Behind the Scenes: Sachiyo, producer of Singapore-Japan music collab at The Arts House

Ever heard a mash-up of Singaporean and Japanese songs? We’d dare say, rarely, if ever.

Sachiyo Nakagaki, an established locally-based Japanese music artiste, goes exactly on this experimental trajectory this May at The Arts House in collaboration with three others. She’s lived in Singapore for over 40 years but remains deeply rooted in her Japanese heritage. If anyone’s in a position to merge yet push the boundaries in music collaboration between the two countries, it’s her.

Sachiyo, Yasukazu, Adam and Mei

Sachiyo Nakagaki, Yasukazu Kano – a famous Japanese bamboo flutist, and Adam Lee and Mei Sheum – both Singaporeans whom have done rounds in the global music circuit

We go behind the scenes with the eloquent Sachiyo as she shares her thoughts on life in Singapore, music and culture, and of course, provide sneaks into her upcoming music performance.

Being Japanese, how long have you been based in Singapore?

Our whole family came to Singapore just before the Merlion was built in 1972 and since then, we’ve been living here up until now. I myself had to go back and forth between Japan and Singapore for school and business but I started base in Singapore as a singer songwriter since 2009.

Given how Singaporeans are crazy over Japanese food, have you too developed a liking for Singaporean cuisine and what’s your favourite local dish?

Yes. I’m a spicy food lover and I like to add green chili every time even with Japanese cuisine. My favorite local dishes are Taugeh Ikan Bilis, Prawn Mee, Black Pepper Crab, Chicken Rice…and many more…I can’t choose just one.

Did you know, my second album title is called “Rojak” to represent a mix of cultures in music?

We understand you’ll be collaborating with three other established music artists, Yasukazu Kano, Adam Lee, and Mei Sheum, for a music performance in May. Why did you decide to collaborate on a music project with them? How did they first react?

I always feel that music artists from Singapore and Japan should create music by blending, merging and collaborating instead of just simply performing their own solo music.

Adam, Mei and Kano-san are very versatile musicians who can play, improvise, compose and arrange music in any genre. They have a rich experience in performing with musicians from different cultures that makes my project possible.

It’s the first time for Adam and Mei to perform with a Japanese traditional instrument player and also the first time for Kano-san to perform with local musicians. They said it’s a unique project and look forward to the process of collaboration and performing together. I’m very happy to be a producer to put their talents together.

It seems you’re bridging polar opposites together (i.e East and West, Traditional and Modern) with this music performance, what inspired you to put together such an interesting mesh of music into one performance?

Singapore as a multiracial country has inspired me. I was raised in Singapore and have been surrounded by multicultural music that’s why I like to create a diverse range of music. And I’m really excited to have Kano-san invited from Japan to add a Japanese element to music this time.

Do you think music can help bridge the gap in cultural differences and understanding? Why?

Yes and No.

Music reflects culture and it might not bridge every gap in cultural differences but it helps us not to fear and be open minded to respect and enjoy our differences.

At the same time, music is a feeling, a universal form of expression and expresses our basic emotions as humans. We sometimes can find similarities of people through music that helps us understand each other better.

Could we have a sneak peak into what we can expect to hear at your upcoming music performance?

Our band will be performing popular Singapore songs (in English, Mandarin and Malay) and Japanese songs including anime music, J-pop and traditional as well as my original songs in our unique arrangement.

Hauntingly beautiful, Yasukazu Kano on the Shinobue (Japanese bamboo flute)

Sachiyo, Adam and Mei at the 22nd Jozenji Streetjazz Festival in 2012

Soak in a mash-up of music and culture, get tickets to Sachiyo’s live performance here. Thu 8 May / 730pm – 930pm / $35 (early-bird till 27th April), $40 (standard)

Image credit: Sachiyo

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Claire Ding

Claire Ding is the Community Manager at ticketing platform Peatix in Singapore. She runs a community event for organisers, Backstage Pass , where organisers connect with others and learn tips on event management. Quite the thrill-seeker, Claire’s gone skydiving, bungee jumping, and enjoys anything that puts her on edge (quite literally), it’s no wonder she’s in the business of events with never a dull moment!