Exclusive Interview and Video Message from KOKIA

interview - 07.18.2009 20:01

Shortly after her autograph session, KOKIA answered our questions about her promotional trip to France.

A few months before KOKIA embarked on her European tour, she made a brief visit to France for a signing session. Afterwards, she chatted with us about her new album, Ireland, her European tour, her extra-musical activities and more.


Hello, KOKIA!

KOKIA: Hello!

You’ve returned to France this time to promote your album Fairy Dance ~KOKIA meets Ireland~. How do you see this trip?

KOKIA: This time, I’m here mainly to autograph this album, but I’m really happy to see that so many people are here waiting for me, even though I haven’t sung a single song here yet.

Will you be able to see some more of Paris this time?

KOKIA: Oh yes I will! (laughs) It’ll be my first time to sightsee a bit, even though it’s my seventh time here.

And what do you want to see?

KOKIA: Tomorrow, we’ll go to a fashion event. They’re going to have me meet a Japanese designer who will have a parade here, so I’ll go to that. Next, I’d love to see the Louvre! I’ve come to France seven times and never been there, it’s ridiculous!

How do you see this big European tour coming up? How will the concerts be different from each other?

KOKIA: The style will be quite different for each date. Of course, the concerts in Paris will be the biggest, with all my musicians. Last year, I had all my musicians only in Paris, and then after - in Belgium, for example – I was alone with my piano and percussionist for the other dates.

Do you foresee a DVD of this tour?

KOKIA: Yes, this time there will be a DVD!

Let’s return now to the reason you’re here, the European release of the album Fairy Dance ~ KOKIA meets Ireland~. You’ve indicated that this album was composed with nothing but acoustic instruments. Have you been unable to do this kind of album in Japan? Why Ireland and not some other country?

KOKIA: I could’ve done it in Japan, but it’s pretty difficult to make this kind of recording there. The process of creating an album in Japan is a bit different from in Ireland. We had about eight people playing simultaneously during the recording, but that couldn’t happen in Japan. In Ireland we could do the recording one time, on one track, whereas in Japan, we work track by track. Each musician does his work and then leaves again, that’s it.

What was also interesting for me was that I could give birth to such an album only in Ireland, because it’s tied to the atmosphere there. If I’d done this album in Japan, the atmosphere would have been different, the result would have been a whole other thing.

How did the musical composition come about?

KOKIA: There are three songs on the album that are typically Irish, three that are typically Japanese, and the other two are unique to my universe. The other musicians manly did the Irish songs.

How did you come up with the original song Taimse im’chodhladh? Singing in Gaelic can’t be easy, right?

KOKIA: Before making my album, I wanted to listen to different Irish songs so I could get into this particular universe, to have a more concrete grasp of the environment that exists here. In fact, I wanted to use a traditional Irish song. I met up with the musicians from the recording session and they took me to a live, where I discovered a song that immediately had a huge impact on me. As soon as I heard it, I said I wanted at all costs to sing that song in Gaelic on my album. The musicians told me it wouldn’t be possible, due to the difficulty of singing in Gaelic, and it could turn out sounding ridiculous if it wasn’t done well. Their refusal only made me want to sing it more!

We were able to see on your blog that you went to New York and handed out the CD Music Gifts. How did that come about?

KOKIA: That was really great! In fact, this CD has a direct relation with 9-11. Even though that was seven years ago, for many, the wounds from that day have never healed. I wanted to bring them a little comfort by way of this CD. It pleased me enormously to give it to the people there myself.

Was it a precursor to a concert in America?

KOKIA: Well it’s possible, if I have the time in my schedule.

You’ve had a very packed schedule in addition to this promotional visit and your next European tour: two other albums, KOKIA∞AKIKO ~balance~ and AKIKO∞KOKIA ~balance~, along with a single, KARMA, for the anime “Phantom~Requiem for the Phantom” after releasing Christmas Gift for the holidays. How have you been able to accomplish so much in such a short amount of time?

KOKIA: Last year I celebrated the ten year anniversary of my career, so I wanted to make a bunch of songs for the occasion. After the Japanese release of THE VOICE, I had plenty of time to compose and move on to Fairy Dance ~KOKIA meets Ireland~, Christmas Gift, KOKIA∞AKIKO ~balance~ and finally AKIKO∞KOKIA ~balance~.

Could you tell us about those last two albums? Why that distinction in the names?

KOKIA: That will be a little difficult. (laughs) KOKIA∞AKIKO~balance~ was the extension of what I’d been able to do up until then, while the album AKIKO∞KOKIA~balance~ was a facet for Akiko who hadn’t been able to express herself yet. I put in my personal feelings as opposed to those of the artist KOKIA, which I’d been doing. In the end, you can see these two universes rejoin each other, indicated by the presence of the infinity sign between the two names.

And what about the first single?

KOKIA: It’s a song I wrote for the anime “Phantom~Requiem for the Phantom” which came out in Japan in April. It’s something for the fans who especially enjoy musical pieces with a lot of different sounds.

I was able to see the short film “Ojii-chan no Tulip,” which you dedicated to your grandfather. I was surprised to see you share something so intimate, it’s not something you usually do. Why did you want to share that?

KOKIA: I wanted this film to leave an impression on my audience, be it by the music or the images of the film. I also wanted to leave something imperishable in my memoire.

Earlier, we could hear the song Grandfather’s Ship but only when it was played on an internet radio show. You only released it to a few people who are close to you, but do you foresee a day when it will be released on a media for your fans?

KOKIA: It’s a song I dedicated to my grandfather when he was still alive. I was just making a song for someone very special to me, so this song is special to me. I don’t have any plans to release it in the future.

Do you have plans to participate in short films or dramas?

KOKIA: I’ve done a short film before and if it were possible, I’d like to work in the creation of the videos.

Are there still things you dream of doing, outside of music?

KOKIA: Aside from music, I’d like to draw. I’ve already done drawings for my album covers and booklets, goodies and internet site. I’d like to invest myself more in drawing.

Have you ever thought of making illustrated books, with your drawings and original stories?

KOKIA: I’ve been thinking of making a booklet with a CD. I think I could do something like that in the near future, if it works out.

How was it, meeting with Georges Moustaki?

KOKIA: I didn’t know him before, just his name. He’s very calm and gentlemanly.

Are there European or American artists you’d like to work with?

KOKIA: If the opportunity presented itself… I don’t know yet. The schedules would have to work out too.

And a final message?

KOKIA: To all the JaME readers and everyone reading this searching for info on me, like you (laughs) I hope my songs can touch the entire world. The internet makes us closer than our actual distances. I hope you’ll discover beautiful music and that we’ll have beautiful meetings. So thank you for following me until now and continuing to follow my career in the future!

Thank you very much.

KOKIA: Thank you.


Many thanks to KOKIA and her management for making this interview possible.
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