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ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Tokyo Tramps

June 19, 2017

Satoru Nakagawa and Yukiko Fujii were born and raised in Japan, but they always knew they wanted to be in make music in The United States.

After graduating from high school, Satouru moved to Louisiana to learn more about American music. Yukiko lived in Toyko and found herself listening to American Top-40s songs on a radio station built for US military bases. She found an internship in Nashville, quit her job, and, to her parents’ dismay, moved to America to pursue her dream of making music in the states.

Fast forward a few years, and the two met while studying at Berklee College of Music. They joined forces to create TOKYO TRAMPS, which was initially a four-piece roots rock band. Add in a few lineup changes, hundreds of shows, and over a handful of original albums, and the band are now known for playing their own blend of blues influenced rock music. 

A lot of their classmates moved to cities like Los Angeles or New York City, but they decided to stay in Boston. One of their favorite things about the music community in Boston is that there is a large population of international students. According to the band, they bring in a new sense of energy, they enjoy the music, and they are creative and willing to experiment with new styles of music.

This year marks the band’s third time playing at Make Music Boston. Aside from hoping that people enjoy their music, they want people to acknowledge how hard they’ve worked to follow their dreams. “We hope that people recognize what we do– two Japanese [musicians] following our dreams of making music in America.”

Tokyo Tramps will perform at Make Music Boston 2017 on Wednesday, June 21st. Catch their set at Liberty Mall at Boston Common 12:00 p.m.

Read our full interview with the band below:

Can you tell me a brief history of Tokyo Tramps?
Satoru Nakagawa and Yukiko Fujii formed the band in ’99 while attending Berklee College of Music. It was a four-piece roots rock band at first. After the lead guitarist left the band, the band has become the trio. We have been through several lineup changes but been performing extensively in US and have released six original albums so far.

How would you describe your music to people who have never listened to you?
Blues influenced rock – you can hear our influences from Fats Domino, Elmore James, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Los Lobos, Bruce Springsteen, and so on.

You were born and raised in Japan. What influenced you to move over to the states?
We grew up listening to American music rather than Japanese music. Satoru came to Louisiana right after graduating from high school to explore the roots of American music. Yukiko lived in Tokyo and listened to a radio station for US military bases that played American Top 40 and live music 24/7. She saved money, quit her job, fought against her parents, then found an internship opportunity in Nashville, Tennessee.

You all studied at Berklee College of Music here in Boston. What was it like making the decision to stay in the city after school?
We always wanted to live in America and make American music. Although many of our Berklee friends moved to New York or Los Angeles, or even went back to Japan, somehow we stayed here… we can’t believe it’s been this many years.

Japan is the second largest market for blues in the world. How is the blues scene in Japan different to the one here in America?
It seems like Japanese fans like traditional blues. But our style is definitely contemporary.

What’s your favorite part about the Boston and New England music scene?
There is a large number of International students – they bring energy to enjoy music, creativities for new styles, and so on. College radio stations are still giving us many opportunities.

What drew you to this year’s Make Music Boston festival?
We had participated twice in the past. This is our third time and it’s been a while.

What do you hope people get out of your performance at Make Music Boston?
We hope people enjoy our music. And also we hope that people recognize what we do, two Japanese following our dream of making music in America.

Keep up with Toyko Tramps on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or on their website.