Project A-Ko (1986) Movie Script

Japan, 1986.
The country was in a middle of a
legendary, economic boom.
The export market was hot.
Money was flowing in and people were
buying up real estate left and right.
Investors were looking for new opportunities.
And the local film and
animation industry offered plenty.
The domestic Japanese film market
couldn't compete with Hollywood budgets
but local anime feature films
were growing in popularity.
The burgeoning home video market was
feeding a boom in young creative talent:
First in adult anime
and then with more mainstream offerings.
Fledgeling anime studio A.P.P.P.,
short for Another Push Pin Planning,
had attracted a lot of
attention in the anime world
with it's low-budget but groundbreaking
adult anime anthology OVA series Cream Lemon.
When publisher Soeishinsha proposed the idea
of taking a planned installment
and expanding it into a mainstream feature film,
Project A-ko was selected.
The animation staff went wild
and created some of the most
spectacular set pieces in anime history.
But for as great the animation was,
they needed great music to go with it.
A.P.P.P. president Kazufumi Nomura
was having trouble.
The film's planned release date of
March 21st was coming up in only a few months.
And he had no idea
what to do about the music.
He had listened to
countless demos from local singers
but the film's creative staff
wanted something unique.
And nothing seemed right.
When a record label executive
suggested using foreign singers,
Nomura was intrigued.
English language pop was a huge deal in Japan.
And people there were known by the
music industry to be ravenous consumers of music.
Nomura would soon connect with
two American music producers
who are just starting to find success
producing songs for the Japanese market.
Their names were
Richie Zito and Joey Carbone.
Joey and I were always trying to do it.
Then we had some success in Japan
with an artist named John O'Banion
in the late 70s.
Warner Music Japan became
aware of John [O'Banion]
and the records that we made,
which were very, very pop and very catchy, I think.
And they invited us to go
over to do the Tokyo Music Festival
and we won the Grand Prize of the
Tokyo Music Festival with the song that I wrote called
"I Don't Wanna Lose Your Love" which
was later a number one country hit with Crystal Gayle.
We had a little bit of success,
more than a little bit of success,
to the point where it sort of
opened up the door
that, you know, indirectly went to
us doing Project A-ko together.
There was a huge movie. In 1983 called
Satomi Hakken-Den that Richie and I
wrote and produced two songs for the opening and closing theme for.
The closing theme which was the love theme called "I Don't Want This Night to End".
That song, the single, it was number one on the Japanese foreign music charts
and like 10 or 11, I think, on the Japanese domestic
chart even though it was sung in English.
That's how big it was.
Because of the huge success of that movie,
plus the TV commercials that we did
that were also released as records that became
hit records for Sony tapes "Over Night Success"
and Honda DJ scooters "DJ in My Life."
Combination of those things,
we were getting quite a reputation,
I think, in Japan as
foreign composer producers
so we were approached at that point to
do the soundtrack for Project A-ko.
Zito and Carbone were childhood friends
who had grown up on the same block in Brooklyn
and developed a love of music together.
Joey and I grew up in Brooklyn literally
across the street from each other.
I started to play guitar around twelve-ish.
You know, playing from songbooks.
Whatever, playing Beach Boys or
whatever we could learn how to do.
And we were in my basement and all of a sudden
there was a knock at the door and it was Joey.
I went to his house one day
and he was playing this great Gibson guitar,
I remember it was a white, beautiful
Gibson solid body guitar.
And I said, "Wow, man, that's really cool.
"Oh, that sounds great down here,"
by this point I had an electric guitar,
he said,
"I'm gonna get my tambourine."
Yeah, go ahead.
I ran across the street and
I grabbed this old tambourine
that was all rusty and I don't know why it was in my house but I remember having seen it,
and I took it over and I started banging it around
and sing with Richie while he played the guitar.
And then so there was the three of us, my buddy who played guitar, and I had a buddy
who I went to kindergarden, the Cup Scouts, with that played drums, we asked him to be in the band.
