At 16, AYAKO was scouted by AVEX, one of many largest main leisure conglomerates in Japan. For 2 years, she was acting at venues round Tokyo whereas being developed as a member of J-pop woman group. In 2014 AYAKO determined to maneuver to Los Angeles to review music at USC’s Thornton Faculty of Music and pursue her profession as a solo artist.

AYAKO’s mysterious and seductive sound is nearly threateningly good. It snaps you into full consideration regardless of its many ethereal qualities. There’s this light domineering high quality to her vocals that places you on this bizarre temper the place you’re feeling virtually obligated to do nothing however pay shut consideration to each phrase that drips into your ear like molasses combined with hemlock. There’s simply that a lot hazard and edge to her in any other case demure and stylish efficiency.

To my very own ears, the baroque electro-pop/Alt-R&B sound acts as a vernacular interpretation of a sure set of cultural idiosyncrasies of her native Japan, particularly these of that beautiful rigidity between magnificence and violence, of seduction refined right into a ritualized mental pursuit, and at last, the utmost significance of correct aesthetic and manners elevated to an artwork type.

The unapologetic boundary-pushing and cultural illustration that’s inherent to AYAKO’s musical being are certainly one of her largest strengths, and she or he makes full use of them within the music video for her newest single “One thing About you”, directed to perfection by Eric Hersey.

However sufficient prattling: Take a look at this superb interview we had with AYAKO herself.

Inform us slightly bit in regards to the filming course of for the music video. It appears crucial in that it deeply explores your cultural heritage.

Okay, so it began after I was driving down PCH, listening to the ultimate grasp of “One thing About You”. For some purpose, visions of a geisha and goldfish flashed by means of my thoughts. It felt like a really antiquated distinction to the up to date sound of “One thing About You” however that enticed me. I all the time love a juxtaposition. However as I performed the music on repeat, I began seeing the parallels between the overarching story of falling deeply into the thriller of a stranger and the lifetime of a geisha. And the extra analysis I did on geishas, ​​the extra all of it made sense. I all the time try to characterize my Japanese tradition in my artwork, however this looks as if the right undertaking to really embrace that mission. To be trustworthy, this imaginative and prescient was so grandthat , I did not know if it could possibly be pulled off. However then I met the director, Eric Hersey. He introduced probably the most insane and unimaginable staff collectively and began making it occur. Over the vacations, I went again to Tokyo and began prop looking. I went by means of my baba’s (grandma’s) wealthy assortment of kimonos and scrolls, which I introduced again to LA for the video. My grandfather handed away in October so it was actually particular and emotional to spend this time along with her wanting by means of their treasures collectively. My mother and I went to Asakusa, a district in Tokyo the place conventional Japanese tradition has been preserved. There, I discovered the masks and sake set within the video. It was actually cool to dive deep and be taught extra about my tradition, with my household by means of this video.

You are carrying a reasonably majestic and exquisite hairdo, which I imagine is that of an Oiran, right? How lengthy did it take the entire means of entering into that function?

Right, my hairdo is that of an Oiran, a class of the best rating geishas. I initially ordered a “katsura” (wig) as a result of I did not suppose it will be attainable to get an genuine hairdo with my actual hair. However then Kimono SK, the kimono dresser (who additionally supplied the fan & obi), referred me to Akiko Russell who got here in and completely blew us all away. My make-up was accomplished by Brianne Ross. I began with make-up however Brianne and Akiko had been engaged on my have a look at the identical time, out and in. The entire hair and make-up course of in all probability took about 3 hours complete!

Goldfish are featured prominently within the Video firstly. What do they imply to you in context?

