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The Ambition of Kazuo, a DIY Artist Born in NY and Raised in Yokohama



A circle of friends connected by goof-touch! The “FIST BUMP” corner of the radio program “GRAND MARQUEE” features people who live and enjoy Tokyo in a relay format.

On June 8, musician Kazuo was introduced by DJ YU-KI. Kazuo is not only a rapper, but also a vocalist, songwriter, sound producer, and video producer who produces all of his own works. In August 2023, Kazuo will perform at “Sziget Festival 2023,” an outdoor festival in Budapest, Hungary, one of the largest festivals in Europe. We asked Kazuo about when he started rapping, the appeal of Tokyo as he travels between the U.S. and Japan, and his future goals.

Kazuo’s thoughts on the charms of Tokyo as he travels back and forth between the U.S. and Japan

Celeina (MC): I usually call you “Kazuo,” so can I stop calling you “san”?

Kazuo: That’s fine.

Takano (MC): FIST BUMP is a corner where we connect our friends, and a miracle happened. By chance, I am now connected to Celeina’s friend.

Celeina: That’s right. I’m so happy to be able to introduce my friend to you. First of all, let me introduce my profile. Born in New York and raised in Yokohama. She is a rapper, vocalist, songwriter, sound producer, video producer, and DIY artist of the next generation who produces all of her own works.

Kazuo: You do a lot. Sometimes it’s a hassle (laughs).

Celeina: It’s hard when you’re doing it all on your own.

Takano: It’s a great thing, really. And I’m personally curious, how did you two meet?

Celeina: Five or six years…… maybe even longer ago, we all happened to see a music video that Kazuo put out together in the studio. I said it was so good with the people involved, and I put it up on Instagram Stories and tagged Kazuo, and I guess that’s when we connected and started DMing.

Kazuo: I don’t remember. I don’t remember at all (laughs).

Takano: So it was a social networking connection.

Celeina: That’s right. From there, we actually started working on a song, went out as friends, and hung out.

Takano: It was like a miracle how we met. It was like an Internet story.

Kazuo: It’s very modern.

Takano: Has it been a long time since you met?

Celeina: It’s been about 2 years.

Kazuo: It doesn’t feel like two years.

Takano: You met on the Internet?

Celeina: Kazuo, I’ve been living in the U.S. for a long time.

Kazuo: Yes, I have lived in the U.S. for a long time.

Celeina: I was in Tokyo at that time.

Takano: At first, you exchanged information between the U.S. and Tokyo.

Kazuo: That’s right.

Celeina: Kazuo, when did you start rapping?

Kazuo: I started when I was 14 years old, just for fun, and my music career started in earnest when I was 19 years old.

Takano: I see. You are really cool. I had a chance to listen to your music, and you are bilingual. He uses both Japanese and English. What’s going on in your brain? I think the same is true for you, Celeina.

Kazuo: They are very different from each other.

Takano: For example, when something happens, do you speak English?

Kazuo: Yes, I do. I sometimes have a New York accent.

Takano: Which way do you talk in your sleep?

Kazuo: Probably depends on the day (laughs).

Takano: It’s just a blend of the two, which is also reflected in the music. Do you usually live in the U.S.?

Kazuo: Half and half. I’m based in Japan now, but I go back and forth as much as possible.

Takano: I see. When did you come back to Japan?

Kazuo: December 2020, about two and a half years.

Celeina: Kazuo, you have lived in New York, Los Angeles, and Tokyo. What do you find attractive about Tokyo?

Kazuo: Chaos (laughs). Yokohama, where I am from, feels more relaxed, and it is easier to sleep (laughs). Tokyo is very close to New York, isn’t it?

Takano: There are all kinds of people. It’s a city with a lot of stimulation.

Celeina: I would like to hear some bilingual rap music from Kazuo.

Kazuo: This is a great song that I want everyone to hear. It’s called “BANZAI!”

Performances at some of the biggest outdoor festivals in Europe

Celeina: Kazuo’s major debut single “BANZAI!

Takano: It’s really cool.

Celeina: Kazuo directed the music video, didn’t he?

Kazuo: Yes, Kazuo also edited the music video.

Takano: The YouTube credits say something like “DIRECTED BY: KAZUO / WRITTEN BY: KAZUO / EDITED BY: KAZUO”. It’s amazing, really.

Kazuo: It’s true.

Takano: He is so versatile. Kazuo-san did the mixing and mastering, didn’t he?

Kazuo: It was a lot of work.

Takano: The music video is really good.

Kazuo: Thank you very much.

Takano: You can see Kazuo in various outfits. Like the pink full-body tights.

Kazuo: Like a high school girl’s outfit. He was cute (laughs).

Celeina: Kazuo, when did you start making videos?

Kazuo: Since high school.

Takano: That’s early.

Kazuo: No one was doing it for me. I didn’t have any friends. I used my cell phone camera to take self portrait music videos.

Celeina: Did you shoot music videos of other artists?

Kazuo: Yes, I did. But I haven’t uploaded them yet.

Celeina: I see. So you will be moving up to that stage as well.

Takano: You are not only a musician but also a multi-talented person. The comments on the YouTube page of “BANZAI! Do you mean that all the listeners are from overseas?

Kazuo: Yes, they are. I sometimes write songs in Japanese, but I try to make them as much as possible for overseas listeners. Like people who like anime.

Takano: There was a comment that you wanted us to make an opening song for an anime.

Kazuo: I would like to do it.

Takano: I am very excited about your future activities. In August, you will be participating in “Sziget Festival 2023,” one of the largest outdoor festivals in Europe, in Budapest, Hungary.

Celeina: That’s amazing!

Kazuo: I was so surprised when they booked us. I thought it was a big surprise. Why me? (Laughs)

Celeina: Have you been doing a lot of overseas gigs lately?

Kazuo: Most of them are in Japan. This will be my first time in Europe.

Takano: I hope you will have a lot of fans in Europe as well.

Kazuo: I will be representing Japan.

Takano: Please do.

Kazuo: I will sing “Kimigayo” when the encore comes.

Takano: That’s a real representative (laughs).

Celeina: Lastly, what are your goals for the future?

Kazuo: I want to be an artist representing Asia” or “make a lot of money.

Takano: Not “&” (laughs).

Kazuo: I’ll do both (laughs).

Celeina: That made me laugh a little (laughs).

Takano: Since they are friends, the atmosphere was very friendly, and I enjoyed watching their conversation.

Kazuo: I’m glad.

Celeina: FIST BUMP” is pleased to have musician Kazuo here with us today. Thank you very much.

Kazuo: Thank you.


J-WAVE (81.3FM) Mon-Thu 16:00 – 18:50
Navigator: Shinya Takano, Celeina Ann



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