COOL was born in hope of becoming a bridge to let the art lovers all over the world inspire each other, link together as one, and create a new future in arts. The main contents consist of interviews of both New York-based and international artists and creators, special feature articles, art reports from around the world, reviews and column series. We contribute to the cultural exchange through arts and to the development of the art industry so that people in the world can enjoy arts casually and New York and major cities in the world can connect through the media COOL.


03-15-2009 22:00 at Sulu Series: Bowery Poetry Club
308 Bowery St., New York, 10012

Sulu Series: Bowery Poetry Club "Every 3rd Sunday of the month @ BPC" Door open 8PM General: $8 Students: $5 Started in October 2005, the Sulu Series is a monthly showcase of emerging and established Asian American artists locally and across the country. Others on bill: Stone Forest Ensemble (Hip Hop/Classical/Afrobeat)

Brown Rice Family is today’s freshest world roots band that delivers the message of unity and diversity to the people. BRF firmly believes that the most natural way is the most civilized way and such philosophy is vividly expressed in their musical and visual presentations. BRF shares rhythm driven music that makes everyone dance. Joe Jang’s conscious lyrics and catchy melodies inspire people to sing from their hearts. Virtuosic horn solos will leave everyone all jazzed up. At Brown Rice Family event, you will surely experience many rhythms of the one world. There will be reggae, ska, rock, jazz, African/Jamaican traditional drums, Korean traditional drum, dancehall, and much more… BRF is deeply rooted in the ancient sounds of the world and thus they are the “world roots band.”

Brown Rice Family’s vision is to create originality which will give birth to diversity. BRF musicians have gathered in New York City from different parts of the globe. However, it’s not their differences that make them different, but rather it’s their unity that makes them shine among others even in NYC. BRF is always struggling to understand each other’s cultural and musical differences and through such activities they artistically create “common vibes” that everyone can feel. The good vibes they create are so universal that it knows no race, age, or gender. BRF is a reminder to the world that we are just one big family.

Brown Rice Family is an independent company that makes organic handmade soaps and distributes organic grains, beans, and tea. BRF is dedicated to sharing quality food and products to the world where quality is a rarity.

Joe - Vocal/Ukulele
Yuichi - Djembe/Producer
Caz - Lead Guitar/Bass
Amu - Bass
Ezana - Trumpet
Isaiah - Saxophone/Clarinet/Harmonica
Sangyul - Ggengari/Chekere
Tama - Drums
Geng - Djangoo/other percussions
Etsuko - Melodica/Keyboard
Ted - Sticky Rice

Booking: booking@brownricefamily.com

When Fuzjko Hemming, a pianist recognized internationally, plays the piano, it brings tears to the audience with the sound she weaves. In June 2008, she performed with noted young violinist of Salle Gaveau (Paris), Laurent Korcia who has attained Chevalier, conferral of the Order of Culture in 2002. Fuzjko Hemming is a busy person with numbers of concerts around the world through out the year. We had an opportunity to visit her home, in Paris, where she lives with her cats and dogs.

Q. I heard you learned the piano from your mother, pianist Tomoko Ohtsuki. Were you already making up your mind to live as a pianist at that time?

She taught me how to play piano but wasn’t expecting me to become a pianist. You know, it costs a lot of money to continually learn piano and also to become a professional pianist. My Swedish father wasn’t staying in Japan and my mother was having a hard time to make a living as a piano teacher. Since I was a little child, every time people say “Fuzjko is a genius! She will be a great pianist to impress people all over the world in the future,” my mother would make a wry smile. Even as a child I was unable to decide whether I should set my mind on becoming a pianist, in between critical acclaim by surroundings and my mother’s puzzled face. Therefore, when I was little, I didn’t have strong feelings of becoming a pianist.

Q. How did you spend your time in Germany when you were 29, studying abroad at Berlin national university?

Because I didn’t have national identity at that time, I was unable to travel abroad for a long time. As an acknowledged Red Cross refugee, I had an opportunity to study under the condition of studying only within Germany, so I have taken off with expectations. But honestly, memories I have aren’t so great. Besides, I’ve been through a lot of things in my life while I was there, although, there were some great events happening once in a while. A big newspaper published an article about my concert with positive reviews as “an astoundingly talented performer.” Back then, in Japan, I never had an opportunity to be picked up on Japanese newspapers.

