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Unedited Feed from the Yoshida Brothers panel at Otakon 2010. Transcription: bayoab
Note: ( ) is usually commenting on the panel and was not said.

12:25:52 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> (Away we go)
12:27:32 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> (video playing, believe this is the song from the wii commercials)
12:29:22 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> Hello everyone
12:29:27 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> We're the brothers
12:29:48 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> We had a good time last night, and we really enjoyed. Did you all enjoy the show last night?
12:30:19 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> So today, we are going to tell you about who we are, and also about the history of shamisen and what is shamisen, and how to play shamisen.
12:30:45 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> We are from Hokkaido area, and started playing shamisen at the age of 5 each.
12:31:24 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> So, our family is not really a musical family. My father is a businessmen. He was playing shamisen as a hobby when he was young and he left his dream to us.
12:31:58 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> So, we started playing shamisen naturally, but actually in Japan, old people play shamisen, not young kids.
12:32:51 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> So until attending a shamisen competition , they thought about quitting.
12:33:41 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> At the age of 12, and my younger brother, 10 at the time, started doing a shamisen competition in Aomori, we started to think that we wanted to become the top shamisen players.
12:34:18 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> So we became good competitors to each other and it was important to us which brother got more applause.
12:35:12 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> So after graduating high school, I moved to highschool and started to learn the Japanese folk music, and my younger brother stayed in Hokkaido and did shamisen lessons... (lost rest)
12:35:22 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> So in 1999, we made our debut as the yoshida brothers.
12:35:33 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> We released 10 albums so far in Japan already.
12:35:55 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> So our first 2 albums were mostly with shamisen, but with our 3rd album, we started to record with a band.
12:36:17 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> We have two version of our shows in Japan now. One is shamisen only. The other version is with the full band.
12:36:40 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> We haven't done the tour with the full band in the states yet but we would like to show you the videos with the band.
12:47:54 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> (The band gives an acoustic rock concert type feeling almost... like without regular guitars)
12:42:42 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> And in 2003, we debuted in the US.
12:43:51 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> And in 2004, we performed the opening for MLB, and in 2005, we did the recording of an album in LA. One of our songs was featured in the movie, memories of a geisha.
12:44:17 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> And in 2007, our song, Kodo Remix(?) was featured on the Wii console TV commercial and lasted a year.
12:44:44 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> From 2008, we started a lot of collaborations with other artists... Monkey magic for one...
12:44:56 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> And the Nightmare before christmas, the album, we play one song
12:46:30 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> From last year, we started colloration with a famous house DJ (Daisou?), and one of the songs became the theme song of the Japan pavillion at the Shanghai Expo.
12:45:55 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> (lost parts)
12:46:30 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> We'd like to show you the music film, the one with the Daishi Dance...
12:47:20 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> (Video playing is Daishi Dance "Renovation" feat Yoshida Brothers)
12:51:22 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> And now we'd like to talk about the history of shamisen.
12:51:48 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> Shamisen is originally from China and it is called Shan-sen.
12:52:19 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> The biggest difference between the shamisen, we use the big pick, but with shan-sen, they put nails on their fingers and play.
12:53:03 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> About 500 years ago, shan-sen came to Okinawa island. And the shan-sen became the shanshin and shrunk in size... eventually coming to Osaka.
12:53:34 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> we have an instrument called biwa, similar to shamisen, they improvised(?) the two instruments and shamisen was born
12:53:52 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> So, biwa was played with the big pick, bachi, so that's why shamisen is played with bachi
12:54:17 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> So the shamisen started to be featured in Kabuki and (Jourori?)
12:54:41 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> About 120 years ago, in Aomori, the tsugaru shamisen was born.
12:55:00 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> Actually, the blind people played to get money at the entrance of houses at the time.
12:55:06 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> So now we'd like to show you the instrument.
12:55:43 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> The neck is made with a very hard redwood.
12:56:14 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> The neck is made with a very hard redwood(rosewood?).
12:56:01 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> With that part, very soft wood is used.
12:56:04 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> We have only 3 strings.
12:56:36 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> With tsugaru shamisen, we strike the shamisen... the thickest string is made out of nylon.
12:56:53 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> With the pick, it's called nejime, they can change the tunes like with a guitar
12:57:05 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> That's bachi (the pick)... it's very elastic.
13:00:41 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> With my left hand, (they have a thing) to allow the fingers to slide along the necks...
12:58:22 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> Most songs are played in keys such as C G and C, that's the best key for the shamisen.
12:58:32 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> Originally, the tsugaru shamisen was played as background music.
12:58:44 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> And changed the key according to the singer of the music.
12:59:04 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> We actually hit and strike...
12:59:28 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> We move the bachi left and right (like he's demonstrating)
13:00:00 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> There is a technique called sukui(?) which is to pull off (basically pulling the bachi away from it)
13:00:08 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> With the left hand, the key is set, but we use only 3 fingers
13:00:22 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> Not only holding it, but pluck
13:01:02 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> So lastly, we'd like to perform a song.
