Blue Asia is the project of possibly Japan’s most innovative producer Makoto Kubota, together with his assistant and arranger Yoichi Ikeda, and the Malaysian top producer team of Mac Chew and Jenny Chin. Since the 1970s Kubota has been at the cutting edge of Japanese productions of world music, with groundbreaking albums by among others , Okinawan Shokichi Kina, Indonesian singers Elvy Sukaesih and Detty Kurnia and Malagasy band Njava.

Blue Asia travel to work with artists in their own locality, including Turkey, Bali, Hawaii, Vietnam and Thailand. They don’t create some kind of global chill out. It’s not some kind of fake musical tourism either. Instead the music is full of the local atmosphere of wherever they record, with the local musicians given a platform to shine. The albums feature traditional instruments and players, with singers that often Makoto Kubota and Blue Asia have discovered themselves in the country.

From 1973 Makoto Kubota was the leader of the group Sunset Gang (Yuyake Gakudan). They played music inspired by the Grateful Dead, New Orleans and psychedelia. In 1975 they recorded the song 'Haisai Ojisan' on the album Hawaii Champloo, written by Shokichi Kina, a young musician from Okinawa. For many this was the start of the Asian and Okinawan music scene in Japan. Two years later, Shokichi Kina had a hit with the song himself. Kubota went on to produce Kina's classic album 'Bloodline' recorded in Hawaii in 1980, that featured Ry Cooder.

Female singer Sandii joined Kubota's group and they became known as Sandii and the Sunsetz. They achieved some overseas success especially in the UK and Australia. They toured the world, supporting among others Japan, INXS and David Bowie. Meanwhile Kubota became increasingly interested in reggae, dub and ragga, including the production techniques of the people he encountered such as Sly & Robbie.

From 1989, Kubota became a full time producer, initially concentrating on the music he had become to most love; the music of East Asia, particularly from Indonesia and Malaysia. He became enthralled with the voice of Indonesian singer Detty Kurnia, from Bandung, Sunda, in Western Java. He produced the Detty Kurnia albums Dari Sunda (released by Far Side / Riverboat) and Coyor Panon and Elvy Sukaesih's Return of Diva. He also produced several albums by Sandii (now recording solo) that reflected an Asian theme, such as Mercy, Pacifica and Airmata.

Kubota's knowledge of Asian music and production talents made him an in demand producer for other Japanese artists, including the Boom, who had started to incorporate some Indonesian influences into their music. He also produced Amami island singer Rikki.
Kubota started to broaden his horizons further when he produced Malagasy group Njava, originally for a Japanese label, the record later given a worldwide release on EMI. He then made several recording trips to Hawaii, releasing a couple of Hawaiian Ambient CDs.

He returned to singing duties with his friend and peer Haruomi Hosono on the album by Harry and Mac,'Road to Louisiana' in 1999. The CD was recorded partly in New Orleans and featured musicians from The Band, such as Garth Hudson. Next came his first solo album 'On the Border' also recorded in New Orleans with several Cajun influenced tunes.

The Blue Asia project began in 2001 with the album Hotel Ibah, based around the music of Bali. Recording trips followed to Hawaii (Hotel Waimea) Turkey (Hotel Istanbul) Vietnam, Thailand (Hotel Bangkok) and most recently Morocco. Blue Asia have achieved international recognition, with Hotel Vietnam reaching Number 2 in the World Music Charts Europe, and Hotel Bangkok also making it into the World Music Charts. Hotel Bangkok has been picked up by acclaimed British broadcaster and journalist Charlie Gillett, who featured it as his record of the month, (March 2006) and reviewed it in the British national press.

Makoto Kubota has developed his own trademark sound, one that has become instantly recognizable. Throughout his career he has always been developing new and interesting mixtures. It's this concept that lays at the heart of his musical career and has been a constant theme. As Kubota says "That's my obsession, to make things champur (Indonesian for mixed) - that's my mission."

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