they’re playing their “little” football
It’s a land of giants for them
They sacrificed themselves
After 2 weeks in Japan, I’m on my way back to the UK, writing this at the airport lounge.
Looking back, when I first made my major label debut, I was commuting between Japan and the UK like this. Since then, time has changed and the world has become a smaller place thanks to the internet, yet the cultural distance seems to grow more and more apart in the case of Japan and the UK. In a city constantly being rebuilt and renovated, Tokyo still runs according to the same conservative mindset and social expectations. Where the landmarks and houses have aged for more than a hundred years, the social, political, and environmental mindset of London keeps on renewing its standards constantly. After spending a while in Japan, you start taking the social punctuality for granted, almost to the point that it feels dull and mundane. But when you come back to the UK, where the standards of train times and services are very different, you appreciate the diligence that keeps life in japan running like clockwork. My point here is that the grass is always greener on the other side. I’m no diplomat or a cultural mediator; all I can do is to utilize and optimize this environment. For example, when I was promoting my single in Japan, most of the questions asked in interviews were about The culture, music, life in the UK. On the other hand, part of my usp in the UK is the identity as a Japanese. Having these two elements in itself is a unique identity as an artist.
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.
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.