Ken Watanabe BA(Hons) Sonic Arts / Music (theory, composition, vocal studies) / Vocals / Keybord / Trumpet / Programming
I have provided my music for feature films, theatre projects, fashion shows, adult entertainments, art events, live shows, bars, restaurants, night clubs, clothing stores, flower shops, beauty salons, websites.
I was born and raised in Japan but have been living in Europe (Paris and London) since the age of 19.
My three favourite musicians are Nina Simone for her passion and expressiveness, Erik Satie for his timeless coolness, and JS Bach for the beauty of his music and its logical construction. Alternatively I love the work of Japanese fashion designer Rei Kawakubo (COMME des GARCONS). In terms of artistic strength and innovation I see both as trailblazers. Being humble is an necessary element of the beauty.
I am lucky to have been a part of Dover Street Market (COMME des GARCONS's retail project) since 2004. I've learned "what defines cool" and my understanding of "cool" is hugely influenced by her designs.
[My Early Years]
After graduating from high school in Japan, I moved to Paris with an ambition to become a fashion designer. I went to a language school and I was working for a Japanese company that imported and exported fashion goods. One of the owners of the company was the late, great Japanese musician Tetsuya Kataoka (RIP).
He gave me access to his music studio and encouraged me. This gave me the chance to see how he made music and made me want to create music too. I learned basic music theories / keyboard playing / music programming from him and we created several music tracks together.
Thus my ambition and passion shifted from making clothing to making music. Since I was more interested in music I wanted to move to an English speaking country. Only English songs really find worldwide distribution although now in 2019 I am also attracted to a more domestic type of music. Also I was interested in underground music scene belongs to big cities. 90's house music is one of my favourite genres. I love the sound of the TR-909 (a drum machine produced by Roland Japan in the early 80's) and it is still my favourite musical instrument.
Around this time my passion was also to discover styles and genres of music that I didn't know. This led to a personal discovery of the work of contemporary classic (experimental) composers such as Karlheinz Stockhausen, Gyorgy Ligeti, John Cage etc... I moved to London and went to University to study sound design / sonic arts.
I also had a part time sales job at Vivienne Westwood and then moved to COMME des GARCONS when Dover Street Market opened. I'm happy that I've been working for both the British and Japaese queens (of punk designers) and I've learned a lot and my English was brushed up by working in stores.
After I graduated from university the early 2000's were the time when the British porn industry was kind of lively as the law had been changed and I scored six TV series for a well known adult brand that were shown on cable platforms in the UK and won awards on DVD around the world.
This helped me when I went on to score an LGBT feature film in 2009 and a horror feature in 2016. Both have been sold around the world, playing in cinemas and on TV.
Around the same time I had a regular weekly DJ slot at a bar in London. When I look back now at how I did in my first residency I am embarrassed. My slot was often during the week mostly Wednesdays and I was asked to play "chill-mellow". I still think I provided quality music shows but I didn't like drunk people asking me to play chart music repeatedly. I was so wrong because they're there to have a good time. I should have provided the music they requested.
When the bar owner asked me to have strictly 80's pop event weekly I decided it was't a job for me and I stopped doing it. This is something I now regret as it would have been good research to provide a fun 80's music event. I was a bit full of myself... but hey I was young and innocent.
I now do the occasional DJ set, combining singing my own songs and playing danceable tracks.
After stopping my regular DJ jobs I went to college again for more conventional music studies. I learned music theory, composition, the history of western art music, vocal studies. From time to time I provided original music for friends. such as for theatre, films, fashions shows as well as DJing at events etc...
This is still my pattern and style of work on but I now have more desire to publish my music widely. Since April 2019 I’m aiming to release new music every two weeks through the year.
I'm recently very interested in traditional-ancient Japanese music with its harmony and construction. I created an EP evoking a feeling of Japanese mythology last year and I would like to study further and develop this area of music.