A small, beautiful woman with endless power
Michiru has worked as an actress, as a journalist and as a radio-DJ, but
she never forgot her aim in life: Singing and developing as a singer and
as a human being. Her newest CD, published by Universal Records at the
beginning of the new century, is called "Optimista". And optimism now
is one of the things she wants to give to her audience. Her music is a
mixture of jazz, funk, latin and dancefloor music.
Monday Michiru grew up in the United States but lives and works in Japan today. There she has found countless friends and partners to work with - and: Tokio is a town which, with its modern way of life, in some way reflects Michiru´s own music - it is 'the music of her generation'.
Before her concert at the A-Trane (Berlin) Carina Prange talked to this woman, who behaves so natural and talks so honestly about herself. The interview left a strong impression of the person Monday Michiru, which did not diminish after the concert, which - unfortunately - was not nearly so good as the newest CD promised ...
What do you want to express with the booklet of your newest CD? - Is there something to say about the photos on the CD-cover ?
Monday Michiru: Oh, that one was taken in Westchester, which is
upper state New York. It´s about one hour and a half from Manhattan. I
had just returned from there - we pretty much finished all of the recordings,
except for one song. I lost my voice - I couldn´t sing that one. But except
from this, everything was done.
I had already decided on the title "Optimista" because the concept to the album was "Latin Music" and was about hope, optimism and happiness, sunshine. Just all these positive things! I wanted something that would reflect this, so I told the photographer and the art-director: 'Hey, that´s what I think the cover should look like!'
How important is it for you that your music is danceable?
Monday: It´s not that important to me, to be honest. For me, I love rhythm - and in that sense, rhythm is very important to me. There are a lot of rhythmical songs on the CD. I use to sit when I listen to it. I don´t have to stand up and dance, but I could stand up and dance to it - if I wanted to. So if people want to dance to it, that is great. But it is not that important to me.
Monday Michiru - these are both your first names?
Monday: Yes, Monday is my first name and Michiru is my middle-name. My last name is Mariano.
But - as an actress - you sometimes used Monday Akiyoshi - is that right?
Monday: 'Michiru Akiyoshi' to be exact. It was not my idea. It was the choice of the producer of the film that I first did. I fought it, because I just wanted to go by 'Monday'. But in Japan, because I am a mixed-race, you know - American and Japanese - sometimes the japanese society glorifies people of mixed races real over, and it cheapens their image sometimes. You know, it makes it like an entertainment. And the film was so serious that the producer didn´t want to have that cast on me.
Why do you live in Japan today and not in the United States?
Monday: As I said, the first opportunity for me to get into the music field at all was through this film in Japan ("Hikaru Onna" - 'Luminous Woman' , 1987). And then once I got there and finally scored my way into the music side of that, I realized that Japan was a place, a country where I did not necessarily have to have experience, only a great desire to do what I wanted to do. And that desire for some reason manifested itself into projects.
Whereas in America, even if I have the desire, it is very hard to manifest that into an actual project. Because you have to have experience, you have to have a lot of connections. And I don´t know what it is about Japan, but they are very willing to giving you the opportunity - and still give me the opportunity to do what I want to do, to experiment with a lot of my music and a lot of everything.
example the journalism thing: I did this one project called: ' What
is Jazz?' back in 1992 for a very interesting magazine. I interviewed
from Branford Marsalis to Chick Corea to John Lewis
to Gang Starr and many other people. About twenty-five different
artists and DJs and musicians and critics.
When I came up with the idea - really: If I came up with this idea for a magazine in America, they would look at me like: "You want to do what? Take our pages and do what!? 'What is Jazz?' Who cares?"
And in Japan, this magazine - great magazine! - went like: "Oh, let´s do it!". I got a month and a half to spend on this project. And got paid for it, which is great. I mean I could spend a lot of time on it, as a learning experience for me: 'I can do that, I can come up with a project, a project that interests me!'
And somehow to be able to get somebody to back it up: It was so great! And that just feeds my desire to keep living in a 'neat' direction.
And do you feel more like an American or a Japanese?
Monday: Both! I definitely have elements of both, that seems equally shared. America is very difficult in a way. I don´t want to sit here and say there is huge prejudices because I am an Asian or whatever! But unfortunately people do look at me as an Asian. The kind of music that I do in a lot of ways reflects what you call black music. However, in America there is something like a stigma about people that are not black doing black music, and this makes it just very, very difficult. Things in America are very set in terms of genres - they react less tolerant towards fusions of different types of music compared to Europe or Japan.
CD: Monday Michiru - "Optimista" (Poch-1836, Polydor / Universal)
Fotos: Thomas Schlömann, Tajjimax
Cover: Takeshi Kitazawa for C.T.P.P.
mehr bei Jazzdimensions:
Monday Michiru - "Optimista" - review (erschienen: 10.4.2000)