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Interview: Mayuko – Singer/Songwriter

A child in a cocoon!

Mayuko live at Hyper Japan 2014Since making her debut back in 2001, Mayuko’s popularity as a singer and songwriter in Japan and abroad has been steadily growing and she has been gaining much interest from the media since her collaborations with talent like Daniel Wang (Balihu Records) and DJ Kensei as well as Shynola who designed the cover artwork for her first mini-album Toy Cross.

With her tender vocals and whimsical songs her music has been described as making the listener feel snug and warm as if protected in a cocoon. Not only has Mayuko appeared live at several concerts around Tokyo, she has performed overseas as well and has been invited to many festivals in Europe and the US this year (2014).

Diverse Japan caught up with the softly-spoken songstress during a break from one of her live performances at the three-day event Hyper Japan 2014, held at Earls Court in London on 25 – 27 July, where she chatted about songwriting and what it was like working with a boomtown rat.

Interview took place on Sunday,  27th July 2014.

Special thanks to Mayuko’s management and Hyper Japan for arranging the interview.

Interviewer: Spencer Lloyd Peet (Editor-In-Chief)

Interpreter: Gavin

Photo Gallery: Mayuko in press room Hyper Japan 2014 (Photography: James Fielding Photography)

You released your debut album Vista Bouquet in April (2014). How would you describe its overall style and sound for those that haven’t heard it yet?

Well, I really wanted to put forward my personality into it and what I think I’m really about, I wanted to make that the main theme of the album. My name, Mayuko, literally means “child wrapped in a cocoon”. So it was to really follow that image of my own name, really like warm and comforting sort of music. That’s really the idea behind my album.

You started out as a painter but a calling you had led you to music. Please explain a little about what that experience was like for you.

Yes, I started out as an artist but when I was creating my art I always heard in my head this kind of background music which went with the art. So I thought wouldn’t it be great to be able to put that out there rather than have it in my head and see what other people think too. So, because I play piano, I decided to create some of this music and put it out there. As far as I was concerned, the song became my art. Once I started doing that I thought it was something really worthwhile and a great way to expand my vision and to reach more people.

Do you continue to compose music in that way?

Nowadays I generally skip the drawing process and go straight into making the music, although, there are several interactions of that nature still going on.

When you start writing a song do you like to complete it there and then or do you go back to it at another time to finish it off?

Generally I like to get everything down in one go. When I hear the music in my head it’s normally always the full version, so I really want to get it down as quickly as possible to crystallise it. There aren’t that many half-finished songs that I’ve got. But obviously there have been situations where like before I came to England there was a specific deadline for when I had to come here so the thing I was working on just got cut off and is still in the process stage. But generally when I have an unfinished piece I don’t normally like to go back to it, I really, really do like to get things down quickly.

Photo Gallery: Mayuko live in London at Hyper Japan 2014 (Photography: James Fielding Photography)

How were you discovered, was it through a performance you gave or did you approach the record company with your music?

When I first started making my music from my pictures and creating a sound from that, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do with it; what was best to do with what I had created, so I took it to someone in the record industry. They heard my music and looked at my ideas and said it was really good and interesting and exciting and that we should put it out there. And from there we formed a team.

Over the years you’ve collaborated with a number of musicians and other people within the music industry all around the world including Johnnie Fingers, former member of the 70s and 80s chart-topping Irish New Wave band The Boomtown Rats (fronted by Sir Bob Geldof) who now lives and works in Japan. What was it like working with Johnnie Fingers and did you know who The Boomtown Rats were before you worked with him?

I certainly knew about The Boomtown Rats before I met and started to work with him. I listen to them myself – I really like The Boomtown Rats. When I was working with Johnny Finger what I thought was that he has a very unique and interesting perspective on music. He has a lot of ideas and concepts about music that you don’t really find in Japan with Japanese artist; ideas about melodies and sound quality and those kinds of things. I thought this was a very rare sort of person to work with. I had a lot of fun working with him. I really value the song that we made together called “Toy Cross” from my debut mini-album of the same name (Mayuko performed this song at Hyper Japan 2014). 

How does Hyper Japan, the UK’s largest J-culture event, compare to other festivals you have played and what has been the highlight for you?

It really feels like a Japanese festival here. This is the first time I have been to England and performed here so I was really happy about it. There was a real honest reaction to my music. When the British fans came up to me after my performance and said, “We really enjoyed your performance and we really enjoyed listening to your music” that was the best feeling.

It’s been a real pleasure meeting and speaking with you, Mayuko. Thank you and good luck with the album.

Thank you very much.

Official Website: http://www.mayucocoon.com

Blog: http://ameblo.jp/mayu-cocoon/

Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/cocoon.child

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/cocoon_child

Official You Tube Channel: www.youtube.com/user/mayukooficial

Mayuko music  iTunes

Spencer Lloyd Peet with Mayuko interview Hyper Japan 2014

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