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It’s not often you can say you watched a live performance from the Queen of Country Music, it’s even more of a rarity to say this country royalty is Japanese. You might be asking yourself: “Wait, queen of what country… country music?” But the confusion dissipates with each introduction; from sight to sound one starts to realize with great clarity the reality that is Tomi Fujiyama. From flashy western button-up to bedazzled belt complete with decorative silver buckle, one look at Tomi Fujiyama you understand that she isn’t your typical Japanese grandma. Knowing no bounds, this charismatic woman is hot with personality and fiery with passionate pursuit – Japan’s Queen of Country.

In the 1960’s American country music began to be woven into the fabric of Japan’s music scene. This genre deemed as a fad by some took root in Tomi Fujiyama cultivating her means of expression as a musician, a performer, and a person. Her talents as a country singer and guitarist took her across the Pacific to the United Sates, where in 1964 Tomi took her place on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry in Tennessee performing on the very same billet as Johnny Cash. She was at the height and heart of country music, and became the first Japanese musician to ever grace the stage of country music’s greatest concert hall.

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“Made in Japan” is a film that documents the wonderful journey Tomi embarks on in order to play at the Grand Opry one more time. The movie is heartwarming, humorous, and inspiring; showing how one woman’s life was/is transformed by the love of country music. The documentary was the finale film at this year San Diego’s Asian Film Festival. At the close of the show, Tomi graced the audience with her presence performing live on stage at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Downtown La Jolla. Starting with a “Howdy Neighbors!”, her performance was captivating consisting of just her and her guitar. The resonance of her voice and sound can only be contributed to the culmination of decades of practice, years of performing, and a life full of passion. We may have been an imitate audience in San Diego, but Tomi played with such sincerity, you felt as if you yourself were sitting in the oh-so desired Grand Ole Opry.

Her solo performance was followed by a discussion panel with Tomi Fujiyama, director Josh Bishop and producers Jason & Josh Diamond. The only blunder of the whole event was the lack of an interpreter. An interpreter would have allowed Tomi and the audience to connect and interact fully without language limitations. Beside that little hiccup the event was fantastic, from venue, to content, to interaction opportunities. Tomi was the star of the film and the night; though she goes beyond being the protagonist of her own life. She is a light in the lives of others striving to pursue their dreams.

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Documentary: http://www.madeinjapandoc.com/
Festival: http://festival.sdaff.org/2015/
Tomi Fujiyama: http://www.tomifujiyama.com/en/disco/index.html

 

Photos: madeinjapandoc.com & S. Bystrom / Article: Susan Bystrom

11/23/2015

 

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Rain fell heavily on the roof of the Ché Café. Girls with bangs and septum piercings filled the small, wooden room as the aroma of incense with a hint of cinnamon drifted around the space. The rain poured outside. Dreamlike patterns of reflected puddles danced across the foggy windows. Girlpool, Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad, stepped on to the low platform stage. They casually greeted the crowd, completed their own mic check, and started the show with “Ideal World.” Their eyes were closed as the two girls cooed softly. Their voices evoked an element of youth. Their humble band of guitar, bass, and vocal created an undeniably minimalist sound. The absence of excess added more emphasis to the untamed roughness of their voices tucked neatly away for precise moments.

Tucker looked up at the crowd and said “Has anyone ever hit their head in the bathroom here?…I guess I just don’t focus enough… I’m just in glee when I’m here.” With the compliment well received, they went into the folky “I Like That You Can See It.” The middle of the song swung with momentum and strained, passionate vocals that filled the room. The crowd was standing calmly but none-the-less adoring as if the show were some sort of art exhibit or poetry slam.

Tucker and Tividad put up no barriers, asking people what they were for Halloween and even drinking out of a water bottle from someone in the audience. The way they sing about life in a relatable way, and the manner in which they interact with the crowd shows that they are comfortable and don’t take themselves too seriously.

