Hanz Araki – North West Cuture People

This months ‘North West Culture People’ is musician Hanz Araki. I interviewed Hanz during 2014 for Irish Music Magazine. In January of this year I was very fortunate to meet himself when he travelled all the way to Muff, in Co. Donegal to say ‘hello’ during his stay in Ireland. I look forward to catching up with himself later this year or earlier next year when he resides for a short while in Dingle.


Name: Hanz (Hanzaburo) Araki

Occupation: Musician

Describe yourself? short of stature, of indeterminable heritage, wildly charming,

What is your best childhood memory? Visits to my grandparents house on Mercer Island, Washington.

What was your first job? Deckhand, Seattle Harbor Tours.

What is your favourite film? The cinema is my favourite pastime, so it would be a challenge to choose just one for all time. I love Miller’s Crossing and it usually is the first one to come to mind, but it’s a fairly random selection.

What is your top three favourite books? Again, pretty hard to pick favourites, but Fast Food Nation, Kafka on the Shore, Lord of the Rings come to mind. As soon as I send this, I’ll think of three completely different ones I should’ve suggested.

What is your favourite method of relaxation? Massage, acupuncture.

What is your favourite possession? Probably my Windward flute (truly! It’s not just a shameless plug).

What is your favourite holiday destination? Maui, Hawaii

What makes you happy? Spending time with friends.

What makes you sad? The political climate in the US: rampant discrimination, climate denial, disastrous foreign policy.

What annoys you? Bad driving. I mean really, with the state of things we shouldn’t drive as much as we do, and to do it badly is insult to injury.

Who inspires you? Dr. Cornel West for his acceptance of people and willingness and dedication to work towards the betterment of others; recently,  Bree Newsome for her courageous act of civil disobedience; Martin Carthy, who said, “I regard tradition as progressive, and a traditional song as a progressive force, because it is concerned with the continuity of things,” Susan McKeown, Gerry O’Beirne, Peter Maguire, and on and on…

What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken? I’m not one much for risking life and limb — jumping out of planes or cliff-diving, that sort of thing. I’d say deciding to be a full-time musician. 

Aside: I realise how flippant that sounds; to call something as harmless as a career in music a risk. I understand it’s not like fire fighting or elephant handling (which I believe is statistically one of the more dangerous jobs you can have). But it’s not completely without risk of physical harm. I’ve made some pretty horrific drives, going 12 to 24 hours without sleep. Again, statistically speaking, that alone is pretty risky. I’ve had people want to beat the life out of me simply for refusing a request, or for not being what they considered “Irish” enough. 
More so, the stress of not knowing if you’re going to make enough to eat or pay your rent. The constant scrutiny and rejection. The highs of a good show and the lows of a bad one; or the demoralizing experience of driving 8 hours to a venue only to have them cancel your performance, or in some cases, not even remember they booked you at all. As a musician, even with a contract you have very little leverage in those circumstances.
It’s also not lost on me that I chose to make a career out of a tradition of music that, while a part of my heritage, most certainly did not originate in the country of my birth; I run the risk of cultural appropriation. 
You also risk of learning to hate the thing you love. I have hated music from time to time.
Again, I accept that as far as risk goes, it’s pretty nominal. 
Who would you most like to invite to a dinner party? My grandfathers. My old drummer/friend/brother, Paul Lawton. Finn Mac Ginty. 
What are you most passionate about? Awareness.

How would you like to be remembered? Someone who was good to his friends.


Categories Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close