Issue 27 / July - September 1999
A New Genre Is Coming To Life
In the music world there is music and then there is "Kitaro's music." Thousands of listeners have gathered throughout the United States during the last few months to enjoy the unique sounds of Kitaro's last live tour of the millennium, "The New Millennium Tour." After re-scheduling a few times, I was fortunate enough to catch him at the Trump Marina, Atlantic City. As his listeners may or may not know, he prefers not to speak a lot and concentrates deeply on his music, unlike the "Generation Next" musicians who impulsively open their mouth everytime they see a microphone. Here are the "brief' but insightful answers he gave:
Talha Sarac: Your Zen master used to call you "setu" which means, "bridge" in English. We all noticed that he was not wrong. You have been a bridge between East and West, "new" and "old," people and nature. But what is your real purpose in doing your music?
Kitaro: People are losing their cultures day by day. The technology and this global village concept is and will be dominating the world. I want everybody to remember their origins and cultural heritage. This is not difficult. We only have to re-invent ourselves. My purpose is to help everybody in this process.
TS: What has changed since Albatross in your life?
Kitaro: A lot of thingsÔÇŽ right now, I am busy re-inventing my music and myself. This is a really strange situation, but I think it will help me get even better.
TS: How did you establish your own style, which you do not want people to categorize but is usually called "new age"?
Kitaro: The genre "new age" is roughly 20 years old. But, I want to tell you first, I think all this categorization should be reconsidered and organized again. For example, I do not want to put my style under any current category, because I do not believe there is one that suits...
TS: So you say we better have a category named after you...
Kitaro: That would be nice. (Laughs...)
TS: How do you decide to compose a new song and what influence you in that process?
Kitaro: Even a bird's singing can be the influence for a new song. I love the nature and I am complete with it. Since, I live in the mountains, I have the chance to go out of the house and take a walk by the lake and listen to the nature's original sounds. I cannot say that people can be helpful to me while composing, but the sunrises and sunsets are invaluable to me and to my music.
TS: What kind of circumstances should there be when you are composing your music, and does closing your eyes help you in any way when you are performing?
Kitaro: I have to be really alone when I am composing. I do not have many guests in my house in Colorado, but this does not mean I am reclusive. I have to be away from stress and be able to hear my heart. And this is only possible in my lakeside...
TS: You do not only use the latest technology in your music but you also use the oldest instruments which we do not know the names of. What are you trying to do?
Kitaro: People tend to forget what they were like, how they used to live and what their interests were. I am trying to bring the old and new together and blend the outcomes. It is not clever to ignore the richness and originality in the old instruments. And nobody can deny the practicality of the newest instruments. So I think I am lucky enough to be able to use all the instruments that could help my music get even better.
TS: There is a conception that the music Far Eastern musicians make is made to be enjoyed by Far Eastern people. But your music is widely accepted and appreciated in almost any part of the world. Is that conception is a misconception?
Kitaro: I believe in international music. Of course, every nation has its own traditional and cultural music perspectives. But, I am trying to make music beyond peoples. I see all the world nations as one big nation. The differences between those nations do not influence my music in a negative way.
TS: So that is the secret to your music then...
Kitaro: Keep your voice downÔÇŽ (laughs again...)
TS: You are also known the "peaceful" musician of the "peaceful" music. What are your thoughts about the ongoing struggles in Kosovo and in the other parts of world?
Kitaro: The world is coming to an end, and unfortunately we can not do anything to stop this. This war in Kosovo is a shameful war which we will regret to talk about in the future to our kids. I, of course, would like to participate in a concert that would be held in the war area, but I do not think those refugees are in a situation that they will enjoy a concert.
TS: Could you tell anything about your mysterious trip to Mt Fuji to perform the ritual drum ceremony?
Kitaro: I go there every year to play wadaikos. This year it will be performed in September fullmoon. This ceremony should be considered as my thanks to the nature which is the main influence on my music. There is no economic or politic reason to this ceremony.
TS: After this "New Millennium Tour" are there any other projects in or outside of the US?
Kitaro: As for the concert projects, no. But we have this new album coming out probably on September. The album is called "Thinking Of You." I composed this song, which gave its name to the album, on the last Valentine's Day. I hope everybody will enjoy listening to, as much as I did composing it.
TS: We love to listen to Kitaro, but who does Kitaro listen to?
Kitaro: I like traditional music, and I try to listen to different nations' traditional music. I want to say that, unfortunately, people tend to listen to their traditional music less and less...