Archive for April, 2009

On Ensemble to play at Taiko Jam

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

Great news!  On Ensemble will be performing at Taiko Jam 2009.  Taiko Jam is a concert featuring North American taiko groups curated by the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center and held in conjunction with the bi-annual North American Taiko Conference.  We performed at Taiko Jam back in 2003 and it is one of the most fun concerts to perform in because it’s for an audience full of taiko players.

Also performing at Taiko Jam will be be Kishin Daiko of West Covina, Kaminari Taiko from Las Vegas and Portland Taiko led by former On Ensemble member Michelle Fujii.  Should be a fun taiko packed concert and I’m especially looking forward to seeing what Michelle has been up to with Portland Taiko.  Since Mich left us to become the Artistic Director of Portland Taiko I haven’t been able to see them play live yet.  I’m also looking forward to sharing the stage with my cousin Julie who plays with Kaminari Taiko and Kishin Daiko one of the bedrock groups in the Southern California taiko community.  Kishin is filled with great players and its open multi-ethnic, multi-generational attitude is perfect for SoCal and makes them one of my favorite groups.

Purple Sky and Sparkplugged review

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

Just got a very nice review of “Ume in the Middle” on Purple Sky Magazine and

On Ensemble (pronounced “Ohn”) pulls traditional Japanese music up by its roots and replants it in rich soil, fertilized by modern style and sensibility.

The band’s latest album, Ume in the Middle, features a fresh synthesis of east and west and innovation and tradition, that provides the context for On Ensemble to create a sound that blends Japanese drumming and more with electronica, hip-hop, and rock.

Giant Robot Magazine

Thursday, April 30th, 2009


This is exciting news, “Ume in the Middle” will get a review in the May issue of Giant Robot Magazine which hit shelves today. Exciting for me becuase I’m a fan of Giant Robot, live walking distance to the Giant Robot and GR2 stores and frequent them often. There’s even a Giant Robot restaurant GR/eats in the neighboorhood. Having not grown up in an area with a lot of asians around reading Giant Robot for the first time was a revelation. First of all I thought I was the only nerdy JA into anime around and it was nice to know I wasn’t alone and I had no idea being a nerdy JA could be cool! Hmm…  on second thought I’m still not too sure about that second part.

Next up: May Tour

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

We’ve officially released “Ume in the Middle” and are celebrating with a May tour with stops in Tahoe, Placerville, Berkeley and Ashland.

5/9/09 – On Ensemble in concert, Ashland OR
5/10/09 – Hands on workshop, Ashland OR
5/13-14/09 – Assembly programs at Tahoe area schools
5/15/09 – On Ensemble in concert, Tahoe City CA
5/16/09 – On Ensemble in concert, Placerville CA
5/17/09 – Workshop with Stanford Taiko, Stanford CA
5/17/09 – On Ensemble in concert, Berkeley CA
5/18/09 – Lecture Presentation for Perspectives on North American Taiko, Stanford CA

Kris’ belated tour wrapup

Monday, April 27th, 2009

After a few days of recovery from a whirlwind tour, here are some photos from the trip!


Wildy’s World review

Friday, April 17th, 2009

Here’s an excerpt from Wildy’s World review of “Ume in the Middle”:

On Ensemble is a rarity in the realms of popular music; they are wholly original. Ostensibly a Taiko ensemble (ancient Japanese drumming), On Ensemble mixes that venerable art with Hip-Hop, Rock and electronica to create sounds very few people have heard before.

It’s a fairly positive review though we only score 3.5/5 stars…  That’s like a C-.  I once got a C- in the seventh grade on a grammar quiz and cried.  I guess you can’t win them all.

I think one of the most brutal reviews we ever got was from Chris Beyond at No-Fi Magazine. He called our first album “Dust and Sand”: “pretty cool for dinner background music” and “not something I’d listen to often, but your parents would appreciate it.”

OUCH!  Just not the thing you want to hear after you’ve poured countless hours and a decent part of your soul into an album.  The best part about it was I think he was actually trying to say something positive.  To be fair “Dust and Sand” was not really the kind of fare that No-Fi usually covers.  Which is our basic problem when presenting our music to a wider audience.  Being a unique band with a unique sound is both our greatest strength and greatest weakness.

New studio computer

Monday, April 13th, 2009

computerWoohoo!  Say hello to our new 8-core powermac studio computer.  I’m so excited to have a new audio computer.  Up to this point I’ve been using my trusty g4 laptop which has performed admirably through the years.  I recorded and mixed “Dust and Sand”, “Ume in the Middle”, four EPs and two movie soundtracks on my laptop and it’ll still get used for performances and for mobile recording. However as the audio productions have gotten more complicated the laptop has been really stretched to its limits.

I’m also using the addition of the new computer to rework our recording set up.  We’re pooling resources with our studio mate Charlie and Kris has started building his own preamps with DIY kits from Five Fish audio so we’ll put it all together for a much improved studio.

My all time favorite piece of studio gear is our two channel Gordon preamp.  I bought this preamp after my first paying movie soundtrack gig and have used it on every recording since then.  It’s beautifully designed, it sounds amazing and it’s hand made by the designer Grant Carpenter. The only thing better than how the Gordon pre sounds is how well you are taken care of after you buy it!  When you call the Gordon audio phone number you get to speak to the designer himself and the customer service is unbelievably good.  In this age of crappy customer service and navigating through horrible voice recognition menus it’s so refreshing to buy a high quality work of art from someone who loves what they do and will stand behind the workmanship of their product. Seriously I can’t say enough good things about Gordon audio and if you are contemplating an investmnet in a quality mic pre get this one!

Cup of Java

Thursday, April 9th, 2009


Back in February I had the great fortune of being selected as one of four US based artists for a four week Indonesian arts residency fellowship program.  It was an amazing experience being in Java and taking in as much of the dance, music and art that I could within our very busy schedule.  Now seven of the distinguished Javanese artists are here in the United States for the second half of the program and they are performing next weekend.  I’m told that this show will definitely sell out so get tickets NOW!  I promise you that this is a performance you will want to see and it’s only $10, $8 for students.

Cup of Java
Saturday April 18, 8pm
Sunday April 19, 2pm
UCLA Glorya Kaufman Theater
$10 general $8 student
tickets online at:
phone: (310) 206-1335

This is a rare opporunity to experience Javanese music and dance by seven amazing artists.  You should definitely make time to go see this, I will personally reimburse you if you don’t like the performance but I may have to slap you first for being an idiot.

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