New Audio: The Gorgeously Lush and Melancholic Sound of Atlanta’s Takenobu


Born in rural Vermont and currently based in Atlanta, GA, Nick Takenobu Ogawa is a classically trained cellist and composer, who writes, records and performs under the moniker Takénobu. As the story goes, Ogawa was raised in an extremely small town with a population of about 1,000 residents — and as a result, the cellist and composer grew up playing in the woods, since he had no next-door neighbors and had no cable TV. His parents were professors at Middlebury College, and when Ogawa turned 6, they introduced him to cello, and he took private lessons and practiced religiously until he had turned 18. But after 12 years of study and orchestral playing, Ogawa began veering away from classical music and started focusing on a self-taught style of play that borrowed techniques from his guitar playing and composition based on a variety of roots and world music influences.

Ogawa moved to Kyoto, Japan, where he spent a year experimenting and cultivating his unique playing style and sound — until he had suffered a wrist injury from intense practice. He then wound up attending Haverford College in Philadelphia where he graduated with thoughts of entering law school; however, instead of studying for the LSAT’s and preparing applications, Ogawa moved to Vancouver, BC, where he recorded his full-length debut album. He then moved to Brooklyn and won the 2006 Williamsburg Live singer/songwriter competition and with the winnings he was able to release his 2007 debut effort, Introduction. The album was released to favorable reviews but didn’t gain much exposure.

Frustrated and despondent, Ogawa was close to giving up on pursuing music. But just before his own deadline, the Vermont-born, Atlanta, GA-based cellist and composer submitted his debut effort to Pandora. And ironically enough, just as he was about to give up was the exact moment that he started to see increasing press attention and commercial success; in fact, thanks to Pandora’s recommendation algorithm, in the four year period between 2007-2011, Introduction received enough streams and sales that Ogawa was able to focus on music full-time, releasing three more full-length album. Adding to a steadily growing national profile, Ogawa’s music has received airplay on NPR‘s Morning Edition, has opened for Kishi Bashi and performed and arranged cello on Dessa‘s “It’s Only Me.”  

Reversal, Ogawa’s fifth full-length effort is slated for a February 12, 2016 release and the album’s first single “Curtain Call” pairs a gorgeous and moody cello composition with Ogawa’s achingly plaintive vocals singing about a relationship that has come to an inevitable conclusion, and both sides have recognized that they have to part — perhaps forever. Sonically speaking the song employs the use of several different layers of cello to create a lush and yet spectral arrangement that emphasizes the melancholy sense of acceptance at the core of the song.