Since going solo following the demise of chart-topping J-pop band Do as Infinity in 2005, Tomiko Van has been kept busy by her non-singing talents as much as her distinctive alto voice. In addition to releasing three solo albums, Van trod the Tokyo boards in the Japanese adaptation of the gritty (by Broadway standards at least) musical BKLYN in 2007. Van's debut album, Farewell, was released with little fanfare in March 2006, but nonetheless hit the Top Ten in Japan and saw the singer incorporate jazz-pop influences, in contrast to Do as Infinity. Farewell was not the first product under the Van (pronounced "Ban") name: in 2002, in a rare example of the Japanese music industry putting charitable concerns before its own coffers, the Avex Trax label assembled Van, Ayumi Hamasaki, BoA, and Namie Amuro, among others on its roster, to contribute to a compilation album with the aim of raising money for the victims of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Van contributed the track "Always" to the album, titled Song Nation. Following the release of Farewell, Van went on to release three singles in 2006 (the Top Ten hit "Flower," "Senko," and "Yumeji") and also played a minor role in the little-seen movie Heat Island, directed by Osamu Katayama (Hana Yori Dango 2). Musically, 2007-2008 saw Van seemingly tread water with two albums of covers of songs mainly by Japanese artists from the 1960s to the present day. The second of these covers albums, Voice 2 -- Covers Lovers Rock, saw Van interpret tracks mainly by male J-pop artists (including Spitz, Masayoshi Yamazaki, and Tulip), as well as Roy Orbison ("Oh Pretty Woman"). Van maintained the Tulip connection with her first single in more than 18 months, "Tokyo Biyori," which was written by Kazuo Zaitsu of the veteran folk band. The single's second track, "Memories," was Van's first songwriting credit.
Share this page