New Year’s single, Christmas concert get Meyer into festive spirit

by Patrick ST. Michel

Special To The Japan Times

Jazz pianist and singer Emi Meyer has a lot of fond memories of the holiday season.

“For me, a lot of it, is seeing family and traveling. On New Year’s I have really fond memories of going to the temples in Kyoto and spending time with my grandmother in Osaka. New Year’s was the time when my family would come over (from Seattle) and visit.”

I assume Meyer is also a seasoned caroller, but, “I’ve never really been into performing holiday songs,” she says.

That will change on Dec. 23, though, when she takes part in the 2013 edition of Roppongi Hills’ Christmas Concert.

The event, which lasts from Dec. 21-24, features singers and bands performing Christmas music at Ropongi Hills’ Theater. Meyer will take the stage at 7 p.m. on Dec. 23, and she says she is still working out what to perform that evening.

“I really liked Mariah Carey growing up, so I’ll probably do ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You.’ I’m still actually in the process of deciding.”

Whatever she decides to perform at the Christmas Concert, she won’t be performing alone. Seiichi Nagai, guitarist for the band Sotaisei Riron, will join in the holiday festivities. The two have been working closely over the past few years, and Meyer says Nagai played a prominent role in the recording of her next album, which is due out in 2014.

“I had been invited to a showcase of bands and I saw him perform with Sotaisei Riron almost four years ago. I really enjoyed them, I really like their musicality. It was like they had a really skewed take on J-pop, I had never really heard anything like that in Japan before.”

Eventually, with the help of her drummer, she arranged to meet Nagai, and he was soon working with Meyer. One of the pair’s first writing sessions in Hawaii (“halfway between Japan and Seattle, where I was”) resulted in “A Happy New Year,” Meyer’s latest single.

“We met somewhere away from all industry, somewhere our cell phones didn’t work,” she says. “It focused us on the music.

” ‘A Happy New Year’ is a really straightforward song, it’s just describing the atmosphere on New Year’s Eve, after a party and walking home after a party alone. The melody clicked with me . . . the song is somewhere between the musical background I come from and the more produced pop that Seiichi comes from. It was a really good starting point for our collaboration.”

“A Happy New Year” will be part of Meyer and Nagai’s Christmas Concert set, and she says a few other new songs set to appear on her next release will also be performed on Dec. 23, offering a sneak peek of what’s to come. Of course, she says there will be some holiday classics as well.

“I’ll probably have one of my friends dress up as Santa Claus and sing ‘Santa Baby,’ too,” she says. “It should be fun!”

Emi Meyer’s “A Happy New Year” is available in stores now. Meyer performs Dec. 23 (7 p.m.) as part of the Roppongi Hills Christmas Concert, which runs at Roppongi Hills Arena from Dec. 21-24. For more information, visit www.roppongihills.com/christmas/2013.