Rapper Shing02’s latest: a short film about technology and happenstance

This weekend I had the pleasure of meeting and having a long sun-soaked breakfast with rapper Shing02, who grew up all over the world — Berkeley, Tanzania, Japan — and now lives in LA. He’s super famous for tracks he created with famous DJs like Nujabes and was part of the up-and-coming hip hop movement on the East Bay in the 90s. Understated, thoughtful, a true lyricist who can connect nodes of thought and makes cool analogies with words.

He recently made this film called then-n-now, watch!

Maywa Denki debuts the Otamatone Deluxe at SXSW

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I just got back from a fabulous two-day trip to Austin, Texas for SXSW with Novmichi Tosa of Maywa Denki. Tomo + I went took him there as part of the IEEE contingency. He gave an amazing performance and debuted the Otamatone Deluxe, which goes on sale next month. (You can buy the normal-sized Otamatone on Amazon.) I’ve known him for years, but this was the first time I got to see him perform live. So great!

Amazing video interview here

Lady Gaga designs t-shirt for Uniqlo’s Save Japan campaign


While I was in Tokyo last week, Uniqlo launched their Save Japan campaign. Together with Conde Nast Japan, they got all these celebrities to design black and white (and sometimes a little bit of color) t-shirts. I think this is the Lady Gaga one. Others include Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron, Karl Lagerfeld, and Orlando Bloom. So fancy pants!

You can buy them at any Uniqlo store for $20 each.

Uniqlo’s Save Japan t-shirt collection

New rock album inspired by Japanese death poems


My friend Peter Arcuni, aka Sonny Pete, has a new album out called Where the Shadows Pass that is inspired by Japanese death poems. Very cool! He says:

Where the Shadows Pass, first inspired by a collection of Japanese death poems, is conceived as a series of vignettes and meditations on the nature of death and passage. You see, in the Buddhist tradition monks would each write a single haiku on their deathbed to reflect on the shadowy journey ahead. Despite the grim circumstance of their creation, these death poems were also a celebration of life both in this world and on to the next. This duality is the crux of the odes comprising Where the Shadows Pass.

We just missed his performance at Cafe du Nord (one of my favorite venues in SF) last week but keep an eye on his web site for more show dates… also, I just downloaded the album (available on iTunes) and it’s great!

Sonny Pete’s web site

Guy beatboxing the Mario theme on a flute

Instead of doing what I’m supposed to be doing on the Internet, I’ve been surfing YouTube for Mario theme song instrumentals for the past hour. Love this one of a guy playing the flute + beatboxing…

But! This song is by far my favorite. Is it called Donuts? It’s so lovely on the piano. If you can play this song for me, please video tape it and I’ll post it on TokyoMango. So far I only know two people who can play it–my good friend Joe Sabia and The Mario Piano Guy (who seems to have erased himself from the Interwebs). Thanks.

These Russian nesting dolls are actually theremin-like instruments

They look like Russian Matryoshka dolls, but they’re actually theremin-like instruments called “matromyns.” Check out this amazing performance by Japanese musical group Mable–they do live performances with matromyns and just released their second album last month. The matromyn is actually a real instrument that you can buy in select music shops for about $400, has a theremin loop, an amp, and a speaker inside. It’s played the same way as a theremin, by waving your hand near the instrument, and spans five octaves. As evidenced by the YouTube video above, it sounds pretty cool and is visually just kind of bizarre and stunning.

Redemption Song played on a shamisen and other instruments

Playing for Change, the awesome music crew from LA that makes collaborative music videos of artists around the world playing awesome songs, released this version of Bob Marley’s Redemption Song featuring Hiromitsu Agatsuma, an accomplished shamisen player from Ibaraki Prefecture. I met the PFC crew in India four years ago when they were shooting their pilot. We were all there hanging out with a Tibetan rock trio called the JJI Exile Brothers—-I think they’re in one of their earlier videos.

Video: Grandpa singing folk song using LaDiDa iPhone app

Check out this adorable video of an 88-year old Japanese man testing out the LaDiDa iphone app. LaDiDa is a machine learning app that reads your voice and then sets background music to whatever tune you’re belching out. I love how excited he gets when the music comes on, and his repetition of “dokkoisho” is hilarious. (It’s a word typically used by old people when they have to get up from a chair or pick up something heavy, signaling added physical effort.) I don’t know why he’s holding a boat.

I know this App has been out and popular for awhile, but I’m just downloading it now and am gonna try it out. I’ll let you know how that goes.

You can download LaDiDa here.

Sour’s new video is interactive, browser-based genius. Watch it.

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Sour — a band known for making awesome videos that exploit the powers of the Internet — has really outdone itself with this new one, called Mirror. It uses your browser, webcam, Facebook, Twitter, Google image search, and html5 to create this crazy interactive viewing experience. Try it now!

Sour Mirror main page via Engadget (Thanks, Joe!)

Music video by Sour features fans on webcams

Tonoharu, a Lost in Translation-esque manga (+ Pink Lady UFO video!)

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There’s an interesting review and discussion over at Boing Boing about Tonoharu, a manga about an American who gets a job teaching English in a small Japanese town. Reviewers have likened it to Lost in Translation, and there’s a somewhat heated discussion about how racist that movie is in the comments section. Take a peek if you’re interested or want to contribute your two cents!

I love that Mark embedded a video of the famous Pink Lady song UFO kind of as an afterthought. Classic 70s tune written by a good family friend of mine.

via Boing Boing (Thanks, Lisa G!)