Insights from family on Japanese American internment

First experience writing music Drawing on paper napkins Contemplating identity in Los Angeles Connecting to Japan Insights from family on Japanese American internment Politics in music Role as an artist Being a good example for people

Transcripts available in the following languages:

My dad told me about internment a long time ago. I think he told me really early. I know that when he told me, I didn’t quite grasp it. I was too young or at that point too interested in other things to be able to really understand the concept fully. And you’ll see as you get a little bit older. You’ll start to see it in history books, in school and whatnot. And you know, they devote…what do they devote? Like a half a page. You know, there’s a big picture of Pearl Harbor and this whole thing about how awful that was and then there’s a little thing about internment like in there somewhere.

And at that point, I think it struck me like, “That’s weird. Why don’t they…like my dad told me all about that and it’s weird that they didn’t really talk about it.” And I know over time…you know, I didn’t go on any big crusade to figure it out or anything. I think just over time, the collection of information happened and I started asking…I’d ask my relatives every once in a while. I’d ask people and the funny thing is they wouldn’t tell me. They’d give me such a watered down answer as to what their internment experience was. I think that that bothered me because of the “it-can’t-be-helped” attitude, the shikata ga nai attitude is so…it was so useful back then but these days, in my opinion right now, I just don’t…I think that that for my generation has been a little bit of…it’s been a little bit of a detriment, a little bit of a…like something that we personally wish that our older relatives and our elders would put aside to a certain degree so that we can learn about the story.

And so when I was making this Fort Minor record, my new record, it is like more of a solo kind of a project. It is more of a focus on my experiences mixed with my creative ideas. I’m making all the music, producing every song, mixing every song, and then lyrically, I wanted to get in some things that were my own. So I got into that subject a little bit, did an interview with my dad, who’s the second to youngest of 13. I mean they’re not all alive any more but 13 kids. And my aunt, who’s the oldest. So it’s the 2 perspectives. He was like 3 years old. She was in her 20s when…during the 40s when they were interned and I got…I think I got some really great insight into what happened.

Date: January 16, 2006
Location: California, US
Interviewer: Chris Komai and John Esaki
Contributed by: Watase Media Arts Center, Japanese American National Museum

camps Fort Minor incarceration internment music

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