May 27, 2024

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Interview with Maiko Hata: Well, real intellect comes from soul: Video

Jazz interview with jazz singer Maiko Hata. An interview by email in writing. 

JazzBluesNews.Space: – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?

Maiko Hata: – I grew up in the outskirt of Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe city, Japan.

My mother was always singing in the house, at Karaoke contests, and parties, so I was always singing too.  And my dad likes to play record of all kinds such as Ventures, The Carpenters, European classical music, etc. I remember we used to go to CD rental store every week to borrow new CDs to listen. I also remember my dad used to get me a best seat to hear a Russian trumpet player. In my memory I went to so many great theater shows and classical concerts as a child.

JBN.S: – What got you interested in picking up the jazz vocal? What teacher or teachers helped you progress to the level of playing you have today? What made you choose the jazz vocal?

MH: – My dad put jazz radio station from Kobe city every morning as my alarm clock. I first didn’t like waking up with all the sound because all I wanted to do that time as a teen was to sleep in. Then slowly I start listening to jazz in the morning, while I was studying, and before I go to bed.

I started to do theater acting at school when I was 12 then I joined a school choir when I was 15. After high school graduation I found a great jazz school called Arrow Jazz school and spent my first pay check going to the school. I already had long day school but commuted almost 2 hours to go to the school every other week.  I chose to learn R &B at first but the vocal coach Mari Shinonome introduced me to sing jazz because she was a jazz singer trained by Evelyn Blakey ( Art Blakey’s daughter). I really didn’t sound good then but I practiced a lot. I used all my commute hours listening back my voice and had lots disappointment because my English was so bad.  Annyway that’s how I started singing jazz.

I moved to NY (Upstate) to study Jazz when I was 19 but somehow the college didn’t have a jazz department.  After I moved to New Paltz I took a few semester of vocal jazz lessons by Teri Roiger. She was optimistic about my singing and always friendly to me and my son (he was baby then). I was still shy and unconfident but I performed some concerts. I was also raising my son and he was young so all I did was mainly singing at home and at park while he was playing.

Years later I ran into Jay Clayton in town and I introduced myself. She didn’t recognize me at first but we started to become  great friends. We went for a walk, ate dinner, and went to concerts together. She became a great mentor and a vocal coach.  I started to put shows together as I took lessons.  Then jazz singing started to become my career.

JBN.S: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?

MH: – I think it takes time to find one’s own sound. Especially for me I didn’t start to perform till my late 20s and I went through so many different changes in my life.  As I experience life’s challenges and do variety of things I grew as a person. I recently finally feel I can connect to my voice and soul and express who I am and how I feel through music. It takes certain maturity to really sing meaningfully.  Years ago I couldn’t connect to blues but now I can sing blues as I had some blue experiences.

I also start to explore vocal improvisation. I attended to Bobby McFerrin’s circle singing workshop and it changed my perspective about voice expression. I noticed vocalist has such power to express with or without language. I really enjoy improvising with my voice in and out of jazz context.  I also enjoy listening others’ beautiful voices, too because voice has coded information that is unique to everyone.

So I live my life in unique way and explore different voice in me to develop and find my own voice.

JBN.S: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?

MH: – I start my day with meditation. I approach my body as instrument so by meditating and scanning my body I notice what I need to do to open up my voice. I hum to myself quietly and add volumes as my voice and body warms up.  Then I move on to Jay Clayton’s vocal warm up CD. I tried different practice CDs but that is still the best.  In order to pertaining to rhythm I listen to music and go to hear live music. Live music really teaches me to feel and keep the rhythm inside of me.   I also love dancing. I was serious about ballet when I was young.

JBN.S: – Which harmonies and harmonic patterns do you prefer now? You’re playing is very sensitive, deft, it’s smooth, and I’d say you drift more toward harmony than dissonance. There is some dissonance there, but you use it judiciously. Is that a conscious decision or again, is it just an output of what goes in?

