Formed in 1999 at Toyota City Japan by Yoshiki Nagayama (Vocal),Hiroshi Tsuzuki(Tabla) and Ko Yamaguchi (Drums).
Currently the line up is a 13 piece orchestra including Talow The Tornado on percussion and Koichiro on matouqin from the established Japanese hardcore band Nice View, and George Bodman, former member of the Japanese cutting edge post rock/emo band Bluebeard (2) and Naht on guitar. Other instruments played in the orchestra include Japanese taiko drum, jambe, tabla, Japanese bamboo flute, saxophone, upright bass, sitar etc.
Turtle Island fuses traditional Japanese carnival beats with other musical elements including distorted guitar, Indian music, and Korean traditional music, all held together with a punk rock background.
Main vocalist Yoshiki is a charismatic poet creating a unique world with his lyrics, and is often referred to as the Japanese Joe Strummer or Manu Chao. With his passionate messages, Turtle Island has gained great recognition amongst underground as well as mainstream music lovers.
Turtle Island has performed with international artists such as Fermin Muguruza and Esne Beltza from Basque country, and received great admiration from artists such as PREFUSE73 and David Byrne from Talking Heads. David Byrne selected 3 songs from TURTLE ISLAND for his web radio after his visit to Japan.
In 2008, Turtle Island headlined at “KAIKOO meets REVOLUTION” festival presented by POP GROUP & microAction, sharing the bill with more than 80 groups. They have also performed in number of rock festivals such as, Rising Sun Rock Festival, Nagisa Music Festival, Dragon Rock Festival, TOYOTA ROCK FESTIVAL, FESTA de RAMA, ZETTAI-MU etc. In 2009 they had their first overseas tour in Basque country, and in 2010 they were invited to Morocco to perform at “MAWAZINE MUSIC FESIVAL” presented by the Moroccan King playing along with Alpha Blondy the Cote d'Ivoire reggae legend, and 4 time Grammy nominee Angelique Kidjo.
In the end of 2010, they collaborated with Kabuki company “Hapon Theater Project” supervised by Tomohiko Hara to create a brand new style of entertainment “Punk Macbeth”, and in 2011 “Punk King Lear” a collaboration of punk rock & Kabuki & Shakespeare held at Nagoya Noh Theater. They sold over three thousand tickets over the three days performance both year and released the original sound track and DVD of the performance from their own label “microAction”.
2011,the orchestra has begin to organize and curate their own festival “SOUL BEAT ASIA” in their home town Toyota City every year, which the festival focus on bridging aboriginality music and culture with next generation artists from all around Asia that expresses traditional art with modern interpretation. Also this festival is known as the only festival in Japan that’s run by 100% pure solar power off grid electric system (designed by “Personal Energy Kobe Japan”), and it provides the entire electricity of the festival site from Stage PA system to food court area. This “charge free” out door festival brings over 5000 people each year, which it’s becoming a new tradition for the locals.
In Feb 2013, the orchestra performed at New York Fashion Week in collaboration with Japanese leather clothing brand “blackmeans” and in June they toured 3 cities in China (Beijing, Wuhan and Shanghai) including headlining at Hanggai Festival (Beijing).July they appeared at the long awaited “Fuji Rock Festival 13” and performed two stages (Red Marque and Orange Court) with huge impact.