National

Tokyo ‘city pop’ singer hoping to make it in Taiwan in second attempt

by Tomoya Shibata

Kyodo

Tokione, who made his singing debut in September in Japan, is hoping to make it big in Taiwan in his second try at success there.

Tokione, 29, moved to Taiwan six years ago with ¥1 million he had saved from working as a company employee with the hope of becoming a singer and songwriter both there and back home in Japan.

Tokione, whose real name is Tetsuya Watanabe, was a university student in Japan when he was first exposed to Taiwanese music.

“I was fascinated by (Taiwan’s) sophisticated melodies,” he said in an interview, recalling the time when he borrowed a CD from a Taiwanese-American exchange student.

In Taiwan, Tokione won a singing contest organized by a local record label, beating about 6,000 rivals, after trying out in numerous auditions chosen at random. But although he has spent most of his time writing songs since then, his works never won him a reputation.

In the end, Tokione left Taiwan 1½ years later. “I moved abroad but failed to get my chance,” he said.

After returning to Tokyo, Tokione listened to Japanese songs from the 1980s by such artists as Tatsuro Yamashita and Motoharu Sano and developed a passion for their “city pop” works.

Inspired, he decided to re-launch himself under the stage name Tokione, which is a coined using the word “Tokyo” and “tone.”

His first album, titled “Tokyo City Pop,” released Sept. 4, is based on urban music incorporating jazz, rhythm and blues and Taiwanese music under the catchphrase “next-generation city pop.”