Friday, December 18, 2009

Our Hybrid Futures

Here's my latest and last 2009 column for the Yomiuri in Tokyo:

SOFT POWER, HARD TRUTHS / Our hybrid future is here

Diana Yukawa, 24, is a violinist whose story is film worthy, melodramatically so. In 1985, her Japanese father died in the crash of Japan Airlines Flight 123, the deadliest single-aircraft accident in history. Born a month later, Yukawa was moved to her mother's home country of Britain, where she was raised. But she performed in her early years in Japan at a memorial service for the victims of the JAL crash--and was promptly hailed as a child prodigy.

I first met Yukawa about five years ago, when she stopped by my Tokyo office. I found her remarkably level-headed and sincere, and I was impressed by her reviews and credentials. So I paid attention when her latest CD, The Butterfly Effect, landed in my mailbox this autumn.

Pop and classical music are uneasy bedfellows, as most attempts to meld the two demonstrate. But Yukawa brings a personal angle to the hybrid form: She is also a blend of two distinctive strains.

"I think it's something I'm lucky to have," Yukawa told me earlier this week by phone from Britain. "It's something really wonderful that I can tap into and explore further."

Butterfly boasts hypnotic dance club rhythms behind aching and sometimes otherworldly violin leads. The effect can be coolly quirky: French techno musician Jean Michel Jarre filtered through a quasi-Eastern voice.

It makes perfect sense to Yukawa. "When I was writing music with [collaborator] Andy [Wright], it was quite natural that some of the music sounded quite Japanese. It happened organically, it wasn't something I was consciously trying to do. I think it's because I'm really proud of my Japanese side and fascinated by Japanese culture that it just emerged naturally." [more @ YOMIURI HERE; & with more graphics @ 3:AM HERE]


ArthurFrDent said...

An interesting article, and a pretty stunning subject. Seems like you move pretty easily between places and mindsets... do you feel especially ill at ease? perhaps you are just on the cutting edge of something newer.

In any case, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year... looks like NY certainly has a White Christmas in store ;)

Roland Kelts said...

Many thanks.
I think we probably all feel somewhat ill at ease, and have done so at least since modernism took hold of the soul. But life in a perpetual liminal state may be more ...
Unanswerable for now. Happy Holidays to you and yours. A White Christmas in NYC-- and here in New England, too.