I became the bassist in the group
and the lead singer.
Pretty much that's the absolute
beginning of our relationship.
That's my buddy Joey.
We're like brothers.
We both were pretty much at that point committed
to having a music career so we,
we were terrible college students and neither one of us finished getting any kind of degree or anything like that.
Neither one of us were formally, musically trained.
When we started, we were
signed to Atlantic, I was 15.
Same year the Vagrants were signed which
gave birth to Leslie West and Mountain, the Bee Gees,
Cream, Billy Joel's band the Hassles
so there was a lot of cool stuff going on up there.
Had we gone to Juilliard or
had we studied music in college,
we would have been studying theory, probably classical music or jazz music
and those days, in New York, there were no schools
where we could learn, you know, pop music,
so the way we learned pop music
was by buying records
taking them home and just woodshedding with them,
listening to them, listening over and over.
We didn't have the luxury
of being able to buy sheet music,
on top of that, not seeing
where the chords and the lyrics were.
We make little notes about the chords
and we would learn it.
Me in my basement learning the bass part, playing,
and then singing along with it. Richie would do the same.
And then we get together and play as a band
and that's how we grew up.
I moved down to Los Angeles. Once I was in L.A., I convinced Richie to move out and he did.
I remember the beautiful, the look at the
Hollywood hills, the palm trees, the beautiful blue skies
and New York was
probably under a foot of snow.
And I thought, I think
this is where I wanna stay for a while.
That was like the most amazing time.
Over the next two years, let's say, we came in '73-ish,
L.A. really caught fire. Every rock star moved here: Rod Stewart, Elton John had a place here,
Alice Cooper, like every rock star came here
and then there was the whole country / rock stuff,
the Eagles, and Jackson Brown,
that was happening over there.
It was so, so, so fruitful here.
And never looked back
and never made a better decision.
I had been signed to, what is now Sony Records,
and Sony Music, as a staff songwriter for their music publishing company
and they had a publishing entity
called April Blackwood Music
and I was signed to them
for three years a s a staff songwriter.
And they'd give me a salary every week and
a studio budget to go into the studio to record the demos.
So for the recording of the demos I would play
keyboards and I'd hire guitar, bass, and drummer,
and I would sing the song sometimes.
If we needed a female vocal, I would hire somebody.
And that's how I kinda learnt how, I think, produce by producing my own demos at first.
When I was a little kid in New York, everybody had
their radio at the beach tuned to the same station
and so when something was a hit,
bang, whole beach sort of lit up with it.
So I always wanted to part of something that did just repeat itself the next night. Something that was there forever.
So I knew, as a record producer,
I could do more of it.
You know, I did it as a guitar player first.
I was lucky enough to play on some really fun stuff, pretty good stuff, pretty successful stuff.
I started doing a lot of work with,
I was always lucky, I always in a place where things exploded.
Through my session connections and session work,
I connected with a guy named Giorgio Moroder,
who if anyone doesn't know who it is,
he won an Oscar for the electronic score for a movie called Midnight Express.
No one had won an Oscar for electronic music.
Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson called,
"We need a help with this little movie called Flashdance."
And I was up here everyday anyway
and stayed up here, and we did the music for Flashdance, and boom, Flashdance exploded.
Giorgo won a second Oscar.
It helped define the soundtrack album,
selling over 10 million records from the film.
It was pretty great. So through that we did Scarface, and Beverly Hills Cop,
and I played guitar on
"The Heat Is On" with Glenn Frey,
it exploded. So you pick up the phone,
you never know who's gonna answer in the studio.
So I got a shot.
I started producing some records.
Zito and Carbone were there on the cutting edge of music production that would define the culture of the decade.
It was Nobu Yoshinari from Taiyo Music
who got in contact with them about producing the music for Project A-ko.
Great memories about Project A-ko.
