Dan Betsey/Brian Teaman "Music" Interview July 18, 2001
Q1. Hi Dan.
A1. Hello. Good Afternoon.
Q2. Can you tell us where you're from.
A2. UhªcI'm from Washington D.C. Uhªcit's on the east cost of the United States. It's also the capital of the United States.
Q3. Are you from in the city or outside the city?
A3. UhªcI kind of spent my life going between D.C., Washington D.C., and Maryland state. I always lived right on the border, actually in a place called Silver Spring. Sometimes I'd go to school in D.C., sometimes I'd go to school in Maryland. Have a job in D.C., go to school in Maryland. It was always sort of either/or. So, I spent pretty much most of my life in the metropolitan area of D.C.
Q4. So in the beltway?
A4. In the beltway, exactly.
Q5. And what brings you to Japan?
A5. Wow, good question. UhªcI'm still not really sure, and I'm about to go home, it's strange. But uhªcI started studying Japanese in college and I thought it was a lot of fun. And uhªcthere's a lot of people that study Japanese and uhªcactually can't say anything, although their major is Japanese, they can't really speak Japanese very well. I met a lot of those people back home, so I figured, "if I'm gonna get better at it, I should probably try to come here". And uhªcMaryland University has an exchange, sort of contract with Hiroshima University, and so, here I am. I came here last uhªcOctober.
Q6. What do you like to do outside of school?
A6. Uhªcmy biggest hobby, I guess, is music. Listening to music, playing music, I play drums or percussion. And umªcI guess usually in an average week I'll spend about,ªcabout five hours or so either practicing, umªcor just listening to music. I spend a lot of hours during the day sometimes listening to music. I guess a lot of people do that. But, uhªcI guess, my favorite kind of music is jazz, so when I listen to that, I almost, it's almost sort of like practicing. I try to have drum sticks and practice along to something that I'm hearing or something like that. I'm actually in the jazz circle at Hiroshima University. And uhªcthey practice several times a week, I practice with them several times a week. And uhªcsometimes we'll just sit around, listening to music thinking of songs to play, songs to try to copy, things like that.
Q7. Tell me more about the jazz circle.
A7. Ahªcwell I guess it's more like a traditional Japanese uhªccollege circle. Umªcpeople, they're very serious about getting better at what it is that they do. I was really surprised when I got there and I met students that had started practicing, they're self-taught actually, but I didn't know that the first time I heard them play. And they sound very, very good. And uhªcsomeone said "oh yeah, you know, I just come here and I practice whenever I have, you know, off hours," and things like that. And the people were really amazing. UmªcI think that may be sort of typical of circles and clubs in colleges in Japan. It seems that, you know, the students will spend a lot of time outside uhªcclasses and things like that going to wherever they meet and practicing whatever it is they do so they can get really good at it. Umªcso I met lots of people like that. We have uhªcwe had a few concerts, most of those are over now. We're about to have one more in the city, and uhªcit's gonna be me and about five other members of the jazz band. And we're gonna have a performance.
Q8. You said "self-taught".
A8. Uh-huh.
Q9. Does it mean these people never played an instrument before they joined jazz club?
A9. Most of them played classical music before they entered the jazz club. Umªca lot of them never really listened to jazz before they entered uhªcthe university and saw that there was a jazz club. They had an interest, they came, and then they started from there. But, the things that they taught themselves, either by listening to other people or by getting hints from friends, was improvisation. And it'sªcthey do it so well, like I, the people that I hear in the United States that are good always have teachers. Like "oh, who did you learn from?", "oh, this person,", you know. And I came here, and "wow, that, you know, you sound really great. Who did you learn from?", "oh, well, you know, I have a few books and I just practice about, you know, ten hours a day,", something like that. So uhªcyeah, self-taught, definitely. Jazz isn't that popular in Japan, it sort of is. But, as far as people that teach jazz, listen to jazz, there's uhªcvery few of those people in and around, especially a town like Saijo.
Q10. What do you have to listen to music, here and back at home?
A10. UhªcI just bought an MD player (laughing), so now I'm copying all my friends' CDs. What do I have in terms of bands and things?
Q11. No, I was just thinking of equipment at this point.
A11. Oh, equipment. I found a stereo that someone threw out when I came to Japan, so thankfully I didn't have to buy one (laughing). Uhªcthat works fine. UhªcI brought a little Discman, I figured I was gonna have to make do with that for the whole year. But umªcyeah, I found the stereo, actually two stereos, uhªca set of speakers, and uhªcsome other things that some Japanese students had thrown out, thankfully. So that's what I have now.
Q12. So you mostly, like, CDs and MDs...Cassettes?
A12. Uh-huh. CDs and MDs. I brought a few tapes as well, yeah, so sometimes I listen to those.
Q13. You say you play percussion. What does that mean?
A13. Well, in high school I got started playing percussion, much like you said you had, uhªcin uhªcthe school band. So we learned how to play the xylophone, uhªcthe teacher taught us how to play timpani, things like that. So, as opposed to just a drum, we learned, you know, a little bit of uhªcnote training, the xylophone is basically just like a piano. And uhªcso, yeah. Percussion, I guess, means everything that you bang on, that includes drums, other things like that. Bells, whatever.
Q14. Did you bring any percussion instruments with you?
A14. I didn't. I only brought sticks. But thankfully, the school has a state-of-the-art drum set that anyone can use. So, I'm very happy with that. I use that all the time.
Q15. Is that part of the jazz club?
A15. It is. Uh-huh.
Q16. Is it electronic, or?
A16. The drum set?
Q17. Yeah.
A17. Uhªcno. It's, you know, all made out of wood, some sort of high quality wood. It's all polished and very pretty and things like that. It's pretty amazing.
Q18. People take good care of it?
A18. Uhªcyeah. 'Cause there's so few people that use it. So, I think it's a few years old, but it's still in pretty good condition.