Meet MIREI, the genre-pushing contemporary pop-artist on the rise.
Pulling us into a jazzy fun-flecked soundscape for her new contemporary pop single is rising star MIREI with “1998”. Effortlessly blending raw and honest lyricism with a soft entrancing production, the artist rides a nostalgic-tinged melody while tackling an array of issues.
Speaking on the track, the artist said, “While looking back at the culture I grew up with, I reflected on who I am and where I belong… Britney Spears with Justin Timberlake in the all denim outfit still brings me back to my sweet childhood memories, and makes me feel like I’m a ’90s Baby. But on the other hand, I love Olivia Rodrigo, and I am so hooked on TikTok, so I feel like I’m much younger. I feel like my birth year, 1998, is a limbo year in between it all.”
Combining her influences from growing up in both Japan and the United States, MIREI uniquely taps in to a selection of genres, pulling everything from J-Pop to noughties R&B. With a new album on the way, we caught with MIREI talking all things music and everything we can expect.
Check out the interview below…
Hey Mirei, how are you? How has this past year been for you?
My past year has been the most exciting but hard year for me since I released my very first album in English, while experiencing quarantine anxiety… you know what I mean!
With everything that happened last year, how has your creativity been affected?
I’ve been more personal when writing my songs. Back then I was feeling like I’m talking to a group of my friends and all my listeners around the world, but now I feel like when I write songs, I’m talking to my journal or diary, just being as honest as I can be. I feel closer to my music and I really like it.
How did you first get into music, what sparked the interest?
Actually, I don’t remember the exact moment I fell in love with music, but my parents really love music and karaoke. They’re always playing something, even while my mom was pregnant and after I was born they had me listening to music. When I watch all the home videos from my childhood, there’s always a tune playing in the background. Music was with me so naturally from the start and it’s been with me for 23 years which is unbelievable.
You’ve experienced living in Japan and the United States, both have huge scenes in music and fashion, do you think they’ve impacted your sound in any way?
Yes, they both definitely do! Mostly I’m influenced by American music and watching MTV Japan, YouTube, and learning street style and hip-hop dance. My first dream was to be a Japanese idol, like Morning Musume, and when I look back I loved how they interpreted American pop fashion into Japanese kawaii style. Other than that, a Japanese rhythm game called Dance Dance Revolution or DDR was my favorite game and the songs used in the game were basically euro-beat, techno, and trance. I learned so much from playing that!
Your English-language debut Take Me Away made a splash last year, what was your goal releasing music in English finally?
I wanted to reach more people with my music and the important stories I was telling on that record, so it really needed to be in English because English is mostly a universal language all around the world. I wanted to bring awareness to the Japanese music and entertainment industry, and I needed the world to hear it in English so they could understand what’s happening here. In Japan, there’s still many dangers for girls who dream of being popstars. There are many underaged girls who are chasing their dreams but have no means or money to get to where they need to. That’s why many girls choose to go work at night serving men, because the hourly wage is higher than other part-time jobs. Even to get a job, sometimes they have to serve men who have the power to cast them at the audition. Basically I’m saying there are a lot of dangerous men in Japan who take advantage of young women. It sounds disgusting but it’s still happening but nobody says it out loud since it’s too risky for them to speak out. As a youn Japanese singer, I couldn’t be silent and it wasn’t enough to sing it in Japanese anymore.
And now you’ve just released your new single “1998”, talk us through the songwriting and production process!
This song is about me feeling stuck in the middle of two generations, Millennials and Gen Z. I wrote most of my new music during quarantine, and I was deep in quarantine depression and an internet rabbithole if I’m being honest. I was singing and making music everyday, learning what’s trendy and just perusing the Internet and watching way too much YouTube and TikTok. As I was writing, every time I wanted to go deeper about something, I felt major imposter syndrome and thought “am I too old to sing a song like this?” or “am I too young to say this?” I wrote this song as if I was writing a journal entry, it was refreshing and helped me clear my thoughts, and at first I didn’t even like it or think I would release it. I sent the demo to my friends DJ Shiftee and Zak Leever – we looked back on our childhoods and talked about how things have changed so much. Fun fact, I also recorded my vocals oon my laptop through Zoom. Me and the guys were all in different cities – Tokyo, Brooklyn and LA. From that perspective, I’m thanking Gen Z technology so much!
It’s named after the year you were born, why did you decide to do this?
It’s the one thing I belong to and have a connection to undoubtedly. There’s tons of thoughts, ideas, stereotypes about young and old, but at the center of it, there’s a fact that I was born in 1998 and everyone else who was born in this year can surely relate to me and how I’m feeling. I felt like the number 1998 is like the eye of the typhoon.
What do you want people to take away from your music?
I want people to know they are not alone and know that they’re not the only ones who feel this way. We’re always together fighting against this life but we have each other surely. I’m always writing and singing when I get emotional. I’m often called an emotional person, and I’m sometimes stuck on my emotion so I can’t step forward. Whenever that happens, music and writing my songs helps me. I’m sure that we all have moments where we feel like we can’t move, not only physically but mentally. When you’re in that situation, just remember me and listen to my music. I’m just a weird person trying to accept my weirdness. If you’re the same as me, then we’re friends, and I think it’s worth you checking out my tracks or following me on Instagram.
Who inspires you?
I have so many inspirations but I have to say Rihanna, Lady Gaga, and Charli XCX are my favorite. Rihanna has been my idol since I was 3 years old and she has taught me how to be independent and confident as a woman. “Born This Way” with Japanese translations, Lady Gaga made me wanna write my own songs and start a revolution, since the moment I listen to her song. Charli XCX’s work is just amazing and experimental. Every time she releases something new she always drags me into a new musical experience, and I really love that!
What’s next for you? What are you most excited for?
I’m making more music! I’m so excited to release a new album soon! On Take Me Away I was singing about the country I was born in and what the experiences are like from Japanese youth here, especially young women who want to break into the music industry. On the next album I’ll be opening up about myself a little more, I’m gonna be talking about who I really am and why I’m singing my songs. It’s gonna be more personal and I can’t wait to share it with you!