Wooden warriors saving the planet, musically

Music can be a wasteful activity. You need a lot of equipment and materials, and many things involved with instruments are disposable and have to be thrown away.

But it goes without saying that music is also creative, as are musical people.

So it’s perhaps no surprise that when a music company sets out to be more environmentally friendly, it would take an approach that is pretty unusual and innovative, not to be mention fun.

Nice Company is one such company and has produced a series of items that are both useful (musically or just in daily life), as well as recycle resources we too often take for granted. It has also worked with wood designer Housei Suzuki to create Mokuseiderz, six model kits “warriors” that are fighting to save the planet and are made from broken drum sticks.

We spoke to Mokuseiderz designer Housei Suzuki and Nice Company’s Motoaki Sayama.

mokuseiderz

Nice Company is originally a music company, doing things like designing the sound systems for shops and businesses. Why did you create the Miidori (“green”) brand?

(Motoaki Sayama) You get a surprising amount of garbage through doing music activities, like with drum sticks, cymbals, picks and guitar strings. They are all disposables so just become garbage when they are changed. A major catalyst was thinking that we wanted to reduce this garbage.

So how exactly did it start?

(Sayama) We started our ecological music projects in 2008. The first thing we released was an “eco pick” made from used PET bottles. After that we met wood designer Housei Suzuki and then we started to make the mini stick Keyholder and Stick Pen using broken scrap drum sticks. Miidori is the brand that offers these kinds of eco-friendly products that use scrap materials from doing musical activities.

Nice Company and Miidori is making and selling lots of environmentally friendly products. What is your concept of “Eco Music”?

(Sayama) When you’re trying to be eco it always ends up being so serious. Our idea was first that we wanted to do something eco that was cool. Eco that was fun like no one had ever done before.

Is it connected to the “eco trend” that has been big in Japan for a few years?

(Sayama) Well, it can’t hurt to connect with that but first of all, we just thought it was wasteful that drummers would throw their old sticks away. Reusing them is then an eco activity based on musicianship. We want to keep going always with them in mind.

(Housei Suzuki) There is the problem of just what on earth is “eco”. What is “eco” for a country that indicates a sense of achievement in everyday life by monetary units like GDP? What’s important if you are going to promote eco is getting to grips with it properly, in order that it doesn’t die out as an eco trend.

How has the response been from musicans?

(Sayama) Yes, musicians told us they thought it was interesting.

mokuseiderz

How did you come up with the back story for Mokuseiderz?

(Suzuki) We live on this planet but we are surrounded by the nature that also exists on the planet. While receiving the blessings of nature, for our lifestyle we produce substances and energy not on earth. As a result these things have now come to threaten the lifestyle of humans. What would happen if at such a time there was a war between nature and non-nature? This thought was the starting point.

Does the Mokuseiderz name have a special meaning?

(Suzuki) It’s made from wood [mokusei]. And there are lots of characters so it became plural, Mokuseiders. And then we changed the “s” to a “z”.

Why did you change the “s” to a “z”?

(Suzuki) Because the first car I bought was one of the first Nissan Z-cars… Oh, and I took the “Z” from my favorite, Led Zeppelin.

The design is really special. Where did you get the inspiration from?

(Suzuki) During my days at elementary school, I would build and play with toy models that were completely movable. The design came as a result of what I had made till now over the years, with just the materials changing to wood. I didn’t get inspiration from anywhere else.

mokuseiderz

The Franken Cymbal is also really unusual. What kind of sounds does a recycled cymbal with holes in it make?

(Sayama) We tried it out many times but with holes in it the sound was bad. It sounded more like hitting an metal sheet than a cymbal. But the new Franken Cymbal has a good sound. Please try it out!

franken cymbal

Do you have any future plans for the project?

(Sayama) We are starting to push fully into the overseas market. During 2013 we will export to Hong Kong, Spain and America. We also are planning a collaboration with Monocle Magazine which we will announce soon.

(Suzuki) I plan to exhibit at the Hokuyo Bank Monozukuri Techno Fair 2013.

Thank you, Housei Suzuki and Motoaki Sayama.

Miidori: http://www.miidori.jp

Eco Music: http://www.eco-music.jp/