Q. How do you feel when you play La Campanella by Franz Liszt, which also is being acknowledged as your masterpiece?

During the practice I imagine a lot of things while I play, but during the performance I am concentrated in playing the piece. I do my best and intend to have an impressive performance for the audience. Though it is said that La Campanella is my masterpiece, I actually don’t think so. In fact, I never played La Campanella when I was young. I perform each piece with the same passion and emotions. If you practice hard enough, that feeling will certainly reach the audience.

Q. Franz Liszt was living in Paris during the same time as you; do you find anything in common? Such as the life style between you and him?

I would say the common part is that we like to help others. Liszt was such a broad minded individual who helped Robert Schumann, Frederick Chopin and more. There’s a church in Budapest where Liszt spent his later years as a clergyman. I sometimes spend my time dropping in and think about his life and his generous heart.

Q. Is there the performance standing out the most in your memory?

I remember each performance: some went successfully and some didn’t. A pianist Arthur Rubinstein once said that when he was cleaning the stage after his performance, he found the whole bucket of notes that he didn't get to play on the stage. I exactly understand what he said.

Q. How do you think the pianist should be?

Music is universal and that’s something the words cannot express. I am reenacting the pieces, which were created by amazing composers. I suppose the duty of us, as a pianist is reproducing the sprits of those composers at the best condition. I believe that even if people with poor mind play those tunes, they will not impress the audience.

Q. You have been active for contributing entire royalties for victims of September 11. 2001 terrorist attacks in the U.S. or donating performance guarantee of the concert for refugees in Afghanistan. Is there any trigger that prompted you to start such charity activities?

Well, yes. It would probably be because I frequently visited Saint Luke's Hospital to play in front of patients as a volunteer since I was unknown. After that NHK has broadcasted documentary program, which covered my activity and I became famous in only one night on February 1999. In retrospect, there might be someone who heard me at the free recital and hooked me up with project for documentary. I have become famous and start gaining too much money. Therefore as a pianist, I decided to contribute my earnings to help people. When I was unknown, I was having a hard time living with little money. But you know, ever since I became acknowledged by a lot of people, I’ve been tied up running around everyday. I sometimes miss the life to live quietly like before.

Q. I’ve heard that you like reading. What would you like to read? Does it exercise an influence on playing piano?

I often read autobiographies of a lot of people. One day, here is what happened. I bought a journal at the bookstore in Germany by chance, which was written by a 20 year old ordinary lady who lived during the First World War period in Germany. I bought it just because I liked the pretty sepia toned book cover. In the journal about her daily life, I was fully impressed by the records such as hardship that her family went through during the war, romance, how she spent days working as a nurse in the field and more. One day, I forgot the book on a plane and because it wasn’t like an autobiography of particularly noted person, this particular book was something you’ll never be able to obtain again. But you know what, a while later, the book I left was returned to me after it traveled all over the world; passed on to various people. I was amazed that there were stamps of so many different countries on the envelope. It greatly impressed me that things like this would happen.

Q. What kind of music do you listen to besides Classical music?

I like Chanson. Loud music is my least favorite. I go to the restaurant occasionally, and I find myself unconsciously choosing the table where I can listen to the music they play in the restaurant.

Q. Do you watch movies?

I love movies. Whichever the country is, I like the classical movies. For Japanese movies, I like the period pieces. And for TV, Shinsen-gumi is great. When I stay in Japan, I get in the flush of enthusiasm to watch such period dramas and period films.

Q. Do you think an intellectual curiosity is indispensable for artist?

I assume that if you are hoping to become a pianist or musician, you shouldn’t be satisfied by merely attending to music school. It is important to learn and thrive by going to see the movies or watching Kabuki, and by paying attention to whatever comes into your eyes. Or, it’ll be impossible to become a performer to impress the audience.

