Tadahisa Yoshida is one of the rising stars of the “Japaneseque rock” scene in Los Angeles. Currently lead vocal and guitarist of his solo band, he has played at Hollywood venues from the Knitting Factory to the Whisky A Go-Go. His work can best be defined as “cyber alternative rock” or electro-rock, and he has sparked both international and local interest.
Tada, as his fans call him, is giving an exclusive interview to CWG Magazine.
EM: What inspired you to go into music?
TY: Let’s see. . . Well, when I was little, my dad was a guitar player and played music, so I kind of grew up with it. He liked the Beatles and Beach Boys and I kind of like that as well. I was 12 when my dad taught me how to play guitar, and when I was in high school, I formed my first band in Japan, named Crisis.
Like a local band, doing original and covers. We had some success in the local scene, but nothing big, nothing major. I graduated from high school, and I wanted to be either an actor or a musician, so I came to Hollywood. I’m trying to make my dream come true. It’s still in process.
EM: What genre would you consider yourself to be, specifically?
TY: I would say, electro-alternative rock. . .
EM: How did you break into the Hollywood scene?
TY: I was actually the guitar player first, that’s how I started and came to this country because of my language problem. I’m a singer, but I’m more comfortable in singing in Japanese since singing is getting a message out to people, and my English wasn’t that developed yet when I got here. So I was just playing guitar.
Teleman was my first successful band when I got to here. We were on a Japanese music TV show called “I’m.” One famous American producer, Dave Jerden, he mixed one of our songs, he’s a great producer, he produced Jane’s Addiction, The Offspring, and Alice in Chains.
EM: That must have been impressive.
TY: Great first experience in the US, to work with such a well-known, high producer. After that I got another gig, helping out my friend at Westlake Studio known for Michael Jackson, and I’ve heard the story that during the recording session that Michael built the room for his monkey, and I got to see the room. Recording at that studio was a great experience.
EM: Who’s in your band now?
TY: My drummer’s name is Indy, he’s from Nashville, He was pretty famous in his city, He is a great rock drummer, but he wants to do more electro music so it’s perfect for me.
The bass player, his name is Chryst, I’ve known him for almost two years, he’s one of the guys who came to see my Anime Expo show, and since then we’ve been talking about playing music together, he knows jrock music and vk and the like, so he understands the perfect balance of jrock/vk and American music. He has a perfect image for my music.
Bon bon the fantastic is the keyboard player and programmer, He’s a genius for computer/digital music. He understands what I’m trying to do. so just these three members are perfect for what I do now.
We’re going to studio to write more songs together, so that’s going to be my next show or next album, we’re working on it.
EM: Oh, a new album?
TY: “Electric Defect,” it’s my self-produced album. “Electric Defect” is like a “perfect demo” to me, that I can represent to record labels or sell at a show to my fans. I’m selling it on my website now. It’s kind of like a mini-album.
It’s a concept I wanted to show people, that this is my style, this is what I want to present. I did everything on it by myself, at my studio.
EM: Out of playing guitar, singing, or programming, which is your favorite?
TY: Either playing guitar or programming is my favorite. Singing is my last, because it’s more personal to me, you know? It’s difficult, too. It’s difficult to sing on stage, I have to prepare for perfect moments, but guitars and programming are things I find more enjoyable, especially creating music.
Programming is a very addicting thing, like, late 90s to early 2000s, I really got into electric/programming music, and I think I’m enjoying making music with computers, it’s very much about artistic freedom.
EM: Out of the venues you’ve played, which has been your favorite so far?
TY: Definitely April 20th at Knitting Factory with Cinema Bizarre, a band from Germany, that toured with Lady Gaga. I opened up for them, and that was the best show. The crowd was absolutely amazing. The crowd was screaming at just my sound guys, it was very great, very nice.
EM: Most interesting moment of your career?
TY: As a musician, most interesting moment has been performing at anime conventions. Interesting, bizarre experience. People stereotype and assume that I’m an anime fan or visual kei rocker when I’m not. It’s a world, a place I’ve never been, especially around 2006, Anime Expo.
Just being Japanese, people want to take a picture of me, they automatically think I’m some sort of anime character. I was confused and overwhelmed. I know they’re freaking out, they see me, they see me as one of these “jrockers” and me, personally, I’m from an American rock background, not Jrock or VK. I appreciate their support though.
EM: But it must be very strange.
TY: Yeah, I was shocked. I never knew that world existed.
I still do conventions though, I’m going to Texas in August, I have one possible in Florida in 2010 and an unconfirmed East Coast live in November. Offers from Canada, Australia, and Germany, one in Austria. It’s helping my career.
EM: You play both conventions and live music venues. What are the upsides and downsides to both, and which would you rather play? A convention gig or a live venue like Knitting Factory or Bar Sinister?
TY: Convention upside is gaining more fans, definitely a plus. Downside is performing at conventions, anime conventions do not have perfect setups for musicians, so that’s kind of bad for the musicians.
The good part of live venues is that I can get the local fans and fanbases, and live venues are a place for a musician to build up our fans and musical skills, the place that we, the process to go to the next level. The less cool thing is that if they don’t know much about me, sometimes I have to play in front of fewer people.
EM: I thought your performance at the Whisky A Go-Go was very cool. What did you think of that night and of the other bands you shared the stage with?
TY: Okay, um, I don’t know much about them, but I know a lot of bands, especially Japanese bands, exist in L.A., and they’re trying to make it bigger in the local L.A. jrock scene, and that’s a good thing. I guess I’m a part of it, though I’m not 100 percent “jrock” as an artist, but when I get my next chance, I’d definitely love to play with them again.
And the Killing Red Addiction, personally, I met Kenzi before, and of course, Dynamite Tommy and Taiji and Tatsu. . . they’ve all established their careers, so I do respect them, but I didn’t even get a chance to talk with everyone personally.
EM: What’re you drinking?
TY: Coffee frappucino, getting some energy for rehearsal.
EM: What inspires your dress style?
TY: Forgotten Saints, a store on Melrose, I really love to shop there.
I like to wear something, something kind of like an electro-style, but more like a rocker, rock and roll style.
EM: Favorite photographer to work with?
TY: Lotus Josephine, a friend of mine, who’s kind of an up and coming photographer in the Hollywood scene, and Tas Limur, he’s actually a great photographer.
He is the one who took the “Electric Defect” album shoot. We’ve been talking about making some music videos and using projectors for the show. He’s a really good friend of mine and very talented.
EM: Weren’t you in a Smashing Pumpkins video?
TY: As an extra. My friend directed their new song “Glow,” he liked my look on Myspace, so he asked me to join him for his video shoot. I had a really good time, and I got to talk to Billy (Corgan), the singer of Smashing Pumpkins, I almost said I wanted to be their new guitar player, but I didn’t, because I didn’t want to sell myself. Maybe in the future though.
EM: If you’d actually gone into being an actor. . .
TY: I don’t know what, but I’m a huge fan of Sean Penn and Johnny Depp. I think acting is a natural talent, and I don’t have it, not yet, maybe later.
EM: It’s really hot today in LA. What’s your favorite ice cream?
TY: A Popsicle?
EM: Have you any pets?
TY: Two female cats, Gigabyte and Eskimo. I had a dog before. I love animals.
EM: Last words for our readers?
Thanks for reading, I hope to see you at my next show!
Like Tadahisa Yoshida? Check him out on Myspace.