With a background in jazz and a former life fronting a pop/jazz/funk/experimental/rock outfit in Tokyo, she’s landed in London with a completely different musical angle.
Having spent the last two years cooking up a storm on The Roundhouse’s creative programme, she’s now hooked up with Leo Abrahams (Brian Eno, Regina Spector, Ghostpoet) for her new musical forays.
Ahead of the release of The Space Between Us on 30 June, we spend some time with the avant-garde chanteuse to find out what makes her tick…
What was the first song you developed an obsession for?
Really hard to remember the first! Maybe I’m too old. But I do remember I had an Eminem cassette tape and listened over and over again. Didn’t even know what he was saying, but I loved the sound of his rhymes and I just wanted that sound come out of my mouth, so I rapped as fast as I could and it felt really good! I played like 3 sec of a track, pressed the stop button and repeated after him, over and over again.
What’s the first gig you went to?
Sigur Rós’ gig in Dublin while I was living there a few years ago. I was so fascinated by their sound and Jónsi’s voice, completely hypnotising.
But it was really packed, I was right at the front, could hardly breathe and suddenly felt really dizzy. So I ended up sitting against a wall close to the medics which was restricted view for almost half of their show. That’s when I decided that I would never stand right at the front again.
What’s the first instrument you ever got hold of?
I played piano for around two or three years when I was 10ish. I didn’t enjoy it much though and don’t really know why I felt like that, given that I’m dying to play classical pieces now. Maybe I was just a bit bored of playing the same part over and over again, I certainly wasn’t the most patient student.
What is your worst musical habit?
When I’m producing a track, I tend not to pay too much attention to important details such as quantising audio samples before moving on. Trouble is that as soon as I start concentrating on those things, I often lose the feel or the big picture of the song and get frustrated. So I layer all the instruments as quickly as possible right at the beginning, then move onto writing lyrics/hooks and recording vocals, before going back to looking at those files. It’s like painting a picture – rough structure first, then taking care of the details…
So if I’m lucky, those ‘unquantised’ audio files are a good fit and add edges and tension to the track, but other times I end up having to sort out an almighty mess and I wish I’d dealt with this stuff much earlier. ))))
What’s the best piece of musical advice you’ve ever been given?
Where do you discover new music?
When I’m netflixing, sometimes the movie- or drama-soundtracks capture my ear. But, to be honest, I never try too hard to find out who the artist is unless a song is simply too amazing to ignore. I do usually try to remember certain sounds though, and I do take inspiration from those for my own songs!
What’s your favourite venue?
Hard to pick one. But I love the Royal Festival Hall, Hammersmith Apollo and Roundhouse. I also love the smell of big venues like the o2. It makes my heart beat faster. I wish I could have a beautiful show with a full orchestra there someday. Make my songs as expressive as possible, use every technology available and make the show memorable and distinguished.
Who is your current favourite band/artist?
I love Elliott Smith, Kendrick Lamar, Hans Zimmer, Steve Reich. Last year I went to Steve Reich’s concert at the Barbican and I was overwhelmed by his visuals and the sounds that felt both endless and aggressive. It reminded me of one of my own tracks called ODD, which will be released sometime later this year (if you’re curious, come to my show – it’s the opening track).
What inspirations outside of music impact your songwriting?
Most of the time, it’s all the emotions that come from relationships and the news that I’m reading. But my biggest inspiration is the pure exhaustion I often feel from day-to-day living and stresses. Songwriting and art in general is the greatest release for me and ensures that I don’t combust spontaneously…
What track of yours best represents your sound?
I know this may sound like a cop-out, but there isn’t really one song that represents my sound at all. Every song is just one small component of the overall noise that I make. My first single is almost traditional in approach (at least by my standards), but I have far more ‘dangerous’ tracks to come that might not be understood too easily. And they’re all pretty difficult to pigeonhole. So I’ll just wait until I have enough tracks out there, and that body of work should then represent my sound, for the time being at least…
What’s next for you?
My first single track The Space Between Us will be released officially on 30 June. And I have a launch show at the Sebright Arms, London, on 7 July (free entry!!). More releases and a couple of surprises later this year. But hey - just one step at a time. It’s only the beginning.