Clinical Depression Never Sounded so Good

Fri. May 16, 2008 12:00 AM
by Jason P. Freeman

Inspired by a melancholy muse, Jet Kanashi made music out of misery

As a model and as a musician, things seem to be going great for Jet Kanashi. In the last year, Kanashi's appeared in both Playgirl and Men Magazine, his in-the-buff attributes featured for the amorous admiration of gay men and straight women alike. His independently released, debut album continues to receive favorable reviews online, in addition to those published in the LGBT press. Kanashi's scheduled to perform in multiple cities this summer, a sophomore album is in the works, and he apparently couldn't be any more depressed.

"There's just something sad I hold inside of me that doesn't let go," Kanashi writes on his Web site, Jetkanashi.com.

Yet unlike those afflicted that are only able to wallow in their distress, Kanashi has found the means to accept the staying power of his clinical depression, publicly celebrating sadness in life and in song. He's taken the Japanese word for "sorrow" as his stage name's surname, and christened his Web site "Namida," the Japanese word for "tears." Self-described as featuring "original songs of love, lust and despair," the title of Kanashi's first CD is Enjoy the Sadness.

"I came up with [the title and concept for Enjoy the Sadness], of all places, while watching a stand-up comedy act," Kanashi recalls. "As the woman made her jokes, it got me thinking that we laugh at the negative and unhappy things she makes fun of. As if we enjoy her pain, rather, we enjoy her sadness."

Based on personal observations of human nature, Kanashi cites several examples of how he understands and interprets his album's title, saying, "I know people that feel good and empowered when things go wrong for them ... and the sympathy they receive is ecstasy ... Also, there exists the people that hold on [sic] their memories, especially the painful ones, because they feel that those memories, those moments, were what made them who they are today. And then there are the people that take pride in getting hurt, feeling pain, because they believe if they were to receive any sort of pleasure or happiness, their lives would cease to have meaning ... In that sense, these people enjoy their sadness ... I tried to explore these ideas [in the album]."

Kanashi's executed exploration of these ideas yielded an album featuring 12 story-telling tracks, all written by Kenashi and all portraying a perspective that has seemingly accepted sufferance over hope. However the album isn't as depressingly emo as it may sound in concept.

Kenashi's vocals combined with a metal-ish, alternative-esque score spins the potential turn-off of self-isolation and withdrawn reflection into a unique musical exhibition that engages and entertains. Songs like "Legendary Fool" are reminiscent of the Queen of the Damned soundtrack while, mixing bleak themes into an allegro, "Mune" and "Nantokana" are comparable to The Cure. Evocative of Robert Smith, Kanashi's voice sounds akin to The Cure as well, albeit less animated and more intimately involved: Where The Cure lyrically laughs off heartbreak because "boys don't cry," Kenashi's crooning heralds heartbreak, singing, "I still wipe my eyes and enjoy the sadness."

Listeners are apt to enjoy the sadness too because Kenashi successfully showcases the allure that most often lives on the darker side of love, lust and despair. Plus, he's hot. A smooth, muscle-bound brunette reportedly in his mid-twenties, Kenashi is like a gay siren with a physical presence that's as seductive as his song. And what music lover wouldn't be willing to empathize with an emotionally vulnerable Men Magazine cover model?

Chicago fans may get the chance to offer Kenashi a supportive shoulder this coming summer. The Arizona-residing recording artist is scheduled for a Chicago stay August 9-23, 2008. As of press time, performance venues are still being secured. Kenashi's hoping to get a gig on the main stage at Market Days-—and he'll be using his newly assumed moniker.

While producing his second album, slated for September '08 release and tentatively titled Embracing the Light and Then Some, "Kenashi" decided to permanently drop his stage name. His sophomore CD, as well as his summer appearances, will be billed under his real name, Joel Evan.

"I found myself indulging in fantasies while writing [songs for Embracing…]," Evan says. "The songs became my hopes and dreams of how I wanted to live life, how I want myself to exist ... I realized that 'Jet Kanashi' no longer identified me."

As Jet Kanashi moves into the sidelines in order for Joel Evan to embrace the light and then some, the emotionally vulnerable musician may evolve into something not so emotionally vulnerable come his Chicago concerts. Taking the stage with a stronger sense of self, audiences may be less likely to offer Evan a supportive shoulder in empathy and more inclined to ogle him as his eye candy; despite any developed demeanor, Evan promises to perform in duds that aren't as equally profound.

"At the gay venues, fans can look forward to my skimpy, wild outfits," Evan says, "as those are some of the few places I can dress like a character out of a Manga comic."

Dates, venues and other information regarding Evan's summer tour will be posted on Myspace.com as they develop. Enjoy the Sadness is available online at CDbaby.com.