The next song was a newer one as the girls disclosed. The core of the song, recently titled “Soup,” was not unlike the previous ones, but with lyrics like “Come over to my house I’ll help find your fix/ You’ve got lots of potential/ Can you feel it?” it was darker, eerier, and more seductive.

They closed with “Cherry Picking” which, starting out slow and deliberate, escalated to a heavier rhythm that led to a small and abrupt mosh. Girlpool stuck around for a two song encore. They played one of their more dynamic songs “Plants And Worms,” then they switched instruments and performed “Paint Me Colors.” Tucker and Tividad took turns on the vocals, energy building all the while, until, at the peak, a mosh pit broke out, spilling onto the stage and causing the musicians to stop abruptly. After a pause, they picked up where they left off and ended the show. In their performance was something naively passionate– a blend of immaturity and insightfulness. The impression that would remain was the image of these two quirky girls, seemingly so sweet but also a touch misunderstood, channeling their agitation into outspokenness.

More on Girlpool? Checkout:

https://twitter.com/girlpoolband

https://www.facebook.com/GIRLPOOOL/

girlpoolmusic.com

Photo / @sodabarsd / Article / Gabriella Librizzi

11/11/2015

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Tramps Like Us is/was a electronic dance marathon. The 7 hour event started at 9pm last Friday and ended at 4am that Saturday morning. This non-stop dance party was not for the faint of heart, with heavy hitter Wax Motif as the opening act, majority of attendees came early, a rarity at raves. Tramps Like Us was held at the Old Sport Arena (The Valley View Casino Center) filling almost to capacity. There was no easing into the night, no testing the waters; it was a plunge into an ocean of bass, beats, and bodies.

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Wax motif and Hero Bust opened the event with some heavy trap for all the Tramps; they both mixed a sultry blend of Hip-Hop and EDM. Wax Motif is also set to display his talents at CRSSD Festival being held at the San Diego- Waterfront Park this Fall.

Branchez was little less hip-hop and a little more dance; staying true to his typical form. Branchez performed his most acclaimed remix of What So Not’s “How High You Are”, a crowd favorite. Kryder was a DJ name unrecognized by many of the TLU attendees prior to the show, but his ability to work the crowd was crystal. The UK DJ is seasoned and was a notable set at TLU.

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Martin Solveig performed as a special guest DJ and was the highlight of the night. Starting off with his 2011 hit The Night Out, Martin Solveig’s set was nothing less than impressive. The French DJ and producer mixed a variety of artists from Azalea Banks to Tupac. The blend of tracks within his set was so smooth, no one questioned why he chose to leave out his hit “Hello” featuring Dragonette, his most successful track to date. Solveig did perform his two most recent singles: “Intoxicated” – released in January 2015, and “+1″ which came out this past July. Both tracks were well received by the tramps who danced all the way through Martin Solveig’s eclectic disco house set.

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DJ Blau stylized 3lau announced the beginning of his set with the very distinct introductory theme to Spongebob Squarepants, “Are you ready Kids? I can’t hear you! ”. This playful phrase dropped into some heavy bass, a creative & clever use of sampling. 3lau mixed “Of The Night”, a mash-up of two 90’s dance hits that were covered by the indie-rock group Bastille. 3lau also performed his new track “Runaway” featuring the vocals of Pretty Light. The song will be officially released on Pretty Lights upcoming album scheduled to come out later this month through Dim Mak.

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Adventure Club is a Canadian DJ duo that has graced the stages of EDC (Electric Daisy Carnival) and Ultra Music Festival (Miami, USA and Seoul, Korea). During their prime-time set at Tramps Like Us they played hit after hit, sampling artists such as Galantis, Zedd, Flume, and Calvin Harris. The two-man group performed their fan-favorite remix of Flight Facilities’s “Crave You”, and ended the night with “Love at Last” their newest single they just released the day before performing it at San Diego’s Tramps Like Us.

The night ended the way it started with great enthusiasm for trap from the tramps of Tramps Like Us. Brillz closed out the night spinning a blend of trapped out beats and hip-hop fleeks. The EDM producer is no stranger to the dance scene, originally being in a dance collective himself before making music.

