Japanese artist Ekotumi, singer, author, poet, who based her work on Japanese traditions and legends will have a couple of shows in Belgium and France. Currently working on the promotion of her upcoming release, Ekotumi took some time to talk about her work as an artist, which artists inspire her and what is keeping her busy lately.
AVO: You’ll be in Europe this Summer, for a few performances. We noticed on your social media that you have special feelings for France and Europe. Can you tell us more about that?
I sing about Japanese mythology, because I feel it brings joy to those who have an interest in historical culture. Europe has a rich history and it seems like people are proud of it. Although our distance on the map is very far, Japanese people have a big interest in European history. As you may know, there are many novels and manga about it. Japanese mythology is like fantasy, such as the Eight-Headed Dragon (Yamata no Orochi) and the Land of the Dead (Yomi-no-kuni), but it is called ‘our history’. I sing songs that are based on a book entitled KOJIKI. This book was published more than 1300 years ago and is officially the oldest book in the history of Japan. I am fascinated by this book and I want to tell this fantasy-like story to the world.
AVO: You’ll perform at Japan Expo in Paris, one of the biggest events in the world dedicated to Japanese pop-culture. What’s your opinion of such an event?
I would like to say, ‘Thank you!’ Until events like this existed, manga and anime were not taken as seriously in Japan. It seemed like it was just for kids and geeks! But now we see that was wrong. As a result, I think this event creates more possibilities and freedom for creativity.
AVO: Your style is very specific; you write and sing about mythologies and traditions. Can you tell us where this passion comes from?
Because that is still a way of life in Japan. Do you know the Jinja/shrine in Japan? Every morning, day and night, a Shinto priest prays there. The gods and goddesses are the characters in Japanese mythology, and many places, such as Miyazaki, Mie and Shimane prefecture are the settings for these stories.
AVO: Musically speaking, what’s personally your favourite genre? Do you have some musical heroes?
Oh, I have so many heroes. The first thing I liked was theatrical music. Cirque du Soleil’s Alegría by Rene Dupere is still one of my favourite CDs. After that, I like calm music and music that gives me a view of the world. For example, I love Emilie Simon by Emilie Simon.
AVO: Let’s talk about a serious topic: you wrote on social media about some trauma and hurtful events you had to endure in the past. That was a very brave move. Do you feel that you have helped give a voice to women, especially in Japanese society and/or in the music business?
Yes. I really think so. In extreme terms, Japanese culture is a ‘shame culture’ and shame cultures are concerned with reputation. I don’t know why, because a criminal person is a bad person. But until recently it was thought victims have somehow caused the crimes themselves. When I was attacked with a knife, which ended with an attempted rape, some people blamed me. They said, “You were open to attack!” and “It’s because of how you dressed!” The most terrible comments were “Because you wanted to be raped” and “Your life energy balance was bad.” Come on! What are they thinking? I’m not the police, a lawyer or a psychologist. I may not be able to stop the criminal who tried to rape me directly, but I want to at least do what I can to prevent attempts in the future. It’s easier now to open up about it, but I needed several years to talk about this.
AVO: We heard that you are currently writing a novel. Can you tell us something more about it? Do you feel that being a writer and a musician are different sides of the same creative project?
I will publish my novel soon! Though it is written in Japanese, I hope it will be translated into English someday! Japanese mythology has many stories similar to Greek mythology. This time I wrote about one of those stories. I mentioned earlier that Japanese mythology is part of history, but in my book, I tried to write more fantasy. Creatively, when I wrote, I felt a part of my soul or something move into the novel. After writing I felt almost empty. When I compose and sing, I feel that I absorb some energy. Especially when the audience and I can share the same vision during a show, I feel that I am so full with energy that I may be able to sing all night even after the performance. My theme is always the same, namely Japanese mythology. But the ways I express that in music and in novel-form are different for me.
AVO: Are you interested in European writers or artists in general? If yes, do you have some favourites?
There are so many wonderful artists in this world. When I was a child, my favourite painter was Claude Monet. I still love his paintings. But also Marcel Duchamp, Yves Klein, Rene Magritte. There are so many. When I was a university student, my professor researched Samuel Beckett. That is how I began to like his books. What about Une vie by Maupassant, Les Misérables by Hugo, L’Étranger by Albert Camus, Les Fleurs du mal by Charles-Pierre Baudelaire? Ah, I need an hour to talk about all the writers and artists I like!
AVO: Do you have a message for our readers here in Europe?
This will be my fifth time performing at Japan Expo and my first time performing in Belgium. I’m so excited! This time, I will bring my new album and photo book with me. The story on this album is about Izanami, the goddess that gave birth to Japanese nature and land. I hope you love it! See you soon!
Follow Ekotumi through the social media, such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and don’t miss her performances in Paris, Bobble Café in Lille (Lomme) on Friday 12 July and at Un jour d’été au Japon in Liege on Saturday 13 July.
Programme at Japan Expo
4 July: 11:00 – 11:30 – Fashion show in collaboration with Refashion Caravan at Sakura stage
5 July: 14:45 – 15:05 – Art stage at WABI SABI Pavilion
5 July: 15:50 – 16:15 – Art stage at WABI SABI Pavilion with Refashion Caravan
6 July: 11:00 – 11:20 – Art stage at WABI SABI Pavilion with Refashion Caravan
7 July: 11:35 – 12:00 – Art stage at WABI SABI Pavilion
Programme outside and after Japan Expo
3 July: Japanese Night in Paris @ Alimentation Générale 64 – Paris, France
4 July: Film screening at Peniche Cinema (Parc de la Villete) – Paris, France
8 July: Jardin du Luxembourg – Paris, France
11 July: Chez Adel – Paris, France
12 July: Bobble Café, Lille, France
13 July: Un jour d’été au Japon @ Le Garage – Liege, Belgium