My great friend and phenomenal guitarist/musician Travis White released his single "You Are An Angel," featuring yours truly on vocals. It's a gorgeous song with a real soft soulfulness to it, which is the kind of music I love to make most. Travis is based out of Tokyo and has been a real anchor for me and my life out there, so not only am I grateful for his friendship but his talent is crazy and his music is badass. Please check out the music video or stream the audio above. xoxo
Lyrics for Ai Otsuka's song "XOX"
So I got to work on lyrics for the talented, sweet, and fierce Ai Otsuka 大塚愛 for the song "XOX" on her latest album, Chime! She's a legend of JPop and I am so honored I had the opportunity to work with her.
Click the pic above to preview or jump to the whole song on Spotify. Or click the link below to check out the whole EP and/or other channels if you don't use Spotify: https://avex.lnk.to/aiotsuka_190904
Here's more about the project: Years back Ai wrote だめだめだ (Dame Dame Da) as an end theme for Naruto. She gave it away to Shiori Tomita to sing. For her new album Ai wanted to re-record the song herself, in Japanese and in English. So my co-lyricist, MPI, and I re-interpreted/re-wrote her lyrics for her for the English version,
We thought about the meaning of the song, the feel, themes, the perspective of the character singing it, and the rhyme scheme from the Japanese lyrics and then created a similar-feeling story in English. We wanted to honor the original song since it's already been heard by many people and has had a life of its own, but we also wanted it to not be a direct translation so it could exist on it's own. Also knowing it would be heard by a largely Japanese audience we were careful to choose words and concepts/themes that would resonate with that audience. We worked across continents and time-zones back and forth (MPI in Japan and me in the USA) and I'm pretty happy with what we came up with!
MPI and I helped her during the recording process as well, working with her on pronunciation since this would be her first time releasing a song in English. Ai was so engaging, kind, funny, and bright, so she was easy to get along with. As an artist, she was very professional and hard-working--she insisted on getting as many small details ironed out as possible for a one-day session, but her confidence in her musical instincts was also so cool to see. As a perfectionist myself, it's a huge learning opportunity to see someone with a thorough work ethic (who's also so experienced and successful) follow through on details but also know when to trust herself that she got it right when it felt right.
Anyway, this was a huge career highlight for me! I love writing lyrics most, and getting to work with a legendary JPop artist like Ai was so incredible. So huge thanks to Ai San and MPI for bringing me in on this project! ❤️ ☾☽
A Very Specal Feature in TimeOut Tokyo!
My best friend/talented journalist/musician and music enthusiast Taryn Siegel and I met when we moved to Tokyo at the same time, and both us looking for a musical outlet, together discovered the Tokyo underground music scene shortly thereafter. Starting as timid audience members at open mic Tuesdays at the iconic Shibuya Ruby Room, we slowly began to perform and meet more and more fellow musicians and fans, weaving ourselves into the mystical tapestry we looked at with such wonder that first Tuesday at Ruby Room.
Fast forward five years later, and I am performing, writing, and recording music full-time, and Taryn is a writer for the most popular international magazine/website in Tokyo (TimeOut Tokyo) and publishing the main-featured article in their Summer edition about our beloved indie music scene. I get emotional just thinking about it all!
Not only is it a beautifully written article, it's a glimpse into the magic and talent I've had the privilege to witness (and sometimes even contribute to!) on basically a daily/weekly basis in Tokyo. And it's a snapshot of the shape that amorphous "scene" seems to be taking at the moment--a gathering of passionate, dedicated, talented people banding together (HA pun intended!) under a concert series/community/network called More Than Music. This is Taryn's love letter to her Tokyo, but with our lives and experiences being so closely intertwined over our Tokyo years, it feels a bit like it's mine as well. And I couldn't have said it better myself!
Here's a live video from the More Than Music show I played in on 11/17 in Shimokitazawa. I've been going to their shows for a while and they've invited me to play before, but this is the first time everything actually worked out with schedules for me to get up and play for them. More Than Music puts on a great music event/party every month or two in Tokyo featuring great indie music of all kind from Tokyo and beyond. They also release a music video for each artists, so here's mine! I played my new song Married To The Moon. Hope you like it!
Happy Halloween from Malachi and me to you, wherever you are in the world! We're in Tokyo on an awesome rooftop with the crickets and whatever spirits are hanging around undetected. I wanted to do a Halloween-themed cover in honor of the season and I was browsing around, and I listened more closely to this song I've heard a thousand times, I Put A Spell On You... and I fell in love. It's so deliciously creepy! Haha! I think it's about jealousy and the crazy stuff jealousy makes you do or want to do. So here's my take on the creepy lil number. You can check more of Malachi's stuff out here: Facebook:www.facebook.com/mrmalachi Instagram: www.instagram.com/malachi.kun/ Youtube: www.youtube.com/channel/UC7EynMKT_gHM-Uj7_865a4w?view_as=subscriber
Live Show Under The Moon
I've been really snoozing on the ol youtube game, so my videographer friend Malachi is helping me make up for lost time. I also have been thinking how I want to be able to share more of what I've been up to with those of you outside Tokyo, like some more behind the scene looks at my live shows and recording gigs. So look forward to more of that on my social media platforms! Anyway, here's a highlight video Malachi did from a show at my fav venue in Tokyo at my first show back after a break. (P..S. one more thing, you can hear the very beginning of a brand new song called Married To The Moon, which I had the idea for a few months ago, but I most definitely completed specifically for this show, just hours before as well, because I'd be standing under a huge moon the whole show. It woulda been weird if I DIDN'T do that. Right? So see if you can find that lil audio clip. Hint, it's not that hard to find cause it's a ~2min video. Alright, that's it.) And you can check more of Malachi's stuff out here: Facebook: www.facebook.com/mrmalachi Instagram: www.instagram.com/malachi.kun/ Youtube: www.youtube.com/channel/UC7EynMKT_gHM-Uj7_865a4w?view_as=subscriber
Live Show and Interview on the Roof for ON-1
After a live show hiatus, I played a short live set then did a brief interview on this rooftop in Shibuya on a perfect early Autumn night, in between days of rainstorms. ON-1 is a new creative collective of sorts that supports and connects local artists in Tokyo. Click the picture to read the interview we did, where I talk with my new friend Miyu about my life as a musician in Tokyo.