Richie and I were signed to a publishing company called Taiyo Music
which was one of the major Japanese music publishing
companies that represented lot of foreign catalogs.
And it was Nobu Yoshinari
who brought the Project A-ko to us.
And he told us about this Japanese animation project
and they wanted us to write the score for it.
Yeah, it came our way, was offered to us
which, sure, sounded like a great idea.
And it was an animated film
and we jumped at it.
Which, typical, in making a film,
from a musical perspective,
first you see the movie and
you sit down with the director,
they discuss where they want music,
discuss where it should be,
how it should, that kind of stuff, kicking around, some brainstorming.
We recorded while the film was playing
so they would lock up, synchronize.
There was no film with Project A-ko.
We saw nothing.
We never saw any video,
we didn't score anything to picture
which is what is commonly done.
We were given some storyboards,
some directions about what the director
wanted with the kind of music,
and what the story was about.
And we were pretty much left on our own
to create mostly instrumental pieces
and three vocal pieces
which we were asked to bring in
three different singers to sing.
But there was nothing.
It's not uncommon to have songs be written
and recorded without it being synced up to the film.
But score, I've never heard.
But in this case, because it was animated, they could, you know... But still, we saw nothing.
The film was still being animated
and neither Zito or Carbone knew any Japanese.
But ultimately, the two were left alone
to see what they could come up with.
We must have made some demos of
our song ideas and submitted it
through our representative to the producers and the directors of the movie.
And I recall them being really excited about it
and approving everything we gave them.
I don't remember them
wanting to change anything.
You know, "try something different."
They seemed pretty excited
about what we did in the demo form.
In his notes for the A-ko
soundtrack release, Nomura called it, quote,
They were approving it,
we wrote the songs
then we started to write
the score without seeing anything.
That was a little more complicated.
We had no idea what the tempos were.
It could be very creative, we had free hand.
Nomura, sound director Kazunori Honda,
and the executives
from the record label and music publisher flew to Los Angeles on February 7th, 1986.
I remember just seeing them
with smiles on their faces all the time.
At that point, I can speak Japanese quite a bit now,
but in those days I couldn't at all,
so we had a translator there.
They would talk in Japanese themselves.
I didn't know what they were saying
but I remember they were always smiling
and nodding their heads
so I figured we were doing okay.
But it was a pretty
sensational way to make music.
Really and truly, it was unusual as hell.
We had a great time.
We had good people
working on it, Richie and I,
who's a great synthesizer player
and keyboard player
We got great sounds.
The engineer, one of my dear friends,
who's a super talented guitar player in his own right,
very famous. He had a great recording studio
and he's a great recording engineer.
and that's where we recorded it at.
Even though at home recording stuff
was unsophisticated, the instruments were not.
I mean they were as good as it gets
for sequencing a drum, guitars, all the good stuff.
They invented the Yamaha DX7,
the Roland TR-808,
all that stuff was there,
so even though our recording
device that we recorded to was not too
sophisticated, we could do what we wanted it to do
and make it sound how we heard it.
And George [Doering] got great sounds
and he was our mixing engineer as well.
George did great.
So it was a very tight-knit group,
weren't a lot of people involved.
It was me, Richie, and Arthur [Barrow]
and George [Doering].
That was it, as far as the music.
Then we had the three girls doing the singing.
That was the whole troupe.
The Japanese like to have lot of meetings
and consultations about what they're doing
and as they're doing it, the clock is ticking,
the deadline is approaching.
So you don't have a lot of time to finish the project before the deadline.
I remember it was a pretty short period of time
that we went in there and banged it out.
Yeah, we moved quick. I don't even know.
It was quick, I think, a couple of weeks.
I mean, really and truly.
From the beginning to the end, from the recording all the instrumentals and the backing tracks
and then the lead vocals and all the backing choruses,
and then the final mix within, probably, a two week period.
You're not looking at a film, you're not laboring over,
"Does that work with that scene?"
It was, like, "we need
something sorta uptempo", you know.
