Q: I love the concept of SkyBridge which is a global project band, how did you initially get started?
SKYBRIDGE: Thank you. I founded SkyBridge while I studying at Berklee College of Music, where like a musicians version of the United Nation. Making friends from all over the world through music made me realize that music has the power to connect people beyond borders and I believe that can happen to anyone, whether they are musicians or not.
Q: “Just Don’t Know What To Do With It” is written for environmental cause and received a finalist award at John Lennon Songwriting Contest in the Jazz category, what was the feeling when you received such an honorable award?
SKYBRIDGE: I received another finalist award with SkyBridge’s first single, “No Rain No Rainbow” and this was the second time for me to receive that award and it made me the first and only Japanese composer who received multiple finalist awards at the contest. I love and respect John Lennon not just as an artist but also as an activist, and receiving an award at the contest means a lot to me. At the same time, I truly hope that this song won’t end up as just a nice song but also will be a part of the movement, because that’s the purpose of this song. I hope to collaborate with organizations or companies that focus on environmental causes so that my song can be an amplifier for their causes.
Q: Was there a pivotal moment in your life when you decided to follow your path as a musician?
SKYBRIDGE: Yes, I had several pivotal moments in my life. The one which changed the motivation and the purpose of doing music happened when I was 20-21 year old. At that time, I was in a depression. No one in my family wanted me to pursue a career in music and my grandmother – the only person who wasn’t against me doing music had passed away. I couldn’t find any reason to justify my passion for music and felt that I’m pretty selfish to continue.
It was a Christmas gig at a nursing home. The nursing home was decorated beautifully. We sang some gospel songs and after the 1st set, we spread into small groups and had Christmas cakes with old people. No one in my group smiled while we ate. I was expecting a friendly conversation and felt sad and even scared a bit. A nurse told me that they have damage to their brain and can’t smile..but they were actually really looking forward to this concert and they are the ones who decorated the room… At the second set, I sang a lead on ”Oh Happy Day” and looked at people who were in my group from the stage. They weren’t smiling, but they were clapping their hands with music. Chasing me on the stage with their eyes. ”They were actually smiling in their way!” I felt like I see everything differently. And somehow I felt like they gave me a place to be..like “if they can express themselves with their limitation, I also should have my way too, even though I’m not the most amazing musician in the world.” I was doing music just to express myself before but after that, music became a way to contribute, by expressing feelings.
Q: I like the Jazz fusion towards the middle, what did you enjoy most about making this?
SKYBRIDGE: Thank you! I’m happy that you liked it!
The song starts as mono-tonal music, like a piece of tribal music and then it changes to Jazz fusion after the second verse – which represents industrialization.
Changing the genre in the middle of the song, as well as the language was really fun to me. The message and the melody of the song are also more or less the same, but just by changing the feel, chords and instrumentation, the personality of the song completely changes, it’s like trying different clothes to Barbie dolls.
Q: In your own words, how would you describe the music that you typically create?
SKYBRIDGE: As a SkyBridge, I create music for social action and for a social cause. I wish there was a genre called “Social Action”, “Social Change” or “Social Awareness” in music.
As a style of music, I write R&B, Jazz, Soul, Pop, Rock, Funk…and also uses 6/8 afro feel here and there. SkyBridge music is often performed with choir, like gospel music – so it’s not easy to describe as a style of the sound.
I don’t define music as style but more as purpose. For example, Gospel music has so many styles within Gospel music, because that genre is purpose-based. I wish there is more music genre defined by the purpose.
Q: What has been one of the highlights of your music career so far?
SKYBRIDGE: One of the unforgettable highlights is when I was invited to perform my original song with high school students in Boston.
When I met them on the day of the concert, they knew my song before we met. They have been practicing my song and they were like “You are the one who wrote the song! I love the song!” It was the first time for me to experience such a moment and even though it was the first time meeting, I felt a strong connection with them, as if we speak a hidden common language or something. I love when people perform songs that I composed and it will always be my favorite moments as a musician.
Interviewed by Jaye Maverick