GD song sample
Tadahisa Yoshida live
Tadahisa Yoshida live 2
DEATH BY STEREO
GD LyricsNanimonai imimonaku chiru
Kono orewo terashitekudasai
Nanimonai you're a broken liar
Kono yamino nakamade todokete
Ashitae mukau you're a broken liar
Kono hikarinoyouni terashite
Imimonaku nanimonaku chiru
Kono orewo tobashitekudasai
you're a broken liar
Tamannaikara oreno nakadewa
Nigirishimete dakishimerudakeno nakadakeja tobenaiwa
© Tadahisa Yoshida
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Tadahisa Yoshida Interview
"After I graduated high school, I had few choices, either I go to the Japanese University or get a job. I didn't want to choose either one of them... I was thinking I might want to be either an actor or musician. So I chose Hollywood." - Tadahisa Yoshida
For his growing legions of American music fans Tadahisa Yoshida's fateful decision to move to the US to pursue his dreams was the right one. If it's the dark side of Japanese rock and electro music you crave, then you can't get much darker than "Tada-san." With rocking dance songs like GD (Genetic Defect) and Thalidomide and an onstage persona that's both scary and fascinating, its time to say hello to the man who says "I want to connect with people on every level; musically, visually, and emotionally. People pay to see my show... they pay for me to give them a show... I want to give them what they want!"
On August 6, 2009 Tadahisa Yoshida was kind enough to give an interview to Andrew from J-Pop World. All photos courtesy of Tadahisa Yoshida with credits to Lotus Josephine, Jalisco Wayne, Tas Limur, Roqnpix Photography and MiYu Photography.
Let's start with your latest album, "Electric Defect." How would you describe its overall style of music?
I would say "Electric Defect" is electro/alternative rock music, but with a taste of industrial too! It's bilingual, I sing in both Japanese and English because I want all kinds of people to enjoy my music. Even though most people won't understand the Japanese lyrics, I want them to feel it! That's how we (Japanese) listen to American/European music. We don't understand the lyrics perfectly but we can still enjoy listening and being touched by the music. I think that's the beauty of it. Music is becoming more international these days. For example, "Western people" have started listening to Eastern rock/pop music. The internet is the huge reason for this… the "Cyber-World" is the evolution of music!
Who worked on the album with you? How long had you been working on the music?
No one... I produced it by myself with my computer. I had been working on those songs since 2007. Fire Rabbit and Thalidomide were recorded in 2007, GD and Cyber Level were recorded in 2008, and I recorded Death by Stereo just this year. I think each song took a few months to finish.
The song GD has a haunting feel to it. Can you tell us the story about writing and recording it?
First I came up with the main synth sound and beats. I really liked that industrial feeling, but the interesting thing was when I started to lay down my vocals... the song became something else. It wasn't just industrial anymore, but it wasn't really J-rock either. I think it ended up somewhere in-between. This was a very dark time in my life. I felt like I had nothing, and my life was falling apart. Technically I was losing myself, and I struggled to stay strong. So it's about fighting with fear, depression, psychosis… stuff like that. GD stands for Genetic Defect, which I guess sums up how I was feeling at that time.
Thalidomide has more of a house-electro sound -- a great dance song. When you write songs do you consciously think "this one's for dancing" or "this one's for rocking"?
Actually, Thalidomide is a song for dancing and rocking. I remembered back in the day, when I was touring in San Francisco with my brit pop band called Nove', I was a guitar player at that time. One particular night, there was a DJ playing some trance/house/techno music before our set. I was supposed to be setting up my gear on the stage but, I started to jam with him (DJ) for a bit. I really enjoyed it! Ever since then, I planned to make trance rock music. So Thalidomide was that song, written for dancing and rocking.
Can you tell us more about how you create music? What is the process like from an idea in your head to a finished song?
Lately, my song writing process is starting from making beats with the computer, then imagining the direction of the song, and then I figure out the main sound, like distorted synth sound or spacey guitar sound. After that, I just play for awhile until I find the coolest riff. Then, I create it however I want it to be, but at the same time, trying not to sound like someone else or following the trend. When I finish a song, it always surprises me 'cuz it's different from the first idea most of the time. This is something that I can't control. I never know until I finish it.
Do you have a song that was the hardest/longest to complete versus the easiest/fastest?
No. I think all the songs I've written thus far have been equally hard and easy. But this is the typical aspect of recording. I take about the same amount of time to record every song I write. If you want me to talk about just writing a specific song, then songs like JIgyaku and Yellow Fever were much easier for me to complete since I wrote those songs on the guitar. I'm a guitar player, so it's easier than playing keys and programming for me.
