voice on the verge #12: miwagemini
I’ve been trying to write this introductory blurb for days now, but pinning down quite what makes Miwagemini so special is proving to be harder than I anticipated. There’s just something so delicious about Miwa’s crisp Japanese accent coupled with the wonderfully original blues-flecked folk and country tunes that populate her second album This Is How I Found You. Perhaps it’s the very fact that she’s something of a square peg in today’s indie scene that makes her so appealing. Perhaps it’s the unusual contrast of her allegorical personality with the emotional directness of her songs. Or maybe it’s just that strangely comforting voice. Whatever it is, the finality of putting it into words seems to be causing a brainquake so I’ll leave you with the plain and simple truth that, in Japanese, the name Miwa appropriately means ‘beautiful harmony’ and let the lady speak for herself…
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What’s your earliest memory?
Banging on my red toy piano. I still have it.
Who was your childhood idol?
Heidi of Alps.
Are you multi-lingual?
Strictly speaking English is my second language, though I have never written any song in Japanese. Even when my English wasn’t great, I still wrote songs in English using a ‘Japanese-English’ dictionary. I should read those lyrics again, I’m sure they are hilarious.
What did you listen to when you were growing up?
The Carpenters and The Beatles, which is kind of funny because I grew up in nowhere-town Japan. I could sing along every ‘sha la la la’ to The Carpenters before I even knew my alphabets.
Which female musicians have most inspired you?
In no particular order: Josephine Baker, Dolly Parton, Marlene Dietrich, Carter Family, Nina Simone, The Boswell Sisters, Edith Piaf, Loretta Lynn, Memphis Minnie, Björk, Billie Holiday, June Carter, Holly Golightly…shall I keep going?
What did you want to be until you decided to become a musician…if you ever did ‘decide’ that is!
What would you be if you weren’t a musician?
Tell us about your favourite instrument…
My guitar Polly. I found her in a secondhand music shop in Williamsburg (Brooklyn, NY, not the colonial one). I was originally going to call her Jack but she loudly told me that she’s a girl and already has a name. So I apologised to her and since then we are best pals.
What’s been the best moment of your career so far?
I’m always touched when I see people crying listening to my songs. Also, when I have a roomful of people singing along with me, that’s a great feeling, too. One time I had a houseful of punk rock kids singing along to ‘Que Sera Sera’ with me. Now that was really fun.
What’s the biggest guilty pleasure in your record collection?
Feel free to come over and determine that yourself.
Which artist would you most like to work with – your dream collaboration?
Tom Waits (living). Erik Satie (not living).
If you could star in any TV show, past or current, which would it be and what kind of character would you play?
‘Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple’ – BBC production, of course. I’m not sure how a young Asian is going to play a 60+ year old English lady with blue eyes, but I’m sure tons of makeup will do. Miss Marple solves murder mysteries while placidly sitting on a chair knitting, I think that is really cool.
What is your most loved item of clothing and why is it so treasured?
I have a pair of old cowboy boots that are my lucky charms. My friend gave them to me and since then I’ve still yet to play a bad show wearing them on the stage. Consequently I wear them on the road all the time and they are getting battered…does anyone know a good cobbler?
What’s your favourite poem and how much of it can you recite from memory?
‘Gashlycrumb Tinies’ by Edward Gorey
What’s your top household tip?
I use lavender oil for anything from bug bites to headache.
What’s your tipple?
Margaritas for summer, whiskey for winter, and I’m in the mood for red wine any time.
How are you most likely to die and what would you want written on your headstone?
I’m afraid I grew out of my goth stage already.
If you were the answer to a crossword puzzle, what would be your clue?
Baby tears after Tom’s unlikely task lead to twins (courtesy of my friend Howard Stock).
Would you rather see a ghost or simply have a piece of toast and watch the evening news?
A ghost of course. A ghost of Catherine de Medici.
What have you done today to make you feel proud?
I answered all these questions.
Tick tock, tick tock. What you waiting, what you waiting for?
Overnight success. I’m going to be the next star!
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Alan (‘cheerful harmony’) Pedder
live performance of ‘Pieces’
live performance of ‘Travellin’ Man’