Boyz II Men

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Boyz II Men

Singing Sensation Shawn Stockman Talks About the Best-Selling R&B Group of All Time

According to the Recording Industry Association of America, Boyz II Men are the most commercially successful R&B group of all time and were involved in three of the longest-running number one pop singles in history. The four-time Grammy-winning American R&B vocal group is celebrating their 22-year career with their newest album Collide and an extended residency in Las Vegas. Their 1992 single End of the Road broke Elvis Presley’s record for the total number of weeks at number one by staying at Billboard Hot 100’s top spot for 13 weeks. Then they went on to break their own record with “I’ll Make Love to You” and “One Sweet Day” with Mariah Carey, each setting new records for the total number of weeks at number one with 14 and 16 weeks respectively. They also became the third artists in history to replace themselves at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 when “On Bended Knee” succeeded “I’ll Make Love to You” at the number one spot–only The Beatles and Elvis had previously accomplished this feat.

Best known for emotional ballads and a cappella harmonies, the group that started as a quartet featuring Michael McCarey are now a trio consisting of baritone Nathan Morris and tenors Wanya Morris and Shawn Stockman. The group, who has enjoyed a special relationship with Japan including Japan-only album releases and an album of English versions of Japanese pop covers, recently returned to Tokyo in September 2014. Tokyo Journal caught up with Boyz II Men’s superstar Shawn Stockman, who outside of the group has released successful solo singles, served as a judge on NBC television’s a cappella singing competition The Sing-Off and has worked to help raise awareness about autism, which affects one of his twin sons. Shawn talked about the secrets to their success and their appreciation for Japan.

Rock Photographer Mick Rock

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The Man Who Shot the Seventies  

Born in 1948 in London, England, Mick Rock is an acclaimed British photographer known for his iconic shots of David Bowie, Queen, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, Syd Barrett, the Sex Pistols and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, with recent subjects including Lady Gaga, Snoop Dogg, Pharrell Williams, Jimmy Fallon, Daft Punk and The Black Keys. His 2003 retrospective exhibition of 186 prints at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography was described in the Japanese media as “one of the finest collections of pop art to ever reach these shores.” He was known as David Bowie’s official photographer, and his newest publication by Taschen, The Rise of David Bowie 1972-1973, will be available in September 2015. In August 2015, he began hosting his own TV show On the Record with Mick Rock on the Ovation Channel. Tokyo Journal’s Executive Editor Anthony Al-Jamie rapped with Mick Rock about his four decades of memorable musical imagery.


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Classical Cello Metal Maestros 

Formed in 1993 in Helsinki, Finland, Apocalyptica has come a long way over the past two decades. First gaining recognition as a Metallica cover band after their 1996 debut album Plays Metallica by Four Cellos, they have gone on to release eight albums and sell over five million copies. Consisting of three cellists (Eicca Toppinen, Paavo Lötjönen and Perttu Kivilaakso) and one drummer (Mikko Sirén), the band has progressed from playing instrumental music to featuring guest vocalists — such as Ozzy Osbourne, Marilyn Manson, Billy Joe Armstrong of Green Day, Corey Taylor of Slipknot and Gavin Rossdale of Bush — to recruiting Franky Perez as their full time lead vocalist. Tokyo Journal’s Executive Editor Anthony Al-Jamie spoke with cellist, songwriter, producer, arranger and Apocalyptica cofounder Eicca.

VAMPS Featured

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Japanese Rock Phenoms HYDE and K.A.Z

Not many Japanese bands tour internationally a year after their founding, let alone perform on the battleship USS Missouri, but VAMPS did just that. Formed in 2008 by L’Arc~en~Ciel vocalist HYDE and Oblivion Dust guitarist K.A.Z, each of the four records released by VAMPS between 2009 and 2014 has reached the top ten on Japan’s Oricon music chart. A stadium headliner in Japan, VAMPS supported Finnish metal band Apocalyptica and the L.A. hard-rock band Sixx:A.M. (featuring Nikki Sixx of Mötley Crüe fame) for 12 stops on their 2015 North American tour. Tokyo Journal’s Executive Editor Anthony Al-Jamie spoke with HYDE and K.A.Z in Los Angeles.

