GO KUROSAWA, born and raised in Japan, is a drummer and vocalist in 幾何学模様Kikagaku Moyo. Meaning geometric patterns and founded in 2013, Kikagaku Moyo is a psychedelic rock band from Tokyo that plays feel-good music around the world. Go also runs a record label called Guruguru Brain, dedicated to elevating music from Asia.
What or who inspired you to get into music?
My first memory of music is from my mother. She was a music teacher so she was always singing and playing piano when I was growing up. Music was always around me. I remember in elementary school, there was a Sports Day. That was the first time I heard a brass band. I was amazed at how each instrument was doing its part to make a single song with harmonies. I remember the feeling of music vibrating my heart and body; it was a shocking experience. I thought it was so cool that they got to play music the whole time instead of running around in the sun.
How would you describe your style of music and performance? How would you describe your philosophy and style as an artist?
I would describe our music as feel-good music. We make sure with each other that we are feeling really good with the audience while we are performing. Always grateful for the people whom you are playing music with, and enjoy the chemistry. Most importantly, don’t take yourself too seriously.
Knowing what you know now, if you could go back and give your younger self advice, what would you tell them?
I really don’t have anything to say. Everything that happened in the past made me who I am now. Maybe, I would say “treat your friends and family well.”
How do you think the music industry can develop into a more equitable and welcoming space for AAPI/Asian music creators?
First of all, I would like to clarify that AAPI stands for Asian American and Pacific Islanders. I am not Asian American; I am Japanese. It’s important for everyone to understand that not all Asians living outside of Asia are considered AAPI. There’s also a distinction between Asian immigrants and ex-pats, and people of Asian descent born and raised in a non-Asian country. If the purpose of this article was to highlight AAPI music creators specifically, then I would be the wrong person to ask since essentially I would be taking up space where AAPI musicians should otherwise be highlighted. It’s nice to see more music industry organizations and businesses focus their attention on Asian and AAPI music creators, but they need to understand why they’re doing so and why it’s important.
To answer the question...I run a record label, Guruguru Brain, that is dedicated to music from Asia. Our hope is to change the context of Asian music within the industry by providing our own perspectives as Asians. The idea of Asian and AAPI music that comes from the perspective of non-Asian people can lack genuine understanding and sensibility towards the culture, and it’s important for it to not get whitewashed.
Do you have any advice for young AAPI/Asian musicians just starting their careers, based on what you’ve experienced?
My experience as a Japanese musician and experience for young AAPI musicians are different. I personally feel that it’s over-simplifying to lump together people from different parts of the world and categorize them under one term. People in Asia have different religions, languages, alphabets, histories, and cultures, which AAPI people don’t necessarily share. I can imagine AAPI people having totally different experiences from each other depending on their background or how they look.
Having said that, speaking from the perspective of a Japanese musician who has lived (for 5 years) and toured in the States, I think AAPI music creators have the advantage of being able to sing and speak American English, which can reach more people directly. Their unique hybrid culture lets people in Asia see their own culture in a new light, and may seem really cool to them to see people who look like themselves having success in America. I hope that AAPI musicians realize that kind of unique power they have, and take advantage of that.
How has being a member of the AAPI/Asian community influenced your music, if at all?
For me, it’s more like “How has the AAPI community influenced your music?” When we toured the States, I had some opportunities to talk to some Asian American folks in the audience. One time, this person told me, “I am so proud of you guys. I’ve never seen an Asian band play to a full venue, and make many people smile.” It took me a while to understand what it meant, but later I realized how limited the representation of the Asian community is in the States. And I never thought that people could see us play and relate to us. I remember seeing people like James Iha and Mike Shinoda playing in popular bands, and realizing that they are Japanese, but also American. They were playing music just because they wanted to, not to make any kind of statement. I think that actually made a big impact on me, though it may have been subconsciously.
What's next for you? Any upcoming projects or plans for 2021?
We will have some shows in the U.S. and Europe booked, so hopefully, we can play in front of people and feel the energy. Really miss that!