scene to Japan..

NQMP: As an ex Cairns boy living in Japan now, how do you find the transition from our small scene here to playing music in a very populated place like Japan?

BV: Although I live in a big city in Japan, the scene for music by foreigners is not so big. The culture here is tuned into the big international foreign acts like McCartney and Bon Jovi, but it doesn’t really pay much attention to local foreign bands and musicians. So we have a small target audience really.

The live house economy here is built on “pay to play” venues. Bands basically hire the bar/venue and pay the fee. This can be anywhere between a few hundred dollars up to $600 or more for a night. Bands then must sell tickets to cover their costs. There are a handful of venues that don’t operate this way, and I always book us to play at these venues. I can’t bring myself to “pay to play”.

I understand the “pay to play” model. It comes down to drinking habits. A Japanese audience tends to focus very much on the music. They listen. They don’t go to see a show to drink, So bar revenues can be quite low. The venues we play at tend to be frequented by a mix of locals and foreigners. So the venues can expect better takings over the bar. Hence we don’t need to ‘pay to play’ at these venues.

NQMP: Do you think it’s easier or harder over there to get interest in your music?

BV: It’s tough here, in that songs sung in English aren’t that big on anyone’s radar. Just like at home in Australia, songs sung in Japanese aren’t that big on anyone’s radar. Of course.

Having said that, I tend to look outside of Japan for opportiunities for our music. There are still a great deal of opportunites out there. It takes a lot of work pinning them down, but they exist. Short films, documentaries, TVC’s, film and television, product alliances etc etc. I’ve been fortunate to have my music used in both a short film and a documentary while living here in Japan.

NQMP: The whole industry landscape has changed since your work with the Killer Beez, What are your views on the whole streaming phenom?

BV: Streaming is always a difficult decision to make as a song writer. Do I or don’t I make it available to stream? Streaming allows for a much larger (potential) audience, but the business model for these platforms has literally ripped the revenue once made by musicians straight out of their pockets. I decided to make my music available for streaming because it can create off-shoot opportunities. Like those I mentioned above.

A streaming platform model that payed music creators a fairer cut would be a great development. It seems though that the major streaming platforms have this market wrapped up, and breaking into it as a competitor would be tough.

There has always been a kind of struggle involved in money and music. I don’t think anyone simply deserves money because they write a great song. There is a lot more involved in the greaater industry than just a great song. Of course it’s the fundamental starting point, but after that many other ducks need to line up to really get a song out into the greater population. It’s never been easy. It would be easy to let this kill my love of music, so I don’t focus on it too much. Just get on with it. Please myself, Write music I love and do my best to share it with people who connect with it. No point crying in my beer(s).

NQMP: So can you tell our local readers a bit about your latest project Dragonfly and your new track Closer To You?

BV: Dragonfly formed in early 2016. The band’s founding members are myself and Francis (Frank) Peddie. We lost our first drummer and guitarist through natural attrition after about two years together.

We were joined by our current guitarist – Ryo Mihashi – mid last year. Ryo is a very unique guitarist who can play complex elctric guitar riffs and leads without using a plectrum. He’s a fingers only player. Quite amazing to watch. He can really rip when unleashed.

The song and the clip feature a guest artist – Nigel Grover – who was fundamental in mixing the track as well as recording some guitar and backing vocal parts on the song.

The song almost never came to be.

As is often the way with sparks of creativity for me, I had come up with this acoustic guitar rhythm and vocal melody after a shower. I quickly jotted it down using my PC’s camera and put the idea into my dropbox. And promptly forgot about it.

I was on holidays in Cairns last year and while sitting in a hotel room killing some time, I had a look through my dropbox to see what needed cleaning out. I came across my little demo and thought it was a really good rhythm and melody. I decided that when I returned to Nagoya, I would work on it and try to build it into a full song. And so I did.

A lot of the tracks are guitars played using different intonations or different capo positions with different chord shapes. This created a really rich acoustic guitar underbelly for the song. In total the song has 40 tracks, though they are carefully blended. You wouldn’t know it to listen to the song.

There are loads of layered vocals and vocal harmonies. All carefully layered so as to create a rich sound rather than separate sounding voices.

It’s taken a long time to get here. For just one song. But the reasons are many, not least of which is life in Japan is busy. People are busy. Getting shit done takes a lot of time, planning and waiting.

Lyrically the song is a call out to the struggle a lot of people face. Getting over failures. Dealing with our damaged selves and finding support and solice through friendships.

It’s a relief to have it done. Creating something to be satisfied with is tough. But well worth the effort.

The song is out now on all major online stores and streaming services.

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