At 60 years old, Satoka Fujii is more determined than ever to achieve her dream of “making music no one has heard before.” The Japanese born pianist and composer is picked by many as this year’s must-see act at the Perth International Jazz Festival. With a career that has spanned over 30 years, Fujii is considered “one of the most original voices in jazz today”. She will be playing a solo improvised set this Saturday, November 10 at 4pm at the State Theatre Centre Rehearsal Room. She will also play alongside trumpeter/composer Natsuki Tamura (JPN) on Sunday, November 11 at 2pm at the State Theatre Centre Rehearsal Room, premiering a new suite Fukushima composed in the memory of the people of the 2011 Japan earthquake. MAGGIE BOCHAT caught up with Fujii ahead of her trip to Perth.
You’ve released a whole lot of music in your life; more than 80 releases to your name. This year you have decided to release a CD every month… How do you come up with so many different songs?
As a musician, making music is my job. Every morning, I compose new pieces and that ends up with many pieces.
Would you say you are less of a perfectionist with your work, and happy to share lots with the world? Or do you still struggle to know when a song is “ready” to be released? (I know a lot of artists struggle to release work as they always think it can be improved…)
Nothing can be perfect or imperfect. If the piece is played so many times and gets a fine shape, I think it will lose some fresh and wild parts. If music is played with energy and sincerity, it means it is ready to have an audience.
You have played a live show in every single continent except for Antarctica; that is crazy! How do you handle touring so extensively? And why?
Well, I think any musician would like to play in many places. At least I strongly want to do so.
You often play shows completely improvised, why? What are the challenges of this? And the rewards?
I like both playing written music and improvising. Improvisation is just like sushi. It is always so fresh and people can watch the process of it. Of course, improvisation may not be able to have good shape every time. But taking risks makes it more interesting and exciting. Improvisers need to face taking a risk and this part might be challenging, but “freshness” tastes good!
You were in Australia just last year on tour; what did you think of the Australia jazz music scene?
I think the Australian jazz scene is very unique. Australian musicians carry strong European classical music history and that makes their technique very high label, and they are far enough from any other countries to raise the originality. I used to live in Berlin where I saw many great Australian musicians.
We are so excited to have you in Perth, WA for the International Jazz Festival. What can we expect for your set?
I am planning to improvise my solo set. But sometimes my improvisation will bring some of my compositions. I don’t even know what will happen. For the duo set with Natsuki Tamura, we are planning to have some written music by both him and me. Our written music is very different so playing our repertories will make the set varied.
A while ago you said that you “… would love to make music that no one has heard before.” Do you feel like you have achieved that?
No. I am still on the way. I turned 60 years old in 2018, and I feel like it is time to try it seriously.