In perfetto equilibrio tra passato e presente, tra tradizione e sperimentazione (gli strumenti acustici come piano, archi e chitarre incontrano le forme più moderne dei suoni elettronici) Midori Hirano, nata a Kyoto nel ‘79 e attiva a Berlino dal 2008, è la protagonista del concerto in collaborazione tra il Far East Film Festival e Sexto ‘Nplugged, sabato alle 21 al Visionario di Udine. Sette album solisti, centinaia di esibizioni live, numerose produzioni per video installazioni, danza e cinema, Midori si rivela anche attenta conoscitrice della musica italiana: «Oltre ai paesaggi, la storia, l’ospitalità, cibo e cultura fantastici – dice la pianista, compositrice e produttrice – per quanto riguarda la musica del vostro paese citerei Caterina Barbieri, una delle mie preferite, il duo di elettronica Retina.it e Ginevra Nervi, giovane talentuosa per cui l’anno scorso ho fatto un remix».
Il concerto al Visionario?
«Suonerò brani dai miei album recenti, che ho prodotto principalmente con piano ed elettronica. Ho una formazione classica, ma suono il piano in maniera non convenzionale, usando effetti che cambiano il suono. E a Udine, ci saranno anche le proiezioni visual dell’artista Kaliber16».
Un’esperienza che coinvolge più sensi?
«Sono spesso connessi. È bello avere delle immagini che accompagnano la musica, possono dare profondità alla comprensione della musica stessa e viceversa. Bisogna stare attenti però, deve esserci armonia tra i due, altrimenti si rischia che uno annulli l’altro».
Lei ha composto musica per film, video installazioni, performance di danza…
«Ci sono tanti film e produzioni teatrali con la mia musica, il film più recente è “Mizuko”, diretto da Kira Dane e in parte animato da Katelyn Rebelo. Si tratta di un poema visuale che riflette sulla vita e sulla morte in Giappone e negli Stati Uniti attraverso l’esperienza personale dell’aborto della regista. È molto toccante, può sembrare triste ma c’è un risvolto positivo. Uno dei brani fa parte del mio ultimo disco “Soniscope”. Penso sia importante rispettare sempre le intenzioni del regista, lasciare la musica agire come parte invisibile di un video o di una pièce, pur aggiungendo i miei tratti distintivi».
Le sue origini giapponesi influenzano la sua arte?
«Sono cresciuta ascoltando canzoni giapponesi influenzate dal pop americano, prendendo lezioni di piano classico mentre mia mamma a casa ascoltava i Beatles e non ho mai imparato a suonare uno strumento tradizionale giapponese… Insomma io e miei amici eravamo più attratti dalla musica occidentale. Sicuramente c’è un modo di esprimere le emozioni che è tipicamente giapponese, e nei miei primi lavori lo ritrovo, ma poi è andato scomparendo».
Tradizione e innovazione che ruolo giocano?
«Ci sono cose che ha senso tramandare di generazione in generazione, ma a volte possono essere un ostacolo allo sviluppo e al cambiamento. Bisogna stare in equilibrio, guardare al nuovo studiando il passato».
I momenti più difficili della sua carriera?
«Uscire dalla formazione classica per diventare una musicista elettronica. Ma anche le difficoltà sono necessarie, ho avuto il supporto di amici, parenti, sconosciuti: posso dirmi fortunata».
Elisa Russo, Il Messaggero Veneto 21 Aprile 2022
Il Piccolo 23 Aprile 2022
MIDORI HIRANO ENGLISH INTERVIEW – ELISA RUSSO
You’ll be in Italy soon, what do you know/like about our country and do you know of any Italian artist/musician/band?
I have been to Italy many times, so of course I know many things about your country like the beautiful scenery, the weather, the history, the friendly people, the fantastic food culture and of course the music. But there are still new things to learn every time I visit Italy.
I can’t list all the Italian artists I know, as there are many – but for example, Caterina Barbieri is one of my favorite artists from Italy, making beautiful music with modular synthesizers. Retina it. is an Italian electronic music duo that I’ve been listening to for a long time. And last year I did a remix for a song by the young talented musician Ginevra Nervi. She invited me to participate in an artist residency in southern Italy at the end of June to collaborate with some local musicians, which I also find very exciting.
Did you already know the Far East Film Festival?
In fact, I didn’t know anything about it, so I’m very curious to see what happens there!
What can fans expect to see at your Udine show at Visionario on April 23rd? Are you alone onstage or there are other musicians with you? What can you anticipate about the setlist?
