Hello Mayumi, can you describe the music you make?
I make music which is dark and beautiful. I always hope that it shimmers like a flawed gem.
Your music has been advertised as 'Lush, Cocteau Twins and My Bloody Valentine'. Were these bands influences or is it just the sadly but necessary pigeonholing?
My Bloody Valentines were a big influence. They are my heroes, but I don't know if I really sound like them. I'm not so familiar with Lush/Cocteau Twins, not the sort of stuff I would be into, to be honest. But I think it's fair for people to say I sound a bit like them, because it's a fact that there is an ethereal, atmospheric element in my music which sort of just happened unexpectedly. I guess that's what I've got inside me and I can only express myself. But I'm not so bothered...you can be original and boring. What matters to me is if my music reaches people's mind and if it affects them in any way. And if they like it and want to support it - then nothing beats that.
I honestly couldn't understand the words you were singing, but then again I though it wasn't necessary at all as the music speaks for itself...Are the lyrics that important to you or is it just a matter of putting vocals on your music?
Lyrics are important to me. What I say in each song has some significance in my life. I don't know, I just seem to ignore all the consonants when I sing.But again, my music alone must be strong enough to move someone's heart without reason. Anyway, you can read some of my lyrics on the Internet (www.fly.to/mayumi), but I will definitely include a lyric sheet in my next release.
On the sleeve of your CD's it was noted that you do all the instruments yourself. Why are you doing that? I mean is it something you really want?
It was an accident. I originally started as a singer-guitarist in a band, but I was always curious about the rhythm section then. I'm generally curiously anyway, but I might have had a secret desire to 'do it all'. Besides, I played classical piano for ages, so learning new instruments wasn't an adventure. It was accessible. These days, playing in a band is such an accepted form, but I don't think it's the only option to realize your ideas.
So many solo female artists are doing the 'Female singer- songwriting' stuff. Although there are some I deeply respect(Beth Orton for instance) it always makes me laugh that they are representing the 'Girl Power' thing whereas most cases they're just the wet dream of record companies' to be the next Alanis Morisette... What do you think?
I think the word 'singer-songwriter' sounds boring. It reminds me of songs with too much emphasis on vocals with an inoffensive background music. It's definitely not underground, it reminds me of easy-listening. If someone described me as a 'singer-songwriter' I'd feel obliged to sit on a stool with an acoustic guitar and sing to a nice crowd. Not that there is anything wrong with it, but it's not what I'm about.
The reason why I asked the above question is cos I have the feeling that your music is created from your inner soul, and it's stuff that is even difficult to market.
I think there is a market. There should be. I know not everyone is content with processed easy-listening in the charts.
Your music is released on Pale Blue Records...Is this your own label and if so, is that something you wanna maintain in the future?
It was not my label until after my second CD, but now I own it. Well, I'd rather have the back-up of the majors, you just can't beat their power. But they can use you and drop you as they like. It feels good to be in control and keep your artistic integrity, so it's best if I could get a licensing deal and keep the label. I know it's hard. It may never happen, but I guess you just have to believe in yourself and keep going.
Please don't laugh but although not musically you reminded me of Nico as I'm dealing with a strong female with own ideas...and when seeing 'Pale Blue Rcs' I though of 'Pale Blue Eyes', The Velvet Underground classic...Pure conincidence or not?
As far as I know it's a pure coincidence, but it's a nice name, isn't it? I'm flattered by the 'strong female with own ideas' thing you mentioned. Actually I'm not so familiar with Velvets' stuff, but I was meant to buy the album. A friend told me My Bloody Valentine in the late 80's sounded like them. You reminded me of that - I'm going to the shop tomorrow!
Another thing which was quite bizarre was that I expected your music to be made everywhere except in London...as there is such a huge contrast between your dreamy music and the hectic city that London is!
I agree with you! A few days ago I was listening to 'Platinum', which I hadn't had a listen for a while, and I was shocked by my own vocal. God, it's dead dreamy, I sound as if I live up in the sky in a cloud! I guess some part of you remains as it is wherever you are and whatever you do, while other bits keep changing. But I really don't know why many of my tracks sound dreamy. I do isolate myself when I write. I cut off all the communications because I just have to concentrate really hard.
In fact, what's your opinion about the busy citylife that London is?
I like it. I'm the sort of person who would feel lonely living in a countryside. I don't think I live a busy London city life, but I like the fact that you can go and see any bands and exhibitions. You have to be careful not being ripped off though...they try to charge you so much simply because it's London!
Have you any idea how the reactions are to your music or is it so that you have no idea how many and who is listening to your music?
We have used a promotional company who send out Reaction Sheet with my stuff, which editors/DJs are required to fill in and return. It tells you if it got reviewed/airplayed, what sort of reaction it got, etc. So far this has been my main source of feedback. It helps me a lot. Some of the things they write make me laugh, but I'd rather if they are honest. So far it has ranged from 'the future star in the making!' to 'early 90's misery indie'. So I know I had a lot of airplay at student radios in the UK, a few in France, Germany, a bit on the internet and elsewhere in Europe. I haven't had much response from USA apart from a couple of zines. I was also surprised to receive mail from Belgium(you), Italy, Switzerland, Romania and Portugal.
So far you have released two CD-singles, are there any plans for recording a full album?
In fact I have released 3. The first one was called 'Platinum' as mentioned above. As for an album it really depends on how much money I can get -. I have to go to a proper studio for recording. It's crucial that my guitar is mike-recorded from amplifier at a very, very high volume. It's not just effect pedals that make the sound. And using lots of effects at a very high volume can cause a lot of problems, so I need a good sound engineer who can handle all that. It all costs money, but it's worth it. Also, in my position it's more effective and realistic to release a succession of singles. It's easier to promote. But let's see what happens...
What is music? An expression of the mind or just a bonus that makes life worthwhile?
It's a magic only human beings are privileged to make. But it's just so hard even to think about it, because I've been obsessed with music since I was 15. It has always been the most important thing in my life. May be it's something too close to me to discuss.
I know it's a rather cliche-question, this one, but I always like the answers. Could you ever live without music?
No. I will start collapsing gradually and then die.
Have you already performed your music on stage? And if so, isn't it a bit difficult to do it all on your own or do you have people who are helping you?
I have played with a drummer and a bassist, but I have also used a drum machine. I often use two guitars on record, but on stage I just play the two bits together (sometimes it's possible) or play a different version. I love playing live sets. But at the moment I don't know when I'm performing live next.
Now I'm going to ask you two questions I ask in every interview...What's your fave record of all time and please state why...
'You Made Me Realize' by My Bloody Valentine. I first heard it when I was ill in bed and it changed my life. The music itself sounded intense and urgent, but the vocals were unbelievably beautiful. I thought everything about the song was so cool... and it just felt so close to my life.
With who wouldn't you mind being alone with in an elevator for 8 hours and what would you do then?
I would like to spend with my hero Alexander Abt. He is a Russian figure skater and is a total genius. I'll probably break the lift and take him to an ice rink. I want him to skate just for me, indefinitely!
What's your fave catch-phrase?
I'm going to faint....
What can we expect from Mayumi in the future?
A CD single(again!) early next year. It contains 4 tracks. The first 3 are all good and I'm proud of them. Track 4 is experimental, and some really, really good time.
Do you want to say something special to our readers?
I hope you enjoyed reading this interview, and I hope to see you somewhere, sometime!