Yuka Tadano is a jazz artist based in NYC! Growing up in a musical family, she picked up the violin at the age of 6 and played duets with her twin sister. After rediscovering her love for music through the electric bass in high school, she went on to pursue music professionally and studied at the University of North Texas. Now, her resume boasts credits such as Smokey Joe's Cafe Revival at Stage 42, The Lightning Thief on Broadway, and Tony and The Kiki, and has played Shanghai Concert Hall with her band (YT little d). She’s now involved with Suffs, a new show to be produced at The Public theatre! Her biggest takeaway as an artist? Knowing one’s limits to avoid burnout, and to “work hard, [and] treat yourself lovely.” Tadano advises young artists to research and network with the people they admire by “[seeing] their shows… [introducing] themselves… [asking] them to meet for coffee… [and asking] specific questions.” Read on to learn more about what makes Yuka Tadano an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
Name: Yuka Tadano
Hometown: Ibaraki, Japan
Current City: NYC
Current project: Suffs at The Public Theater
What are some of your favorite credits/projects:
Smokey Joe's Cafe Revival at Stage 42, The Lightning Thief on Broadway, and Tony and The Kiki!
Any advice for young people getting into the arts?
Do your research and reach out to people whose career you admire! Go see their shows and introduce yourself. Ask them to meet for coffee or drinks, then ask specific questions.
How did you get your start?
My mom plays piano so there was always music in the house growing up. I started playing violin when I was 6 and my twin sister played piano, so we played together for student recitals until we finished elementary school. I wanted to play basketball and soccer more seriously in middle school, so I stopped playing music completely. Then I picked up an electric guitar in high school after I saw my friends playing in a band, and my love for music came back. I wanted to start my own band, so I bought an electric bass for my twin sister, but she wasn't really into it. So I started playing the bass and I fell in love.
Do you have any favorite moments in your career that you'd like to share?
One concert I played at Shanghai Concert Hall with my band YT little d. That was my first concert hall gig (1000+ seats) as a band leader. I was so nervous if people were going to show up, but they did! Another one is a duo show I did with my friend Mackenzie Shivers (amazing singer songwriter, pianist. Y'all should check her out!) in Tokyo. I left the stage during the encore and sat with the audience then realized that people were crying while listening to her. I don't think the Japanese audience understood what she was singing about but they were so moved by her music. Such a beautiful experience. Those concerts proved to me that music does cross all borders and we have the power to reach people's hearts even if we don't speak the same language.
What have you found is the biggest challenge in your career?
Knowing my limit on how much work I can handle physically and mentally. Any freelance musician probably knows this, but it’s hard to say no when people ask you to play. Yes, money is one thing but you do feel good looking at your calendar filled with gigs. If you are busy, you must be good at what you do right?? THINK AGAIN! That's your ego talking. I used to say yes to everything (and I still do but am getting better) as long as I could make the downbeat on time. I played 3 gigs in one weekend once, Friday in Crimea, Saturday in Washington DC, and Sunday in Grenada in the Caribbean, only sleeping on red eye flights and taking showers at the venues. I made it to those gigs but I was too exhausted to give my 100%, and I suffered from complete burnout afterwards.
What are some interesting facts about yourself?
My birthday is on November 25th, and 11/25 can be read as "e-e-futa-go" in Japanese which can translate to "good twin" and guess what? I AM A TWIN!
Is where you are now where you thought you’d be?
No! When I moved to NYC, I just wanted to play jazz. But the majority of gigs I do now are theater related.
Where did you study at?
University of North Texas. Both BM and MM in Jazz Studies.
What do you love most about what you do?
Being able to visit a lot of different places you would never imagine going unless you have a show to play and meeting people there.
What helped you most to rebound from what you considered your biggest failure or mistake in your career?
Allowing myself to feel my feelings and remembering everything is temporary. Letting go of the fear of failure and my attachment to the past were the hardest part.
Do you have any self care practices you do to stay focused and sane? What was your self care routine before the pandemic and how has that (as well as your views of self care) changed throughout the pandemic?
3 big things in my self care routines at the moment are meditation, Epsom salts bath and long walks with my dog. Pandemic definitely made me realize how much I neglected to take care of my own body and mind. Now, I listen to my body more carefully. I took a 3 month long meditation teacher training course online to deepen my practice during the pandemic and it was such an eye opener. "Work hard, treat yourself lovely" is my mantra these days.
What inspires you?
To find out more about Yuka Tadano, please visit her at:
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