Q. As you often spent time drawing when you were little, what kind of pictures did you like to draw?

Most of my drawings were dolls at first. I clearly remember when I was an elementary school student. I was so thrilled to receive compliments that my drawing was the best in a school. I’ve never had drawing lessons before. I draw because I love it. It’s as simple as that.

Q. From December 2007 through January 2008, your personal exhibition took place at Atelier Visconti in the gallery street in Saint-Germain area of Paris. As you are also active as a painter, what kind of correlation do you find between paintings and music?

People with great sensitivity give the same credit for both my art works and my performance. When you are young, sometimes you are not aware of your talent. Even if people around you applaud your talent, their compliments don’t really hit you right. As your experience enlarges, you’ll recognize that you are distinguished from others. Just like I perform piano, in order for my drawing skill to be recognized by everyone, I have drawn different pictures on each postcard and sent them to all over the world, to people like prominent conductors and musicians. Then after that I received a lot of feedbacks that people who acknowledge my performance were also inspired by my drawing. I was so happy. And I believe that the art of picture is something people either like or dislike. No one would say what the pictures are supposed to be like. There is no theoretical concept. One day when I was walking down on the street in Shimokitazawa area, young lady came up to me and said, “I don't know much about music but I love your drawing the best.” I was really glad. It rather satisfies me to receive such compliments ”you are the best.” than winning a prize, just that alone is enough for me.

Q. What part of Paris is fascinating you?

The reason why I was longing for Paris is because that’s the place where the outstanding artists are all assembled. My favorite Modigliani and Lautrec were living on unsaleable pieces. I believe that they were far too talented for the world to get remarked. Even works of Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin weren’t selling at first. I got hugely emboldened by their autobiographies. Vincent van Gogh spent a humble life as a Christian minister and when a catastrophic flood occurred in Belgium, he spent all the money he had for aiding. What a respectable life he had.

Moreover, as people say that Paris is the aesthetic capital, I agree with that indeed. Parisians are certainly so. When I’m at home, I like watching people walking down the streets, and I see so many lovely people come and go. Looking down from the window, though I cannot clearly see their faces, the accomplishments visibly come through to the front of sophisticated people. As I watch such individuals, I feel some kind of warmth, which each person only has. Every time I feel it, it makes me think that I am so happy to be living. I think the influences we receive from human are rather bigger than receiving from things. As for the rest that I like about Paris is that we make eye contact with passersby. I like that everyone shows smiley face.

Q. Do you have any favorite places in Japan?

I like cities with antique appearance remained, such as Kyoto and Kanazawa. When I visit the teahouse in Kanazawa that’s been there for 250 years, I really get inspired.

Q. Do you believe being in love, the power of romance have big influence on art?

I don’t know exactly. They say that when you get over lost love, you’ll get a better skill to play piano. It might be true. When you are in love, it feels like being intoxicated. You become like a fool. You know what though, I wonder what the music sounds like when played by someone who has never been in love, how could they possibly impress people?

Q. How would you describe what art is?

To continue pursuing the beautiful things. Besides that, you should enrich your cultural level, or it won’t be possible to create something great. It’s important that you cultivate your eyes to ascertain the fake and real.

Q. Is there any “words” or memorable things that have been supporting you of today?

There are so many. Especially, the section 3 of Habakkuk 2 in the Old Testament, “Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.” I’ve visited a church a month before I became well known, then I was given a booklet with the message that the Prophet Habakkuk received from the god. I felt that it was the voice from the god telling me, “One day people will recognize your talent, so be patient till the time comes.” I still keep the booklet as my treasure. After all, I started to think the god has given me opportunities to experience and go through a lot of things besides so many hardships. Though there were times I was thinking that I wasted a lot of time in my life, everything has become pabulum for me at last. It is surely worth to strive hard for the best. And also, there’s no 100% perfect person. Some people might be good at this, and others might be superior to that. The power will become stronger when we all get together.

Q. Could you tell us what your schedule is like hereafter?

I have so many plans of performing with new artists. Today, while lots of different types of music are being formed and classical music is decreasing its popularity, I would be delighted if there are a lot of people who are eager to listen to my performance.

