• Music

Kohei Matsushita spreads wings in acting, singing

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Kohei Matsushita

“There is part of me that can’t help but make music,” said actor-singer Kohei Matsushita. His soft-spoken words did not quite hide his strong will.

Matsushita made his CD debut in 2008, using only his given name, Kohei. He then built his career as an actor for about 13 years. Last year, he released the single “Tsuyogari” (Pretending to be strong) in August and the mini-album “Anata” (You) in December, both under his full name.

“I wanted to make music after all,” he said. “First of all, I like creating things, and when I create something I want to demonstrate it to somebody and want them to listen to and appreciate it.”

Matsushita is someone to watch. He had a busy and fruitful year last year, which was eye-opening. He appeared in the theatrical play “Chameleon’s Lip” written by Keralino Sandorovich; played a refreshingly nice guy in the TV drama “Shitteru Waifu” (Familiar wife); captured viewers’ hearts with his unpretentious charms in a gourmet food section of the variety show “Guruguru 99”; and played the role of a caring police officer in the TV show “Saiai” (Dearest).

He continues to be a sought-after artist. Currently, he is starring in the musical play “Ye Lai Xiang Rhapsody,” and will appear in a new TV show airing from April.

“Even though I could make a CD debut again, it’s been really hectic, so I haven’t been able to feel it sink in or get a sense of achievement,” he said.

He finally had a little time to rest at the end of last year, and was chilling out at home when he noticed a tissue box that had been gifted to him when he sang a song on the TV music show “Music Station” in September.

He remembered that he was extremely busy at the time, having to prepare for a TV drama shoot the following day as well. Therefore, he had no time to have a drink to celebrate and appreciate the happiness of having achieved his long-held dream.

“Ah, I did it. My dream came true,” he thought, feeling the delight that arrived a little late.

In the spring of last year, he fought back tears of happiness and disclosed to fans that he would make his CD debut as Kohei Matsushita.

Although his schedule thereafter was hectic and hard, he worked hard on the CD project with the desire to produce good works no matter what. His ardor was recognized by producer Kiyoshi Matsuo, who has worked on popular works by many illustrious artists, such as Ken Hirai and TVXQ. Matsuo produced the single and some of the songs on Matsushita’s mini-album, including the title song, “Anata,” that starts with the lyrics:

Photo by Viola Kam (V’z Twinkle)
Kohei Matsushita sings during a concert.

“Mo koreijo matte rarenai / Koreijo heikina furi tsuzukerarenai” (Can’t wait any longer / can’t continue pretending to be OK).

This opening of the song is yearningly wistful, as if the person in the song is almost overcome by uncontainable emotions. The pensive melody carried by Matsushita’s silky voice quickly draws listeners into his world.

“Mr. Matsuo understood each and every request I made, although I could tell him only roughly what kind of lyrics and arrangement I wanted. I thought I’d have to deliver with great responsibility,” Matsushita said.

The mini-album includes songs written by Matsushita, too. One of the songs is “Tabiji” (Journey), which he sings as if recalling his own life’s journey so far. His singing voice is pleasantly light with a hint of huskiness. It also exudes a subdued fighting spirit.

“I learned in acting that there are 100 ways to say one line. The same can be said for the lyrics of a song. In the past, I focused only on singing skillfully and in a cool manner, but that’s not the point that matters,” Matsushita said.

His 13 years as an actor have proved to be pivotal. His talent to deliver, which he has polished during those years, has applied additional sparkle to the songs.

When Matsushita was very young, he used to listen to R&B and other music under the influence of his music-loving mother. He would often find himself moving to the sound of the music. He was a high school student when he saw the film “Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit,” which gave him an aspiration: “It’d be nice if I could sing,” he thought. He used to sing to himself on his way back from school, and thought he was not that bad. Thus began his journey in the art.

A fortune-teller once told Matsushita that his senses were unchanged from his high school days.

“It kind of made sense to me,” he said. “I don’t care what others think of me. My desire to let someone listen to something I’ve made that I like, and my love for music — they haven’t changed at all.”