Japan’s Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra recently announced that their 30th anniversary single, “Ribbon,” will be the latest in the series of songs featuring a prominent guest vocalist. To mark the occasion, the band has fittingly teamed up with one of the biggest names in J-pop for the celebratory song: frontman Kazutoshi Sakurai from the band Mr.Children.
The veteran ska and jazz band’s popular tradition of inviting established artists as featured vocalists began in 2001 when Takao Tajima from ORIGINAL LOVE joined the members for “Mekureta Orange.” They have since featured many stars of popular Japanese music, including Tamio Okuda (Unicorn), Ken Yokoyama (Hi-Standard), CHARA, Hiroji Miyamoto (Elephant Kashimashi) and more.
In keeping with the series’ custom, the lyrics of the celebratory single were written by saxophonist Atsushi Yanaka and composed by the band’s trumpeter NARGO. Yanaka shares that Sakurai offered to “do something” for the legendary band’s 30th anniversary after they performed at the Mr.Children frontman’s charity music festival in 2018.
“The process of creating this song made me feel glad from the bottom of my heart that I kept making music,” he says of working with the hitmaker on the lyrics.
Sakurai shares the sentiment, likening the songwriting process to driving at top-speed and living to tell the tale. “The sound and words are convincing because they come from Ska Para,” he noted. “I was able to dive headlong into it with my voice. It’s the best. I’m so glad I make music.”
Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra and Kazutoshi Sakurai shared a new photo featuring the men clad in matching light blue suits. “Ribbon,” which NARGO describes as being “a song powerful and bright enough to cast a light on the future,” will drop Aug. 7.