VAMPS (Japanese) Featured

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日本ロック界の異才 HYDE & K.A.Z

2008年、ラルク・アン・シエルのボーカル、HYDEとオブリヴィオン・ダストのギタリスト、K.A.Zがヴァンプスを結成。わずか1年後に日本人バンドとしては異例の早さで海外ツアーを成功させ、しかも戦艦ミズーリ号でのライブまでも実現した。2009年から2014年までの間にリリースされた4 枚のアルバムは全てオリコン・チャートのトップ10入りを果たしている。2015年はフィンランドのメタルバンド、アポカリプティカとモトリー・クルーのニッキー・シックス率いるロサンゼルスを拠点に活動するハードロック・バンド、シックス:エイ・エムの北米ツアー12公演でサポートを務めた。ロサンゼルスで東京ジャーナルのエグゼクティブ・ エディター アントニー・アルジェイミーがHYDEとK.A.Z に話を聞いた。


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A Revolution in Live Entertainment

SIRO-A is a performance group, originating from Sendai, that utilizes modern technology to create optical illusions, with dance set to techno music while incorporating the classic arts of mime and shadow puppetry. The group, who won the Spirit of the Fringe Award at the Edinburgh Festival in 2011, finished a Japan tour in July and will be appearing at the Leicester Square Theater in London from September to January of next year. The members of SIRO-A, which means “belonging to no group and impossible to define” reside in Yokohama near their practice studio. Group member Abe Toshinori talked with Tokyo Journal Executive Editor Anthony Al-Jamie about the group’s art form, their comparisons to the Blue Man Group, and plans for the future.


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Visual-Kei Stars are Living the Dream

NIGHTMARE has enjoyed huge success since the Japanese visual kei rock band started in 2000, helped in part by their contributions to anime series like “Death Note,” “Claymore” and “Moryo no Hako.” By 2007, the band of Yomi (lead vocals), Sakito (lead guitar, backing vocals), Hitsugi (rhythm guitar), Ni-ya (bass, backing vocals) and Ruka (drums, percussion) had built up a following large enough to sell out Tokyo’s Budokan arena within two weeks. Eight years on, and in the 15th year of the band, Tokyo Journal caught up with Yomi and Hitsugi, who were preparing for the June 25th release of their new single, “Taboo.”

Keiji Inafune Stays Ahead of the Game

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Keiji Inafune Stays Ahead of the Game

From CAPCOM to comcept

Keiji Inafune has been named one of the top 10 game creators in the world. The video game concept developer and designer had a stellar 23-year career at CAPCOM as head of the production, research & development and online development divisions. He oversaw over 900 employees and produced over 60 game titles including CAPCOM’s bestselling hits Mega Man, Street Fighter, Resident Evil, Dead Rising, Lost Planet and Onimusha. In 2010, he went on to found comcept Inc. and in 2013 the company successfully raised over $4 million in funding from 70,000 backers through Kickstarter for his newest project, the Mighty No. 9. Tokyo Journal Executive Editor Anthony Al-Jamie met with Keiji Inafune at Anime Expo 2014 in Los Angeles to find out more about this innovator.


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This buddy comedy had its world premiere at the 2013 SXSW Film Festival and won outstanding screenplay at the 2013 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (LAAPFF). It hit theaters in the U.S. in November 2013. TJ spoke with the Osaka-born, L.A.-based director Junya Sakino and in-demand Japanese actor Gaku Hamada.

Senjaku Nakamura

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Senjaku Nakamura

Keeping the Kabuki Tradition

From his great-great-grandfather Kanjaku Nakamura III to his son Toranosuke Nakamura, Senjaku Nakamura and his family have been keeping the tradition of kabuki alive. Senjaku debuted at the famous Kabuki-za theater in 1967 and is a talented and trained onnagata, a male actor who plays female roles in kabuki.
Interview by Hana Kobayashi and Chisato Kato

TJ: How did you get started in your career as a kabuki actor?
NAKAMURA: I made my debut as a kabuki actor at Kabuki-za in Tokyo when I was six years old. Based on the tradition that an actor will succeed if he starts training on June 6 at the age of 6, I started training that day. I made my debut in November of that year. The performance was dedicated to the first Ganjiro Nakamura, my grandfather, on the 33rd anniversary of his death.

TJ: As the member of a kabuki family, what do you want to hand down to your descendants of what you have inherited from your ancestors?
NAKAMURA: Our family is Kamigata (Osaka)-oriented and is self-taught. We learned to act by watching and imitating veterans. It is significantly different to Edo (Tokyo) kabuki. I suggest that future kabuki actors learn how to act by watching veterans, as this is essential for developing a high level of professionalism.

