Guitarist Kazuki Tokaji Is at the Heart of Circle The Earth's Rockin' Sound
Jan. 7, 2021
LOS ANGELES, Calif. – When Kazuki Tokaji first picked up the guitar at age 7, he knew he was on to something. Despite growing up in a non-musical family the fledgling guitarist bucked cultural trends in his native Japan and became enamored with rock and roll.
Today, Tokaji, who's musical vision is at the heart of alternative rockers Circle the Earth, has released his newest solo single, “At the Helm of Despair,” now available on iTunes, Spotify and elsewhere.
“I’m very excited about this new single,” Tokaji said. “It was a collaboration between keyboardist Derek Sherinian of Sons of Apollo, and Kitsune drummer Sebastian Konnnackel and I. It’s a progressive metal song with a real edge.”
The single, which comes ahead of a new album set for release next year, explores the guilt and heartbreak of loss and the uncertainty of overcoming grief. Featuring Tokaji’s signature hard-driving guitar stylings that blend rhythm and blues and punk rock that he nurtured while growing up in Osaka, Japan.
“I always wanted to play guitar in US since when I was little child. But when I was high school student, I started saving money and thinking about move to US more seriously,” he said. “The hardest thing was speaking English. I had studied English for 10 years, but almost never spoke it while living in Japan. But I managed to learn quickly once I was here.”
Having grown up in Japan, Tokaji found his love for music and rock and roll. But his fascination for science led him to major in science and technology where he hoped would serve him well after college. But as he continued his studies, the pull of music was too great and he began performing in bands even while in college.
Upon graduation, Tokaji knew he wanted to become a professional musician and take his talents as far as they would go. He joined several bands which in turn toured Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka, before striking out on his own as a solo artist and recording and performing throughout Japan, even joining the metal band Angra on stage during one tour.
But once he arrived in the U.S., he performed with several bands in the studio, before joining Circle the Earth where he found common ground with his fellow rockers.
“It was like I’ve known these guys for years right from the start,” Tokaji said. “We have a great connection and we feed off each other’s energy and creativity.”
Besides Tokaji on guitar, Circle the Earth is made up of Khadia Handon on lead vocals, Sandy Chao Wang, Keyboards; Lauren Richards, Harmony Vocals; Whitney Claire Kaufman, harmony vocals; Michael McBay, Bass; and Sandro Feliciano on drums.
“Kazuki brings a great energy and passion to the band that blends well with all of our personalities,” said Handon. “We’re excited about what the future holds for us as we get past this health crisis.”
With a string of hit singles and sold out shows the band built a solid following over the last few years and is poised to return to the stage once the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.
“The biggest challenge was recording songs with the band members, but without meeting,” he said. “We always jam and record together. So I’m looking forward to reuniting with the band on stage and in the studio.”