Text by Chiho Yoda, Photo by Masatoshi Uenaka
Dana Leong is renowned as an extraordinary musician who plays both the cello and the trombone. He is one of the top performers in NY and his name has quickly found recognition throughout the world. Just a few years ago, he looked a bit the innocent young musician at his live performance, but his music already had a strong presence. Since then, he has been polishing his sound by playing classical, jazz, hip hop and R&B with top musicians as well as gaining experience in music for films and fashion shows. Dana Leong released his debut album entitled “LEAVING NEW YORK” this spring. His brilliant and aromatic sounds are blended with his fresh sensitivity and other elements that soar from New York the world over.

COOL: How was your living musical environment as a child?

DL: My musical environment was quite an animated one as a child. As a child,I was quite unpredictable. I always had an unlimited amount of energy and was extremely hyper active. Growing up with a single mother who taught piano lessons 7 days a week, and an older brother who was training to become a concert violinist, made it quite a healthy setting for musical growth. I learned by the time I was 18, I had learned almost every major violin concerto just by living & sleeping next door to my brother’s practice room.
After I took piano lessons for a few years, I started the violin, then later the cello & trombone. Though my mother had a grand plan to get me involved in the school band and orchestra, she disguised it behind the tale of "Santa Claus." When I was 8 years old, "Santa" brought me a cello and came again the next year with a trombone. I immediately began private lessons on both as well as studying in school.
Though I was required to listen to classical music, I had a secret fetish with rock and heavy metal which was thriving at the time in the 1980’s. Whenever, my mother would leave us alone at home, I would put on heavy metal and jump for joy on the couch until I was totally exhausted and out of breathe. I also loved the sound of the movie soundtracks of John Williams and would frequently visit those as well.

C: Who was the most influential person in your life?

DL: For obvious reasons, my mother was the first major influence on my life. She was playing piano even when she was pregnant carrying me. When I was 1 year old, she used to let me sit at the piano and touch the keys as I wished. Remarkably she noticed that I was starting even then to recognize octaves on the keyboard (notes which are the same pitch, but located in a higher or lower register.)

C: How do you get your ideas or inspirations for music?

DL: My inspirations are found in a few different ways. The first and most common is through concentration. What used to be purely emulation has now turned into thoughtful concentration with respect to who I may be writing music for (players,) sometimes occasions and audiences, and settings (where it will be performed.)
The second is from our vast world of recorded works. I listen to the music that I love and try to continue to seek the sounds which I love as well.
The 3rd and final is from the instruments. The reason I say this is because I do try to avoid using the natural mechanics of the instruments to create my music. This keeps things fresh and challenging for everyone. If I just sat all day and wrote music that was easy to play on the cello or trombone, then I wouldn't be coming up with anything new. However, it is important to document the discoveries which are unique to your own personality and playing style on the instruments.

C: You have collaborated and performed with top artists such as Yoko Ono,Stephen Spielberg.
How did your experience there influence your subsequent music career?

DL: It is always fascinating and exciting to see someone who is an obvious icon in many ways as well as someone who has had a long life of success.
Experiences such as the previous re-affirm that there is still room to grow no matter who you are.
Before I met Stephen Spielberg, I had heard rumors that he had many childlike mannerisms and was always inquisitive and eager to learn from everyone. I had the chance to meet him when we worked on his movie “The Terminal” together and it was very true.
I always continue to seek the sounds that I love. When I see a player who delivers something I like, I don’t let the opportunity pass by. I am fortunate to say that I am surrounded by the most talented community I could ever imagine. Like Mr. Spielberg, I don’t hesitate to ask questions and those that know me are aware that I make a point to internalize the answers, continuously creating stepping stones for my development.

C: How do you think on today's New York music scene? What is happening now?

