The waka world of a wandering wordsmith – a sneak preview of Rootabaga’s interview with Jordan A. Y. Smith

Jordan waxed genki on his hectic life as a professor, translator, poet, rapper, husband and daddy in Tokyo – and laid down one of his very own creations on a busy Tokyo alley one crisp autumn day last year.

He will probably cringe at my ignorant wordplay (waka (和歌) is a genre of Japanese poetry – I think) but there is no denying that Jordan A. Y. Smith is a wandering wordsmith who can toy with Japanese words in just about any form. I was honored that Mr. Smith, my old multilingual buddy from back in our early English teaching days in Seoul, agreed to one of the very first Rootabaga interviews. I caught up with Jordan in a French crêperie
in très chic Omotesando – Tokyo’s so called Champs-Élysées – where he waxed genki on his hectic life as a professor, translator, poet, rapper, husband and dad in Tokyo, recalled being “off the rails” in Korea in an earlier incarnation – and laid down one of his very own raps on a busy Tokyo alley one crisp autumn day last year. Have a listen and stay tuned for the full episode in a few weeks.

 

Anyong, Korea

What a crazy trip to Korea. So much jammed packed in I haven’t had time to share any proper photos, videos, stories. Will have to do it from the US. But in 16 days I interviewed several old friends and acquaintances for Rootabaga, I met up with tons of old friends, hung out with an actress, a model (impressed yet? 😎), an old rock star I was a fan of in the 90s, ate amazing meals, drank more than I should have and saw remote places I’d never been. Can’t wait to share more soon…

How to become a hit producer in Korea – a sneak preview of my interview with BA Wheeler

Our “interview” was more of beer-fueled reminiscence of how we left our home countries and what’s going on with mutual friends but did eventually get around to how Brad’s passion for music turned into an award-winning career producing hit songs in Korea

I wasn’t in Korea more than half a day when the window opened for an interview with old music-circle buddy  BA Wheeler – a big-hearted Newfie with an amazing and inspiring expat success story. (Brad will hate this because he doesn’t seem to have any trace of an ego or much like being in the spotlight). Our “interview” was more of beer-fueled reminiscence of how we left our home countries and what’s going on with mutual friends but did eventually get around to how Brad’s passion for music turned into an award-winning career producing hit songs in Korea and what it’s like playing drums and working with his wife’s world-touring doo-wop trio the Barbarettes.

I promise this will be a fun episode when it drops. Check out a little of the interview here:

 

Recording at Knowmium

Recording our teaser episode at a friend’s cool Hong Kong office.

My good friends at Knowmium allowed me to record in their funky office space in the hip Sheung Wan hood of Hong Kong. Many thanks guys!

Was a little challenging to stay out of their bottle of Buffalo Trace, however.