Ypsilanti global fusion band October Babies perform at Ann Arbor Summer Festival July 8
"Upbeat Global Soul" is how Ypsilanti band, October Babies, describes its music. Ann Arbor Summer Festival describes the band as “fusion forward musicians” performing a hybrid of “funk, jazz, R&B, reggae/ska/dub, techno, Latin, drum & bass, rock, surf-punk, hip-hop, down-tempo, orchestra pop, and blues, to name a few.” Although their lyrics are predominantly in Japanese, their bright and energetic spirit is not lost in translation, and they have been gaining fans in both Michigan and Japan.
According to the October Babies website, lead singer Toko Shiiki-Santos and her husband Erik Santos first met in Tokyo in 2002:
At that time, Santos was in Japan as resident composer for the butoh troupe Dairakudakan, led by Akaji Maro. The two immediately bonded, though they spent the next three years maintaining a long-distance relationship. Their first song together, "I Wonder Why", was actually a "callaboration" (collaboration over the phone). When Toko moved to the United States in 2005 to study photography in Ann Arbor, the couple immediately began to work on their first record. Often, the main melodies and lyrics are created and sung by Toko, and all other music is arranged, performed and produced by Erik. But the duo has also collaborated with several talented friends of theirs.
In preparation for the release of their second album, October Babies recently produced a television show, October Babies Live @ CTN, directed by independent filmmaker Tim Nagae, which is being shown on Community Television Network (CTN), on Comcast 17, until July 7. The complete schedule is available on the October Babies blog.
Frances Kai-Hwa Wang is a second-generation Chinese American from California who now divides her time between Ann Arbor and the Big Island of Hawaii. She is editor of IMDiversity.com Asian American Village, lead multicultural contributor for AnnArbor.com, and a contributor for New America Media's Ethnoblog. She is a popular speaker on Asian Pacific American and multicultural issues. Check out her website at franceskaihwawang.com, her blog at franceskaihwawang.blogspot.com, and she can be reached at email@example.com.