With our on-going interest and love with Japan, we step into some fresh vibes with Kentaro Goto aka 似非animal. It was an old friend of #itchysilk Yuke Myras from Cosmic Bath who told us about the rapper and beat maker from Saitama Japan.
Now 似非animal is not a new name to the Japanese rap scene having plied his trade with names like WHALE TALX. In this juncture, however the thirty six year old will be dropping his first solo project From Within. Balanced between rap come soul this is at its heart a project with playful positive vibes.
Admittedly, the first project has taken “much longer” than he wanted it to. This due in part to life, “corrupt politics” in Japan and our obstinate friend covid. That said our bi-lingual protagonist has beaten those external forces and created a good first project.
Featuring old stable mates like; Yuke Myras and annie the clumsy (who we love) we had to get some time with the worldly 似非animal to talk about this new project.
How did family impact you as a person and as an artist?
I grew up with my dad and my grandma. My uncle was living with us too. I have never met my mother who passed away five years ago. My home was mellow and chilled. My father owned his own store, so he had the flexibility to spend a lot of time with me. I loved playing outside in nature nearby with crawfish, beetles, and frogs. We went backpacking to Europe when I entered junior high-I've always respected and loved him.
I guess growing up with him made me not want to work from nine to six in a business suit, but to live freely, doing what I love to do while becoming fluent in English to explore the globe. Throughout his career, he kept thanking customers, you know. So I longed for my own way to contribute to the universe.
Were you destined for a career in music?
“Destined” sounds too dramatic for me. I guess I can say yes because it came to me but I never planned it. Being surrounded by music makes me feel grateful. I just surrendered and followed the universal plan called intuition. This feeling is the same regarding my other two jobs. You will know if you are born to do something in the way you feel doing it. If you enjoy doing it and would love to put any effort to fully bloom with it from within yourself, you are meant to do it.
Your other two jobs?
I'm a full-time therapist, at least for now. I would love to and am sure that I will be able to make my living as a musician. I know I will not quit other works I do, because I purely enjoy and am grateful for them all. Each profession I do cultivates one another but full-time musician is where I want to get to.
Talk to us about the hip-hop and soulful scene in Japan where is it right now?
I do not really know the scene well to be honest but it seems quite diverse so that is healthy. We have talented beat makers and producers in Japan. Sadly, Japanese culture leans towards high levels of consumption and it is immature, at least to me. I rarely find myself impressed by the lyrics of recent artists, though they sound nice. I do not see the muses in their music. It is like a beautiful lake or ocean too shallow to dive into-you stay on the shallow surface.
People do not care about the things that matter. If we truly want to harmonize with the earth, our culture, country, ocean, and the universe beautifully for the generations to come, there are things we need to feel, think, share, and act on. It is easy to find some music which sounds nice, but it is hard to find music that touches my heart deeply. But I need to confess that I 'm not really digging. So, as I said, I am not the person to answer this question and I could totally be wrong. And if I am, that's good news. That blesses me.
Who were/are the names from the Japanese scene who impacted you and indeed how did they impact you?
Rhymester, Rappagariya, Evisbeats, Chinza Dopeness, Cosmicbath, Nitro Microphone Underground, Area 048 Tribe-I can keep on counting. I guess I should pick up Dragon Ash and Origami in this context of who inspired me. Dragon Ash musically impacted me, and Origami poetically did.
I always want to make good inspiring music, not just exclusive dope rap. This attitude might have come from how I enjoyed their music when I was young. However, I must say that I have been listening to foreign music way more since my mid-teens. Open and deep/rich, these two are important essences of music for it truly to resonate with me.
We note you flit between your own language and English why is that?
Simply, I want people in different cultures to enjoy my music too. Secondly because English can take me to different places. I mean I hear different beauty and groove in English. Also, it may be because I grew up listening to foreign music a lot and it might be making some sort of flows and melodies easy to pop out in English in my head. Japanese and English are beautifully different. So why not? Let us enjoy our lives globally.
Talk more about your first solo project.
As a member of WHALE TALX, we participated in Evisbeats recent two albums together with annie the clumsy. In the beginning, I was thinking to make an album of WHALE TALX back in 2018 and 2019. But then, everyone was busy with their lives. Still, I did not want to just wait for them. So, I bought Machine MK3 and started making beats in the end of 2019, telling myself that I would make my solo album within 2020. It took much longer due to several problems like COVID-19 and corrupt politics (supported by non-political silent majority) in Japan.
annie the clumsy features heavily on the project we love her vocals you seem to vibe off each other well.
Firstly, I just adore her. Every time I listen to her recordings, she puts a smile on my face and touches me deeply. I am lucky to have the living muses in my town. She is a wonderful singer who the whole world needs to appreciate more. I wanted to present her talent to the world.
If I come up with good melodies, what I think next is “Will this sound good with just me, or will it need annie?” Luckily, we are not just music partners but also good friends in real life. I believe EVISBEATS would not be interested in WHALE TALX if I did not send our song with annie the clumsy to him. I owe her a lot to be able to stand where I am right now. On top of her musical talent, her heart and soul are equally beautiful and sweet as her voice.
Tell us about production challenges (do you produce yourself) and the personnel on the project?
Beat making was a big challenge for me. I produced seven songs by myself. I did not think I could make that many beats to use for my album. Of course, I could not do this alone. Yuke Myras was and still is like my beat making Yoda who guided me all the way from the beginning until the end of this project. I owe him so much. Also, Atsu Otaki who produced Nanny Got Hot She Knows mixed ten tracks and mastered all twelve tracks helped me a lot too.
Since it was my first album, mixing and mastering phases were difficult for Atsu was so patient with me. Yuke and Atsu never left me behind, even though I am a total amateur when it comes to these disciplines-I adore both of them.
What can we look forward to in terms of the album and new projects?
I'm in the process of making cassette (full album) and 7” vinyl (two songs) of From Within right now. Hopefully, they will be on sale in summer 2021. Several music videos will drop too. Also look out for two new projects right now. Hopefully, I can release an ep sometime this year and one more in 2022.