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Who the hell is Kiyasu?

Ballistic drum pulveriser from Japan prepares to smash stuff up

Search ‘Kiyasu drums’ online and you’ll find clips of a long-haired, nearly naked Japanese man kicking drums around, aggressively hitting various objects then receiving polite applause from beer-swigging audiences. The man behind the madcap videos is 35-year-old Ryosuke Kiyasu, who is bringing his unconventional live show to Beijing for two performances this month.

Perhaps more performance art than music, and perhaps more vandalism than performance art, Kiyasu’s shows see him unleash a rage-whirl of energy. He skims cymbals hither and thither, tribally pummels his snare drum and occasionally snarls. ‘I want to pursue music that has not been heard, ever,’ he tells Time Out.

Kiyasu is from Ehime prefecture in southwest Japan. He developed his unique solo show after playing in death metal bands as a student then moving to Toronto and collaborating with jazz musicians during a stint in New York. ‘For my first solo show in 2003 I played a snare drum with coins, sticks and beer bottles,’ he recalls. ‘I destroyed all the bottles as part of the performance.’

After his Beijing shows he’s planning to release an album that captures the essence of his rough and tumble gigs. What should we expect? ‘Anger, sadness and hatred,’ he says. ‘Negative energy makes up my show’. We’re as intrigued as we are petrified.

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