Interview with Izumi Kimura ahead of BAN BAM festival
Originally from Japan, but based in Dublin for the past 2 decades, Izumi Kimura is a contemporary pianist who uses her piano playing as a way to explore the space between improvised and composed music. We chatted to her about what inspires her music, her views on the Irish jazz scene, and her exciting collaboration with violinist Cora Venus Lunny for BAN BAM on November 25th!
Who or what inspires you at the moment - be it in music, arts, politics or your personal life?
“I’ve always been interested in the connection between internal and external worlds. I see what is happening in the world and my inner space as two sides of the same coin. In this light, something that resonates with me particularly at the moment, is how music heals. Music is always a healing thing for me, more than anything else. I think music can heal across time and space. So I like to be open to everything coming into my life, and more and more, becoming not too attached to a specific thing. Subsequently, I've become extremely forgetful! So I say what inspires me the most at the moment, and always, is the mystery of life itself.”
There is an obvious gender imbalance in the music industry, but especially so in jazz. What do you think can be done about this? How do you see this changing in the future?
“Playing jazz, I think, traditionally requires the masculine side of a person. You have to penetrate. It seems as if it goes against the nature of femininity. But a lot of that is due to conditioning and the limitations created by it over the generations. Now the problem is becoming more visible, although it's a long and winding road to go, we are at the first step for the healthier balance and freedom. In the process of this, I think lots of emotions will come out. There will be anger and sadness too, and while all this is happening, we have to be open, and men and women need to listen to each other compassionately. We all have both male and female sides in us. I believe in internal process of each person, communication, and education.”
What do you think of your current local jazz/experimental scene? Who are your favourite artists/ ones to watch?
“The Irish jazz scene is small but good stuff is concentrated here, and musicians are open and inclusive. So I would love if more classical musicians here start improvising and venturing into experimenting. Classical musicians dedicate the major part of their practice in refining the physical senses of playing musical instruments. So once they get over the a few mental blocks, they can have a lot of fun- potentially more fun than jazz students who are trained to approach music intellectually. Of course the point is to remove unnecessary categorizations. It's a bit like the male/female discussion. We can learn from each other. If I am to name one amazing musician who deserves much wider recognition, it's guitarist Joe O'Callaghan who lives and hides in County Clare.”
Can you tell us about a seminal experience, project, or encounter that had a significant impact on your career or life choices?
“Coming to Ireland 22 years ago, and having and raising children. Because these experiences shattered and dissolved me, and changed the location of the centre of the world. It's the biggest project I've been working on.”
What does being part of an event like BAN BAM mean to you?
“Besides the fact that gender balance is a current hot topic, I have been thinking about it at a personal level recently - I've been thinking about my mother, and grandmothers, and their unexpressed emotions. So when IMC asked me to take a part in this event, I was delighted. The new collaboration with Cora has been so much fun, and I’m also looking forward to the other acts on the night.”
Are you working on anything new at the moment? What do you have lined up for 2018?
“I’m very excited about my project in February 2018 which will be generously supported by the Arts Council. It is a trio with two giants Barry Guy and Gerry Hemingway, whom I played with earlier this year, in duo settings. There will be a film by Cormac Larkin coming out of this trio project. Also, my prepared piano project I've been working on and loving, will continue with new collaborations in 2018. And more recordings to come - including the first album of duo with guitarist Joe O'Callaghan, and the second album of solo improvisations.”
Book Tickets to BAN BAM here
For more on Izumi visit www.izumikimura.com