MH: – I really just use my intuition. I love the feeling of in tune with myself. When I am warmed up and my voice is expressing who I am I feel great. My voice and expression change depending on my mood and health. So my job is to maintain good feelings and health.  I don’t purposely switch harmonies and harmonic patterns but some days I am more open and my voice and improve styles follow.  It is all depends on how I am feeling at the moment. That is why singing is interesting to me.

JBN.S: – How to prevent disparate influences from coloring what you’re doing?

MH: – I try to stay in balance between getting inspiration within and inspiration from listening to other great musicians.  I am sure everyone has expeirnece comparing self to others and sometimes it leads to a disappointment.  In order to hold on to my oun sound I listen to myself sing a lot. Record it and hear it. It is one of the hardest thing but I listen to it untill I start liking my own sound. I also recognize so many things by hearing my sound. I do lots of toning at home to connet to my own voice.  Also having silence in my day is important so I can clear all the sounds and bring my own out.

JBN.S: – What’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?

MH: – Well, real intellect comes from soul. A real wise person listens to own soul and intuition.  I don’t like just talk about theories and philosophies without actions that are connected own soul.  I used to be so philosophical that is why I am working on being active more.

JBN.S: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; you’re okay with giving the people what they want?

MH: – I am okay giving the people what they want musically. That is why I am singing. I always wonder what is the best thing I can give to the world using my best skill. For now singing is the best answer for the question.  I used to work for patients and clients as a therapist.  I was giving what I know at the time then I thought singing can be inspiring and can be shared with many more people.

JBN.S: – Please any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

MH: – I still think my life changing experience was when I opened a show for The Cookers in 2014. I wasn’t aware of the members of the band until after the show but later I found they are all legendary jazz musicians. I still remember all the masters were listening to me perform next to the stage and gave me handclap afterword.  Billy Harper invited me to his vocal ensemble and met great singers through it.

JBN.S: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?

MH: – Great question. It is one of my goal to share jazz standards and jazz to young people.  It is a big part of American history and musical history.  In the past I had opportunities to play at family friendly venues. Usually young children and babies show the most interest in my music. I had drawings and card from beautiful young people. I love how they smile and stare at me. From the experience I believe there is something in music I perform has power to connect to young generation.   I think it is important to expose more young people to jazz scene and good to have more venues who are friendly to young people.

JBN.S: – John Coltrane said that music was his spirit. How do you understand the spirit and the meaning of life?

MH: – I sometimes don’t know what to say to people.  I feel like singing is the best way for me to communicate with others. I like connecting to my life in spiritual way. When I talk sometimes it doesn’t reach in higher level. When I sing and perform with other great musicians I feel I can totally express my spirituality and communicate better.  I like when I feel mutual understanding. That is intimacy to me. Music gives me the tool to be intimate with audience.

JBN.S: – If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

MH: – I’d like more people to come out to hear live music and connect to each other.  Humans are gathering animals.  If more people gather around music I think people are happier. So I like jazz music to be more social and casual for anybody.

JBN.S: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?

MH: – Amel Larrieux, The Roots, Bill Evans, Lee Morgan, Anthony Hamilton, and some friends albums.

JBN.S: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go?

MH: – Well, I don’t usually dream to time trip because I am embracing every moment as is. I am still curious what I am like musically when I am 80 years old. Hopefully I am in a lot of jazz concerts at beautiful places and I like to visit there in my young body.

JBN.S: – I have been asking you so far, now may I have a question from yourself…

MH: – How are you? How did you hear about me? What do you like about my album? What will be the best way to share my music with more audience?

JBN.S: – Thank you for answers. Fine! I have all new CDs and yours. Including with us, but you did not want to cooperate with us, this is your decision, which we respect.

JBN.S: – So putting that all together, how are you able to harness that now?

MH: – I am getting ready to create more music and share with many audiences from around the world. Hope to meet many of you in person.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

На данном изображении может находиться: Maiko Hata, улыбается

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