Singer and songwriter Mio
, a refreshing young talent newly arrived on the Japanese music scene, consented to an interview not long after the release of her new album. Here, she talks to us about her experiences as a performer and the bonds she has made with her band. We also get an insight to her cheerful and upbeat personality.
First of all, could you please introduce yourself to our readers who don’t know you yet?
Hello! I am Mio
, nice to meet you! I’m a 22-year-old singer and songwriter. Recently, I've been doing street performances in Kichijôji in western Tokyo a lot, but I love being in a band and doing things more passionately and wildly. Mainly, I hold concerts in the live houses in the Tokyo area.
Now that you mention it, why are street performances so important to you? What do you like about it, what do you dislike?
When I first came to Tokyo, it was quite a tough period because a lot of drunk people bumped in to me! (laughs) But my current enemy is the police! Street performances are basically illegal, so on bad days it can get quite troublesome! (laughs) But street performances are so much fun! When people who don’t know me pass by and stop in front of me, I’m happy. You’ll get the feeling like “I did it!" There are also a lots of people who become fans.
Really? That sounds tough. What happens if you make the police angry? Do you have to pay a fine or something?
No, you don’t have to. But if you are unlucky they'll take your fingerprint, and you'll have to sign a document and also swear not to repeat the offense.
And why did you chose Kichijôji? Any particular reason?
Just because you hardly get caught by the police in Kichijôji! (laughs)
Let’s get back to your music. How old were you when you started singing?
I've been singing karaoke since I was in kindergarden! (laughs) But I only started writing and singing my own songs when I turned 17.
So you released your first single,
Atama no warui musume no hanashi at the age of 19, right? Did anything change for you as an artist since that time? When I look at the jacket of the single, you had a pretty dark image. When one compares it to the cover of your debut album
Ai no mama aruite ikitai, you get the impression that you've changed a lot. Did the music you want to play change as well?
I did change a lot! (laughs) Especially after last fall, when my album was released. Having the band around me made me realize the possibility of having deep relationships with people who are neither my lovers nor my friends. It was also refreshing to hang out with people of my generation after playing the guitar and singing for people who were much older than me. Emotionally, I became very involved with my band, and we've already forged close relationships in such a short space of time! Sharing all the sadness, madness, pleasure and happiness is a unique feeling! I think I've become more involved with people in general since then.
Now that we’re talking about your debut album, could you tell us about your impressions of the recordings? Who played all the instruments for you back then?
I enjoyed the whole recording progress! My arranger, Takashi Nakayama
, played the guitar, and professional musicians played the other instruments.
Genre-wise, the songs on your album differ a lot. Why is that?
At the age of 20, when I was working on the album, I was at a phase where I was physically and mentally unbalanced. My heart and my feelings and were scattered and now when I think about it again, it was pretty cruel. Perhaps it was those extreme factors that contributed to why my music at that time gave such an impression. When I listen to those songs now, they leave an infantile and childish impression on me. My private life was reflected transparently in those songs. But to me, they are precious songs.
What do you think is special about you? What makes you different from other female singers?
After listening to my album, people seem to be under the impression that I am a J-pop artist. But when they come and see my concerts, it's obvious that I am 100% rock! While the melody of my music is somewhat pop, during lives, the rock spirit always seems to permeate through! People have trouble putting me under a single genre when all I am doing is expressing myself faithfully. Now I feel that people are slowly accepting me as an artist with originality.
How do you write your songs? Do you have a special method?
Usually, the melody comes first. When that's done, I think of words that will suit the melody.
What kind of artists do you like? Have you been influenced by anyone?
When I was 17, I liked the UK band Muse
, and they inspired me to start making my own music! Apart from that, my parents run a rock bar, so I was exposed to a lot of 70's and 80's music and loved it!
Speaking of your parents, your mother is a singer too, right? Did she teach you how to sing? Is she supporting you?
She never taught me anything! That’s because I’m weak at learning stuff from my parents. (laughs) But my mother is the one who understands me the most in this world, and she supports me with all her heart.
You’re active as a singer and songwriter, but managed to gather band members recently. How is it to be the only girl in a group of young guys? Could you tell us your impression of concerts, and what life is like as a band?
Because my current members are first-class musicians who put lots of effort into their activities, I can learn a lot from them and improve a lot! It hasn’t been long since I’ve met them, but I respect them from the bottom of my heart, as musicians as well as people. We also have lots of fun performing! We share a love for music, so it’s a really good feeling. Since I’ve started to play with them, I feel very excited at the idea of performing more rock songs on stage! I feel on fire when we’re writing songs!
How did you meet them, or how did you gather them? Mr. Yamada, who takes part in your lives, seems to be a pretty popular musician as he has played with Every Little Thing, Koda Kumi, Tommy Heavenly6, the brilliant green, Otsuka Ai, Bonnie Pink and many more.
When my previous band broke up in March this year, I played the guitar on my own for a couple of months. Actually, the current members only joined last month. The drummer, Takeshi Hatae
, had been an acquaintance of mine for the past three years – we met at a live in Nagano – and when we talked about my band, he just said, “Let's play together!" Because he is a top class drummer in Japan whom I really like, I was happy and felt honoured! He also introduced Anthony Yamada
, who ended up as our bassist, and brought guitarist Kôta Nakamura
into the band. Making music with them is an awesome feeling. I love those guys.
That sounds promising to me! I’m sure you are going to have some really good concerts this year. Last but not least, do you have a message for our readers?
Thank you for reading! I hope I can hold some concerts overseas one day!
JaME would like to thank Mio for the opportunity to do this interview. For more infomation on Mio and her music, please check out her official homepage and MySpace profile.