Celebration of Women and the Steelpan Art Form

Tribute To Women In Pan

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Meet Yoko Takano - Yokohama, Japan

“ ...people in the world are connected through pan, enjoying music, and where we are making a future.”

The sound of the pan gives her energy and makes her feel alive; Pan is her passion. In an exclusive interview with When Steel Talks - Yoko Takano shares her feelings, experiences, and insights into the Steelband music art form and more.

A When Steel Talks Exclusive

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WST - “Tell us about yourself - who is Yoko Takano?”

Yoko T. - “My name is Yoko Takano from Japan. I grew up in Yokohama. Yokohama is a very beautiful place with ocean and city. I love my life as a steelpan player.  Music, dance, art and nature makes my life beautiful.”


WST - “How were you first introduced to the steelpan instrument?”

Yoko T. - “There is a beach house called Oasis in Hayama. Many musicians play music at Oasis. I heard this beautiful sound played by Mr. Nakatani when I was working there. I knew the sound of steel pan because I was listening to the songs of “Little Tempo,” but that was the first time I played. I fell in love with the sound.  That was twelve years ago.”


WST - “Take us through your steelband music journey to date, through the years?”

Yoko T. - “Twelve years ago I started this steel pan journey. At that time Mr. Nakatani taught me steel pan. I had a session with some musicians at the beach house that day. It was a wonderful experience. After that he formed a steel band. The name is “OPG” (Oasis Pan Groove). I joined there.  Two years ago, I thought I wanted to learn more music, I wanted to meet more panists. So I visited Michael ʽManish′ Robinson. He taught lessons to me and took me to the Panorama. I played with Invaders Steel Orchestra in the Panorama of 2017. After that I met Tony Guppy, I studied with him for a year, and in 2018 I played with Invaders for Panorama again. I am grateful to my teachers sincerely.”

Yoko Takano with Invaders Steel  Orchestra
Yoko Takano

WST - “What is it about Pan that has so captivated you?”

Yoko T. - “Lovely sounds.  The sound gave me energy and made me feel alive and relaxed. Sometimes she [Pan] is like a friendly friend, I like talking to her. And pan can play various music. It’s fun.  Pan is my passion. Positive Energy.”


WST - “In Japan, talk about some of your steelband performances there throughout the year?”

Yoko T. - “I′m playing with “OPG” steel band in Japan.  We have been doing live about ten times a year.”


WST - “What is your opinion on the status of steelband in Japan?”

Yoko T. - “I think that it is spreading little by little.  There are more women pan players around than men. When there are live performances, audiences are very excited and listening.”

WST - “What keeps your passion for the steelpan instrument and art form going?”

Yoko T. - “Charming sound.  The sound gives me energy and makes me feel alive and relaxed. I appreciate this gift [of pan].”


WST - “What does your family think of you playing pan?”

Yoko T. - “My family is pleased that I am enjoying playing steel pan.”


WST - “Who, and what are your musical influences.”

Yoko T. - “In panists, Ellie Mannette and Mica Allen.”


WST - “Who is your favorite arranger and why?”

Yoko T. - Arddin Herbert. Invaders is great steel band and so cool. His arrangements are exciting and it′s fun to play. He has a wonderful personality. Invaders [Steel Orchestra] is full of smiles because he has a sense of humor.  I am learning a lot from Arddin Herbert. [Also] Clive Bradley - I like his magnificent music. Jamal Amhook Gibbs; I heard his music at 2017 in Invaders. Kevin “Bones” Holder; it was a lot of fun to dance with Brimblers.”


WST - “Being female, were you ever cautioned against becoming involved in steelband?”

Yoko T. - “No.”

WST - “You played with Invaders Steel Orchestra in 2018, in the Trinidad & Tobago Panorama. How did this come about, and what was it like?”

Yoko T. - “It was amazing. 2018 Invaders is so powerful. So many people play together, building up the music. It was a great experience for me. It was fun to practice everyday for a month during my stay.”


WST - “Some of your fellow Japanese also played in the Panorama. What are the experiences like - generally - for the group?”

Yoko T. - “It was encouraging to have Japanese people.”

Yoko Takano
Yoko Takano

WST - “Talk about how it feels to be on stage specifically, playing for the national Panorama in Trinidad - what are those eight minutes of competition like, especially final night?”

Yoko T. - “The eight-minute time is dramatic [with the] arrangement. So much excitement and fun, those moments remain in the mind. On Panorama night I stayed at the Savannah until the end. It was all incredible, like a dream.”


WST - “In your opinion, what are some of the differences, and some of the similarities, between Pan in Japan, and Pan in Trinidad & Tobago?”

Yoko T. - “Japan does not have pan yards. But steel pan players in Japan and Trinidad & Tobago are all captivated with the pan.”


WST - “ Is Panorama a curse or blessing from your perspective?”

Yoko T. - “Blessing.”


WST - “ If you had the power to change something in Pan immediately what would that be?”

Yoko T. - “I′d like to have all bands playing together.”


WST - “What have you been most proud about as it relates to Pan?”

Yoko T. - “That people in the world are connected through pan, enjoying music, and where we are making a future.”


Yoko Takano (right) with fellow panist from Invaders Steel  Orchestra
Yoko Takano (right) with fellow panist from Invaders Steel Orchestra

WST - “What disappoints you the most in the steelband movement?”

Yoko T. - “I think it needs more exposure to the public.”


WST - “What would be your advice to the young female players all over the world who are dreaming of following in footsteps such as yours?”

Yoko T. - “Please, enjoy.  Play your pan with pride.”


WST - “What is your vision for the steelpan instrument?”

Yoko T. - “Continue with this journey. I want to keep learning like this; from now on I want to play various rhythms and sounds. I want to be able to produce more beautiful sounds.”


WST - “Are there any other steelband-related matters you would like to bring forward?”

Yoko T. - “By playing pan, my dream is a dream come true. From now on I would like to do my best to make my dreams come true; I think that I can make a good impact on the world by doing it myself.”


WST - “What is next for Yoko Takano?”

Yoko T. - “To improve on my skills. I would like to play in Miami Panorama. And I want to play with Invaders again in Savannah.  Thank God.  And I am happy to say also, I played on singer Jerry Harris′ recording of “The Caribbean is Beautiful.””


photos:  from Yoko Takano/Facebook

  “The Caribbean is Beautiful” by Jerry Harris features Yoko Takano on steelpan



Their Story, Their Voice, Their Life, Their Dreams - click for more stories

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