Hi, how are you?
Naomi: Great, thanks – Philipp just got off touring in Europe with MC Andy Stewlocks, and I …
Would you mind introducing us to ‘AJ Unity’?
Naomi: Of course – I’m Naomi Suzuki – a multi talented model, actress and singer - and Philipp M. Moll – one of the UK’s up and coming music entrepreneurs. For our debut ‘Sweet Roses’ we teamed up with Aided by Norwegian producer Rune Langhelle’s magical touch.
How long has the current band line up been together?
Naomi: We met over three years ago, and initially worked on my solo project. AJ Unity has been active for one year.
How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t yet heard you?
Phlipp: Dreamy, ethereal, soothing – like a nice bottle of Cava. Ahem .. We get likened to Massive Attack, Imogen Heap, maybe Ryuichi Sakamoto ..
What have you been up to recently?
Naomi: We’ve just released our debut and will start undertaking promotional activities soon, such as a live performance supporting on 9th October in London.
How did you meet each other?
Naomi: We met during a function in Central London, under hilarious circumstances which shall remain a secret for a few more years to come.
How did you come up with your name for the band?
Philipp: Naomi thought of our backgrounds and he came up with the whole Austria – Japan concept. The Austria – Japan Unity!
Did you always want to be in a band?
Philipp: Absolutely, …
Naomi: Always …
What music did you listen to while growing up?
Philipp: my Dad is an active musician and played a lot of Jazz and 80ies Pop when I grew up. So … lots of Brecker Bros, Weather Report, Prince, Level 42. As a teenager I ventured into Rock, AC DC, RATM, RHCP.
Naomi: I took piano as my major at the university and also used to listen to Classic music a lot in my childhood. During the university, I used to listen to lots of Jazz, especially Chick Corea, Oscar Peterson, Natalie Cole were my favourites.
How long have you been involved with writing & performing music?
Philipp: Over a decade. The writing came with the performing, pretty much straight away when studying bass guitar.
Naomi: I was aspiring to become a singer-songwriter since I was 12, and was making some songs that time. There was a time I worked as a pop idol in Japan!
What were your first music making experiences?
Naomi: Songs for Japanese children, very simple lyrics with soft melody.
Are you self-taught or did you have lessons?
Philipp: I know it’s not very cool but I actually studied music .. at Paul McCartney’s place, LIPA, in Liverpool. And I studied classical bass at the Royal Northern College Of Music.
What is your current equipment?
Philipp: You mean instruments .. ? I play a Fender Precision with some FX. For recording we use a Rhode vocal mic, recording into Logic Studio. Sometimes we’d mess things up with a Revox B77 tape recorder ..
If you had an unlimited equipment budget what would be on your shopping list?
Philipp: This list would extend the space we are given by about 10 times ..
Naomi: The best microphone ever in the world!
Do you use the same equipment live as you do when in a studio?
Philipp: For live performances, we use some of the stems, running Ableton. I play the same Precision Bass which I used for the recording.
Do you have a set routine when writing and recording or does it depend on each track and the inspiration?
Philipp: We tend to follow a pattern. Naomi comes up with a hook or a melody, I try and think of some complementary parts, chords.
Naomi: .. We then end up fighting over the arrangements but I usually win!
Would you sign with a major record company?
Naomi: Depends on the deal. The tide has changed. Some artists are better off with an indie label, some are very successful without any label at all. We’ve all witnessed some horrific examples how genuine artists’ work was turned into rubbish, so it would have to be a pretty good offer to be considered.
Do you have any new recordings planned?
Naomi: We’ve still got some ideas left from the last sessions which will eventually be turned into AJ Unity songs .. And I always write, I just have to, even if there’s no deadline as such. Right now we’ll focus on promoting our current material.
How much involvement do you have with the arranging and production of the songs when recording?
Philipp: 100%. Both Naomi and I are very clear about what we want. We’re lucky to have met Rune who is very much up for trying things out and experimenting. Usually we have similar ideas about what the music needs. Naomi and I are responsible for the entire Pre-Production including the writing, and Rune polishes everything.
