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Arigato Tokyo - Part 1 (and Alex’s Mandolin Guitar Contest)

Arigato Tokyo - Part 1 (and Alex’s Mandolin Guitar Contest)

Hey,

I hope you’re doing well! We left Narita Airport more than 10 hours ago and there are still 4 hours to go on this direct flight to Montreal. Feels like I’m back into what has been sort of my office for the past few weeks… This is the place where I share my thoughts with you. And I don’t know if it’s the altitude or the fact that we met many of you, older and younger friends, but I just feel very grateful and thankful for this meaningful connection we’ve been building over the past few weeks. I always love to read your reactions, especially last week, following our insane trip to Paris.

At first, I didn’t want to get back to this Air Canada situation but I kinda have to since the saga didn’t end as I came back from Paris, and instead kept going as I arrived in Tokyo and was the only one of four for whom the luggage hadn’t reached the land of the rising sun. Can you believe it?! I literally spent my entire 5 days there without my luggage; I picked it up at the airport while checking in to come back to Montreal…! I’m starting to think this is personal… Just unbelievable! 

I just watched the movie Hallelujah about Leonard Cohen, and it truly moved me a lot. I already was emotional, as we always are, especially Alex, after leaving the amazing and enigmatic city of Tokyo. Growing up near Montreal with a musician father, Cohen’s music was never really far, especially the song Hallelujah. To me, this song is one of the most powerful ones, connecting our daily struggles with the great beyond in such a holy fashion. It simply gives me shivers every time I hear it. 

And it’s kinda fascinating timing-wise. What has been a way too short trip to Tokyo turned out to have become one of the most important travels we did this year and got us to realize the extent of the importance the country has always had in our lives, mainly into Alex’s, and how I have never truly shared it with you. So I thought this moment was a perfect one for me to share how much Japan, its people, its unique culture, limitless passion, and all its paradoxes, shaped who Alex is today as a person and as an artist. Hallelujah!

Everything started back in 2007 as we were putting some of our new songs on MySpace, and to our own astonishment, started gathering some serious attention worldwide, simply out of this amazing, powerful, and brand-new medium; social media. Our connection within what became our new worldwide community started to not only widen itself but especially deepen itself as Alex started writing blogs, sharing his personal thoughts, struggles, dreams, and the frenzy of what it meant to be the lead singer of Your Favorite Enemies. As young North American and francophone artists, all we had in mind was to tour and make it in places like the US, the UK, Europe, and so on…! Asia had never been part of our thoughts, and nowhere near our never-established 5-year plan on how to conquer the world via MySpace and YouTube! :) 

It’s been like that until one day, a message came in from a lady living in Tokyo. In very good English, she shared how much Alex’s blogs, especially when he opened up about his personal depression and how he managed to navigate through those very dark and troubled waters, saved and changed her life. She then educated Alex on the back then unknown reality of the very high level of depressed people there was in Japan and how this country was number one when it came to people committing suicide. She then demanded if it was all right for her to translate Alex’s blogs in Japanese, and to share it onto her Myspace profile, because she thought it might do some good… A few weeks following this inspiring and generous endeavor, a group of Japanese friends decided to get together and pay for a plane ticket to Tokyo for Alex, in order to hang out, walk around the city, enjoy its incredible food, and beyond all, connect on a higher level. A thank you gesture that changed our lives forever…

Following this trip to Tokyo during the summer of 2007, Alex’s love and passion for Japan simply and understandably skyrocketed. He even made them a promise that he’d bring his band for concerts the following year, in 2008! In the meantime, we started translating everything we were doing into Japanese, and through several trips of Alex’s new friends to Montreal, learned about a rich and unique culture we all had no idea about. It was incredible! I will always remember this afternoon in mid-February 2008, as Alex was running on a treadmill, when I rushed toward his home, got in without knocking, and started to scream “We’re going to Japan with Simple Plan!!!!!” I almost killed Alex as he fell off the treadmill, but we then started to hug and jump around since this was just the best thing in the world for us at that point! We had to get ready for the two greatest music conferences in North America back then which were Canadian Music Week in Toronto, Canada, and South By Southwest in Austin, Texas in March, then shows in Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya in May. Alex’s promise made a year earlier to his close Japanese friends had just materialized itself and in grand fashion! 

What happened in Japan during this tour changed our lives and us forever. Alex invited as many Montreal friends as he could, and we ended up being 18 people on that Japan tour! The tour promoter fainted when I told him that! He said it was the first time he encountered such a thing in 20 years! Well, “This is Alex’s style”, I told him! We might be 20 next time! :) Meet & greets were organized after every concert, and we spent countless hours sharing and making new friends night after night. The music composer for the Final Fantasy video game came to me one night saying he’d like to work with us on an original soundtrack for the next video game series called Dissidia: Final Fantasy. This was close to too much! The following year, the video game came out and was our landmark in Japan, leading us to a record deal with one of the oldest Japanese labels, King Records, and a publishing deal with one of the biggest Japanese entertainment companies, Avex! MySpace’s motto “A Place For Friends” was taken really seriously as we were reaching crazy levels…!

It’s through those very singular and rich relationships that Alex has been able to go through the hardest decade of our lives, which also gave birth to the making of the albums Between Illness and MigrationTokyo Sessions and also where we first launched Alex Henry Foster’s first solo album Windows in the Sky in November 2018. Now that the table is set around Alex’s and Your Favorite Enemies’ story in Japan, I’ll take the time to share on a deeper level about it all next week about how, following the suicide of a friend of Alex who lived in Tokyo, meeting his parents truly transformed Alex and us all afterwards… 

Arigato! 

 

IMPORTANT - ALEX'S MANDOLIN DRAW

Can’t wait to see you all on January 14th! Take good care of yourself in the meantime!!! 

Be great to one another! 

Your Host and Friend, 
Jeff 

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