A seasoned film and performance composer on the international stage, Kanako Hashiyama knows how to translate emotion with audiences of all cultures through the power of music. Through her ability to create versatile and engaging textures, Kanako has struck a chord in the ears of listeners from China to the United States.  We had the opportunity to get a glimpse into the life of this accomplished composer, asking Kanako about her past achievements and techniques in the studio.

Does your approach to composing change whether you are composing for a live arrangement like the Tsukista Project versus an arrangement that will be performed for a studio album?

Kanako: It’s different. For Tsukista project, I compose music with just a script first. When I compose, I’m not able to grasp how long they will use the music at the scene or what is going to happen on the stage with their direction. The cast’s acting is live and the timing can change every single time for the performances. So I need to compose music that can handle any situation. That is the challenge of composing for a live show.

What was your role with the Tsukista Project?

Kanako: Composing all background music and a few songs for the play. There were 30 pieces of background music and 3 songs for two and a half hours of the play.

In the studio

How have the shows been received by audiences across Japan and China?

Kanako: I was invited to see the performances of Act V:Tsukiuta stage”Rabbits Kingdom” by the producer. It was my first time seeing the show. All 30 performances of the Act V were sold out, and there were so many big fans for the show. I had a good time seeing the audience’s reaction. They were emotional and looked impressed with the show and the music.

Looking forward, is creating a live project similar to Tsukista with other artists in the United States something that could happen?

Kanako: I certainly hope that there will be similar productions in the USA. What is special about Tsukista is that the characters are based on a audio book which already had a fan base who desired to see the characters come to life.

What was the experience like composing for a silent film for the first time?

Kanako: We needed to sync the music with the movie a lot, because there is no sound on the film, as composers we needed to tell the audience what is going on. That was a new challenge for me. It was fun exploring the possibilities of having the entire soundscape for music only.

Are there any silent films you are currently working on?

Kanako: Yes, I am going to be composing for a project by Women Film Pioneer Project.

A Kanako silent film performance

Given that you have travelled across the globe to perform in front of a wide variety of audiences, what shows stand out to you as being the most memorable or special?

Kanako: The most memorable performance for me was at the Castro Theatre at San Francisco Silent Film Festival. Conducting my music in that intimate theatre was a very exciting experience.

Over the course of your career as a musician and composer, what talents and skills distinguish yourself from other composers within your industry?

Kanako: I have received a classical training on performance and composition back in Japan. In addition my academic training, I have played in several bands that were playing in different styles such as jazz, R&B and pop. At Berklee I learned about film music and musical theatre. The combination of these experiences allow me to compose in a wide range of musical styles. I think that is one of my strong points.

What would you consider to be the proudest moment of your career thus far?

Kanako: I travelled to Japan to see the live performance of Tsukista. I felt the music and the show came together really well. Many people in the audience were crying. It was a very proud moment for me. I also felt that way when I was conducting for the silent films at all 4 theatres.

Is there anything in particular about the music business in Los Angeles which draws you to work there?

Kanako: There are a lot of opportunities to work for great films in Los Angeles. That is the one of the main things that draw me to Los Angeles.