INTERVIEW: Japanese electronic R&B artist MIREI

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Take Me Away”?

This single “Take Me Away” is about a girl in a big city who struggles with her loneliness. The girl is tired of pretending that everything is okay and just wants her someone or something to take her away from it all.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

I was born and raised in Osaka and I grew up going to a regular school and dance school. While going there, people were always trying to force us to fit into a certain mold, but this always came at a cost and hurt us. Since then I always thought about where I belonged and who I really was. After I study abroad in NYC, I moved to Tokyo, and am still looking for where I belong. I’m not sure I can call this an event, but this whole experience inspired me to write this song.

How was the filming process and experience behind the video?

I teamed up with my crew in Tokyo and took this video in several popular, famous sightseeing places in the city. Towards the end where everything spirals, my friend (who plays the heroine) took me to Shinjuku, which is nortious for the Japanese sex industry. It might seem like we drew a sad, dramatic story just for the music video but the things happening in the video are actually happening right here, right now and I wanted to expose the reality of it. We’re all excited about the Olympics coming to Tokyo, but I want people to take a real hard look at Japanese society and talk about things that often go unnoticed or unbothered. We are real people, human, and we have real issues here that are swept under the rug.

How was the recording and writing process?

We wrote this song in a session with my friend Zak Leever and DJ Shiftee in Brooklyn. We got together at Zak’s house and just started to talk about ideas for the song based off our real feelings and emotions. I don’t completely remember it but I started to open up about how I feel so alone no matter where I’m at, but especially in Tokyo. Luckily, they understood and empathized with me. After we all bonded over the fact that we all get lonely, the lyrics and the beats were made so fast. It empowered me that I wasn’t alone. I felt really happy that I could say we’re not alone but rather connected through the music – it’s really the only thing that helps me get away from that loneliness.

Do you tend to take a different approach when collaborating with someone else rather than working on your own?

I think I don’t. I guess I can compose my lyrics a certain way when I’m working with someone I trust. I’ve collaborated with several different artists in Japan, and it was mostly a short single session. Sessions are like speed dating – I’ll start with some small talk about the lyrics or some of my favorite songs. After we get to know about each other a little more, we’ll move on to writing the song. I’d rather do it myself, my friend, my crew, or even my family to get the most honest stories.

Speaking of approach – did you go for a different musical direction when writing this song in another language?

I definitely took a different approach. There’s a duality in me – the Japananese side of me and the English side of me are made up of different things and influenced by different things (life in Tokyo vs. New York City) .The way the societies work and cultures of the two places are totally different. I lived in both places for a long time and I got diverse inspirations from both. Actually, fun story – I got a DM from one of m Japanese fans since that said “I liked your Japanese song. Take Me Away doesn’t sound like you.” I really want to say that everyone has a different side of their personality and this IS ME. I don’t sing just to fit into an industry, my international release is a side of me I was never able to share in Japan because of the way things work there.

What roles do New York and Japan play in your music?

I think in New York there are many powerful women who have their opinions and own it. They don’t hesitate to say something they feel is wrong. I felt it through watching the #metoo movement and more. Also, people in NYC are not afraid of singing about their mental health or dealing with anxiety, depression, etc. While I’m listening to the top charts there, I feel so relieved that I’m not alone and people / popstars are speaking up about this. That’s why I can be very honest in my English releases. I’m singing about things that are very personal, things happening inside of my mind, and saying things that I could never say before.

The girls in Tokyo are very sweet and kind but very shy. They are raised to be very private, usually only opening their hearts to their close friends, their lover or family. So in my Japanese music, I sing love songs a lot but I’m trying to move away from that.

How’s your new album coming along?

There are more interesting and unique songs in my album I guess. Like I said, these are my first songs where I could be completely honest, completely myself, every version of me, and really get inside my head. I hope you’ll love it.

Any tentative release date or title in mind?

The album is called Take Me Away after the first international release I put out. It’s planned to be released at the end of January. Before the release, we’re planning to release some singles so please keep an eye out.

Any plans to hit the road?

It’s so amazing that my songs have crossed the countries and spread all over the world now. I’m feeling it little by little in Tokyo but hopefully, more people will love my English songs by finding it online, on Youtube or Spotify. Also, I’m really enjoying posting on my new international Instagram account. It’s the easiest way to connect with my fans now. I’m also planning to do some more covers like I did “when the party’s over” by Billie Eilish and connect with the people who don’t know me and my stuff yet. Tours though – we will have to see about that after the album release!

What else is happening next in Mirei’s world?

My dream for this project is to get on the road and tour. I don’t ask for many places or big capacities at first. I just want to sing in front of the people who love me and understand or appreciate my work. I just want to connect with people in real life, no matter who, and bond over the music and the stories. I hope I can make my dreams come true soon, I hope you can support me! 🙂

Watch MIREI’s “Take Me Away” video

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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