TOPArt & CultureMusicMore Tokyo Music: Robert Taira Wilson and Shamanz

More Tokyo Music: Robert Taira Wilson and Shamanz

TW and More Than Music put the musicians of the Tokyo live scene on the spot and under the spotlight

By Lyn Tsuchiya

Tokyo Weekender and More Than Music collaborate in a monthly interview series with the diverse musical performers on the Tokyo music scene. For the first interview, we caught up with Robert Taira Wilson and Tama from Shamanz (stylized as SHAMANZ). You can see both acts live on Saturday, February 26 at an MTM event in Shibuya.

Photo by Kento Watanabe

Robert Taira Wilson

Currently based in Japan, Robert Taira Wilson is an English artist, musician and songwriter. He mixes classic guitar with modern alternative songwriting to create original and deeply personal songs.

Who do you take musical inspiration from?

I’m very impressionable and listen to a wide range of music. If I find something I like, I try to incorporate some aspect of it into my music. I’ve been listening to Boris this week. I’m not sure how that is going to work out. 

What can we expect from your live performances? 

My music is quite dark and melancholic. It deals with very serious subjects, but I’m not a serious person at all. I usually laugh at things before I get angry or sad about them. As a performer, you have to let people inside your head and let them see the real you. That’s what I try to do during my sets: show people a slice of me. I hope they can accept me. It’s fine if things don’t make sense. Nothing makes sense.

 

What kind of vibe do you bring to your studio recordings and your live performances? 

I’m a highly strung maniac by the end of most recording sessions. I hope that doesn’t translate into my records though. As for live performances, if I haven’t taken my audience on an emotional journey, if they haven’t laughed and cried during my set then I haven’t done my job. Preferably they will laugh at my jokes and cry at my music, not the other way around. 

Dream guest artist, dead or alive to have a meal and drink with?

It’s difficult to answer because I don’t feel the need to meet any artist since I already know everything I need from their music. Also, having a meal and a drink with a stranger isn’t my kind of thing, so I’d pick Kate Beck, a friend of mine who has recently disappeared from the face of the earth.

What was the best stay-at-home pastime for you during the state of emergency?

Playing mini football with my Yorkshire Terrier. I’ve also been busy recording and producing a lot of new music and videos at home. I have a music video coming out on February 28 and a new single on March 18. I hope you can check them out. 

Follow Robert Taira Wilson on Instagram


 

Shamanz

A truly multicultural and genre-bending band that mixes hints of flamenco and Latin music in their style, Shamanz appeal to both young and old, drawing everyone in. The backbeat tempo they set gets everyone dancing.

Who do you take musical inspiration from?

The melodies in the small things inspire me. Even when I am watching TV with my kids, I get inspired. Programs for children are amazing to me. They’re so pure since as all they’re trying to do is make you happy.  I listen to a lot of different artists, from Paco de Lucía to Sting, but I don’t really listen to modern music. I just kind of do what I feel like I want to do, what I want to write. The songs that stick with me are the ones that I literally cook for two or three years.

What is the backstory behind the band name Shamanz?

I think we are all shamans. A shaman is someone who can transpose energy into other people and this is something we all do on a daily basis on a small scale. A professional shaman’s life purpose is to give energy to people. That’s one of the reasons why I named the band Shamanz. Our music is for the people. It’s a place for us to express ourselves, so we as a band become like a megaphone in a way. We project energy and everything we want to say in a strong and clear way. 

 

How did the pandemic affect you and your music performances? 

Covid-19 gave me time to think about my life and to finally take a break from gigging and performing. This world has been going nonstop since it started and people have just gotten lost. People don’t know what they want anymore. This gave us all time to step back and think about our values and purpose in life. 

What word summed up 2021 for you?

Limbo.

Dream guest artist, dead or alive to have a meal and drink with?

My idols change but right now, I would love to meet Yamandu Costa. He’s an absolutely amazing Brazilian guitarist. He is like the Paco de Lucía of Brazil. 

What should people expect to see at your live performance?

Wow, that’s a very hard question. Right now, we’ve returned to this jam-band formation and we usually improvise half of the show. I want people to dance, feel stirred inside; happy, sad, and nostalgic, to feel that they’re alive. You know what, just come see us perform and you’ll see what it’s all about. 

Follow Shamanz on Instagram. 


You can see Robert Taira Wilson and Shamanz perform live at Shibuya 7th Floor on Saturday, February 26.

TW readers get a 10% discount on the ticket by entering the code: TKYWD.

The same code gets you a 50% discount on the first month of the membership fee as a trial. You can sign up for membership here.