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Contemplating the Path: WONK’s Kento Nagatsuka Juggles Cooking and Music, Emphasizing “No Instant Outcomes”

2024.4.11

FRISK「#あの頃のジブンに届けたいコトバ」

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FRISK collaborates with the project “#WordsIWantToSendToMyselfFromBackThen” to support working professionals and students embarking on new challenges, alongside the radio program “GRAND MARQUEE” in the collaboration segment “FRISK DEAR ME.”

Appearing on the second day was Kento Nagatsuka, the vocalist of the experimental soul band WONK, which is redefining Japanese music. Currently balancing his passion for cooking and music while also producing restaurants, Nagatsuka shared insights on how to approach one’s passions and interactions with others, reflecting on a letter to his 18-year-old self during his high school days and the exam period.

※NiEW has also compiled an article including content not broadcasted during the program.

Finding Inspiration Overseas Alongside Intense Conflicts with Father During University Transition

Celeina (MC): “To my 18-year-old self.” So, is there any particular scene from that time that comes to mind?

Nagatsuka: When you are 18 years old, it is the time for entrance examinations, so I went abroad for the first time when I was 17 years old. I went to an integrated junior and senior high school, and as part of a project at that time, I went to New Zealand for a 3-week homestay. It was my first trip to an English-speaking country, and it gave me confidence that my English would be understood. It was very exciting to have the opportunity to speak in a place other than Japan for the first time, and I also went to England after that to work part-time.

During the entrance exam period, my English grades improved, but I wasn’t interested in going to college. In the end, I had a big fight with my father, and many other things happened. I was 18 years old when I realized that the world is a big place, and it was the time for me to make a dash for the next step, so I had the feeling that it all started then.

Takano (MC): In your letter, there is a passage where you say, “My trip to England was also a very good memory.

Nagatsuka: It was the summer of my junior year in high school.

To my 18-year-old self

Reflecting on those six years in junior and senior high, I’m grateful for the relatively good times I had. Working part-time, scrimping money, and embarking on solo trips to England—those were all cherished memories. Admittedly, navigating solo experiences felt a bit awkward, yet there was an overall sense of tranquility. So, don’t sweat it too much; the exam results will be just fine.

Preface of the letter. Kento Nagatsuka (WONK)’s handwritten letter in its entirety will be exhibited at the FRISK “Words I Want to Send to Myself from Back Then” exhibition at BONUS TRACK in Shimokitazawa starting April 11th (Thursday). ( details here).

Celeina:You’ve got some initiative! Do you have any memories of your visit to England?

Nagatsuka: My host family’s father was a huge fan of The Police. He played me a lot of music, told me that he listens to Madonna, talked to me about what a British gentleman is, and took me around. I have great memories of that.

Celeina:Musical input as well?

Nagatsuka: Yes. We went to Brighton, which is a port town where they have festivals. There was a semi-subterranean club/live music club on the beach, and they were playing heavy metal music and I thought it was really crazy. I saw a couple of 190cm tall bodybuilder-looking men kissing passionately at the entrance and thought, “Wow! I was like, “Wow!

Takano: How old were you when you started playing music?

Nagatsuka: I started learning to play the violin when I was about 3 years old, but it was just for fun. I started to play the violin for fun all the time. Then, bands started to become popular, so I went into bands instead of classical music.

Celeina: After that, when did you decide to become a professional musician?

Nagatsuka: Around the age of 21. I was already a college student at that time, and my schedule was to work five days a week right after school at a restaurant until night, and to perform live occasionally on weekends. The reason I had a fight with my father before I entered college was because I wanted to go to a culinary school instead of college. But my father was of the opinion that I could cook while going to college.

My father, despite being a high school graduate and a businessman, also harbored feelings of inferiority among the many highly educated CEOs around him. Due to this, there was a period when we had intense arguments for about a week. He would say things like, “You have the opportunity to go to university, so you should take it,” or “It’s not too late to go to a culinary school after graduating from university.” We didn’t actually physically fight at all (laughs), but we had a really intense argument.

Celeina: But you ended up going to college, and now, how do you feel about your college experience?

Nagatsuka: To be honest, I didn’t learn much [laughs]. But I met the members of WONK because I was in college, and I think the reason I am doing music now is because I went to college. If I hadn’t, I think I would have been cooking for a long time. So, I am grateful to WONK for not destroying my possibilities.

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