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Nao Watanabe Vital Stats
Nao Watanabe
Birthday: June 28th, 1982
Blood Type: B

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Nao Watanabe Interview

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"Music mirrors my own heart. Music is meeting people and is the means of communication to connect with them." - Nao Watanabe

Beautiful piano. Enchanting voice. Music from the heart. That's how we described Nao Watanabe's sound from the moment we first heard her. Self-described as a painfully shy girl who discovered music as the vehicle to express herself to the world, Nao's songs convey a genuine love of life and the music she makes.

So come learn the story of the woman who says: "To be alive. This is the simplest and easiest thing, but the most difficult thing. This is also the most beautiful thing."

On June 24, 2011 Nao Watanabe was kind enough to give an interview to Andrew from J-Pop World. All photos courtesy of Nao Watanabe with credits to Hideo Nakajima.

Let's start at the beginning. Tell us about your hometown and what it was like growing up there.

I grew up in Kawaguchiko-machi in Yamanashi prefecture till 5 years old. There was lots of nature: great water and foods, the sky full of stars at night, and my house always commanded magnificent Mt. Fuji.

I challenged climbing Mt. Fuji with my family for the first time when I was little. It was a long and rocky road, we encouraged each other and saw a beautiful sunrise at the 9th station. Everything is an unforgettable memory.

How did you first get involved with music?

I was influenced by my parents who love music and I loved singing since I was younger. My mother listened to Ryoko Moriyama, who is a Jazz singer/songwriter, in the car. Even I was little, I was impressed by her singing and I began a dream of becoming a singer.

Nao Watanabe - photo by Hideo Nakajima

Before you started performing at 18, what role did you think music would play in your life?

I was not sure at first if I should become a singer, or what type of singer I wanted to be, or how to make my way until I started to make my own songs. I was just taking auditions frantically. Anyhow, I was sure that I would relate with music -- and that was the chief concern of my life.

The idea of traveling overseas captured your imagination at a young age. Can you tell us why?

I experienced recording abroad in my early twenties. My father was doing work related to International relations, which made me want to perform all over the world, so I was very glad to make music with foreign artists at their home country.

Life often puts obstacles in the way of our dreams. What do you do to get over the hard times?

To keep in mind that difficult time are a good chance to learn and to grow up -- and to not forget to appreciate the people supporting me all the time -- going back to the grass roots.

Tell us the story of how music became such a big part of your life.

My father's death. It was the hardest time in my life. I made a decision to get rid of this pain, which was the first step to my becoming a singer eventually. I was very shy and preferred being at home, but I made myself sing songs I had made in front of many people. Probably, if I did not go through my father's death, I would have not have changed and just stayed at home.

Nao Watanabe - photo by Hideo Nakajima

Kitaro, one of our favorite musicians, had a role to play in your musical career. Can you tell us the story?

I was watching a Grammy Awards video in my room. Many famous artists from all over the world were performing to exciting spectators. There was only one Japanese nominated among the many foreign nominees. That was Kitaro. This was my first time to see Kitaro's performance. I was very shocked and had to rewind the tape. I had known that Kitaro was popular because of the Silk Road, but I did not get a chance to see his performance before. I was wondering and curious about what Japanese song had reached the world. His performance had own his world, which he has been pursuing.

Kitaro's performance made a big impression on me. I told myself that music can cross borders; I shall become an artist connected to the world with music regardless languages!

Since then I always pursue being myself.

What was it like for you to work on your album in Los Angeles?

It was very hard to make the music I wanted for the first time recording abroad. I met many producers and it made me realize that communication is the most important thing. Although it took time, thanks to the producers who never compromised and staffs who supported me, I finally could make the album. Of course, I do appreciate my fans in Japan.

Do you have any favorite memories of that time?

I had never been impressed and excited as much as when I watched performances in LA, the best place for music. I was very happy that my life was exposed to music.

How do you go about writing a song? Is there a process you go through, or is each song unique?

Sometimes melody and lyrics come to me, sometimes I make the melody and then lyrics come to me. Everything is processed by trial and error.

What do you think is the most difficult thing about recording music?

Relaxing. Not to be afraid?

Nao Watanabe

How do you think your musical style has changed since the beginning of your career?

I made music by myself before, but since I met great musicians I make music with them now. Learning from other musicians, I can find and make a new style of my music. I feel difficulties and deepness in sounds, which makes me cherish the sound created at that moment.

Would you say there is a central message or emotion to your music?

To be alive. This is the simplest and easiest thing, but the most difficult thing. This is also the most beautiful thing.

Outside of music, what do you do for fun and relaxation?

Exercise such as swimming, marathon and biking. Spending time with my family.

Can we get a little peek into your romantic life? What does a romantic date mean to Nao Watanabe?

I would like to go to places which have a beautiful ocean and night views such as Hawaii. And I want to chill and relax.

What are your plans for the rest of the year?

To make a new album. I will perform at concerts as much as I can so that more people will listen to my songs.

We saved the big question for last. What does music mean to you?

Music mirrors my own heart. Music is meeting people and is the means of communication to connect with them.

Do you have a final message to all your fans?

Thank you for following me, Nao Watanabe, so much. I will keep finding my music, making music with fun and keep singing. I want to have fun with my fans.

Thank you for your support again!

For more info checkout Nao Watanabe'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