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.