I’m releasing new tracks over these couple of weeks under the two names Rie fu and Rié. The timing was not intended, it just happened to be around the same time. In order to avoid any confusion, I will explain what the differences of these two projects are about.
The story behind the two separate names were explained in this article.
The easiest way to explain the differences of the two projects is, that I want to create;
Good songs with Rie fu
Extraoridinary songs with Rié
Personally speaking, a good song is not good enough to release in the U.K. Market—a good song is just a good song, nothing more. In a country that spawned extraordinary artists-whether it’s Pink Floyd, Turner, or Damien Hurst-every single one of them, almost without exception, have done something simply “different”. As a foreigner from a country very far away from the U.K, my identity would be already considered different. That’s why I can’t and should not fit into any genre nor replicate other styles, and focus on being unique.
When I was in Japan, especially when I was working with a major label, I was always conscious of genres and formats of pop music. As a result, I had lost a part of my originality. I fled from the label to establish my own environment, and that’s when I realized that The game is over once you start thinking about selling yourself. That’s because when you start thinking about such thing, you would always refer to what’s already popular. I have no objection towards the industry and people that replicate a selling-format, but it just wasn’t for me.
However, I have crossed continents to discover that such format is just as well popular here in the U.K. The speed of trend-shift is much faster than Japan, but the tendency to follow the format that’s already selling is even more obvious and contrived. That in itself seems to me as a trial worth challenging. All groundbreaking art are destined to draw criticism, and they become outstanding achievements because they over come those obstacles.
How do they percieve uniqueness in Japan? Good things are good, but different things are also just different, nothing more, technically speaking. Even if you overcome the criticism and create something unique and groundbreaking, that’s just another different thing, no other value added. You see, that doesn’t mean that the Japanese appreciation of art is boring, but it’s actually a very significant characteristic amongst the virtues of Japanese culture.
These two characteristics combined are what my mind consist of, and I cannot wait to discover more through pursuing these two styles.
This was my very first live performance since the EP release. I’ve missed playing live so much, so this was such a great opportunity. If songwriting is writing a story, live is the ver act of storytelling, there’s nothing more liberating than this!
Initially, I was rehearsing with the amazing producer Cassel the Beatmaker on the sampler, then we felt we needed bass…Chris (bassist) was kind enough to participate at a few days’ notice. It was a pleasure to play with both of them, as well as the efficient filming crew.
You can watch the live performance and read the article here.
こちらはライブというよりはエキシビションだが、Victoria & Albert Museum でのPink Floyd展も良かった。前回のビートルズ展同様、ゼンハイザーがスポンサーとなり、参加者に渡されたヘッドフォンが展示に近づくと反応する仕組みになっている。周りの音を気にせず、それぞれのペースで音楽とドキュメンタリーを楽しめる。最後の部屋ではヘッドフォンを外し、3D音像でみんなでライブ体験ができるというのも粋な演出だ。
The reality that doesn’t necessarily meet the dream for a start-up artist could be a something that no artist writes about. Because they need to keep the perfect image, especially the “couldn’t care less” image. Well, I’m way passed that age of having to pretend not to give a shit, and I like to analyze and be open about what I do.
So this is yet another candid blog about the reality after releasing my first EP. The numbers are very transparent in this day and age. The most support that I’m getting for the EP is from Japan, always such amazing loyal fans, also Asia, as well as U.S and unexpectedly, Brazil. I’m still working on how I can grow more U.K audience, because I would really love to start performing soon(but not it in an empty venue!).
I was pleasantly surprised by getting feedback from one of the best indie music publications here, and it’s always interesting to read their take on my music as well as the Japanese music scene itself. Not to be too conscious about being Japanese, though this made me realize the importance of storytelling as an artist from such part of the world, because most Japanese bands and artists are about uniqueness, energy and quirkiness, but hardly any of them play music like they’re actually sitting down and talking to you, in a more down-to-earth way. The first EP, Business Trips, is about the challenges of re-locating as a foreigner, rebellion, isolation…all based on my own honest viewpoint. Language is a pivotal weapon for me, and combining the nuance as a Japanese through the English lyrics is what’s fascinating.
A thousand year-old souk, colorful cones of spices, pattern on plates, tan pots…
Morocco has been on the top of my bucket list for a long time. Last month, I finally made it there and the experience exceeded my expectation.
The Moroccan interior was stunning, and the traditional craftsmanship was refined and detailed. So many colors-food, patterns on the walls, and lights. Bath houses and Argan oils, scents of Frankincense…
Although the bargaining at the markets were a bit tough, I felt as if that has been the way of survival in the harsh desert conditions and ethnic diversities of this amusing country.
The main reason for visiting Morocco this time was year was to experience the festival of the traditional music of Northern Africa and Morocco; Gnaoua. Formed of voice and three instruments―percussion made of Goat’s skin Tbel, three-string guitar Guembri, and metal castanets Qarqaba―Gnaoua music has been an important part of rituals as one of the oldest trance music.
Arriving at the seaside town of Essaouira where this annual festival was held, the streets were filled with local backpackers and a few Westerners with dread-locks. What made the atmosphere so different from all the other festivals I’ve been to was that because of the Islamic culture, were no alcohol, and couples were rarely seen except families. People were there simply to immerse themselves in music.
I heard a song in the Marrakech riad that caught my attention, and found out the singer was performing at this festival the next day. Luckily we had a chance to see her, a Moroccan singer-songwriter who became successful in France, Hindi Zahra. The venue was the rooftop of a small colosseum, adorned with colorful carpets and ottomans. I thought it would be a soft acoustic set, but the band’s groove progressed from Reggae to Gnaoua beats, joined by the Sahara dancers and the singer herself dancing passionately in the middle of the stage. I felt her loyalty and passion for her roots as a Moroccan throughout the set.
