Musician Keiko Matsui is known for her playful melodies on the piano and her latest album, which she will be playing music from at The Birchmere on Feburary 25, finds her mixing her signature style with new age, jazz, and classical sounds. Matsui tells us what inspired her new release Journey to the Heart, where she finds inspiration, and what she's most looking forward to when she visits D.C. this month.
Journey to the Heart is a playful and funky jazz record, what inspired it?
KEIKO MATSUI: After I recorded my live album called Live in Tokyo at the Roppongi EX Theater—which was performed with my electric band and special guests Kirk Whalum and Chuck Loeb—I felt that I had completed an era. I wanted to start something new and this acoustic project came to me.
I found it truly distinct among your other records, say, Walls of Akendora, which was more sensual. Does each of your records represent something different to you?
KM: Yes. Each album is like a reflection of myself at that moment. I am sure that melodies for Journey to The Heart came from a different dimension than the other albums. It carries different energy and different spiritual elements for me too. But I hope that any listener can enjoy their own journey with my music.
As I was looking back at my life from the time I released my first album in 1987, I realized that I could only have come this far because of my fans. That’s why this title has a layered meaning: First, as a journey to discover myself, and second as a journey to my fans' hearts. So, this album is filled with my sincerest gratitude.
Oftentimes I wonder if I have the stamina to do something for five years, and yet, you've created music your whole life. How do you find the drive to keep going?
KM: At concerts, I really feel that music connects us beyond all the differences between us. It's a magical time where we become one. So I noticed at some point that this was not just work, but my life's mission; to receive a melody and to release it as an album. Then to travel with my music to create peace on this earth. I really believe that, by doing shows, I am getting more energy to keep going on. And my fans happy faces make me happier. I feel so fortunate.
Are there still things you want to accomplish?
KM: I have worked with many different styles of music from a piano solo show to an acoustic band show to even an electric band show and orchestra show.
But I'm writing for movies and TV also. From this point on, I'd like to develop more for orchestra shows and I would love to collaborate with artists in a wide variety of different genres. I want to travel to places I haven’t been. I hope I can help develop some kind of cultural event for a good cause, maybe to help children and the environment. Not just a music festival, but maybe something special that would unite and inspire people on this Earth to help make a better planet.
What are you looking forward to most when you play in D.C.?
KM: In DC, I have great fans, who have been supporting my music and shows for a long time. And I am so happy everytime I go back to DC and get to see familiar faces and new fans there!
Photography by: Photography courtesy Keiko Matsui