Ukkalin san Interview
Django Festival Tokyo 2017

September 18, 2017
An interview with Mr. Ukkalin, founder of the Django Festival Tokyo.
> 王慧思Eliza Wong),  Chris Lui

This is the second edition of Django Festival Tokyo. In Japan, gypsy Jazz is by far less popular than mainstream jazz, and the gypsy jazz community in Asia is considerably small. Why did you organize this festival ?
I own a restaurant, and I also play guitar. In the beginning rock music was my favourite style,  later on I became fond of Gypsy Jazz. Eight years ago I tried to find the relevant information about gypsy jazz in Japan: since I found nothing, I decided to establish a gypsy jazz website on my own, hoping that there would be more people to understand and enjoy gypsy jazz. That led to the birth of the first edition of the Django Festival Tokyo last year.
Is the gypsy Jazz community in Japan the biggest in Asia ?
I think so. Now more and more people became aware of this genre of music and learn to appreciate gypsy jazz. To my knowledge, Dennis Chang, the famous gypsy guitarist,  began as well to have his own Gypsy Jazz Festival in Taiwan last year.
(2016 Django Festival Tokyo)
What’s the biggest challenge in  organizing the Django Festival Tokyo?
I have to say that location and budget were the biggest challenges. The first edition of the festival was held at Ueno Park in Tokyo. The place was huge, but not like this year’s, only less than one thousand people  joined the festival. Actually I was hoping to have two stages, a main stage and another stage for the jam sessions, because the way I see it, gypsy Jazz is exactly the kind of music that makes people gather around and feel free to play music and dance together whenever they feel like it. This year I’ve found this venue, 3331 art space, which was equipped with all the elements that I had wished for. And I was happy about that. Another task that we had to face was to invite Adrien Moignard to come here, it took me a lot of time and energy to make this possible. I felt truly lucky that he accepted and managed to come to the festival.
Is also Django Camp one of your projects? What is it like?
It’s a great activity. The camp is situated in the rural areas of Yamanashi prefecture. Those who participate will live in a big tent like real gypsies. The surrounding field can accommodate about one hundred people that can join the jam sessions. Not to mention the Gypsy Jazz workshops, dances, barbecues, etc… the Gypsy camp will be held next year, and that’s definitely something that you don’t want to miss!

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