SalsaGumtape Connects People Around the World.
Yume Kuriyama / Percussionist
Music is Fun. Music is Inclusive.
Yume Kuriyama tells her story as she prepares to perform in one of Japan’s most popular barrier-free rock bands, SalsaGumtape. “The ensemble is the great part,” says the smiling Yume. “The band and music have given me confidence and opened up a whole world to me.”
I love fortissimo and playing with my band mates.
- ―Did you like music and playing instruments as a child?
- Yes, very much. Drums are my favorite at the moment. I can’t get enough of them. I’ve been playing percussion for about three years now. When I was young I had piano lessons.
- ―Did you play in piano recitals, as well?
- Yes, I did. It was nerve-wrecking in the early days, but with time and experience, it got easier along the way. I must have played dozens of recitals.
- ―Unlike piano, percussion is mainly for ensemble performances, with other instruments.
- That’s right, and I love it for that reason. The group aspect is what makes percussion instruments fun for me. I had wanted to join SalsaGumtape since my first year of high school. They’re the coolest.
- ―Was it your love for the band, and your desire to join, that brought you here to the social welfare center (the venue hosting SalsaGumtape)?
- That’s right. I like playing the piano, but I prefer percussion because I can play it loud. Loud sounds excite me!
- ―What’s your favorite SalsaGumtape track?
- I love them all, especially the powerful ones that get the audience hopping.
- ―What are the best parts about percussion and playing in a band?
- With the drums, I like the fact that I can play various rhythms. The number called “Relax” is difficult, but that makes learning it all the more fun. My role in the band is to keep a steady, tight rhythm.
I’ve become more outgoing and cheerful. I credit that to the opportunities I’ve had to express myself in SalsaGumtape performances.
- ―Have you changed since joining the band?
- I used to feel awkward about expressing myself. That changed when I started playing music with others.
- ―You look very happy.
- I feel like a different person. Every day is full of joy.
- ―Do you find that percussion lets you express yourself more easily than the piano?
- Yes, I do. Percussion instruments are louder than the piano, which gives me a way to assert myself more clearly. And my band mates play along, synching with my feelings in the sound.
- ―When you play together in SalsaGumtape, do you think of your music as a way to express yourselves collectively?
- No, but every band has a perspective of its own that all of its members must share. Without that shared perspective, a performance will fall apart. The rapport we have in SalsaGumtape is a driving force for me.
- ―I imagine that you perform various gigs and events with SalsaGumtape.
- The many gigs we play bring me great joy. It’s wonderful to be in the middle of a fantastic performance, and to see the audience roused as I drum loud and strong. I give everything I have to max out the experience because I believe that a great gig comes from a performance true to what I am.
- ―The audience must appreciate your all-out dedication.
- That’s why I spend a lot of time practicing between gigs, to guarantee that my performance will make the audience happy. I practice hour after hour, determined to show the world that I’m better than last time.
The beauty of rock’n’roll is the sense of unity it brings to everyone.
- ―Is it also fun, in SalsaGumtape, to make music together with so many different types of people?
- Absolutely. Rock’n’roll is a form of music that brings diverse people together, uniting them across many walks of life.
- ―What appeals to you most about rock’n’roll?
- Well, rock music gives me freedom. At the same time, a drummer has to be stoically faithful to the rhythms.
- ―Do you plan to play in SalsaGumtape for many more years?
- I will never leave the band. Playing percussion loud and strong is my passion. The soul of rock’n’roll lives in a powerful drum kit.
- ―What is your goal at the moment?
- I aim to be an international musician. I hope one day to play in the band for a world audience. An opportunity like that would definitely widen my perspective.
- ―What does music mean to you?
- Well... I suppose it means sharing a great time with everyone. I am just attaining the SalsaGumtape perspective now. I want to join the effort to promote our initiative to a wider world. This isn’t just a dream. I believe in us, in what we will achieve.
- Yume Kuriyama / Percussionist
- In 1997, Yume was born into the world at a birthweight of only 500 grams. Her arrival came as if by miracle. Seventeen years later, in 2015, the teenage Yume began playing for an acclaimed barrier-free rock band, SalsaGumtape, on the drums and taikos. Today she plays in SalsaGumtape alongside 25 fellow band members, some of whom have cognitive challenges. The band will be celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.