Miyavi played Toronto on Sunday night and it was fantastic! My concert write-up for blogTO is here. I'd really appreciate if you could comment on the blog. My editor needs to know that there is an audience for Japanese music so that we'll cover more in the future.
Also, thanks to everybody who contributed to the interview questions! I had about 15 minutes with Miyavi over Skype on Saturday, and it was a great conversation. His English is really good, and he was very sweet and humble. Highlights include him thinking Canada's too cold, his motivations, his fans. Oh, and he said he liked my English and that it's clean like Canada air! That made my day. Anyways, here it is. I cleaned up the "uhms" and such, but I tried to keep the syntax true to how he spoke.
Hey Miyavi! How's it going? How're you?
Yeah, pretty cool. It's cold. I'm cold.
Are you at Niagara Falls right now?
I already came back. It's cold. It was raining.
How was the ride from Chicago?
It was fine. On the tour bus, it took three days. Three days drive.
Dang! That's long. Did you get a break at least?
Yes, yes, yes. Exercising, chilling out.
Have you got to try anything to eat in Toronto?
Not in Toronto, no.
Our poutine is pretty good!
What is that?
Do you like fries?
Kinda, I don't eat oily stuff, but what's poutine?
Poutine is fries with cheese and gravy.
Woooow. Sounds fat!
It totally is. So this is the second time you're in North America for a tour?
No, third time. Yeah yeah, first one was not big, only West Coast, and i didn't come to Canada either.
So it's your second time in Canada?
All right! How is your experience? How was it different from last time?
Actually, my experience in Canada is nothing except my fans, my enthusiastic fans. We have no time for any sightseeing in Canada. So we just took a picture of the city over the ocean, that's it. But you know, tomorrow, hopefully I can have some time to look around the city, maybe.
Is there anything you want to see?
No, I have no idea!
No idea! Well, CN Tower is Toronto's landmark.
Really? Really. Actually, I really like your English. Yeah, I really love your accent because it's really clean. Like the air in the sky in Canada.
Yes, Canada has very clean air! And thank you! Speaking of English, yours is very good too!
Oh really? My English is way better when I'm drunk!
*laughs* We should get drunk then! Here, you take a shot right now and I'll take one.
*laughs* Yeah, okay.
So you sing in English and Japanese. How is composing different between writing songs in English or Japanese?
I think there is no big difference between writing the lyrics in Japanese or English. It's coming out naturally, but English is way easier to make the melody and the rhythm.
Yeah, it's very.. how do you say it? Rhythem-rhythemical.
Yeahhh! Rhythmical! English is actually easier for me; I'm not good at Japanese.
You're not good at Japanese?
Yeah, my pronunciation is horrible.
Really? How so?
I don't know… Maybe I'm, I don't know, half-Korean.
*laughs* Now I know you know a little bit of Portugese as well.
I read in an interview that you know some Portugese phrases?
Yeah yeah, I know a bunch of language all over the world because I've been touring in a bunch of places, so every time I go to some country I try to learn - I mean, memorize - some cool phrases so I can use it on stage.
Absolutely! Is there any language you're thinking of singing in in particular?
In the future maybe Chinese, because I'm very interested in Chinese.
Yes! Your'e going to Taiwan soon!
Yeah yeah, I'm going to Taiwan and a bunch of cities in China.
That is so exciting!
Yeah! Actually, cause I went to China a month ago for some festival, this really big festival. Everytime I go to China I get into Chinese language. For Japanese, we're familiar to kanji, Chinese characters, right, so it's really easy to remember the meaning of kanji. The pronunciation is really hard, but the kanji is really easy to read for us.
Now is there any reason you chose to study language in LA? I know you're interested in blues guitarists, why didn't you go to places like Chicago or Detroit?
Why LA? I don't know, i have a bunch of friends in LA, that's it. And then I was taking some dance class. I' have been dancing there. So I don't know, I never thought about the idea of going to Chicago or Detroit. Only New York and LA, and LA is way warmer, so I went to LA, that's all.
Is your family in Japan right now?
My family is in LA right now. They're with me on my tour.
Wow, how do you balance? You're so busy, how do you manage time and still manage to spend with your family and kids?
