When I first moved out to LA and eventually started playing shows again one of the first gigs I did was a Van Dyke Parks tribute night at Little Temple Bar in Loz Feliz curated by US musician David Piltch and performed by an incredible collective of musicians calling themselves The Rotary Room.
It was thanks to my Scottish friend Tanya Mellotte (The True Vaults) that I got this gig and I was quickly asked to learn ‘Child Is Father of the Man’ from The Beach Boys record ‘Smile’. There was one relaxed afternoon rehearsal in a garden in Loz Feliz the day of the show, sound check then the show. It was at this rehearsal I first sang, played and met Yohei Shikano.
Yohei and I had to do some harmonies on the song and I sang the Brian Wilson part. Yohei also played some wild baritone guitar on the song so everything about his style and approach caught my attention. What was crazy about this show was during the rehearsal Van Dyke showed up and on the night performed his own set. It was packed and I won’t lie I was shitting myself because I could see Van Dyke in the corner of my eye when I went on stage and the song itself was heavily influenced by LSD so it’s not the most straight forward structure but it was a challenge and a blast to perform with such an amazing band that night and share a stage with a true Hollywood legend.
Yohei and I arranged to meet at his studio in Atwater Village the following Monday and started playing each other songs we had both written. That day we recorded one of my tunes ‘Don’t Give Your Love Away‘ and worked on a song by Yohei called ‘Ol Man‘ and pretty quickly got a project together and called ourselves Sotto. We were later joined by musicians Nikki Kelly, Miles Senzaki and Daniel Seeff and in a short but very enjoyable few months played some fun shows and recorded a great record.
I sent the record we recorded to my good friend in Oxford Mark Gardener, former leader of shoegaze hero’s Ride and all round Captain Karma! Mark seemed like the perfect person to mix this record as Yohei really directed and produced this session. The way in which we recorded this record which was very experimental for the most part but very traditional in others. All three part harmonies were performed live round one mic and Yohei really made this the focus. We all felt like Mark did an amazing job of bringing this vision to life and did some beautiful mixes for us but the project came to an end last March and the record was never released.
Yohei has remained one of my closest friends in LA and we have continued making music together not to mention all his help, talent and support whilst making my debut solo record. Yohei is all over ‘Don’t Let Me Down‘ and ‘Sunken Ships‘. Yohei is currently working on his My Hawaii project and has a record called ‘Definition of Friends’ coming out later this year on Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros ‘Community Music label’.
We hope to release a ltd edition vinyl only split 7″ record later this year featuring those recordings. The vinyl will split AA side, Charlie Clark/My Hawaii and will have the songs ‘Ol Man‘ and “In Your Eye’s‘ More news on this to follow……………