RIKA IINO / president & dir. of artist development
Rika’s quest for artistic disruptions began at age 13. Witnessing the bold, modern presence of IM Pei’s Pyramid at the Louvre in contrast with its historical counterpart – and the uproar it endured to become a cultural icon – became the blueprint of her creative inspiration. As a young concert pianist, Rika wondered about an artist’s role in society, and how an artist can effect change. She traversed from her native Tokyo to New York via Salzburg, Austria, continuing her academic and artistic pursuits and gained experience in marketing, production, and finance. In 2003 Rika launched Sozo Media, a consultancy supporting artists who challenge convention and cultural boundaries. The full-service boutique arts agency Sozo Artists was born in 2014 to further empower international troublemakers. Rika thrives wherever there is good wifi, single-origin coffee, and Korean spas.
ICHUN YEH / vice president & dir. of booking
Growing up on three different continents, Ichun first entered the performing arts world at age 7 with a violin in her hand. Her international upbringing and extensive knowledge of the performing arts, along with a desire to embrace and share diversity of thought and cultures with the global community, lead her to arts management. A firm believer that the arts are the purest expression of human creativity and ultimately what fuels our lives, Ichun is intrigued by creating extraordinary from the ordinary and pursues such magic on a daily basis. She is highly regarded in the industry for her exceptional leadership, as well as her uncanny prowess in finding delicious cocktails wherever in the world work takes her.
MELISSA HIGGINS / dir. of marketing and operations
Connecting communities to enable flow of ideas, support, joy, and success is Mel’s driving force. Since childhood as a first generation American, her desire to build bridges has taken her around the world, living abroad to catalyze understanding and empowerment in realms including grassroots economic development, teaching, media, and foreign relations. A classically trained cellist and ardent arts aficionado, she came full circle in 2012 with Sozo, managing multi-lingual/cultural relationships and logistics, building and executing marketing strategy, and pursuing her desire to urge society beyond tolerance, toward appreciation. A surf and adventure enthusiast, Mel enjoys equilibrium between the NYC jungle and tropical jungles to meditate on being present while dodging cell reception and poisonous fauna. She has a high success rate with the former.
CHISA YAMAGUCHI / artist manager
Born into a multicultural family, Chisa simultaneously celebrates her passion for tradition and innovation. Her desire to discover, collaborate, and deepen her empathy has taken her to 6 continents whether to grace historic theaters and stages as a professional dancer, or to embark on community service projects and family pilgrimages. Driven by an intuitive sense of nurturing and a zealous need to contribute joy to the world, she enthusiastically advocates for cross-disciplinary practices as the means to dissolve perceived barriers in society. As the newest member of Sozo, she is focused on aligning her personal power with her professional values, bringing her caring presence and discipline to everything she undertakes and creates. Mindful to balance her psyche with fire and nectar, she nourishes herself with yoga, high-intensity interval training, home cooking and never turns down a glass of bubbly.
ANNIE MARCH / producer
Annie is happily the longest-running member of the Sozo family, working alongside Rika since 2003. She has a contagious passion for live production and loves supporting game-changing artists who elevate our everyday experiences through their works. Her dedication, flexibility, and proclivity for mastering new skills have made her a Jill-of-all-trades, Annie can type 70 WPM, write tour riders, negotiate booking contracts, reroute audio signal, edit your website, and parallel park a 15-passenger van. An international tour manager emeritus, Annie now lives in Somerville, MA with the love of her life and their two young children.