Award-winning group share world music

Fubuki Daiko bring their “blizzard drums” to the Octave theatre tonight.
Fubuki Daiko bring their “blizzard drums” to the Octave theatre tonight.
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Interview/Preview: Fubuki Daiko @ Octave Theatre, tonight

On Oct. 28 the award-winning Japanese drum stylings of Fubuki Daiko will be returning to Kingston. The four-person troupe promises its Kingston audience a fusion of traditional Japanese drumming, martial arts and raw energy.

The name “Fubuki Daiko” means “blizzard drums” and is representative of the group’s Winnipeg home base.

“We wanted ... the name to give [our audience] a feeling of where we were coming from. Since we’re in Winnipeg, we wanted to name the group after the weather we always get,” said Hiroshi Koshiyama, a founding member of Fubuki Daiko.

Despite their Winnipeg base, three of the group’s four members studied taiko (traditional Japanese drumming and a form of the word “daiko”) in San Francisco.

“Our main training ... in terms of taiko would be in San Francisco, where [bandmate Naomi Guilbert and I] were training with our teacher for four years ... That’s how we met Bruce [Robertson, another group member]. Bruce also trained with a group there ... he trained there for about three years,” Koshiyama said.

Naomi’s sister Kimi Guilbert is the fourth member of Fubuki Daiko. She received her taiko training after joining the group.

“The group has been around for about 10 years—we actually just celebrated our 10-year anniversary,” Koshiyama said.

During their ten years together, Fubuki Daiko has put out two albums. The first, simply titled Fubuki was released in 1999 and won them critical acclaim and a 2001 Prairie Music Award for outstanding instrumental recording. Their newest recording, entitled Zanshin, was released this past April and received a Western Canadian Music Award nomination for best album design.

“Our main goal is to spread the music of taiko as much as possible and try and expose this form to as many people as possible,” Koshiyama said about the group’s touring and teaching practices. “Our teacher’s goal was always to ... make taiko drumming as common a word as ‘sushi’ ... and we want to keep that spirit alive as well.” Fubuki Daiko is on the road for about a third of the year, and during their time at home, they teach taiko to a group of students, as well as to elementary students in a provincially sponsored week-long program called “Artists in the Schools.”

They have also taught taiko at the university level. At Berea College in Kentucky, the group taught a month-long credit program.

On tour, Fubuki Daiko stays mostly in central Canada, performing most often in Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. They have also done shows in Alberta, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and the northern United States.

“We’d like to really, basically, blow [people] off their seats,” Koshiyama said when asked what he hoped to get out of the Kingston audience.

“We hope that the people who do see [us perform] get really interested in the world music [scene] ... We would also like to ... break down stereotypes and things like that as well, and really kind of give people a taste of culture.”

Fubuki Daiko performed in Kingston three years ago and is looking forward to their return.

“The show itself is going to be quite different [from our previous Kingston show] in terms of the artistic quality,” said Koshiyama.

Despite the fact that some elements of their previous performance will reappear, a new spin has been added to the choreography to ensure that this show stands apart.

“We’re doing what’s called a lion dance, but the lion dance is a lot different from what we had done three years ago. This is [a] more traditional, more artistic variety of lion dance,” Koshiyama said.

While their performances are very spiritual and cultural as well musical, the audience plays an important role as well, making each show unique.

“Our philosophy is that we get [our] energy from the ground and we put the energy into the drums and then we also put our energy back into the audience. And when the audience feels that energy and then they kind of bounce it back to us it really becomes [more of a] back-and-forth thing,” said Koshiyama.

“When the audience and the performers are really tight together, it’s really a kind of a wild, crazy, magical moment.”

Fubuki Daiko performs at the Octave Theatre in Kingston at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 28. Tickets are on sale for $16 and can be purchased at the Octave Theatre box office.

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