“Music mirrors my own heart. Music is meeting people and is the means of communication to connect with them.” – Nao Watanabe
Beautiful piano. Enchanting voice. Music from the heart. That’s how we described Nao Watanabe’s sound from the moment we first heard her. Self-described as a painfully shy girl who discovered music as the vehicle to express herself to the world, Nao’s songs convey a genuine love of life and the music she makes.
So come learn the story of the woman who says: “To be alive. This is the simplest and easiest thing, but the most difficult thing. This is also the most beautiful thing.”
On June 24, 2011 Nao Watanabe was kind enough to give an interview to Andrew from J-Pop World. All photos courtesy of Nao Watanabe with credits to Hideo Nakajima.
Let’s start at the beginning. Tell us about your hometown and what it was like growing up there.
I grew up in Kawaguchiko-machi in Yamanashi prefecture till 5 years old. There was lots of nature: great water and foods, the sky full of stars at night, and my house always commanded magnificent Mt. Fuji.
I challenged climbing Mt. Fuji with my family for the first time when I was little. It was a long and rocky road, we encouraged each other and saw a beautiful sunrise at the 9th station. Everything is an unforgettable memory.
How did you first get involved with music?
I was influenced by my parents who love music and I loved singing since I was younger. My mother listened to Ryoko Moriyama who is Jazz singer songwriter in the car. Even I was little, I was impressed her singing and I hold a dream to become a singer.
what role did you think music would play in your life?
I was not sure at first if I should become a singer, or what type of singer I wanted to be, or how to make my way until I started to make my own songs. I was just taking auditions frantically. Anyhow, I was sure that I would relate with music — and that was the chief concern of my life.
The idea of traveling overseas captured your imagination at a young age. Can you tell us why?
I experienced recording abroad in my early twenties. My father was doing work related to International relations, which made me want to perform all over the world, so I was very glad to make music with foreign artists at their home country. Moriyama, who is a Jazz singer/songwriter, in the car. Even I was little, I was impressed by her singing and I began a dream of becoming a singer.
Life often puts obstacles in the way of our dreams. What do you do to get over the hard times?
To keep in mind that difficult time are a good chance to learn and to grow up — and to not forget to appreciate the people supporting me all the time — going back to the grass roots.
Tell us the story of how music became such a big part of your life.
My father’s death. It was the hardest time in my life. I made a decision to get rid of this pain, which was the first step to my becoming a singer eventually. I was very shy and preferred being at home, but I made myself sing songs I had made in front of many people. Probably, if I did not go through my father’s death, I would have not have changed and just stayed at home.