Closely affiliated with the likes of Raphael Saadiq, Angie Stone, Mos Def and Ali Shaheed (ATCQ), Toshi is a neo-soul artist who will release his latest endeavour "Time To Share" on September 21st through Sony.
MVRemix: How did you first hook up with the likes of Mos Def, Angie Stone and Raphael Saadiq?
Toshi: Angie Stone - I met her four years ago when I worked with Raphael Saadiq for my last album. We really clicked. Angie came to Sacramento to Raphael's session and she wrote a couple of lyrics. We understood each other very well through our music. That's why I asked her if she was available for my new album. We co-wrote four or five songs together. It's very comfortable to work with her.
Mos Def - we sometimes see each other at the clubs in downtown New York. We have the same friends, the same circle of people and we've known each other for about three years. He worked on my Japanese album three years ago. He's very down to earth and sweet, a nice person. I like his voice and style; he's not too aggressive and not too mellow which suits my music.
Ali Shaheed I respect from a Tribe Called Quest [Toshi and he have worked together on "Time To Share"], he produced D'Angelo's "Brown Sugar" album. He's a very edgy Hip Hop producer. I think his musical style is very unique and that's why I wanted to work with him. I told you Mos Def is a very down to earth kind of person, but Ali is more. The tracks he make are very edgy, but his personality is very down to earth. It's so unique and so different.
MVRemix: So tell me a little about "Time To Share."
Toshi: I think that could be the answer to my influences - soul music. You can feel my love of soul through the album and like I said I worked with many talented people. I worked with Ivan and Calvin - Philly producers. I worked with people who classify as neo-soul kind of music, that's why I'm told this album could be classified as neo-soul. You can feel the soul flavour.
MVRemix: Do you have any plans specifically for tomorrow? [the release date of "Time To Share"]
Not really, I need to do the rehearsal. Next week in New York I'm gonna have a live showcase, so I need to rehearse for that.
Translator adds: There's also a listening party.
Oh, I didn't know that. So I'll be busy tomorrow with the listening party also.
MVRemix: Does it bother you that in your biography it talks more about your ethnicity and where you're from than your actual talent?
Toshi: In the bio there are many references that I'm Japanese or something like that, right?
Toshi: So, what else should I express?
MVRemix: More so I'm referring to your reasons behind decisions and why you sing the songs you do as opposed to solely the differences with your race (the biography talks a lot about how soul music isn't characteristically something Japanese people are known for rather than Toshi himself) because I don't think that matters too much.
Hmmmm... I mean I'm Japanese, that's true. My music style is soul music. I'm a Japanese man doing soul music and I don't need to hide my nationality.
Oh no, it's not a question of hiding it... It's
Toshi: [interrupting] Oh no, I know what you're talking about. Even though it's not a question of a Japanese guy singing R&B or I'm Japanese, that's true, I don't care so much. Because music is a universal language like many people have said. People often ask me "Why R&B?" "Why soul music?" Even though I'm not African-American. But this is kind of a natural thing for me. For example George Michael listened to Marvin Gaye, Jamiroquai listened to Marvin Gaye and Outkast have listened to Marvin Gaye. I have listened to Marvin Gaye, but in different places, in different countries. So doing that music isn't unnatural for me. Basically I don't care about my nationality so much when I'm doing my music.
MVRemix: Continuing along lines more pertinent to the album, are you currently in a relationship yourself?
Toshi: I don't have anybody right now. But relationships between me and any female are always happening. I'm always in love.
MVRemix: If you were to introduce someone to R&B who was unfamiliar with the music, whose material would you use to do so with?
Toshi: Like my influences?
MVRemix: Basically yeah.
Toshi: In my case, I've listened to every soul singer. James Brown, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Donnie Hathaway and including funk music like P-funk, George Clinton, Ohio Players and everyone. But when I was very little I just listened to Stevie Wonder. He's soul music, but at the same time, he's pop music. It's very easy to listen to. He's a very talented musician. I would recommend Stevie Wonder's music, even though he has a thirty year career. Every album has beautiful songs. That's the example I'd use if people don't know soul or R&B that much.
MVRemix: Do you have any thoughts on the upcoming election in the US?
Toshi: You know what, I really like a peaceful world. A peaceful, peaceful world. I was against the war so I hope people choose the person who loves a peaceful world.
MVRemix: Do you have any non-musical aspirations?
Toshi: I don't understand the question.
MVRemix: Maybe some sort of other creative aspiration, writing poetry or books or whatnot which doesn't involve music.
Toshi: I like reading books, and I like the truth within things. Like philosophy and poetry. But music is the biggest thing for me. But living in New York is interesting too. Walking down the street seeing many different people coming from different places and different countries. It's very exciting and different from Tokyo - the Japanese situation. In Tokyo there's just one culture, but here there's a hundred different ones. The music is number, New York is number two.
MVRemix: Do you last words to your fans or potential fans that are going to be reading this?
Toshi: I would like to say the title of this album "Time To Share" and sharing - I like a peaceful world. I think it's time to think about sharing. I want people to feel something like sharing when they listen to my music. But before that this is just music. I want them to enjoy it.
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