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The production was designed by San Diego based company LED- Life Everyday, and they lived up to their reputation. Each DJ set at Tramps Like Us had its own intricate light show equipped with fog, LED panels, and on occasion “laser titties”. Each show was uniquely characterized towards the artist performing from latest album designs to the DJs’ personal personas. The production was visually stimulating; the magnitude of lights and lasers cannot be compared to anything found in nature. In addition to the stage lights, attendees were gifted LED glow-foam sticks and a handful of attendees were able to sneak in glow gloves to put on their own personal light shows.

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The crowd was gorgeous and half-naked. Most attendees neared the younger side of this 18+ event, being between barely legal and finally able to drink. Body heat and dancing kept the Sport Arena steamy throughout the night. The crowd glistened with sweat, unfazed by usual insecurities. There definitely was an unspoken consensus that everyone would be a hot mess by morning — and that was okay. With the satisfaction of a full night and a full moon setting for morning, TLU attendees walked to their rides smiling & exhausted, fully aware that they gave half their day to last night.

What more details on Tramps Like Us? Checkout:

Website: www.trampslike.us

Facebook: www.facebook.com/LEDpresentsTrampsLikeUs

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Photos & Article // Susan Bystrom

10/04/2015

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Lewis Shay Jankel is an artist that blends old school soul with a new school sound. The London born DJ has been touring the USA this summer, and while he was in California KSDT had the pleasure to sit down with the DJ, producer, and vocal artist best known by his stage name Shift K3Y.

With his debut single “Touch” making it to #3 on the UK Singles Chart in 2014, Shift K3Y has gained acclaim in the UK and Europe, but that is only the start. The now 22 years old has come a long way in a very short amount of time. Trying to make his mark across the pond, Shift K3Y has signed to the USA’s very own Ultra Music (Ultra Records), in addition to Columbia UK. He has just released a remixes EP under Dim Mak this month and supposedly has an album waiting in the wings. You might not be familiar with his name quite yet and that’s okay, but Shift K3Y is definitely an artist to watch out for.

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KSDT caught up with Shift K3Y after his outdoor DJ set at Splash House Palm Springs this past June, engaging in a casual convo/Q&A session:

Q: How did you feel about your set today? (Shift K3Y’s DJ set was poolside in 108 F* heat.)
A: My set if I’m very honest, it was ridiculously hot. To the point where- because the mixer and everything are all metal, so if you could imagine it was like literally mixing on a stove, a cooker. So it was interesting, but after the first 10 minutes I was into it and found the flow. I always find that I can hit a blend of what I do and what I usually play here (the USA).

Q: If you could describe your own sound what would it be?
A: My sound is a mixture of R&B, dance music, jazz, soul, and a little bit of hip-hop influence.

Q: Who would you say are your music influences?
A: MJ (Michael Jackson), Stevie (Wonder), Earth Wind and Fire, Chaka Khan, (Led) Zeppelin, (Paul) Rodgers. Yeah, that is like my era of music.

Q: Who are you currently listening to? What about them do you like?
A: For me the Kendrick (Llamar) album (To Pimp a Butterfly) took a minute for me to connect, because good kid, m.A.A.d city was like my bible. For him to try and put out anything after was going to be difficult for me, naturally. So I was bit like… ehh, where are the club hits? That sort of thing… And then after awhile I realized I kept listening to it. I didn’t even know why I was doing it; I was just like this is so deep I just have to hear the end of it.
And also the guy I have been working with quite a bit James Fauntleroy did quite a lot on the album. I didn’t realize it until I started hearing his voice. So yea, I’m just in love with that album.

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Q: Your name is pretty unique, how did you come to be Shift K3Y?
A: Well at the time I wanted something that was a new stage of musical development, so yeah. And the “3” was because no one could find me when it was just regular; obviously because I knew nothing about search engines or anything. And when I was making trap music I had a dollar sign ”$”.
Yeah, it’s a name, it just clicked. It is just a name.

