Interview w/ Kahimi Karie
You know the gag about two people trying to communicate to each other via
translator, and both people are obviously saying many, many words to each
other, and the translator babbles back and forth as well, but when it comes
time to actually translating the dialog for one of the parties, the
translations are one-two sentences of "yes" and "No?" This was one of those
interviews-the interview with Kahimi Karie actually took nearly half
an hour, but I think I got maybe ten minutes of translated dialog from our
mediator. The nice thing was: Kahimi Karie has one of the most beautiful
speaking voices I have ever heard, and it was kind of nice to just kick
back and listen to her sweet, high-pitched voice babble in indecipherable
Japanese, punctuated by giggles to private jokes exchanged between her and
her translator and some very serious-sounding exclamatory phrases.
Karie's music ranges from '60's borderline psychedelic bubblegum pop (think
Austin Powers) to futuristic space-lounge. Paired with Kahimi Karie's
amazing vocals and some truly strange lyrics-penned by luminaries ranging
from Momus to Cornelius-the result is both exactly like what
you've already heard a million times before and yet entirely new. It's the
familiar warped and twisted into something strange and beautiful and just a
little crazy. Her American debut, "Kahimi Karie," is actually a
collection of work previous released in Europe and Japan, some of which
have reached gold and platinum status.
By the way, if you speak Japanese and are curious about what was actually
said by Ms. Karie, don't bother trying to contact me-I've already taped
over the phone conversation after fruitlessly trying to find someone who
spoke Japanese in my own neighborhood. Maybe I can catch her next time
[Holly] What were you like growing up
and what were you like as a teenager?
[Karie] I wanted to be an interior designer. That was when I was
very small. And I also wanted to do something related to animals. I loved
music the whole time, but I never expected I was going to be performing
myself. Since high school,. I started an interest in photography and I
started taking photo.
[Holly] Did you get a lot of support
from your family when you started performing as a musician or did they want
to pursue a more professional career instead?
[Karie] I haven't so much about my family, but since I was 18, I
have not seen or spoken to my parents.
[Holly] Who is your favorite
songwriting partner or partners and why?
[Karie] I think Momus is the best partner. The reason why is
because his music is so mysterious, it has such an unusual feeling to it.
And he also says the same things that I am thinking when we are composing
together. Sometimes I'm not so sure because of the language barrier between
us, but the songs always end up saying what we are both thinking and
feeling at the time, what we were trying to communicate during the
composing process is suddenly very clear. He uses my voice in his songs in
different ways than I usually do. Every song he makes, I can sing so well.
[Holly] Is there any particular
musician that you'd like to collaborate with that you haven't had the
opportunity to yet?
[Karie] I haven't yet, but it's been a dream of mine to work with
Belle & Sebastian.
[Holly] How is playing for US audiences
different than playing for audiences in Europe and Japan?
[Karie] For example, Japanese audiences are seldom performed
before. There is, like, almost a wall between the artist and the audience,
and even thought they are very polite, I always feel like there is a wall
between me and my audience. In the US, I got a very distinct impression
that there was a connection between me and my audience. It was very
comfortable to perform. The reactions to my music was so obvious-when I was
singing well, the reaction was so good, and when I was singing not so well,
the reaction was not as good. It is so easy to see an audience's reaction
to a good or bad performance here. In Europe, when I last played there,
there were some people dancing and enjoying the music, but the reaction was
not as strong.
[Holly] What do you like to do when you
have some free time to yourself?
[Karie] I live in Paris with my boyfriend, and we have a dog and
a cat and some other pets. I like mostly spending time with him and the
animals. I love walking down the streets in Paris with my dog and my
boyfriend. Small things like that are important to me.
Read a review of Kahimi Karie's new release.