"Inward and Upward": Interview with Sen Morimoto

“I’m pretty sure the reason for my musical taste is that I didn’t have the internet for a while—I had dial up. So everyone was going on Myspace and finding cool young bands and I just had my dad’s old CDs.”

With music showcasing the inspiration retro music gave him, Sen Morimoto creates hip-hop jazz melodies, like nothing you have heard before.

Morimoto grew up playing the saxophone and studying jazz music with the dream of moving to New York and playing in Jazz clubs. However, that was 10-year-old Morimoto’s dream.

Then came high school; and then came rap.

“That was when I found young people music and I was like, ‘oh there’s other stuff out there besides the Bee Gees.’”

With a humble musical beginning experimenting with rap and saxophone loops in Garageband, Morimoto found his sound. But, he had yet to find his name.

Beginning as “Jap” in high school, Morimoto attempted to reclaim the name commonly identified as a slur for Japanese people. He quickly realized that although it was an important conversation starter, the abrasive nature of the name didn’t quite fit with his chill music style. So Morimoto stuck with creating music under his own name.

He dabbles in vocals, guitar, drums, base, keys, saxophone, violin, among other instruments. “I play whatever I can get my hands on,” Morimoto said. Incorporating his rap and instrumentals, Morimoto creates everything in each song primarily on his own. However, he does enjoy working with others on music. Morimoto has collaborated with artists such as KAINA, Joseph Chilliams and Nnamdi Ogbonnaya, and worked with Sooper Records to produce his newest album Cannonball!.

This is the first year Morimoto has been able to make music full-time. “There’s a one-in-a-million chance you’ll be able to have a sustainable career doing this,” Morimoto said. “But, it’s the thing I like doing, so if I can keep doing it I will.”

Despite Cannonball! having been out a year already, and other songs in the works, Morimoto recognizes he still has room to grow. “I feel like I’m still figuring it out,” he said. “I don’t know if that ever happens to anyone. I think it comes in seasons, like a TV show or something.”

Morimoto encourages his fans to continue growing “inward and upward”—a phrase that inspired his album title, Cannonball!. “When you do a cannonball into a pool, you curl inward and then you jump upward. You need to take a minute to reflect on yourself and then elevate.”

Check out Sen Morimoto on Spotify to hear his album Cannonball! and more.

By Maddie Conley