SXSW: Shugo Tokumaru

Terrorbird Media held their showcase at Red 7 on Tuesday, featuring a collection of great artists like IO Echo, Fol Chen and Widowspeak. But the standout performance was Shugo Tokumaru.

Hailing from Tokyo, Tokumaru is a meticulous singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, creating and controlling every aspect of his music himself. For his albums, the first of which, Night Piece was released in America in 2004, Tokumaru combines over 100 different instruments to create a unique sound that is inherently Japanese. Guitars, accordion, and piano mix with the twinkle of a xylophone or toy bell and Tokumaru’s warm voice. For his live shows here at SXSW, however, he has enlisted the help of a drummer and a xylophonist/keyboardist/toy instrumentalist to accompany him while he bops along on guitar.

Like Tokumaru’s music, the show was fresh, fun, and optimistic. It was a beautiful, sunny afternoon in Austin and the music fit the setting perfectly. Despite being sung entirely in Japanese, the crowd seemed to be going right along with Tokumaru’s cheery pop tunes. Cheers erupted every time a new toy instrument was introduced; a contraption consisting of a spinning ball and pecking wooden birds being the crowd favorite. The band also seemed to be enjoying themselves, with smiles all around and a healthy amount of jamming.

To finish off the set, Tokumaru pulled out the only english words of the afternoon with a surprise cover of “Video Killed the Radio Star”, played on ukulele and kazoo. The crowd definitely reacted to the familiar tune, and which sounded great with bursts of bells, xylophone and melodica.

Check out a tune and the awesome stop motion video of “Katachi” the single of Shugo Tokumaru’s newest record, In Focus?

Shugo Tokumaru “Katachi” from Kijek / Adamski on Vimeo.

Post and photos by Eden Weingart.