The Beauty of Noises and Waves
Alex Foster
カナダ出身オルタナティブ、ノイズロック、ポストパンクバンドYour Favorite Enemies (YFE)のリードシンガー、アレックス・H・フォスター。本国カナダではバンドが名誉あるJUNO賞にノミネート、更に日本ではキングレコードと契約。 映像&音楽プロデューサーやライター、フォトグラファーなどの顔も持つフォスターは大の野球好き、ウイスキー好きとして知られ、2匹の愛犬LeonardとMacKayeを溺愛している。肩書きや活動は多岐に渡れど、本人はシンプルにアレックスと呼ばれるのを好む。
Alex Henry Foster is the lead singer and songwriter of the alternative, noise rock and post-punk international band “Your Favorite Enemies (YFE)”. Hailing from Canada, the band is a nominee at the prestigious Juno Awards and signed on Japanese label King Records. When not in studio or on tour with his band, Foster is also a writer, photographer, art designer, and video and music producer, as well as a true baseball fanatic, a skateboard and underground culture kook and an avid whisky lover. He’s also the proud daddy of two dogs named Leonard and MacKaye. But most of all, he likes to simply be called Alex.



Lebanese-American artist, poet, and writer Khalil Gibran said “We choose our joys and sorrows long before we experience them”. Do we? Maybe we do… Do I? Maybe I do.


I’ve been greatly awaiting spring to unfold its wonders, this year more than any time before, I guess. Maybe it’s because I haven’t seen much light since I came back from Japan last November. Everything goes so fast, too fast for me to truly see, if only as a by-standing witness trying to capture a furtive view of the magnificent seasonal colors I’m in. Maybe I’ve lost perspective of time, musing about the everlasting essence of the invisible. Meditating about long-gone ghosts, sorrows inevitably grow in you. Just like chasing shadows, if you’re ready to become one with these long-gone ghosts a little more every time you go running after missing pieces of memories, illusions inevitably catch on to you… until you lose yourself.


Therefore, when days feel like old photographs slowly losing their brightness through the over-exposed nights spent looking for a place to lay down, when comforting images we tend to secretly kneel before and reminiscence of joyful past whispers become all we have to feel alive, is it the reflection of our own impermanent nature that makes every single morning an even more precious moment to breathe into? As we fade away, as we disappear a little more every day, as we fight to keep a right balance between what is and what you dream of becoming, I now believe that every dawn is a gift, an invitation for rebirth, an open door to new beginnings.


For me, just as I have experienced it the first time I had the blessing of dwelling in its welcoming arms so many years ago, my last visit to Japan with the band has been incredibly inspiring and meaningful for me. It was like walking in places where I could feel the halo of the past reverberating before my eyes, guiding my tired feet safely home somehow. It offered me a last look on dear and cherished souvenirs I thought had vanished in the vapor of my own self-painted nights. It was a last glimpse on things I needed to forgive, to be forgiven for, that I needed to be set free from. It reminded me of who I am, rather than who I was or allowed to become. The concert we played that night was the reflection of that freedom. Just like Hemingway wrote “We are all broken—that’s how the light gets in”. Maybe my heart needed more light than I was ready to acknowledge, than I was ready to open up to. Whatever it was, I received it for what it was, based on who I am; broken, but free.


実は、バンドの最新シングル「1-2-3 (One Step Away)」について生中継インタビューをしたんだけど、その準備のために、この公式ビデオを見ていたとき、ハリール・ジブラーンの言葉が頭に浮かんだんだ:“私たちは、喜びや悲しみを経験する前に、それを選んでいるのである”。この楽曲やビデオは、当時作詞した頃や、その映像表現をイメージした頃の心と魂の状態を完璧に表してる。でも今や、そのイメージや物語を越えているよ。シンボリックな要素が、歌詞を通して表現され、映像は僕が最初に選んだ言葉やシーンよりも、もっとずっと意味を明らかにしている。僕が書いた歌詞は、自分自身をそこから遠ざけるために選んだものだった。実際に経験していたことや、本当に書きたかった言葉の意味から離れるためにね。意識していたか、していなかったか、隠れていた真実が「1-2-3 (One Step Away)」では、明かされたんだ。それは、ヘミングウェイが話していた、光へ完全に身を任せたときに経験する自己再生と、どうせこれが宿命なのだと絶望し生ける屍のようになる現実とのはざまにある、深い葛藤なんだ。

