Heavy guitarist, pianist and model. Miki Black shares with us her musical upbringing, experiences in the arts, present recording and film projects, and much more.
February 26, 2004
Guitarhoo!: Where are you from originally?
Miki Black: Springfield, Illinois. I’ve lived all over, but I spent 12 years there so I just call it my hometown. If you are referring to nationality, I am Japanese/Caucasian.
G!: Are you from a musical or creative family?
MB: My mother is extremely creative and my brother played trombone for a while, but ended up giving it up in his teens.
G!: Did your family have an influence on you creatively?
MB: My family have always encouraged all of my endeavors. My mother’s artistic talents and my family’s support has definitely influenced me.
G!: At what age did you find yourself interested in the arts and what were some of your childhood dreams?
MB: As a child, I can’t remember a time where I didn’t draw or have an interest in the arts. My childhood dream was always to become a rock star! I started listening to metal when I was ten so I started out a tad bit earlier than most little girlies.
G!: You’ve accomplished quite a bit in varied capacities (modelling, art, music etc.) Which of these did you start with early on?
MB: The art started when I learned how to use a pencil. The music started at around 7 with an organ that my dad bought. The modeling started when most model’s careers are already history.
G!: As for modelling, how did you get involved in the fashion scene?
MB: I started out modeling in the sport bike scene. It definitely wasn’t fashion modeling, but it was so nice to break away from the corporate job that I had at the time. I was basically getting paid to hang out with cool people and shoot photos. Over time I started landing larger-scale jobs and now I model a variety from beauty to bikini to fashion. I don’t consider myself a fashion model though, being that I am not 5’10.
G!: You’ve done some spreads for Playboy, how did that gig come about?
MB: I was featured in the “Grapevine” section of the September ’03 issue, but I haven’t officially posed nude for Playboy. I’m very proud that I got in there somehow without having to take all my clothes off! I’m also a body paint model at the Mansion parties, which is fully nude, but the artwork is so deceiving that you can’t tell. Too fun!
G!: Do you frequent the Mansion and do you have any anecdotes from your visits there?
MB: I’ve been there a few times. I had the best time when I went during the day on a Sunday and just hung out, thanks to one of Hef’s girlfriends. There was no “official” party so it was completely laid back and we got to explore the grounds quite a bit. I took two girlfriends of mine and we explored, relaxed at the pool, drank, ate dinner with Hef and a group of his close friends, and watched “Singin’ in the Rain.” Everyone treated us like queens. I’ll never forget the experience.
G!: Great! You seem to be very active, the type of person who likes to explore and try everything atleast once. Is this fair to say?
MB: In my teenage years, I was extremely experimental with everything I came into contact with. Now I’ve toned down several notches and my experimentation is expressed mainly through my career ventures and with food!
G!: With all the different avenues you can take to express yourself, do you sometimes have difficulty focusing on one project, or do you find it easy to switch from one role to another?
MB: In all honesty, it isn’t always so easy to jump from one project to another. I’m sure that I have ADD because I’m always doing 20 things at once, rather than focusing on one task and a time. I do make sure that I follow through on what I need to though, if time permits. There’s nothing I hate more than unfinished business. If I had a choice, I would focus solely on my music and art.
MB: It’s funny how the two intertwine with each other. I have landed modeling gigs from the music industry and music gigs from the modeling industry. There are name droppers in both industries and tons of shady characters, but you learn to weed through them to find the few gems in the entertainment industry. If you do not have good marketing skills and are a poor negotiater, you might want to get the fuck out of the industry. Even the smart ones will get screwed at some point because you are in an industry full of deceit and scandal. Luckily, from working for my father’s business and working in the corporate world for so many years prior to pursuing the entertainment industry, I gained countless business skills that were easily crossed over. It’s always a nice feeling to find out that I received a much better deal than another working the same type of gig because I didn’t have issues saying “No” when dissatisfied with an offer. It’s amazing what you can get if you just stand your ground. Self-promotion in the entertainment industry is no different from running your own business. The only difference is the “product” you are promoting is yourself, as vain as that sounds.
G!: Which of the two do you prefer so far?
MB: Music by far. The two cannot be compared and music is definitely a much higher form of expression than modeling. Modeling does not require talent and does not have the passion that music does.
G!: You’ve appeared in a JaRule – Bobby Brown video. How did that come about and what can you tell us about that experience?
MB: The agency that I was with at the time sent me out on a casting for the video and I landed it. It was a whole lot of “hurry up and wait.” Music videos are always long hours and it’s surprising how much time is spent sitting around doing nothing. I was only on the video for a few secs, but was paid as a featured model. It was cool.
MB: Yes, my band is going to be featured in a movie written by Riz Story, the founder of the band. The movie is called “Sip the Pleasure of Days.” I can’t wait! Read more about it at www.RizStory.com and www.AnyoneDen.com.
G!: You are also a talented artist and ceramicist. Is this where you find some solitude and relaxation from the more high pace of modelling and music?
MB: I wish I had the time for art. I don’t have much spare time these days, but boy do I need it.
G!: Do you have any paintings on display in Galleries?
MB: No, I’ve never tried.
A few of Miki’s art pieces done with a combination of pastels, graphite
and photography. © 2003 Miki Black
MB: Everyone’s favorites, Dali, Van Gogh, Michelangelo, etc. There’s really too many to name and some whose names I can’t remember. I took several semesters of Art History in college so I was exposed to every era of art that existed. I like a wide variety of artists and styles from Pointillism to Photorealism. I do have a favorite pinup artist though, Dave Nestler. He recently painted me as a schoolgirl. The detail in the piece is amazing.
MB: No, the crazier the person, the better the artist.
