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Morgan Fisher: ‘If all the world’s a stage, where’s the dressing room?’

by Elliott Samuels

Staff Writer

Name: Morgan Fisher
Age: 64
Nationality: English
Occupation: Light/sound painter
Likes: Heat, light, sound
Dislikes: Cold, anger, noise


1. What first brought you to Japan? I had no plan, only the need for a change of scene from my previous home in Hollywood. I felt right at home from day one.

2. What’s keeping you here? It’s easy to find nattō (fermented soybeans) and hard to find cynicism.

3. Who in Japan do you most admire? Toru Takemitsu (1930-96), a composer of music for films by Hiroshi Teshigahara, Akira Kurosawa, etc. He was a genius for his amazing creativity with sound.

4. Where do you go to escape Tokyo? Kamakura (and Zushi and Hayama) for sea, air and rental electric bicycles.

5. What’s your favorite Japanese word or phrase? Ii (good). Such a simple sound to express joy and satisfaction.

6. What’s your favorite phrase in any language? Je t’aime (I love you in French). It sensuously sounds like what it means.

7. Describe your most embarrassing moment. Returning to school aged 16 after a summer break, having inflicted a kind of “mod” haircut on myself. It stopped traffic in the corridors…

8. What’s the most outrageous thing you have ever done? I pushed an out-of-tune grand piano off stage after a frustrating two-hour concert. It flipped upright and stayed there, balanced on its nose.

9. What’s the strangest request you’ve ever been asked in your line of work? My first pop band in 1968 was asked to model “groovy” new flower-power suits made of paper. They didn’t catch on.

10. If you could have dinner with anyone from history, who would it be? Erik Satie (1866-1925), an innovative French composer who combined childlike innocence with erudite sophistication, surreal humor with calm spirituality.

11. What song best describes your work ethic? “Alfie,” the 1966 film theme song. First line: “What’s it all about?” I’m still looking…

12. What superhero would you most like to be? Superman, because he can do what I have occasionally done in my most ecstatic dreams — fly!

13. What do you think about while standing on the train? No thinking required; I listen to the sounds around me, and eat the odd chocolate.

14. If you won ¥1 million in the lottery, what would you do with the money? For a mere million, I’d hold a gourmet organic dinner party for my friends and spend what little was left on equipment for my music/art studio.

15. If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title should be? “The Butterfly Catcher,” because I seem to have a knack for grasping unforeseen opportunities as they flutter by, rather than going around ambitiously armed and greedily hunting.

16. Tell us a quick joke. More of a riddle than a joke: If all the world’s a stage, where’s the dressing room?

17. Name three uses of a stapler without staples. Paperweight, light hammer, nut cracker. I’ve done all these.

18. How would you find a needle in a haystack? With an X-ray.

19. What do you want to be when you grow up? Just like I am right now but without worrying about it in the slightest.

20. Do you have any words of advice for young people? In any stressful situation, you have three choices: (i) Accept it just exactly the way it is — and relax; (ii) Solve it (make it the way you want it) — and relax; (iii) Walk away from it — and relax (and go and eat some chocolate).

Morgan Fisher is hosting a series of intimate performances called Morgan’s Organ At Home at his personal recording studio. The next show will be held on May 23. For more details, see www.morgan-fisher.com.