International singer/songwriter Emi Meyer and band performed recently at non-profit Shoes That Fit’s first Sneaker Ball, a 20th anniversary black-tie affair commemorating 1 million pairs of shoes donated to underprivileged school children in the U.S. The ball featured red carpet arrivals, a VIP cocktail reception, gourmet dinner, and silent auction showcasing limited edition shoes and handbags by top designers including Vera Wang, Jimmy Choo, and Valentino. Meyer, drummer Abraham Kim, bassist Charles Kim, and Meyer’s fellow Pomona College alumnus and musician Albert Chiang patiently waited to perform at the end of the night as the program ran behind schedule. The soulful and playful songs off of Meyer’s latest EP LOL were worth the wait – read on for video footage, pictures, and a Q&A with the Japanese-German-Irish American beauty.
Don’t miss the rest of our interview with the talented musician published in the Audrey Magazine summer issue. Don’t have a copy? Purchase one or subscribe here.
The articulate and confident Meyer, who grew up in Japan and Seattle, began her career at six years old as a classical and jazz pianist and has courageously penned original music influenced by reggae, pop, and rock since her groundbreaking victory at the 2007 Seattle-Kobe Jazz Vocalist Competition. With four solid albums (including a Japanese one) under her belt, Meyer is ready to take over the next part of the world where her music treads.
Audrey Magazine: Where do you consider home?
Emi Meyer: That’s always really confusing. You know, it’s interesting. I feel really relaxed when I go back to Kyoto. Whenever I fly into Kansai airport, which is closer to Kyoto than Tokyo, I get on a cab and we drive past the Kamo River in Kyoto before I get to the place I always stay at, and the moment I cross the river, I feel so relaxed. It’s really weird, I get this physical reaction, so in some sense I really feel like Kyoto is home, but Seattle is also where my family lives, so maybe Seattle is home too, definitely. That’s where I grew up. That’s where I think I absorbed a lot of my musical influences, but I don’t know. Right now, I’m trying to find that home.
AM: What part of your heritage do you identify with the most and why?
EM: I think it’s very fluid, what I relate to. When I studied abroad in Japan my junior year of college, I still felt very much like an outsider in Japan. I was still getting used to speaking proper Japanese. I’d spoken it all my life, but once you go to that country, it’s very different. I was still scraping the surface of the music scene and trying to figure out where my place is. But once I toured with a few bands – I toured with a hip-hop group in Japan – I started doing my own thing more. I met a lot of people who are involved in alternative lifestyles within the society of Japan. That helped me to relate more to my Japanese background. Right now, I do definitely relate much more than I did growing up. But in many ways I also relate a lot more to my American side when I come here, just starting a conversation with strangers, things like that. Constantly, I’m rediscovering different parts I relate to.
AM: Tell us more about working with Albert Chiang (brother of Andrew Figueroa Chang and the Blazing Rays of the Sun front man) on the LOL EP.
EM: Albert was an Asian American mentor [at Meyer’s alma mater Pomona College]. He’s also mixed race [Chinese-Puerto Rican American] and I thought, that was cool. One day, we were having a meeting, and he started playing his music. I didn’t know he was a singer-songwriter. I was captivated by his voice, and I had just started singing. Albert has a very different voice when he sings versus when he speaks, and so do I. I was like, “oh, he does it,” and I really like the music, the lyrics, and the melodies that he comes up with. It must be ok. He was super inspirational during that time. He ended up being like a – this is embarrassing to say because I don’t think I’ve ever told him – mentor, musically. I thought, since I’m coming down to LA to record some songs… why not write something with Albert, and record it?