I don't know, i just do it naturally. Thanks to my family's support. Without their support I can't do it. You know, My family, my fans, my staff. They're so understandable. That's why I can make it. You know, I'm pretty, you know, at kind of, getting in the mode. Mood. I can switch myself into artist, or CEO, or whatever. So I'm totally fine.
That's amazing! And congratulations on the company by the way.
Thanks! Yeah, thanks!
As a musician, I know you've been through a lot of ups and downs, and I know you say you have a lot of support. How do you get through hardship?
That's a really good question, and a really hard one to answer. Just, like, go. Let it go. When you feel kind of suck, just let it go, just keep on struggling. Just go.
So what inspires you to keep going?
My kids. My dream.
What is your dream?
I want to die smiling, that's it, you know. I want to keep on improving till I die, till the end of the day when I die, you know. Every day, just practicing, keep on improving, trying to achieve something new. So that's my biggest motivation. I'm responsible for my kids, my fans, my staff, so that's also my motivation.
You say you want to keep improving, what do you want to improve right now? Any goals?
Goal? There is no goal. I just want to make this world happy, peaceful, that's it, through my music. I want many people to listen to my music, so I need to make music that is really important and meaningful to my audience.
I'm sorry, my english is not good today. I don't know why.
You need to get a drink!
Right! But I only have Jägermeister.
Better than nothing, I only have tea! I know you said that you want many people to listen your music. I was talking to some of your fans online yesterday, and they're all over Canada, and I have a few who told me specifically to tell you that even though they can't come to the Toronto show, that they love you very much and that your music has touched their hearts.
That's really very sweet to hear.
Yeah, so thank you for coming to Canada!
You're welcome! Thanks for having me! I'm really happy you know, actually, it's really hard to make it happen, and this time I really wanted to have a show. I wanted to go to Vancouver and Mon-tario. Montario?
Yeah, Montreal, yeah, and plus other cities, but I couldn't make it you know. Of course I can go there by myself, you know, but to hold a show, you need a bunch of staff and local people and help, right? So, even though I'm only going to Toronto, I'm really happy to be able to be back in Canada.
And we're really happy to have you back!
And you know, the more people come, the more cities I can go, and to make that happen, I need to make create my music more important and meaning. Has a strong message, so that my music can make them stronger in their lives. That's what I'm doing, that's my motivation.
Let's talk about the tour. Why is your album called "What's My Name?" Isn't your name Miyavi? What else do you want your fans to know?
I wanted to ask the world if they know my name or not. Plus the latest album is representative of Miyavi's music, right. That's why I named it. I feel like, on stage, I'm excited to hear my name from the audience, so. So this is my style, you know. This tour, just guitar and drums, just two people on stage. I really wanted to focus on my guitar style this time as a guitarist from Tokyo. So it's really kind of an introduction. Introducing myself to the world.
In Japan, you play really big stadiums, and in North America, you play smaller audiences. How is the experience different?
Same, same! No difference. It doesn't matter how big it is. My people here, in the States or all over the world. Their enthusiasm and passion is the same as Japanese fans. Even louder, especially the crowd in America or South America or Canada, they don't stop yelling or screaming. So it's really powerful and passionate. So it doesn't matter where it is. I play on the streets when I went to LA to study English and the culture, I played on the street with a bunch of street performers, on Venice Beach and Santa Monico. So it doesn't matter. I play and I rock; that's it.
Where do you want to go next? You said that Mexico was some place you want to visit-
Wait, did I say that?
Apparently you did! And you're going there next month. Where else do you want to go?
Some country I've never been to… Dubai. Or India. Yeah, and I've never been to Africa. So I want to go and visit these countries. I got on a cab in Chicago. Taxi driver. I was looking around the city and I was in a cab, and the driver was from Nigeria. And he was like, telling us how cool his country and home town, and it's really cool to know and I want to know. Totally different, the way of thinking, lifestyle and culture, you know. It's an expanding experience.
I know Yoshie said 15 minutes, so I'm going to stop here and let you rest so you can rock Toronto tomorrow.
Are you coming?
Well I want you to enjoy my show.