Tell us your real names, country of birth, date of birth and childhood experience. 

We are two British brothers, Duncan and Selwyn Walsh. We perform either as a duo or as a band with our Japanese friends, Ayumi Sato on bass and Tomoyuki Yamada on drums. Selwyn and I grew up during the 1980s in a small village in rural England. We spent our childhood running around outside or writing songs!

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Tell us about your music career, your band name, musical background, experience and skills. 

The Watanabes began life as a band in the beautiful countryside of Ehime in Japan. Watanabe is a common surname in this region of Japan, and as a group of foreigners, we decided to use the name to expression of our love for the area and its warm and welcoming people ! In 2007 we packed up and moved to Tokyo in search of new inspiration and regular trains and we’ve been performing and recording here ever since. Skills? We don’t have a lot of those, just emotions and thoughts that we like to express through music. 

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Tell us about your genre, concept and idea behind your music video and the song. 

For a while we referred to our music as neo-folk but now we just call it indie folk pop. What would you call it? The music video for Over Romantic was shot by American videographer David Allen, and features Japanese actress Shuna Iijima.

As a pair of bickering brothers we thought it would be quite amusing to see us taking part in a romantic battle. 

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Tell us everything that we need to know about you as a musician and the ups and downs you have faced in the music business.

I can only remember one down. That was when we arrived in Tokyo full of rock dreams and realized that there were thousands of other brilliant bands with exactly the same dreams, many of whom had been doing it far longer and sounded much better live! Since then we’ve only been moving onwards and upwards and enjoying every minute. 

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Tell us about other members of your band, music producer, crew or music video director, how the song was recorded and how the music video was shot. 

We work with a Scottish music producer called David Naughton. He used to work at the legendary Ca Va Studios in Glasgow where he teamed up with some of our heroes: Belle & Sebastian, Teenage Fan Club and Suede. He has worked in the studio with so many famous artists and has an interesting story about each one. But he’s not only good for a story, he’s a very talented and able producer and we are extremely lucky to work with him. 

The video for Over Romantic was shot in Ueno Park, Yoyogi Park and the bay in Tokyo. It was filmed over a couple of days in the early summer. Happy days!

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Tell us how long you have been in the music industry, your experience and your future goal. 

We’ve been doing our indie thing since 2005. Our goal is quite simply to reach and to please as many ears as possible. We’ve had a few songs used on TV and in commercials, but we would love to be part of a movie soundtrack. That would be a case of mission accomplished!

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Tell us what inspires you to write, compose and sing. 

Emotions mainly. When I’m feeling moody, I pick up my guitar and sing off what’s on my chest. 

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Tell us the secret behind making a hit song. 

Ask Paul McCartney. 😉 In my humble opinion, it’s about being genuine and authentic while writing about something that everyone can connect with. We’ve written some songs in the past that were a hit with a very small, highly specific group of people, but left everyone else numb and confused.

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Tell us the message you will like to pass to your fans out there. 

If you have spent a few minutes of your time listening to our music, then you have made us very happy! THANK YOU! 

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Tell the kind of advice you will give to an upcoming artist. 

The best thing you can do is to lose the ego. What I mean by that is to be critical about your own writing and performances and work out where and how you can improve. Take advice, listen to feedback and work together with others. The most talented musicians are only the most talented because they have worked the hardest at their art.

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Elaborate on your music careers, albums, songs, tours, recognition or awards you might have obtained. 

We’re about to release our third album at major record stores nationwide across Japan. Considering that Japan is not our home country and Japanese is not our native language, I think we can feel proud of what we have achieved in a foreign music industry. We’ve had songs used on TV by CNN, as well as in commercials for Western Union and Triumph Motorcycles. We’ve also been aired on some very respectable radio stations including BBC Radio 6, Amazing Radio, InterFM and RakutenFM. I think we have also made a name for ourselves within the Tokyo live music scene. TimeOut Tokyo called us “Tokyo’s answer to The Smiths”. It’s been fantastic. I think the highlight was when Guns N Roses drummer Matt Sorum joined us on stage, and played through a set of Watanabes’ songs! Magic!

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List Radio or TV Stations that are airing your songs and blogs that have featured you as well and send message to them via this platform. 

BBC Radio Norfolk recently asked us to perform Over Romantic live for them, and have been extremely supportive over the years. The same tune was also aired every day throughout October on RakutenFM in Japan, and has been played on Amazing Radio and InterFm. 

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Tell us how you write your lyrics, compose, sing and record in the studio. 

Selwyn and I write a lot of our songs together, throwing ideas at each other and criticizing each other work and suggestions. It’s very useful to have a brother in the band that you can be completely honest with. If we think a song or lyric is not up to scratch we have no issue bluntly telling each other. In that sense, some of our songs are slowly molded together. Our producer Dave is also very much involved and will listen to our ideas and suggest minor changes to vocals or lyrics. 

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Name five biggest artists that you look up to like idols.

We love The Smiths, The Beatles, Belle & Sebastian, David Bowie and recently, Beach House. 

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Name the artists you have collaborated with before in your songs or artists you are willing to collaborate with in the future if you have the chance to do so. 

We have collaborated with quite a few musicians. Nick Duffy of The Lilac Tme has played accordion and banjo on two or three of our tracks. American singer songwriter Kate Sikora sang a duet with me on Hot Water Hills. Jammin Zeb vocalist Lensei Nishizawa also happens to be an amazing pianist and he played the piano on Over Romantic. We’ve had a number of other talented musicians adding cello, trumpets, and saxophone. We are very lucky to have so many talented friends. 

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Give us the links to your website and your entire social network. 

WEBSITE: www.thewatanabes.com

FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/thewatanabes

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/TheWatanabes @TheWatanabes

INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/thewatanabes/ @TheWatanabes

YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/user/thewatanabes

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Give us the links to your various stores for fans to buy your music. 

BANDCAMP: https://thewatanabes.bandcamp.com/

ITUNES: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/the-watanabes/id300592111

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Tell us about your happiest day and saddest day. 

Happiest day as a band. Playing on the big stage at the Tokyo Summer Festival looking over the blue skies of Tokyo while singing Watanabes’ songs loud and proud.

Saddest day as a band. When our long time bassist and fellow songwriter Ash decided that he wanted to quit the band after 7 years together.


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