Steven Tanaka may seem like an ordinary doctor, but his love for independent Japanese music – and the effort he’s willing to put into sharing it – has made him anything but.
Over the past five years, the Vancouver-born anesthesiologist has made it his personal duty to bring lesser-known Japanese underground groups to Canadian audiences.
“I felt that if one day I could bring [these] bands in Canada, it would be such an amazing tour and a good representation of the best music from Japan, âhe said.
Its Next Music from Tokyo tour crisscrosses the country each year, introducing Canadian music fans to the indie-influenced brand of music.
So far, the groups have given two shows in Toronto as well as one in Montreal. They play at the Biltmore Cabaret in Vancouver on Wednesday night.
The tour costs $ 40,000 each year
Tanaka takes on several roles throughout each tour, acting as MC, DJ, and even performer for the artists. On top of all that, he says it’s completely self-funded.
âIt’s an expensive hobby, but I get enough of this tour to make it really worth it. You can’t put an amount of money on the joy and good memories I get by doing this tour. every year.”
If you could put a dollar amount on each tour, Tanaka says it costs over $ 40,000 for total costs.
For some of the band members performing, this is their first experience performing in front of a North American audience.
Knowing this, Tanaka says he is very picky about the bands he brings to Canada, noting that it is more than their musical ability that is taken into consideration.
“They have to have a really good performance on stage and not be too fancy. I love that they are a band that you couldn’t see in Canada.”
Language barrier no obstacle
Even though some audience members may not understand the bands’ Japanese lyrics, Tanaka says the love of good music can be enjoyed in any language.
“I think music itself is a language that communicates emotion and almost tells a story of how a song is arranged. You don’t have to understand what they’re singing to enjoy the show.”
Tokyo’s The Next Music bands perform Wednesday nights at the Biltmore Cabaret at 7:30 pm Tickets are $ 15 at the door.
For more, listen to the audio titled: The Doctor’s Passion for Japanese Independent Music Makes This Unlikely Musical Tour.