Island Slumber
(Vintage Groove)


Over in Japan, guitarist Ken Sasaki released his 2010 CD entitled Island Slumber. Credited to his group name, Kenny Sasaki & The Tiki Boys, the ten track Island Slumber CD is a bit more laid back then usual for the guitarist but, all told it’s a good overview of Sasaki’s unique musical approach to instrumental guitar based music with a slight Eastern / Asian / Exotica angle. Plus it is called Island Slumber, so press to play and prepare your mind to be relaxed! Combining Hawaiian Island flavored music (in places) with a penchant for the giant exotica music legends like Martin Denny and Les Baxter, the sound of Island Slumber is exotic lounge instrumental music at its best, all played to perfection by a younger generation musician focused on carrying the retro legacy forward with a new and exciting vision. In fact, music and guitar fans interested in Sasaki’s uniquely appealing Asian / Hawaiian instrumental sound on Island Slumber are well advised to pick up on his earlier releases with Kenny Sasaki & The Tiki Boys including their '02 CD debut Tiki Moon, the '05 Tiki Pop CD as well as his first Ken Sasaki solo album from 2004 entitled Dream. Outstanding relaxing music guaranteed to produce a stellar “chill out” effect, Island Slumber is a splendid way to take a quick vacation from the unrelenting stress of the modern world.

MUSIC WEB EXPRESS 3000 presents
an interview with KEN SASAKI

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MWE3: The new Island Slumber CD is one of your best yet. Is there a story behind the title and also behind the making of the Island Slumber album and how do you compare it to your other album releases?

KS: This album is a mix of tunes, slow/quiet/retro stuff and some percussive stuff, I recorded it during this 2-3 years. Like other albums of mine, I played all guitars and basses on it. I recorded and mixed it by myself also, but I moved and changed some studio equipment before mixing, so it took much time to finish the mixes. I titled it Island Slumber, because I wanted to make a dreamy/relaxing album that is good to listen when you're going to slumber, dreaming of tropical islands. I think the first album with the "Tiki Boys" was exotica sounding, the second was surf guitar album, and this new album became a lounge/ambient type album.

MWE3: Your music often reflects your big influences of island music such as instrumental exotica music legends like Martin Denny and Les Baxter. How influenced were you by Martin and Les and who else would you consider among your biggest musical influences and guitar influences and how influenced are you by Japanese music?

KS: I got interested in exotica music through tiki culture, like paintings of the artist Shag. Before that, I didn't know much about exotica music. I'm not sure I was musically influenced by those great exotica artists, but I like their music because it's sometimes much more exotic than actual tropical islands. Probably people in ‘60s were more imaginative than we are in this internet era... I’ve been trying to make music for an imaginary paradise in my tiki albums, so maybe I could say I’m influenced in that way. Actually, my music and guitar influences are mostly from ‘60-70’s British and American rock and pop. I had been a composer/bassist for 20 years, so I don't know I can say I'm a guitarist even now, but I play guitars in my album, because I need a characteristic taste in this type of music, not like sophisticated studio players. I like guitarists whose playing could be instantly recognizable. I think Japanese traditional music is beautiful, but I don’t think I’m influenced by Japanese popular music.

MWE3: What albums from the past 50 years would you say were the biggest influences on you and your musical inspirations / directions?

KS: Too many to say, but the album I've heard the most would be Abbey Road by The Beatles.

MWE3: What guitar is featured inside the booklet for the Island Slumber CD. What other guitars do you play on the new CD and are there other guitars in your collection that you can mention here?

KS: The guitar is Teisco K-2L. It sounds amazing, but I bought it at the end of the recording so I played it only a bit in the new album. I played a Gretsch 6120 mainly on the new album. Also I used Danelectro 56-U2, Longhorn 6 string bass, Gibson Les Paul and a Fender Japan Jazzmaster. My electric basses are Fender Precision ('62/'72), Fender Jazz ('65/'78), Rickenbacker 4001, Hofner 500/1 and the original fretless bass. Also, I used Gibson SG reissue bass with flats in the new album to get deep round tone. My only one upright bass is Rubner/German.

MWE3: Your solo album Dream was released under your name, Ken Sasaki while your other albums including the new Island Slumber are released under the name Kenny Sasaki & The Tiki Boys. How would you compare the sound and vision of your solo albums with the releases by Kenny Sasaki & The Tiki Boys?

KS: Kenny Sasaki & The Tiki Boys is an imaginary band that plays tiki/exotic/retro music. I enjoy possibilities in the limitation. As Ken Sasaki, I think I would keep making music freely, with no genre limitation.

MWE3: What are your future plans for recording and/or playing live?

KS: Maybe the next album would be a Ken Sasaki album. I don't know what kind of music it will be. I'm now looking for a good idea. About playing live, I've been focused on recording projects, so I don't have any plan now, but I think I want to do something in the future.

MWE3: Thank you Ken. Best to you moving forward!

KS: Thank you!


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