G!: Do you feel that your artistry (art/music/fashion) comes from a spiritual place deep within yourself?
MB: Considering churches start smoldering when I walk into them, no. Ha! I have to admit that when I see others with talent, I often feel their gift comes from a higher source. I’d like to say the same is true for myself, but I’m very hard on myself and question why I would have such a privelege.
G!: While you are expressing one art form (say modelling or dancing) can that trigger ideas for you musically, or if you are writing a song can this spark your imagination to create a painting? (does your artistry bleed into each other – if that makes any sense)
MB: Yes, I have several ideas from modeling that I would like to portray in artwork and music is definitely inspirational is creating artwork. Anything can bleed together if you allow it to.
G!: Let’s move onto the music. Which instruments do you play?
MB: I play the guitar and piano. I used to play the oboe.
G!: Are you a schooled musician or self taught?
MB: Both. I did take several years of lessons, but there’s always been things I’ve picked up on my own. It never hurts to take lessons and continue to expand your knowledge. I’ll never consider myself too good to learn from others.
G!: What attracted you to pick up guitar?
MB: It’s more like who…Randy Rhoads. I discovered him shortly after he died. I fell in love with him.
MB: For guitarists, Randy, of course. Steve Vai, Jimmy Page, Zakk Wlyde, Eddie Van Halen…again, too many to name. Band-wise I love Floyd, Zeppelin, Tool, Rush, Joplin, old Metallica, Billy Joel, Beethoven, I could go on.
G!: Did you ever dig back and listen to Randy’s music with Quiet Riot? It’s pretty straight ahead rock and he took quite the musical leap on the Ozzy records.
MB: Yeah, I heard it. It’s so drastically different. I prefer his work with Ozzy, although everything Randy did was awesome.
G!: What’s your fav Randy/Ozzy song?
MB: Dee, then perhaps Diary of a Madman.
G!: What are you using for guitars and amps?
MB: I have an old Dauphin Model 60 Classical, an old Kramer Nightswan, a Schecter Ultra, and a Yamaha acoustic. I’m getting a custom Schecter soon. I still have my old Crate amp.
G!: You’ve done some recording with Joy Basu (solo guitarist and touring/session player), should we expect more work from the two of you down the road?
MB: Yes, there’s more to come. He’s an amazing guitarist.
G!: Ya, he definitely is. You’ve just got the gig as Guitarist for the group “Anyone”. How did that come about?
MB: I met with Riz Story to audition for a role in his upcoming film, “Sip the Pleasure of Days.” This guy is the definition of the term “multi-talented.” I saw some guitars laying around so I told him I played. I could see in his face that he thought I was full of shit so when he asked me to play and I jammed out some blues and then some classical, I think he was a little shocked. Over the course of the next few days, he decided to have me do some guest guitar work on one of the songs for the upcoming soundtrack. I was thrilled with just that. Then he asked me to join the band. What made it official was when I played “Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony” for him on the piano.
Miki with the guys in Anyone
MB: The movie features the band so I play a whacked out, drugged up version of myself.
G!: Are you taking part in the song writing for the album?
MB: I just joined the band a couple months ago so a large majority of the soundtrack has been written by Riz, but I’ll partake here and there.
G!: Is Riz and Anyone giving you creative freedom on your guitar parts or is it laid out for you?
MB: I’m sure I will in the future, but much of this soundtrack was written prior to my joining the band so I can’t expect to rewrite what’s already been written. I will have some freedom with the keys/piano so that will be cool.
G!: How would you describe the sound of “Anyone”?
M: Maximum Acid.
G!: Will you guys be touring to back up your new album?
MB: Yes. We have to finish recording first, but we’ll definitely be touring.
G!: Although there have been some all girl headbangers such as The Runaways and Kitty, why do you think there aren’t more female (heavy) guitarists on Major record releases?
MB: Compared to male guitarists, there aren’t too many chicks that play heavy guitars. Even less that can play lead guitar. I always dreamed of being in an all-male band so this is the ticket for me.
G!: Do you feel at all that you are going to show people that women can kick ass on an Axe as well as the guys (or do you feel you do not have to be a representitive in this way)?
MB: I just want to play. I’ve always had to prove myself and that just comes along with the territory of being a female guitarist, but my goal is just to play. I do get sick of hearing chicks that claim they can play when they really can only play a couple of bar chords. That just adds to the stereotype of female guitarists. It’s like flying a remote-controlled airplane and calling yourself a pilot. So many people, both male and female, go out and buy a guitar and claim to be a guitarist. I’m sure the same is true with all different professions and all different walks of life.
G!: A man and his son we’re driving in a car and got involved in an accident. 2 ambulances arrived at the scene. One ambulance rushed the man to a Hospital on the east side of town and the other ambulance rushed the boy to a Hospital on the west side of town. In the West side Hospital, the Doctor hurried into the emergency room, looked down at the boy and said “I can’t operate on this patient. He is my son!” Now, how is this possible???
MB: He was not the biological father?
G!: The doctor is the boy’s Mother! haha gotch’ya… I stole that one off the movie Tin Cup. What gives you the most satisfaction out of all the forms of expression that you do?
MB: Music and art, shopping and eating.
G!: haha… Is there anything else you haven’t explored yet that you’d like to dig into?
G!: Do you have any advice you’d like to pass onto anyone planning to go to Hollywood to persue their dreams?
MB: Follow your dreams, but have a back-up plan.
G!: Miki, you back up your beauty with a whackfull of talent. Thanks for the chat and we all look forward to your future projects!
MB: Thanks for the awesome interview! Enjoy and be good little boys and girls!
Interview © 2004 Guitarhoo!