#JapanLove Interview

The justalilhype! Crew got the chance to catch up with 2 out of the many people involved with the Japan Love campaign project, a fundraising movement formed to aid the recent unfortunate natural disaster in Japan in hopes to bring awareness about the situation of Japan through the means of social media, charity collection stations, and fundraising events.  Vancouver hip-hop artist JayKin and Japan-born Vancouverite Taq Yoneda also known as Q, was present in the short interview in discussion of this project. They talked to us about the inspirations behind curating this event together, how various art pieces such as poster design and songs for the campaign came together, and messages that they are deeply trying to bring across to everyone in the world, about caring for a country that they have a strong connection to and love for.

The Japan Love Fundraiser Event happens tonight (March 28) at Fortune Sound Club, and there’s a big list of Vancouver artists coming together to show case their talents. Furthermore, download the S.I.N.G. 4 Japan tribute song, “Won’t Shake Us Down” featuring ft Jay Kin, Sophia Danai, Wataru Uno, & Omar Khan, produced by Grammy Award Winner Chin Injeti here.

Full interview and more information about the campaign attached below.

For more information about the Japan Love Project, click here.

For more information about the Japan Love Fundraiser event happening at Fortune Sound Club, click here.

Please introduce yourself to our readers briefly.

Q: My name is Q. I am a graphic artist from Japan, representing Kyoto.

J: JayKin, Vancouver hip-hop artist, here on behalf of Japan Love.

One of the really unfortunate events that happened recently was the Japan Tsunami Earthquake. What was your initial response to this disaster?

Q: I can honestly tell that my first response was like … just no words. I stopped moving and I couldn’t do anything. I was just shocked. It took me a few minutes to figure out what was going on. It was like the feeling of 9/11. I couldn’t believe that it was literally happening in Japan. I couldn’t believe that it was real.

J: Yeah, my first initial reaction was like … in shock. You know, I turned on the TV and the first thing I saw was the footage of the way it was hitting the coast and I was just like … I was hurt that it was happening to a place that I think about so much and a place that has changed me a lot–kind of like a loss of a friend or a friend that got injured really bad. That’s how I see it.

Another response that you had was curating the Japan Love campaign. it was received really well over social media, with people using the hash tag #japanlove on Twitter and people constantly supporting and spreading the awareness. How did this project spark?

Q: Well, I can only talk about the visual side. First, I texted JayKin and asked him if he saw the news. I was panicking but I was already at a level where I wanted to do something for Japan.

J: When he texted me, I was on my way home and I had just found out. I don’t watch a lot of TV and usually when I go home, it’s usually straight to the computer or whatever. When Q texted me, I just found out and did not know what to say. I think I did call you[to JayKin] because I can tell in your text.

Q: First, we had a little conversation with texting. The next day, we actually talked on the phone. It was tough times, man, by then I had seen the video clips on YouTube and everybody just running away, and everything was being destroyed. I couldn’t believe my eyes.  So I called JayKin and said, “We’ve got to do something.”

J: You know, me finding out so late, I was still in shock, just gathering in my head what was going to happen. Like Q was saying, I can’t just sit here and do nothing. I agreed and wanted to do something. I remember I texted him, “Let’s just call it ‘Japan Love’”. It’s nothing to really to do with the song itself, I don’t really attach it to that, it’s just the name. It was appropriate because you’re Japanese[to Q] and I love Japan–it’s a common thing that Q and I had, it’s just Japan love. Next thing you know, the day after, he had a flyer for it and it said ‘Japan Love’, and I was like, you went with it! He made artwork for it real quick. I was just so happy, and I tagged as many people as I could. Next thing you know, it was all over the world–Facebook-world.

Q: For the name, when I first heard it, I was already thinking about the image, something like the heart. When JayKin texted me the name, I knew that the name was what I was looking for. I went with it, and like JayKin said, it was really quick that everybody got the message and spread it all over Facebook first. It was so amazing that everyone was connecting to that symbol and image. It symbolizes my heart too, I kind of fired up my heart to do this, so that’s why the heart had a little flame on it, it symbolizes my heart towards Japan.

One of the things I noticed about the poster when it first came out was that it was a simple symbol based on a message, which stands out a lot from other posters such as events or messages with a lot of text. Can you explain to us about the awareness aspect of the project?

