Hailing from Fukuoka Prefecture & trained at Tokyo University of the Arts, Koki Nakano is an extremely talented composer and pianist who has released his second album, Pre-Choreographed through Paris label, No Format. He took some time to join our Q&A series:
Where are you from? Describe the kind of creative culture within the city you were raised in?
I was born in Fukuoka then I moved to Tokyo when I was 15 years old. And now I’ve been living in Paris for the last 5 years. When I was in Tokyo, I felt that creators needed to be linked to commercial projects somehow. After I moved to Paris, I felt more space to cultivate my own stuff, I think it’s thanks to the people around me who I work with.
What made you get into music, who were the people around you who influenced you?
The first strong artistically influential person for me was my piano teacher, who I met when I was 16 years old. She tried to share with me her sensations, how she feels for each phrase by drawing movements of the energy for each phrase on the score. She showed me the possibility that any ambiguous feelings could potentially be shared with another person. I have taken much influence from Japanese visual artist Kohei Nawa since I met him. Now, I’m very inspired by great choreographers who I had the chance to observe in their creative process such as Damien Jalet or Sharon Eyal.
What other genres of music outside of classical influence your music?
I mainly listen to Electro or Minimal music. And I also like to listen to some pop music or traditional folk as well. It always shows me the power of simple melodies.
Which musicians in Japan should we listen to?
Are you signed to a record label, if so what’s your relationship like, if not, has that been out of choice?
I signed to Paris based label No Format! When I was 26. I’ve known them through ‘Solo Piano’ of Gonzales when I was 18. Since then I always wanted to work with them. I liked their way of showing instrumental music to be a very present progressive form, while carefully keeping the essence of traditional instruments.
When the owner of No Format, Laurent Bizot, came to my small concert in Maison de La Culture du Japon, I remember that I was very excited.
The album is also accompanied by a series of dance-orientated music videos, created with leading choreographers. Koki recently shared the latest of those clips, to accompany the track ‘Near-Perfect Synchronization’. I really like the choreographed dancing you had for the single ‘Near-Perfect Synchronization’, what was the vision behind it?
Amala Dianor’s piece ‘Quelque part Au Milieu de l’infini’ is one of the pieces that touched me the most in the past 3 years. His dancing seems as though he knows how to devote himself wholly to time’s perpetual motion. It’s incredible that you’ll be left with nothing but ‘warmth’, just like the normal body temperature of a person, after watching the continuance of his exceedingly complicated and yet seamless movements.
For this project, I just wished to collaborate with dancers and choreographers who actually inspired me during the making process of my new album. I purely hoped to shoot them with my music and I wanted to share their greatness with everyone. I feel their ideas, how they deal with the energy flow gives lots of hints for our age. I shared my inspirations with the director but I didn’t have any direction for dancers.
What was the inspiration behind your latest album ‘Pre-Choreographed’?
After I arrived in Paris, I have started to go to see contemporary dances often and many inspirations for this album are found in it. The album ‘Pre-Choreographed’ evokes strong saudade for an era when music and dance were very close to each other, when they used to function congenitally in society.
The title also refers to music in a state of awaiting or even missing choreography. I always have human gestural images in my head when I compose. I like very much the words of Gorge Balanchine, who worked extensively with leading composers of his time like Igor Stravinsky; ‘See the music, hear the dance’.
Have a listen to his latest album, Pre-Choreographed below, and let us know what you think: