Q&A with Yusuke Akai – 2007 NJA Finalist

Yusuke Akai responds to the Jazz Australia Q&A, featuring finalists in the National Jazz Awards.

The National Jazz Awards are performed and announced at the TAC Wangaratta Festival of Jazz which will be held in 2007 from 2-5 November. This year the awards feature guitar.

Miriam Zolin: When did you start playing guitar and why? For example, was there a ‘moment’ when it came to you as a calling or vocation?

Yusuke Akai: I started playing the guitar in grade 6. Yosui Inoue, Mr. Children and my home room teacher were my musical heroes back then and I was interested in doing things that they were doing.

MZ: Which musicians (jazz or otherwise) have been your greatest influences? What about them stood or stands out for you?

YA: Sun of the Seventh Sister. Boredoms. John Coltrane. Kaoru Abe. Keiji Haino. TAD.

They all made me go “What the fuck?!” and not many others did.

MZ: When composing or arranging, where do you get your inspiration? For example, do you ever find that other art forms (painting, writing etc.) feed into your own creative process?

YA: I get my inspiration for composing and arranging from other composers and arrangers’ work when I hear something that interests me enough to somewhat imitate the vibe and make it feel natural for me.

Books are good for thinking about what I do.

Listening/observing as a general act at any given moment is also good.

MZ: What’s your favourite place to play or practice?

YA: The Forest Cafe (Brisbane), Akemi (Blue Mountains) and numerous other weird punk venues.

MZ: What does the Wangaratta festival of jazz represent for you?

YA: I should practice more.

MZ: What are you listening to now?

YA: Greg Malcolm & Tetuzi Akiyama – “Six Strings”; Cecil Taylor – “Jumpin’ Punkins”