Ken Takeuchi gained an understanding of man’s
relationship with nature early on, from his father who commanded a team
of fishing vessels in the South China Sea. "My father's work was always
dependent on weather. I remember he would sometimes bring home
Taiwanese coins as presents when he had to take refuge in Taiwanese
ports during typhoon season."
Born and raised in Nagasaki, Japan, Ken was often
found drawing around the house. "When I was like 5 years old, I
would sit on the steps in front of my house and draw a picture of Mt.
Inasa. My neighbor would walk by and tell me how nice the drawing
was, and I would be absolutely annoyed! I was so focused on getting the
drawing just right, and I could not stand her patronizing me and my
Early signs of Ken’s artistic talent were just
beginning to be revealed when music replaced his passion: "My Junior
High was known for its outstanding band program. When I joined as
a percussionist we went as far as the National semi-finals twice.
After that, I was totally hooked on playing drums!" Realizing the
only place to learn how to play drums was the U.S., he moved to
Muskegon, MI at age 16 as a foreign exchange student.
Arriving at Muskegon Catholic Central High School,
Ken joined the school band right away. Studying music under the
tutelage of his band director, Mr. Rod Schaub, was a fortunate
accident. "He was an ex-hippie band director who played guitar on
the Happy Days theme
song! So naturally we would lean towards
learning to play songs like ‘Siberian Khatru’ by Yes, or ‘Aja’ by
Playing music also helped Ken win some respect from
his fellow students. "I was totally that stereotypical Asian
exchange student, who walked around with a camera everywhere I went,
but my friends thought I was really cool because I was good at playing
drums." Upon Mr. Schaub’s recommendation, Ken continued his
studies at Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA in 1989.
During college, he began to pursue his interest in
writing music. Collaborations with other local musicians started
to blossom. "I would sync my Mac Classic to a cassette 4-track
and record pop and dance songs. Then I would take the tape to DJs
on Lansdown Street. One night, a DJ decided that it was good
enough to play for a crowd of 2000! It was one of the most
exhilarating experiences; watching people dance to your music!"
In 1993, Ken released his first 12-inch single in
collaboration with David Young, a.k.a. Caleb. The title track
"Hands (to take me home)" became an instant underground hit across the
US. "We were getting pick-hit status from DJ pools in San
Francisco, and our song was on legendary DJ Michael Fierman's playlist
during his White Parties in NYC! It was really exciting to
finally get our music out there."
After a short stint in Denmark, Ken returned to the
US and relocated to NYC. As he struggled to make ends meet,
fortune smiled on Ken once again when he met his mentor, Grammy Award
winner, Mr. Matt Kaplowitz. Under his watchful eye, he learned
professional audio engineering hands-on. "When I was starting out as an
audio engineer, it was exciting but scary at the same time. I had
no doubts in my ability to learn, but being thrown into a session with
real responsibilities was nerve wrecking!"
10 years later, Ken creates award-winning audio work
at Onomatopoeia, Inc, Mr. Kaplowitz’ full-service sound studio located
in the heart of Chelsea.
Ken rediscovered his desire to express his passion
through art during stressful times at work. "I really didn't have
any outlet for my stress. When I used to work for 2 months
without any days off, all I could do was just catch enough sleep.
Forget about mixing my own music!"
Beginning in 1995, Ken slowly started to draw and
paint again, and has been steadily creating a solid catalog of work
since then. Incorporating the beauty of nature, with sometimes
violent images, Ken finally found a medium where he could express his
emotions without inhibition, spilling his soul onto blank canvas.
"Strangely, I feel okay for not having formal education in Art. I
think it really helps me create my art without feeling a need to prove
Ken is planning to push his boundaries further by
creating a gestalt of his life experiences in various mediums,
utilizing video, photography, original music, and surround sound
mixing. Ken adds, "Who knows? Maybe I'll even throw in my
famous Southern fried chicken recipe as a free gift!"
Compiled and written by Jake Chang, June 2004.