“Son Takasaki”: Japanese City-Led Studio Launches Music Label to Boost Local Artists
TAKASAKI, Gunma – The one and only municipal music studio in Japan has launched a music label with the aim of raising the profile of local artists around the world.
Tago Studio Takasaki, operated by Takasaki City in Gunma Prefecture, northwest of Tokyo, launched Tago Studio Records Takasaki label this month. This is an epic initiative to discover talented amateur musicians performing in the prefecture and help them become leading performers on the world stage through the “music city Takasaki” initiative. A song by the first musician belonging to the label has already been released, and the actors of the project are hungry for success.
“I dream of the time when Takasaki reminded people of the ‘Takasaki sound’, like Memphis does of (Elvis) Presley,” Mayor Kenji Tomioka said, referring to the big names in world class, at the event. launch event held at Takasaki Municipal Theater on October 4th.
The one-of-a-kind municipal music studio was founded in March 2014. The cost of establishing the studio – 125 million yen (approximately $ 1.1 million) – was covered by a donation of 250 million yen ( about $ 2.2 million) to the municipal government by a philanthropist who said they wanted the city to use the money for youth culture. Takasaki native composer and music producer Kunio Tago, 48, known for writing “Home” for singer Yusaku Kiyama and other songs for J-pop groups AKB48 and Every Little Thing, has been invited to become the studio’s director of operations.
More than 250 songs produced by majors have been recorded in the studio. He held auditions in 2016 and 2019 to find talented musicians, and over 1,000 bands applied each time.
Tago, who has taken on the role of representative of the new label, said of his resolution: “We will support promising musicians until their debut and bring the ‘Takasaki sound’ to the world.”
The launch event was attended by Kie Anderson, 24, the label’s first singer-songwriter. Born in nearby Annaka and living in Takasaki, Anderson won the top prize in the 2019 audition, for which 1,027 groups applied. Loving music since childhood, she began to play the guitar when she was in sixth grade, and has performed in the streets especially in front of JR Takasaki station since second year of middle school. She told reporters: “My goal is to become as tall as Michael Jackson,” with a big smile.
Anderson performed her first song “Pink Lemonade” at the launch event. The audience erupted in applause after hearing her rhythmic and catchy voice. The song is available on Apple Music, Amazon Music, and YouTube.
âShe was a little nervous,â Tago said of Anderson’s performance, âbut when she picks up a guitar as she sits cross-legged, itâ lights up. âHer performance is amazing.â
(Japanese original from Shin Sato, Local Takasaki Office)