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Interview Haruka Nakamura

img  Tobias Fischer

What makes the hours between day and night so inspiring?
Though there was not much else in the country town where I grew up, there was certainly beautiful nature. When I was young, I always watched the wonderful dusk setting in the mountains from my window. The time when the day ends is the moment I love most. So I thought it would be absolutely splendid, if I could add sound to this beautiful scene. The process of creating the music on "Twilight" was therefore sparked by this desire, which has been fulfilled, now that I've completed the album. As you can see, the imagery of sunset is extremely important to me.

Is the album an effort of going back to those days in the countryside?

There isn't so much an element of of escape in my theme, because I didn't just limit myself to Tokyo. Instead, the album is dedicated to the time of the setting sun till the time before night falls, no matter where it may be. Having said that, I do have a yearning for the quietness of the countryside, because that's where I lived before moving to Tokyo.

Perhaps this is also why visual cues and sound are so closely related in your work ...
Memories are indeed an important source of my inspiration. The first track "Evening Prayer" was made to the image of the last rays of the sun. As for the final track in the album "The Light", it was made as a prayer for tomorrow. It seems that I often make music matching particular scenes or sceneries. Quite often, the Polaroids I take seem to become painting-like images linked to my memories, and that's why I like using them.

Is there also a philosophical approach to „Twilight“?

At the end of a day, people return to their neighbourhoods and the town lights up. Families and friends surround the dining table with laughter as one day ends and the next one begins. It is this natural structure of day which repeats itself like a cycle. I don't think of sunset as a metaphor for late years. To me it's rather a sign of something that occurs every day. Sunset is a precious time that exists because we're moving towards tomorrow. This theme inspired the album.

How does this theme unfold over the course of the album?
"Evening Prayer" and "Scenery with music" are part of the same story, performed with piano, and were intentionally composed in the same key. The last track of the album "The Light" is like a slow end title to a movie. "Verandah" and "Faraway" are connected, thus turning into a single piece together. In particular, those two tracks evolved from a composition called "The Memory of a Rainy Day" which was produced years ago. After these two sceneries of rain, the album changes its scene.

The recording sessions seem to have been quite incredible ...
Most of the music on this album was recorded in a studio by the seaside at dusk and all the piano tracks were recorded during that single session. On that fine and calm day, the last rays of light shone unforgettably. As for my collaborators, I began with utmost respect and trust for them, from the depth of my heart. After presenting them my recorded piano tracks, I allowed them to play as they liked, with no special demands or instructions whatsoever. I think this was the best method for the album.

What kind of instrumental colours were you looking for?

At the initial stages of making this album, I thought that I should make music that would be a reflection of my inner self. A year before I began working on the album, I performed at various venues with Isao Saito on drums and then decided that we should record the album by pure improvisation, all in a day's work. In addition, I liked the location of the recording studio which was by the sea (where I also recorded with my band kadan), and especially the sound of the piano in the studio. Thus without hesitation I decided that this would be the place to record the album. In the early stages of the album, I decided to invite a saxophonist and a violinist to freely choose from any of the session tracks between myself and Isao, to collaborate on. Their performance far exceeded my expectations.

There's also a very scarce use of electronic elements ...

There wasn't really any particular reason for using electronic elements as such. However, "Faraway", "Twilight", as well as my collaboration with April Lee of aspidistrafly were definitely important turning points for the album. For those pieces, I used my typical production technique for handling such elements, including electronic processing and reverse sounds.

Are there perhaps certain chord progressions that match the mood of the setting sun better than others?

Most of the piano in the album was performed by improvisation, thus there were no specific chord progressions. It's impossible to explain in detail, because the music that was made seemed to naturally become the evening. This album was born from how I started playing piano from a young age, and contains all my compositions since that time.

Your previous album was called „grace“ and your new material actually feels very graceful. What does the term mean to you?

The last album "grace" held an intentional meaning of "blessing". However, the basic meaning of  the word "grace", or "elegance" is something that I wish for my music to always hold.

By Tobias Fischer

Haruka Nakamura Discography:
Afterglow/ w. Akira Kosemura (Schole) 2007
Grace (Schole) 2008
Twilight (Kitchen) 2010

Haruka Nakamura


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