Interview with Kazuha Oda
Kazuha Oda is the lead singer for the Japanese band Kazha. Along with Hideki Matsushige on guitar, Zen Takamura on Bass and Masaya Kondo on Drums, Kazhas’ performances defy fitting into a category. Kazha represents the new future of the world music; a fusion of cultures and musical viewpoints that create their sound. Their music combines the softness of a falling feather with the heaviness of a hurricane.
Kazuha is a very versatile vocalist with the range and ability to sing soul-wrenching ballads to pop to jazz and even metal. She has collaborated with many artists including guitarist Masayoshi Eguchi, drummer Kiichiro Akui, bassist Koki Ito, and Grammy-winning American pianist Bob James.
Kazuha, it is a pleasure to meet you. I wanted to start off by asking you about your background. You were born in Japan but lived in the States for awhile. How did you like the US and what made you return to Japan?
It is pleasure to meet you too In the US, there are many people from different cultures so I can learn so many things… and at the same time, I feel comfortable doing things “my way”. Of course I cab return to Japan anytime I want because it is my homeland that I love no matter what
You have an interesting musical background starting off with classical. How did your interest in music begin?
To tell the truth, I don’t really remember how my interest in music began since I was a baby and I first started to sing… Well, I just wanted to become a singer so I figured that it’s good to have a classical vocal skills, and that’s the reason I started off with classics.
You also have lived in many cities growing up including Japan, Brazil and New York. Do you think your music has been influenced by the places you have lived?
Yes and no….
I traveled a lot with my family but I didn’t know that it was something special. Living in different countries was a natural thing for me so I grew up just as a normal kid but after I grew up, I realized that my music always has been influenced by my life and so I believe that it also has been influenced by the places I have lived.
Your solo career did very well. What made you want to form Kazha?
Oh, I don’t know if it did so well. Lol I think it’s sometimes better to make things (music or anything) with other people and that’s why I formed Kazha. I always want to work with people that I trust.
I know you have said you feel that Hidekis’ guitar playing is a perfect for your vocals. How closely do you collaborate with him on your songs?
I never really tried to collaborate with him. His style just suits mine I guess.
Tell us about Zen and Masaya. How did they come to be in Kazha?
Zen is the original bassist of Kazha. I, Hideki and Zen had worked together in our former band and we started Kazha together. (He was absent from Kazha when he was away from music business for a while.)
We met Masaya through the internet.^^
You have been described as elegant and graceful on stage. What do you think of that comment?
I am not that elegant! so I am happy about that comment.
In 2010 you had the opportunity to tour through much of the US. As a fairly new band, how did you get along and how did it feel to travel with three men?
We didn’t have enough time to talk much. We drove and performed, performed and drove…. it felt like those were the only things we did. Oh…I didn’t even think that they were men! xD
I even felt like “I” was a man. I didn’t care taking a shower in men’s shower room at the gas station and dry my hair outside the car with the wind.
Was there any particular moment that stood out for you during your US Tour?
People were so kind! When we reached to NY, so many people who drove by waved to us and encouraged us because our license plate was from California.
How do you feel the music industry is in Japan for independent artists?
It is tough. If you don’t have money to promote yourself or put you on the media, anything BIG won’t happen.
Your lyrics are primarily in english. Why sing in english and how is that received in Japan?
English is the first language (of the world) that the largest amount of people use nowadays. I want to go worldwide so I chose the language that the largest amount of people understand. Japanese people love music from foreign countries and it seems like most of the people don’t care what language we use.
Your EP entitled “Breathe Through Your Dreams” was released in September 2009 and “Overture” was released in April, 2010. Your most recent release is the single “I Still Remember” which was a song on “Overture”. It has a very sad feeling to it. Is there a story behind this song?
I’ve had this same nightmare over and over for a long time and the song is about it. I stopped having that nightmare after I finished writing the song. I can’t really explain about that nightmare because I don’t really remember the details. Lol
Any plans for a new album?
Yes, we are working on it! Can not tell when we release it… but hopefully soon.
What advice would you give an artist if they wanted to break into the music business?
I would say… just do whatever you believe! I believe that it’s sometimes important to know your limits. I mean, It’s always good to focus on expanding your strength but you always need to be aware of your weaknesses.
What do you hope to be doing five years from now?
“Everything” I want