Shamisen is an age-old Japanese musical instrument. It looks like a banjo with a long neck and until about 1999 was known in connection with traditional “stuffy” parts of the culture such as the Geishas, the Kabuki or Bunraku puppet theater.
But in 1999, two brothers with an attitude changed how the pop culture seen the Shamisen forever. The hip musicians, the Yoshida Brothers have updated the Shamisen turning what was a somewhat twangy high-pitched sound into something more akin to an electric guitar. And while the instrument is always traditionally played solo (or with several Shamisens), the Yoshidas play it as a duo and also back it up by drums, bass, keyboards and guitar – all at exhilarating lightning speeds showing a telepathic quality the brothers have.
The Yoshidas started playing the Shamisen at the age of 5 in their hometown of Noboribetsu, on Hokkaido Island, North Japan. It wasn’t long until the duo were winning national competitions which evolved into a touring act. The brothers soon sined with a record label in Japan, and released their first album entitled Move, in November 2000.
In August 2003 the Yoshida brothers debuted in the United States with an album simply titled Yoshida Brothers, released on Los Angeles-based label Domo Records. And in October of 2003 the performed for the first time live to U.S. fans in New York and Los Angeles.