Hometown: New York, New York
Little Girl Smiling
Hot Indie Records
1 A Part of Me
3 Little Girl Smiling
4 Mysterious You
5 My Place
My Place (2005) 3 song demo
1. Little Girl Smiling
3. My Place
Where to Buy
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In 2008 you come out with a five-track release called A Part of Me. What's the story behind the release and the lead song?
The lead song 'A Part of Me' was written with a very broken heart and the only consolation I had was in writing the song. The process of writing music, as well as lyrics or in my journal is very therapeutic for me, and sometimes the only remedy. The whole EP took quite a bit of time to record and get out, some of the songs were written maybe 5 years ago, the two most recent being 'A Part of Me' and 'Mysterious You'. The whole process of recording the EP was very emotional and took longer than I'd anticipated but I'm just grateful that it's finally out. And I have many others I'd like to record and get out as soon as I can.
I titled the EP 'A Part of Me' because I feel that particular song will be the most popular of the five, and also the EP, my songs are literally a part of me. So a little play with words...
Your song Little Girl Smiling begins with the poignant lines "She checks her reflection, to put her smile in place. For this she must do, to greet the world." Have you always been able to put your emotions into words, or was it something you had to develop overtime?
I had a very lonely childhood so the only way I could get my feelings out was through writing in my journal. It was the only place I felt comfortable letting myself be vulnerable - I never exposed myself anywhere else. I started keeping one when I was about 12 and haven't stopped since. I am also a very big reader (addicted to books, actually) and that has helped in writing, immensely.
You've described your childhood as at time being lonely and unstable. But music became your solace. How did music help you through the tough times?
I've always had a fierce love for singing and music, ever since I can remember. I think that part is innate. Singing always made me feel better growing up, it was almost a necessity to get through. Along with the journal writing. My songwriting is the combination of the two.
You won the Best Musician's Award in high school and you came from a musical family. How important were those things to your dedicating yourself to becoming a professional musician?
In terms of dedication to music, I don't think any outside source helped with that. I don't really have a choice with music, I have to do it or I'm not happy. Awards and all that are nice, but they've never been my motivator. It's too hard a field to pursue even with all of that! My family being musical I guess helped in that musical gene were passed down, also I was always surrounded by music, so that definitely helped with my musical development.
In college you studied classical voice and musical theater. What type of career did you envision during your studies? What did you learn about yourself while studying music?
As a career, I just knew I wanted to sing. But I realized I didn't want to be an opera singer - although my mother is an opera singer, I'd never had a voice lesson before, when I entered college. And I found myself surrounded by girls who'd been studying since they were toddlers. I eventually learned to sing classical, however I never felt very connected to it. It was all very rigid and rules about every possible thing. This was hard for me as I feel singing is a way of expressing yourself and how can you with so many rules? Everyone is also taught to sing in exactly the same manner and I feel that lacks originality. Musical theatre was a little looser, however I finally realized that no other person's compositions could help me express better than my own. So I began to compose.
You've written 15 journals so far. What type of things about yourself and your life do you typically write about?
I think now it's more like 17 or 18! I usually write what I'm feeling. I'm interested in the nature of people, and the new things I realize or learn about life everyday, and I express all that in journaling. I actually start to feel a little lost and anxious when I haven't written in a while.
In addition to performing in the US, you've also performed in both Japan and Korea. Tell us about those experiences.
I was part of student group that traveled around and toured. I was part of the entertainment section of the group and was able to perform in all the cities we visited, which were many.
You've also performed for foreign ambassadors at the United Nations. How did that come about?
I had a friend who organized events which called together all sorts of foreign ambassadors and UN representatives. They needed entertainment between conferences, which is where I came in. It was all very enjoyable.
You've been involved with Go TV. Tell us about that.
I worked for a music school that had recitals where Go TV filmed some of the shows. For the filmed shows, I was responsible for training some students to form a rock band, and then have them perform.
You currently live in New York. Have you always been a New Yorker? What do you like most and least about the city?
I've always been in NY the majority of my life, with a few exceptions. What I love so much about NYC is that there are so many artists. It is also so diverse and I feel it the ideal place to do and be whatever you want to be. My heart just feels drawn to it, like a magnet. It's like a city where people follow their dreams. It doesn't stifle me like some other places have stifled me.
Where were you and your parents born? As an American with Asian ancestry how do you feel your background has influenced your life?
My parents were born in Japan. I feel that growing up that influenced me, however as an independent adult now, I feel I am the product of my own doing :)
You've listed female singers like Sarah McLachlan, Regina Spektor, Damien Rice and Jewel as some of your musical influences. What about them inspires you?
I am moved by musicians that sing and compose with their hearts. I am drawn to songwriters that show a part of themselves through their music. I am moved by artists who are able to capture something in their music that can't be expressed in words, but communicate something deep to the listener. I also am more inclined to enjoy music with real instruments as opposed to synthesizers and overproduction.
What are the most memorable concerts or performances you've seen?
Although I've never pursued theatre, I enjoy watching Broadway shows. I recently saw Regina Spektor in concert and was amazed at her musicianship. She was solo playing the piano, singing, and doing percussion with her lips and in one song a drum stick in one hand! And all of the songs her own compositions!
In 2005 you came out with your first three-track single, My Place. Tell us the story behind its creation.
I had just finished college around the time I wrote those songs, and I was a bit sad that it was over - I'd gotten used to performing all the time through school and found myself on my own. I was also going through a hard time in my personal life and my songs from the demo came out of all that. Most of the songs have a sad sound to them.
What are your favorite food and drinks?
I'm a big fan of tea (all kinds), and wine, I love wine! I also enjoy healthy food. I just think they taste better in general. I like soups and salads and I am also fresh fruit crazy :)
If there is such a thing as a typical day in the life of Kiyomi, what is it like?
Well it all depends on the project I am working on at the moment. Whether it's recording, performing, promoting, or writing. Currently I'm doing a lot of promoting, when the last half year my focus was writing. I also teach and spend time with my boyfriend and my darling nephews who I love to death.
What are your plans and hopes for the future?
My plan for the future is to just keep doing what I love. My life is too short to spend time doing otherwise. Love and music have always been my plan.
Do you have a message for fans of your music?
My message is just that I am so very grateful for the support and I feel honored to have people listening to my music, my heart.
For more info checkout Kiyomi's official site and MySpace page. Leave your comments about this interview and read what others had to say at the following link: Interview Comments