Since meeting Isaku several years ago, I've been interested in his unique career path as a professional musician. In this interview, he talks about learning from his first teacher Kenny Endo, becoming a member of Amanojaku, attending Berklee College of Music, music education training at Longy School of Music, teaching at Los Angeles Taiko Institute, and performing with UnitOne (Asano Taiko US taiko ensemble). I have included some music from Isaku's album IK: Yatai, Sanctuary (Featuring Yoshinori Kikuchi), Mr. KE (Featuring Swavek Kowalewski), and Winchester's Groove (Featuring Cari & Winchester Nii Tete).
After we got through my questions, Isaku asked my thoughts about the topic of his upcoming talk for Japan Foundation Los Angeles: asking whether there is such a thing as 'Japanese taiko' and 'American taiko.' Because this was his topic, we decided to post the conversation on Isaku's website. I would encourage everyone to check it out and comment on whether you agree or disagree with either of our opinions. Isaku's website is full of useful information including articles, music samples, and so much more.
Isaku Kageyama is an eclectic and versatile taiko performer, hand percussionist, and drummer, currently working with groups such as Asano Taiko UnitOne, film-scoring extravaganza The Masterpiece Experience, world music group Rhythm of the Universe, anime band Soulandscape, and the LA Japanese Music Ensemble. His resume includes major corporate events and TV commercials for global brands such as Boeing and Toyota, performances at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, and tours including nations such as Brazil, China, Thailand, United Arab Emirates. Formerly a principal drummer of premiere ensemble Amanojaku, he holds a Bachelor of Music from the Berklee College of Music and a Master of Arts from Longy School of Music of Bard College. He is also a two-time National Odaiko (large drum) Champion, becoming the youngest person to win highest honors at the Mt. Fuji Odaiko Contest in 2000, and Hokkaido in 2003.