Taka Imamura Is Gang Gang Dance’s Spirit Guide

gang gang
Photographer Ross Mantle
May 25, 2011

At just about every Gang Gang Dance show of the past two years, there has been a Japanese man crouched behind the band waving a flag made from a trash bag and a broomstick. Rumored to be their “vibes manager,” Taka Imamura, a longtime friend of the group, was made puzzlingly but wonderfully an official member and can be heard offering the invocation—“I can hear everything. It’s everything time”—on “Glass Jar” off their new album, Eye Control. Though the Rockaway resident disputes the official title of vibes manager, he clarified, in slow-spoken, semi-broken English, that his role in Gang Gang is somewhere between roadie, muse and shaman.

How did you become a member of Gang Gang Dance? Everybody could be a Gang Gang member. I’m in them visually, [but] spiritually, everybody is a member. I’m lucky to be a member. All the nice members—Brian, Lizzi, Josh, Jesse—they’re real nice to me, part of a family. They were going on a US tour and they needed some help, basically just hanging out or to help merchandize. “Please come, hang out, let’s have a good time.” We did a tour a couple times. After that we were going to Joshua Tree for recording, maybe one year ago. We drove there, we stayed for one month. Basically we’d just wake up together, eat together, play together… Well, I didn’t play, but I was filming. Not really professionally, just having a good time. It was really nice. Then we drove back.

You stayed for a month but you didn’t play any music? I guess no, I didn’t do anything outside of hanging out. Just watching what they’re playing and listening. But it was so beautiful there, it’s so nice. The sky was so beautiful and really quiet. Take a picture, walk a really long walk in the middle of the desert. It was really fun, we had a really good time. [When we came back] they were asking me to be…not join, but nicely to come and hang out more. I was missing them. First show was MoMA. They didn’t push me, they didn’t say, “You’ve got to do that.” Just, “I wish you’d come. We miss you. Come hang out.” I helped move stuff. Then they were like, “Come on the stage together.” I wanted to do something, especially because it was an art opening. I figured, Okay, I’ll just have a hype man style. Just have a flag and keep it tied together, keep it feeling good.

Where did the flag come from? I always look for garbage bags. It’s the easiest thing I can find everywhere in the trash world. Also broomsticks are easy to find anywhere. I put it back where it came from. I’m just borrowing the stuff. Sometimes black, sometimes blue, sometimes clear. Sometimes really small, sometimes really big. It all depends where I can get it.

I’ve heard your title is the vibes manager, is that correct? That’s the first time I heard that, but it sounds great. I like that.

What do you call yourself? Baby Love.

Are you going to continue with the band? Everything is temporary, but it is forever for sure.

Taka Imamura Is Gang Gang Dance’s Spirit Guide