Hiroya Tsukamoto at BluSeed Saturday
SARANAC LAKE — Sitting in a confined space can be a difficult environment in which to write music. Hiroya Tsukamoto prefers to travel and engage with people from all over.
“When I got to different places and meet new people,” Tsukamoto said, “it’s easier to compose music.”
Tsukamoto is a professional composer, singer, songwriter and music teacher from Kyoto, Japan. His music is unique; he plays soothing yet complex folk music on guitar while using vocal recorders for looping harmonies and beats. Songs such as “Gemni Bridge” and “Black Canyon” highlight his ability to multitask with his guitar, voice and recorders.
“It’s a little hard to describe,” Tsukamoto said. “It’s eclectic, acoustic music with original elements. A lot of fingerstyle. I also use electronics that record my voice and create layers. It makes a real symphonic sound.”
At his shows, Tsukamoto plays a mixture of original and Japanese folk tunes while informing the audience about Japanese history and culture in between songs.
Tsukamoto will perform at BluSeed Studios in Saranac Lake at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 2. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $18 for general admission and $15 for BluMembers.
Growing up in Japan, Tsukamoto first got involved with music when he was in middle school. His father brought him home an instrument that wasn’t terribly popular in his small town — a five-string banjo.
“I didn’t know what it was at all,” he said, “but I liked the look of it, and I liked that no one else had it.”
There weren’t too many banjo teachers close to him however, and Tsukamoto took up playing guitar instead.
“All my friends were playing guitar, so I started playing guitar about a year later,” he said.
Tsukamoto and his friends played songs together. They listened to a lot of 1990s American rock music but also some classics. He said he really enjoyed some of the folk music his parents would listen to, such as Simon and Garfunkel.
After being a musician in Japan, Tsukamoto was accepted into Boston’s Berklee School of Music in 2000. As different as America was, Tsukamoto said he appreciated his new surroundings.
“There was a lot of culture shock,” he said. “It was my first time living outside of Japan. Everything was so fresh and different.”
While attending music school, Tsukamoto met his wife, who is a pianist from Spain. They currently live in Massachusetts with their two children.
Like other musicians, Tsukamoto has that ability to make his audience feel something emotionally, but he’s technically impressive as well. He said 60 percent of his music is instrumental while the other 40 percent has some type of singer-songwriter element. However, his command of the fretboard are such that sometimes lyrics aren’t necessary; his fingerpicking already has it covered.
“I try to be very natural and honest with my performance,” Tsukamoto said.