TJ: You play different roles on the same day. Is there anything you do to prepare for that?
NAKAMURA: Nothing special. However, since it is impossible to change my body shape in a single day when I play both male and female characters, I put a cotton pad called a Kiniku under the costume, or I make myself look fatter or skinnier during the wig fitting. I can also vary my appearance with makeup. Also, I have to be careful with my voice. I focus on abdominal voice production in order not to crack my voice. For a female role, I use the highest tone of my own voice because it is difficult to convey emotions in falsetto. Training in Nagauta or Gidayu would help in gaining the ability to create high-pitched sounds.

TJ: You have given performances in foreign countries such as the U.S. and Germany. Did you feel anything different from what you feel in Japan?
NAKAMURA: I performed in the U.S., Germany, the U.K., Italy, Romania and Japan. Of course the responses were different depending on the audience’s nationalities; but more importantly, the responses are different depending on the program. Receiving a standing ovation or curtain call, even in Japan, is not attributed to the audience’s nationality but to the quality of program. In other words, a play is universal. A good play is acclaimed regardless of where it is performed. I was told that I couldn’t expect a standing ovation like in Japan on the first day of performances in Germany, but Natsumatsuri Naniwa Kagami by Heisei Nakamura-za received a full standing ovation.

TJ: 歌舞伎役者としてキャリアをスタートさせ た経緯をお聞かせ願えますか?
ナカムラ:初舞台は 6 歳(1967 年)、東京歌 舞伎座の舞台でした。日本の伝統で 6 歳 6 月 6 日に稽古事を始めると上達するという言い伝え があり、私も 6 歳 6 月 6 日から日本舞踊を始め、 11 月に歌舞伎役者としてのスタートを切りま した。その公演は祖父初代中村鴈治郎の 33 回 忌興行で、その機会に合わせての初舞台となり ました。

TJ: 代々歌舞伎業を営まれてきたご一族である と存じます。扇雀様がご先祖から伝えられ、 守られてきたものの中で、これから扇雀様ご自 身がご子孫に残し伝えていきたいと最もお考え になるもの / ことは何ですか?
ナ カムラ:私達の家系は上方 ( かみがた ) 即ち 大阪系の役者です。その流れは自分で工夫する ことに活路を見出す教えになっています。です から、ひたすら先輩の舞台を観て真似て、そこから自分自身の頌演技を生み出していきます。 これは、江戸歌舞伎と大きく違う点と言えます。 ですから子孫や後輩には、先輩の舞台から学び お客様に喜んで頂ける、納得して頂ける舞台を 創り上げるよう言いたいです。とにかく、プロ である意識を高めることです。

TJ: 同じ日に異なった役を演じられることがお ありになるのですね。事前準備として何か特別 に / 大切にされていることはおありになるので しょうか?
ナ カムラ:特にはありませんが、女性と男性の 役を演じる時に体型を 1 日の中で変化させるこ とは不可能ですので、衣裳の下に肌肉(きにく) と呼ばれる綿を詰めたものを着込んだり、かつ ら合わせの段階で太って見せたり痩せて見せた りする工夫をします。また化粧によってもその 変化を付けることができます。ただ、注意すべ きは声です。音の高さが違うので声を潰さぬよ うに腹式での発声に集中します。女形で裏声を使うことはなく、地声の一番高い部分を使いま す。なぜなら、裏声は感情が伝わりにくいから です。これも長唄や義太夫という音曲を稽古す ることにより、次第に高い音が出るようになり ます。

TJ: これまでアメリカ、ドイツなどで国際的に 歌舞伎公演をなさってきました。日本公演での 観客からの反響とは異なったものを海外でお感 じになったことはありますか?
ナカムラ:アメリカ・ドイツ・イギリス・イタ リア・ルーマニアそして日本と公演してきまし たが、それぞれの国で確かに反応は違います。 お国柄といいますかそれぞれの特徴はあります が、それよりも演目によっての反応が違うとい うことが重要だと思います。スタンディングオ ベーションやカーテンコール、今では日本でも 起こるようになりましたが、それはお国柄とい うより演目の内容に寄ることが大きいと思いま す。言い換えれば演劇は万国共通語で有るといえるのではないでしょうか。いいものには素直 に反応する。ドイツ公演の初日前に「ドイツは 日本と同じでスタンディングにはならないと思 います。」と言われていましたが、平成中村座 の「夏祭浪花鏡」は客席総立ちでした。

Page 5 of 6


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