Previously known as Chikatetsu, Julian Nagano recently released his first mixtape of 2011 titled best kept secret. The 8 track mini-mixtape introduced a new sound from him which showcases the many facets of his music. Having first been introduced to Julian’s music via JPM by friend to the site, Sonny B, I’ve had this new mixtape on repeat for the past couple weeks since it’s release. With it’s play count rising in iTunes, I decided it was only right that I hit Julian up for a little Q&A. Read on for the interview.
Tiffny: For everyone who may not be familiar with you and your music, can you introduce yourself?
Julian: My name is Julian Nagano. I do rap music, mainly in Japanese, but also in German and English.
Tiffny:Â When did you first start making music?
Julian: I played around with some drum loops when I was 12 or 13. When I was 14-15, I put acapellas on instrumentals and called it â€œremixâ€. And I also started to write lyrics when I was 14-15.
Tiffny: Do you remember your first song? What was it about?
Julian: My very first song was straight battle rap. I picked up an instrumental and just rapped some weak bars. I gave up after a few bars, because I couldnâ€™t get used to my own voice.
T: I always ask this, but do you ever go back and listen to your old music?
J: Hardly… But sometimes, I listen to some old stuff to think back. But this happens only maybe once a year.
T: Speaking of, one of your older tracks, Â¥â‚¬$~Just Make It (feat. Sonny B), was featured on our first mixtape. How’d that collaboration come about?
J: Sherwin (Sonny B) contacted me through a Japanese Music community. I posted some of my old stuff and he sent me a private message, like â€œalright… letâ€™s collaborate!â€. I was so amazed about it, because it was my first collaboration through the internet.
[wp_bandcamp_player type=”track” id=”1163682402″ size=”venti” bg_color=”#FFFFFF” link_color=””]
T:Â What do you like best about collaborating with other artists?
J: I love collaborating!! It shows how different flow and rap can be. Especially Hip Hop needs collaborations, I think.
T:Â Do you have any dream collaborations?
J: Iâ€™d love to collaborate with AKLO. Heâ€™s a genius and he has some mad rap skills. And he always raps on beats I love (lol). â€œ2.0â€ and his featuring-verses on â€œNo Gravityâ€ were amazing! Dream collaborations would be Pharrell Williams and Denaun Porter!
T:Â You recently released the mini-mixtape best kept secret. How would you say this mixtape differs from your previous works?
J: Itâ€™s completely different from my previous works. It has Japanese, German and English, no collaborations, auto-tune singing and itâ€™s much shorter. I took a little break, because I had to find a new flow. That was damn hard, but finally I got it.
T:Â I for one was a bit shocked to hear you rap in German since your past work was all mainly in Japanese. I didn’t even know you spoke German! Is that the best kept secret?
J: Itâ€™s one of the secrets. The new style (3 languages, singing, the higher voice etc.) was the best kept secret.
T:Â What made you decide to incorporate German into your music?
J: I learned that being international is a beautiful thing. As a child, it was hard to decide whether I belong to German or Japan. Then, I thought I could be international and not German or Japanese or whatever… actually, my girlfriend made me think like this.
[wp_bandcamp_player type=”track” id=”1164151532″ size=”venti” bg_color=”#FFFFFF” link_color=””]
T: My favorite tracks from the mixtape are “The Other Place” and “Headlights”. Do you have any favorites?
J: â€œSteady Mobbin Freestyleâ€ is great fun at live shows. â€œThe Other Placeâ€ has some deep lyrics. â€œHeadlightsâ€ is the sweetest song. These are my favs.
T:Â Was it difficult to switch from Japanese, to English and then to German and back again?Â You do it so frequently within songs/verses it and it’s really cool to listen to.
J: No. ç°¡å˜! Itâ€™s easy, easy! I could speak like this in everyday life! haha
T: When you’re writing, are there any reasons behind in which language you chose to rhyme? Basically, do you deliberately choose a specific language to write in or do you just go with the flow?
J: Itâ€™s completely random. Usually, I begin with Japanese… and than I go with the flow.
[wp_bandcamp_player type=”track” id=”372827768″ size=”venti” bg_color=”#FFFFFF” link_color=””]
T: RANDOM: What’s the craziest memory you have growing up?
J: When I was 18, I got to know that my father was adopted. That means, that the half of my family isn’t connected with me, if you know what I mean. But I donâ€™t care at all, I love them all and they are great!
T:Â How has being multilingual influenced your outlook on life, and in turn how do you interpret that outlook in your music?
J: Yes, speaking 3 languages is an opportunity. But you have to do something with it. So I do my best from now to keep up the multilingual community. For example, I started a blogspot this months and Iâ€™ll post in Japanese, English and German.
Back to the music… I want the listeners to feel the international flow and that itâ€™s much more than just speaking different languages. Itâ€™s completely different understanding of the same things. If an American says â€œIâ€™m goodâ€, that means much more than â€œIâ€™m doing wellâ€. He expresses culture, I think. And that is exactly what I want to tell in my music.
[wp_bandcamp_player type=”track” id=”2959147755″ size=”venti” bg_color=”#FFFFFF” link_color=””]
T:Â Let’s talk about the name change. What made you decide to use your actual name vs continuing using the moniker “Chikatetsu?”
J: I needed an international sounding name. â€œChikatetsuâ€ is Japanese and didn’t fit into my new character and itâ€™s concept. I decided to use my real name, since it sounds some kind of international.
T:Â What’s your ultimate goal as a musician?
J:Â Making music anytime and anywhere, no limits… let all creativity flow.
T:Â RANDOM: Have you ever been arrested?
[wp_bandcamp_player type=”track” id=”1343799712″ size=”venti” bg_color=”#FFFFFF” link_color=””]
T:Â Lastly, is there anything you’d like to say to new and current fans of your music?
J: Thank you. ã‚ˆã‚ã—ããŠé¡˜ã„ã—ã¾ã™ã€‚
Thanks again, to Julian for the interview! To download “best kept secret” for free and for more information visit the links below.