We play gypsy funk and folk, but if you came to our live show you might catch us covering Killing in the Name of....with a violin!


SEMI (Japanese): cicada
n : stout-bodied insect with large membranous wings; male has drum-like organs for producing a high-pitched drone.
ON/ONGAKU (Japanese):
n : sound or music.

One Japanese mid summer’s night, a band of sound creators met under a canopy of mating cicada. The frenzied rhythms, swells, high and low orchestral cacophony inspired our sound, and walla; Semi-On was born.

Tin cans and whistles, bicycle drum kits, melodica, clarinet, banjo, mandolin, violin, electronic effects, bass, guitar and much more have become our voice.

Our songs pick up the flavours of the four continents we hail from. Spanning the mountains and lakes, prairies and deserts, bushland and forests of our homelands, our music is peppered with the sounds found on route: country, blues, rock, jazz, funk, folk all bubbling under a gyptian lilt.

Comprising of five members, they are:

Coleen: Canadian prairie girl of the big skies and extremes. Brought up with music on the porch, she can turn an ear and hand to anything. Inheriting her Grandfather’s 300+ year old fiddle she keeps the strings vibrating, though she also plays Mandolin, guitar, banjo, piano and sings.

Lesley: Australian bush whacker, traveled the red sands at an early age playing the clarinet. She later studied contemporary music, at Sydneys’ conservatory for music, specializing in guitar. She transferred to the bass, and drums and dances up and down the strings with fervor.

Kazuya: an artist from the mountains of Gifu, Japan, brings us yet more rhythm. Studying jazz drumming he played with various experimental bands, before stumbling across us in the park. His somewhat unconventional kit include bicycle wheels, and tin coffee cans. To watch him play you would think he was made of elastic.

John: also of Canada, and the lakes of Ontario is a very mixed bag. He plays rhythm and electric guitar, surreptitiously loading our songs with secrets he has been unlocking during his eclectic musical listening studies. His high range voice brings almost a chanson element of story telling at times.

Bryony: from the UK, likes to sing and flail. She always knew that performance was her thing, but could never settle on one particular discipline. Semi-On allows her to move in and out of the characters in songs, dancing as she goes. Her clarinet and melodica interludes temper the gypsy-esque sound.

We are based in Nagoya, Japan, and have had the opportunity to play throughout the country at clubs and festivals since 2007. In 2008, We began one of Nagoya's most popular events, "Harmonium Parlour", which is an open mic and art exhibition held once a month.


Well I Was

Written By: Semi On

Well I was walking;
To see what I could see.
And then this old man,
well he came up to me.
Was dressed in this long coat,
of azure and pea green
Said “What are you doing?”
But he wouldn’t answer me.

Some lights to the left
Distant yet, we’re passing
Lights to the left,
Distant yet, we’re passing
Some lights to the left,
Distant yet, we’re passing
Momentary, yes.
In the space we’ve kept

Well I was looking;
To see what I could see.
And then this young girl,
well she came up to me.
Her eyes were turquoise,
And spoke of open emerald seas
She didn’t say a thing,
Though the mouth opened to sing.


Well I was listening:
To see what I could hear.
And then this stray dog,
Well it came up to me.
It’s tail was telling
a story I’d believe,
And if you hear it,
well you come and speak to me.



"The Perils of Having too Much Fun" - 1st CD

-5 songs with varying genres (folk, funk, rock, pop, chansonnier)
*Well I Was
**Coffee Shop
*****Park Ideas

Set List

We play original songs as well as some interpretations of other songs that we all like. Our originals have a decidedly gyspy folk feel, mixed with a bit of funk and rock. To mix things up during a show, we cover bands like The Cat Empire, Rage Against The Machine, Neil Young, Portishead, and Johnny Cash.

In a typical night we play 1 to 1 and a half hours with no break. We also play events and bar gigs that require two sets. We usually play two 40 minute (6-8) song sets.

We have over 100 songs in our repertoire, covering almost every major genre. Folk, country, rock, hiphop, pop, jazz, funk, soul, and more...