Takénobu wrote a song depicting everyone’s dream over the past year: quitting the draining and time-consuming traditional job in exchange for something more freeing—the ability to ‘travel light.’
“Traveling Light” is the opening song on Takénobu’s new album, Always Leave a Note. Nick Ogawa, the man behind Takénobu, was inspired to write the song based on his own decision to leave his job in marketing to pursue music full time.
“In 2011, I was really really lucky to have my songs start to take off on Pandora radio and I started to be able to pay my rent from iTunes downloads. When that happened, I was able to quit my job I was unhappy with and pursue music full time. I took a pay cut to do it, but I’ve never looked back or felt regretful about that aspect of things,” Ogawa tells American Songwriter. “I’ve always thought about how liberating it was and with “Traveling Light” I wanted to express both the feeling of being trapped by work and the liberation from feeling exploited by it, even if it means having less or living more simply.”
The memory of his own liberation met his sympathy for workers during the lockdown last year; the result was “Traveling Light.”
“I wrote the song in 2020 when things seemed pretty dire with the pandemic, and I just felt a lot of sympathy for the people who were being exploited most during such a difficult time and the stories I kept reading about them,” Ogawa said. “The main point is that it’s possible to be happy with less and that it’s ok to pursue happiness over material success.”
Takénobu, is taken from the middle name of Nick Takenobu Ogawa, who is the songwriter, vocalist, and cellist of the group. He is joined by his wife, Kathryn Koch, on live performances and on the last two albums, Conclusion and Always Leave a Note. She adds violin and additional vocals to the intricate, instrument-heavy sound.
Ogawa writes his best music when he sticks to a routine, rather than “waiting around for inspiration to strike.”
“I try to get up every day and practice cello first thing. If I can do that before looking at my phone or allowing the world to intrude, then I feel like I’m in a much better state of mind to try to write something. Coffee of course is also key, so it’s coffee and cello,” he said. “If I can start my day that way—and have been doing that for a number of days in a row—I start to get into a creative flow more easily and things can start to take shape. Ideas will reoccur and develop in a way that I feel like I can draw from and start to capture in a song.”
Check out the video for “Traveling Light” below. Photo by Steve West.