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Tomohiko Ohkanda – Bass Musician Magazine, March 2015 Issue



Tomohiko Ohkanda - March 2015 - Bass Musician Magazine

Tomohiko Ohkanda – Bass Musician Magazine, March 2015 Issue…

We learn more by meeting, interacting and listening to musicians from different cultures. After a recording session at Neila Productions,  I was recently introduced to an amazing bass player named Tomohiko Ohkanda. He is alreadya brand name in the Japanese Music Scene, therefore i found it vital to introduce you to his music as well as his way of approaching music
Sometimes, talking  and listening is more helpful than playing therefore Tomohikos mellow and groovy approach to music is a wake-up call for any musician out there wanting to be inspired.
[Andreas] Hi Tomohiko. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Who is Tomohiko Ohkanda?

[Tomohiko] Hi Andreas. I was born in 1976; here are some of the important professional events in my life:

2003 – Present
Started to play on Ken Hirai’s Tour

Recorded and performed with Alan Toussaint for Mika Nakashima’s Charity for New Orleans “Hurricane Katrina” CD single “All hands together”

Performed in NY with Ken Hirai

2010 – Present
Dream Live with Peabo Bryson

Performed with JUJU for MTV Unplugged in New York

Artists (Recorded and Performed)

Ken Hirai, JUJU, Ayaka, Ayaka Hirahara, Miki Imai, Saori Yuki, May J, Syota Shimizu, Mika Nakashima, Toko Furuuchi, Peabo Bryson, BoA, Gabrielle Aplin, Super Junior K.R.Y (Music Director), Miho Fukuhara, Superfly, Telma Aoyama, Masayuki Suzuki, EXILE Atsushi, Daichi Miura, Masaki Ueda, Jyunko Yagami, Chris Hart, Beni etc.

Live Performance for SOUL STRUT, Little steps, Gold’z Jam, Singer 5, Soulympic Tokyo

[Andreas] What inspired you to play bass

[Tomohiko] I was fascinated with the bass sound and the fact that it supports the sound of the whole band. It is the “base” of the band. I also loved the looks and silhouette of the electric bass and acoustic bass.

When I felt the groove for the first time, I thought that I was bouncing the basketball, while playing bass. I decided that I was going to play bass for my entire life; unique feeling.

[Andreas] Who are your Favorite musicians?


  • Marvin Gaye
  • James Jamerson
  • Willie Weeks
  • Chuck Rainey
  • Alex Al
  • David T. Walker

[Andreas] Can you list your Top 10 CDs that you never get tired of listening to and that you learned the most from?

[Tomohiko] That’s a difficult question however, I really love

  • D’Angelo (Voodoo)
  • Marlena Shaw (Who Is This Bitch, Anyway)
  • Marvin Gaye (I Want You)
  • Sam Cooke (Twistin’ The Night Away)
  • Donny Hathaway (Live)
  • Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga (Cheek to Cheek)
  • George Duke (Duke)
  • Marvin Sapp (Thirsty)
  • Me’Shell Ndegéocello (Peace Beyond Passion)
  • Brigette McWilliams (Too Much Woman)

[Andreas] Everybody loves to talk about gear. Can you tell my your Favorite basses & gear

[Tomohiko] My Favorite Gear:


  • Fender – 1962 P.Bass
  • Fender – 1978 J.Bass
  • Performance Guitar – 5strings Bass
  • Sadowsky Tokyo – RB5
  • Wood Bass

-Bass Amp

  • 1967 B-15


Tomohiko Ohkanda_O1A8904

[Andreas] Any tips for younger musicians?

[Tomohiko] Probably, many who want to be professional musicians, feel that they have to play all kinds of music, however I think that if you learn a specific kind of music – music that you like – then you will learn so many things.  I believe that you should play the music you love; if you do what you love you will also perfect that style.

Your strong points and weak points, likes and dislikes, will make your character stronger and bring out what makes you unique… and this is the most important thing. You need to find your own VOICE.

Additionally style is important as well as posture. Not only to have a good looks on stage but also to have proper technique. Keep your chest high and be confident in order to have and create your style!

It is very important for all of us to become the musician that, any genre you play and any style, you can tell a story through your experiences and life lessons. I still have so many weak points but I always keep these things in my mind.

And lastly, the most important thing is to listen to what other people are playing. Remember, other people are also listening to you too.

[Andreas] Very interesting. I know you toured a lot! You have been touring since you were young musician… any touring advice?

[Tomohiko] A few thoughts…

You have to be healthy both physically and mentally.

