There were a slew of artists who played this year’s Pitchfork Music Festival I wasn’t that familiar with or had no expectations for, but nonetheless was excited to see what I had heard on Spotify translated on stage. My excitement heightened when I found out I was going to get some time with Chicago-based, Japanese-born jazz-rap multi-instrumentalist (this seems like a long-winded technical way to say musical extraordinaire) Sen Morimoto to learn a little bit more about him.
After his performance on Friday afternoon, I was really looking forward to see how he would answer our questions and some of his own musings and what inspires him and what he creates musically. His new album, Diagnosis is out on Nov. 3 on City Slang and in the meantime, theres a dope All Things Sen Morimoto playlist on Spotify worth listening to on a shuffle.
What are five words you would best describe your music to someone who has never heard you before?
SM: Genreless, Exploratory, Lyrical, Melodic, Earnest or Unconventional Pop For Thoughtful Freaks
What was one positive thing that came out of the pandemic for you as a musician(s)?
SM: It’s hard to see anything as a positive in such a brutal time but in some sense I think I grew up a lot over the past three years. Up until January of 2020 I was touring full time, which had been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember, but also turned out to be a totally different reality than I had imagined. It’s a hard way to make a living and at that time I was so wrapped up in getting to do this thing I loved full time that I didn’t know what would come next or how I could make a sustainable future out of it. Honestly I still don’t really have the answer to that one but when the pandemic hit and everything shut down I was forced to think differently about this career path in the long term and rebalance how much of my life I allow it to take space in.
If you were to create a piece of art to best visualize the music you create for someone who has never heard it, what would it look like and what sort of medium would you use?
SM: I’ve always been obsessed with music videos. That medium is just so tied to music discovery for me as a kid. Even though it’s become a less impactful part of music media I still really enjoy creating visual universes and story-lines to accompany my albums.
For my first two albums I had hand in creating the concepts and shot ideas for the music videos but for my upcoming record Diagnosis I'm co-directing all of the visuals with New Trash who are an awesome video crew based in Chicago and frequent collaborators. Learning the skills to visually communicate what’s in the music is really exciting.
If there were any character in history from any medium (tv, literature, film etc.) that you’d best liken yourself to who would It be? Why?
SM: I’ve always kind of related to Arnold from Hey Arnold! He’s kind of mellow and melancholic even though he’s always got a positive attitude and his good intentions always get him into trouble.
First word or thing that comes to mind when you think of Chicago?
What are five songs released so far that are still constantly on repeat for you?
SM: Free by Kara Jackson
Sudafed - NNAMDÏ
All The Same - Cisco Swank
My Evil - Palehound
Snow Cones - Joseph Chilliams
My daughter, Ande’s Question: What’s your favorite kind of hot dog?
SM: I recently had a Kielbasa dog which was polish kielbasa with sauerkraut in a bun and it was amazing!! I think that’s my favorite dog right now.