Flaunt Premiere | MIYAVI "Fragile"
MIYAVI is a renowned musician, actor, UNHCR Goodwill ambassador, and father, best known for his unique style of playing the guitar. Growing up in Osaka, Japan, MIYAVI was on his way to a professional career in soccer and track, until an injury hindered these hopes. Fortunately, he was able to craft a new passion for the guitar. After starting a band with friends, Miyavi quickly rose to success in Japan. MIYAVI has used his music to perform on many trips with the UNHCR and officially became a Goodwill Ambassador in 2017. SInce working with refugees, he has become very outspoken about the educational rights for refugee children. “As a musician it’s my job to make people pay attention, if we can put the message into music more people can listen.” MIYAVI made a name for himself in the U.S. after being chosen by Angelina Jolie to star in her Academy Award nominated film, Unbroken. Now, he will be giving a special performance at the El Rey Theatre in LA on the 23rd of February, 2019 in celebration of his new single, Fragile, and his new album, SAMURAI SESSIONS vol.3 – World’s Collide. The album is a cross between EDM, rock’n’roll, and hip hop. It’s an ensemble of individual cultures and qualities that highlight the distinctive “finger-slapping” way he plays guitar. He recently visited the Flaunt offices where we were able to get in some time to better know the multi-hyphenated creative force as well as present the video for “Fragile.“
We're releasing the exclusive for your new video for "Fragile" today, what was your experience like writing that song and shooting the video?
In this song I wanted to focus on my vulnerability. I’m human, with emotions and sensitivity and I’ve learned to accept that; accept who I am, just the way I am.
Sometimes it feels wrong to be too sensitive, especially when you’re in social situations and when we meet people who are really socially outgoing. But the thing is, even those people also have that sensitivity, and that can be a strength for everyone. The more sensitive you are, the more things you can feel and understand. This is a message for myself too.
What was the inspiration behind the new album “SAMURAI SESSIONS vol 3 – World’s Collide”?
Chemistry. This is volume 3 of my collaboration albums. It is a conceptual album featuring different artists on every track. The magic that happens with every artist is unique and it’s definitely chemistry.
Also, as a Japanese artist, I’m trying to make a California Roll, which is an analogy I use in my music making. I already have the “wasabi”, “raw fish” and “rice”, from the Japanese influence but I need the “avocado” which is not originally in Japanese sushi. In my music, the “avocado” translates to familiarity in language, melody, and cultural essence in the creation for people who are not familiar with Japanese music.
Also, it’s a big challenge to put American and Japanese artists all together in the same album, I’m trying to break the border between the global market and the Japanese market. We will be playing songs from the album live for the first time in the U.S. at the El Rey in Los Angeles on February 23.
The album includes so many amazing features including an original monologue from Legendary actor Samuel L. Jackson, how did that come about?
First of all, it is such a privilege. I met him on set in Hawaii when we were working on Kong Skull Island together. I respect him a lot for he is not only an actor but also a creator. He explained he loves Japanese culture and I’ve been feeling his respect for it too. So I thought, why not!? We kept in touch through social media and I asked him, thinking it would never happen, but he generously said yes!
Who are your idols/role models? Who has influenced you? Who are some of your favorite musicians?
Prince. I love his music, message, attitude and passion. I think he is one of those artists who got to the right place in their music career.
What musician would you love to collaborate with?
Post Malone, Skrillex, Jaden Smith, Billie Eilish, and Madonna!
Where did you learn how to play the guitar so uniquely? Is it easier to play the guitar like that?
It happened because I didn’t have the right teacher. LOL. To me, it’s easy to slap but it’s harder to play traditionally.
Which of your performances is the most memorable?
Brazil!! The audience is always incredible. So wild and loud. I received so much energy from them. It felt like we were performing in front of dancers or musicians. It’s as if it didn’t matter if they knew the track or not, they just dance and feel the vibes once the beats start.
How do you think your music has evolved over the years?
I’ve gone through many styles and genres over the years. But it’s always been true to me. That is exactly where I was in the moment. I’ve also been learning many, many things from legendary producers and musicians I’ve collaborated with like Jam & Lewis, Drew & Shannon. Now I’m working with the genius Lenny Skolnik and his team and having such creative freedom.
I don’t hear guitar music on the radio in this county as much as I used to. That’s my mission to bring back the excitement of guitar music and that’s what I want to give back to the guitar which saved my life when I gave up my dream of being a soccer player when I was 14 years old.
If you weren't doing music, what would you be pursuing right now?
I think I would be chasing a soccer ball and girls.
Do you enjoy acting as much as performing? Will we see you in anymore films soon?
Yes! It’s very fun and I’ve learned many things from acting that affect my musical creation as well.
I shot Maleficent 2 in London last summer. Thanks to Angelina Jolie, I had a great experience. My first good guy role.
How did you become a goodwill ambassador and what’s it like? What do you do as a goodwill ambassador?
When I first met Angelina Jolie through the movie “Unbroken” I was inspired by her career as a special envoy of UNHCR. She has been committed to the refugee agency for over 15 years and I wanted to be involved in anyway that I could, even if I didn’t have as powerful of a voice as she did.
As an ambassador, I visit, witness, listen and share times with refugees. I feel, express, think and spread awareness with people. I’m not a specialist but I can make opportunities for people to get to know about this issue and think about what we can do for people.
Do you play music when you visit the refugee camps?
Yes! The power of music is so strong. The first time I noticed it was when I was playing guitar for some children at a refugee camp in Lebanon, I could see the brightness in their eyes.
What do you think is the best song you've ever released?
Umm... I think “Fragile” is the one. Musically, I have more fun on more technically difficult tracks but on “Fragile” I was able to dig into a deeper part of my heart and show a more vulnerable side of myself. In the future, I’m planning to make a solo album which is more personal with more simple and direct messages to my fans.
What advice can you give to those who want to pursue music as a career?
The way people consume music as a product has changed drastically, and unfortunately the music industry is shrinking, however, the power of music has not changed at all. I strongly believe we all need music more than ever before, now that the world is so unstable and divided as some countries are being more isolated and independent. Let’s believe that music can bring people together and make art for the future together.