Today we leap across to Japan on our world music travel to meet multi-instrumentalist, Shugo Tokumaru. The Tokyo-born, singer-songwriter has slowly gone from obscurity to recognition on the world music scene over the last decade. Tokumuru is an artist like no other, creating a unique brand of indie-experimental-pop with his collection of over 100 instruments and singing solely in Japanese on all of his tracks. His musical diversity is not surprising as his talent has been nurtured from a young age. He began playing piano when he was just 5 years old and picked up the electric guitar in junior high school and at 17, he took to writing songs for his current band, Gellers with whom he now plays guitar.
After a period in the United States, Tokumaru returned to Japan in 2003 and recorded a ten track demo called Fragment. The demo landed in the hands of US record label, Music Related who wanted to release the demo as an album. Tokumaru, instead of releasing Fragment insisted on writing an entirely new album of songs for release and with that, his debut album Night Piece was born. Initially, the album was only released in the US but after successful internet sales, it was released in Japan and other countries. Since then, Shugo Tokumaru has produced two more albums that have become increasingly recognised at a world music level; these include L.S.T (2006), Exit (2007) and Port Entropy (2010).
Following the success of his third album Exit, Shugo Tokumaru toured with The Magnetic Fields and performed sessions with NPR World Café Live and Daytrotter. He began touring Europe, the US and Japan in 2011 and his world music was used for film and commercials. His song Parachute has been used for the soundtrack of the Canadian film, Year of the Carnivore and the song Rum Hee from his latest album has been used for Sony’s VAIO L series of computers.
Some of my personal favourites from this world music genius include the track Clocca from the album Exit, an upbeat number which a great beat and an addictive hook; and the incredibly uplifting, childlike and playful Lahaha from his most recent album, Port Entropy.
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