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July 2004
Issue 050

Special 50th Issue!

Tuned 4 Success

Tony Grund, music producer, artist, gives us a quick snapshot of forging a career in music in a foreign land.

Looking at the pictures around the page, most of you who go clubbing in Osaka will probably recognize me. Depending on how you’ve met me, that could be good or bad. I tend not to do things by half measures. I like to play hard and I like to work hard. During the week I work very hard indeed, so on the flip side of the coin is a life of intense fun.
Although I’ve been in Japan only a short time, I’ve done things that very few people have and I’ve met some extraordinary people who are doing things that I never will. Through hard work, perseverance, and always keeping sight of my ultimate goals, I have carved out a unique life here. It’s a life that I think few foreigners experience, and I’m proud of that.

As of right now I’m working on music for a Japanese film, putting the finishing touches on my latest album and music video, working on graphic design art, and organizing an upcoming event, Seven to Seven. During the time I’ve been in Japan I’ve been in six bands/musical projects, organized many successful rock parties, played at several festivals, and made music for DVDs, film, and NTT.

How did it all happen? When I first arrived in Kansai I met a lot of foreigners who had already been here for years and established themselves in the community. They all gave me wonderful advice and helped me out immensely. Because I always pushed my music on whoever would listen, and because these people were the ones responsible for the ‘scene’ in Osaka, I got asked to play at events such as Mukogawa Festival, and several clubs in Kansai (including Sam & Dave 5) pretty soon after arriving.

Another thing I began doing soon after arriving was playing outdoors. I don’t mean sitting on the street with an acoustic guitar. I’m talking ‘guerrilla concerts’: We would get a generator, some speakers, turntables, keyboards, whatever, and go set up somewhere and play. Kansai has some beautiful nature around it, perfect for chilling with a few friends and having private concerts. This definitely helped me keep my sanity in a country that was often very trying on my mental health.

I also worked for a major Japanese Pop record label, GIZA Studio. This lead to me releasing music on several number one J-pop CDs, a uniquely wonderful and painful experience. Many of my friends talked about how lucky I was to get that chance. They were right, but because I don’t like J-pop music it was really difficult to do that job. I learned that to be truly happy, you have to follow your heart, especially where matters of art are concerned. I think this is universal, applying to life no matter where you are.

As I look back over my time in Japan, I think the main thing that helped me and my friends be successful was our willingness to work with both Japanese and foreign people. When I finally came out of my studio after two years in Japan, I always tried to push myself into both worlds. It was tough because of the language and cultural barriers, but it was worth it. I made a lot of good connections in both of the music worlds here (the Japanese and the foreign), and have worked with a lot of talented musicians from those worlds. I realized early on that
I didn’t bring my country with me when I came here. I was and am a guest in this country, and in order to make the best of my situation,
I had to bring together two very different worlds. I have not always been successful in doing that, but I feel good that at least I tried.

If you have any questions, feel free to write me at: [email protected]
My next event is called Seven to Seven. My band, Unknown Frequency will play on Friday, the 23rd . For more info, please see the advertisement in this issue of Kansai Scene or go to my web site: www.unkf.net

Text & photos: Tony Grund


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Tony Grund
Tuning a career in music in Japan.