13:01:28 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> Last night we used an amplifier, but today we will perform without one. A live sound...
13:02:00 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> The song is called Fuji
13:05:22 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> So if you have any questions....
13:05:59 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> Q; What are some of the inspirations for your songs?
13:06:40 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> A: I listen to a lot of music from all around the world, I'm particularly interested in guitarists and one i really like is Pat Mithiny.(?)
13:07:12 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> Well, I'm from hokkaido which has a lot of nature so nature is an inspiration to me.
13:07:16 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> (Older 2nd)
13:07:23 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> Q: What stopped you from quitting?
13:07:30 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> A: Dad was really strict.
13:07:52 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> I think the number one reason was at the compeition,w e saw other young people playing and that was very inspirational to us.
13:07:56 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> (Y 2nd)
13:08:04 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> Q: Which collaboration was your favorite to work with?
13:08:30 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> A; That's a tough question. I think one song that showed us how much potential there is is change with monkey magic.
13:08:35 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> (Y)
13:08:56 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> Q: When you do the band, do you write down all the instruments music?
13:09:21 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> A: It depends on the situation and the song, but of course, the shamisen phrases, we write those ourselves, but there are times when a professional music editor will come in and do the other instruements.
13:09:22 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> (Y)
13:09:37 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> Q: How do you feel when you watch the videos of yourselves?
13:10:08 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> A: When we're playing, we're too busy to feel embarassed, but now that I think of it, it is pretty embarassing. And the reason for that is our mouths are always half open when playing. (Y)
13:10:38 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> Q: Thought about doing any collaborations with a blue grass band (with the similarites to banjo)?
13:11:20 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> A: That's a very interesting idea. There is actually a CD out there from another artist, that has a banjo in it and we've heard it and (it's like).
13:11:48 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> When we come through customs, we have trouble explaining what a shamisen is so we just call it a banjo. (Y)
13:11:42 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> Q: Play any other insturments?
13:11:45 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> A; not really (O)
13:12:16 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> Q: When they wear the hakama, what are the parts called.
13:12:25 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> A: The top part is the kimono, and the bottom is the hakama.
13:12:49 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> Q: Why do you shout and why does the younger brother normally do it?
13:12:54 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> A: Good question. First is the signal the start of the song.
13:13:01 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> And the rest is just guts. (O)
13:13:23 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> Q: What type of girl do you like....
13:13:45 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> A: Let's see.... I think I like cute girls more than pretty girls....
13:13:57 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> Wow, he gave a serious answer... I'm the opposite...
13:14:03 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> I think it's good that we like different types.
13:14:14 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> Q: Do you like coming to the US? How do you like it when you are here?
13:14:48 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> A: This is our 8th time in the US but we never stop looking forward to coming. The only thing I don't like is the food here is so great, we find ourselves gaining weight every time. (Y)
13:15:41 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> Q: When you were younger, what did your friends say about you playing?
13:16:24 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> A: They teased us a lot. So during festivals in Japan, they would ask us to play in Japan, but of course we were the only young people ther eand the other people playing were our grandparents. (Y)
13:16:30 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> Q: How long do you practice a day?
13:16:36 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> A; On average, 3 -4 hours. (Y)
13:16:57 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> Q: What has been your biggest obstacle in your career?
13:17:25 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> A Well, I think the toughest part of our career is that, in our genre, you never see anyone debuting in their teens.
13:17:43 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> So before we debuted under a major label, we honestly thought, it would be great if we could get a CD out before we're 40.
13:18:15 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> I think it's miraculous that we're standing here now seeing all of our fans in the US. (Y? O?)
13:18:30 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> Q: Ages? A; 33 and 31 are their current ages.
13:18:53 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> Q; The neck of the shamisen is very thin and you seem to strike it hard, have you ever broke the neck?
13:19:37 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> A: With the violin, under the neck, they have a guard along the neck so that you can just replace that, but they don't have that for the shamisen... so the part under the strings, it keeps getting chipped away, so every time we perform, we have to sand it smooth
13:19:45 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> So when you play the way we do, the shamisen won't last you very long.
13:20:21 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> And it's very sensitive to moisture, especially the white part at the base, if you put it in a human enviroment, it becomes very easy to tear.
13:20:36 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> Q: What differences are there between performing in the US and Japan?
13:21:05 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> A; Well, when we are performing in Japan, we know when the audience is going to clap or cheer, it's sometimes hard for us to predict, so it's a lot more fun performing in the US.
13:21:08 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> (O)
13:21:21 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> Q: How long do you see yourselves playing? Forever right?
13:21:25 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> A: For the rest of our lives.
13:21:58 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> Q: How traditional is the stuff you guys write? If someone plays a different style, how would they see it.
13:22:39 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> A: Before we debuted, we were playing very traditional songs
13:22:57 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> But sinceo our debut, we want as many people to listen as possible so we've been challenging ourselves to do new things with the shamisen.
13:23:27 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> So right now, our style of music is very contemporary, but maybe in the future it may become the style.
13:23:28 <bay|Ota|Yoshida> End
Notes: None