I will be playing some pieces from my recent solo albums, which I produced mainly with piano and electronics. I have a classical training, but I play piano in an unconventional way, using some effect devices to change the sounds while playing the piano. On April 23, you can also enjoy the visual projection of the artist Kaliber 16, who will accompany the concert.
The relationship between music and other forms of art – such as painting, video art and cinema – has become increasingly important. How do you see this relationship yourself and in how far, do you feel, does music relate to other senses than hearing alone?
Of course, I think they are often closely connected. It’s common and wonderful to have some kind of image in your head when you listen to music. And adding (moving) images in front of you deepens your understanding of the music, and of course it can work the other way around.
But I think we have to be careful that in some cases both forms can destroy the impressions of the other, and that depends on the trust between the two creators. And I am sure that there is definitely music that is more fun without visual accompaniment and vice versa.
What can you tell me about the music you composed for films, video installations and dance performances?
There are already several different films or theater productions that I have been involved in, so I can’t describe every project. The most recent film I have been involved in is called “Mizuko” and was directed by Japanese-American director Kira Dane and partially animated by Katelyn Rebelo. This film is a visual poem reflecting on life and death in Japan and the United States through the director’s personal story of her abortion. It may sound like a sad story, but it’s actually shown in a positive way, and the images are quite mesmerizing. So I composed the music to accompany this fantastic sequence of moving images as best I could, and I think the music itself has become a beautiful work of art that also stands on its own. A piece from the score was released as part of my latest solo album, “Soniscope.”
Regardless of the project I’m making music for, I always think it’s important to respect the director’s intentions, but let the music act as an invisible part of the video or dance piece, while adding my own personal characteristics.
How much is your music influenced by your japanese heritage?
Having grown up listening to lots of Japanese pop songs that was strongly influenced by American pop music, and also having classical piano lessons since my childhood, while my mother was used to listen to The Beatles’ music at home, I’m not sure how much I’ve been actually influenced musically by my own country’s culture. And almost none of my friends including myself have ever learned any Japanese traditional instruments. It’s just because we found them not cooler than all the instruments from the west which became already popular and dominated in the country after the WW2, and I think only kids from special families like temples had an access to these kinds of traditional instruments. The university I studied music had actually a course for Japanese instruments, but as far as I remember there were only two students taking this course, comparing to the other course where I was studying – piano, orchestra and opera – having always around 100 students per class.
But there is certainly a way of expressing emotions that is unique to the music by Japanese, and I think my early works had that tendency. But I feel like this tendency seemed to naturally disappear from my work. as my time in Germany becomes longer. It doesn’t mean if it’s good or bad, this is just how it is and I’m actually enjoying this change.
How much of songwriting, for you, is craft and how much is inspiration?
I think the both technique and inspiration are reflecting and helping each other somehow to create a piece of art. Especially in this age where always the new software and hardware being produced, get inspired by what you can do with the new technology can be a big inspiration for you too.
But, of course, I sometimes get inspired by good concerts or films I experienced.
Can you talk a little bit about the roles of old and new, tradition and innovation, in your work?
I think it depends on how you understand about what old or tradition means, and also what you expect on new or innovation. Old things and traditions can often make sense to maintain from generation to generation. But sometimes they can be an obstacle to social development and change. In Japan, we have this old saying derived from an idea that came from China: „visiting old, learn new(温故知新 – on-ko-chi-shin)“, which means „an attempt to discover new things or truths by studying the past through examining of the old“. I am basically pretty much up for seeking new things, but it is easy to get too attached to it and often forget this „visiting old, learn new“ spirit.
But I find it important to keep it mind that those two aspects are always related each other.
What would you say has been the hardest part of your musical journey so far? And what the best part?
I think I had some different types of „hard“ times since I started making music 20 years ago – for example, how to break the boundary from classically trained to become an electronic musician, or trying to obtain enough skills to make own music which I could be satisfied with, or just struggling to make new pieces.
But always when I realize that these hard experiences were necessary in the end, they all become just pleasant memories. And I have been lucky enough to have good friends and family who are supportive to my music, and sometimes I get great feedbacks about my works from some strangers. So there are many best parts.
What’s happening next, is there anything upcoming and in the works already?
My new album under my other moniker MimiCof which is purely electronic will be coming out in June on Karlrecords. This is a result of my work I produced with the vintage synthesizer SYNTHI 100 during my residency at Radio Belgrade last year.
Thank you for the interview and looking forward to playing at the Far East Film Festival!