Shunsuke Kiyokiba is a Japanese show biz survivor who managed to transform himself from boy band luminary to respected pop/rock musician with a bluesy slant, in addition to other activities not typical for either a pop or rock star, such as calligraphy and pro fishing.
Born in 1980 in Ube, Kiyokiba began his musical career in middle school, but the local band he played in split when he was 18, leaving him nowhere. Kiyokiba found a job as a construction manager, but didn't quit music: he gave street performances in his hometown, won a vocal contest on the local TV station, and was eventually spotted by the producer of the new Tokyo vocal/dance group Exile, who invited Kiyokiba to be its main vocalist in 2001. Exile went on to sell 17 million records in Japan, but its sugary pop didn't satisfy Kiyokiba's musical urges; he had his own recording debut with the song "Futatsu no Kokoro," a cover for the famous rocker Yutaka Ozaki tribute album in 2004, and soon did his first solo live appearance at a promo gig for the album. He also held an exhibition of his poetry, calligraphy, and photography in 2004 (another took place in 2005, and a third, private show in 2008). His own musical solo debut, the single "Itsuka...," came out in early 2005, and in 2006, soon after his first self-titled full-length, which mixed the expected pop with rock, soul, and blues, Kiyokiba quit Exile altogether. He played his first solo tour in 2006, and released his second album, Image, in 2007, as well as five singles during these two years, but he also found time for a lot of other things: he launched a site about bass fishing in 2006, starred in the movie Tengoku Wa Matte Kureru ("Heaven Can Wait, Maybe") with Yoshihiko Inohara from V6 and Aya Okamoto in 2007; he started his own clothing line and established the record label Utaiya, which signed Kawane Raine and Nishihiro Shouta. But music remained his main trade: Kiyokiba spend 2008 touring Japan, and in 2009, after switching from Avex Trax to Speedstar Records, he released his third album, Rockin' the Door (2009), which featured many songs that he performed live, but never recorded to date. It was followed almost immediately by the fourth album Flying Jet; the supporting nationwide tour booked the Nippon Budokan for two nights for the closing shows. ~ Alexey Eremenko, Rovi