Interview: Julian Nagano

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: 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 “remix”. 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 couldn’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, ¥€$~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 “alright… let’s collaborate!”. I was so amazed about it, because it was my first collaboration through the internet.

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T: 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: Do you have any dream collaborations?

J: I’d love to collaborate with AKLO. He’s a genius and he has some mad rap skills. And he always raps on beats I love (lol). “2.0” and his featuring-verses on “No Gravity” were amazing! Dream collaborations would be Pharrell Williams and Denaun Porter!

T: You recently released the mini-mixtape best kept secret. How would you say this mixtape differs from your previous works?

J: It’s completely different from my previous works. It has Japanese, German and English, no collaborations, auto-tune singing and it’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: 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: It’s one of the secrets. The new style (3 languages, singing, the higher voice etc.) was the best kept secret.

T: 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.

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T: My favorite tracks from the mixtape are “The Other Place” and “Headlights”. Do you have any favorites?

J: “Steady Mobbin Freestyle” is great fun at live shows. “The Other Place” has some deep lyrics. “Headlights” is the sweetest song. These are my favs.

T: Was it difficult to switch from Japanese, to English and then to German and back again? You do it so frequently within songs/verses it and it’s really cool to listen to.

J: No. 簡単! It’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: It’s completely random. Usually, I begin with Japanese… and than I go with the flow.

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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 don’t care at all, I love them all and they are great!

T: 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 I’ll post in Japanese, English and German.

Back to the music… I want the listeners to feel the international flow and that it’s much more than just speaking different languages. It’s completely different understanding of the same things. If an American says “I’m good”, that means much more than “I’m doing well”. He expresses culture, I think. And that is exactly what I want to tell in my music.

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T: 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. “Chikatetsu” is Japanese and didn’t fit into my new character and it’s concept. I decided to use my real name, since it sounds some kind of international.

T: What’s your ultimate goal as a musician?

J: Making music anytime and anywhere, no limits… let all creativity flow.

T: RANDOM: Have you ever been arrested?

J: No.

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T: Lastly, is there anything you’d like to say to new and current fans of your music?

J: Thank you. よろしくお願いします。


Thanks again, to Julian for the interview! To download “best kept secret” for free and for more information visit the links below.



5 thoughts

  • Wie lang hast du in Deutschland gewesen? Wann du lust hast, könnte Sie bei meinem kollegen in dä Schweiz zu treffen. Es heisst Mind Force Gathering und die teile sind überall dem welt. Tschüs und lieber grüess.. alles friedliches.

  • julian, nice interview. i like it very mutch that you do speak/sing/rao/whatever german on your new mixtape, because i got to know you here in germany and i´m glat you´re back.
    can ermember very well as we went through school talking shit and makin fun of everthing.
    keep on making the music you like to make!
    just as i do ;)

  • Two interviews in one day, you're on a roll! I like it. I also like that he is multilingual in life and through his music. Makes for deeper connections.

    Also, it's pretty neat that his first collaboration was featured on our compilation. :]

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