I know, I know. It’s been like a month since we’ve done an Artist of the Week interview. It seems like every time I write one of these I start by apologizing. I think maybe we should change the title of this to Artist of the “Week.” But don’t fret, we got Tashaki Miyaki this week and a lot more email interviews floating around the Internet right now. I’m gonna get this thing under control, I promise.
We talked to Lucy Miyaki about the band’s appearance in that adorable Subaru ad, cover songs, and alternative versions of songs. The Los Angeles group has a lot of fuzz and reverb on its tracks, but that doesn’t mean it can’t make a really gorgeous acoustic version too.
How would you describe Tashaki Miyaki’s sound?
That is always a tough question. It is difficult to describe something from the inside. I have a tendency to move fast in my mind, so I generally like things that slow me down and are thoughtful. I like this feeling in art, books, movies, whatever…and I hope that is the case with our band.
Subaru chose an alternative version of your song “Keep Me In Mind” which is a lot less fuzzy. Do you think people might get the wrong idea about the band based on the Subaru commercial?
No I never even considered that. We recorded an alternate version of the song with the intention of it being heard in a different way. Many of the artists who influenced me most have different versions of songs. This is still our band and it’s still our song. I grew up listening to old county music and a bunch of songwriters that came out of the ’60s. Song interpretation used to be a thing, and i’d like to see more of that now, and why should that not include reimagining one’s own songs?
Did you make the alternative version specifically for Subaru?
No, we had recorded alternate versions of three songs that were on our 2011 EP, with the intention of them being bonus tracks. Recording music is like a science experiment, and often your experiment fails, or you make new discoveries along the way and that process is something I love. As a band we spend a fair amount of time in the studio, so it often comes up. Things like, “What if this were just an acoustic song with a cello?” And if we have the time we usually go explore those ideas.
The band has recorded a lot of covers, what do you enjoy about cover songs? What’s one song you haven’t covered that you’d really like to attempt?
I kind of touched on this topic in an earlier question. I admire people who can interpret a song. Billie Holliday wasn’t writing songs, but you wouldn’t know that by the way she sings them. Willie Nelson wrote “Crazy,” but when you hear Patsy Cline sing it, it feels like it was made for her. Jimi Hendrix‘s version of “All Along the Watchtower” was totally his own… I could go on and on with examples. There was a time when musicians were comfortable doing other people’s songs. I personally feel this was a good thing. If a song is great why not have current artists of different genres all doing that song? I’d really like to cover “I Am The Cosmos” by Chris Bell. It’s one of my favorite songs. But it’s so great how it is, it’s hard to me to imagine another way it could be. I think i’d need an orchestra.
“Keep Me In Mind” is originally off an EP. Are you working on a full-length album right now?
Yes. We are in the midst of recording a full-length album. We still have some finishing touches to make. Hopefully will be done in April and we can start deciding on a label and get the record out there. We are all ready for that.
Do you tour outside of L.A.?
We do travel around some. Last summer we did a small tour of the UK and then flew to Toronto and opened for Florence and the Machine and then played a couple shows in New York. We recently just returned from SXSW in Austin. We would like to tour more. I think this will come with the full length being released.
Has your appearance in the Subaru ad affected your fan base at all? Would you consider doing more commercial work?
We have received a few very sweet emails and messages on Facebook. There has been a positive response to the commercial and that is nice. We are open to doing other commercial work, the music industry has changed a lot, and for a lot of bands, licensing your music is the only way to make money and be able to do things like record and tour. So yes we will consider anything. And it also has to do with the company. Subaru is a good company. They make affordable, safe cars that get good gas mileage. Ha. I sound like my dad now, but it’s true. There are certain companies we wouldn’t want to support…but we take it on a case by case basis. No blanket statements.