Introducing: Yasu Cub – Elevator + 3 Qs

Hello, this is Jacob Oki Ahearn (singer-songwriter/guitarist) of Yasu Cub. 

Originally, Yasu Cub was (mostly) a solo project leading up to my debut album, “Highways,” which was recorded in San Francisco 2019/2020 and released in January 2023. Here is some background about that album. Since then, I moved to Japan, met my current bandmates (although the drummer, Dennis Sullivan, and I go way back since college, when we met during our study abroad semester in Japan), and now, we just released our EP & MV, “Elevator,” which is composed entirely of songs written in Japan. 

The above message accompanies answers to the three questions we ask. Jacob who provided the answers had promised me detailed responses, and I was eagerly waiting to read them. I’ve always appreciated when people answer our standard questions with elaborate and thoughtful responses.

As for the context, I shared a single from this EP in the fall, and I enjoyed it very much. So, when the full EP was released, I couldn’t wait to give it a listen. And, I must say that I was not disappointed at all.

The EP is a perfect blend of jangle dreamy indie rock with beautiful melodies that will just take you on a musical journey. I’ve been listening to their songs on repeat and just relishing the experience. The music of Yasu Cub reminds me of slower versions of Beach Fossils’ music, and I can’t help but be drawn in by its dreamy atmosphere.

In my opinion, Yasu Cub is one of the most exciting discoveries from Japan’s indie scene, and I’m eagerly looking forward to hearing more from them. Their music is precisely what I’ve been searching for, and I highly recommend that you give this EP a proper listen. And, if you need any more convincing, just watch the video for their single “Elevator,” which features stunning footage from Japan.

Read the mentioned answers to our questions from Jacob:

What inspired you to start making music and what keeps you making music? 

I started writing music in high school (I’m 31 now, so that must mean I’ve been doing it for around half of my lifetime). I’ve always been surrounded by music growing up (in Atlanta, Georgia). My mom, who is Japanese, used to want to be a professional pipe organist when she was younger, but after developing arthritis in her hands, she decided to pursue a career in education, but we always had a piano and/or electronic organ in the house that she would play occasionally. And my dad, who is American, introduced me early on to a lot of artists from the 60’s and 70’s like Paul Simon, Jackson Browne, and the Beatles. And as I developed more musical awareness throughout middle school/high school, I started seeking out artists that resonated with me. “American Idiot” by Green Day and “Demon Days” by Gorillaz were released around that time, and those were some pretty holy shit moments as a middle schooler. Emo and pop-punk also had their cultural moments around that time, which were also pretty formative. Then in high school, I learned to play the bass and guitar and started getting into a lot of 90’s music before moving on to more contemporary (at the time) indie and indie-folk artists coming out in the late 2000s/early 2010s. 

But to get back to your question–I think what inspired me to start making music is that I was learning how to play the guitar solo of Green Day’s “When I Come Around” when I was about 15 or 16, and I had already learned the chord progression as well, so I thought I could use that song as a blueprint to make something new. My parents had also given me a Boss Micro BR recorder with a built-in mic, so that was the first time I could start layering different sounds up to 4 tracks which was a breakthrough for me. So I showed that demo to my friend, Daniel, who was getting into drumming and audio recording himself. And then another friend of ours, John, could shred on the guitar, so we started playing covers (I was usually on bass but sometimes swapped with John and played guitar and sang). Throughout that process, we learned more about recording and performance, and I started writing more. By the time I graduated high school, Daniel had built a recording space in his bedroom, and he helped me make a 3-track EP. 

And for the second part of the question on what keeps me making music–since those early high school days, writing/recording music had become my primary creative and emotional outlet. The main factor that kept it my primary outlet was that, throughout my coming-of-age process, I realized that there was much more to life than I had previously assumed and took as matter-of-fact. There were aspects about life and existence that were so inexpressibly beautiful that it felt silly and even embarrassing to just say or write it out loud (as it does now). But with music, it’s possible to convey that feeling in a more subtle way and not have to rely on just words as a medium. It’s a more tacit, silent form of communication and understanding–the irony of the statement I am just now realizing since music is the opposite of silence. But to this day, writing/recording music remains an outlet/medium for me to subtly convey an ineffable human experience.

Ultimately, though, I think music is the medium that just feels the most natural to me. Whatever the medium–whether it’s poetry, film, photography, painting–maybe artists in other fields can relate with the feeling of wanting to capture a moment or experience in all of its depth and simplicity. 

What was the most challenging thing in your music (artistic) path? 

I think the social and promotional aspect that comes with being in a band– inviting people to shows, networking, marketing a release, etc. Luckily, Dennis (drummer for Yasu Cub) is really social and out-going, so he contributes a lot with that, but I am trying to learn as well. As a mixed-nationality band (U.S. and Japan), Soda (lead guitarist) and Shin (bassist) help a lot with navigating the Japanese scene as well, as we step outside our local, Tokyo-based international scene. 

What would you dream to do if anything was possible?

A world where the human dignity of each individual is respected and protected, and for the earth and climate to heal for the sustainment of future generations.

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