70 Behold the Shamisen Powers of Mike Penny

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On this episode of the Japan Station podcast, shamisen performer and composer Mike Penny stops by to talk about Japan's famous three-stringed lute, the Mike Penny Orchestra (MPO), and more.

About Mike Penny

Mike Penny is a shamesen performer and composrer based in Los Angeles. He has performed throughout the U.S. and Japan. Aside from performing traditional Japanese shamisen music, Mike is also active on YouTube and enjoys experimenting with the shamisen in all sorts of creative ways via his personal project MPO.

Topics Discussed

  • Mike Penny's 2011 song "Leaving Forever"
  • Mike Penny's work on the soundtrack of the popular PS4 game Ghosts of Tsushima
  • How Mike Penny became interested in Japan and the shamisen
  • The many musical instruments Mike Penny has played
  • Making the transition from guitar to the shamisen
  • On learning how to play the shamisen
  • The challenges of learning how to play the shamisen
  • On getting used to using the bachi (plectrum)
  • The tsugaru shamisen style
  • The fretless nature of the shamisen
  • About MPO (Mike Penny Orchestra)
  • About Mike Penny's 2020 song "Perfect Alley Rare"
  • Feedback from Japanese people
  • On Sasaki Mitsuru Sangenkai in Los Angeles
  • About Kyle Abbot
  • On shamisen for beginners, such as the shami buddy by Kyle Abbott
  • And much more!
Support on Patreon

If you enjoy Japan Station and want to ensure that we're able to produce more episodes, then please consider becoming a patron on Patreon.com. For a minimum pledge of $1 a month you'll get early access to all JapanKyo podcasts, bonus content, and more. And for $3 a month, you'll get access to Japanese Plus Alpha, a podcast produced by me (Tony Vega) that focuses on the Japanese language and all of its fascinating quirks. Also, all pledges get a shout-out on the show and my undying gratitude. Thank you in advance!

Links, Videos, Etc.

Check out Mike Penny on YouTube and Bandcamp.

Here is "Leaving Forever" by MPO.

Here is the music video for "Perfect Alley Rare."

And here's a fun shamisen cover that Mike did of "The 7th Element" by Vitas.

Use the link below to check out the latest episode of the Ichimon Japan podcast.

If you would like to support the show by picking up some merchandise, make sure to visit KimitoDesigns.com.

Special Thanks

Opening/Closing song: Oedo Controller (大江戸コントローラー) by Yunomi featuring Toriena (Used with permission from Yunomi) To listen to more of Yunomi's music, check out his Soundcloud page or YouTube channel.

Japan Station cover art: Provided by Erik R.

Featured image: Courtesy of Mike Penny

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Full Show Notes

84 episodes