And in the beginning
there's an overture, more or less.
Here it is. Here's 40 seconds.
Here's 50 seconds. And then, you know how it is.
Once you write something like "Dance Away"
and you'll do an instrumental part of it.
You don't use it throughout the film.
All of a sudden, four minute song
can fill up a lot of the film.
Especially instrumentally.
Richie and I have always been very instinctual.
We don't really labor over what we're doing.
We labor over preparation, of course,
as far as being producers who we're gonna use on this,
who's gonna sing,
who's gonna engineer, what studios.
But once we get into the studio,
and that red light is going,
we're burning. We're just doing it.
So it wasn't going through o a lot of
hand, a lot opinions, a lot of decisions,
we just went, "Hey, what do you think?"
"Yeah, that sounds great." "Wow, try this."
And it moved along pretty quick
and the girls were great.
A lot of artists that I worked with,
when I work with the Japanese staff,
everytime we did a vocal
or an overdub or guitar or keyboard,
they want to play it back
and listen to it first before preceding.
Richie and I didn't work that way.
Our ears told us it was fine. Okay, what's next.
And then at the end if we heard something we would change it, but certainly in a different way.
So we were very instinctual,
one of the reasons we work pretty quickly on it.
We submitted it to Japan and got word
from our representative Nobu Yoshinari
that they were really
excited and happy about it.
The executives requested
to audition vocalists with a
hip, young image that could be marketed
as idols for the film's promotion.
Zito and Carbone settled on
three up-and-coming young women.
All of whom also happen to be actors as well.
was a former child prodigy singer who had her own show on the national network as a teenager.
She had appeared on TV shows like the A-Team,
Guiding Light, and recently had a co-starring role
in the short-lived
John Stamos TV sitcom Dreams
about a small time rock band
in Philadelphia trying to make it.
She contributed Project A-ko's
ending theme "Follow Your Dream."
Valerie [Stevenson] I had met when I was music director on Star Search.
Valerie was one of the contestants.
We needed girls that were great singers
but also that were young, very attractive
because we knew it was
gonna be a girl group.
It had to be for marketing reasons.
These were the requests from the record company,
the film directors, the producers.
So, Valerie was all three of those things.
Like anything else,
someone would recommend someone,
she's not right but one by one,
it goes round and around, then it lands.
Samantha Newark, another former
child prodigy singer, that same year
became best known to the world
as the speaking voice of Jerrica Benton
also known as Jem.
I started really young,
actually did my
first professional show when I was seven.
And I was kinda just a lucky kid.
I was one of those kids
that I saw child performer Lena Zavaroni
and my parents took me to see her play, see her concert when I was like six and a half.
And I had a complete
epiphany with her backup dancers,
and her music
and I was just like, "I wanna do that!
That's what I wanna do."
I don't even know
if I even realized if I could sing
but I got her record, she signed it for me
and then I learned every song on her album.
Before long, I started performing.
So we moved to California when I was like 12.
Then I was off and running
doing more music and singing.
Basically, my dad would say,
"I basically sang at the opening of an envelope."
Wherever there was something,
my dad would go to the trades
and find anything I could perform at.
And I was there with
my little backing track.
Joey Carbone, who I had known before,
and I was racking my brain trying to remember
I had auditioned for Star Search
but they didn't have a children's category yet.
So I was too young
and I think that's initially how I met Joey.
So I'm thinking it came directly from him.
I'm pretty sure it was
during the time I was doing Jem.
It was right around the same time.
And I got to meet Annie [Livingstone]
and Valerie [Stevenson] that day.
I would have imagined it would be more
than one session to record all the songs we did.
But I do remember going to
the studio and working with the girls
and getting to sing harmonies and
background vocals on each other's stuff and, yeah.
For A-ko, she contributed
the ballad "In Your Eyes."
And I remember hearing the songs,
Joey wants to play me the songs first.
I do remember saying,
"Joey, I really wanna sing the ballad.