Q: From being in the studio making music to playing live to a crowd when you tour, how do the two sides compare?
A: It’s always a learning experience from playing shows and then going back to the studio. It does give me lot of ideas, but I always find that I come back to the same things, those same influences I was talking about. It’s just because I listen to so much of that music on a daily basis. For me when I was fifteen that is when dance music was in my life; that is when I first got into it. And ever since then I’ve been trying to blend what I’m into; and I love dance music, but it’s always hard to blend the two. I feel like there are occasional moments, like what is going on now is a good point.

Q: KSDT is a college radio station, so many of our listeners are about your age. What advice could you give our listeners who are trying to pursue music?
A: Quit your job and dedicate every possible moment to doing music. Personally I think you have to understand everything about what makes a song a song, or a track a track, you got to understand a bit about the marketing, the lyrics, the advertising, the conception, the beat, mix down, mastering. You don’t have to know how to do everything, but as long as you understand all of those elements, then you can truly say I signed off on that knowing I was on top of everything.
But also just put stuff out and don’t be afraid. Because I think a lot of people spend too long getting it just right, and in that time they could have been building up a following. So it’s a balance of addressing your craft and then knowing the right time, and you just know when it’s right, you just got to go for it.

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Q: We are a San Diego based radio station and you recently performed at San Diego’s Bang Bang. How did you enjoy your time out there? Do think you will be heading back our way anytime soon?
A: I actually love San Diego, really love it; I like LA (Los Angeles) a lot for writing and stuff, but San Diego for me has always been like if LA had a bath.  I kind of feel like San Diego has a real cool vibe and I love it. I’ll come back whenever.
So definitely coming back?
Yeah, a 1000%.

Q: In the Future what should we expect from you as a producer and vocal artist?
A: There is an album coming, I’m not sure of the exact time it’s coming out. We originally said- summer, as in this summer, but I just want to make it right. I’m chilling; I don’t need to prove anything just yet. Over here people still don’t really know me, so I’m just building my presence here and trying to get that to the level where I am in the UK. Once everyone is in the same place then I reckon the album will come out.
So you’re just building a following, like you said?
Yea, over here ( the USA). I could put it out in the UK, but I feel like I would be letting down people here. I think the time just has to be right for everyone to be into it at the same time.
So look out for an album?
An Album, obviously more singles, remixes; there is a track with me and Born Dirty which is coming out at Dim Mak in a month. All I’m going to say is it’s not my usual role, that’s all I’m going to say.
So not as much R&B and House?
No, like as in what you think I did on that track, rethink. As soon as you think you know what I did on that track think again. Because I guarantee, you won’t be correct your first guess.

Q: Lastly, for all our listeners what is the best way to find the latest on Shift K3Y?
A: At the moment, Spotify is where I’m directing everyone. It makes more sense in Europe and the UK for me: obviously Soundcloud, my website shiftk3y.com, twitter, Facebook, all that stuff, but Spotify and Soundcloud.

There was a sense of ease with which Shift K3Y spoke; an ease that comes not from knowing all the answers, but from being in the heart of the process. And it shows, since KSDT’s interview with Shift K3Y in June, he has put out his remixes EP Misbehave with Born Dirty, and another EP of his own called Off the Record. For more on the up-and-coming artist Shift K3Y, from songs to tour dates check out the links below.

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Links & Sites:
Spotify: smarturl.it/SKSPOTIFY?IQid=sc
Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/shift-key
Website: www.shiftk3y.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/shiftk3y
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shiftk3y

Mentioned Singles & EPs:
Shift K3Y – Touch (Single): https://youtu.be/9KtYYHKEGDc
Shift K3Y & Born Dirty Dim Mak Records – Misbehave (Remixes EP): https://soundcloud.com/dimmakrecords/sets/shift-k3y-born-dirty-misbehave
Shift K3Y- Off the Record (EP): https://soundcloud.com/shift-key/sets/off-the-record

 

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Photos / @shiftk3y / Interview / Susan Bystrom / Audio Record / Zane Samarasinghe

8/19/2015