Hi Mieko, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
Thank you for inviting me to your magazine!
It might not be a popular thing to say but it’s been great since lockdown started. I’ve been deeply inspired as Soho, where I live and work, has become a ghost town, which I love! In the beginning, it was shocking to see the central London became an empty shell, only confused residents left to bump into but as time has gone by the quietness started settling in the air and this made me think about a lot of things such as how I want to live the rest of my life after it’s unlocked, what I can do for others and that became a great inspiration.
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Butterfly”?
Butterfly is a song from my latest album ‘I bloom’. This version has been remixed by Mike Lindsay, one of my favorite producers. The original version is very atmospheric filled with a feeling of ethereal darkness created by Moog synth arpeggio and with real instruments such as an accordion and organ. Mike brilliantly remixed this song making it more upbeat and energetic using experimental synth pop beats and samples without loosing the beauty or meaning of the song. I’m very happy with this metamorphosis, like butterfly emerging from it’s chrysalis.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
I wrote Butterfly just after my mother’s passing, although the lyrics are not directly descriptive about my mother. It’s more about the image of a life leaving a body and this realm of the world and transforming into another form of energy. Combining the idea of the story that when people die they turn into a butterfly which comes and says goodbye before they leave this world.
How was the recording and writing process?
I wrote on piano first but that didn’t really capture the ethereal image of butterfly wings fluttering so I started experimenting with a moog synthesiser combined with an accordion until I found a sound and feeling that expressed this better, like a painting. I then gave all my original recordings to Mike. He picked up on the accordion sounds which was surprising in a way but actually that was my favourite parts as I played this part in a very free-minded experimental way imagining the flight of a butterfly.
How did you and Mike come together for the remix version?
Mike Lindsay is an old friend and trusted producer so when I ask him to remix my music, I know he will come up with a well-thought out and vivid idea, delicately sympathetic to my original ideas. It’s wonderful to just send him my ingredients and wait for him to conjure his magic.
Do you tend to take a different approach when you’re collaborating with someone else rather than working on your own?
I try to be extra sensitive to pick up on the spirit of the new collaboration as I love it when other artists bring totally different inspiration and thoughts and the project becomes almost like another type of animals.
What role does Japan play in your music?
Japan is in my DNA so I don’t overtly try to express it or subdue it, I just leave it alone and don’t mess with it. Whatever I make, everything comes through of my own filter and I try to be as organic as possible and let it happen by being myself.
Does the new single mean we can expect a new album– how’s that coming along?
The latest album ‘I bloom’ actually came out recently, it took me more than 5 years to complete as there were so many events in my life. I had a life threating illness and was rushed to hospital twice for emergency operation and then both my parents died. I guess mortality was very much in my thoughts and the transformation of life into energy as we pass away. I have now started writing new material and have quite a clear image for the next album. I hope new one won’t take as much time as this one!
Any tentative release date or title in mind?
Actually as I just mentioned the album, I bloom, has just recently been released, I have put out 4 singles. I am now releasing remixes, three by Mike Lindsay including Snake of Summer and this one, Butterfly, then Lazy Light a co-write with William D Drake, which I’m really excited about, Mike did an incredible job, will come out on the 4th of July.
What else is happening next in Mieko Shimizu’ world?
What is happening in the world right now is of great inspiration to me and I am digesting this once in a lifetime experience. All my thoughts and feelings are now focused on the creation of this new animal and I hope to finish writing for this next album by the end of this year. If I can, that would be amazing.
My next scheduled live performance is booked for the 7th July at Paper Dress Vintage in Hackney, it’s such a cool venue. I am really hoping that will happen. Otherwise, during lockdown, I have been live-streaming from my studio every Monday. I really enjoy connecting with the audience by sharing my performances and also talking about my songs, current affairs or having competitions including a remix competition at the moment, details available on instagram & Facebook @streetfurniturerecords. The winner will be the final release from this album, prophetically the track is called The Change is Coming.
Maybe it’s already here!