Meet Badass Mom Miwa Gemini
Any woman who writes a soundtrack to her own imaginary tale about an adventurous muse she met in Joshua Tree over 100 years ago, has us deeply intrigued. Miwa Gemini, musician and mother to 1 1/2-year old Jarvis, is one such artist. Engimatic, magical, and introspective, Miwa has cracked the modern motherhood code—staying true to herself and her craft while thriving as a wife and mother. This mindful mom, who is most nervous about doing it all wrong, is actually doing it all absolutely right.
Tell us a bit about your upbringing
and how it shaped who you are today?
I grew up in Japan with a younger brother and my mother and my father. My mother is a working mom, and she definitely influenced me quite a bit as a human being. She was busy but I felt like she gave me everything I needed.
I always felt that I didn’t belong in Japan and I couldn’t wait to leave. I came to America as an exchange student when I was 16 for just one school year, and then I went back to finish Japanese high school. Then I got into NYU and I’ve never left.
“I have this ritual.
I make two cups of tea, one for me and then one for my creative muse.”
How would you describe your musical style?
I would say gypsy-folk. There’s a little bit of jazz going on, and there’s folk music going on. There’s also a 60s influence, definitely a 60s girl-pop influence.
Tell us a bit about the various bands/projects you’re involved in:
Miwa Gemini is my solo project, but I collaborate with different musicians. I call it musical chairs. Guitar is my main instrument, but I’m also a classically trained pianist. And I write all of my own music and lyrics.
I’m also part of Main Squeeze Orchestra, which is an all-female accordion orchestra that covers a broad range of music.
Where do you find inspiration for your music?
I find inspiration everywhere—music, museums, walks. I have this ritual that I haven’t really been able to do since Jarvis was born, but I make two cups of tea, one for me and then one for my creative muse. It feels nice to have a writing partner, even if it’s just in my head.
How has your music evolved over the years?
I always wanted to be a singer ever since I was little. I was obsessed with Billie Holiday when I was 13. I didn’t understand her music, but I just wanted to be her. It was my dream to go to New York, but once I got here, I just didn’t have the confidence that I could be a front woman, so I joined various bands and played different instruments. It took me a really long time to realize that I just wanted to do my own music.
What effect did having children have on your music?
Creatively, I let go of my inhibitions. I’m less judgmental of myself. But the biggest challenge has been not being able to have some quiet time. That’s the bit that I’m struggling with. I have time to practice, because sometimes I can just strum a guitar and sing with Jarvis and that’s not a problem, but not being able to have sit-down time to create.
Favorite thing about being a musician:
Sharing the music and being on the stage. It’s just such a wonderful feeling when you can actually connect with people through your music and you can actually see it. It just makes me feel really grateful.
Tips on the work/life juggle:
Just be organized and be kind to yourself.
What makes you the most nervous about motherhood?
That I hope I’m doing a good job.
How did your life change after you had kids?
Drastically. I didn’t expect to enjoyit so much though. I don’t get to work as much, but I’m enjoying spending time with Jarvey. I feel like it’s such a short period of time where he just needs me. But not having yourown time is definitely a big shock in the beginning. And even now, I’m learning every day that spending a day with him is a give and take. If I spend a lot of outside time with him, then he will give me a little time to practice on my own or let me make dinner.
How do you spend your moments of ‘me’ time?
After Jarvey goes to sleep, if I don’t fall asleep with him, I ask my husband, “Can I have a half an hour just playing guitar?” Butsometimes you just need to catch up on your sleep, too, so it’s hard.
Who are the people in your life or in the community that support you?
It’s interesting because my husband James and I are both not from here. Our families are not here, so your friends become family. We wouldn’t be able to survive without them, for sure. I’m grateful for the fact that Jarvis actually gets to know them growing up.
What kind of mom do you aspire to be?
When I was pregnant, I joined a neighborhood group and at the first meeting they did a little workshop where we all had to write down what kind of mother we wanted to be and then share it afterwards. My answer was “magical.”