Interviewed & written by Isao Tokuhashi
Mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jinx_K_Miyao (Jinichiro Miyao)
(He’s been in the US since 1998)
After 5-hour flight from New York, I arrived in Los Angeles. I had the first talk here with a wonderful Japanese drummer, Jinichiro Miyao, known as Jinx_K_Miyao.
What is the most important thing for musicians? Musical sense? Performing technique? Of course, those are very important, but he believes “humanity” is the most important thing for them. He says we can’t play music well without maturing as a person.
I had no dream.
I’m a drummer but I’m working at a ramen shop in Little Tokyo. I’m still learnig drumming in US so I don’t know which is my main job.
I sometimes join projects here. Jam sessions with some groups including jazz bands. Mainly I play in other people’s bands, not making my own one. Also I sometimes teach drumming.
I’ve been here since I graduated high school in Japan. I grew up there and I was a “dime a dozen”. I didn’t have any plan after finishing high school. I didn’t have any dream and I was thinking of going to a university, fooling around during my college days and entering some company. That was my plan.
But I couldn’t pass entrance exams at all. Fortunately my sister was here at that time and she suggested I come here. So I decided to. I didn’t come to the US on my own motive.
What do I want to do?
When I came here for the first time, I didn’t understand English at all So I focused on studying English at school.
After finishing English study, I entered college. When I was thinking about the way to go, I thought back to the time when I played drums in Japan. But I was not going to be a professional drummer at that time.
I thought I had to start playing earlier like when I was a kid in order to be a professional musician. But I thought that it wouldn’t be too late to re-start studying drumming. Then I decided to go at it seriously.
Nashville, the capital of Tennessee, was my first place in the US. Country music is popular there and many musicians were around me. So I thought of studying music, especially rock. I thought that I should go to California or Hollywood in order to master it. So I wanted to move west.
I thought Tennessee was just the countryside but I thought about myself and my life seriously there for the first time. I couldn’t speak English, I had no friends. There were no places to hang around. So I could do that. “If it’s not fun for me to live here, I will make my life enjoyable!” I thought.
“Why are you here?”
It was really hard for me to decide to be a “professional” musician. I thought the music world would be cutthroat and I had an inferiority complex about my drumming career. I knew that career wouldn’t be important at all, but there are many skillful musicians. They have been playing since they were kids so they play really well. On the other hand, I started playing drumms seriously at 18. I felt I was behind. But once I decided, I had to go on.
I entered a musical school in Los Angeles and studied drumming for one year. That school is famous in Los Angeles because its students are from all over America. They are really skillful or “drum-geeks”. Also Japanese who want to be good players enter that school.
So when I entered, I might be thought like, “Why are you here?”. But I busted my tail and people including other students helped me a lot. Then I gained confidence.
People’s hearts move people.
Actually, people here play much more soulfully than Japanese. But we Japanese have amazing spirit and technique.
To me, one of the most important things for music is how much it grooves people. Cheering them up – that’s my first priority. People look at me, listen to my sound and lighten up. That comes first. So I think musical skills are not the most important thing for musicians. I think the most important thing is “humanity”.
There are many, many skillful musicians. But if he/she is arrogant, disruptive and self-centered, no matter how well he/she plays, I don’t want to play with that kind of person. Because he/she doesn’t attract people. People’s hearts move people. Technique won’t move them. So I want to be a player who touches people’s hearts.
Every musician practices and everyone becomes a good player to a certain degree. But what I want to do is move people. In onder to do that, I have to better myself and experience many things.
So everything I experience is practice. Working at a ramen shop is also practice.
Everyone has a dream.
There are many kinds of races, opinions and music, especially in Los Angeles. That’s my most favorite thing in America.
I can exchange opinions casually with anybody. Also people here give their hands to persons who tackle whatever they want to do seriously.
As for me, my parents support me but my relatives make me feel pressure a lot. So called respectability. I don’t care about it, but generally people care about reputation in Japan.
Japanese people don’t tend to respect what they do each other. But here, people respect each other. Everyone has a dream. Everyone talks about dreams easily. And everyone respects his/her dream each other. I love that aspect of Los Angeles and America.
I’m really happy when I get to know something I didn’t know.
I want to listen to more music and learn about music much more. I want to practice much more. Also I want to go many places and talk with many people. Not only with musicians but also with other kinds of people.
When I went to Arizona in April 2007 and visited a Native American town, I heard what they thought. I was really moved by that. I want to know things more and more. I’m really happy when I get to know something I didn’t know. I want to learn much more. That makes my own humanity more mature.
I want to learn all through my life. Progress in improving myself would be over if I felt I’ve learned everything. Progress will stop at that moment. If I can do what I couldn’t do so far, I would feel really happy. But that skill will be obvious for me one week later. If I want to enjoy my life, I will have to keep learning.
I want to give something good to younger generations.
I’m Japanese so I want to do good for Japan. I want to give back things I learned here to Japan. Many Japanese want to play or learn music here.
I want to introduce Japanese musicians to American musicians when they come to Japan. I want to exchange opinions with those who have lived in US. I want to do something with such people in Japan.
I really want to give something good to younger generations in the future. In order to do that, I have to learn more.
What is Los Angeles to you?
It’s a spiritual place for me.
Everyone has their own soul. We can share our souls and learn things from each other. I feel everyone gets together here from all over the world and learn something.
To me, Los Angeles is a “homey school”.
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