In fact, it’s while watching the official video for the band’s latest single, “1-2-3 (One Step Away)”, as I was getting ready for the “About a Song” live interview regarding the meaning of that song, that this statement by Khalil Gibran came back to my mind: “We choose our joys and sorrows long before we experience them”. The song and video so perfectly represent that state of heart and soul I was in when I first wrote the song and imaged its video. It now goes way beyond the images and its storyline. All the symbolic elements now represented through all the lyrics and different imageries are so incredibly more revealing than the words and scenes that I initially chose to keep myself away from, away from the true meaning of what I was actually living or wanted to embody. Consciously or unconsciously, the hidden truth exposed in “1-2-3 (One Step Away)” is the deep struggle between the self-resurrection that comes with a total abandonment to the light that Hemingway talks about and the living death reality associated to the hopelessness that is our surrender to fatalism.


まるでジブラーンの言葉、“私たちは、喜びや悲しみを経験する前に、それを選んでいるのである”と、ヘミングウェイの”私たちはみんな傷ついている—だから光が入り込む”が、心と魂の状態に異なる視点を持ち、お互いに対立しているかのようだ。でも、僕はこの二つの文章がお互いを補充しあっているように思う。僕らは現在(未来)の状態を、経験する前から選んでいるのかもしれない、けど再生への招待は絶えず続く現実だ。完全に心が壊れていようと、ほんの少しだけ傷ついていようと、自分が今いる状態を認められるよう祈るよ。新しい朝の約束は、光を届けるために、僕らが腕を開いて歓迎するのを待っている。それは、信じ続ける理由を見つけるための、深い告白を隠しているかもしれないし、もしくは、解放して自由になるためのお祝いかもしれない。どちらにせよ、真実はいつだって、自分が慣れ親しんでいること以上に、もっと色々なことを見つけたいと思う個人的な望みに存在するんだ。これが僕にとってのアートだよ;自分たちの成長とともに、進化している人生を映し出したもの。そして、「1-­2-­3 (One Step Away)」は、時を刻む中で僕らを導き、それが少しずつでも、永遠でも、僕らがどの程度薄れ、消えていっているかという測りを定義する、感情の変化を正直に歌にしたものなんだ。僕らはその程度をも、ずっと前から選んでいるだろうか?真っ暗な夜へと個々の色を失うずっと前から?それとも、僕らが受け入れた光が新たな色を生み出し、それが人をインスパイアして、僕らが世界を去るときも、永遠になるんだろうか?

As if Gibran’s words, “We choose our joys and sorrows long before we experience them”, and Hemingway’s, “We are all broken—that’s how the light gets in”, were different perspectives of the condition of the heart and soul, diametrically opposed to one another. I however think they are pretty much complementary to each other. We may have chosen long ago the nature of our present condition, but the invitation for a enlightened rebirth remains a constant reality, may we acknowledge the actual state we are in, totally broken or only slightly dented. New morning promises await our welcoming arms to shine upon us. Whether it be hiding a profound confession to finding another reason to keep faith alive or an uplifting celebration to let go and be free, the truth always lies within our personal desires to dig for more than what we have settled in. That’s what art is to me; the reflection of life evolving as we do. And for me, “1-2-3 (One Step Away)” is an honest embodiment of that emotional stream that guides us through time, that defines the measure by which we fade away, disappearing a little more each day, may it be elusive or everlasting. Are we also choosing that measure long before losing each and everyone of our personal colors to the night? Or is it the light we let in that creates the new colors we leave the world with, inspiring others to create what makes who we are eternal?


アルバム『Between Illness and Migration』を書いたときは、生き続けることについてだった。正しさと間違い、真実と偽物、潜在的な成功と失敗、永遠と終わり…でも、それを意識しながら作ったんじゃない。本物であること、それが一番大切なことだった。生きていると感じる緊急性だった。アーティスティックなステートメントでもなければ、周到に準備された商品リリースでもなかった。それは、最悪なものと向き合った自分たちだった。個人的、全体的な意味での僕ら。だから、自分の声をラジオで聴くのが嫌だったんだ。だから、アルバムが褒め称えられ、見ず知らずの人たちに聴かれるのを、ぎこちなく感じたんだ。とても、パーソナルなものだったんだよ。この曲たちを歌うまでに、しばらくかかった。リリースしてから最初の1年は、あまりライブで演奏しなかったよ。僕にとって早すぎたんだろうか?多分ね。実は「1-2-3 (One Step Away)」は、アルバム最初のシングルになる予定だったんだ。でも、僕にとっては、親密すぎた。どの曲も、本当はそうだけどね。時間が必要だったんだ。僕はまだ、とても脆くて、心が壊れたままだった。でも、ヘミングウェイは正しいよ…光はやっぱり入ってきた。予想もしていなかった形で、でも、とても意味深い方法でね…まるで、僕らがアルバムを書いた時のように。

