At just 24 years old, Yasutaka Nomura is already considered one of the best guitarists and bassists to come out of Japan in recent memory. He is undeniably talented, with success spanning across genres and countries. He has worked with outstanding bands, and each time showing off his distinguishable sound that separates him from the rest. Many have heard his music, but few know his story.
Born and raised in Japan, Nomura was always interested in music, but he enjoyed listening to it rather than playing it until he was a teenager. When he was 14, he really started to become a fan of a Japanese band, and he had a good friend that shared this passion. The two of them would listen to the band’s songs and watch their videos all the time, and one day, they realized they could create music too. That was a fateful day for Nomura, as a dream was born.
“I always thought that guitar was cool even before I started playing it,” said Nomura. “I love listening to music so playing and creating is the most fun thing to do. It's artistic, creative and always challenging.”
Nomura picked up the acoustic guitar that his parents had at home, but after a few months knew he needed an electric one. He loved 80's rock/metal bands, like Extreme, Def Leppard, Metallica, AC/DC, Van Halen, Guns'n'Roses and many more. Then he started getting into Death Metal bands like Cynic, The Faceless, Born of Osiris, Arch Enemy, Children of Bodom, and Progressive Rock bands such as Dream Theater, Frost*, Symphony X, King Crimson, and Pink Floyd.
“I instantly got into them. Those bands are definitely the base of my musicality. Learning songs of these bands definitely helped me to get better technique and ear as a guitarist,” he said.
After a short time, he knew he didn’t just want music to be a hobby, he knew he had to be a professional musician. Nomura’s talent was limitless, picking up guitar and achieving in months what it takes so many others years to do. At 18, he began noticing the sounds of bass players like Gary Willis, Jimmy Johnson, Jaco Pastorius. He decided he would pick up a bass and see what he could do with it. Little did he know that both instruments would lead to his outstanding career.
“I love being a guitarist because there are so many different technics you can do and so many kinds of sound you can make. And recently, there are a lot of new pedal effectors to create different sounds. I can actually get inspired by the sounds of those pedals and those pedals are mostly made for guitar players. I'm so glad I picked guitar as my first instrument,” said Nomura. “I love bass because when I play bass in a band, I don't feel like I'm playing an instrument but feels more like playing the whole band. The feel of the song can change by what the bass is playing. Also, I love the sound of fretless bass. I think it's one of most beautiful sounding instruments on the planet.”
Nomura, who also composes, tries to be as musical as possible when creating. He always tells himself to make music the priority, not the technique or speed. Many musicians can get caught up in simply trying to create a fun and fast solo that the actual song gets lost behind it. Nomura is always mindful of this
“Having good technique is definitely a very important thing if you are a musician in my opinion. Without good technique, I don't think you could express yourself well through your instrument,” said Nomura.
Making a name for himself in genres like Progressive Rock, Metal, Jazz, Funk, and Fusion, Nomura quickly began to become extremely sought-after for bands needing a guitarist, bassist, or even both, like in the case of the band Squanky Kong. But Nomura pulls his inspiration from all sorts of music, noting that you can’t limit yourself to one thing in this industry.
“I like listening to classical, ambient music and soundtracks of movies, video games and anime. Even though I don't play those kinds of music, I get a lot of inspiration and ideas to my own composition and playing just by listening to them,” said Nomura. “Maybe someday I will even compose for movies, video games or anime.”
Nomura has toured continents doing what he loves most, including a high-profile European tour with the band Voodoo Kungfu, a highlight of his career. The key to putting on a good live performance for the musician is improvisation. This allows audiences to constantly be in awe of his skill, and he can have fun while doing it.
“Improvisation is something I spend a lot of effort on. Playing anything improvisational is my favorite. It's creative, challenging and always the most fun thing,” he said.
Since moving to Los Angeles, Nomura has worked with several bands in the area, including the Indie/Alternative Rock band Smokey Lenses. Their album comes out later this year, and it was a genre he has never worked on before. Nomura believes where he now lives opens up many more opportunities
“So many great musicians come to perform in Los Angeles from all over the world and you can actually see their shows like every week. Playing and jamming with those great musicians or even just watching them play inspired me so much not just to get better as a musician but to sophisticate my own sound and musical personality. I think LA is one of the best places to be for musicians,” he said.
It was also in Los Angeles where Nomura teamed up with his band Mammoth, one of the most notable projects in his career. Together, the Progressive Rock/Fusion trio have gone on to win awards and release a successful album just last year. Working with other talented musicians is humbling to Nomura, and it is something he wants to keep doing.
“The band members are both so talented. Playing and writing tunes with them makes me to be a better bass player and song writer. I've gotten so much musical influence from them,” said Nomura. “I feel so lucky to be surrounded with so many incredible musicians.”
While working with Mammoth, Nomura had the opportunity to work with Mateus Asato, a solo artist, session musician, and tour guitarist for Grammy-nominated artist and YouTube sensation Tori Kelly. The two now collaborate together frequently, and release videos that receive tens of thousands of views, like this one.
“Working with Yasutaka is very pleasurable and inspiring. Yasutaka’s playing is very unique, where he mixes different music genres on his way of thinking. Beyond his extraordinary music skills, he's also a very great and responsible professional musician,” said Asato.
So what is next for this inspiring and captivating musician? What else, a solo album, where listeners can fully appreciate what Nomura is capable of. He has already written several tracks and is currently recording demos of those songs. It will be a progressive rock, metal, and jazz fusion.
“It will be my first solo record so I'm very excited about it. To keep creating and playing music that I like, to tour around the world with my original music and possibly have some people that like my music and playing, and one day, to play with my musical heroes and favorite musicians one day, they would be my goal,” said Nomura.