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.
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.
(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.
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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