Friday - August 15, 2008
Don’t be fooled by the “I am by no means an experienced professional singer” and “We’re not songwriters” comments from Salli Morita and Dave Kasumoto of the brand new group Short Story. These are humble statements that do their debut album little justice.
Reminicent of Jack Johnson, Norah Jones and other acoustic, smooth artists they love, the 10-track album, Ten For The Road, packs a huge punch.
What started as jam sessions in the stairwell and hallways of the architecture building at UH-Manoa has finally made its way to an album. Family and careers put the thought of doing music beyond the UH walls on hold until Salli and Dave crossed paths about four years ago and were encouraged by Dave’s wife and their longtime friend Jon Yamasato, producer and former member of Pure Heart, to start performing and to do an album.
“We started finding songs we really like and started practicing, and we had our first performance at Dave’s mother-in-law’s house,” says Salli, a 1994 Castle grad. “We had a tip jar, which wasn’t for money tips but actual tips on how we can be better, what songs we should play. From there we would do weddings and stuff.”
With the convincing of Jon, Salli and Dave took to the studios about three years ago to start recording what they thought would be a bunch of cover songs that would showcase Salli’s voice.
“What I always come back to is that I’m doing this for Salli because I feel she has a gift,“says Dave, guitarist. “This my way of supporting her and encouraging her. There’s a lot of meaning just in getting her out there. To all of our friends who hung out in the stairwell, it means a lot.”
Described as a labor of love, the album took its own form as Dave and Salli dabbled with song writing. The end result is seven original songs that are perfectly fitting to their name (Short Story). And the cover songs are well-chosen pieces that are fresh and nicely done.
“At Last and Wonderful World are two of the favorite songs that we performed at weddings,” says Salli. “We got a lot of comments about it when we first started.”
To find out more about this up-and-coming duo or information on their upcoming gigs, visit www.shortstoryband.com.
Q’nAWhat inspires you when you write songs, more specifically, the songs on the album? Salli: For me, I would always come to Dave with songs about lost love. And he would be like, is this about so and so again? But the two songs on the CD that I wrote I tried to pick a little deeper subjects. One is Mr. Meredith, and it’s about civil rights-type of stuff and freedom fighters. How not all of them might have wanted to be those kinds of icons, but they became them just in their quest. I love coming up with something that has some meaning. That song took me the longest to write, because right now I dabble in piano and am learning guitar. So I would use whatever little notes that I know and switch back and forth. Dave: Originally we were just going to do a lot of covers for the album and do like a few originals because we’re not songwriters.We’re passionate about music, but we haven’t seriously written songs. For some reason, when it came down to it, and in the middle of the production process, I decided to try writing some songs and all these songs just came out. I guess they liked it, so it just kind of worked out that way. Maybe I was inspired. I don’t know. But of course you bring something simple to the table and people like Jon (Yamasato) get involved and they make it beautiful, right? I just wrote simple melodies and just wrote from my heart.
What was it like recording?
Salli: We were in the studio for two years, and a lot of that is because we both have full-time jobs and Dave actually has two jobs now. So it was just arranging our times, and then a lot of it was re-recording things because I am, by no means, an experienced professional singer. So we had a lot of people helping us out, and then just arranging for the musicians to be there. It’s just amazing all the musicians we were able to have on the CD. It’s just a great variety of people.
Dave: It was super fun. I always say that I’m a closet musician so, for me, it was like someone who was there by accident just being in the studio and working with real musicians. But I’ve got to give props to Jon because, in every way, he just did so much. A huge part of it was his caring and support for us as a friend. This project was a labor of love. The studio was a real bonding time for us.
What or who has been your biggest influence with your music?
Salli: I love Patty Griffin. And of course Eva Cassidy and Norah Jones.
Dave: Both Salli and I are Patti Griffin freaks.And then I also like John Mayer, James Taylor and even Jon Yamasato.Even if he wasn’t my friend, I would say he’s one of my favorite vocalists to listen to.
If you could master any instrument, what would you choose?
Salli: It’s a toss up between piano and guitar.
Dave: I would want to be a good drummer.
Where do you hope music takes you?
Dave: I would love to see this CD do well and it would be great if we get some Mainland exposure. Some people produce what they think will sell, but for us it was important that we did what we loved.
Salli: I’ve always, always wanted to sing in kind of a loungy venue and possibly even lying down on a grand piano. Yeah, it’s bizarre (laughs). I’ll do that once in my life.
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