EXPIRED: 12/24/09 – Masahiko Shimura, 29, vocalist, guitarist and only original member of Japanese pop outfit Fujifabric was making it big, but something happened – coulda been drugs, coulda been illness, coulda been any number of things. But since I can’t read Kanji, it’s anyone’s guess.
Fujifabric is a classic example of a band whose music is unclassifiable. Their music is all over the map stylistically, with touches of jazz, kayokyoku pop, soul, samba, folk and even disco. Vocalist/guitarist Masahiko Shimura sang soulfully and confidently and was one of Japan’s most promising young songwriters. He was even recently commissioned to pen songs for the latest Puffy Ami Yumi CD.
Formed in 2000 by several high-school friends including guitarist Masahiko Shimura and drummer Takayuki Watanabe, Fuji Fabric indeed took their name (initially spelled as two words) from a textile factory owned by Watanabe’s father. Initially a cover band, Fuji Fabric became a serious project when Masahiko and Watanabe moved to Tokyo in 2001, joining up with Tadokoro Sachiko, Kato Yuichi, and Akira Hagiwara and renaming the group Fujifabric. The lineup didn’t last for long — the new additions dropped out in 2002 — but Fujifabric still debuted with the EP A la Carte (2002), followed by another EP, A la Mode (2003), recorded with keyboardist Daisuke Kanazawa and bassist Shinichi Kato already as permanent members.
A bidding war ensued and the band ended up on the Toshiba-EMI label with Soichiro Yamauchi brought in as lead guitarist. But the magic was working, In 2004, the self-titled Fujifabric peaked at #17 on Japan’s popular music charts and their next CD, FabFox which went on to peak at #8. Last year’s Teenager was equally well received.
Then just before Christmas, and days before Fujifabric were to play sold out end of year concerts, vocalist Masahiko Shimura passed away due to unknown causes.
As you can imagine, young girls hanging out at Shibuya’s Harajuku Station are devastated.