pop/folk - Kanazawa, Japan

What was your debut in the music world?
Tsubasa: I was ten when my father gave me my first guitar, and that’s when I started playing.

How would you describe your musical universe, and what do you want to transmit to your audience?
Tsubasa: When I compose I’m usually trying to inspire myself, using myself and the elements that surround me, colors, smells. Everything that makes up my life. So I look for whatever allows people to feel the same thing as me when they listen to my music.

You come from Kanazawa, in the Chubu region. Is there something specific about the music in that region, and what are your favorite artists?
Tsubasa: Kanazawa is more specifically part of the Hokuriku region, and my favorite artist is probably Maki Asakawa, originally from Ishikawa, who unfortunately passed away last year.

Can you tell us a bit more about Kanazawa?
Tsubasa: It’s the largest city in Hokuriku with a population of 450,000. The Kanazawa castle was run by the Maeda family for three centuries, after the first lord Toshiee Maeda took over in 1583. There are lots of historical buildings there. Kanazawa is made up of two areas: Noto in the north and Kaga in the south, where there are many hot springs. The traditional culture there is also very distinctive. We have, for example, Kaga-bocha, a reputable and historic tea grower, and Kaga-yuzen, which is a particular way of painting on kimono. In Noto you can find Wajima-nuri, an ancestral lacquer technique.

How do you see the evolution of Kanazawa?
Tsubasa: We haven’t had an express train from Tokyo to Kanazawa, but a line is being built, which will probably be finished in three years. So I think more people from other regions will start putting Kanazawa on their tourism routes, and that will promote the evolution of the city. On the other hand, I like how it is actually. I think our government should put some limits on excessive progress and safeguard the traditions. Japan is in the process of changing. With the ease of access to information, we no longer need to leave and go to Tokyo for a particular benefit. That’s what’s happened with my career. I do everything directly from Kanazawa. Sometimes I play in Tokyo but I don’t need to live there to have success with my music.

You released your first album in 2009. How did you work on it and what does it represent for you?
Tsubasa: That was my first disc before leaving to tour throughout the country and getting the opportunity to play in Korea and Brazil. It pushed me to then record an album of J-pop reprises for Pony Canyon, and to record a DVD live on July 1, 2010. I’m meeting with some sensational people and I’m living experiences I couldn’t have had before the first album. I’m really happy about that.

You mention different concerts held outside of Japan. What memories do you have of those and how did the audience react to your music?
Tsubasa: I am really very happy to have had the opportunity to show my country’s culture to people abroad. And then also to have been able to visit those countries, to feel the energy of the audience! Koreans and Brazilians are especially warm. I don’t speak Korean or Portuguese but I still got messages from the fans anyway. It was really wonderful.

How did you come to work with producer Robert Regonati, and what advice did he give you?
Tsubasa: He showed me the value of each possibility, hard work, better use of my time. He ultimately showed me how to be an artist. He taught me some stuff for playing the guitar and singing better, and he also took care of me. He always looks after everything.

You signed with the label DNA. Can you tell us more about that?
Tsubasa: DNA is a new independent Japanese label. With good artists and good music enthusiasts working hard at their development. I think it will have a very beautiful future. It’s a perfect environment for someone who wants to become a musician.

You recorded your first live DVD during your concert in Bunka Hall, as you said before. What kind of ambiance did you feel and how did you prepare yourself for the event?
Tsubasa: We worked very hard every day for six months, up until the date of the concert. It was exhausting but we were supported by a large number of friends who came from Hokuriku. We were really grateful for their help. I think we were able to give the audience a good show.

People say that music knows no borders, and that seems to be the case with your songs, which cross language barriers. What is the key to reach such a result, and what do you want to communicate?
Tsubasa: I think music has a marvelous power. By simply listening and appropriating it, you can imagine stories. I’m just happy if people who don’t understand Japanese are able to see exotic scenes because of my songs.

You will be participating in May to the Anime BH in Brazil. What are your expectations?
Tsubasa: It will be my first time participating in an event that’s linked to the anime world, and I’m very happy to be invited there. This time I will perform opening and closing titles on stage and I hope that Brazilian anime fans will share their joy and sing with me. But I’m not worried, the Brazilians know how to make my shows even better.

At Anime BH, what are you hoping for?
Tsubasa: I hope to discover new things there and meet people. I feel good every time I play in Brazil. This time we have the support of a Japanese Lolita-clothing brand, Milky Ange, and I’ll be wearing their clothing on stage. It will be my first time wearing an outfit like that. It’s definitely exciting.

Brazil is a country with a strong musical identity (samba, bossa nova…). What’s your view of that, and are there any local artists you especially like?
Tsubasa: Brazil is a young country, just 511 years old, but boasts an extraordinary, marvelous musical history, with many festivals today that reunite huge numbers of people. I think in Brazil everyone keeps up a special rapport with music and that translates to a particularly active stage. It’s remarkable there are outdoor festivals that start at 10 PM and no one complains. Everyone appreciates music, from kids to the elderly. That’s what makes Brazilians valued listeners. As for artists, I especially like Tom Jobim and Djavan. But lots of others also.

What are your future projects, and do you have a last message for your French audience?
Tsubasa: I hope to make music for as many people as possible. From Hokuriku to the whole world. I love French films and also the painters of the School of Paris, like Amedeo Modigliani, Maurice Utrillo, Marie Laurencin, Marc Chagall, Moïse Kisling, Henri Rousseau, Léonard Foujita…I’ve visited France before and I really loved everything. A lot of French people have a particular sensibility. I think France has a lot of things in common with Japan. I really hope I get the opportunity to play in France, and if possible, do a collaboration with a French artist!

Compilation of interviews by Kochipan in September 2010 and May 2011. We thank Kochipan for their use.

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