Can I please sing the ballad?
I really wanna sing the ballad."
I just loved "In Your Eyes."
I thought it was beautiful.
I loved so many of the songs but that was
the one I was hoping I would get to sing.
Because we were all featured on different songs
and then sang background on each other's songs.
I guess I sounded good on it
so I got to sing it.
I was very happy about it.
I do remember that.
Annie Livingstone, sometimes credited
as Annie Livingston, had primarily been a dancer
but would later have small parts in Jailbird Rock,
the cult indie film the Wizard of Speed and Time
and later the TV series Monk.
I mean it was just in the house.
My dad played harmonica, my mom's a piano player.
We just always had music growing up.
My grandfather was kinda a vaudevillian singer.
And I just had the bug.
And just wanted to sing and dance.
When I moved to Los Angeles, I was just
auditioning for everything you could go out for.
I got a movie young as a dancer,
it was a cheerleading movie, coming of age, teen rivalry with cheerleading squads.
Cheerballs (1984)
I met somebody on the movie,
best boy Marty Carillo, and he said,
"You're a singer, you wanna sing,
you gotta meet my roommates."
And it was Kipp Lennon,
son of the Lennon Sisters.
And Joey did an album with him too for Japan.
She first worked with Carbone
on a single made for a commercial for Honda DJ scooters.
With Joey, I did "DJ in My Life", it was a single we did for the little Honda motor scooters in Japan.
I knew the song was gonna come out,
as it did many times,
we recorded a song
for a high profile TV commercial.
We could also make a deal
to release the song as a single.
So I knew it would be both a TV commercial
and also come out as a single.
And I thought what can I say
that's Honda DJ-1 scooters.
How I tie the two of them together?
I can't mention scooters.
It would be good for the commercial
but not for the record.
So I came up with the idea of "DJ in My Life"
about a girl who that had broken up with a boyfriend
who was asking a DJ to play
my favorite song to cheer me up.
And that was the theme.
When you heard the commercial, it was:
You know I need a DJ in my life
And whatever happened after that. Only 15 seconds or 13 seconds.
And it did so great then they said,
"Okay, you do the record."
With them, we recorded it in two days.
We were young,
had so much energy, go go go.
She was a pleasure.
She was just a ball of energy
and one of the sweetest
human beings in the world.
Had a smile that could melt eyes.
She was always up, bubbly, and talented.
So after doing an album with her
and A-ko came along,
clearly she was an obvious place
to go to get someone to to sing it.
Again, we were friends at that point.
It was cake,
it was easy, it was fun.
By that point you had a relationship already.
That was natural as can be.
Richie and Joey said, "We're gonna put
your voice on an animated movie for Japan."
So I was really excited.
We recorded that day.
So I assigned "Dance Away" to Annie
because she was a dancer.
And she did an amazing job on it.
And I was able to bring her to Japan to promote the
movie and the soundtrack album, which we did.
On February 28th, Nomura and Honda
returned to Los Angeles to finalize the recording.
They hired a camera crew and did a promotional
video shoot in the place where they recorded.
An impressive private home studio
belonging to guitarist George Doering
who also recorded and mixed the final tracks.
The video shot that day was later edited into
the Project A-ko Secret File bonus feature.
It's so funny, you go back in time
you're like, it's hard to remember.
Somebody told me there was this footage of me
behind the scenes with Project A-ko
with like really huge 80s hair
and I was like,
"What are you talking about?"
I don't remember.
And then I saw the footage
and I was like,
"Oh my gosh, that's right."
And they gave us like the same
little matching outfits to wear.
Then we shot all this behind the scenes stuff.
So we had already recorded the vocals
but we went to the studio
to sort of show the behind the scenes stuff.
It was after we recorded everything.
They filmed it, I remember
we came out with crazy hair,
sing our song with Samantha and Valerie.
We were 22 and wild and going bowling.
I did forget I had bowling shoes on,
I had these bright yellow Reebok's at the time.