Do you have a favorite song to play live?
Thalidomide is fun to play live! It's upbeat and danceable, and I use a megaphone too (smiles). Maybe I should use fire explosions on the stage in the future, that would be so cool! (laughs)
Fire Rabbit is a very beautiful song, but hard to play. I started to use a violin bow during shows. I'm very happy that I came up with this idea... I guess I need to thank Jimmy Page for that. I really want to play this song with an orchestra one day, I'm sure it will be super great.
Tell us about the musicians who normally perform with you.
Well, I play with Indy, Chryst, and Bong Bong The Fantastic. Indy is my drummer, Chryst on bass and Bong Bong The Fantastic is my keys/live programmer. They are all excellent musicians and understand my music well. Indy's drumming is very straightforward and strong, he brings the rock and roll side, complete with a cigarette in his mouth when he plays (laughs). He is one of the hottest drummers in Hollywood right now. Chryst, is not just a great bass player, but a great entertainer as well. I feel great every time I play on stage with him. He brings the visual side.
Bong Bong The Fantastic is the brain for the band. I use programming a lot so, he controls everything for the shows. He puts all the sounds together on stage, and somehow makes it all work. He brings the indie electro/electronica/DJ style. Seriously, the four of us posses everything for the future music. We don't sound like anybody! We don't follow any particular music scene!... We're ready to take over the world. (laughs)
In some of your live performances there is a sign that says "Style is War." What's that all about?
(Laughs) That's a sign from Cinema Bizarre. We were the opening band back in April this year and one of the best shows I've had in my music career. You'll have to ask them about it.
Your awesome visual style is off the charts. For those who want to emulate you can you give us "Three Principals to Dressing like Tadahisa Yoshida"?
1) army style jacket 2) vinyl pants 3) tuk shoes (laughs). Just wear whatever you want... that's what I do.
We have to ask... How long does it take you and the band to get ready visually for a show?
I personally take 3~4 hours to get ready for a show. Starting from taking a shower, make-up, hair and getting dressed.
You have one wicked looking guitar. Can you tell us what it is and how you came to own it?
That is a Hotei Tomoyasu model guitar, made by Fernandez. He has been one of the most popular guitarists in Japan since the 80's. He was the guitarist/songwriter of one of the best rock bands in Japanese rock history, "BOOWY". Anyway, my brother bought that guitar from his friend a long time ago. One day, I was working on some ideas for my new song in my house in L.A and I wanted my guitar sound to be like 80's new wave/synth music, then I remembered my brother had a perfect guitar for that. My brother and I were going to meet up in Hawaii at the time, so I asked him to bring the guitar with him. He brought the guitar for me. It was so out of shape since no one had played it for awhile but it still had a great sound, so I fixed it up and it has became one of my favorite guitars now.
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
I have a gig coming up this month in Texas, and possibly another one on the East Coast around November. I'm also going to start writing music with my band and planning to have a few more local gigs... or something like that.
What kind of kid were you growing up? Good student? Teacher's nightmare?
I was just a regular kid. I was good in sports, loved video games and BMX. Sometimes I was a good student, and sometimes I wasn't. I remember I was very shy up to about the 5th grade.
How did you first get into music?
My first exposure was from my dad and uncle. They were music lovers, so they played all kinds of music, all the time. They played anything from the Beatles and the Ventures to Japanese folk music... I liked all of it. Then, when I was in the 7th grade, my friend recommended a bunch of rock music to me and I really got into it! After that, I started a band with my friends.
Who have been your biggest musical inspirations?
There has been several, but lately, Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails). I really get inspired by his entire works. He seems like a very focused musician, not like some who become party monsters after achieving success. He is very real, smart and always creating new sounds. I like musicians who continue to develop their music style. He (Reznor) has shown the continued development of his great music/art for the last 20 years. He had to be so strong mentally and physically too. I definitely have a lot of respect for that.
What are your lasting memories of playing in your old high school band "Crisis"?
Simply enjoying playing music together. We were just rocking out... pure adrenalin rush! We didn't care about record deals or anything. After graduation, we continued to play together. We sold out the tickets and packed the live houses. All my school mates were there and they were going nuts, dancing and singing with me. There were even mosh pits. It was one of my great memories! After the shows, we would go to the Izakaya (Japanese style bar) and drink till the sun came up. We videotaped some of our shows, so when I miss my friends in Japan, I watch the live videos.
When and how did you make the big decision to move to the US?