DL: Living in New York has never been easy, and for an artist, forget about it.
There is no concrete objective & such a lifestyle life is difficult for anyone to gauge.
The states of mind which are created by all of my surroundings directly affect my output. I am greatly affected by the physical feeling in my head.
I hear many complaints from people who worry about the government, about job turnover rates, about gentrification, lack of funding for the arts, misappropriation of our tax dollars, and the list goes on. Though these are all factors taking toll on our community and our arts scene, there are many positive things going on as well. I try to concentrate on finding people who still truly believe in supporting good music passionately. With so much new technology popping up, it is hard to tell what direction we are going to head in as a society, but I am finding enough like-minded young people taking initiative as well as some fantastic talent that I eagerly await the outcome.
New York still means the highest level of execution, variety, symbiosis of heritage and culture, and opportunity.

C: What is the important thing to work as a musician in New York?

DL: For me, if life isn't getting better each day, then it's time for change.
The same things still apply to my lifestyle and to my work as the day I came to the city. These very basic things will stick with me for a long time. For me some of the top things to remember are: Work towards your dreams, always work your hardest and show your best, continue to learn and update yourself, and be persistent.

C: When you are performing in the live show, what are you feeling?

DL: Performing is a wonderful part of my life. Though I can never predict how I may feel in the future, in many ways I feel it is the crossing of the relationship that one would have in a romantic setting, mixed with the excitement, teamwork, competition, and adrenaline involved in a sports match. Sometimes you’re leading, following, supporting, sometimes matching, but also presenting. True music is not dying, however the exposure of true performers is.

C: Tell us about debut album entitled "LEAVING NEW YORK"

DL: I released my debut CD independently in March of 2006.
The title of my first record "LEAVING NEW YORK"is a metaphoric symbol of our gift of music to the world. We don't create music for ourselves or for the confines of the walls within our city, yet for everyone everywhere.
It features some of my favorite musicians together performing my original songs. With this CD I covered a lot of ground. I always wanted to lead my own band as well as compose my own songs which would naturally fuse my love for Chamber Music, Cinematic Harmony, and catchy grooves.
Cinematic Harmony is a description I use with the album which refers to the lush dramatic orchestral sound that you hear in many blockbuster movies. However, we are also added a lot of elements from funk and groove with the integration of B3 Organ, Moog Keyboards, and Drums.
I'm very happy with the way it came out and everyone did a great job. I am already well on my way to finishing my second album which shows a much funkier side of my musical tastes.

C: Tell us about recent project.

DL: I produce a monthly series at The Jazz Gallery in New York where I have brought in a fantastic array of talents to play my music. I like to find people that are great at what they do and many times that means that they are truly original from the ground up as far as where they are from around the world and the instruments that they play such as Claudia Acuna (Vocal) from Chile, Edmar Castaneda (Harp) from Colombia, Jason Lindner (Piano) from NYC, Baba Israel (Rapper) NYC, Miya Masaoka (Koto) Japan/NYC, and Josh Roseman (Trombone) NYC to name just a few.
I hope to continue to find people who inspire me to become better at what I want to learn.
My next immediate goal is to finish my 2nd album soon!
I am looking forward to a day in the future when people get to know me as someone they enjoy, but have to Keep up with.



Born in San Francisco. He had learned musical skill at an early age under the tutelage of his mother who is Japanese. He studied classical cello and jazz trombone at the Manhattan School of Music. Since then,he has performed and recorded with top artists such as Paquito D'Rivera(clarinet),Dafnis Prieto(drum-set),Henry Threadgill(saxophone). He has also performed in Steven Spielberg's feature film"The Terminal". His debut album entitled "LEAVING NEW YORK" is coming out in March of 2006. "DANA LEONG IS A YAMAHA ARTIST AND PLAYS YAMAHA TROMBONES, HE IS ONE OF THE YOUNGEST MUSICIANS TO BE SIGNED TO YAMAHA's EXTREMELY SELECTIVE ROSTER."



interview by Chihiro TAKAHASHI
New music styles are being evolved everyday among New York’s cutting edge DJs. DJ GOMI, who is a resident DJ of XL, the hottest gay club in the city, and DJ Babyblu, who is a pioneer of the DJ style referred to as ‘Mash-Up’, talked about the club scene in this turbulent city.

COOL: How did you get the high-profile gigs at XL and B.E.D.?