When we wrote “Between Illness and Migration”, it was about staying alive. The notion of right and wrong, of true and false, of potential success and failure, of eternity and ending… None of that has ever crossed our minds. It was real, that’s all that mattered. It was an emergency to feel alive. It wasn’t an artsy statement, nor a well-prepared commercial release. It was us facing the worst of it all. Us, in a personal and collective way. That’s why I hated hearing myself on the radio. That’s why I felt so remotely uncomfortable with the album being praised, being so highly viewed by strangers. It is so personal. It took time for me to be comfortable to sing those songs. I never played much of the record live within the first year of its release. Was it too soon for me? Maybe. “1-2-3 (One Step Away)” was supposed to be the album’s first radio single, but I thought it was too intimate. I thought all the songs were, in a way. I needed time, way more time. I was still so fragile, broken in every possible way. But Hemingway was right… the light did get in. In a real, unexpected and significant way… just like we wrote the album.

だから、1年前に名誉あるカナダのJuno賞に出席していたとき、“ロックアルバム・オブ・ザ・イヤー”にノミネートされたということは、『Between Illness and Migration』がカナダという国の芸術遺産の一部になったということだね、と誰かに言われ、僕はなんてバカバカしく、思い上がった発言なんだろうと思った。まるで、賞がアートの価値を決めるかのようだ。まるで、ノミネートしたことで、このアルバムを書くのがどれだけ僕にとって難しいことだったかを定義しているようだ。結局、僕らが賞を受けとることはなかったけど、何となく安心したのを覚えてる。もしも賞をとっていたら、アルバム『Between Illness and Migration』に呪いをかけ、その進化する不思議を、冷たくて、想像力のない不変のものに変えてしまっていたかもしれないから。もうずっと前のことに思えるけど、このアルバムは、日本先行でリリースした時から、驚くほどの進化を遂げ続けているんだ。でも、このアルバムによって、最も成長し、進化したのは僕ら自身だと思う…自分が思うよりもね。

So a year ago, as we were attending the prestigious Canadian Juno Music Awards, when someone told me that being nominated for “Rock Album of the Year”, meant that “Between Illness and Migration” was now part of the immortal artistic heritage of my country, I thought it was as ridiculously pompous of a statement as it was reductive. As if a prize could ever determine the value of art. As if being nominated would ever define how difficult that album has been for me to write. I was somehow relieved we didn’t win after all, as if winning would have cursed “Between Illness and Migration” with the implacable desire of people to turn the wonders of its evolving impermanence into a frigid and sterile absolute. The album has kept on evolving tremendously ever since we released its first incarnation in Japan, for what looks like a lifetime ago. But I think it’s us who have evolved the most through it and by it… even more than I thought.

実は、最近までアルバムの本質について考えたことは、あまりなかったんだ。おかしいよね。だって、アルバムについてはインタビューで何度も話したり、書いてきたのに。でも、日本でアルバム全曲を通しで演奏したとき、このアルバムが僕にとって、どんな意味を持つか改めて気づいたんだ。それで初めて、『Between Illness and Migration』が具体的になったんだよ。経験する前の喜びや悲しみを越えてね。人で溢れかえった東京のこじんまりとしたライブハウスで、マイクを握った瞬間、突如としてリアルになったんだ。セフが、その後の「Satsuki Yami (My Heartbeat)」となる曲のギターを弾き始め、突然、全てのつじつまが合ったようだった。あの夜、あのステージに立っていた理由から、何故、いつもと違うメンバー編成で全く違うアレンジをして、フルアルバムを演奏したのかまで。僕は、来てくれた人たちの穏やかな表情や、目をつむって聴いている姿、天井高く手を挙げている姿、目に涙を浮かべている人、僕の目をしっかりと見つめている人たちを見た…それは、シンプルにアルバムの音楽を、あるべき音色にさせた瞬間だった。僕自身が音楽と一体となった瞬間だった。近づくのではなく、一つに。一言、一言を受け入れ、一つ一つの音やメロディーを受け入れた。それは、僕自身だった。本当は、いつだってそうだったのかもしれないけど、否定し続けていたんだ。それでもなお、僕自身だ。

