Stereo Embers The Podcast: Jad Fair (Half Japanese)

Written by on 06/19/2024

“A Master Class In Songwriting”

Jad Fair is probably best known as one half of Half Japanese. Formed with his brother David in 1974, the Maryland by way of Michigan outift remain one of the more curious entires into the pantheon of rock and roll. Their songs are jagged and battered mini-anthems about broken hearts, monsters and…broken hearts and monsters. As Jad Fair once said, their songs are either love songs or monster songs. And there are a lot of songs. For example: the band’s sophomore effort was a triple album, some records have 45 songs all under two minutes. Some of the tracks are barely one…Half Japanese have quite a discography, including classics like Music To Strip By, Charmed Life and The Band Who Would Be King. Over the course of their idiosyncratic, non-traditional career, they’ve counted the Velvet Underground’s Moe Tucker as a member, put out albums on Penn Jillette’s record label, opened for NIrvana, and collaborated with Daniel Johnston, Kramer, Steve Fisk, Thurston Moore, Fred Frith Teenage Fanclub, Yo La Tengo, The Pastels, Jason Willett and John Zorn, and were chosen by Neutral Milk Hotel’s Jeff Magnum to play the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival that he was curating. Half Japanese are underground heroes, who broke every rule of modern music and then broke the rules they broke. They remain a dynamic, artistic and powerful creative endeavor. As for Jad Fair, he’s done anything but slow down. Aside from putting out a handful of solo albums, as a visual artist Fair’s artwork has yielded several books and museum shows across the world. His papercut style is singular and charming, but also rife with a simple complexity. It’s really staggering stuff. Also staggering: his new album 100 Songs (A Master Class In Songwriting). It consists of, you guessed it: 100 songs. Impressed? Well, his other new album Film Music has 150. Filled with swerving low-fi bliss, there’s not a false note to be found on these records. But of course there isn’t: it’s Jad Fair. And Jad Fair operates from a cosmos of creative impulse. And that impulse is as pure and driving as it gets. ( ( ( (

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