Known as Japan’s singing ambassador, MIOU is a talented singer and songwriter with a flair for fashion. Winning “Asian Top Fashion singer of the year” in 2011 and “Asia Pacific Inspirational Woman Award” in 2014, she has since been performing worldwide on various international stages. Now based in the UK, she produces musical born of cultural fusion, as you’ll find out below.
When she takes to the stage to sing, MIOU transforms it into a sight to behold. She is always clad in ensembles that create trails of followers, bringing Japan to the world through her music, preserving and sharing the beauty of traditional Japanese culture, while maintaining her own cultural identity. She fuses Japanese traditional sound with modern Western beats to create an “East meets West” crossover.
What made you want to get into music?
I had been playing the piano for 18 years and the trumpet for 6 years. I had always loved music. I had an opportunity to participate in an international beauty pageant as Miss Japan in 2006. And I had a chance to showcase a national talent.
Since I loved music, I sang a Japanese folk song. And the reception from the other contestants from all over the world was amazing. This experience made me rethink my own national culture, tradition etc. I realised this makes us so unique and original in the world. And I thought I want to bring this to the world as a Japanese descent myself.
After that, I made a band in Japan in 2008. And quite by chance, my band members were making fusion songs… reggae with Japanese traditional sound etc… and they were introducing Japanese culture and tradition through their songs. I thought, “This is it! This is what I wanted!” This is how I got into music.
What inspires you to write?
Nature. When I touch nature, I get inspired. I feel soul and spirit, life in everything in nature. Nature always guides me along the right paths in life and restores my soul.
Who has had the most influence on your music?
Shakira. I was influenced by her style. Latin music with pop etc, fusion style.
What has been the biggest challenge in your career so far?
I organised and produced my 10th anniversary concert in Tokyo, Japan 2 years ago. It was the biggest challenge for me, and everything was done from London.
What has been the nicest thing ever written about you?
Being described as a “Japanese Singing Ambassador.” That was a great honour to me. Because that’s what I want to be and I think I can bring JAPAN to the world from my international experiences including international beauty pageant, Miss Japan experience.
If you could support anyone, who would it be and why?
Mental health patients and their family. Because my mother has been suffering from mental health issue since when I was 3 years old. I understand those feelings. I would like to share my experience and support them. I am actually studying music therapy and writing some songs for that.
How have you managed your music during lockdown?
Doing some online entertainments. Collaborating with other musicians online. It’s an “online age.” Trying my best to do many things online. Work from Home. Trying to find the way to work online. We can communicate with everyone online:-D
Give us a few hints on what’s in store next for the MIOU.
Just released a new album called MASK. Check it out!
Talk us through the idea behind the new track.
MASK is a collaboration with Italian DJs Axell Tiengo and Dupon. They wrote the song. And I added Japanese traditional taste to create a “West meets East” CROSSOVER sound. This video was made with the support of crowdfunding campaign. Thanks to many followers, supporters, I managed to make a great video.
We shot this video in Venice, Italy during the Venice Mask Carnival. We are using Venetian traditional masks and traditional Japanese masks in this video. And some great Japanese artists joined this video, presenting Japanese traditional artworks too.
When will you feel like you achieved success with your music?
When I receive a positive feedback and reception from listeners. When I accomplish my goals, dreams. When I achieve awards. When I win the competition and being selected.