Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Source: Horiemon - April, 2014
Translation by: Toppi - CoMYVz Crew

World Acclaimed Samurai Guitarist MIYAVI Talks about the Future of Musicians - Part 1

Takafumi Horie (HORIE): Hello, thanks for coming today. 

MIYAVI: Thanks for having me! Come to think of it, when we first met, you said that you wanted to play the guitar, didn’t you.

That’s right.

So, before you were imprisoned, didn’t I teach you a few chords? Therefore, while it did surprise me that you came back having lost so much weight, I have to admit that I was even more astonished at the fact that you remembered those chords!

Well, that’s because there were only about 4 of them, you know.

Even so, there are no such things as guitars inside a prison, right?

There aren’t.  It would’ve been nice if there were, though. If there was something like a guitar club, I would’ve definitely joined. Well, they did have something similar to a Karaoke club, though.

What, they have things like Karaoke clubs!?

Yeah. But I wouldn’t be allowed to join, you know. Been told things like “Dude, you’re not one of us” or “Dude, you stand out so don’t go around doing that sort of thing”.

MIYAVI laughs.

“It’s not particularly like you can’t have your own way and sign up, though, you probably won’t get selected to join anyway. That’s because we’re the ones doing the selection.” Something along those lines.

Haha, but why did you want to play the guitar?

Why, you ask… Well, I’ve been delivering lectures and such, haven’t I. With my book, “Zero”, being launched just recently… 

I read it. It was good! It was really good. I even looked through it again a little (laughs)

Thank you (laughs). So, alongside the book’s PR, I’ve been going on what could be called a nation-wide tour, giving talks. Speaking for about an hour straight and, after that, doing something like a question and answer session. However, if I do the same thing every time, it gets boring, doesn’t it. Therefore, I was thinking that maybe I could try to sing something every once in a while. Even though nobody might wish to hear that (laughs).

Right (laughs) But it’s a good idea, isn’t it?

I want to sing 2 or 3 songs first, and then give the talk, you know (laughs).

Like a talk show where you sing to your own accompaniment sort of thing?

Yeah, exactly. So, this time we also made a “Zero” song.

Oh! You made a song!?

We did. Well, I only wrote the lyrics, though.

Let me hear it, let me hear it.

(♪~music starts playing)
(Horie begins to sing)
“♪~it starts from zero~my life~”

Who did the step recording for this?

An acquaintance of mine.

The mood is similar to The Blue Hearts, isn’t it (laughs) [TN: “The Blue Hearts” is a Japanese punk rock band active from 1985 to 1995]

Isn’t that because I often sing The Blue Hearts tunes?

Is anybody else singing along?

Yeah. Mr. Kenichirou Mogi, for one.

Oh, the brain scientist, right? He sings!?

It’s a chorus, you see.

Mr. Mogi, singing (laughs).


That’s amazing~. Really interesting!!


Say MIYAVI, you’ve been playing the guitar for a long time, right?


When did you establish that style? (The style of playing the guitar with a percussive touch)

At 15 I started playing the guitar and at 17 I moved to Tokyo, but at that time I was simply playing with a pick. However, when I was around 20 years old, I got the idea from the slap technique called “chopper” used by bassists such as Larry Graham, Marcus Miller and Louis Johnson. It all began when I tried doing that same thing on my acoustic guitar.

Oh~, Then when did you start going abroad?

When I was around 19 years old. In Asia at first.

Why did you think of going to perform overseas?

For one thing, my mindset was that if I am to climb a mountain at all, even more than going for Mt Fuji, I want to aim for Mt Everest, you know. Of course, Mt Fuji is also a great mountain, and climbing it, too, is immensely difficult in itself but, for that reason, if I am to invest all my energy in achieving one goal in this one-time life, then I want to continue my activities while focusing on the whole world, that’s what I thought, you know.

Yeah, I get it.

And then, another reason was that the circumstances had become favourable for Japanese people to be active overseas. Although the concept of Cool Japan[1] didn’t exist yet, the number of people well attuned to the Japanese culture and civilisation had greatly increased, because of Japan’s anime industry and things like that, you know. Thus, the demand towards Japanese people had risen overseas. And so, this kind of fan base came into being at first, and I started getting offers not only from around Asia, but also from America and Europe.

Were you able to speak English from the beginning?

No, I couldn’t speak it. That’s why when I was 25 years old I went to Los Angeles and studied it.

For how long?

For 3 months.

You became able to speak it in 3 months?

No, that’s impossible. Therefore, I forcibly brought friends like dancers and rappers, whom I had met over there while I was doing things like street performances, along to Japan, and had them live at my own place.

Like an “Everyone, come to Japan!” sort of thing?

That’s right. So, even though they weren’t private tutors, I was always together with those black dancers, be it when going out to have fun or when going to work, and that meant talking in English.

I see. But that’s nice, isn’t it.

It is, right? Wouldn’t it be great to even get a foreigner as a secretary or something?

It would indeed, huh. I wonder if I should replace not the secretary, but my manager, with a foreigner.

Like, thanking the current Mr. Manager for his hard work and sending him away, then (laughs) Still, I really think that’s the best method.

[1] Cool Japan (クールジャパン) is a concept coined in 2002 as an expression of Japan's emergent status as a cultural superpower. Gaining broad exposure in the media and academia, the brand of "Cool Japan" has been adopted by the Japanese government as well as trade bodies seeking to exploit the commercial capital of the country's culture industry.


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