Seasons for Change lead singer (and full-time teacher) Kenta D Mitsuhashi on balancing his time between his band and his students

By Natalie Kainz

The Hong Kong-raised, Filipino-Japanese frontman talks about gaining a deeper understanding of the local music scene and escaping the bubble of familiarity

By Natalie Kainz |
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A photo of Seasons for Change when they opened for Blessthefall at Music Zone at Emax on June 13, 2016.

Teaching a class of boisterous fifth graders about the Solar System and hamming it up at Clockenflap as a member of one of Hong Kong’s up-and-coming alternative rock bands aren’t exactly two careers that one might see as complementary. But Kenta D. Mitsuhashi, who does both as the lead singer of Seasons for Change, disagrees, claiming that being a teacher helped him become more confident as a performer.

“My band calls it ‘Kenta’s teacher mode’,” he says. “When I go teacher mode, I talk much slower, I [pause], I sit with the crowd, and I look at individual people like when I’m teaching a class”. Mitsuhashi adds that his music also helps to add colour to his classroom.

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“A lot of my students surprise me by singing my songs and copying my [onstage] hand gestures, not in a mocking way but in a really proud way,” he tells us. “I think it’s important to set an example to show them that when you’re an adult you can have a full-time job but also do other things that you’re passionate about on the side.”

All five band members, who have performed together at music festivals all over Asia, from Taiwan to Singapore to Guangzhou, have full-time jobs on top of their music careers. Although the skills sometimes overlap, it can be a struggle to stay passionate about both. “There were times when our band felt like things were really stagnant and we almost broke up,” he admits. “Hong Kong’s music scene, despite the fact that it’s growing, can be a real struggle [to succeed in] because it seems only Canto-pop artists can really become mainstream.”

Nevertheless, the 28-year-old King George V School alumnus is grateful for the Hong Kong music scene as it allows him to feel fully integrated in the local culture.

A photo of Seasons for Change when they opened for Blessthefall at Music Zone at Emax on June 13, 2016.
Photo: Kennevia Photography

“I think a lot of people who went to international school are in a bubble; we don’t really know Hong Kong the way local people do,” he explains. “I have a lot of friends from high school who don’t know a word of Cantonese.”

After returning from university in Australia and starting up Seasons for Change in 2014, he reveals that he finally discovered people with a similar passion for his type of music. “When I came back [to Hong Kong], I got to know all these local people, my Cantonese got better, and I got to get a feel of the scene.”

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The half Japanese-half Filipino singer-songwriter believes that gaining a deeper understanding of the local scene allowed his band to evolve, both in terms of cultivating their own unique sound and gaining more experiences to draw inspiration from. For this reason, he isn’t particularly concerned with making it big in the West.

“[Although] we got backing from an American label that’s helping us release our music ... and we got into Alternative Press, [an American band magazine], ... I don’t really look at Western countries as a place to become big because there are already so many bands there that are loved,” he explains.

“We just want to be a band where people from other countries recognise us and think ‘Oh, that’s a Hong Kong band?’ That would be a cool feeling. [But for us,] just being big in Asia is enough.”

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Kenta Mitsuhashi (centre) poses with his band. He advises young people who want to get into HK's music scene to break out of their comfort zones and go to shows.
Photo: Mathilde Gattegno

They’re certainly on their way to achieving their goal, having just released a new album called Petals of Tomorrow, which Mitsuhashi tells us is a collection of songs drawn from his personal experiences and those of his bandmates.

“About half of the songs in the album were written back when I was at university and high school, and the other half are all about my experiences as an adult” he says.

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His advice to young people, particularly international school students, who want to break into Hong Kong’s music scene is to escape their bubble of familiarity.

“Get out of your comfort zone, go to local shows, meet local people ... in the end, you might fall in love with their music and your city even more.”

Seasons for Change has an upcoming CD release show for Petals of Tomorrow on the August 3 at Music Zone @ E-Max in Kitec.

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