Holly Cole at her piano. Cole was in Toronto promoting her new album Night. (Craig Robertson/QMI Agency)

Not everyone can say recording their latest album was held up by a natural disaster.

But Canadian jazz-pop singer Holly Cole was in Tokyo on March 11, 2011 — the day of the 9.3 earthquake and subsequent tsunami — recording her first album in five years, Night.

“That was a life-changing experience in so many ways,” says Cole, who tours frequently in Japan.

At the time, the 49-year-old artist was in her 11th floor hotel room, in a bathing suit and robe, getting ready to go swimming.

“The part that I’ll never forget that struck horror and fear in my heart, I opened the drapes and I looked and they’ve got big skyscrapers in Japan and they’re (moving). ….And I was thinking, ‘I’m going to die. My band’s going to die. The crew’s going to die.'”

None of them did, returning home safe and sound – if traumatized – four days later.

We caught up recently with Cole at her Toronto home.

Q. Was surviving the earthquake reflected at all in the making of the record?

A. There’s nothing directly speaking about it but it was something that happened to me that was extremely profound and changed my life that occurred in the middle of the making of the record. So it made me put everything on hold for awhile.

Q. Why is the new disc called Night?

A. That came about during the making of it. …And then I went, ‘Well, that’s an idea.’ Because I’m the night owl of the century. It’s just a time of creativity for me. And you’re left alone. The only people who phone you are drunk.

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