Joey Carbone’s list of achievements is certainly quite impressive – composer, music producer, arranger, keyboardist, vocalist, adviser to Avex Music Publishing and Sony Music Entertainment, vice principal of Jikei Gakuen.
Born in Brooklyn, Carbone has been coming to Japan for 30 years. During that time, he has composed or produced more than 1,000 songs recorded by Japanese singers such as SMAP, Morning Musume, Arashi, KAT-TUN, Hiromi Go, Akiko Wada, Crystal Kay and many more. In the States, Carbone has played keyboards for Kiki Dee & Elton John, Rick James, The Righteous Brothers, Eric Carmen, Rod Stewart, Cher, Air Supply, Andy Gibb, Bette Midler and others. He was the music director and theme composer for nine years for the hit television series “Star Search,” and arranged, produced, conducted and played piano for then-budding performers Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Beyonce, Alanis Morisette, Leanne Rimes, Justin Timberlake and others.He has more than 100 Platinum and Gold record awards. And those are only some of his achievements. These days, the energetic and affable Carbone spends about half his time in Japan and half in LA
What do you think of the musical talent in Japan?
I am impressed with young talent in Japan. They are creating their own stuff. I have signed several students from the schools to both Avex and Sony and we have been able to create quite a few hits with them. It’s one of the things that I really love doing because I feel that it is my responsibility now to give something back to the younger generation. I know what they are going through, what they are dreaming of. I want to help them to achieve their dreams, and to prepare them for the rejection that they will often have to face.
A lot of non-Japanese people often insult J-Pop. Why do you think this is?
Yes, I know. I read their comments on Japan Today. J-Pop is just another genre of music. You can’t compare AKB48 with Aretha Franklin, or SMAP with Eric Clapton. But the Japanese don’t pretend to. J-Pop is just another form of entertainment. I happen to be a big fan of J-Pop and have an extensive collection at home. I love their melodies. Current American music is often void of melody and based on groove and vocal ability.
I go to Johnny’s Jimusho shows and am totally impressed with the package – the music arrangements, quality of songs, production of stage show, danceability and how hard those boys work. SMAP are personalities, they are entertainers. They’re doing what they are supposed to do.
When did your association with Johnny Kitagawa start?
I had written and produced a song in 1985 for a Honda scooter television commercial. It was subsequently released as a single and went to become #1 on the Oricon International chart sung in English by an American singer. Then Johnny heard it and thought it would be a good match for his group Shibugakitai. Their Japanese version hit #1 on the Oricon domestic chart. I attended a Shibugakitai press junket in San Francisco and Johnny asked to meet me next time I was in Tokyo. So I did and gave him a CD with some of my songs. He recorded 12 of them with his new group Shonentai. Since then, we have become close friends and I have written more than 100 songs for various Johnny’s artists. Johnny is truly a genius, as evidenced by his incredible success record and his two Guinness Book awards this year.
Your tally for the Japanese market must be quite high.
I have composed or produced more than 1,000 songs for the Japanese market but that includes American artists for Japan as well. Except for songs written by the Beatles, I think I have written more songs than any other foreign composer, that have been recorded by Japanese artists.
Why aren’t Japanese singers successful in the American market?
Language plays a big part. It doesn’t sound believable if they sing in English that they have learned phonetically. Sometimes the artist management companies in Japan, which have all the power, only want to use songs they can control the rights of, and those songs may not work in America. Sometimes the artist tries to imitate instead of being original. It also takes a tremendous commitment of time, money and energy to penetrate a market like America, and you would have to compete with the best of the best.
I have seen some great artists in Japan with potential. For example, I have produced six songs for Crystal Kay, and she is one of the best singers in the world. Also, her English is flawless, she is a great dancer and beautiful. I think she would have a great chance! On the other hand, I was disappointed when Hikaru Utada’s album was released in America. Her English was perfect but the album didn’t have the same soul or feeling in it as her Japanese CDs. I guarantee that probably some American record executive changed the direction of the music to make it more appropriate for the American market. It ended up sounding contrived.
Another reason, I’m sorry to say, is that there are probably discrimination factors involved. I think the American market mostly wants American, British and an occasional Australian or Swedish artist. I hope it will change in the near future.
How are social media changing the business?
Social media is changing the business. It’s a big shot in the arm. But the Internet has been a double-edged sword. It has severely hurt the music business due to illegal downloading and file-sharing. On the other hand, it has given many artists the ability to promote themselves.
Article is long . I just post the highlights of his invterview. You can read the whole article at source: japantoday