Is the production side of things something you’d like to get involved more in the future, maybe working with other artists?
Naomi: I would definitely like to collaborate with worldwide artists!!
Do you find the process of recording enjoyable and does it get easier the more you do?
Naomi: Yes, I enjoy recording, especially that tension during recording the vocal is so thrilling. Philipp helps me to bring out my good voice. Sometime he says better for my singing that I don’t like personally, but I often realise later that he was right.
Do you any favourite tracks from your album?
Philipp: Has to be ‘Morning’ - I think Rune mixed it so well, it sends shivers down my spine everytime I hear it ..
Naomi: Yes, It's Morning. And I like Jupiter ,too.
Who are the main songwriters for the band?
Naomi: Philipp and I write all the material together.
Do you have a method for writing songs? (lyrics first, music first, etc)
Naomi: Normally, music comes first, and then it expands to lyrics. I sometimes rearrange my old music completely to a new one.
Do you write songs only about personal experiences?
Naomi: Hm .. no necessarily. Some of our music is fairly ambient, almost abstract. I think it’s about telling stories, but not only your own. It’s about creating images and making people feel good.
Do you find song writing easy or difficult?
Naomi:It depends on my feeling. Sometimes I feel so like to write a song, but sometimes it’s such a toil. I often feel like to write a song when something influences me.
Is there anyone who you would like to collaborate with on writing songs or performing?
Philipp: I’d love to work with Beck.
Which countries have you gigged in?
Naomi: Between us, we’ve played in more than 15 different countries.
Which countries would be at the top of your list to tour?
Philipp: USA and Germany – the two biggest markets. And Japan .. because I’ve always wanted to go there.
Naomi: Japan. I’d like to show my stage to my family and friends
Who would you like to tour with?
Philipp: Beck, Massive Attack, Gorillaz ..
How do you promote your music and get your music out to new fans?
Philipp: Myspace. Facebook. Live Gigs.
Which music promotion websites do you use and do you have a favourite?
Philipp: I think Myspace works but is definitely in decline now. Facebook seems more 'hands-on' .. I found CD Baby works well for online retail.
Do you think such sites and the internet are good tools for independent and unsigned artists?
Philipp: They are. Obviously, there are millions of artists trying to push for the big break so your chances can appear quite narrow sometimes. However, the public is left free to choose what they like and don't have to eat what they're being spoon-fed as much as in the old days.
How do you relax?
Philipp: Sports: On a mountainbike, on the tennis court .. Practice can be relaxing.
Naomi : Bath time and sauna.
Have you ever entered any ‘battle of the bands’ competitions?
Yeah - haha - the SKY TV Unsigned band competition. We were left to cue for hours in the rain. It was quite disorganised but still fun.
Naomi: Yes, in my school days in Japan.
What's your best/worst experience at a gig?
Naomi: I was standing against the audience and turned around dancing. My shoe flown away to the auditorium.
Do you get nervous before a gig? How do you calm down?
Naomi: I worry about I might sing lyric wrong. I try to stretch to relax myself.
Philipp: I do if there are people in the audience who are close to me. I try to calm down during the performance - when I know I'm in charge and free to perform there's nothing to be worried about.
What are your day jobs if you have them?
Naomi: I also work as an event organiser.
Philipp: I'm a 24/7 musician. I practice, I perform, I write, I submit, I curate, I rehearse ... there is no time for anything else!!
Would you like to be full time working musicians or are you happy with things as they are?
Naomi: I’d be nice if I could live only with music. But I’d like to try anything I am able to.
Philipp: I am a full time working musician.
Has your music been used on any film soundtracks?
Naomi: I have sang a theme song for an amination film in Japan.
Philipp: Yes, a Swiss short film 'L'Oeil En Face' used some of my tracks.
Is it something you’d like to get involved in if the opportunity came along?
Naomi: I‘d like to song a theme song for Hollywood film.
Philipp: Yeah definitely.