Jul 30, 2020
As our pop diva Hannah Montana sang, “You’ve got the bests of both worlds!”. Well, dear Hannah, I think you’ve got some competition. Creating between two musical worlds is the artist known as MIREI!
The Japanese singer has just released her first English album. Titled “Take Me Away”, the 10 track project already has two successful singles in “Take Me Away” and “Lonely in Tokyo”!
The album is filled with electrifying dance beats combined with an amazing mixture of R&B, pop, and electronic elements, although its most important element is the artist’s message to fans. MIREI is the alluring and dauntless voice from Japan using modern pop bangers to call attention to important issues like the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, patriarchal oppression, racial injustice, and mental health awareness.
We are experiencing a historic moment in the world in favor of freedom, equality, and respect. Having singers who use their space to contribute to the cause is extremely necessary and helps to involve new people and spread the message.
Thank you MIREI for using your space to give voice to those who need it and to bring representativeness to the music industry.
1. There is something so amazing about living in two different worlds musically! How did your background and culture shape you? What does creative expression mean to you and why?
I know, right?! I feel like I grew up in a very unique situation and one that suited me perfectly! I’ve always lived a double life almost or at least had multiple sides to me
I’ve been living in two worlds since I was in the second grade, balancing being a creative/artist and a normal kid/student! When I was a student I lived in Osaka in the day, but after school, I was working hard at dance school and connected with a lot of people in the music/entertainment world. I got signed to a label in Japan when I was young but made sure to stay in touch myself outside of what a “pop star” should be. I also have two different kinds of inspirations in myself too – one is the Pop antenna and another is the Nerd antenna. I love club music, hip hop, R&B, and electro/electronic, and at the same time, I love listening to Japanese rock music like Mr. Children and Kenshi Yonezu. When I was in 6th grade, I was mesmerized by Lady Gaga, and looking back now I realize it’s because both of my antennas got crossed. I realized I can express my feelings, stand up for something, all while making cool music. Music can send a larger message and be fun at the same time… just look at “Born This Way.” I didn’t have enough courage to say it before, but “Born This Way” is what inspired me to sing and be my truest self. I’m so glad I was involved in music for most of my life and that my dream was to be a singer-songwriter and performer. I can’t imagine doing anything else!
The creative expression means hope, connection, and progress to me. Being able to use music and art to make an impact in the world, that means everything and is so inspirational.
2. You’ve also become very well-known not only for your own music but for your covers. How do you choose your covers?
I mainly choose what I cover based on the lyrics. The message is the most important thing to me, aside from the music sonically. If the lyrics inspire me and the melody connects to the lyrics in a way that just hits different, then of course I want to share with people on my Livestream. I decided to cover “No Ordinary Love” by Sade because the lyrics took a whole new shape with this pandemic. This is no ordinary love, no ordinary life, as we all send our love to each other as best as we can virtually.
3. We know you originally started dance lessons in kindergarten, but who or what initially inspired you to pursue a career in music?
When I was around 3 years old, way before I even started taking dance lessons, I was so in love with Britney Spears and I think I just wanted to dance because of her performances. I would dream of being on stage, singing, and dancing in the center of Times Square in New York. Once I started going to dance school, I started looking up to artists like Rihanna, Christian Aguilera, and Lady Gaga and my dreams just got bigger and bigger. I didn’t want to be just a dancer for fun, I wanted to be an artist and a performer for the people!
4. How has your music process and writing changed from when you started in the industry, and what things do you focus on most with respect to your brand or image and music that make up you as a music artist?
At first, all I could do is try my best, explore myself, and follow my intuition and heart. But after I started building a fanbase, I made them and my connection to one of my main priorities. It is crazy how we can communicate and share ideas/thoughts online! This is why I decided to release my first global album in English so that I can use the universal language to cross borders when talking about these important issues like mental health, the Me Too and Times Up movements, etc. I also love to check out all the music my fans are enjoying, most times I even ask my fans directly what they’ve been listening to, what they want to hear more of, and what kind of topics they’d like discussed in music. As I said, I think the most important thing about music is the intention and meaning behind the lyrics. To make music that I’m proud of, the songs need to be honest, autobiographical and send a message.
5. Tell us about your latest English debut album, ‘Take Me Away’, and how this project came to be.
I started my musical career in Tokyo when I was just 15 years old. At first, it was exciting and fun but over time I realized there are so many toxic things happening in the entertainment industry here. I was balancing being a “normal” high school student and went to public school, so I had a few opportunities to get away from it all, but seeing my colleagues in the industry go through what they went through… I had to do and say something! After high school, I saw so many movements like Me Too and Times Up take over the world, and I finally saw the power in using the internet to shine a light on issues like this. As I said, I talk about these things on my album and I knew that putting it out in English was the best way to share the message around the world. Not many people are standing up for these issues or causes in Japan, I hope that this is a start. I suggest listening to “Lonely In Tokyo” and “Not A Number” if you want to learn more!
6. What do you want people to take away from this project? How has the response been?
First and foremost, I want all of my listeners to know that they’re not alone! I’m singing about so many difficult situations that I’ve gone through or seen my friends go through. I, too, have been scared, helpless, lonely, anxious, nervous, in love, out of love, you name it… but I’ve always believed that music is the cure. I hope my fans listen to my music and find power in themselves and their voices. We have to shout and shout out loud in real life and online. This is why I’m singing… to spread this message and to inspire love and courage.
The response has been really amazing, and better than I could have imagined. Releasing something globally for the first time, and in English, was nervewracking, but as planned it opened so many doors between me and my fans as we came together for the message and the fight! I got do many DMs on socials and I love to read the comments on my videos on YouTube. Now that I’m live streaming, I can interact directly with my fans. We sing along to the songs we’ve learned to love, but also share ideas in a safe space. I’m lucky to have fans that do this with me on a weekly basis. They’re so lovely and thoughtful, and I’m very sure I can make a change with them!
7. You tackle some pretty heavy topics in your music from patriarchal oppression to mental health awareness. What is the reason behind this?
Simply because I want to change it. And because I’ve seen these issues my whole life!
Firstly, about patriarchal oppression… girls in Japan always have to be “kawaii”. Kawaii means “cute” in Japanese and there’s a stereotype attached to Japanese women who are only kawaii… we are not just this one thing! In our culture, women have learned decades after decades to be quiet and smile, when someone says something rude about your face or body and age, you should just be kawaii. Not all, but most Japanese women have just accepted this. I want to keep singing so young women, especially Japanese women, know that they never have to be reduced to this or what a man/society’s expectation is of them. We can be more, we can be anything we want to be!
Now on mental health awareness – as I said, I wanna tell everyone “you’re not alone.” Currently, the only answer to the mental health issues in Japan is to subscribe and take medication, but no counseling sessions. Our generations are so overmedicated, and yes medication has helped people, but therapy is important too! While this is not something readily available, I hope that people find therapy in music just as I did growing up. Put your headphones on or earphones in, and try to get away for a bit.
Don’t forget to watch MIREI latest music video “No Ordinary Love” and to listen to her full album “Take Me Away”.
To stay on top of her latest news and projects, follow her on social media: Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.