I never really thought about the true nature of the album until recently. It’s strange in a way, because I often write about it, and talked about it in interviews. But it’s when the band played the whole album in Japan that I realized a little more what the album was about for me. That’s the moment when “Between Illness and Migration” became something more tangible to me, beyond the “joys and sorrows that it became long before I experienced them. It all came in a split second after I got myself behind the microphone in that over-packed little room in Tokyo that it became real to me. Sef started playing what eventually would become the song “Satsuki Yami (My Heartbeat)”, and everything suddenly made sense, from the reasons we were on that stage, to why we played the whole album in a total different setting, in a complete different way. When I looked at our people’s peaceful faces, some having their eyes closed, some smiling, some holding hands in the air, some in tears, others passionately looking at me right in the eyes… It was a moment where I let the album’s music be, simply. Where I allowed myself to be one with it. Not close, not near, but one with it. Complete through it. Assuming every word, every sound and noise the album was or became. It was who I am. And maybe what I’ve always been but kept denying myself. Nonetheless, who I am.



We walked from the venue to our apartment with a lot of gear that night. We missed the last train home. More than one hour under the Tokyo stars. I will never forget that night, none of us will. We got to our apartment and no need to say, we knew that we all had experienced something that was louder than the band that night. I came back to Montreal free, ready to simply be, with all the challenges that would come my way, with all the doubts that would come back to haunt me, with losing friends, with getting really sick again… but most of all with a new and profound resolution to deal with every part of it as it was. And even more significantly, ready to face all that as I am. The same broken person, but living all shutters open now and welcoming the light in.

そのすぐあと、アルバム『Between Illness and Migration』のデラックスバージョンをリリースしないかというオファーをもらったんだ。一つの条件付きで、その話を受けたよ:今現在の僕らとして、アルバムを作ること。もう既にある曲をただ再現するのではなく、日本でライブをした時のように、どんなフィルターもなしに表現する。そして、だからこそ、僕らはこれを『Between Illness and Migration – Deluxe: Tokyo Sessions』と呼ぶことにしたんだ。このアルバムの輪が完了しようとしている今、シンプルに認めることができるよ。この記事で“Tokyo Sessions”の意味も伝えることができたし、もうすぐリリースもされるから、僕らは今ようやくバンドのセカンドアルバムへと進む準備ができたってね。去年の11月、人に溢れた東京都内のライブハウスで、自分が書いた曲を演奏し、そして体現して初めて、準備ができたんだ。『Between Illness and Migration – Deluxe: Tokyo Sessions』のために、スタジオに自分たちを缶詰状態にして初めて、心の準備が整った。ある人たちは、このアルバムに身を浸し、生涯聴けるアルバムとして受け取ってくれるだろう。また、ある人たちは、完全に嫌いになるかもしれない…どんな反応が生まれようと、僕は自分たちの思うまま作れたことを心から喜んでる。しがらみから解き放たれ、自由になった人間の音だ。リリースはもうすぐ。楽しみだよ。

Shortly after, we were offered to release a deluxe version of “Between Illness and Migration”. We decided to accept at only one condition: to live the album as who we became today. Not to revisit any of it, but to incarnate it without any filters, just like we did in Japan that night. And for that reason, we decided to call it “Between Illness and Migration – Deluxe: Tokyo Sessions”. If some may say the circle is now complete, I think I can simply confirm, writing this article knowing what “Tokyo Sessions” is about to be released, that we are now ready to migrate towards the band’s next album. I wasn’t totally ready for it until that night of November, somewhere in Tokyo, in a overbooked jazz club playing an album I wrote and then could now embody. I wasn’t totally ready for it until we locked ourselves in studio to work on “Between Illness and Migration – Deluxe: Tokyo Sessions”. Some might totally dwell in the album and turn it into their favorite of all time, others might totally despise the outrageous abomination we have done with it… But whatever it creates, I’m ecstatically happy we did it, as it’s the sound of someone who is now free. The release will now come very soon.

それまで、僕らの最新シングル「1-2-3 (One Step Away)」のビデオを見て欲しい。初めての人も、そうでない人も、再生を思い描きながら見て欲しいな。

Until then, I invite you to watch the official video for our latest single “1-2-3 (One Step Away)” for the first time, or with an invitation for rebirth in mind.



And like Rainer Maria Rilke, one of my favorite writers and poets, wrote a long time ago in his book “Letters to a Young Poet” on August 12, 1904:

“The future enters into us, in order to transform itself in us, long before it happens.”
Maybe that’s what it means to transcend time… to be eternal.

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