Ryoji Inatsugi 稲継 亮至
Title: Music is everything for me.
Ryoji is a guitarist, a Shamisen player, and an African drummer. When I went to fix the strings on my koto, I saw the various instruments in Ryoji's workshop and realized that he is a multi-talented musician who fixes, makes instruments, and he is a music teacher for Infants and toddlers, and he composes music as well.
Where are you from and where do you live now?
Morioka City, Iwate Prefecture, but I moved around Japan for my father's work and eventually settled in Tokyo. Since comingto the U.S., I have always lived in California. I currently live in Inglewood.
How did you first encounter music?
My mother was passionate about the arts and was involved in theater productions and weaving. She used to take me to plays when I was little, and I loved the feeling of being in the story with the actors' passionate live performances. I even performed on stage as a child actor once. When I was in kindergarten, I was sent to a German-born children's music class called "Rhythmic". I remember that I was allowed to express myself very freely to the music there. My sister showed me "Best Hits USA" and other 80's music by famous musicians Michael Jackson, Queen, and the Police. When I was in elementary school in a small town called Shichinohe in Aomori, I vividly remember parading a portable shrine in the town with a musical accompaniment. I also have strong memories of being allowed to participate in things like fighting drums, even though I was very young.
I had been taking piano lessons for as long as I remember. it wasn't until I was 12 years old when I voluntarily started playing a musical instrument when my older brother borrowed an electric guitar from a friend.
Who were your musical influences?
My older sister, who is 7 years older than me, and my older brother, who is 5 years older than me. My sister was a classical pianist and my brother is a bass guitarist. They were always my role models and admirers, since I was a child. The Japanese artist Taiji Sato has been my mentor ever since I was allowed to be his valet when I was in high school. I was also greatly
influenced by people I went to see in person and learned to play from, such as Kiyonari Tousha of Japan Taiko Dojo in Asakusa, the Okinawa folk drum group "Mafue," the Senegalese percussion ensemble player Pape Diouf, and I Ketuk Suwentra of the Bamboo Gamelan of Bali(Jegog) band "Suar Agung," among others. I was very much influenced by them.
What brought you to the United States?
Music, of course. At the time, my friend and musical partner invited me to come here and make it here. It was only supposed to be for a year, but it's been 20 years now.
What do you want to convey through your music?
The melody that is flowing deep in my heart. I want to convey the moments that make me feel good, happy, or sad. For the past few years, it has been the excitement of surfing! In those moments, melodies come to me in a flash, so I go to the beach and record them right away with my ukulele and whistle. If I can deliver it to you fresh, I'm happy. It's like being a fisherman, isn't it? What are your main activities now?
For the past few years, I have been doing outdoor music classes for young children with their mothers, at the request of their parents. Playing lively music with children reminds me of that experience in Rhythmic. In the class, children also freely play, sing, and dance to live music on various ethnic instruments. On weekends, I often play at birthday parties for the little ones. If you are interested in an outdoor music class for mothers and toddlers, please visit our website at https://ryojimusic.com/