Music Interviews
5:39 am
Sun March 10, 2013

Hiromi: Finding Music In The Daily Din

Originally published on Sun March 10, 2013 11:20 am

Japanese pianist Hiromi approached the making of her latest album with a love for all kinds of sound, no matter how quotidian.

"Even a car honk, I love it," Hiromi says. "Sometimes, when you are at the crossing point of the street, you hear different car honks at the same time and you hear amazing chords."

She says there's one particular sound from daily life that she could never warm up to, however, even though she depends on it to wake up: the chime of an alarm clock.

"Every morning it just bothers me so much," she says. "And I thought, if I write a song using that sound, then I might be able to love it."

Hence the title track, Move, which kicks off Hiromi's new album with a pulsing tone that steadily grows louder, more insistent and chaotic. She says with a laugh, "It shows how hectic my morning is, really."

Move is the soundtrack of a day, with each piece of music representing a different moment — from sunrise to sunset and the momentum, malaise, joy and quiet reflection that are all part of one day on earth. To round out the project, Hiromi teamed up with two of the music world's hardest-working session men, bass guitarist Anthony Jackson and drummer Simon Phillips.

Hear Hiromi's full conversation with NPR's Rachel Martin by clicking the audio link on this page.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

(SOUNDBITE OF PIANO MUSIC)

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

You hear some version of this everyday.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTIN: Maybe it's iPhone or your clock radio, or the travel alarm clock your aunt gave you one Christmas.

(SOUNDBITE OF PIANO MUSIC)

MARTIN: For Japanese pianist Hiromi, this is the sound of waking up.

(SOUNDBITE OF PIANO MUSIC)

MARTIN: This is the opening track on Hiromi's new album. It's called "Move." And she's has teamed up with some big names on the project - bass guitarist Anthony Jackson and drummer Simon Phillips. And the idea is simple: each piece of music represents a specific part of the day - from sunrise to sunset and all the momentum, malaise, joy and quiet reflection that are all part of one single day.

Hiromi joins me from the studios of Swiss Radio in Bern. Thanks so much for being with us, Hiromi.

HIROMI: Thank you so much for having me.

MARTIN: So, let's walk through a day in the life of Hiromi, if you don't mind. We just heard what waking up sounds like to you. For all of us, really, that's a fairly universal sound - the alarm clock. You didn't try to make this overly complicated or abstract. I mean, you could have tried to write what a sunrise sounded like. But instead, you went a more realist route.

HIROMI: Yes, you know, I was thinking that I love all kinds of sound, even like car honk. I love it because sometimes, you know, when you're at the crossing point of the streets, you hear like different car honks. At the same time, you hear amazing chords and then I enjoy it.

But there is only one sound that always just couldn't like, and which was the sound of alarm clock.

(LAUGHTER)

HIROMI: And every morning it just bothers me so much. And I thought if I write a song using that sound, then I might be able to love it.

(LAUGHTER)

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

HIROMI: It shows how hectic my morning is, really.

(LAUGHTER)

MARTIN: So, the second track on your album is called "Brand New Day." And this was striking to me. It's a fairly optimistic piece of music.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC, "BRAND NEW DAY")

MARTIN: Is this reflective of how you wake up after you have gotten over the shock of your alarm clock?

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTIN: Do you wake up on the right side of bed, as we say? Do you wake up pretty positive about what lies ahead?

HIROMI: You know, when I wrote these songs it was really good for me because I could really see objectively how my days are. So, I basically wake up and I pack up my suitcase, checkout from the hotel, then I get in the car and usually I have to take, like, the first plane in the morning. So I usually leave the hotel before the sunrise. And when just driving to the airport, slowly I see the sunrise. And I think that's why the "Brand New Day," the song, is really gives me the excitement and joy to go to the next city to play.

You know, performing for me is, you know, it's always been dream with my life. I'm so happy to be performing, you know, all over the world and I feel grateful, so I think it shows.

(LAUGHTER)

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTIN: So there's another track on here that marks the end of the workday. It's called "Margarita," which of course pays homage to the Happy Hour. This is the time when the workday is done and it's time to have a good time. Let's take a listen.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC, "MARGARITA")

MARTIN: There's something very social about that song and that idea, too. You're not just leaving your workday and going home.

(LAUGHTER)

MARTIN: You're saying, no, in the course of a day it's a nice thing to kind of gather with people who are close to you and do some celebrating, huh?

HIROMI: Yes, and have a good time.

(LAUGHTER)

HIROMI: You know, I play this piece in, I think, with Santa Cruz and people started dancing. And it was great. I really enjoy playing this piece because I don't get to party every day.

(LAUGHTER)

HIROMI: I have to, you know, play and travel.

MARTIN: Not so many margaritas in your life, yeah.

HIROMI: No, but I get to party with this song. You know?

(LAUGHTER)

MARTIN: Do you ever stand up when you're playing that song?

HIROMI: Where you at my show?

(LAUGHTER)

HIROMI: Yes. Yes, I stand up in a kind of dancing to the music. That's my party time.

(LAUGHTER)

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC, "MARGARITA")

MARTIN: What time of day are you most creative?

HIROMI: It depends. You know, sometimes in the morning I feel so inspired. And sometimes, really late at night. I don't really have like this is the time for me to write. But it's true that I tend to write little more inner emotional pieces in the late night. I come back to myself and really go deep to myself.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

HIROMI: One day is just 24 hours. But the day is a little bit like life itself. You know, you wake up, you're born. Then, you know, you sleep and you just finish your life, you know. And I think it's very similar, it's just continuous. Life is continuous thing, you know.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTIN: Hiromi her latest album is a soundtrack of a day. It's called "Move." And you can hear more of it on our website.

Hiromi, thank you so much for talking with us.

HIROMI: Thank you very much.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTIN: And this is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.