DJ GOMI: I worked with another artist named Kevin Aviance. He is a performer, dancer and singer. He introduced me to the club owner. He also gave me an opportunity to get to know Junior Vasquez, an amazing DJ and remixer with whom Kevin usually hangs out. I really wanted to work with Junior Vasquez. So, I went to a club that he was spinning at every week and gave him my demos every time I saw him. Finally, he invited me to join him.

DJ Babyblu: I clawed my way to the top. I never had a manager. In the beginning you have to play for free. You have to play for a beer. And when people hear you, they want to book you somewhere else. So it just sort of slowly works out that way.

C: How do you keep on top of the game in competitive NYC?

BB: It’s important to go out if there is a special event where you know you’re going to meet industry people, not just to go out anywhere. But as a DJ you have a million emails everyday. You have a million parties. So you can’t go to all, so you pick the ones where you think you’ll run into people that you want to stay in touch with.

G: Sometimes I listen to the radio to check out what’s going on. And my friends email me and send me new songs from record companies. I use mostly new songs. I check hundreds of records every week. I don’t listen to the whole song. Just the intro - not the whole song.

C: I heard that you (BB) don’t use new technology.

BB: I am a purist when it comes to vinyl. I believe that DJs should play records. I don’t play CDs.

G: No computers? I am glad to use technology - I am always looking for new technology. I want to try it.

BB: I have seen people use FinalScratch software, which is very impressive and I would like to move that way.

G: How do you like final scratch?

BB: Basically, a record is physical and its information and what final scratch does is puts all the information into a computer and then you just spin two records and you assign a song to each record and it makes it a lot easier. You have more flexibility.

G: DJs are creating their own technique and technology. Now CD players are taking over instead of turntables, because it has new functions that the turntable doesn’t have. I think artificial progress is closely related to technological progress.

BB: Technology always affects everything. Always! And its not a very romantic idea, we like to think of our opinions and these modern times as shaping who we are these days, but really it’s technology. Hip hop wouldn’t have happened without the technology of sampling.

G: Your technique is ‘mash up’?

BB: The ‘mash-up’ that I do, I do live. I really don’t like to pre record the mixes. I feel like, you’re there to perform and if you pre record your work, it’s cheating. But also I get bored just standing there playing a CD. I want to always be doing something.

G: If you have a cappella and an instrumental version, it’s always original?

BB: I always use originals like Bon Jovi with Star Dust, the House song. I try to take two songs that are as different as possible, because my philosophy of mixing is like , if you mix coffee and coffee, your coffee is too strong , if you mix cream and cream, you get a whole lot of heavy cream., but if you mix coffee and cream, you get a great drink. Different things compliment each other.

G: Mixing house music, I try to make it smoother. They can be nine minutes long. That’s why those house guys can play for fifteen hours.

BB: Unless you have to go to the bathroom.

G: Sometime when you have to pee, and the place is too crowded, it’s a nightmare. I play a long mix, or a long song. Ten minute song, maybe. And then I go.

BB: But the time can go really fast. Sometimes you have to just use whatever bathroom there is. Ladies’ room, Men’s room, whatever. And then, if there’s a line of people, you say, sorry, do you mind. Usually they’re nice, but sometimes, they’re like, you can wait like everyone else. Sometimes if you leave the turntables, people will come in to the DJ booth and start mixing.

C: How different are New York crowds from the other country crowds?

G: The difference a between Japanese crowd and New York crowd…the New York crowd is very picky. If I don’t play ‘good’ music, they will boo. Especially a gay club, they are very tough. Their ears are good, so if I don’t do good job, they complain to me directly and leave the club.

BB: NY is a place where Robert De Niro walks in and sits at a table next to you and everybody pretends not to notice. Everyone here thinks they are so f**king important . People have more fun in other places. New York is an exciting place, but it’s got a lot of attitude. You play in London, you play in Spain, people are real excited, they just want to fun, but in New York, it’s about the velvet rope, bottle service and looking fabulous.

C: What is the most impressive event for you in your life?

G: Too many. Every week something happens. The most embarrassing event for me was once in the countryside. They didn’t have a good sound system. I went to pee. The electricity went off. So I am in the bathroom and I hear no music. Everybody stopped dancing. That happened a couple of times in the night.