After I graduated high school, I had few choices, either I go to the Japanese University or get a job. I didn't want to choose either one of them. The only answer at that time was get out of Japan and make my dream come true. I was thinking I might want to be either an actor or musician. So I chose Hollywood.
What did your family and friends think of the decision?
My family was okay with my decision, but they didn't think I was really going do it... they just thought I'd come back in a few months. My friends were excited 'cuz they could visit me. Now that I think about it, coming to the U.S. has been the biggest decision in my life, because my life completely changed after that.
What were your biggest challenges living in the US?
My biggest challenge was the language barrier. I had studied English for 6 years in school. But when it came down to having a conversation in English, it was absolutely useless. It was so frustrating that I couldn't communicate the way I wanted to and I felt stupid. It was a big challenge just to go grocery shopping for awhile. The only way I could communicate with anyone was playing music because I didn't have to say anything. That's how I got in my first band. I went to the audition, just playing and jamming with them for awhile. Next day, I got a call from them and they said "...we really enjoyed playing with you yesterday, can you come back and jam with us again?" I was like "of course!"
What do you remember most about that first year?
I was struggling and not satisfied at all. I was trying not to have any Japanese friends since I really wanted to learn English. I knew I had to do this in order to be successful here. I wanted to make American friends, but being enrolled in an ESL Class (English as a second language) my new friends were all foreigners like me.
As you've performed across the US over the last few years do you find your concept of music and stagecraft have changed or evolved?
Yes, definitely! I was playing music for self-satisfaction before, but now I play music to connect with people, especially live shows. I want to connect with people on every level; musically, visually, and emotionally. People pay to see my show... they pay for me to give them a show... I want to give them what they want!
Looking ahead, are there aspects of your music or show that you are planning on changing?
Definitely! As a musician, you must continue to develop through change. I will collaborate with more musicians to write songs and work on many projects. It's time for me to go to next level now. I want to be viewed as a versatile musician, not just associated to one particular type of music or region. I'm planning to do "American" events, like The Warped Tour.
Can you tell us a little about some of the people who have helped you the most in establishing yourself as a musician?
Jeremiah Tree, Steve, and Paxton from my first band in the U.S., "Teleman." Playing music with them was a big improvement. Brian Jerden, my first producer while I was recording with Teleman at Eldorado Studios, Burbank CA. I learned everything about studio recording there. Also, Elan Truhillo, as an engineer.
In 2007, while I was working on my solo project with Lee Popa (sound engineer w/Tool, Zilch) as my producer, Paul Barker and Rey Washam (Ministry) on bass and drums, and Scrote on guitar. That was my first time to work on my solo project with professional musicians, so it was a very important experience for me. Ministry has been one of the biggest industrial bands in the world since the 80's. Playing music with them was such a blast. Now with my band members, Indy, Chryst and Bong Bong the Fantastic, I feel like, "finally, I found the right members."
Can you describe the feeling you get when you are performing live and the crowd is excited and everything is going perfectly?
I can't really describe the feeling in any words, but if everything is going perfect on stage, I feel like the best rocker in the world! I can do anything on the stage! I am definitely thankful to our fans... and sound guy.
Since your move to the US how often have you gotten back to Japan?
I haven't gone back to Japan for awhile, Sure, I miss Japan, but I want to pursue my career here first. I miss my family and friends, but, at least I can always talk to them on the phone.
Do you have a long-term idea of where you will be living over the next ten or twenty years? Are you in the US for good or will you be an international traveler?
Probably I will remain here in Los Angeles, but I really want to live in Europe for awhile and record a bunch of songs there. I feel like I need to change my life a little bit. I need a new inspiration.
What do you miss most about Japan?
I miss my family and my friends. I miss the Japanese lifestyle. No matter how long I'm away from Japan, I will always be Japanese... and I'm proud of it!
For all your female fans, can you tell us about your thoughts on a possible future marriage or kids?
(Laughs) Ahhh... do you think they care about my marriage and kids? Hey I'm not a Jonas Brother...
Outside of music, what types of things do you do fun and relaxation?
Hang out with my girl, going to clubs/concerts, playing with my cats, Photoshop(ing), going to the beach, painting rooms in my apartment...
Can you answer the big question: what does music mean to you?
Music is my addiction... I can't live without it!
Do you have anything else you want to bring up or comment on?
I'm performing at the San Japan Anime Convention on August 15th and 16th in Texas, so please come if you're interested. Also, we're headed into the studio to write and record more songs.
Do you have a final message to all your fans?Please come to my show in the future and have a good time with us!
For more info checkout Tadahisa Yoshida's official site and MySpace page. Leave your comments about this interview and read what others had to say at the following link: Interview Comments