American musician Louis Armstrong’s affectionate nickname Satchmo has gone on to inspire everything from music festivals to restaurants and even an e-commerce framework. But one of its more recent reincarnations can be found in all the way in Japan, in the form of a 6-person band called Suchmos. Formed in 2013 by a group of friends, Suchmos soulfully blends elements of acid jazz and R&B with J-pop to create vintage rhythms layered with punchy pop synth.
All 6 members hail from the Shonan region of Japan near Yokohama and have stylized stage names like OK and TAIHEI. The lead vocal is YONCE (Yosuke Kasai) whose clean-shaven face and slicked back short hair makes him look like he’s 16. Admittedly, the entire group are young – in their early 20s – but have already managed to find a sound and skin they are comfortable in.
YONCE attributes his musical education to an uncle and bar owner: a music lover whose room is filled with records and CDs. This mentor guided him from a young age, introducing him at first to Eric Clapton and The Rolling Stones but later to Nirvana, Otis Redding and Marvin Gaye.
YONCE started his first project when he was 17: a rock band called Old Joe. The group stayed together until last year when YONCE decided to call it quits and focus his efforts on Suchmos. And the concentration has paid off. In 2014 the group played Fuji Rock and the following year they signed with Space Shower Music, where they put out their debut album Bay. A nod to the bayside culture where the members grew up, the album is a reflection of Yokohama culture, where time tends to move a little slower, men tend to be manlier and things aren’t quite as refined as Tokyo.