OTHER SIDE OF THE TRACKS Q&A with Izumi Kimura
Irish-based pianist Izumi Kimura has worked with many of the top names in contemporary and improvised music and performed all over the world, praised by the Irish Times for her “heroic level of technical fearlessness”. She and violinist Cora Venus Lunny first connected at BAN BAM Festival in 2017 where IMC commissioned them to create new work together. The duo hit it off and return to kick off Jazz Connective Dublin with their particular kind of musical alchemy, creating improvisational simpatico of the highest order.
Ahead of their performance on Wednesday 11th December, we chatted to Izumi about connecting with the essence of music, sharing changes of perspective with audiences, and the mental and emotional struggles and rewards of being an improvising musician.
Q. What's the most important thing to you when making music?
Being true to the moment. And to communicate. I simply want to listen to and to interact with what I hear. And to keep stripping away excess stuff like preconceptions and prejudices. I am most interested in the essence of music.
Q. Can you tell us a bit about your collaboration with Cora Venus Lunny?
We started playing together in the way we do now since the IMC commission two years ago [BAN BAM Festival]. It was a great discovery for me that we can communicate at such depth through improvising together. Working and playing with Cora is an extremely euphoric experience every time. There are always surprises, and each piece we improvise seems to be an episode of our shared dream.
Q. How do you see improvisation in music?
The most natural way to play music... it is honest, revealing, challenging and makes the life worthwhile. By trusting we can be spontaneous and take risks. We have to trus.t I like to think that new possibilities open at wrong notes.
Q. In your ideal gig, what experience would the audience have?
That we share the space and time together, and to experience something special even momentarily, that can cause a positive change of perspective - even if without realizing.
Q. What are the most rewarding/challenging things about being a creative improvising musician?
Music is just wonderful, it deeply touches and moves us like nothing else. Music saved my life when things were difficult. I am forever grateful and committed to do my best, to serve. The most rewarding thing is music itself.
I'm constantly dealing with my limitation, always feeling totally unprepared and have no idea what will happen next when I'm not playing. That's challenging. It's not easy either to be chronically heartbroken and materially struggling. But I can't imagine doing anything else in my life. Although I sometimes feel helpless and like giving up, the journey continues whether I play the piano or not. And I play again anyway.
From being an improvising musician I learned the importance of listening deeply and feeling lightly, letting it resonate and to become part of music. I believe in the discipline of improvisation, it makes our art and music breathe, it keeps us alive. Improvisation is like the air - invisible and everywhere, taken for granted and forgotten in our daily life, but without it we cannot survive. I am in love with it, and that makes me a very happy person.