My musical interest began as far back as I can remember. I owe much of my talent and passion for singing and music to my father Leo who had moonlighted as a nightclub singer in the 40's. Singing was a daily ritual for him and his repertoire was mostly jazz standards. He was a true entertainer in the old school sense, and as such, Emceeing and doing comedy routines were second nature to him...seems he had a whole slew of jokes in his backpocket should anyone ever need entertained! Of course, being around all this was an valuable education in and of itself, and before the age of 12 I had already gotten my first singing gigs at a few weddings. As for formal education, I need to take you back a few years to the beginning. Like every kid growing up in Japan, at the age of four, I took classical piano lessons. It was a great start and I highly recommend the piano for anyone wanting to take up music, but after about 5 years, something else grabbed my interest...the DRUMS! I thank my parents for encouraging just about anything I wanted to pursue despite any 'repercussions!' So my parents got me a sparkling blue Pearl drum kit and I took basic percussion classes that year in school...the rudiments, while experimenting around with playing the kit. The following summer I furthered my drumming by attending a drum course at the Yamaha School of Drumming. This was not a beginner course...I remember playing 'Get Away' by Earth Wind and Fire which has a great groove and some cool, but tricky parts, and whenever I hear that song now it brings me right back into that classroom sitting at the drum kit, the music blasting from the reel--to-reel TEAC! All this time, I was still singing the pop songs of the day and some older tunes thanks to my dad's repertoire. The singing was mostly in the shower, and being our bathroom was all tile, I got a good dose of reverb!
I was not pursuing stardom or anything professional just yet...and I know everyone has heard this story before (how people sort of 'fall into' things)...well, after a introduction to a producer from Polydor Records by one of my best friends and classmates...someone she struck a conversation with on the train on the way to school of all things...we soon found ourselves getting vocal coaching from him...this was a guy who produced the Japanese equivalent of the Jackson Five...he had an amazing pop song that we were to record and release as a single...so a few months later we were getting a photo shoot and a recording session at Polydor Records, and it's still one of the slickest studios I have seen to date! It was magical to say the least...so things were happening quickly but being we were not all on board to go on tour with 2 years of high school yet to get through the whole thing got shelved for good. I did get a recording of our session and it is on the mp3 page if you're interested in checking that out. I had just turned 15 at the time and it seemed I missed the big boat. So I switched gears for a number of years, got into my second passion, which was science...got my B.S. in Microbiology of all things. Well, I went to a 'jam' party once and sat in with the band, and all of a sudden I was pulled back into music, and we started gigging a few months later with my first cover band...I got back in touch with an old cherished friend...singing and playing music!
Seems like a lifetime ago now and since then I have played in a number of groups as a drummer and vocalist. Singing is still my biggest strength and one of the projects that remains most rewarding and close to my heart (no pun intended) that I co-founded was the band Heartless, a tribute to Heart. Portraying Ann Wilson was a kick, not to mention the most challenging thing I have undertaken to date! Aside from that, I have been in a number of top-40 cover bands playing everything from casinos to weddings to nightclubs...I had picked up a quirky midi-drum instrument called the Zendrum and currently play the 'Zen' and sing backup and lead vocals in the Tim Russ Band a great rock'n'blues group. For the non-Trekkies out there, Tim Russ was Lt. Tuvok in Star Trek Voyager. He's an amazing musician and I'm honored to be playing with him and the stellar band. Another group I am involved in as of late 2012 is an original project called Valdivia X, an industrial-electronic-rock project lead by Raymond Villegas. Deviating from the mainstream, we get into character with costume and theatrical makeup, you just have to come see this first-hand as it is hard to describe in words! Last but not least, I have performed in a jazz standards duo called Serenade, accompanied by Bill Burchell on piano/keyboards. Coming full circle, this was the music that was first to fall on my ears, well before I even learned to talk...the music my father so loved and sang so well...
Visit my bands here:
Tim Russ Band http://www.timrusswebpage.com/
Valdivia X http://www.valdiviax.com/