Happy Wednesday! I just returned last night from visiting my family across the other side of the world in Asia.
I am blessed to come back to share my interview with Yasuhiko Fukuoka (Yaz)! For those of you who don't know him, here's a little bio to peak your interest for THIS FRIDAY!
Yaz was born and raised in Japan, and moved to the US when he was 18. Yaz is a wonderfully versatile pianist and in-demand composer who is recognized both onstage and off for his virtuosic talents. His emotional, story-driven music has captivated audiences throughout the world. His works have appeared at prestigious venues from Lincoln Center to Festival de Cannes, spanning many genres of music from orchestral to electronica. His credits include TV, film, theater, industrial videos, and concert pieces. They have been played in North America, Central America, Europe and Asia. He has performed at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, Birdland, Steinway Hall, Berklee Performance Center and many other venues. Fukuoka composed original music for 2016 student Academy Award winning film “Cloud Kumo” by Yvonne Ng
As a highly accomplished Music Director Fukuoka has worked with Broadway’s most celebrated artists. Highly sought after in New York City’s Cabaret scene, Yasuhiko’s arrangements continue to display both his versatility as a composer as well as a performing artist. Fukuoka’s passionate, creative approach towards the art of music has brought multiple successes to his career. Not least among them is his original score for “Seagull,” a short film by Nick Sarafis that was accepted at Festival de Cannes Court Métrage. His orchestral composition “Journey of a Thousand Miles” premiered at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall. Having been hand selected to participate in BMI’s exclusive film scoring workshop with Dr. Rick Baitz, as well as being chosen to participate in the NYU/BMI Workshop for Music in Commercial Media, Yasuhiko’s disciplined approach to his studies within music have built a foundation from which his career has flourished. As a graduate of the Berklee College of Music, Fukuoka has been able to explore and excel in multiple music genres including classical, contemporary, electronic, film, and world music. As a student at Berklee, Yasuhiko garnered numerous achievements and recognition including an “Award for Excellence” at the Kyoto Piano Competition and the Yamaha PTC Concert respectively. He is the recipient of the Berklee World Scholarship, BMI Scholarship and the Roland Award to name a few. A highlight of his student career was when Fukuoka was commissioned by Berklee’s Film Scoring Department to compose an orchestral piece representative of their program at the Professional Writing Division Concert.
I met Yaz when I was asked to perform at the Metropolitan Room in one of the "Help is On the Way" events produced by Joseph Macchia. Yaz was a complete pleasure to work with and you can come this Friday and find out why for yourself!
For the interview, I asked Yaz the following questions:
1) Can you share with us a couple of interesting facts that most people don’t know about you?
I love traveling and I have visited 42 countries and territories so far. I try to purchase a traditional/folk musical instrument in the countries I visit. I hope to visit all the countries by the time I die!
My hobbies include scuba diving, rollerblading, and playing with my dogs (I have three: toy fox terrier, rat terrier and papillon)
My nickname "Yaz" was given by my English teacher in high school she was from Arizona and she couldn't pronounce my name.
I practiced a Japanese martial art called Kendo - I wanted to learn Karate but my parents were worried about me injuring my fingers so I had to pick Kendo...
2) You are a wonderful musical director, arranger and composer. What started your passion for music? How did it all began?
My parents were not musicians, but appreciated music very much. My best friend back home had a grand piano at his home, and I was always fascinated with piano. I would ask my friends to teach me a few songs and I got hooked. At the age of 9, I finally asked my parents to let me take piano lessons, and I became obsessed.
3) Do you have some particularly interesting stories in your musical life that you'd like to share with the readers?
By the age 12, I knew I wanted to be a composer. I wrote a musical at 14 for a school play, published a self-produced CD, which led to my first professional gig writing for a local TV station in my high school years. Fast forward a few years, I got a dog and I named him Oscar, to remind myself to work towards my dream. A few years later, a short film that I scored won a student Academy award. Hopefully I will get my own Oscar for best music! :)
4) What motivates your creativity and passion for life? What inspires your music? Name three things that never fails to put a smile on your face!
I like challenges. I love working with other directors, singers, musicians to figure out what it is that they are looking for and add my interpretations and twist on it. I love story-driven music, so good stories are definitely my source of inspiration.
Three things to make me smile: kindness, good food, and cute animals
5) Share with us what you have in the pipeline for us to be on the lookout for!
I like diversity in the things that I do. I'm scoring a documentary at the moment, and have a few shows going on. Currently I do weekly open mic at Uncle Charlies on Wednesdays and Rise Bar on Sundays. I usually post updates on Facebook and my website (www.yahzy.com). Please stay in touch and let me know what you are up to.
COME JOIN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS FRIDAY AND SING WITH THE BEAUTIFUL AND TALENTED SUE MATSUKI AND YAZ!
Until then, sending you all, light and love!