Long ago a friend sent me a few songs by a band called Cloudy Busey or Ice Cream Shout or whatever, which he got from a guy in Australia. Since that time I´ve been addicted to the few songs without knowing anything about the artist (or even his real name). There was just these few tracks and the videoclips. I especially fell for the moment when the gang documentary in the clip for Tattoed Tears slowly fades into an interview shot of Morrissey. Pure magic! Anyway. After developing another obsession for the tracks recently, I´ve decided to get to know the artist behind them and ended up making an interview with Robert Willey, who is the head behind Cloudy Busey/Ice Cream Shout and responsible for the beautiful tunes.
Hi Bob, First of all, could you tell us something about your person? I must admit, I only know some of your songs. My friend Nicholas recommended them to me a couple of years ago and told me he got them from a friend while being in Australia.
I’m from Ohio in the U.S. but I’ve lived in Japan for much of my adult life. I’m not sure if I can go back, America seems like such an insane place now. Japan is so safe, I can go anywhere at anytime and have no trouble.
What was the reason for you to leave Ohio?
I just needed to escape. there are stupid assholes anywhere you go but in Japan it’s easier for me to tune them out. i can live in my small community of foreigners and outsiders here and not pay much attention to the outside world. it’s not perfect but it works for now.
What is it like to be an independent artist in Japan?
It has good points and bad points. I probably could not have come out of my shell as an artist if I had not moved here. I would have been too terrified to sing my lyrics in front of an audience that could understand them. The bad part is that – I feel at least – my lyrics are a very important part of my songs. Most people here can’t appreciate them.
And Cloudy Busy and Ice Cream Shout are the same project by now?
ice cream shout is in hibernation. The members have all scattered. I’ve considered reviving it myself but then there wouldn’t be anything to differentiate it from Cloudy Busey.
I like your video clips a lot. What´s the idea behind the Tattoed Tears clip?
My home is an agricultural town so I grew up playing and working in the fields around migrant workers from the southwest and Mexico. I didn’t realize how much that culture influenced me until I left home.
I have always been very intrigued by the urban myth that Latino Gangsters love Morrissey. Morrissey loves James Dean and East of Eden, East of Eden is set in Salinas. And Salinas is the agricultural center of America so it has a very large Latino population and with that a very large Latino gang culture. It was such an interesting coincidence to me. I used the video for research writing the lyrics and it seemed natural to use it for the video.
What are your musical influences?
Lyrically Stephin Merritt, Bruce Springsteen. Very crafted pop songs. Sonically it changes by album. Wait in the Shade is all Kate Bush and 80s industrial. The next projects are very different though.
Are there also any bands from Japan that inspired you?
Shonen Knife, Guitar Wolf, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Togawa Jun, Geinoh Yamashirogumi. Some enka too. Kobayashi Akira, Kitajima Saburo.
Sadly not much recently.
What are your future plans with your projects?
There will be a video for Overcame the Sun at the end of summer.
Cloudy Busey has another album coming, something very different sounding. I’m also in at least three other fantasy bands. hahaha. I secretly make club music too. I produced a few tracks for a really great rapper from the U.S. called Grizzzly. His mixtape comes out July 7th. I am really happy with how the tracks came out.