For many of us Fukishima, like Chernobyl for a previous generation, sparked a call for action and a deep reflection on environmental issues. For German Chancellor Angela Merkel, it meant a moratorium on nuclear energy, for Cota Biggbang it meant composing HumanERROR, a career-defining album that spoke out against the Japanese government’s shortsightedness concerning nuclear power under the band name Frying Dutchman.
MT met up with Cota about the challenges and joys of his big move from Japan to Germany and quickly discovered that there is no other city in the world that offers him the creative climate than Berlin does.
You’re known as a rock and blues guitarist. How did your progression to that area of music come about?
My father is a musician. He played guitar and 10-hole harmonica and already had a pretty big record collection when I was born, so I grew up with music and surrounded by records.
What kind of guitar do you like to play?
My roots are in blues, like Lightnin' Hopkins and the British rock movement of the 1960s, like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, Hendrix. I am also influenced by funk and soul, things like Curtis Mayfield, James Brown and Sly and the Family Stone!
You have a lot of influences, but who is your musical hero?
You're well known for a protest song, did that bring a lot of pressure to you in your native Japan?
I’m from Kyoto which is a very beautiful and very conservative city. But in this case, we were the critics and did not receive much criticism. People in Japan supported us. The song was translated into 7 languages.
And why did you choose Berlin in the first place?
We toured Europe in 2008 with Frying Dutchman. We hit Paris, Amsterdam, Tel Aviv, and other places, but when we played in Berlin I fell in love with the city. I fell in love with Berlin. Of the places we played, Berlin was number one.
That’s because of the vibes and the people. There’s a spirit of creativity and freedom. Berlin is big enough to be anonymous, but if you want to show your ability people are open to it.
Tell us about the transition from Japan to Germany
It's a bit of a sad story. I was gathering money for my move to Europe and sold so many instruments. I even sold my first guitar. It was a beautiful Les Paul and it was a mistake to even think of selling it!
I got punished for the bad idea of selling it. I took it to an auction house. At the very moment I handed it to the appraiser, he dropped it by accident and broke it. Before then I was thinking it could bring in some good money, but in that moment I realized that I did wrong! It felt like God or Buddah was punishing me and I couldn’t stop crying.
Tell us what you find exciting about Music Traveler
I love the concept. It’s all about sharing info on studios, which is a very useful and necessary thing.
I would have loved something like Music Traveler existed when I was younger, since being able to play music anywhere is such an exciting thing. And now that I’m more established being able to rehearse just before a gig in a beautiful space is a wonderful thing.
What inspired your last creation?
The birth of my daughter and death of my Grandfather. He was a great man who died at age 90.
What about the future of music?
Now is the time for streaming. Streaming is born out of convenience, but I don’t like it so much. I am old school and I much prefer live music.