BB: I used to play at this club called Wax. Now it’s called Sway. So they have candles everywhere and this guy gets up on the bar and sticks himself in the candle and pours the wax all over himself. Then this girl comes into the DJ booth and says, ‘Hi. Want to see my new underwear?’ and just pulls off her dress. As a DJ it’s important to be social and you have to talk to people. But when I’m playing I don’t usually feel like talking to anyone. I just want to keep working.

C: Do you plan to continue to stay in NYC?

G: I don’t know. Now Asia is starting to happen, there is more and more interest. You feel something is going to happen there whenever you take a business trip to Asian countries. I want to always be a witness in the most exciting city.

BB: I do presently plan on staying in NYC, butIhave dreams of moving to Japan, or at least DJ'ing there.

Gomi studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston. He is a resident DJ at club XL in NYC. He has produced and / or remixed for Madonna, Mariah Carey and also engineered for Junior Vasquez. His latest remixes are in "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'" with Jessica Simpson.

DJ Babyblu
Babyblu is a pioneer of the "mash-up" sound. He has performed with many artists, such as Moby and Dirty Vegas, to name a few. Also he has created original music for TV, film, and fashion shows in London.

text by Ayumi UEDA & Takuya KATSUMURA, photo by Akiko TOHNO

On January 12, 2005, Monday had a concert at S.O.B.'s in West Village, NY. We had a chance to interview her during her pre-show hair and make-up session an hour before the concert. I found her to be quite frank, and an attractive woman with beautiful long hair. With her nice figure, it was hard to believe that she could be a mother. I started off by asking about her approach towards music.

Monday: At this stage, what's important for me is to be able to express myself purely. For example, when I write lyrics, I think about what is happening in the world and how it pertains to me as well as others, things that are reflective of now. When it comes to writing the chords and the melodies, it's more an inpiration of the moment. Recently I'm concentrating more on the music that I write, such as the chords and melodies, and of course to become better.

COOL: Becoming better? Is that what you're concentrating on?

M: You know, because I have a child, I can't practice every day like I used to. The voice is basically a muscle that needs to be exercised and kept limber, and for me to suddenly perform in front of an audience such as tonight is like doing a marathon without having trained properly. Also the musicians here in New York are so great, and I feel extremely fortunate to be able to perform with them, and I can't help but sometimes feel inadequate in comparison and bad that I'm fronting such great musicians. But at the end of the day, if I can sing and imagine myself flying like a bird vocally, that's what it's all about.

C: Before the release of "Naked Breath," it seems like you underwent various changes, such as dealing with a new record company and a change in view towards the music industry.

M: A lot of people still has the image of my old sound, and I feel there's a gap between the music they want me to do and the music I want to do now. I think a lot of people like the chic and trendy styles of music such as with the cool club sounds, which was a lot of fun for me to do back when I was honestly into it. It was where I was at then and I'm proud of what I've done. But the human tendency is to constantly grow and reach the next level, and the same applies towards me and my music. To rehash the same things as I did from the past is uninteresting to me. I believe that the life of a musician is long, and in the beginning stages I was just a fetus, and at this stage, I'm probably at the school grade level. I want to continue to grow as a musician, beyond the level I was at before -- I don't want to go backwards and be a fetus again. After the talks with Quality Records stopped, it was then that my husband introduced me to the head of ArtistShare. While retaining the freedom to do what I want is a great thing for me, it's also very difficult. I will basically have to do everything by myself from the beginning to end. Before joining ArtistShare, I had the benefit of the staff from the record label helping with promotions and everything, but now I'm finding I have to take on those roles by myself. It's a lot of work, but I am getting a lot of help from friends which I seriously appreciate (bowing to the make-up person and stylist who were present in the dressing room). Thank you very much!

C: Could you tell me about ArtistShare?

