I first stumbled upon Goose House around 2013 when I was, well, searching for AKB48 on YouTube. It’s a pure coincidence because Goose House had a few videos covering for AKB48 songs. This was one of them.
My first impression was that Goose House was extremely cute. But it was also the first time I felt that the music industry has truly changed - how music is distributed, how music is marketed, and how everyone discovers music. I am a great Akina fan. When I was trolling through Akina’s TV appearances on the Internet, I couldn’t stop but think that Akina, and idols from that era in general, were just a product of their times. TV was at its peak in the 80s, and along with that, created a perfect opportunity for Seiko, Akina and the like to stand on the perfect stage for Japanese music at that time. It was an something that will never come again. Waiting for the next Akina or next Seiko is as fruitless as waiting for the next Charlie Chaplin. Times have changed, and we move on.
Enough nostalgia and sentimental comments.
Goose House was originally a project of Sony. It started in 2010 as Play You House. The concept was to find a place (House) in Tokyo and let singer songwriters get together and make music, with an eye on the Internet for marketing and distribution. And so a 9-member “band” of some sort was formed. The original members were:
- d-iZe (an odd name indeed, it stands for dream-realized)
- Takebuchi Kei 竹渕慶
- Saito Johnny 齋藤ジョニー
- Kudo Shuhei 工藤秀平
- Kimura Masahide 木村正英
- Kanda Rioka 神田莉緒香
- Sekitori Hana 関取花
- Takezawa Migiwa 竹澤汀
- Nakamura Chihiro 中村千尋
After Play You House became Goose House, Kimura, Nakamura, and Sekitori left to start their solo careers. They then added Manami (マナミ), Watanabe Shuhei (ワタナベシュウヘイ), and Sayaka (沙夜香) to make up for the loss. Over the years, there were a number of changes among its members. Saito Johnny left in 2012 and rejoined in 2013. Kanda Rioka left in 2013 right before Saito rejoined to start her solo career. Then d-iZe left in 2014, and Kudo Shuhei took the leader role. Most recently, Takezawa Migiwa left, and Goose House is now a 6-member group.
Goose House livestreams on the Internet once a month. Most performances are cover songs, like the AKB48 cover I found. Sometimes, all members participate in a song, but more often, a song is performed by a subset of members.
For example, this song called Tokyo 東京 by JUJU was covered by Watanabe and Saito. (By the way, did you watch the movie Inori no Maku ga Oriru Toki 祈りの幕が下りる時 starring Abe Hiroshi 阿部寛 and Matsushima Nanako 松嶋菜々子? I think it’s one of the best movie adaptations of Higashino Keigo’s 東野圭吾 mystery novels. Why do I mention the movie? Because this is the movie’s theme song)
And in this song Egao 笑顔 by Ikimonogakari いきものがかり, all members participated.
After a livestream, they would post individual song performances onto their YouTube channel.
Of course, being a group of singer songwriters, they have their own original songs besides covering for others. Here’s one of their original songs called Sky. This video was taken from one of their live concerts.
To this date, Goose House has already released a total of 7 singles and 10 albums (2 of them are only available online via mora and iTunes), had 15 concert tours covering major cities in Japan, and 47 “Unit Live Concerts”. These unit live concerts, unlike their concert tours, were concerts performed by only a subset of their members, just like what they did in their livestream.
Goose House’s music has the feeling of folk songs. And due to their age and appearances, they also feel like a university student band. The musical instruments are mainly guitar and keyboard, with occasional use of xylophone, drum, tambourine and other percussion instruments. Of all the members, I like Takebuchi Kei’s voice the most. Her powerful voice reminds me of Utada Hikaru 宇多田ヒカル and Ayaka 絢香. Her English is pretty fluent too, as she played the translator role during some livestreams and announcements. According to wiki, she spent 3 years in the US during elementary school. To be honest, I really enjoy many of the songs they cover, to the point that I like them better than their original version. I found their covers usually refreshing due to new arrangements, especially with guitars. I was often amazed at the simplicity of what a guitar can do to a Japanese song. I don’t think they’ve ever covered any enka 演歌, but I could be wrong as I don’t have time to go through all their videos. It’ll be interesting to see if they do something like that in the future, but I highly doubt it.
One thing I want to mention though. In their first album, Goosehouse Phrase #1, all songs were credited with the names of the songwriter and lyricist. But in all albums and singles afterwards, no individual was credited and they just said all songs and lyrics were by Goose House.
Today, their YouTube channel has over 2 million subscribers from all over the world (remember, this is the Internet). Unfortunately, in April this year, they announced that they’ll temporarily stop their monthly livestream. If you’re interested, search for Goosehouse and you should easily find their channel. Here’s their official web site goosehouse.jp
This song, #PhotoMomento #記念写真 (I think the pound sign is meant as a hash tag), is my favorite among their many original songs. I hope you enjoy it. I hope you also enjoy this introduction to some new musical scene that popped up recently in Japan (I guess 2011 can still be counted as recent :).