Yoshida Brothers Interview by JaME World

Author: Andrea by JaME World
The Yoshida Brothers talk about touring overseas, their new album Prism and their career so far.
We recently got the chance to sit down with the Yoshida Brothers in Los Angeles for an interview in the middle of their American West Coast Tour 09′. Despite it being the day after their San Diego date and before their five-day consecutive San Fransisco shows, the atmosphere was very relaxed and easy-going.
So far you have performed in Los Angeles and San Diego on this tour. How was it so far?
Ryoichiro: It was good! So far we have been touring Japan for ten years and the US for five years so we are used to touring.
Kenichi: It was our first time in San Diego, so it was mostly Japanese people. This is what it was like for our first time in Los Angeles as well. But as we performed there more and more, different types of people start to come, not just Japanese people but lots of Americans, too. Hopefully this is what it will be like for San Diego, too.

How is touring America different from touring Japan?
Ryoichiro: The audience. The timing of the audience and their claps. In Japan, the audience’s claps slowly gets louder. In America it is very different and louder.
Kenichi: (Amused) In Europe, it was very silent, it was as if they were watching classical music!

At the end of last year, you did an Oceanic Tour, not many Japanese performers are able to go there. How were those shows compared to the other shows overseas?
Kenichi: That was actually not our first time in Australia! Since our debut we have played the Sydney Opera House once, it was our second time overseas. The audience was much like Europe.
When and why did you first start to incorporate the western style of music into traditional Japanese style?
Kenichi: Since before our debut. It was very hard to only play traditional Japanese style. I wanted to play my own style and show my own style to the world.
Ryoichiro: I feel the same way.

What is the hardest part of playing a shamisen?
Ryoichiro: (laughs) I have been playing the shamisen since I was five. So I have been playing it 25 years and just playing is still hard!
Kenichi: Yes! I feel the same way! Also the mentality of just playing is hard.

Your recently released album is called Prism, what does the title mean to you?
Ryoichiro: This album is a reflection of everything we have been playing up until now. It reflects all of our past albums and everything we have learned so far. And it represents the light.
What is your favorite track to perform from the Prism album?
Ryoichiro: (answers immediately) “Red Bird”
Kenichi: “End of the World”

Are there any special stories about the album Prism?
Ryoichiro: It was our second time recording in Los Angeles. We wanted to show something different. So the album is about everything we have done so far in our career.
“Mr. Naganos Foolish Proposal” is a very interesting song title. Can you please explain the song and where the name came from?
(Everyone in the room laughs)
Kenichi: (still laughing) We collaborated with a producer on this song. The producer actually decided the title!

The Nightmare Before Christmas doesn’t seem like the Yoshida Brother’s style of project, what did you think of this project?
Ryoichiro: With all of the other well-known artists on the album, we were very excited to do this. However, with the style of the song it was very hard to figure out how to incorporate the shamisen style into this song.
Kenichi: Whenever Japanese people see our name on the album they are like ‘What! Why are the Yoshida Brothers on here?’ But we were approached by American Disney to do this track.

Do you play any other instruments besides the shamisen?
Ryoichiro: No, I have only wanted to play the shamisen.
Kenichi: During high school, I started to learn how to play the guitar.

What is your greatest accomplishment since the begining of your career? Is there a goal you still want to accomplish?
Kenichi: I don’t think we have accomplished anything right now. I want more and more people to see our shows.
Ryoichiro: Recently, we just completed our 10th year anniversary since our major debut in Japan. During the final show, we had a standing ovation. This is a very hard thing to get from a Japanese audience. Also, I don’t feel really accomplished until we get bigger. I want to win an award like a Grammy, I don’t think we have accomplished anything till we have won a Grammy.

What is your most memorable collaboration?
Kenichi: There is no certain one in particular, but in Spain we played with a flamenco style. We had flamenco guitars play along with us and that was very interesting.
Ryoichiro: Whenever we play with percussion. Percussion goes very well with the shamisen, like the Japanese Taiko drums.

Finally, please give a message to our readers.
Ryoichiro and Kenichi: Our Prism album just came out in Japan and America, please listen to it. It is a reflection of everything we have done so far.

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