M: ArtistShare is an internet based company which started in the year 2000. Owned by Brian Camelio, himself a musician, they basically help artists realize projects through their participation system where fans of the artist can pre-order various project packages which will allow them to not only receive the end product, the album, but also allows the buyer to see the various stages in the making of the music and album. Brian formed ArtistShare because he himself was frustrated at how record companies work with little benefit for the artist. Record companies are just that, companies, and they have to make a profit, and without a saleable product, they can't exist. So they end up asking the artist to conform to the existing market in the name of being able to sell without regard to the artist's desire to create what is true to them. And after all that, unfortunately what happens is that the companies end up profiting with little left for the artist.

Artists also have to be able to profit. They have a life, they have to pay rents (smile). You know, when artists first start off on their careers, they usually have a sense of "self" and know what he or she wants to do. But in time, because of the pressure from recording labels and other business aspects, they end up having to compromise their art, and the basis of what led them to their art breaks down. It really makes me sad to see this. Brian, in seeing all this, felt that the way the system is currently set up is not very good, and formed his own company, ArtistShare. The basic concept of ArtistShare is to help artists regain their freedom to create, and do what it is they really want to do. Also, with the emergence of all the softwares available to us and with all the downloading through the internet, sales have fallen dramatically cutting into everybody's profit, putting further pressure on companies which again pressures the artists to compromise. So Brian came up with the idea that the one thing you can't copy or download is the artist themselves, the ideas and thoughts that lie inside the artist's mind which helps them to create their art, and that the creative process in itself is a commodity. By offering that directly to the fans, as well as cutting out the middle men, the profits will go directly to the artist allowing them to sustain their living and continue to be able to create. Actually, sales of jazz albums are not that many, in the hundreds, and maybe into the thousands at most, so this kind of system works well for jazz artists. Although I don't consider myself a jazz artist, nonetheless I am really glad to get the freedom back in making my music. Since I made the decision to collaborate with them, I suddenly got a huge surge of energy from deep within me, and I feel like the creative juices are really flowing again!

C: So you feel that you are in the right place.

M: It's too early to talk about it at this point because it's still in the beginning stages, and I only just released my first album with them. "Naked Breath" is my first ever release with all acoustic guitar and vocal duets, and it's a project which I wanted to make for a long time but none of the record companies I talked to was interested in doing it. After joining ArtistShare and realizing I could finally have the freedom to do this project made me incredibly happy.

She left us with this comment and gave a big smile.
Monday Michiru's newest venture "Naked Breath," the U.S. debut album released last December, is a completely different album from her previous works in a minimal and acoustic setting of just guitar and vocals, featuring guitarist Adam Rogers. Her originality and charm are in full presence, surprising this listener with her incredible voice. During the live performance after our interview, she performed songs from "Episodes In Color" (released in 2002) and "moods" (2003), as well as songs from her latest work "Naked Breath." Her beautiful voice mixed well in the jazz context of her band, and I enjoyed all of her music, from the quiet numbers to the more powerful, lively songs. The whole audience was intoxicated, not just by the alcohol that flowed that night, but by the mood and atmosphere Monday presented with her music.

Monday Michiru
(Full Name: Monday Michiru Sipiaguine)
Monday Michiru was born in 1963 to jazz pianist Toshiko Akiyoshi and jazz saxophonist Charlie Mariano. Actively a part of the Japanese motion-picture scene, she began her career as a singer-songwriter with the release of her debut album "Mangetsu" in 1991. Making statements through music by using various instrumentations in diverse genres such as acid jazz, drum 'n bass, Latin and Brazilian with a predominantly jazz bass, Monday is also known for her collaborations with such artists as DJ Krush, Mondo Grosso, Kyoto Jazz Massive, Basement Jaxx, UA, Masters At Work, Joe Clausell, Lisa Ono, etc., and her talent as a musician is broadly demonstrated by her offerings of the music and vocal arrangements for Japanese singer, Bird. She moved her base from Tokyo to New York in 2000, and currently lives in Long Island with her husband, jazz trumpeter Alex Sipiagin, and their son.

Monday Michiru

Artist Share


Album ''Naked Breath'' Release Coordinator Contact : Keiko Ohashi

Photographer // Juan Chami
Styling & Jewelry // Natsuko Hayashi
Hair & Make-up // Takashi Matsuzaki

text by Mieko SAI, Sayako MAEDA
English / 日本語
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