Solo Musician Interview: Age-Otori

Age-otori Photo

What does your name mean?
My name, in Japanese, means a haircut that makes you look worse than before.

Where are you from?
I was raised in Maryhill, Glasgow, and I’ve been there ever since but I’m a “racial smoothie”.  My Gran on my American Dad’s side is Italian, my Granddad on the American side was German and on my Scottish mother’s side, my Gran is English and my Granddad was from Nassau, Bahamas.  

How long have you been playing your instrument?
I started piano when I was five with a classical teacher and quickly realised, with my raging ADHD, that that wasn’t going to work.  At ten I nearly gave up the piano entirely and quit said teacher but found, at age 11, a rather fantastical teacher with eight fingers who was brilliant for the next five years.

What genre of music do you consider your music to be?
Piano-ey goodness.

What are your influences?
Ben Folds, Slaid Cleaves, TuneYards, Postmodern Dukebox…??there are too many to count.

Do you do covers and, if so, what’s your go-to?
Generally not.

Do you have a process for writing your songs?
I get really emotionally choked-up and piano-vomit.

Do you have any interesting/funny stories about gigging/touring?
I was on stage, about to play my first song at the Queen Margaret Student Union, when I got a call from one of my friends saying “help, I can’t get in ‘cos I’m underage”.  So I said back… “wait…I’M UNDERAGE”.  We then simultaneously got kicked out with my entire audience.  We all bubbled off to Tchai Ovna instead  (which was not expecting a QMU-sized audience).

I was once about to start performing “I Did it Again” – one of my few songs on guitar – before releasing, and announcing to the audience, “I didn’t bring a guitar” – and having to move all of the guitar songs to the end of the set.

What song do you remember most from your childhood?
“Lydia” by Slaid Cleaves; “Stuck in the City” by Jono; “Fulsome Prison Blues” by Johnny Cash and “Pennsylvania 6-500” by the Glenn Miller Band.

What has been your biggest challenge as a performer? Have you been able to overcome this challenge? If so, then how?
My biggest challenge as a performer is lack of organisation.  This I’ve been able to overcome via ruthless… RUTHLESS…planning.  

How can fans-to-be gain access to your music?
Fans-to-be can find my music on Soundcloud and Spotify.

Have you released anything yet/if you have, then how has it gone down and are you planning on anything for the near future?
I have released around 40 songs on Soundcloud (linked above) and I’m releasing another couple this Sunday (and… sssh…a video for a new and improved City of Insomnia in late October).

Where have you performed? What are your favourite and least favourite venues?
I have performed at Tchai Ovna, Offshore, QMU (for a microsecond), the Victoria Bar at the Glasgow School of Art, the Blue Chair, SWG3, Drygate, the SOLAS music festival, various Blues-dancing festivals (US and UK), the Kelvingrove Bandstand, Berklee School of Music (Boston)…and David’s flat.  My favourite venue is probably Tchai Ovna as it’s got a lovely feel and there are cats everywhere (it’s just so acceptable to sit on the floor without shoes, a common habit of mine). My least favourite is the Blue Chair – not because it’s not a nice place, not because it doesn’t have a lovely atmosphere – it’s just VERY small.  Oh and the staff are honeys.

Do you have any up-and-coming shows?
I am going on tour with Hit-the-Road: on the 19th October I’ll be headlining at the Old Hairdresser’s in Glasgow, doors open 7pm; Edinburgh and Stornoway on the 20th and 21st.  I’ll be performing at the Tokamak Blues Festival in Edinburgh from the 27th to the 29th October. Be there or be a flight of stairs.

What do you think about downloading music online?
I think it’s brilliant.  It makes it harder for musicians to make money, but I think it emphasises that music should be for all – not just for the rich.  It’s also had huge positive impact on live music as the only way to make money as a musician is through live performances.

Which famous person, alive or dead, would you have dinner with – and why?
Johnny Cash. He was my first idol as a kid and it’s always amazed me, to the extent of confusion, how much he could (past tense, he very dead) empathize with people he’d never met. He could sing on the subject of a man waiting to be hung and I, as a six year old, could empathize.  He’s also 6 foot 2.

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