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Artist of the Week – RALYZZ DIG

October 10, 2016 by · No comments

Interview by Dessislava Berndt with Yuichiro Tokuda
from the Japanese Jazz Band RALYZZ DIG
Proofreading: Polina Georgieva

Jazz Festival Bansko

The International Jazz Festival in Bansko is one of the biggest summer musical events in Bulgaria and one of the foremost international cultural happenings in the Balkans.

Since its foundation in 1998 the festival has been held annually from August 8th to 13th in the small town of Bansko. Tickets for the concerts are free of charge for the public. Traditionally, the programme features styles and groups representing almost all jazz styles. During the festival week, jazz is also played on various smaller stages in the large resort complexes and restaurants.

Today we would like to present to you the Japanese band RALYZZ DIG which performed at the 2016 edition of the Jazz festival held in the Bularian mountains.


Yuichiro, the name of your band “RALYZZ DIG” means “Dig the “RAY + LYRIC + JAZZ”. What is the meaning of music for you and your colleagues?

Music gives me many tools that connect me with people, relate to people and can be shared with people. It means music allows me to communicate with people, brings me to the world; music crosses borders.

Yuichiro Tokuda,
Photo: Ani Petrova, ani.petrova

So, when I play my music, I always feel the joy of making new relationship with people from all over the world. I’m feeling like we are sharing peace. Music makes me grow up as a human being.

You studied at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston. Now you work and live in Japan. How has the environment affected your personality and your music?

I graduated at Berklee 14 years ago. At that time I was practicing 10 hours per day, 3 years long. I spent most of the time and days in my life back then on my saxophone practice, developing my music.

RALYZZ DIG at International Jazz Festival in Bansko 2016,
Photo: Ani Petrova, ani.petrova

There were a lot of great young musician friends so we could not stop practicing and playing together. Every day we were stuck in a practice room from early morning till midnight. I think I learned a lot about the importance of effort at that time.

2016 was your first performance at the International Jazz Festivals in Bansko and Nis. What are your impressions from Bansko Jazz, Bulgaria and the Bulgarian people?

I heard that we were the first Japanese Jazz band to ever play at Bansko and Nis Jazz Festivals. So, I was very interested in how people will feel and understand my compositions.


RALYZZ DIG Press Conference in Bansko, Photos: desenze

Also, I was a little bit nervous about it before the show. But from the first song, people were screaming and dancing a lot. Even during the sound check before the show, people were enjoying it lots.
This made my day on stage.

We really appreciated so much love and warmness from the Bansko and Nis people! And we loved the food in Bansko and Nis!

For you, what was the most surprising experience working with other musicians?

It is almost the same as Question No.1. I cannot complete my music without working with other musicians. They give me the new and right directions to complete my music.



RALYZZ DIG, Photos: Ani Petrova, ani.petrova

What is the source of your inspiration?

Jazz history that I learned and love.
Japanese traditional folk songs and pop culture.
My experiences of travelling to many countries.
People, Air, View, Foods, Water. Whatever.

What are you dreaming about?

I want to come back to Bansko and Nis.
Every year:)

What is the greatest satisfaction for you as an artist and your biggest challenge?

Satisfaction is when, through the music I create, I could share the joy of music with people.
A big challenge is song writing.
I’m always trying to find a new note – the best one for my next composition.
It is not easy.

What is the most important thing people should know about you?

I’m a saxophonist but I also sing.
I’m a Jazz musician who studied in the USA but I’m always trying to find something important from Japanese culture to integrate into the music I create.
Currently, I think it is not about rhythm, not about harmony.
I think it is about melody from the culture of Japan.
So, I want people to know that this is the thing I’m doing.

Would you please tell us something about your current and future projects?

We are going to perform in India in November 2016 at the Goa International Jazz festival and Kolkata International Jazz festival. And next year of course we’ll continue travelling and performing in many other countries. On my website you can check the current agenda:

Where can your albums be bought from?

My music is available on iTunes, Amazon prime, Spotify and any other music on-line stores. Type my name “Yuichiro Tokuda” and find my music there. Please listen to it and share it with your friends 🙂

Yuichiro Tokuda is an emerging star in the Japanese music scene. After studying at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, he returned to Japan to form the Yuichiro Tokuda Quintet whose first album was acclaimed as “the cutting edge of the present progressive form of jazz” in Jazz Life magazine.

In 2008, Tokuda received an award for “New Face of the Year in Art & Culture” from the Chiba-City Government, the first time ever for a jazz artist. In 2008, Tokuda changed his band’s name to Yuichiro Tokuda’s RALYZZ DIG (Dig the “RAY + LYRIC + JAZZ”).

He performed at Japan’s most prestigious jazz festival “Yokohama Jazz Promenade” as well as at numerous other festivals throughout the country. Yuichiro Tokuda has released four CDs.

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