Journey to the Heart: Interview with Keiko Matsui

Written by Mikey Jayy

Japanese born Pianist, Composer, Producer, Jazz Artist, and Philanthropist, Keiko Matsui has been making music for four decades and has been captivating audiences around the world.

Matsui has released a staggering 27 albums, sold out multiple shows across the US, and is one of the most recognizable names in contemporary music. Matsui’s music is a dynamic blend of different styles ranging from American Jazz, Jazz Fusion, and New Age.

The Rose is proud to host a night with Keiko Matsui on February 12. Tickets are available at

Interview with Keiko Matsui

You’ve released 27 albums over your career and you’re in your 31st year as a recording Artist and you’ll be performing in Pasadena on February 12.  To this day, what has been the highlight of your career?

Keiko: Wow…hard to pick.

By recalling my memory, I feel so grateful that continuously I was able to release album and touring in many different part of the world. I think most valuable thing is my fans, who met my album and loving my music and keep coming back to my performance. And, we really able to share emotion and energy together at performance. I feel so fortunate…

Of course when my album debut #1 on the billboard contemporary jazz chart in the past was great. Then for this new album, again debut #1 so I’m happy!

How young where you when you started music?

Keiko: I started my piano lesson (classical piano) when I was 5-years-old.

Was music chosen for you or was it something you wanted to do?

Keiko: In Japan, it’s common to start some kind of lesson around that age.

My mom was doing traditional Japanese dance so, she wanted me to take that. But, I didn’t show any interest so, she took me to piano lesson. I was good girl so she never said “should practice”. So, naturally I was taking lessons but, besides music, I was into studying, sports…many things.

What styles do you combine to create your music?

Keiko: To me, music has no boarders. In my compositions, you might find elements from classic, Jazz, Pop, world music, R&B, Rock, etc. But, I had no intuition to create certain style.

Very naturally, I am receiving melodies and sometime those compositions carries different influence.

You speak a lot of “spirit” in the music you create. Can you explain what it means when something or someone has spirit? How does this translate into song?

Keiko: My music is like a mirror; reflecting my thought, my emotion and my vision. And, putting my heart and soul into my playing & music is very important to me. When I thought about <Life>, I noticed that each one of us have soul/ sprit.

Since your soul decided to come to this planet, you are on Soul Quest. And, with this new album, I realized that my journey up to here was for discovering myself. At same time, journey to my fan’s heart. Because of their support, I could come this far and with my experience (Music connects us beyond all the differences), I can believe that this is my mission of this life. Which is delivering my melodies and dedicating performances. And really hope that by music we can increase more peaceful air on this planet.

Did you always want to become a professional musician?

Keiko: Not at all.

How did you career come about?

Keiko: By taking lessons (gradually, I started learning composition, Jazz, Music theory, etc.), I had opportunity to compose for a movie sound track when I was in high school. Since then, naturally I start composing and performing as professional.

What classical Artists influenced your style of music?

Keiko: Bach, Chopin, Rachmaninoff

Have American Artists ever played a role in your influence as an Artist yourself?

Keiko: Stevie Wonder, Dave Brubeck, Joe Sample, Chick Corea…

Have you performed with anyone famous? Tell us your favorite moment.

Keiko: It was great opportunity to perform for Miles Davis performance as an opening act at beginning of my career in US. I kept poster; Miles Davis with special guest Keiko Matsui. Great to meet him at back stage. Also, when we did charity show in LA after 9/11, at finale, we had Stevie on stage with us and performed together. I still have photo; many artist were there for the event: Wave of Peace.

You seem to release a new album nearly every year and your latest album is called Journey to the Heart. What can fans expect to see at your performance on February 12?

Keiko: Since I have new songs from new album, will feature from that and also add some of my hits from previous albums. Will perform special set list for you!

What is in store for Keiko Matsui in the coming year?

Keiko: I’m looking forward to create new music and touring more.

Also I’d like to bring more orchestra show in the US. In the past, I have been doing Orchestra show in Ukraine. Also did few times with United States Air Force Orchestra, as guest artist. Also, with Asian American symphony orchestra, Reading Pop orchestra. Looking forward to have more to express my music in different way.

Beside music, since I started charity work for children who have problem making a living in poor country, I’d like to keep doing charity work in different part of the world.

Find more about Keiko Matsui at