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.
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.
A lovely weekend out in Brighton to check out the Great Escape.
To be honest, it was much more laid back than I thought. Having been to numerous music networking events and having had the experience of encountering different kinds of people including some dodgy ones, I thought it would be a bunch of superficial showbizz people hanging around; it was rather a collection of people who looked like they haven’t washed their hair for a week, stoned and drunk from 10am. No offense, all in a good-vibe way.
A big difference I felt in comparison to what I had seen in the Japanese music market was that the majority of the younger team were quite independently driven, while back home, they were pretty much working under their bosses. It was great to get reassurance that the indie music scene here is down to earth and the music remains pure to the artistry.
I had a few artists I wanted to check out, but after walking 30 minutes to the venues and queuing outside in the cold, the temptation of the jacuzzi at the boutique hotel that I had booked won over. Instead, I selected some favourite artists from the festival lineup;
Upon my first single release in the UK, I was so thrilled to read this article.
All the struggles and trials in the past year were worth it just for this day, especially after the challenges I went through with sound production. One of the first comments I have had for the original track of St.Martin, elaborately crafted by producer in Japan, Hikaru Ishizaki, was that they are exotic and interesting, but they don’t know where to place it; genre, tastes, demographics…there were many elements to consider. Though the core element that I had to stay true to above anything was my own originality and unique voice. When it came to creating the single version with the eclectic band Theme Park, my anxiousness was soon swept away by their amazing remix, which was the hybrid of the original essence and a breath of fresh air. For the finishing touches, Tsubasa Yamazaki(Bernie Grandma Mastering Tokyo) added vibrant dimensions to the sound.
The music video was also a collaboration between UK and Japan, working with Keyaki Works, who were so efficient and skilled, traveled all the way to London and then back again, shooting everywhere ambitiously. Owing to their contribution, the finished music video is a brilliant seamless sonic trip between London/Tokyo.
This is only the beginning—now I can’t stop running.
Rie fuという名前を思いついたのはデビューの少し前のこと。本名の船越里恵は画数が多くてポップじゃないな〜、英一郎っぽいかな〜、などとスタッフと話していたとき、歌詞を書くときにサインしていたRie fu.が目に止まった。爽やかな風の流れのようでいいね〜、とすぐにこのアーティスト名義に決まった。
My new single is to be released under the artist name Rié, not Rie fu. I’m going to explain why;
Since my real name, Funakoshi, wasn’t really pop and there was another TV melodrama actor who had the same surname, I didn’t think the name was suitable for the style of my music. So it simply got abbreviated to fu.
Changing the subject, I remember my first struggle living in the U.S as a kid was that nobody could pronounce my first name correctly. It’s just three letters, but “ie”only reads as “ee”or “eye”, whereas the right pronunciation is actually “Ree-ay”, like that last “ey ” sound in café or Beyoncé—which explains the accent on Rié.
前回のブログでも書いたように、日本とイギリス（もしくは欧米）ではそれぞれ全く異なるマーケット、それに付随する音楽性、カルチャー、感性が関わっている。イギリスのように新たな環境で音楽の挑戦をしたいと思えたのは、他でもない、今までRie fuとしての音楽を応援して下さってきた方たちのサポートのおかげだ。だからこそ、新たなアーティスト名義、より広いマーケットを意識した音楽性を追求していくと同時に、今まで日本で作ってきた音楽のスタイル、活動の一貫性も大事にしていきたい。今年も日本でのライブ企画が進んでいて、Rie fu名義でも曲作りを続けている。
And then the fu part. This is something I discovered recently, but according to the urban dictionary, fu has a somewhat slang connotation in some parts of the UK. It’s not an obvious one, but targeting an English audience would mean that there could be variety of interpretations.
So this is how I ended up with the name Rié.
Now here is the most important thing I want to convey—
Globally and culturally, there are different styles of music appealing to broader audiences; For example, referring to my previous blog, the Japanese music scene is orchestrated while Western market is the wildlife jungle. Therefore, I wanted to challenge myself in amongst the global and wider audience. My purpose is always to maintain loyalty and respect the choices of sincere and supportive followers of Rie fu over many years. In both names I fully intend to stay true to my art and keep on producing the best music I can in both languages and cultural styles.
Lining up a long row of domino pieces requires patience and time. But once all the pieces are aligned, all you need to do is press that first piece and the domino effect begins. An artist’s activity, in my opinion, resembles such act. All that’s on the surface of a so-called artist’s activity, such as releasing records and touring, are only that one poke at the first domino piece. Most of the work and effort is in lining up those pieces, which is not glamorous at all. Every record release is built upon songwriting, pre-production and then recording, mixing, mastering, amongst many other additional work that has to be done. It’s not a straightforward process either. You might accidentally knock down some domino pieces before its finished, and you have to lay them out all over again.
One thing I can say is that none of this process is wasted, because the longer the line is, the stronger the domino effect becomes. And it’s that chain of reaction that we want to create, not just a one-off thing.
At the moment, I’m almost finishing lining up all those dominos, waiting for that moment to start the chain of reaction. It took a whole year; much longer than I thought. I moved to the UK to pursue my music career, and nothing happened (on the surface) for a year. So I wrote songs about it. It’s full of irony and sarcasm, a raw depiction of what I have observed as a Japanese singer songwriter in the UK. And I have to say, they sound pretty cool.
Tokyo and London are the two cities that define who I am. When I stand on the Shibuya crossing, where I used to pass by everyday as a student at a nearby school, I feel a sense of reminiscence. When I see the warm orange light of Big Ben in the evening, I feel a sense of comfort, the same feeling I got when I was an art student, living on my own for the first time at 18. The neon, trains, convenience stores, vending machines of Tokyo all remind me of a futuristic movie set. The further you go, the better perspective you get with refreshing viewpoint. That’s how Japan becomes more and more attractive for me over the years of living abroad.
Those thoughts lead to an idea of making a music video of these two incredible cities.
It wasn’t easy to make a video transition from one city to another. Luckily, I found an amazing production team that agreed to support this project, who traveled all the way to the UK, walking endlessly around London to capture a local spot so that the video wouldn’t look like a tourist movie. Then it was my turn to go back to Japan and do the same.
As much as I want to present myself as an artist outside Japan, I also want to introduce many wonderful talents of Japan along with my music. In that sense, I feel truly pleased to have worked with this talented production team.