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Kazuki Tokaji On The Virtues Of Collaboration & Performance

Kazuki Tokaji is no stranger to the stage, or to performing out of his comfort zone. The young guitarist and songwriter is also no stranger to diversifying his styles and building an already impressive repertoire and skillset in his catalogue and collaborations. His recent work with Circle The Earth has kept him working meticulously, with the band set to release a number of singles in the coming months.

He took some time out to have a chat about his exciting presence in one of the largest festivals in the Northwest, his perspective on the virtues of collaboration, and even singles out his go-to guitar which should perk the ears of any burgeoning fan.

Kazuki Tokaji Guitarist

Hey Kazuki, thanks for having a chat today. Let’s start with the obvious, what have you been up to?

I’ve been working with my band Circle the Earth a lot recently. We have a few new singles with music videos coming out in the next few months which I’m very excited for. I will also be playing at the Tacoma Guitar festival, the largest guitar festival in the Northwest in Washington on May 22nd. In addition to that, I will also be playing for my endorsers ESP and Hughes & Kettner at NAMM 2022 in June.

I understand you’ve been working with Jim McGorman recently, has this influenced your writing, approach, or style in noticeable ways?

Yes! Jim is an extremely talented musician and songwriter who has the capability to inspire any musician who works with him. I have been a huge fan of his for a long time and I’ve been watching him perform on TV since I was a child. My songwriting skills have improved drastically since I started working with him.

He is an excellent singer as well and working with him has helped me write better melodies and riffs for both Circle the Earth and my own solo material. His unique approach to songwriting has helped me structure songs much better and now I view any song that I work on as a story waiting to be written.

The collaboration process can be challenging to get used to, what traits do you typically look for when going into a collaborative space?

I view the collaborative process, even though it may be challenging, as a learning experience. Therefore, I always try to collaborate with artists who possess certain ideas or skills which I do not have. In that way, through the collaborative process, I always end up learning something new which ultimately allows me to grow as a musician and songwriter.

As a guitarist, I can imagine you have quite a collection. While it’s hard to play favourites, which of your guitars has the most personal value?

I love all my guitars, but since my endorsement with ESP guitars, my current personal favourite would probably have to be my Purple Fade ESP E-ll M-ll NT7. I love how it is solidly constructed but at the same time is very simple to use and does exactly what I need it to do with minimal adjustment. It sounds amazing and allows me to play music from any genre.

It also looks killer!!

It looks like more people are coming back out of their homes (finally), have you found any differences in the crowds or concert experience since the pandemic? 

Yes, definitely! Since people were deprived of live music for almost 2 years, I have noticed that concertgoers are more passionate about live music and participate a lot more during shows now. It’s a great feeling when you’re up on stage performing your heart out and the crowd responds in the same way and sings along.

Any dream locations or venues on your performance bucket list?

Yes! I really want to play at the Arena in Los Angeles.

Where is your tour taking you next?

Like I mentioned before, I will be playing in Washington for the Tacoma Guitar Festival and at NAMM 2022. I also have a few shows lined up with Circle the Earth throughout California but those dates haven’t been announced yet so I can’t go into detail about them at the moment.

Finally, when can we expect some new tasty tunes from you?

I always release a new single on my birthday, July 22nd every year and I will be doing so this year as well. I have also written a few small songs for ESP to demo their new models which will be coming out sometime in the next few months as well.

Thank you Kazuki for your time!

You can follow Kazuki Tokaji at IG @kazukiguitar/



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