Eric and I spent lots of time hashing out the narrative and themes of the video. I’ve heard lots of totally different concepts from individuals in regards to the fish, so it is actually as much as the interpretation of the viewer. However for us, the fish represents the salaryman, residing life in an earthly cycle, trapped in a tank till he’s lured to the geisha. He’s mesmerized and needs to swim in her ocean of affection. Each the salaryman and the geisha expertise an sudden connection and divine lust, a second of freedom. However there’s additionally this forbidden factor, in that they each know they can’t act upon it at that very second. When the geisha leaves, he’s left like a fish out of water. Modified ceaselessly, he should return to actuality with the hope that they may meet once more.

Geishas are the best degree of entertainers in Japan. They’re like magicians, creating an escape for purchasers, and entertaining them by means of performing arts. Though it isn’t frequent and type of taboo, generally a geisha and her consumer might develop keen on one another and have a relationship outdoors of the tea room. Within the video, we discover what occurs behind the closed shoji doorways.

This can be a very cinematic music video, however then once more so is your sound in my opinion- Is that one thing that you just really feel is intentional for you? Do you make an effort to conjure up imagery together with your music within the listener’s creativeness?

Sure, undoubtedly. I’m a brilliant visible particular person. I imagine songs shouldn’t solely evoke emotions however paint footage and tales within the listener’s thoughts. After I wrote “One thing About You”, I wasn’t imagining the entire geisha idea, however I used to be eager about a really vivid reminiscence of the night time I felt this inexplicable connection to somebody. I used to be at a nightclub, flashing lights, scorching and sweaty. The surroundings was very totally different, however I believe the sensation and intoxicating vibes are captured within the video.

Having skilled each the Japanese music business and the western music business, what are a number of the largest variations that you’ve got been capable of recognize thus far?

I believe issues are actually altering within the Japanese music business proper now. However after I was in it, I used to be being developed by a significant label, and being an impartial artist wasn’t popping off but. I discovered loads and met so many superb individuals, however I felt like I wanted to discover myself extra. After I moved to LA, I used to be shocked by how many individuals are pursuing being an artist and doing it independently. I actually recognize the inventive freedom and particular person expression out right here.

Your sound is tough to actually outline, it’s totally baroque and mysterious, which I suppose provides you superb flexibility relating to writing music. How do you prefer to current your self musically? how would you describe your self to newcomers?

I grew up listening to 90’s & 2000’s r&b pop music, which is the basis of most of my melodies. However the total fashion of every music could be very depending on the manufacturing. I really like minor chords, which assist me faucet into my deeper feelings. I really feel like my sound is all the time evolving however I might describe my music to newcomers as a mysterious concoction of light and exhausting with echoes of my largest musical influences, Sade, Utada Hikaru, and FKA Twigs.

You carried out a gorgeous choreography of Nihon Buyo within the video, which is one thing that you just had been taught because you had been very younger. Did it’s important to go and clean up on it or is it like using a bicycle and also you simply cannot neglect the strikes?

It surprisingly got here actually naturally to me, like using a bicycle. However lots of the Nihon-Buyo strikes are very fluid, like water so I simply flowed with it. I undoubtedly need to incorporate extra Nihon-Buyo in future tasks

What does a studio session with AYAKO often appear to be?

I’m all the time listening to melodies out of skinny air. As quickly because the producer sits down and performs something whether or not or not it’s a chord development or a drum loop, I tune into the sensation it evokes and I simply begin buzzing & vibing. SEROW, the producer of “One thing About You” and I’ve a deep, very comical chemistry. We prefer to have enjoyable, eat wholesome meals, drink good sake, and go until we’ve one thing particular to construct off of.

We all the time need to Know what is the subsequent transfer for the artists that we’re following. What’s on the horizon for you?

I’ve a pair extra singles I will probably be releasing this 12 months. And following that, I plan to write down an EP from scratch with an entire visible expertise. I’m additionally an actor, and my first lead characteristic, “Ike Boys” will probably be popping out this fall. Together with a restricted sequence Netflix present, I visitor starred with Zoe Saldana referred to as “From Scratch”. Much more tasks within the works so keep tuned ~