Kim: I want to continue what I'm doing and let as many people as possible listen to our music.
Rachel: It seems that pop music has taken over the music industry in Japan and elsewhere like Hong Kong. How do you see this trend?
Kim: Japan has a long tradition for jazz music. We play the kind of music we want so as to express ourselves. We didn't know what to expect in Hong Kong, but local audiences have reacted well to our music.
Alex: How is it different playing in Hong Kong and Japan?
Kim: At home the audience is quiet and shy ... I think they can make noise and clap hands but they tend to go like this (He clasps his hands on his knees). In Hong Kong, listeners are very lively, which made us comfortable. It was very nice.
Alex: What advice would you give to people who want to break into this industry?
Kim: All I can say is 'Never give up.' I went to university in Sydney and returned to Japan six or seven years ago. At the time, I couldn't support myself financially so I had to do part-time jobs. There was a time I thought it would be impossible for me to live off music, to become a professional musician. But I love music and it had become a part of me so I just stuck with it and here we are. If you love music, keep at it.
Rachel: By keeping music part of your daily life, how do you find time for your family and friends?
Kim: I don't think I manage it well. I have a wife and a daughter. Being a professional musician is tough. But it's important to do what you love. Music is what you live for.
Alex: What attracted you to jazz as opposed to other genres of music?
Kim: The freedom, I think. When you play music and you get into music [you get the feeling of being free]. For example, when you practise for five to six hours every day, in the sixth hour you might get this sense of spiritual elevation.
I think music has power, especially jazz, because of its nature. Jazz draws heavily on improvisation. We play different things every day, not because we have to but because it just happens. That part of music is really attractive and that's what draws me to it most.
Suigmoto: Music is really powerful. When you play, it can be really hard to create [good] music. You can see the goal, but you can't reach it. But don't quit as you might get something that makes you realise "I'm growing" and then you can see the next step.
Alex: How do you hold on to all those inspirations you get?
Kim: I don't hold on to them; I wait for them to come. They come at the weirdest moments, like when you're brushing your teeth.
Rachel: How do you guys deal with each other? Did you ever get into an argument, for instance?
Kim: We have lots of fights in music. We also have differences because of our different lifestyles and personalities. We bicker even over small things. Because we see each other so often, the band is like our second family.
Alex: Could you tell us about your latest CD?
Kim: The inspiration for it came from the band. They are such a joy to be with. It took me about six months to write all the tunes on the album. When it comes to writing music, inspiration can come from anywhere. But composing for me is more like drawing simple sketches, which I present to my band members. They start playing the songs, and as they play, each of them adds their own different colours and inspirations to the original songs.
We were on tour before we wrote the new songs. Touring is very important for creating music. Traditionally, classical musicians would travel to different places to play their music. I think the reason for that was that they draw inspiration from the various places where they played. That becomes very useful for creating music.