Charan-Po-Rantan (チャラン・ポ・ランタン)チャラン・ポ・ランタン (Charan-Po-Rantan) is made up of two sisters: Koharu a world-class accordion player who has won many awards for her talent, and Momo who is widely sought after for her singing and charm. Momo’s trademark is to belt out classic and original folk/gypsy tunes while hugging a plush doll pig under her arm. As a duo, Charan-Po-Rantan can captivate any audience with their soulful, quirky charm. However, when backed by their supremely talented support band CanCan Balkan, Charan-Po-Rantan’s already potent stage performance is exalted to an awe-inspiring level.

Canada’s premiere Japan underground music tour; Next Music From TOKYO will return again this May for its fourth showcase – Featuring Charan-Po-Rantan and their support band CanCan Balkan. I talked to world class and prize winning accordion player Koharu of Charan-Po-Rantan about the duo’s upcoming Canadian tour, and musical backgrounds.

Please introduce yourself. Who are the members of Charan-Po-Rantan and what instruments and brands of instruments do you play?
Charan-Po-Rantan is the sister duo of Koharu (eldest – playing accordion) and Momo (younger – singing).
We play original melancholy, retro style music.
My accordions are by BUGARI or SEM from Italy.
When we play with a band, there are 2 saxophones, one trumpet, drums, one wood-base or a tuba, and we are all girls.

Could you tell me a little history of the band, and Charan-Po-Rantan members’ musical backgrounds?
From childhood; I, Koharu (accordion) have loved circus music and wanted to be an accordionist in the circus. So, I asked Santa Claus for an accordion for Christmas and that was the beginning of my music carrier. Since then, I love to listen to Klezmer and Balkan music.< It’s been almost 3 years since I started playing with my younger sister Momo. Momo had no interest in music then, but I asked her to sing, accompanying my accordion. When we started to play as Charan-Po-Rantan — The members of the band came along and joined us.

Remembering back to your first time in front of a live audience, what comes to mind?
I use to play accordion as a street performer and played so many times outside, so when I first played in a club, I was super surprised how close and shut-in it was to play in a club!

What has been Charan-Po-Rantan’s biggest triumph as a band? Greatest challenge?
One of the challenges was how much I can expand the colors/tastes of our music only with a single accordion. I always try so hard to play with depth although there is but one accordion. By playing with a band I can overcome this problem, but still I pursue the originality in the music.

If the whole world were listening, what would you play? And why?
It must be Charan-Po-Rantan’s original music:”Parade of Life.”

After a massive earthquake in Japan last year, I wrote this song so not to forget the emotions of the disaster and I wish to share this feeling with people all around the world.

Charan-Po-Rantan are touring Canada in May – what is the one thing you hope to see/do there and what do you want to get out of the experience?
I would love to see the responses of audience in Canada! It is the first time to play with the band outside of the country. So, I am very interested in how people enjoy our music.

And I hope to taste the yummiest maple syrup!

Let’s hear a little about your tastes not related to music ― Could you name some of your favorite books or movies?
Both our parents are painter artists so we both like to draw.
My favorite movie is Paul Grimault’s “Le Roi et l’oiseau (The King and the Mockingbird).” Other than this I also like illustrators such as Mary Blair and Edward Gorey. While, Shel Silverstein’s “The giving tree” is my most favorite book – So, I wish to play and make my music just like reading this book giving the audience the same feelings.

My younger sister Momo’s favorite things to do are blood donation and people-watching – she is quite strange.

How does music affect you and the world around you?
I believe: Music is the tool that digs into your memories, I often write music by bringing back the past so not only me, but audiences also can recall their own memories by listening my songs. Memories are not always beautiful – It makes me sad sometimes because I cannot go back.

For me, music is like air, it would be agonizing to die if there was no music! zowie.

What should we be looking forward to in the coming year from Charan-Po-Rantan?
We will play all around the world! You’d better look forward to it!

The last words are yours, please say anything you wish and thank you.
This year, we are trying very hard! We are serious. We would love to play around the world! If there is an offer, we will come anywhere on this whole earth!
Looking forward to seeing you soon!

I would like to thank Charan-Po-Rantan (チャラン・ポ・ランタン) Momo and Koharu for their participation in this interview.
~Denise Smith (interview 2012.05.15)

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Next Music From TOKYO Tour vol 4; May 18 Toronto @ The Rivoli, May 19 Toronto @ The Rivoli, May 21 Montreal @ Divan Orange, May 23 Vancouver @ The Waldorf Hotel, Canada.