and here are my words:
In 2007 I had an email from Angels Egg, an independent record label operating from Tokyo, asking me if they could release Summer/Autumn Recordings, my first album. A year later I was on a plane with a 1 year visa to live and work in Japan with hardly any preconceptions apart from perhaps that the old was juxtaposed with the new, some people would be wearing crazy outfits, and I would probably eat a lot of sushi. Expecting to teach english I was surprised and very glad when I found I could make a living through my music and textiles. With unprecedented support from the label owner Naoki Iijima and musician Naoto Kawate, I toured almost constantly, churning off textiles in between tours in a back bedroom where I was put up for free staying with Naoki`s lovely family. I am forever indebted and grateful to the generosity and kindness I received.
Since then these encounters, experiences of such generosity of spirit, have become an earmark of my times in Japan. I now live half of each year on an island in the Hiroshima prefecture. When we go away on tour we return to our green island to find gifts hanging from our front door handle which could be from any one of our neighbors. The guardian of our house feels somehow like the guardian of our family and many other families and musicians living in the community. He runs a record shop, tops up his wages by doing a paper round, works at the forefront of the anti nuclear movement, and puts on fundraising shows to bring families from Fukushima to stay in the summer. Since the Tsunami and nuclear disaster these families usually have to live their whole lives indoors to attempt to safeguard themselves from the radiation.
Recently a friend in Bristol asked me if I am still fascinated by Japan. My reply was, I am fascinated by the enthusiasm and joy of the people. Without fail where ever we travel we find it. Culturally it seems that people do not feel the need to play it cool, but show keenness openly, with an eagerness to make others feel safe and happy. Somehow, despite a great sadness that swept over Japan after the disaster, people have this knack and ability to have a good time together.
After one of my first shows in Japan I watched 15 or so people re-assembled the fragile contents of a shop where the stage and audience had been. Very quickly a total seamless transformation occurred and it was like watching a beautiful co-ordinated dance. If that was anywhere else I imagine things being smashed and rude words being uttered.
This co-operation can be seen on all sorts of levels in Japan. Things just seem to run smoothly. This coupled with the enthusiastic group dynamic might be the reason why people seem so likely to try daring ventures. On one of my first tours in Japan I got to play on a moving train. This was not a scheduled train. This was a ticketed event with food and drinks and 3 acts performing while the train skirted up the coast, stopped for a break, and skirted back. And during my most recent Japan tour where I was joined with my bandmates from the UK, we got to perform in many unlikely venues, the most memorable being a planetarium where we were treated to the full works projected up on the ceiling during the show.
Touring with my band in Japan marked the 10th anniversary of my musical journey in the country. Playing songs with my band from We Resonate, Bite the Mountain and forthcoming new album to the Japanese audiences brought my two worlds together. Collectively with Marcus Hamblett, Emma Gatrill and Rob Pemberton we honed the songs over the 8 shows and it was easily the best we’ve sounded, helped along by the incredible Bunsho our traveling soundman working his magic in each space. It was no easy feat to pull the tour off, doing it on a shoe string and taking a gamble, with people working sooo hard even in Japanese terms (hats off to Cow And Mouse and ICHI). We toured in two vehicles which was a total achievement in itself – 10 people including mine and Ichi`s kids, all the instruments including Ichi`s vast set up and Emma’s harp, and the PA. But you see in Japan these things ARE possible. I have learnt to believe!
I now have the opportunity to turn the tables and return a little portion of the help and generosity I have received in Japan, by welcoming a Japanese musician to our shores. I would like to introduce Takeo Toyama, a friend and highly respected musician from Onomichi my neighboring city. His piano compositions and songs are revered by the likes of Haushka whom he has toured and recorded with in Europe. I have been in love with Takeo`s music since before becoming friends and am honored and excited to be playing two UK shows together:
30th June @ The Goods Shed, Stroud https://www.facebook.com/events/500205127118278/
1st July @ The Folkhouse, Bristol https://www.facebook.com/events/633823910298023/
Takeo Toyama also plays Daylight Music at the Union Chapel 12pm – 2pm https://www.facebook.com/events/513920292343264/
And to get you in the mood here is a playlist including tracks by Takeo Toyama, a remix of my single by Takeo himself, other Japanese artists that I love and who inspire me, rounded off with a song of mine about our Japanese Island.
Takeo Toyama – Ioutoshite
Rachael Dadd remixed by Takeo Toyama – Connected to the Rock (remix)
Gofish – 北風と太陽
Ytamo – Hamon
Asuna – After Years
Wasurerogusa – レム王子、旅に出る
Naoto Kawate – That Cannot Be
Aki Tsuyuko – travel alone [Fender Rhodes Vers]
Oorutaichi – Zenon / ゼノン
Kotoringo – hedgehog
Tennis Coats – Mosha Mosha Mo
Yuumbo – 失敗を抱きしめよう at 試聴室
ICHI – 一週間歌（Week）
Rachael Dadd – Archipelago