|Birth name||櫻井 和寿|
March 8, 1970 |
|Occupation(s)||Musician, singer-songwriter, composer, record producer, entrepreneur|
|Associated acts||Mr. Children, Bank Band, Acid Test|
|Website||Mr.Children Official Web Site|
Kazutoshi Sakurai (桜井 和寿 Sakurai Kazutoshi?, born 櫻井 和寿, March 8, 1970 in Tokyo) is a Japanese musician and entrepreneur. He composes and writes almost all of the songs for his band Mr. Children, in addition to writing lyrics and singing for his solo project group Bank Band. In 2006, Sakurai ranked #8 in HMV's "Top 30 Best Japanese Singers of All Time" and in 2007 was voted #4 as the "ideal father image" by Oricon. Also, in 2009, he was chosen as one of the Young Global Leaders in World Economic Forum. As an entrepreneur, he co-founded AP Bank, where he personally provided 1 million dollars of seed money to launch and fund the nonprofit lending group which finances environmentally friendly projects.
Kazutoshi Sakurai is a person that many people, regardless of interest, respect in the Japanese music industry. As a lyricist, he is regarded as being one of the best, even going as far to being deemed a genius in the genre of rock and pop by many of his fans and peers, causing his lyrics to be frequently analyzed in music magazines, and is one of the main reasons why Mr. Children is still popular after 15 years in Japan. As a lyricist, the topics Sakurai focuses on ranges from various subject such a social issues ('So Let's Get Truth'), science/technology ("Everything is made from a dream"), depression ("Surrender"), love ("Shirushi" (しるし?)), and war ("1999 Nen, Natsu, Okinawa" (1999年、夏、沖縄?)). As a vocalist, his voice is very distinct thus making Mr. Children songs easy to recognize. Alongside his vocal and writing talents, he can also play various instruments including the guitar, piano and harmonica.
For most of Sakurai's musical career, he has been part of Mr. Children, but has done other work including in 1995 where he sang and produced the charity single "Kiseki no Hoshi" (奇跡の地球?) with Keisuke Kuwata (from Southern All Stars) for the Act Against AIDS campaign, in addition to being a disc jockey for Music Gambo on FM802. Sakurai has two side project bands: Acid Test (a John Lennon tribute band which is no longer active) and Bank Band. Along with fellow band member Kenichi Tahara from Mr. Children, they created the short live group, Acid Test, for the concert "Dream Power John Lennon Super live broadcasting" on October 9, 2001. The live was part of Yoko Ono's "Dream Power and Educational" platform where artists came together to hold a charity concert to raise money for school construction funds for children in Africa and Asia. The John Lennon song covered by Acid Test, "Mother", was later recorded and released on the album Happy Birthday John!: A Tribute to John Lennon, which was released on September 30, 2005.
Sakurai was temporarily hospitalized on July 21, 2002, after a blockage in his cerebellum was detected and spent 4 months recovering from the surgery, which required all his music activities, including Mr. Children's "The Wonderful World" tour to be canceled, but returned to the stage on December 21, 2002 for a one night live, later released on DVD, titled Wonederful World on Dec. 21. In June 2003 Sakurai help co-found AP Bank, a nonprofit bank, with a goal of tackling environmental problems. Along with music producer Takeshi Kobayashi, and world-renowned composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, the bank invests only in environmentally friendly projects such as renewable energy. Together the 3 men invested 100 million yen each. "AP" is short for both Artists Power and Alternative Power. Artists Power is a project started in 2001 by Ryuichi Sakamoto and Takuro of Glay. In addition to the bank, Sakurai also co-started AP Bank fes., a yearly festival that raises awareness about environmental issues such as recycling and global warming, with all profits from the festival going to fund more projects at AP Bank.
As a solo act, Sakurai has co-wrote and sang the single "Te wo Dasuna!" (手を出すな！?) with Gaku-MC on May 31, 2006, and as Bank Band teamed up with Salyu to release the song 'to U' on July 19, 2006. In 2007, he was a guest vocal on Kai Yoshihiro's 10 Stories album which did a cover song of "Kurumi" (くるみ?) and appeared as a secret guest at Golden Circle Vol.10 on April 8 and April 9. Sakurai along with Yumi Matsutoya, Yohito Teraoka, and Yuzu performed "Dandelion", "Mamotte Agetai", "Destiny", "Natsu Iro" and "Music". From the songs performed, Sakurai co-wrote the lyrics to "Music" which was later released on July 11, 2007 but did not join in the recording of the single. With Bank Band, Sakurai announced in July 2007 he had written a new theme song for "ap bank fes. '07" titled "Yoku kita ne" (よくきたね?). On September 1, 2007 Bank Band released their first iTunes only song titled "Harumatsu Ibuki" (はるまついぶき?). The song was used as the theme song for the Japanese movie Midnight Eagle, with the lyrics written by Kazutoshi Sakurai. Part of the profits from the song were donated to people affected by the Niigata earthquake, with the rest of the profits going to fund more projects at AP Bank. He released his second album Soushi Souai 2 (沿志奏逢 2?) with Bank Band in 2008, and in 2010, he released another album Soushi Souai 3 (沿志奏逢 3?) with Bank Band.
- "To U" (2006)
- "Harumatsu Ibuki (はるまついぶき?)" (2007)
- Happy Birthday John! ~A Tribute to John Lennon~ (2005)
- BGM Vol.2 (2004)
- ap bank fes '05 (2005)
- ap bank fes '06 (2006)
- ap bank fes '07 (2008)
- ap bank fes '08 (2009)
- ap bank fes '09 (2010)
- "日本のシンガーTOP30 - 第8位 (Top 30 Japanese singer -Top 30- #8)" (in Japanese). Retrieved 2007-07-09.
- "理想の父親像アーティストランキング、桑田佳祐が1位 (Ideal father image artist rank and Keisuke Kuwata is #1)" (in Japanese). Retrieved 2007-07-27.
- "TIME Magazine: Moguls & Entrepreneurs - Kazutoshi Sakurai and Takeshi Kobayashi". Time. October 17, 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-08.
- HOME のしるし -デザイン- (Shirushi's Home -design-). 別冊カドカワ総力特集 Mr.Children (Separate volume Kadokawa special issue Mr.Children) (in Japanese). Kadokawa television. 2007. p. 171. ISBN 978-4-04-894488-5.
- "Dream Power ジョン・レノン スーパー・ライヴ (Dream Power John Lennon Super live broadcasting)" (in Japanese). Retrieved 2008-06-29.
- "ミスチル桜井が漏らした重病のホンネ (Serious illness of Mr.Children's Sakurai leaked)" (in Japanese). Retrieved 2007-06-16.
- "The eco-friendly bank". Retrieved 2007-10-06.
- "Artists Power website". Retrieved 2008-11-06.</ref
- "Golden Circle Vol.10 live report" (in Japanese). Archived from the original on 2007-10-05. Retrieved 2007-10-06.
- "ap bank fes. '07 (Message from Kazutoshi Sakurai)" (in Japanese). Retrieved 2007-07-27.
- "Bank Band の新曲が、配信のみで急遽リリース決定！ (Bank Band new song release, by download only!)" (in Japanese). Retrieved 2007-10-05.