Vocals for a Sony Commercial
I got to team up for a second time with the producer I worked with on the Visee commercial last year. I really like his style of vocal layering and editing, it feels modern and #hip. Also, incidentally, I have a Sony Alpha camera, in an older model, which I bought after a lot of research on good intro mirrorless cameras. So a bonus is I personally recommend this product haha!
Rapping in Japanese for a diet supplements Commercial
Recently I've been enlisted to sing/rap in Japanese--very much my second language. My Japanese language skills are horrendous but I guess the pronunciation is passable... or at least it shows that there's something about foreign accents... like how things sound more sophisticated when said in a French accent, or more fun in an Aussie one, or more adorable in a Japanese one.
Tokyo Dex 5th Anniversary Celebration - This&That Cafe Vol. 35
TokyoDex--a creative agency in Tokyo-- is a leader in the artist community in Tokyo, showcasing and supporting a diverse array of our local visual and musical artists. I'm lucky enough to have performed in some of their highly-attended events, and in December I was invited to perform at their 5th Anniversary party. They also asked a few of the musical acts to collaborate and make something new for the show, so my friend/ridiculously talented musician Robert Taira Wilson and I co-wrote a new song together and put together some other duets of originals and covers. I also did my own set later in the night. It was an awesome event! Here's a highlight video they made!
Visee Lip Lacquer Commercial w/ Rola
I just really liked the music and aesthetic for this project. I rarely get asked to play down the "kawaii" and "genki" things (aka cuteness and peppiness), but for this was stylistically a little closer to how I usually sing my own music, so that was cool! Also sidenote, I very briefly met Rola for a project years ago and saw her again once at a Thanksgiving event. She deffffinitely didn't remember me, but I still feel like it's cool that we were on the same project again. Also she's TINY in person. SO SMALL.
Lyrics & Vocals on "Welcome To The Ballroom" aka「ボールルームへようこそ」Anime Soundtrack
There's a Japanese anime series called ボールルームへようこそ aka Ballroom e Youkoso aka Welcome to the Ballroom. I worked on three songs on the original soundtrack. I co-wrote lyrics with an artist/friend of mine called MPI, on two songs, "It's Like A Symphony" and "Shake Shake." I wrote lyrics and performed the vocals on "Brilliant." It was my first TV soundtrack that I got to write lyrics for, and lyrics are probably my fav thing in construction of a song, so I was giddy with excitement! Also the music in this show is like the big-band, Great American Songbook music of the early 1900's, when the lyric writing was SO brilliant and vibrant and playful, so it was so much fun for me to pay tribute to those lyricists who have influenced me so much and were just the epitome of clever and masterful lyricists. Anyway, you can buy the album on itunes (and Amazon?). Click on the picture above or the link here to go to the itunes store: itunes.apple.com/jp/album/welcome-to-the-ballroom-original-soundtrack/1316413910?l=en
Interview w/ Holly Terrens on pursuing a music career abroad!
Click the pic above to read my interview with fellow expat/musician/friend Holly Terrens about pursuing a creative career abroad!
Kate Beck and Friends at What The Dickens ~ Halloween Edition
I host an acoustic music night every couple of months at a British-style pub in Ebisu called What The Dickens. I have the stage and a beerceptive audience for a few hours so I play a lot of fun acoustic covers and invite different friends and musicians to join me . The latest "Kate Beck and Friends" night was on Halloween. Of course only I (minimally) dressed up. Apparently my friends are all grown-ups. This is a shot from my friend Kyoko Obayashi of the last song of the night, that's become a bit of a ritual by now. Each time, everyone who's played comes up for the last song and sings/shouts/stops/claps Ho Hey, a great roudy singalong by The Lumineers, and we end the night with a big shout and laughs and hugs and usually more beer.
Theme Song for the Shiseido Hyojo Project
I got to sing the theme song for the launch of the Shiseido Hyojo Project--an empowerment campaign of sorts encouraging women to express they-selves. It's a nice little jazzy number.
Live show atop Tokyo Tower ~ Club 333
This one's a bit older, but it's probably my all-time favorite live show I've ever done. What could beat playing to the Tokyo skyline from one of the highest points in the city, watching the sun goes down and the city light up? Probably nothing. Honestly I felt bad for the poor souls who were watching me and missed the glory and splendor just behind them. Also an added bonus was it was live-streamed so friends and family from home could tune in. ☾☽