Love Letter to a Record: hanbee on ‘Big Wave’ by Tatsuro Yamashita

Music Feeds’ Love Letter to a Record series asks artists to reflect on their relationship with the music they love and share stories about how it has influenced their lives. Here Korean-Kiwi indie pop singer hanbee showers praise on Tatsuro Yamashita’s 1984 film soundtrack, Big Wave.

hanbee is an Auckland/Tāmaki Makaurau-based indie pop singer with roots in Seoul. The artist’s latest release is the six-track mini-album, Seashell Cassette, which is out via ABG Records/The Orchard. The album derives influence from Japanese city pop, with hanbee attempting to give voice to the “array of love stories collected in seashells or swept away in endless waves.”

hanbee’s Love Letter to Tatsuro Yamashita’s Big Wave

hanbee: Tatsuro Yamashita’s city pop hit album, Big Wave, changed my life. A soundtrack album for the motion picture Big Wave, it comprises his original songs and cover versions of Beach Boys songs. Full of summery songs that will take you to the beach, this album is truly dear to me not only because it is a masterpiece, but also because it motivated me to pursue my music career.

A few summers ago, I was having coffee with an old friend, enjoying the late afternoon sun and the midsummer breeze. Fresh out of university in Korea, I’d returned to my hometown, Auckland, New Zealand, to take a breather and think about my future. I’d been wanting to pursue music for a while but was still very shy and had too much doubt about myself to actively pursue it or even talk about it with others.

Somewhere along the lazy conversation, my friend asked what music I was into, to which I replied, “80s J-pop and Korean rock.” Being a Japanese musician, my friend promptly recommended the Big Wave album to me, mentioning that it might be something I’d enjoy. Little did we know that this album would inspire me to start my whole music career.

Tatsuro Yamashita – ‘The Theme From Big Wave’



I still remember the first time I listened to this amazing album on the walk back home. Instantly feeling like I was at the beach, I could almost taste the salt in my mouth, see the nonchalant seagulls flying over my head and feel the sun-baked sand seeping through my toes. Right from the intro of the first track, ‘The Theme From Big Wave’, I was captivated by the music’s ability to transport the listener to a tropical beach, watching the waves break in the distance under the golden sun.

Tatsuro Yamashita’s pleasant voice gliding over the rise and dip of the melody in ‘Jody’ and ‘Magic Ways’ made me reminisce about past love and indulge in budding summer love. By the time I was listening to the tracks ‘Your Eyes’ and ‘I Love You’, I had made up my mind – I wanted to create music like this, songs that could make listeners recollect a memory, feel like they’re in a particular place, experience a different emotion, or capture a precious moment.

Empowered by this wondrous inspiration, I released my first song, ‘Dip’, as a band (BLEE), marking the start of my musical journey. A few years down the road and here I am with a new solo album, Seashell Cassette, full of city pop-infused summery tunes, inspired again by the wonderful Big Wave album, a timeless gem.

All the pieces of my music, all the waves that came and went in my career and life were founded upon this clever album. It’s truly no wonder that this album holds a precious spot in my heart, considering how much change it brought to my life. A big wave indeed!

hanbee – ‘Strawberry’



  • hanbee’s Seashell Cassette is out now.

Further Reading

Love Letter to a Record: Joesef on Frank Ocean’s ‘Blonde’

Love Letter To A Record: Josie Moon On Agust D’s Self-Titled Mixtape

NO ZU Release ‘Liquid Love’, Their First New Original Music Since 2016

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