Melissa Moniz
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Friday - June 27, 2008

Japan’s appreciation for all things Hawaii most certainly includes our music - some Hawaii artists have performances booked there three, four, five times a year. And many have even created working relationships with labels and artists there.

Sony Music Records is just one of the many companies that offer a pathway between Japan and Hawaii for artists to work through.And Safarii, Sony Music Records’ newest J-Pop group in Japan, is a shining example of how Hawaii and Japan have become closely knit music associates.

Safarii is a huge fan of local group Keahiwai and thus utilized the “hook"of Keahiwai’s hit song, Falling, and composed an original melody in Japanese. Their rendition of the song is subtitled Two Hearts and has a more contemporary and reggae feel.

While recording their debut album in Japan, Safarii and Sony decided to record a five-song project in Hawaii. Members Akira, Oki and Sophia got help from friends in Japan to learn English for the album and flew to Hawaii for a week to record the project. Sony Music Records’ local producer, Aaron Kimura, who also produces Keahiwai, helped with the project.

“I’ve produced various projects for Sony Japan, therefore they’ve asked me to assist them with this project,“says Kimura.“I wish they had more time to practice their English pronunciation, but we had a ton of fun with it and it turned out pretty good.”

To celebrate the album’s release (June 24),Kimura is hosting a performance as part of Gordon Biersch’s Sunset Summer Jam concert series June 29 from 5 to 9 p.m. Safarii will take the stage to share its newly released songs, along with friends Keahiwai (Lei Melket and Mailani Makainai), Imua, Kalei Gumiao and Salli Morita. Admission is free.

“Although Safarii doesn’t actually fall into the local Island music genre such as Keahiwai and Imua,their biggest appeal will come from local youngsters who are into the world of J-Pop (Japanese Pop),“says Kimura.“You’d be surprised how many J-Pop fans there are in Hawaii.”


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