I left them in the little shoe thing,
I walked out and the next day was the video.
So I'm like, "Oh my god, I forgot the shoes."
I put them on, okay.
I did the video and then went back
and exchanged the shoes back.
I'm the weirdo, I love weird shoes.
I like hats and shoes.
Anything I could do to be wacky.
Back in the 80s, we just were hired,
come on in, sing a song.
I did sing so many songs,
I was doing so much music.
On March 6th, just two weeks
before the premiere, the final songs were completed.
And they returned to Tokyo to complete the film.
None of the Americans who had worked
on the score saw the final result
until Project A-ko was released on
video in North America in 1991.
The next time I heard about it,
I was aware a company called Central Park Media
was going to be
releasing it in the United States.
I listened to it and I watched the movie.
I think it holds up pretty well.
I'm proud of it.
I've heard the songs and "Dance Away"
was this successful single
but I hadn't heard the score ever.
I've never heard the score.
You sent me some link to some stuff, I was just sitting around and listening and all of a sudden
I heard this track called "Jealous Eyes."
On the soundtrack album,
it's an instrumental song.
When I heard this, I said, "Jesus Christ!"
I couldn't stop playing it.
I had really forgotten it.
And I thought it was like,
I was blown away, so I called Jerry and said,
"Do you remember Jealous Eyes?"
Don't forget because
we didn't discuss titles.
"Do you realize how good that was?"
So I sent him a link.
And he sent me a text like, wow,
we had both forgotten.
That was like, in my opinion,
big time show biz. I couldn't be more proud of that.
There's another piece of score
that became a song called Max [5000.]
That's pretty cool.
It's a little darker and very robotic.
Those are the things and the songs,
I guess I couldn't say it better.
We did it pretty quickly.
Everybody brought their best forward,
planets all lined up, and it worked out great.
I'm real happy.
When I listen to it, I think it sounds pretty cool.
I just remember it being played
in the studio when we were recording
I would see bits and pieces of it.
And I saw the characters.
I saw Richie and Joey
working feverishly away on the board.
It was so cute. Those three little
highschool buddies and all their dramas.
The whole preface of it being hit by a meteor
and starting all over.
Eat your heart our, Avengers and Iron Man.
I never knew there was the comic con world.
I had no idea of this
incredible subculture that existed.
The first time I ever got invited to a comic con for Jem was in Secaucus, New Jersey, like 2004, I think.
And it was a Star Wars convention
and Mark Hamill was the guest of honor.
So there were like 20.000 storm troopers and me,
and I was like, "What am I doing here?"
But they flew my guitar player out,
so we played an acoustic concert
and I sold my album.
It was amazing.
And so many of the
Star Wars fans were fans of Jem.
There was like this big cross-pollination.
I noticed at shows people were coming
to my table and they were bringing me
Project A-ko vinyl and DVDs for
me to autograph and I was amazed.
I thought it was so cool.
Lots of fans of
Project A-ko out there. Who knew?
You hope that you do work in your life that
means something, that reaches people in a lovely way.
And Project A-ko is one of those projects
and it's lovely because
it's something I sang on.
And I love being Jem.
I love the Jem fan base so much
but I did the voice work
so it's really rewarding
to have fans of Project A-ko
know me from my singing.
I really like that.
I went to a doctor once,
I didn't actually go there but
I met a dcotor who was,
"Oh, you did the A-ko project."
I said, "Yeah, how did you...
What the hell are you talking about?
Where did you come from?"
And that's how it is. You have to remember
it's been how many years, 30-ish?
You look back at it, at the time,
it wasn't, "We were really influencing something."
So it took a long time
for me to really understand.
I didn't have any idea.
I didn't know.
I miss all the people in Japan,
I hope I get to come back someday.
See them again. I miss them.
They're like my long lost tomodachis.
To be honest with you,
I wasn't following it very closely.
