Kazu is beautifully complex. Born and raised in Kyoto, she moved to New York in the early '90s. She soon met Italian twins Simone and Amadeo Pace and together they formed the iconic trio Blonde Redhead. Though disarmingly shy in person, Kazu has been their commanding lead vocalist for more than two decades. Her voice gently reaches across a conversation, contemplating the fundamentals of any true musician – art, philosophy, style.
Deep in the throes of writing and recording her first solo album, Kazu invited us to her East Village apartment to talk about matcha, life's pleasures and her greatest style influence.
How do you start your day?
I start with music, matcha and two slices of toast.
Do you dream of music, or other things?
Yes, I dream of great new songs from time to time. And it's most frustrating – when I manage to write them down, it's not great at all.
Where did your love of music come from?
It's probably in my genes – my grandfather was a violinist. I grew up with the sound of classical music constantly in the background. My family was very opposed to me doing this for a living, but then they shouldn't have raised me with so much of it!
When did you realize you had to be a musician?
I never thought of it that way. For me, it is an escape rather than an ambition.
Do you prefer the recording process or being on the road touring?
Recording... I can't quite describe how far your mind can travel through this process. An intimate and secluded environment is also very desirable.
With touring, the great moment of creative out-of-body experience lasts only a short time and the rest is gearing up, conditioning towards that – and it's a bit rough.
How do you decide what to wear on stage?
Comfort and freedom of movement coupled with a bit of fantasy.
What is style, to you?
The ability to identify yourself outside of you. That could lead you to a bad style, but that's fun too.
Who has been your greatest style influence?
Ryuichi Sakamoto. He experiments yet is consistent. He is cozy yet radical. He is curious but classical. He is kind but private. His is so funny yet serious. A few of my close friends possess this quality and I admire them endlessly.
How has your style changed throughout the years?
It hasn't really. I have the style of an infant. I find soft things, like these Frances de Lourdes t-shirts, and sparkly things irresistible.
Tell us about what your wore today?
I wore the white almost sleeveless Garçon Tee with high waisted, pale blue jeans by Mayle, a hand me down from Jane Mayle. I also wore the black long sleeve Romy on top of an Isabel Marant silk blue dress.
We're in New York, is this home for you? What other cities do you love?
I love Kyoto, Japan and Isola d'Elba, Italy. And any place with lots of horses.
Can you tell us about your horse, Harry?
I retired Harry. It still feels too tender to talk about. I've been taking time away from horses and focusing on writing music for my solo record.
What are some other great pleasures you have in life?
It isn't hard for me to find pleasures in life. I even like cleaning up, hanging white clothes, drinking tea and bubbly, eating alone and with friends, reading and talking. I guess pleasure lies between being alone and with others.
What is next for you?
My solo album. It is blowing up in my mind. I hope it is as good as I think it is.
The best advice for life?
Learn and unlearn, repeat. Suffer with aim.
By Neada Jane
Photography by Bec Lorrimer