How many taiko groups, artists, and enthusiasts are there around the world? Anny may just find out (and meet every one of them). Grab a snack (may we suggest mangosteen?) and take a tour of Anny Lin’s taiko story (so far).
When did you first find taiko? Is this the same time that you started playing taiko?
My mom introduced me to Dharma Drum Mountain Buddhist Temple in Richmond BC, where she practices Taiwanese Zen Drumming. I loved watching it and decided to join their weekly practice. I also had an opportunity to attend U-Theatre’s Zen Drumming Workshop in the northern mountains of Taiwan, where they practice and train.
My first time playing Japanese Taiko was with Midnight Taiko Kai in Calgary. I attended their workshop in summer 2014, watched their performance at the Japanese Omatsuri Festival, and joined as an apprentice soon after. I was able to immerse myself in taiko and perform with the group all throughout 2015.
What has your taiko journey looked like?
I moved back to Vancouver in 2015 and joined Sawagi Taiko in 2016. Through Sawagi, I fostered the strength and power of taiko as a voice to stand up and play in solidarity for Downtown Eastside communities. One of my favorite and meaningful collaborations is with Tzo’kam, a local Lil’wat First Nations performance group.
In 2018 I became a member of Dahaza, a 4-member wagakki group that was formed through friendship and love of Japanese instruments and culture. The idea for the group was created by Alcvin Ryuzen Ramos, a multi instrumentalist and shakuhachi master from the Sunshine Coast.
As a wagakki group, each member picked up other Japanese instruments – John Nguyen picked up shinobue, Nori Akagi picked up sanshin and fue, and I began my journey with the shamisen. One of our most memorable collaborations was with Keita Kanazashi and Ki&Ki Shamisen Duo from Japan at Sakura Days in 2019.
This year (in 2021) I had the honor of coordinating Durational Taiko at Powell Street Festival, a healing ceremony for the Downtown Eastside where Powell Street Festival has been held for the past 45 years. This year’s Durational Taiko was a sustained 29.5 hours of drumming to last the entire duration, from opening to closing, of the festival. The idea for durational taiko was led by E. Kage and inspired by ceremonies and rituals in Japan where taiko has played an integral part for hundreds of years. It was also an opportunity for local taiko players to experience taiko in a ceremonial setting rather than in a performance.
Taiko has also been a way for me to connect with interdisciplinary artists, dancers, and other musicians. This summer I took part in “Ritual-Spective 0.2”, an experimental media art project that integrates artwork, movement, and audiovisual technology, where I contributed to taiko and shamisen sound scores. This piece is produced by Chimerik and presented by Powell Street Festival and can still be viewed online until end of August 2021, https://powellstreetfestival.com/programs/ritual-spective/
Why did you become a member of TCA?
During the pandemic I found myself turning to TCA for support and inspiration. TCA kept my love of taiko going, reminding me to not forget where my passion lies. I am here as a member to support a wonderful community and to connect with like-minded people.
What is your favorite post-practice meal?
Sushi, bubble tea, watermelon, mangosteen, noodle soups such as ramen and pho.
Do you have other passions and/or hobbies outside of taiko?
Violin was my main instrument growing up. After high school I stepped away from the classical world and had aspirations to be a rock star, haha. So I joined several local bands such as a Mariachi Band, a Funk Drop-Beat poetry band, and Toronto’s Led Zeppelin Tribute band where we performed at the Commodore Ballroom. I later studied music at Simon Fraser University where I focused on experimental improv and dance accompaniment under Albert St. Albert Smith. He was also the director for SFU’s Ghana Field Studies so I had the opportunity to travel to Ghana, Africa to study Ghanaian dance, music and culture for a whole summer. Prior to my involvement with taiko, I studied kpanlogo in Ghana where they use sticks to hit the skin. This experience has some similarity to taiko so when I started taiko it did not feel foreign. My whole trip to Ghana was life changing.
One thing that really stuck with me from Ghana was how music and dance is simply a part of their everyday life. The community takes part in dance, sing and drum in communal circle formation. The concept of a stage and audience watching is rather foreign. The spirit of dance and music is so ingrained in their everyday life, it’s a part of their social activity and connection to others. So this ties back to my appreciation and joy of Durational Taiko, and coming from years of training to perform, that the experience of a non-performance based community and ceremonial bonding may be what taiko means to me.
I love to travel. I generally travel for the music scene, and my most favorite place for music is New Orleans! Its rich history and music scene draws me there. If there is a taiko group in New Orleans, I would love to meet you!
Since taiko came to my life my travel goals have become taiko goals. For each location, I look to see if there is a taiko group or musician I can meet or learn from. I’ve traveled to California and Japan to study with many taiko teachers, including Tiffany Tamaribuchi, Art Lee and Masaaki Kurumaya, but I’ve also learned so much from my taiko peers in Sawagi Taiko, Dahaza, and Midnight Taiko. I also look up to my artist friends who have become successful in their interdisciplinary fields.
I’m planning to travel the world as a digital nomad with my partner, John Nguyen, who also plays with Dahaza and Midnight Taiko and is an active taiko artist in the local community. We hope to travel and meet other taiko groups and artists along our journey…so look out for us! We may reach out to you if you’re within our travel route.
Last, but certainly not least: How many taiko tees do you own?
6… I think.
Shime or Odaiko?
Odaiko! I attended Tiffany’s TaikoBaka workshop multiple times. Her workshops have taught me so much beyond the drum, something I am still working on. This will be a lifelong learning.
Run for Exercise or Literally Anything Else?
I don’t mind running, but my running is more like a bit of jogging, walking, jogging, and maybe stop somewhere to grab a snack, then jog again, oh! and smell some flowers and pet some dogs along the way. So ya, I would be a horrible running buddy if you are looking for someone to challenge you.
Phone Call or Text Message?
What’s worse: Laundry or Dishes?
I actually love both. It’s my down time to unwind. Maybe this stems from my organizing side. I am a Virtual Professional Organizer, specializing in Artists and Creatives Spaces. You can find me at www.TidyAnny.com or on my Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/tidyanny
Coffee, Tea, or Red Bull (or, you know, another energy drink, I guess)
Iced Cappuccino from Tim Hortons. So yummy!
Perform in incredibly cold weather or incredibly humid weather?
Humid Weather! I grew up in humidity. It also reminds me of tropical places-my happy place.
Record your practice and study the footage or fly free on the feeling?
Fly Freeee! I like to improvise on the violin and I try to bring that to my taiko playing, although I haven’t been completely comfortable in my taiko body yet. I enjoy the organic, experimental, in-the-moment movements. I have been involved in recording taiko for audio tracks or music videos lately, which is not my strength. I get so nervous and tense up in recordings!
Do you know a TCA member who you would like to see spotlighted? Send an email to Sarah Gilbert at firstname.lastname@example.org to nominate the TCA members in your life for our next spotlight!