Q: Right after it was spreading on the internet, I then talked to people thinking the same thing. I just gave the artwork to them, then they did a really good job in making it into a charity activity. They actually collected a lot of money for Japan already. And also, on March 28th, we are doing an event and it’s going to be a very big one too. It’s based on everyone’s feeling on how they want to help Japan. We are in this together, it’s not really separated. It’s like a collective. I bring the artwork and image, JayKin brings the awesome show, and everybody brings.

J: Whatever everybody is strong in, we can all bring it together and operate as one, rather than everyone focusing on the same text. If you are good at this, then you can do that. You have to understand that because we didn’t have too much time on the show side. As far as the fundraising, that’s going to continue for a long time. Everybody is going to do his or her part and raise money for Japan.
There’s an upcoming event that has an amazing list of people involved. Please tell us a bit more about the upcoming event held at Fortune Sound club on March 28th.

J: With the flyer, it was really great that it came out so quick because it caught the attention of some artists, producers and promoters of the city. I sent a mass email to contacts and ALife New York, Seattle, Toronto, and GMAN, Garret of Fortune Sound returned a message and said that he was down to help. He said he was down to do it at Fortune. That was amazing because the idea was already thrown at me at doing it there, but I didn’t know because I was supposed to do my release party at Shine on the same day but this is something bigger than just promoting myself, so I cancelled with the event at Shine. It’s also going to be DJ Wataru’s farewell party as well because he’s going to Japan on the 30.

What is one personal message that you would like to spread through this campaign?

Q: To make it really short, I just want to prove that I can do something even from here. I am outside of Japan, but my blood, DNA, soul is all from Japan. I just want to help my homeland, that’s all. That’s what I am doing with good friends and crew. One more thing, back in 1995, there was the same kind of disaster, the biggest disaster in Japan. I have seen that view. I probably told the same thing to JayKin, the Great Hanshin earthquake–it was a really big earthquake disaster. I wasn’t exactly a victim, but I saw the city destroyed everywhere. One of the highways just broke down, it was just disaster. Once I saw some of the news, it flashed back at me. I just couldn’t really imagine the pain people are feeling in Japan. I couldn’t just sit back and do nothing. I was too little to do anything back in 1995, but now I am grown up. I am 24 now. This time, I just wanted to prove that this time, I can save Japan, I can do something.

J: The main message that we want to get across is that it’s I can say it’s all about helping each other. I want to go a little deeper than that. It’s that everybody can come together and do something to help somebody else. In this case, it’s a place that’s in my heart which is Japan after living there. Like we keep on saying, everybody has a strength in something. Everybody can do something, even if it seems small but it can help so much. We’ve just got to come together, then you can see how big it is.

You also mentioned to me earlier about an upcoming song that you are part of in tribute to this recent disaster. Tell us about the theme of the song.

J: I can tell you how the song came about. So, I have a dear friend, Jeff Herrera, which is the manager of Chin Injeti, Grammy producer–incredible. They have made this track–I hadn’t heard it when they made it. Jeff was talking to Jin about it, and they were going to throw the track out there for people to rap on. They were just talking and Jeff mentioned my name knowing that I have lived in Japan, and saw some of the things I did. He reached out to me and asked if I wanted to get on the song.  Of course I did and it’s a tribute song, a song to encourage, a song to inspire people that don’t know much about the situation or have never been to Japan. It’s great. Produced by Chin Injeti, featuring Sophia Danai, Wataru Uno & Omar Khan, and what he is saying at the beginning of the track is really heavy. In English it means, “The Earth Won’t Shake Us”. That’s the theme and it’s cool. It’s such a privilege and honor and at the same time in doing in what I love doing.

Any last words?

Q: I just want to help Japan. This is something that I really want to do. The heart on the poster represents my feelings. I am glad that everybody can relate to it. I am just one of the Japanese guys that wants to do something for my homeland, with my good friends.

J: Last words, just people continue to support for Japan and pray. You don’t really have to look on the news to find out the situation is still going on and it’s going to be a long process and I have faith that things are going to pull through and it’s going to be an interesting and incredible outcome of this whole situation that’s happening in Japan. You know, much thanks to everyone that has supported Japan Love. Me and Q are just here doing this interview because we want people to know the inspiration of it for the name and artwork. A lot of people are there to be supportive and there’s too many people for you to interview. It’s not even that it’s us, it’s just a bit of background of inspiration and love that us, and many others in the city and around the world, have this country. Japan Love.

Q: Japan Love.