Ryo started to feel challenges in his own identity since he was quite young. He got some hints in life from, again, music. At high school Ryo joined different bands to play. Cross-genres such as rock, jazz and fusion, Ryo met many friends through music. He regained his liveliness.
“I continued to think and feel about many different things. In general, everything was fun, and I was saved. In addition, my piano teacher influenced me in a big way. He was a piano professor at an art college. I had not practiced classical music seriously, and the teacher told me just to keep meeting him, saying it was okay to play rock or jazz. It was a precious experience that I had opportunities to play with a trumpeter from ＮＨＫ Symphony Orchestra ＮＨＫ交響楽団, and a graduate student who majored in vocal music at an art college through the lessons. These are the people who I would never encounter back them.
I was very nervous at the beginning, and through ensembles one after another, I started to feel the joy of playing with musicians from different genres. I believe that still influences me a lot. It is not about “I can play any genres,” but through different music and taking them in me, happy and pleasant scene appears. I noticed already I could not live just playing classical music to devote myself to pursue music.”
As his father hoped, Ryo entered into Nippon Medical School seeking his career in medicine. He became an anesthesiologist at a university hospital, but could never give up on music. Leaving the hospital after one year, Ryo started his career as a professional musician. In the late 1980sRyo played in the baking band of 浜田省吾, a representative Japanese rock singer, as well as with many other artists, wrote songs and produce them. As Ryo’s presence was getting stronger in the Japanese music scene, producing Hong Kong’s legendary rock band, BEYOND triggered him to go beyond the border overseas. At the beginning “it took me a long time to make this decision”, but his father’s will pushed him.
“My father passed away around that time. I remembered what he had said before: he said, “In our time, it was not easy at all to come to Japan to live. That was why I contributed as a medical doctor and lived together in the community. Now it’s your time: That’s important for your generation to go abroad and connect with people overseas.” These words that I remembered were one of the reasons why I decided to accept to produce BEYOND. Back then Hong Kong had not been restored yet. It was my first time to work in Chinese region, where systems and cultures are completely different. There were many challenges, but getting over them and generate synergy could lead to real energy. I call it “a healthy toxication”. Once you experience it, you would want it more and more. It's like an addiction.
Connecting to music synergy beyond genres and borders. With this concept, the compilation of Ryo’s works is “JEJU MUSIC FESTIVAL” which started in 2013. That’s a full-fledged outdoor music event held in Cheju Island, South Korea, his father’s hometown. In the first year Ryo performed 해녀의 노래/2014(海女の歌） that he composed with 제주교향악단 (Cheju Island Symphony Orchestra) and 30 female divers. In the second year Guckkasten(クッカスタン), a popular rock band as well as the total of 150 players, including an orchestra, and band succeeding South Korean traditional music appeared on the stage. In the third year（2015）a wide range of artists including South Koreans and Japanese participated and the total number of the audience was the record 10,000. The event has become larger and larger every year.
“Last year（2016）a Cuban Latin jazz band CESARLOPEZ＆HABANA ENSEMBLE was on stage with tremendous performance. I was very glad to see the audience spontaneously enjoyed not only rock and pop music, but such kind of music. I was able to sense a good response that I was able to create that scene that can be enjoyed and experienced only in that place. This year（2017） at Cheju Music Festival, 宮沢和史 and DEPAPAPEPE an instrumental band with guitars will take part. This is going to be the first time that Japanese artist participate in full-scale. And I just can’t wait. After all I would like to show all my appreciations to Cheju Island. Through music, I want everyone to feel “Cheju Island in summer is the best.” That's what I want.
“I go wherever I got attracted to open a new door. And I keep doing that to connect people and places. It may seem like to “go beyond the borders”, although I’m not feeling that way.” Through music, Ryo will continue to play an important role to connect people with different nationalities, cultures, and fields of activities.
Written by：Tomoyuki Mori(森 朋之)
Born in 1960. South Korean nationality and Japanese resident. Composer, player and producer. Collaboration with many different Asian pop singers not only in Japan but in South Korea, China and so on, as well as solo works.
Kunihiko Ryo Live
on Saturday, December 24th at Tokyo Globe Za
Venue opens at 5pm.
Show starts at 5:30pm.
Reserved seats only, ¥7,000 (incl. tax)