More traditional performances were seen on the main stage at the entrance of the town. dozens of men were synchronizing with their qarqaba beats, syncopated or in a fast 3/4, heads spinning with their decorative hats, voice of call and response with the audience. I could see the connections with the 70’s rock musicians like Jimi Hendricks and Zeppelin.
Jam sessions were held in instruments shop, and even when a little Japanese came in they let me play the Guembri, and the session seemed to go on for hours.
Everything about this has remained the same for thousands of years, when there were no copyrights nor billboard charts, a natural part of their lives like conversation and eating.
what I discovered through this trip was that music that I see today is far from the core, only small labels that’s been attached with fickle concepts.
Let’s be honest, I write songs for my own fame, I rack my brain to come up with ideas on how to increase numbers of plays and social media activites…music as a business is ultimately the same as selling something like air, and we are all manipulated by this fabricated concept that music’s value is in a petty thing such as money.
What I saw after taking those small labels covering the core of music off, was the blessing of music; how it allows us to share time.
In the midst of the Moroccan breeze, I was able to re-discover this simple philosophy of music.
UK初のEPをリリースしたところで、これまでの音楽プロモーションで気付いた事をご紹介。With the first EP release on the way, here are a few things I have learned so far through promoting music in the UK;
I was surprised that the main source of music publication is shifting from larger media to personal music bloggers—after all, word of mouth is the most reliable source of information, and although personal preference and taste in music are diverse, it’s a great thing that the music/artists and the listeners are communicating even more closer this way. I guess there are less of these music bloggers in Japan, because the corporate power (especially advertisement agencies)is still the strongest.
The power of the younger generation is definitely stronger in the UK compared to Japan, when it comes to the key people to drive and take the initiative with trends and activities. I’m talking about the promoters, labels, event organizers and artist relations, as they are the most influential generation for keeping up to date with what’s going on. Whereas in Japan, they were more working for their bosses and as mentioned above, still the most influential element is the political power of corporate agencies. No wonder the marketing format has not changed for many years in Japan, while it’s constantly changing here in the UK.
As a fundamental fact, it all comes down to this—there is no easy way, no automated way. You just have to keep on doing what you do…just like how you can’t throw cash out your window and expect the crops harvested overnight. You have to cultivate the ground, plant the seeds one by one, and still that’s only the beginning and nothing is guaranteed. But the best thing about it is that you can see the growth of your activity at first hand, and you can see clearly where the results came from; for me, the biggest results in numbers so far are the supporters from my fans in Japan, and targeted promotion through Facebook…All I need to do is keep working, manual labour, while enjoying every process, because it’s a privilege just to be able to call myself an artist.
Last year we initially moved in to an converted former-office flat in a trading estate that we thought would be temporary until we find a proper place, but ended up taking ages to find the right home. After an endless search, we found “the one”, a 16th century grade2 listed flat in the centre of a lovely Surrey town.
Since the release of the first single in the UK, there’s been some interesting facts on the social media activity insights. In an era when you can target the demographics to the most specific point, so many unexpected factors can be analyzed from those insights; for example, majority of the new Facebook fans of Rié page are Brazilians. Must be the accent on the “e”, or maybe there’s a large Japanese community there, or it could be that the Facebook population is generally big over there, like in Indonesia(majority of fans of the other Rie fu page are Indonesians). 80 percent of people who checked the music video for St.Martin were, bizarrely, Moroccans. I have no clue why. And to my surprise, the most popular tweets are NOT about my music, but about ramen bars in London…yes, I know, nobody gives a flying fuck about music anymore, it’s all about ramen, right?…No. Rather than being sulky about this, I’m going to do a little analysis on my own to turn it around. This could actually be useful for planning music promotion too; Which is —
The analysis of branding and promotion, seen in London ramen bars
There are many restaurants run by Japanese, but even though the food is authentic there, somehow the level of presentation is so much better when is comes to ramen bars branded by the locals, or non-Japanese. Japanese have a common rule to focus on the quality of service and food, and not so much on the presentation. (Presentation meaning, the interior, logo, atmosphere, etc.) Japanese simply assume that people would notice and appreciate such value without spelling it out through those presentations. Whereas here, it’s ALL about presentation. So for ramen bars, it’s all about having a neo-pop Japanese retro design posters on the wall and having drum rolls upon customers’ entrance.
It’s ironic that a Japanese commodity of uniqueness such as gourmet is presented with more impact through Westernized filters. But it’s not that difficult to know the secret to their successful branding, because everything is obvious. So here are the key observations of secrets to branding ramen, in comparison with how it can be applied to music promotion;
Ramen bars—visually catchy, smart and communicative.
Music—I’ve asked a calligrapher friend, Kotaro Hachinohe, to design my artist logo, a combination of flexibility and strength.
Ramen—waiting time for the food is about 2-3 times more than Japanese ramen bars, since in Japan it’s considered fast food. But overall service is good, and recently I was surprised to find a hair tie on the table in Bone daddy’s.
Music—No need to rush(?)Be confident and active, considerate and responsive to fans
See, the topic of Ramen can be applied to music marketing. So here’s the part where I promote my second single, Calling, from my upcoming EP. Themed around the feeling of being an outsider in a small Surrey town, that urges me to call out to communicate and unite. Opposites attract, and the differences are what’s amazing and beautiful.