With more and more musicians creating than ever and more, what does this mean for you as an artist in terms of originality? What are some of the areas where you currently see the greatest potential for originality and who are some of the artists and communities that you find inspiring in this regard?
You can’t work on your music if you're thinking about your originality all the time. You just follow what your heart tells you, be honest, be humble, be spontaneous. And you will have your originality as a result. Or, from a different view point, you already have your originality from the start, and it will be revealed when you become good enough to get rid of all the unnecessary things such as influences from other artists. Of course, I know some people think those traces of influences are part of you and are important, but I think I would like to get rid of those things myself as much as possible if I can.
Your music might either sound very different from the work of other artists. Or you might not sound clearly different from others. But it is alright either way. You can’t change your music only to become different from others. To sound different from others is not a goal. A goal is to do what you do.
What constitutes a good live performance in your opinion and what’s your approach to performing on stage? How do an improvisation and the recording of this improvisation compare?
A good performance I would think is one where I can stay in the room as who I am until the end of the performance. Plotting no big thing, doing things that you think can be of help for the music happening right there. I have no problem with recording my own performances. I enjoy listening back to them, trying to make it sound better, mixing and editing. But it is because I like working on sound. It is totally different creativity and interest from playing actual live performances.
Listening is also an active, rather than just a passive process. How do you see the role of the listener in the musical communication process?
Sound becomes music only if there is a listener. Without an ear to hear it, it is nothing more than vibrated air. We need someone who hears it to call it music.
How do you see the relationship between music and other forms of art – painting, video art and cinema most importantly - and in how far, do you feel, does music relate to other senses than hearing alone?
In my experience, when I performed with artists in other fields, I will try for my music not to sound like a soundtrack to them, and for them not to look like wallpaper for my music. We shouldn’t describe each others works. We shouldn’t help each other. What we should do is create something new or different together.
Reaching audiences usually involves reaching out to the press and possibly working with a PR company. What's your perspective on the promo system? In which way do music journalism and PR companies change the way music is perceived by the public?
I am not interested in the number of audience members. Of course, if we have a bigger attendance, the organisers will be happy and perhaps this may cause them to give me a higher fee, or to invite me again. Perhaps it will even mean that more CDs will be sold. All of these are preferable things. And it is important to make someone happy, too.
But all of this has nothing to do with the music. Also, I am afraid the size of the project may change its perception by the public. If you play in a big project, curated by a highly regarded curator or an artist, in a highly regarded venue, and if you get reviewed by a highly regarded journalist, you are somehow “authorised”. Actually, what I have been doing is quite like a grass root activity. It is definitely not a thing which should be talked about in terms of authorisation. For example, if some musicians in the same group of artists are “authorised” just because they played at certain festivals, and others are not because they didn’t, it is not real, and becomes detached from reality. So … Although I may play in a big project from time to time, shows on a smaller scale are what I really do.
Do you have a musical vision that you haven't been able to realise for technical or financial reasons – or an idea of what music itself could be beyond its current form?
No, I do not have such things. I don’t jump from one place to anywhere too high. I have been gradually changing, I keep going with tiny steps. Or perhaps I am moving around but staying in a very small area while doing so.
Find out more about Toshimaru Nakamura at his personal website.