Miki Purnell recently made her notable recording debut with Swingin’ to the Sea. Musically, the CD is full of joy, high musicianship, versatility, infectious enthusiasm, and memorable singing. But when one considers that Miki is a full-time doctor who practices in the San Diego area, it is particularly remarkable that her singing is so professional, fresh and inventive, never sounding like this is her second career. Miki Purnell has an original style, a very appealing voice, and an irresistible enthusiasm for the music she sings. Read below for the full interview…
Throughout the duration of your album, you have found music therapy to be an asset to your overall character. How has the creative process of this album effected your other professions?
Miki: During the creation of my debut album “Swingin’ to the Sea,” I found music brings peace within chaos, helps me focus, and helps me appreciate my day-to-day life more. I spend five to six days a week taking care of my patients. The other one to two days a week are my days to relax, revive, and reset. My favorite time is going to the beach and “feeling the ocean.” That is where my album concept came from! I walked on the beach barefoot, pedaled my bike in the sweet and salty air, and felt the melody and words come from my heart. It was a wonderful feeling! When things go crazy in my busy day, I just meditate for a few seconds, remembering how wonderful the feeling was, and I feel the peace I felt within immediately coming back to me. I find it very therapeutic!
What challenges presented themselves when you take a classic song and give it your own personal twist and arrangement? Did you experience any pressure tackling these musical challenges?
Miki: Finding a balance between preserving the essence of the classic music and yet still bringing my own twist was challenging. You want to be tasteful. You respect the original and only change the area where your interpretation/your idea is meaningful and tastefully tells your own story.
I believe you grew up in Japan and graduated in Okayama. What impact have these experiences living in another part of the world had on your life? Was it hard to adjust living in California afterwards?
Miki: Moving to another country opened my eyes! And living in California helps me accept diversity and see the benefit of it! 1+1=3!
Tell us a bit about the positive messages embedded in “Swingin’ to the Sea.”
Miki: In the stress of life, one must take time to connect with nature and oneself.
Why do you feel jazz was the best genre to communicate your message to the musical audience of the world?
Miki: Jazz is timeless and it allows for the freedom of improvisation. Jazz was born to cope with difficulties such as slavery and world depression. I wish jazz to continue to evolve in our time and help us cope with the modern stresses of life.
Do you have any favorite Asian films?
Miki: “Seven Samurai” by Akira Kurosawa. This film shows how people who help their fellow men need courage and love and need to make sacrifices.
Recording a CD is an important milestone in turning your hard work of vocal and songwriting training into fruition. Having worked with so many people along your journey, what was the evolution process incorporating your own style, voice, and lyrics?
Miki: I am still evolving and I wish to continue to evolve. There are always next steps. I work with wonderful mentors and they are all evolving. This time, the most important thing I tried to do was to find “my color,” and my persona as an artist. I find that singing is a reflection of my life. My positive and bright side was the primary focus of this project as I stepped into the world of jazz.
How incredible is it that the right song can be stumbled upon at the right moment and somehow inexplicably become a part of who you are? You stated that ‘Music can reach people when words fail.’ How were you able to create songs that achieved this goal?
Miki: Some things are unexplainable. They just happen. That’s what art is. That is the difference between art and science. Art comes from the soul.
Since you have a very busy day-job as well, will there be any tour dates or intimate venues where people can catch your music live this year?
Miki: Yes, life is all about balancing. After my debut concert, I will plan to have regular concerts once every 1-2 months. I also plan to visit Japan in Fall 2013, and wish to have some concerts there.
Lastly, what advice do you have for someone who might be scared or fearful of following their musical dreams?
Miki: The worst failure in life is never trying!
Make sure to mark your calendars as June 23rd is her album release concert. Follow the links below to get info on Miki and her music: