What’s in a Name

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今度のシングルは、Rie fuではなくRié名義でののリリースになるが、なぜ別の名前を使うことにしたのか、真面目に書いてみたい。
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.

話は変わるが、小学生の時にアメリカに住んでいた時、Rie という三文字を、現地の人たちは誰も正しく発音することができなかった。それは、英語圏でieと綴ると「イー」か「アイ」の音になってしまうからだ。つまり「リー」か「ライ」としか発音できなかったのだ。
そこで今回英語圏での楽曲リリースにあたり、Beyoncé とかcaféで「エ」の音を示すéを使うことにした。

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.

そしてfuの部分。これは最近知ったことなのだが、ネット上のアーバンディクショナリーによると、 fuは捉えようによってはいかがわしい意味もあるようだ。もちろんおもむろに誰もが聞いたら連想することではないかもしれないが、英語圏を対象にしていると、様々な捉え方をする人がいるかもしれない。
そんなこんなで Riéになったわけでした。

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。
Rie fuもRiéも、創作に対して忠実に向き合っていきたいと思っているので、引き続きあたたかく見守っていただけたら光栄だ。
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.

From Japan, Singapore, to the UK—the road to a “single”シングルリリースまでの、長い道のりまとめ

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I am finally releasing a first single in the UK.

Four years ago, a life-changing thing happened; marriage. This sounds familiar—but my husband, instead of expecting me to devote the next 18 years of my life to kids and housework, encouraged me to do otherwise. He believed in my talent and artistry, and changed his job to move to the UK to pursue my music career.
In the first year of our marriage, we lived in Singapore. Summer all year round, this tropical country was an ideal place to raise babies. All my friends were either pregnant or pushing buggies, and I even did a baby-kids gig, singing Disney songs. But then I realized that anyone can sing Disney songs. After touring Asia for the first time, discovering 2000 fans in China that I was never aware of, my ambition grew even stronger to expand the field in which I explore my potential as an artist. My husband made yet another big commitment by re-locating to the UK, the place where he swore never to return after having a traumatic past back home.




In the spring of 2016, exactly a year ago, we moved back to the UK.
At that time, I thought I could just release something a month later, but it wasn’t that easy at all.
The biggest difference between the labels/managements in Japan and in the UK is the artists’ position; in Japan, labels/managements nurture and train the artists, like taking up an innocent puppy and training them to do tricks. Whereas in the UK, labels/managements spot a wild wolf(or tiger, or whatever) that’s already on top of its game, and take their share of prey.
This example is quite extreme, but coming from a totally different market, it took a while to get used to the ‘wildlife’.
The decision I made was to self-release to begin with, working with PR. This was the one-year process that followed;

1.Story of the journey; meeting a music journalist
2.music video; trial and error
3.Christmas break; Brits’ brains get pickled along with pudding, stopping all activity
4.Realized that the best way to present my identity is to show two cities, London and Tokyo. Approached a Japanese video production company, video shoot in these two locations.
5.Outcome as a brilliant video. PR and distribution finally getting on track.

It took much longer than I expected, but during the process, I’ve learned so much about the UK music business, how people work, and differences from Japan. Most importantly, I gained numerous hints on how to survive as a Japanese artist in the UK, and the best is yet to come.

The Domino Effect

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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.

Two Cities

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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.

Observation of the Grammys 2017 (as a Japanese artist)

It’s every artists’ s dream to win the Grammy. Of course, it’s one of my aspirations as well; to win in the Best Contemporary Urban World Music written in two or more languages category, or something like that (I always like to scroll down to see the really niche categories).

In Japan, not many artists aspire to the Grammys. The popular dreams they have are to play at Budokan(a prestigious venue), or to perform in Kohaku (Annual music TV show on New Year’s Eve). For those Japanese artists who actually do aspire to the Grammys, what drives the aspiration is to be the pioneer—Japanese are such minorities when it comes to being successful outside Japan. (Which leads to the whole story of me and my husband moving to the U.K to pursue exactly that) To set the records straight, there ARE Japanese artists that have won the Grammys in the past, but not as a singer-songwriter. This year, pianist Mitsuko Uchida won as an accompanist, and producer StarRo and Ryuichi Sakamoto(for his Revenant soundtrack)were nominated.


Putting that successful-Japanese-artists-are-a-minority issue(NOT political)aside, this is what I thought about this year’s Grammys. I’m no music journalist, just someone in front of a TV watching the show in Surrey blogging her mind;

Adele’s voice. Listening to her performance, I almost forget how the song went,or even the how the pitch was,  all I’m left with is this richness of voice melting in my ears. It’s like how when you meet a truly attractive person(male or female), you don’t even remember what they were wearing, just overwhelmed by their presence and personality.



The past few decades, especially the 70’s and the 80’s have left so much innovative music to be remixed in this generation. So rich that even in 2017, nearly all of the songs you hear on the show are recycled essence of those eras; Michael Jackson’s daughter presenting the Weekend, Daft Punk,  Katy Perry with Bob Marley’s son, Bruno Mars…all of them are brilliant artists, but all I heard was reminiscence, nothing innovative at all.

That’s why I get so inspired when I hear a great voice; a voice is timeless, regardless of any generation or era. Adele, Beyoncé, rappers like ATCQ and Chance the Rapper, I love the raw energy of his voice purely praising the Lord. It’s everything singing stands for.



In a time when music styles are being over-remixed, maybe now is a time to get raw. To tell the story of your own, in a one and only voice, as simple as that.

I went through so many phases in terms of music style, even in just a year of moving to the U.K. But now I’m settling down to simply writing autobiographical songs, from a unique angle, with production that most compliments my voice. I don’t have a diva voice like Adele or Beyoncé, but I’m grateful for my own voice that God gave me, and am determined to make the most of the gift.

音楽のスタイルやジャンルが使い古されている今の時代だからこそ、原点に戻るべきなのかもしれない。自分のストーリーを、自分の声で伝える。誰にも真似できないもの。 イギリスに来てからのたった一年でもたくさんの音楽的スタイルを模索して来たが、今その原点をやっと見つけられた気がする。アデルやビヨンセのようなdiva声はないけれど、持っている声は他の誰にも真似できない。その神様からの贈り物を、最大限に生かすのみだ。


Eras of Songwriting Style

A songwriting style is constantly evolving for an artist. It’s almost like a fancier version of a diary, so it might be a bit embarrassing to look back at what was written years ago. That’s why whenever I’m asked what my own favourite song is, I always answer, “the most recent song I had written”.


I have a theory that for most artists, songwriting styles go through certain stages and eras, that resembles a child growing up. Believe me, having released ten albums, I have gone through all of these stages;


1.The Innocent Era-This is when you start songwriting for the first time. Obviously, this is the most innocent and pure stage. No pretentious gimmicks, simple and honest yet powerful. That’s why, in a certain way, there’s no greater album than a first album for any artist. The most amazing first albums are filled with articulate and sage words beyond the artist’s young age, because the songs have a pure spiritual energy; after all, songwriting or any art is to be oblivious to ego, and be the pure medium to deliver the words and melody floating somewhere in that euphoric realm where people like Mozart and John Lennon would be sunbathing.


2.The Eager to Please Era-The difference with the first album and the second is that the artist is influenced by feedback and expectation for the next work. You get a certain pressure, both to reproduce the similar quality as the first album, but also to make something new to show progression. It’s a tricky balance, because if you’re too same-y, you would bore the audience, but you also wouldn’t want to put them off with a drastic change. It’s also the era of dilemma between the ‘pure spiritual energy’ and the vulgarity of the human realm such as ‘selling albums’ and ‘radio-friendly songs'(In Japan, there was also a term ‘karaoke-friendly songs’). You try to reference songs that are already popular, analyze chords and song structures, start working with producers who have the ‘current’ sound. It’s like a teenage girl who tries a look that doesn’t suit her to impress her crush, who, typically, isn’t even right for her.


3.The Rebellious Era-After trying so hard to please the listeners and balancing your initial style vs. innovation, you get somewhat tired. Up to a point where you’d say, “The hell with it, let me do whatever the fuck I want”. It could either end up as an amazingly cutting-edge album or something masturbatory that no one else can’t really understand. This is another teenage stage, the attitude turned to parents and teachers; On the contrary to the previous era, you want to do everything opposite of what they would expect you to do.


4.The Reminiscent Era- This completes a cycle, only its not a repeat, but an elevation like spiral stairs going up. You look back at the stages you’ve been through and realize how valuable that innocent era was. Growing out of the teenage phase and learning to appreciate the lessons. You’re not obsessed with trying to make hits, but going back to making something that’s purely you. It’s a bit sad to think that even though you have completed a cycle(of different stages in songwriting), you can never go back to that first pure stage. You’ll struggle for a chance to see(hear) a glimpse of that spiritual melody realm, but that moment would come once in a while, as if a curtain blown by the wind briefly shows an outside view, if you keep writing and listening to the good quality music-just like how an athlete would train for years and years.


So after going through all these eras, if you’re a young songwriter who want to make a living out of music, you might be asking,

“Then what am I supposed to do?”

If you only want to be commercially successful, you could stay in the Eager to Please Era; there’re so many successful songwriters who keep on producing hit songs, and being part of the industry machine can be truly fulfilling. You stand at a crossroads; one road leads to entertainment, the other leads to artistic integrity.  The road to entertainment is much better paved and a smooth ride, only it could be a long journey. But who knows, you might one day find yourself wondering off the beaten track ending up in spiritual melody realm after all.







Japanese Artist in the UK


In the beginning of my music venture in the U.K, I came across a music lawyer who said

“No way you can succeed as a recording artist in the U.K; being a successful songwriter is already like climbing a steep mountain, but being a successful artist on your own right is like climbing up a cliff.”

He might have been practical, but those things only fire me up to prove him wrong.

During the 10+years working with labels, managements, and publishers in Japan, I’ve learned that (at least in Japan)the industry runs like a well made machine. Working as a songwriter is like being one of the essential parts of the machine, and making a hit would surely be a great fulfillment.

As a self-proclaimed artist, the dilemma between making something that you really want(to make)and something that has larger demand is unavoidable. Making a song based on an established model is the typical form of ‘industry’.

Isn’t art supposed to rebel to that very concept? This is another unavoidable question that I ask my self every single day. I can never say yes to that because as much as I want to make something outstanding, I want to deliver it to as many people as possible.

What I had been doing since I moved to the U.K to pursue my career in music (while all my friends were busy having babies and buying family homes), was relentlessly writing new songs, collecting insights from music industry people, collaborating with local producers, and simply living as a Japanese in a middle-class-white-people-with-pushchairs-and-dogs-dominated countryside town outside London.

That really changed my songwriting style. I began to write about my life, exactly how it is, without trying to appeal to the audience nor to hide honesty. It became clear to me that authenticity is the most unique and strongest viewpoint as an artist, even without trying to think of what has the biggest demand or what would appeal to most people.

Another aspect to consider is the sound; production can really make or break the song. I have so much faith in the creators I work with in Japan, and the aim is to introduce those talents to the U.K. Market as well.

But what I had come to realize was something unexpected. As a country that has spawned generations of multi-cultural artistry and music, I thought the U.K. Music scene would be more accepting to new sound…but all of the reactions suggested that my songs should have a clear sense of genre to suite a familiar format.(i.e. Radio stations)

Each radio stations here have a distinct genre and target demographics, whereas in Japan, a radio station is more based on an area/city (like Tokyo FM, FM Osaka) and the genre of music depends on each programme.

Familiarity might be a key to the British music culture, just like reggae and ska became more prevalent through ska-punk; you can introduce something new by combining a familiar element to the sound.












なぜイギリス?Why UK?

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I asked myself this many times when I first came to the UK;

“Why the hell did I come to this place…”

The perception of UK as a land of gentlemen in tailored suits and courteous manners was soon replaced by depressing weather and tasteless food, unreliable yet unapologetic services. However, strangely, this country yields innovation and the rising against the dooms of the weather and the cynical critics, manifested in art and music. Something tipped over after a fews months of living in London, and I began to be fascinated by this aggressive approach and inspiration.


The main reason for coming to the UK was the encouragement from my husband. Having grown up in the 70s surrounded by legendary music scenes in his own country, he suggested that I venture outside Japan because my talent could be nurtured. Having such a strong supporter in my life is the luckiest thing. He moved us from Singapore, where we had lived for 2 years, to the UK to open the gates to new possibilities.


In ten years, social media has shifted everything about how we deliver and listen to music. You can deliver a new song instantly, anywhere you are. I aspire to explore these methods and creative process through releasing singles digitally and working with other talents.


音楽活動の始め方 Part 2―How to start as…part2

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Actually, there was a long process between sending the demo and making the debut. Looking back, this process was the crucial phase; firstly, who listens to the demo is immensely crucial. It’s not like marking a test because there’s no right or wrong, and hitting all the right notes does not necessarily lead to instant recognition. You have to have a unique originality in both voice and the songwriting. Now, people have different perceptions when it comes to things like “unique”, because some think that a “sellable”uniqueness is someone who sounds slightly similar to an already successful artist, making them easier to be categorized and recognized.


In my case, the first person who listened to the demo gave me a call and told me, after telling him that I’m planning to go to art school in London, that

“There are millions of people like you”

Personally, I think that anyone who claims to work in the music industry should never say such thing. I couldn’t give up. I sent the tape again, and luckily he had more decency. In fact, his words saved my life;

“Your talent is the diamond in the rough”

If you see it in the text, it might sound trite, but the intentions were sincere. All it takes is one person who believes in you, that gives you the energy to start climbing up those spiral stairs.


After that, the demo-department within the music group started brushing up the demos to make it into a product. Branding, artist shots, biography, selling phrase…if it is presented to consumers, music is not dissimilar to any other commercial products like bottled drinks or designer bags.

But as a rebellious 18-year-old, I wasn’t happy with all of that. The bigger the ego, the stronger the refusal to fit into a packaged box. But it’s part of presentation, contents are the same; I wish I had been a bit more understanding of these things.



Then it kicked off. Live, promotion, this is where the music activity becomes visible, but so much time and efforts needs to be put into the preparatory stages. You need patience, teamwork, support from family and friends.

I’m starting all this in the UK, and it has been a long journey already.

All worth it, though.


イギリスでの音楽活動の始め方―How to start as a Japanese artist in the UK

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The title of this article itself  is the biggest question that I have right now. Where do I begin? This blog is a personal journal of exploring the music activities in the UK, to keep a record to remind myself a few years later.

It’s not my first time to be at the starting line of the music venture. It’s been more than a decade since I made a debut in 2004 in Japan, but starting over in the UK doesn’t mean that I’m reverting back, but it’s rather like climbing up the spiral stairs and realizing that I’m directly above where I started. Looking back, how did I begin in the first place?


It all started with one newspaper article. It was written by a composer, Akira Senju;

“When music is heard, it comes to life”

These words gave me tremendous hope. At the time, I was preparing a portfolio for art school, and was frustrated by how a drawing or a painting that’s taken hours and days to create will ever influence anyone else. I took up the guitar to take a break from all that, without even knowing what chords are, and found so much pleasure and fun in creating melodies, and came up with 30 songs in one month.



It was as if the tap had opened; songs came flowing out like a waterfall. Unlike paintings, the value does not diminish even if duplicated (live performance is an exception), and the expressions are more directly conveyed through words, in music.

In the hopes of bringing them to life, I started playing in my high school music festival, and recording a demo in a little cassette tape recorder (circa early 2000s). I searched “demotape” on the bulky foldable mobile phone back then and sent the demo to the top of the search result, which happened to be the label that was generous enough to give me a chance to release my first single in 2004.


This was how I started music. It was as if a surge of creative energy started overflowing all of a sudden, and I never intentionally though, “OK, I will start writing music”. After all, maybe “music activity” is all about the innocent and primitive drive.