APCOM HERO Awards 2022’s honourees list

By November 15, 2022 December 2nd, 2022 Newsroom, Regional, What We Do

Young Achiever Honourees

Wataru Mukai


1. Tell us about yourself

I am composer and an arts activist. I have created many works on gender and LGBTQI themes, mainly in contemporary music, and his works have been premiered in Tokyo, the Netherlands, Germany and elsewhere. As a PhD student, I have conducted field research in queer communities in Asia and Europe, from which I have made documentary music theatre.

2. Tell us about your work

My recent published works include “Dancing Queer” – for orchestra (2022), a collection of politicians’ and artists’ discourses on queer people, based on The work, which combines an activist speaker with an orchestra, also has a documentary aspect and a strong message for LGBTIQ people.

As a researcher, I have conducted field research in queer communities in Asia and in European countries, conducting interviews and analysing gestures in these locations. I am now creating a documentary music theatre based on these interviews. As an example, Love is Love (2022) is a piece with euphonium solo and video and is mainly composed from interviews conducted in the gay community in Portugal. In this piece, interviewees in Porto were asked the question “What does ‘Love is Love’ mean to you?” and the work is made up of the collected answers.

I am also appears as a performer in my own works, and in recent years has emphasised activism by performing as a Drag queen.

3. What one achievement you’ve accomplished that you’re most proud of?

I was told by an audience member who heard my work that it was very encouraging. Art can’t directly work on politics, like demonstrations. However, it can bring about deep thinking and thinking together about issues surrounding LGBTQI with the people who see/hear the artwork. I am proud to be able to help in this way as an artist.

4. What do you find most challenging about your work?

It is the moment when my work is actually premiered. I do a lot of work, especially for LGBTQI and social minority people, and I put a lot of messages into those pieces. For example, in the orchestral piece “Dancing Queer”, I repeated the line “you are not alone” many times. When my work is released, I often feel connected to society and at the same time proud to be a Queer.

5. What do you do to recharge your battery?

Going to clubs! Queer clubs are safe spaces, where everyone can feel open and dance. And such spaces are a tradition that queers of the past have kept alive. For queers, dancing is part of self-impression and has always been important.

6. What is your vulnerability and how do you overcome it?

I guess I am too concerned about what people think of me. For many years I was very confused about how I was going to live my life and how I would perceive being a Queer. I guess the way to overcome that is to just talk to the people around you. And to try to live in a way that I can live my life, even if it is in small ways. I have been interested in make-up and fashion, so for example, I put on a little make-up and go to a party.

7. You have been nominated for the Young Achiever category of the HERO Awards. What was your reaction?

I am very surprised. That’s because my activities are not directly political or social work. But I feel that the people who nominated me for this award believe in the power of art. Art transcends words. This encourages me to continue my work to help improve the environment surrounding LGBTIQ and HIV.

8. Despite the fact that the COVID-19 is still with us, what hopeful message would you like to share with the communities in the Asia Pacific?

I am convinced that we were able to overcome the COVID-19 crisis because we were united. I also believe that COVID-19 was a good opportunity for us to think about our human connections and bonds. Let us continue to unite and keep each other strong for a better society.

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