Think what makes other people happy and what makes it easier for the singer to perform. There’s no answer to it but that honest sincerity and care will become your sound.

I think simple playing is very important but sometimes you have make things happen.

You should never have stereotype thoughts.

And remember that some people may like what you played today, some may don’t.  But it doesn’t really matter because at the end of the day, the most important thing is to trust your ability and believe in who you are.

Always try to maintain peaceful and calm relationship with band members. Imagine having to spend 6 months on a bus with people you argue with. You should always try to find the good in every situation

Lastly, it is important for me to have a drink after the show and forget about the night. That way, I can re-start tomorrow and play in the state of a “new mind”.

[Andreas] Since we talk about touring… any funny touring moments?

[Tomohiko] It is great to be exposed to diverse cultures when you visit places. Especially when you go to Okinawa, which is located in the south of Japan, or Aomori in the north of Japan, you can enjoy traditional Japanese blues at the bars and restaurants, sing along and dance with everybody together.

I can’t talk about other stuff because it is too “dirty” to mention (laugh) but it is so fun that you will meet musicians and staff members that will become like a family and call them “brother”, “father” and will become a lifelong friends.

[Andreas] I saw that you have exceptional technique on electric as well as acoustic bass. Do you have any technique tips (4 finger – chords approach etc.)?

Tomohiko Ohkanda_O1A8956

[Tomohiko] The best advice I can give is that:

When singers sing softly, you have to play sensitive, when drummer plays something strong and dynamic then you have to follow them and bring additional excitement to it. So you need the dynamic control. But never forget to keep the tempo and feel and groove.

Also, it is important to create a chord feel, even if you play one single note. To do that, you have to practice everyday by yourself and understand the harmony and sound.

Rich flavorful sound always comes from the warm heart.

Lastly you need to understand when NOT to play. If you leave space sometimes, it is more important and more effective than being busy all the time! (Smile)

[Andreas] Any studio/recording advice?

[Tomohiko] When you are in the studio, you will feel nervous without you noticing, so make some funny jokes! I like to talk about something dirty and make people laugh! Just make yourself relax. It is important, but when the main singer is female, you should be careful. There is a thin line that you shouldn’t cross; always with good intention and respect towards yourself, as well as the rest of the group.

And sometimes the take when you are relaxed is better than the time you are pushing yourself hard. Everybody is different so just do and play what you feel.

[Andreas] What are you plans for the future?

[Tomohiko] There are so many tours that haven’t been announced publicly, so please check on my website for the latest updates.

This year, I will have a couple of long-term tours.

[Andreas] Any Solo music plans?

[Tomohiko] Soul Strut / Little Steps / Soulympic Tokyo / Gold’z Jam – These are the gigs that I am doing as a session leader.

Show dates vary, but I usually perform at “Koenji JIROKICHI” or “Meguro Blues Alley Japan” so please come say hello, talk to me and have a drink with me!

Please check Live DVD / TV

MASAKI UEDA (Kanashi Iro Yane)

(2012 – TV LIVE)


  • Ken Hirai Live Tour 2008 FAKIN’ POP
  • Ken Hirai 15th Anniversary Special!! Vol.4 (2010)
  • BoA THE LIVE 2009 X’mas (2009)
  • BoA LIVE TOUR 2010 IDENTITY (2010)
  • BoA THE LIVE 2010 X’mas (2010)
  • BoA THE LIVE 2011 X’mas (2011)
  • JUJU 10.10.10 Special Live Request (2010)
  • MIKI IMAI?Concert Tour 2011?LOVE & BLESSINGS – Miki’s Affections (2011)
  • MIKA NAKASHIMA LIVE IS “REAL” 2013 – THE LETTER Anatani Tsutaetakute (2013)
  • AYAKA LIVE TOUR 2013 Fortune Cookie – Nani ga derukana- (2013)
  • Many more…

(2012 – TV LIVE)

[Andreas] Thanks… before we wrap up, is there anything else you want me to mention?


Tomohiko Ohkanda as a leader

March 23th (Mon) @Koenji JIROKICHI

SOUL STRUT Nobuyoshi Nakazawa (vo.g) Azumi Takahashi (vo.) Shin Kouno(pf) Yoshito Tanaka (g) Shin Takada (dr.) Ohkanda Tomohiko (b)

Advanced ticket (3,500 Yen) Day of show (3,800 Yen)


[Andreas] Thanks Tomohiko for finding the time to talk to us in between shows and whilst on tour!