The Road… Returns to Anthology

Wednesday, May 9, 2012 14:42

An Interview with Keiko Matsui

By Casey Pukl

One of the great Anthology fan favorites is contemporary jazz pianist, Keiko Matsui. Her energetic show ranges from straight ahead jazz to ambient world music and everything in between. Her last show here was following the release of her latest record, The Road… in which Matsui explores the never ending journey through life, discovering that the road does indeed go on.

I had the chance to catch up with her to discuss what she’s been up to since we last saw her in November, how she approaches writing music, and just why Anthology holds such a special place in her heart.

CP: You were just here in November touring your latest record, “The Road…” and I’d love to know what you’ve been up to since we saw you last!

KM: Well, I did a Japan tour in December, and I was over there supporting the new record, “The Road…” and we had a great time. And then I spent some time in Japan for the New Year because the New Year is very special for the Japanese.

Then I came back to do a show with the Air Force Band, which was great. We did a really special event in Washington D.C. at Constitution Hall celebrating 100 years of the cherry blossom festival! We had a full house, and it was really special. The full orchestra, that’s something that I love.

Then I had the chance to visit Russia again, and that was such a beautiful place. I went back to Irkutsk where we played last year. They wanted me to go back, so I came back.  It’s a really fun place.

And then I went to Hawaii (laughs). I got to sightsee and play there, and then I went back to Japan, and then we started the spring tour about ten days ago. We did the east coast— D.C., New York, Boston, and I just got back!

CP: Sounds like you’ve had quite an eventful 6 months!

KM: (Laughs) Yes!

CP: Have you been working on any new projects in that time, or are you mostly focused on touring at the moment?

KM: Right now I’m concentrating on touring, but I’m doing a summer show in Tokyo in July, so I’m starting to prepare for that. I’m also starting to think about the next project.

CP: Great! I know the last time you were here, you discussed the significance of the title of your album, “The Road…” but I’d love to get into the influences for the music on the record a little bit. I feel like this record has a bit more of a world music vibe than some of your previous records.

KM: Especially this time around, each song carried a message to me. It was a very interesting and inspiring process that I had. Because of course I travel a lot, and I’ve been through many things in my life, this album is a lot of very special music. At the same time, I really experienced music from all of these different places, so all of these influences came through me in these songs. For this album, I also tried to make it all as unique as possible. There was no programming; it was as human as possible. I picked great musicians, and we just made a really great, really handmade album (laughs).

CP: Do you feel like you’ll be doing more of that in the future— meaning less programming and more live recording?

KM: Maybe so. I try to think more that way, and I may also do some different projects too.

CP: When you’re writing, do you often think about each song individually, or do you think of the album as one overall concept.

KM: Up to here, not really. At the beginning, it is most important that the song be received. I just concentrate on hearing something, receiving it, and then I start to think about bringing the songs together. It’s not like I think, ok, I want to make this kind of concept album. It’s nothing like that. But then thinking of the song, as you said, they carry a different sound and a different influence. Sometimes the influence is jazz, sometimes it’s classical, and so it just depends on the song.

CP: What is your musical background?

KM: I actually started around 5 years old taking classical piano lessons. Then gradually I started composing and reaching into other genres like jazz, movie soundtracks, pop. So I was enjoying so many different things. There is no set time when I switched to the jazz genre. I was always enjoying all of these elements. I always loved to perform my original songs.

CP: What are you most looking forward to about returning to Anthology this month?

KM: Anthology is a very cool place with great food and a great atmosphere. My fans love it because it’s an intimate feeling, and it’s also very elegant. It is for sure a special evening. I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of fans there. I don’t do many shows around here, so it’s nice to see fans from other states make a trip to San Diego, and I love seeing them there.

Special thanks to Keiko for her time! Tickets are almost entirely sold out, so get yours now while we’ve still got some left!
Keiko Matsui on Spotify

WHAT: Keiko Matsui: “Lights Out Jazz” Hosted by Kelly Cole
WHEN: Friday, May 11, 7:30pm
TICKETS: $25-$59 Buy Tickets
MORE INFO: Artist Profile