Post-rock duo Yanéka, formed in 2005 and made up of brother and sister Yuichiro and Chiyako Maeda, arrived in Stockholm in early March.
Six days later, a massive 8.9 magnitude earthquake rocked Japan, triggering a tsunami that incurred widespread damage across the country.
“I saw the tsunami and just, I don’t know, I can’t explain it,” Yuichiro told The Local, lowering his eyes as he struggled to describe his shock at first hearing of the crisis in Japan.
The Maedas, who play ambient music comparable to that of Icelandic group Sigur Rós, had been planning on staying in Stockholm for a month to produce an album with local musicians.
But following the earthquake, their plans have changed.
“Since we heard the news in Japan, we decided we’re going to try to stay in Europe and have charity concerts as much as we can,” said Yuichiro.
Instead of continuing with their recording projects, the two have instead chosen to devote their energies to Music For Japan, a new project they launched consisting of a series of charity concerts across Europe to raise money for aid to Japan.
The concert series will start on Saturday night with a performance at the Moderna Dans Teatern on the island of Skeppsholmen in Stockholm.
According to Yuichiro, his feelings are likely comparable to those of Americans upon hearing of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
“It was that kind of feeling, like we can’t stop anything and it’s just happening,” he said.
Yuichiro said that organising the charity concerts was his and his sister’s way of providing aid in a situation where they otherwise feel “stuck.”
After Saturday night’s concert in Stockholm, which is being co-sponsored by the Japanese embassy, they have performances planned in Toulouse, Marseille, and Montpelier, France, as well as London, England.
The two are covering all of their own expenses and all proceeds from their shows will go toward the Red Cross chapters of the countries in which they perform.
In light of recent nuclear radiation fears, the Maedas are also encouraging family members in Japan to come to Europe while they are touring.
“All the media in Japan is saying, ‘Oh, no, it’s not [such] a big deal.’… and talking about something else. But all the foreign media is saying it’s a serious situation,” he said.
“All the embassies moved out of Tokyo and all the Americans moved out of Okinawa and the French embassy [is] telling people to be going back to their own country. And I’m just panicking, myself, like ‘Why are they doing that?’ It means they know something.”
While the Maedas hope to return to Japan sometime in autumn, they have chosen to focus their efforts on Music For Japan and will not be present for the domestic release of their third studio album, “All in the Air,” in May.
“I’ve got to do this project for a couple of months, or even for a half year, or as long as I can,” Yuichiro said.
“I think it’s better for Japan.”
Yanéka will play at the Moderna Dans Teatern on the island of Skeppsholmen on Saturday, March 19th. The Dance Hall opens at 8 PM and the show begins at 10pm. Tickets are 180 kronor and can be purchased at the door or online.
By Anita Badejo