O!susume – HY

Broadcast 24: HY

My pick for November\’s article is HY, another band that hails from the sunny southern islands of Okinawa, alongside ANLY, whom I covered in one of O!\’s first broadcasts. The group has had quite the journey, from starting as a five-member band still in high school to four nationally lauded musicians of unparalleled indie success over twenty years later.  \"\"

Years Active: 2000 – Present (2022)

Core Members: Shinzato Hideyuki 新里英之 (vocals, guitar), Naka Shun 名嘉俊 (drums), Kyoda Shinsuke 許田信介 (Bass), Nakasone Izumi (vocals, keyboard)

Point of Origin: Okinawa

HY (pronounced as the letters \”H, Y\”) got its start on Okinawa, an annexed chain of islands to the southwest of mainland Japan. Far removed from the pop culture center of Tokyo, a surprising number of artists have grown from Okinawan roots into the Japanese mainstream music scene. The band was originally formed by five high-school friends, including guitarist/vocalist Miyazato Yuuhei in 2000. The band\’s name is an abbreviation of Higashi Yakena, the group\’s Okinawan hometown.

Like many young bands of the time, the group was influenced by popular western punk and nu-metal bands, including Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park and The Offspring. Their status as high schoolers made practicing and performing shows difficult; they had to soundproof their practice room by taping egg cartons they had acquired from a local chicken ranch to the walls and windows, and their ability to play at live houses was often restricted by late nights and school schedules.

All of the band members have shared in the songwriting process. Since not all were fully trained in musical notation or theory in their early days, they would sometimes use pictures in order to desribe chords, or memorize their song\’s melody by ear rather than relying on sheet music. Despite all of the challenges they faced, their first album Departure, released only in Okinawa, quickly sold out.

One of HY\’s biggest claims to fame is that they\’re the most successful indie band in Japan. This accomplishment was kicked off by the stellar reception of their 2003 album Street Story, topping the Oricon charts for four weeks straight, a new record for indies at the time. #1 debuts of their 2004 album Trunk and 2006 album Confidence showed that HY was far from a one-hit wonder.

Aside from their Oricon chart record, 2003 marked another incredible moment for the band, as they were able to do a joint performance with Linkin Park, one of their musical inspirations. They kept the international trend going with tours in Canada, America, Taiwan and South Korea in 2007, after a successful live tour of all of Japan\’s 47 prefectures the year before and a sold-out Budokan concert. They also had the honor of participating in the NHK Kouhaku Uta Gassen (\”Red-White Song Battle\”), an annual televised program aired around the new year in Japan that has become akin to a national tradition.

Despite their overwhelming success, HY has stuck to their choice of releasing only albums, no singles. They also keep close to their Okinawan roots by using traditional Okinawan instruments in certain songs, and having the titles of their tours written in Okinawan dialect. The band claims that their music has changed over time, as the songs they write reflect the events and emotions of their own progressing lives. Perhaps the biggest change for the band, however, was when lead vocalist and guitarist Miyazato Yuuhei officially withdrew from band activities in 2019 following a series of medical complications. He seems to still be doing solo work and is on good terms with the rest of the band.

AM 11:00

White Beach

Ocean

SOURCES:

https://hy-road.net/

https://www.jame-world.com/en/article/19921-an-interview-with-hy.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HY_(band)