Behind the Music: Interview with Calista Kazuko – Voice of Aiko

‘We are what we eat, watch and hear, so we have a huge responsibility as artists to help people and the world in any way we can.’ 

Welcome Calista, tell us a bit about yourself: Hi! My name is Calista Kazuko I’m a singer/songwriter from London and today I’m representing Voice of Aiko – a new creative collective of musicians, filmmakers, dancers and artists joining forces to campaign for change. An artistic army on a mission! Our first project is called ‘Prescription Dream’ and we are working with incredible artists and charities REST, MIND & APRIL to draw a spotlight on an ongoing global prescription drug epidemic.

In England alone there are an estimated 1.5 million people suffering from doctor-induced Benzo drug dependency and more than 1 million patients are taking dependence-forming drugs unnecessarily. Antidepressants are also a major problem and statistics show that roughly 50 Americans die from prescription painkiller overdoses every day. There are great resources online to find out more at: BenzoInfo, W-BAD, April and Mind.

Describe your music style in no more than 5 words: Mind bending life changing magic!

Ages: 25 – 45

Where are you from? I’m from London, the other awesome artists in of Voice of Aiko are from Slovenia, Berlin, Frankfurt, Venezuela, Japan, Iran, Switzerland and more!!

Which instruments do you/the band play? I play the piano, violin and accordion. Between the Voice of Aiko artists I honestly think there would be a struggle to find an instrument we couldn’t cover 😉

Why the name ‘Voice of Aiko’? Aiko is a family name on my Mother’s Japanese side. It can be directly translated as ‘Child of Love’. My dear great Auntie Aiko is in her late 90s and now in a nursing home in California. This project is dedicated to her and to give her a voice. Our mission is to ‘give the silenced a voice’.

Who else is involved in your music? Our first project, ‘Prescription Dream’, is a collaboration of myself with the incredible producer musicians Samim, Miguel Toro and Jack Brown and incredible filmmaker Enya Belak Gupta. There are many more exciting collaborations happening, Voice of Aiko is an unbound infinity of creative possibilities!

‘With social media taking over, it’s imperative that musicians have a positive state of mind’ 

Do you have any releases and/or performances coming up soon? Voice of Aiko are excited to be working on our next project which will be released in late January 2019. This project is focusing on refugee and asylum seeker children, in particular the children who were left in Calais after the Jungle was destroyed. We have some truly incredible artists and collaborations lined up, more to be revealed soon!

Why did you become involved in music? Both my parents were classical musicians so I have been bathed in music since birth! My incredible Dad, Paul Robertson, was the founder leader of the Medici String Quartet and my Goddess Mum, Chika Robertson, is also a fabulous violinist. They’ve both dedicated much of their lives to exploring the relationship between music and the mind, running a charity called the Music Mind Spirit Trust. I am so lucky to have such inspiration to aspire to!

When did you first become involved in music? I began playing the violin aged 3(!) I started writing songs when I was about 11 and as a young teen was dragging my keyboard around Camden Town performing as a singer/songwriter.

What has music enabled you to do? Music has enabled me to have the most incredible life! Meet the most beautifully bonkers people, make the best of friends, create beautiful art, have awe-inspiring wild times, see the world, share my inner most secrets, explore the sub-conscious and party hard!

Who are your inspirations? Top 5 are Kate Bush, Supertramp, Fiona Apple, Muse, Portishead. My greatest inspiration in life is Freddie Mercury – he is everything to me!

What is the point of music? To live, laugh, change, cry, go wild, chill, change the world. We are what we eat, watch and hear, so we have a huge responsibility as artists to help in any way we can. If we can get more people talking and thinking about the impact prescription drugs can have with this project, our mission will be complete!

‘Sometimes if we’re not able to understand or communicate something, music can bridge this gap.’

How important do you think it is for musicians to have a positive state of mind? Imperative. It’s so easy to slip in to places of anxiety, self-doubt or lethargy when working in creative industries, especially these days with social media taking over. There’s an amazing charity called Music Minds Matter who offer incredible support to musicians and their mental health, including a 24 hour phone line. We’re organising a fundraising show with them next Spring which will be great. Find out more here.

Mental health is in the media a lot at the moment, how do you think music can help recovery? Music can say more than a thousand words, and sometimes if we’re not able to understand or communicate something, music can bridge this gap. Part of the ‘Prescription Dream’ campaign includes a series of musical workshops with Let’s All Create using art to help heal those who have been affected.

For me, these sessions are the most uplifting and important part of the project. It doesn’t matter where you came from or where you’re going, for those few hours we are all totally free, our one job is to unite and create. It’s a powerful illustration of how art can help and heal.

How important is the arts council funding to the success of your project? Voice of Aiko is extremely grateful to be supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England. This support is allowing us to fulfil all the areas of this project which includes art, film, music, dance, performance, charity workshops and build interactive online communities.

We are able to create and share multi-disciplinary art and use it to open hearts and minds, raise awareness and offer real societal change, reaching people who may not otherwise have such opportunities. We are hugely thankful to the Arts Council England for allowing the success of this project.

Any other creative talents and if so do they influence your music in any way? I am obsessed with origami. I love how you start with 1 sheet of paper and 100s of folds later end up with a wheelbarrow/unicorn/tiny house. It’s really like magic and I always wonder ‘who sat there and figured this out’?! I guess music is the same in that you start with nothing and end up with Wagner’s Ring Cycle. Bit like human life and the universe…. Just all one big magical miracle!

Any interesting facts about yourself you would like to share? I am in the process of making my debut solo studio album called ‘EMPRESS’ and am loving it! A history of Empresses through the ages, this record will be a rollercoaster ride of epic sonic soundscapes! The album also explores the adversities women have had to endure throughout time and the relationship between powerful women and sexuality. It’s been really fun entering the different worlds of the various fabulous Empresses and I can’t wait to finish it and unleash it unto the world in Spring 2019! ‘EMPRESS’ the album is available for pre-order exclusively at Pledge Music here.

I’m also beyond excited to be writing my first musical ‘Mary Quake’ with phenomenal playwright Stephanie Martin. We hope to have a first draft complete by end of 2018 and can not wait to see our baby come to life! Final fun fact though: I’m also married to a complete dreamboat sex-god who is French and delicious 😉

Thanks so much for having us and welcome to the Voice of Aiko army. 🎎

Follow Calista Kazuko on: Facebook and Twitter
Listen to and watch Calista Kazuko on: Spotify and YouTube
Find out more about Calista Kazuko, Voice of Aiko and their music at: Track Review: Voice of Aiko: Prescription Dream

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