Chika Asamoto, Japan’s first female professional sax player, tells Subhadra Devan more about her KL gig and style
SAXOPHONE player Chika Asamoto has played in Kuala Lumpur as a guest artiste but is still excited about her upcoming full-blown gig.
Presented by The Japan Foundation Kuala Lumpur and No Black Tie, Chika will play with sideman Shigeo Fukuda (on piano), DubMaster X (Dub Engineer/DJ), and Tony Makarome (bass) this weekend.
“I am so excited to play with these Japanese musicians... with whom I’ve performed for a long time. They are very talented,” says Chika, adding that audiences can expect to hear all her original songs from the latest album, Catalpa.
“Our music is not the commercial kind but post modern jazz arranged by electric sounds,” she explains.
Expect much free improvisation in the Chika Asamoto: World Dub showcase. As Chika says: “The music is a unique pot-boiler of our life-long influences — Miles Davis and progressive rock uber-artiste King Crimson.”
She says she was put off learning music when she was forced to play the piano when young.
“When I was a elementary school student, there was rapid economic growth in Japan and most parents dreamt of owning a piano at home and having their kids learn piano. I was the one of them.
“I was not serious about practising on the piano. I just wanted to please my mother. I had a lot of other interesting things to do.
“When I told my mother I want to stop taking piano lessons, she was disappointed because nobody could play the piano at home. Then, when I told her I wanted to became a professional musician and play the saxophone, she thought I was joking.”
Much has passed since then for Chika, like setting up an independent label for artistes who include Ning Baizura.
“I accidentally found her album in the world music corner in a CD shop in Japan. I was so impressed by her voice. At the time I was a music producer for a festival in South Korea, so I invited her to perform there.”
When asked about her best audience, she says in an email: “I once played at a public event in Japan, and a little girl of about 5 years old, was with her parents, listening to our music.
“At the end of the performance, she approached me and asked what kind of instrument I was playing. And she told her parents, ’Please buy me a sax. I want to play that!’.
“There are no musicians who have never been influenced by other great musicians or act as an influence to others. It was great to see such a moment for myself.”
Chika lives in Bali, Indonesia. “It’s the perfect place for me. I am very happy learning yoga in inspiring spaces, like the mountain and hillsides of Bali, from teachers who are cosmopolitan travellers.”
Such are the influences that colour Chika’s music.
Chika Asamoto: World Dub
Date & Time: Today and tomorrow, 10.30pm
Venue: No Black Tie, 17 Jalan Mesui, Off Jalan Nagasari, Kuala Lumpur.
Admission: RM50 (RM30 for students).
Call 03-21423737 or visit www.noblacktie.com.my