So I wasn't aware of all the goings ons
of the fans and the popularity that it had had.
Every once in a while, somebody would mention it
but I really wasn't hit with it.
In one punch.
Never saw the movie in a theater, for example.
I was never at an anime fan convention
where people were talking about
or playing it, or doing anything with.
It kinda, quiet honestly,
it took us by surprise at how well it did.
The year after A-ko was released,
Carbone reunited with Samantha Newark
and teamed her with sisters Jennifer and Shawna Bizik
to create the girl group Cherry Cherry.
Their album, "the American Train",
was intended to be the soundtrack for
a new America-themed Japanese theme park.
But plans fell through.
The initial release was going to be
a single for a song that would be used in a commercial
for a project called "American Train in Japan".
I think that was gonna be
featured at an amusement park.
We were gonna go there
and open the theme park and
the theme park had an album, the whole thing.
And it did never happen.
We did the record, finished the record.
But the actual tour never happened.
Since then, Newark has had a long career
in cartoon and video game voice work.
And released several solo albums.
I have a YouTube channel
with a ton of live stuff on it.
But the place to find me is
That's kinda like the big hub.
I'm on the gram of the insta,
and the Facebook, all of it.
It's a lot to keep up with sometimes.
Valerie Stevenson met her husband in 1987 and gave up
show biz to move with him to Miami and raise a family.
Tragically, she passed away in February 2015 at
the age of 52 after a battle with liver disease.
Annie Livingstone continued
the Hollywood hustle for years
but put plans on hold to care for
elder family members in her native San Diego.
She's continued to work on music
and hopes to release some new songs in the near future.
You know when I sang in Japan,
those were impressionable early days
as a young singer with Richie and Joey.
I just watched the respectful ways
that the people of Japan
took care of their elders
and I was so touched by it.
And I kinda always knew I would be the one to take care
of my mom and dad and that's what I'm doing now.
I took care of my father, he lived till 92 and kept
him home and then now my mom is here, she's 95!
I feel like I have a second music career coming.
I think I'll do music again.
Richie Zito went on to become
one of the biggest behind the scenes names of 80s rock.
Producing, arranging, and performing
on songs with artists like
Cher, Diana Ross, Elton John, Ringo Starr, the Motels,
Eddie Money, Roger Daltrey, Tina Turner, Heart,
Lionel Richie, Cheap Trick, Bad English, Joe Cocker, and Poison.
I didn't really become
reacquainted with Japanese anime until,
well, a couple of things. One of them was
the Matrix and then Quentin Tarantino's films,
were, literally, Japanese anime,
not just influenced by.
I had very little interaction with the genre.
It's, obviously, a warm, great
feeling to know we had a part in it.
So it feels great. It really does.
Joey Carbone, meanwhile, has become one of
the biggest names in Japanese pop music.
Having composed over a
1000 songs for the Japanese market.
His work has been recorded by Japanese megastars
ranging from boy bands SMAP, Arashi, KAT-TUN, and Hey! Say! Jump!,
to well known singers Anna Tsuchiya, Tomiko Van, and Mari Hamada.
I had an immediate interest in J-Pop music,
I remember realizing it was very melodic.
The songs had a lot of bittersweet feeling to it.
I think one of the reasons why
my songs back then were accepted
was the fact that my
family comes from Southern Italy.
When I grew up in Brooklyn,
it was an all-Italian neighborhood.
And we could always hear a lot of Italian music
playing, peoples' houses, at carnivals,
at school, wherever.
Then growing up with American 60s pop,
very melodic music.
I think a combination of me being influenced heavily
by American and British melodic music,
mixed with Southern Italian,
very melodic, beautiful songs.
The combination of that was what
gave me the power, the hook
that was attractive to Japanese artists
and record company people back in those days.
Thank you for showing me where the love is.
The business is pretty crazy
and I learned a long time ago,
just go where the love is.
And go where the fans appreciate you.
And make music that makes you happy.
And it's not let me down.