Get 2 Canadian brothers from Ottawa, add 2 Japanese musicians, and what do you get? A unique blend of music style called Canadian/Japanese Pop Rock, a HYBRID BAND singing in both Japanese and English lyrics. The band has been chosen as “Goodwill Ambassadors” for the 80th anniversary of Japanese-Canadian relations.
It first started with Maynard Plant who moved to Japan in 1997 to teach English after graduating from Queen’s University. Maynard learned his Japanese while working as an Assistant English Language Teacher. Music then, was merely a hobby. In 2000, Maynard formed a band with a British drummer, Thomas Pritchard.
Pritchard named the band “Monkey Majik” a tribute to the song “Monkey Magic” performed by Godiego, which was the theme song to Monkey, the English language voice-over version of the Japanese television series Saiyuki. The former drummer had watched the series as a child growing up in Britain and was a fan of the show and its theme song.
When Pritchard quit the band in 2001, Maynard invited his brother Blaise, to come to Japan and join the band. Blaise had studied Drama at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta and spent some time as a solo-artist. His Japanese came quickly as a result of memorizing Japanese songs. The band started off as a hobby but quickly turned serious when in 2001 they released their first EP called TIRED, a self-financed release limited to 1,000 copies available at Tower Records in Sendai. The 2 Japanese members of the band, Takuya Kikuchi (Tax) is the drummer while Hideki Mori (Dick) plays the bass.
Today, Monkey Majik plays to consistently “sold out” concerts across all venues throughout Japan. Much of the band’s music has been cross-promoted via television programs, commercials, and movies. The band has been chosen as “Goodwill Ambassadors” for the 80th anniversary of Japanese-Canadian relations.
The band, even after mainstream success, is still based in Sendai, located roughly 350 km from Tokyo. This is contrary to the majority of musicians in Japan, who often move to Tokyo after mainstream success.