In June 2014, as Koki Nakano prepared for a concert at the Maison de la Culture du Japon a Paris, he was more nervous than usual. The Fukuoka-born pianist had played countless live shows before, both as a solo artist and with his electro-rock band Gas Law, but this time was different. In the audience to watch his concert was Laurent Bizot, executive producer and founder of highly-respected French independent record label No Format!. The concert would change Nakano’s life, initiating his eventual move to France.

“The main reason I headed out to Paris was because of the label,” Nakano says. “I’d been a fan of No Format! since I was 18. It’s an organization that invests in original music projects but is extremely selective in terms of artists. I knew my performance had to be flawless if there was any chance of me being signed. My manager arranged for Bizot to come and I put my case to him after the concert. He said my playing was great, but too classical and was, therefore, interested in listening to more of my work.”

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