WITH AKIHISA TSUBOY OF KBB (italian
by Giancarlo Bolther
Can you give us an introduction to your personal artistic history and the one of your main band KBB, please?
I started playing the violin when I was three, and had been taking classical violin lessons until I was fourteen. I started playing in bands when I was fifteen - I was mainly playing the keyboards, sometimes I played the guitar as well. I started playing the guitar seriously when I was 18, when I was playing in the music club at university. I took up violin again at 20 when I was going to join a band playing songs by King Crimson. It was about the same time when we formed a band which was to become the KBB later on. KBB was formed back in 1992, and I am the only original member left. At the beginning, I was playing the guitar mainly, but gradually moved on to the violin as my main instrument. Now I don't play the guitar at gigs any more.
You did a very emotional live album after two very good studio release, do you prefer to play live or in a studio?
I like both playing live and in a studio. My approach is completely different. In that sense, producing a live album was a difficult challenge, but I'm happy with what came out of it.
Which was the best experience with an audience that you like best to remember?
Japanese audiences tend to listen carefully and quietly. I often feel a bit frustrated because I think musicians would be able to perform better when there's a lot of feed back from the audience and the tension is high. But then, we feel a very good sense of achievement, when we see the Japanese audience excited.
You have played at Bajaprog, what do you remember about?
It was a very impressive experience, with the audience so excited. Japanese audiences stay quiet and listen carefully most of the time, I'm not saying one is better than the other, but for me as a performer, the response from the audience at BajaProg was very nice.
What kind of response are you experiencing from the audience to your music?
KBB has a lot of Progressive Rock fans as audience, but at the same time, we have considerable number of fans who are not into progressive rock.
How do you go about the process of composing songs with KBB?
The basic style is that I (Tsuboy) present the theme of the song, rough composition and some ideas on arrangement, then based on those, we work on the head arrangement in the studio .
The violin isn’t very common in rock music, but there was some great albums like the ones made by High Tide, i’ve listen also to a duo project with Peter Hammill and a violinist which was really amazing, do you were influenced by these artists or do you are trying something new?
I haven't listened to any of the artists you mentioned. I was influenced by many violinists - more or less from all the leading violinists playing in non-classical fields. It was a great pleasure for me to be able to do a session with David Cross 2 years ago.
What kind of music do you listen to? What are your favourite artists actually and what are your inspirations from the past?
Though I do listen to progressive rock, I'm not really familiar with rare stuff. Usually I listen to non-instrumental rock/pop songs. When I listen to instrumental music, it's mostly ones with violin. I was influenced by many artists; Mauro Pagani, Jean-Luc Ponty, and Didier Lockwood were the biggest influence on my violin play. Amongst the Japanese artists, Keisuke Ohta is a great influence .
Do you know some italian prog artists?
PFM, Arti e Mestieri, and Deus ex Machina are my favourites.
What do you think about the actual progressive scene?
With more intermixture with different types of music, some artists have progressive-fan as followers, even though they don't see themselves as progressive rock artists. I'm not really interested in the conventional progressive rock, but I do find the present Japanese underground rock scene interesting.
I’ve liked a lot the album ERA it really moved me, can you tell me more about it’s genesis?
A session with Mr. Kido at a live cafe in Tokyo was the beginning of ERA. We started as a band when we offered our live recording to Poseidon Records at its start-up. ERA has become the band name afterwards.
Would you like to work again with Kido in the future?
ERA is actually playing live constantly, and working on the track- down of our 3rd album at present.
What can you tell me about the musical scene in your country?
Songs that people can sing on karaoke, or promoted in the TV dramas sell well here. There's only a small market for an instrumental band like KBB, but we will keep up our work, without giving up hope.
How culturally connected are you to your native land?
I often have sessions with Japanese traditional musicians. It is difficult as there are different ways of taking pitch, following rhythms and taking rest, quite different from Western music, but it is very interesting indeed.
A lot of japanese bands have gotten into the European market with their records and I've noticed that the most of them play european or american music, why we don't hear any influences typical of the oriental culture?
There has been a lot of attempts at collaboration with traditional music in Japan, but not much succeeded in going out to the international market. Japanese music is often difficult to get into for the audience, and when it is made into something widely acceptable by the audience, it tends to lose its edge. Probably there is a dilemma for the performing side as well in how plain they want to make it.
According to you what developments will be for progressive music in the next few years?
I haven't got much more idea than what kind of music I want to make with whom at the time!
How do you live the day-to-day reality outside the band? What kind of person are you as a man and as an artists?
It's a secret!
These seem to be very dark times. What do you believe about this period, do you are optimistic or do you fear the future?
I am a worrying optimist. I am trying to think things will turn out all right eventually.
Which are your future projects?
I would like to finish the next KBB album within this year for now.
Reviews (only in italian): Lost and Found; Four Corner's Sky; Live 2004;
Proof of Concept
Related artists: Ausia, Tsuboy Akihisa Duo (ERA); Strings Arguments