Tokikazu Uema owe's his hip-hop influenced sound to his experiences growing up in Koza, Okinawa, an area near many American military bases which populate Japan's southern most island prefecture.
In Okinawa he was able to interact with children of American servicemen who exposed him to the various beats and rhythms of American hip-hop. That experience, combined with his background in classical piano music mixed with his talent and imagination, is the magic combination which has allowed To-ki to write, record and produce his own original songs which stand to change the direction of modern Japanese Hip Hop.
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Interview with To-ki (Tokikazu Uema)
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: Neysa an American R&B singer I composed 7 songs for such as "Addicted" and "Broken Masterpiece". Arranged piano part for the song Born2befree, which was produced by German music producer Mpolo beats.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: Composing music for a couple music project.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Analog is good for your input, but digital is good for output.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: You alway meet your deadline date.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: I get to create music!
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: What does music mean to you? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Q: What advice do you have for a customer looking to hire a provider like you?
A: I would be able to compose really fast and beautiful songs.
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: The only thing I would bring is piano.
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: 15 years of composing, prior to that 20 years music schooling.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Beautiful, dramatic, and graceful.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: Adele, she gives me good emotions when she is singing. She doesn't need extra effects to her singing, it's all her. Very simple, but impressive, and powerful arrangements as well as songwriting.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Make connection with different artists, by using social media.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: R&B, Pop, EDM, Classical music
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: I can compose on any type of instruments as long as keyboard. I can compose any type of genre.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: My piano background is how I create songs.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: I compose songs on MIDI keyboard.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: Logic x, Roland Juno G Synthesizer, Roland CUBE Speaker, Audio-Technica Headphones, SHURE 58 Microphone, Edirol UA101 Interface
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Kayne West, Adele, Emeli Sandé, Coldplay, Sting, Elton John, Nora Jones, Ne-yo, Alicia Keys, Pharrell Williams
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: Composing, Arrangement, Track-Maker