The story of how Nick Kurosawa's debut EP came to fruition starts with our friendship growing around the same time Mori by Art+Flea organized their first big Tokyo-based market. In 2017, Nick and I first connected on the recommendation from Lei that we link up to do some gigs and collaborations together. She had showed me a YouTube video of Nick singing in a UH auditorium and instantly I was a fan.
Soon we started gigging together at the Surfjack hotel regularly. Those Sunday brunch gigs were always pleasant, a little silly, and full of soulful, wonderful music whether coming from Nick and his guitar or selections from a stack of vinyl records I'd bring (we'd alternate, playing 30-45 minutes each while the other took a break).
It was around Christmas 2017 when Mori by Art+Flea invited both Aloha Got Soul and Nick as well as about a dozen other creatives to Tokyo for a pop-up market in Roppongi. We were ecstatic! It would be Nick's first time to the country, and a chance to have a bit of fun together in a distant land that wasn't Waikiki.
Knowing how impactful Nick's voice is — how many times did people at Surfjack come up to the Oahu-born singer during a set like, "Where can I buy a CD?! / are you on Spotify?!" — I knew there's be a need in Japan for something people could buy to remember Nick by. At the time, he hadn't yet really recorded anything, save a handful of YouTube videos with friends. All that would soon change. With just about 4 months before the trip, I made the call to press up a CD to ensure we'd have something in time for the market. We didn't have the luxury of time on our side to press vinyl.
You can read more about that Tokyo trip here; we ended up doing a string of gigs that blew all of our expectations away — especially the sold out show with VIDEOTAPEMUSIC and Your Song Is Good at UNIT in Daikanyama. Unreal. We also released a 12" in collaboration with Kakubarhythm (the turnaround time to press vinyl in Japan is much shorter than the US). Here's a couple of photos from UNIT:
Upon returning to Hawaii, we hoped to spark the next recording project, anticipating that we'd have a new release ready by year's end. Alas, time flew and other projects, ideas and obligations got in the way of making something new together, so I decided pressed up a 12" of Home in 2019. Those 12"'s sold rather quickly. We did a run of 300 units.
In 2018, probably before the 12" came out, a close friend I grew up skateboarding and playing guitar with, Chad Aoyagi, asked me about doing a 7" from the EP. We were at Shirokiya's Japan Village Walk, watching Nick perform, drinking beers. I like the idea, logging it in my mind somewhere.
Then last autumn, a friend from London whom I hadn't heard from since I first started the label sent me an email out of the blue. Nik Weston of Mukatsuku Records and Juno, said — well, I'll share a snapshot of the email. It's pretty classic:
Two long time friends from different corners of the earth inquiring about the same idea — that was enough for the idea to become a reality for me (I'm not easily impressionable, but I do love a chance to press a 7" that people will dig). Plus, in the past 12 months I've really come to appreciate the portability and convenience of a 7", especially when DJing.
So here we are, January 2020 with two favorites on 7-inch. A repress of sorts, this is Nick Kurosawa with his acoustic cover versions of Sam Cooke's "I'll Come Running Back To You" and Bobby Caldwell "What You Won't Do For Love".
As an added bonus, the 7-inch will be complimented by a digital-only remix by London’s Ash Walker, who finessed Nick’s version of “I’ll Come Running Back To You” for a refreshing listen. The remix is another case of an out-of-the-blue email — Ash Walker reached out unsolicited with a remix, having heard it by chance on Soundcloud. Big up, Ash!
We're throwing a 7" vinyl release party on February 7 at Kaiao Space in Chinatown, next to Sig on Smith. We'll have Nick's 7" in black vinyl and natural colored vinyl, as well as the new FRNT BZNZZ release featuring Nick and Joelene.
We're also pressing up a limited run of T-shirts. First up is a tee featuring a familiar feathery friend, Drumstick, the hen that made it onto the packaging of Home and let an impression on for life :) Drumstick passed away last year, so in commemoration we've made some special tees.
Also printing up just in time (thanks, Blank Canvas!) is a trio of FRNT BZNZZ artwork, illustrated by Dana Paresa.
Hope you can join us on Friday, February 7, 2020! Shop vinyl and tees online →