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Interview with Daijiro Nakagawa from JYOCHO

15/03/2022 2022-03-15 01:00:00 JaME Author: ChrisN

Interview with Daijiro Nakagawa from JYOCHO

Guitarist Daijiro Nakagawa talks about the inspiration behind JYOCHO's new album "Let’s Promise to be Happy" and the band's other recent projects.


© Shoko Ishizaki
Kyoto-based band JYOCHO released their latest album, Let's Promise to be Happy (or Shiawase ni Naru Kara, Naroyo) on February 16th. Shortly after the release, the creative driving force behind the group, composer, lyricist, guitarist and producer Daijiro Nakagawa, took the time to answer questions about the new album, as well as some of JYOCHO's other recent activities.

Could you please explain the inspiration behind the title of your new album Let’s Promise to be Happy?

Daijiro Nakagawa: I was inspired by the philosophical question, "What should I do to take care of myself?”.

You write the lyrics and music and also handle the arrangements for all of the instruments in JYOCHO’s music. What is the creative dynamic between you and the band members like when they come to perform and record the songs you’ve written?

Daijiro Nakagawa: I typically draw a map of sorts, and the members add colour to it. I ask the members to make arrangements that could not be expressed in DTM, and I communicate with them so that they can actively express what they want to do.

How has the band evolved since your debut?

Daijiro Nakagawa: As the band's activities have progressed, I feel that each member’s individual contributions positively impacts the music, which further bonds us all together in JYOCHO! It might be difficult for listeners to see, but I think they can feel it at live performances. Our sense of unity, cohesion, and judgment as a band has clearly increased.

JYOCHO songs are defined by your remarkable guitar technique. How did you develop your playing style?

Daijiro Nakagawa: I've always been a fan of many genres and take inspiration from all types of music. The type of music that has influenced me the most is solo guitar! I am personally delighted that others enjoy my guitar technique! However, I believe that JYOCHO can be defined from many other angles. For example, I feel that the emotion of the music and the influence of each member's personality and sense of style are also crucial to JYOCHO.

Another key part of the JYOCHO sound is the flute, played by Yuuki Hayashi. It’s not an instrument commonly found in modern rock music, what inspired you to incorporate this into JYOCHO’s music?

Daijiro Nakagawa: In the beginning, I wanted to incorporate a Japanese cultural instrument. There is an instrument called the shakuhachi, and at first, I was looking for a player for it. I couldn't find one, and my friend Yuuki Hayashi told me that she could play the flute, and so, I asked her to join JYOCHO.

The song All the Same features as the ending theme to the anime “Banished from the brave man’s group, I decided to lead a slow life in the back country.” Do you approach writing a song that will be an anime theme differently from your usual work?

Daijiro Nakagawa: JYOCHO has a history of providing music for various anime series such as the song A Parallel Universe for TV anime “Junji Ito Collection,” so sometimes we get an image first and then create the music. JYOCHO's music is partly about the world and partly about me, but the song All the Same is inspired from a different angle!


Do you see anime tie-ins as a key method of reaching new overseas audiences?

Daijiro Nakagawa: I think so! I have no particular resistance to tie-ins as long as we get creative control over the song so that it sounds like JYOCHO. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to meet new listeners overseas with the animation “Banished from the brave man’s group” as well.

The government’s coronavirus restrictions have badly disrupted the music industry over the past two years. How did the situation affect JYOCHO?

Daijiro Nakagawa: Many of our concerts were cancelled including an overseas tour that we were really looking forward to. However, I am happy that we are still able to share our new music and hope that it can cheer up people who are in the same situation.

Do you have any plans to tour abroad again now that coronavirus travel restrictions are beginning to relax?

Daijiro Nakagawa: We don't have any plans to tour abroad at the moment. Still, we are definitely considering it and hopeful for the future.

Assuming you could perform anywhere in the world (and that it was safe to do so), where would you want to go?

Daijiro Nakagawa: JYOCHO has already been to Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, the Philippines and Canada. The people were warm and kind, and I would like to go back there as many times as I can. If I had to pick a new place, I would like to go to Northern Europe! I've never been there before and I love to try out new things in new places.

You’ve released a series of music videos called "Machiya Sessions" on YouTube, where JYOCHO performed songs at various machiya (traditional townhouses) located around Kyoto. What was the inspiration behind this?

Daijiro Nakagawa: Originally, I had the idea to shoot a video by a bonfire. Our wonderful bassist, sindee, came up with the idea to shoot in a machiya. I think it turned out better than I could have imagined!

Does the city of Kyoto itself have an influence on your creativity?

Daijiro Nakagawa: Life in Kyoto is very inspiring. I'm always writing songs about my little daily discoveries and feelings. So, as I grow, I think the philosophy of the songs will change and grow. I think the most important influence on creativity is our daily life and where we live.

What else can fans look forward to from JYOCHO in 2022?

Daijiro Nakagawa: We’re always actively working and hope to have more to announce soon!

Please leave a message for your overseas fans.

Daijiro Nakagawa: I think the world is going through a difficult time right now. We, JYOCHO members, are living our lives to the fullest so that we can think and grow every day. We hope to see all of our fans again, and so, let's stay healthy until then!

JaME would like to thank Daijiro Nakagawa, JYOCHO and Chummy Press for making this interview possible.

The latest music video from Let’s Promise to be Happy, The End of Sorrow, can be viewed below. Links to download and stream the album on various online music platforms are available here.

 Download or stream "Let’s Promise to be Happy"
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