Japanese singer UKICO interview first single "DENIAL"

January 23, 2020 8:58 PM
Ethereal she is, and transport you, she will.
UKICO, is the name of an upcoming Japanese/French singer-songwriter and producer, who is gaining great popularity in Tokyo’s musical scene. Her soothing spiritual, hypnotic style and celestial aura will take your breath away.  

To honor her Japanese heritage, Ukico has been creating music incorporating traditional Japanese instruments to share and spread her cultural heritage. The main themes she invites us to explore are all about reincarnation, karma and spirituality. And perhaps, as fascinating as she is, her music has a unique mystical vibe which you can also witness in her powerful music videos inspired by the mythological tale of Japan’s creation by the great gods, Izanami and Izanagi. 

As a matter of fact, we were lucky enough to get to meet the mysterious exotic singer and ask her a few questions everyone has been dying to ask.

UKICO, we know you were born and raised in France, how do you think it shaped you into who you are ?

I was born to a Japanese mother and a French father and was raised in the suburbs of Paris, then moved to Paris to go to University. Being bicultural was a bit of a challenge, especially when the cultures seem quite opposites. But I feel incredibly lucky to have spent my childhood in France, where people treasure the moment, simple pleasures like food and wine, art, fashion, nature, romance… I am a dreamer by nature but being in France was definitely a fertile soil for my imagination. And the country is rich with incredible nature from beaches to mountains, fields or green,  with such cutes villages etc… 

How do you create music ? What inspires you the most ?

As I come from a music engineering background, I like to write songs starting with making a track from my computer using a program called Ableton. I choose sounds that I like and assemble them together, creating a vibe first. Then I create the song structure, write a vocal melody, the lyrics and finally record all final instruments and vocals. Sometimes I start by having a melody and some lyrics in my head, but it is rarer. However, my iPhone is full of notes, drafts of poems and lyrics, ideas etc…

What inspired me the most is my personal life and my experiences, were the strong emotions, like pain or fear… But lately, I’ve been inspired by people, their experiences, human complexity, the universe and its ways of teaching us lessons and guiding us where we are supposed to be. I am also greatly inspired when I see incredible artists performance.

We heard your ancestors were Samourai ? How does that affect you and inspire you ?

Music wise, it inspired me immensely, but furthermore than being from a Samurai family, the fact that we come from a holy place in Japan called Izumo where it is said that all Gods in Shinto (Japanese religion) are said to gather once a year, and where a lot of Japanese mythology take place is even more inspiring and makes it so much more meaningful. I almost feel like my ancestors, or spirit guides whatever you wanna call it, made me return to japan after living in NY for 3 years studying music, to inspire my musical project. I decided then to incorporate traditional japanese instruments like Koto, Shamisen (japanese guitar), Shakuhachi (japanese flute), Taiko (japanese drums)…

What do you like the most about making music ?

What I like the most about it is creating feelings. And then performing them. It gives me such a sense of accomplishment when my band performs it for the first time at rehearsal. It makes me feel very emotional. But to get there you go through so much dissecting and judging and that part is the hardest! The part I like the most is probably writing the lyrics, creating a story, rhymes etc… Especially in English, it is such a melodic language!

Do you have any other interest for other Art forms ? Are you into fashion ?

I love fashion, I think it’s another incredible way to be creating and expressing your essence. You can create yourself every day through a new look. I especially like to play with make up to let different sides of my personality out. I adore Japanese designers. My favorite is Yohji Yamamoto which also have now more accessible lines like Y-3 and Ground Y. I also like Comme des garçons or Issey Miyake. I Love Kimonos as well and I love going to vintage shops in Tokyo and find a kimono that I can wear for an everyday look. The long ones are more for shoots or Performances but The short ones are perfect Jackets. A friend of mine also remake the vintage kimono and I love to wear these when going out. Her brand is named FARUTA. I also love jewelry, I feel like accessorizing a simple look with a special piece is incredible. I even make some from Crystal stones which I now sell as Merch, using their magical properties and beautiful shapes to create a witchy look.

How is the Artist lifestyle ? Do you believe it’s an accessible lifestyle or does it require certain qualities ?

I think the artist lifestyle is way harder than people imagine. You first have to have the courage to dedicate your life to a career that only a few percentage succeed or even make a simple living. You have to be very brave, but then Discipline is key. You need to practice, to be constantly creating even when you don’t feel creative. You have to constantly be in touch with your emotions and especially the ones you want to avoid. There is no OFF switch, no days off, you are constantly looking for an idea, an inspiration to challenge yourself. But of course there are also tons of amazing sides, like meeting new people all the time and connecting with other artists at the deepest level of creation, Travelling etc…

Do you prefer song writing or producing ?

To me they are one and the same as I blend the both steps together. I love both.

Who would you like to collaborate with throughout your career?

Biggest dream is to be featured on one Massive Attack track! The ultimate dream! I would die to work with James Blake. I love his music but also his collaboration with Bon Iver. And there is a bunch of Music producers i would all Love to work with, like Arca (FKA Twigs) Richard Russel (ibeyi)… 

What kind of music do you like to listen to ?

I like to listen to Soul music, 90s R&B, slow mellow chill vibe music. One thing that I love to do is going to vinyl bars and listen to old records. The sound is so warm and soothing. 

What are your top 5 favorite artists at the moment ?

Sabrina Claudio/Banks/Massive Attack/FKA twigs and Kelsey Lu

Do you have any upcoming projects ?

Yes, I am going to release a video of an acoustic live version of my first single Denial in January. Then my second single in February with a pretty daring Music Video! Then finally my album in April!!! I am so looking forward to it!

Are you planning on going on tour ?

Nothing is planned yet but I would love to!

Are you signed to any label ?

I created my own label, Kiseki Record.

What was your favorite school subject? What was your major when you studied at La Sorbonne ?

Definitely Languages! My Major was Languages and Trade.

What was your dream job when you were a kid?

Singing in a musical! I loved Disney so much I was putting on a show of the Little Mermaid to my grandparents! haha

What excites you the most in life?

Learning, Growth,  Spirituality, New experiences, I love to discover new places, cultures… And meeting new people!

Do you have any pets?

No I don’t

Do you have any secret talents ?

Does speaking 4 languages count? French Japanese, English Spanish

If you could send your fans and supporters a message, what would you like to tell them ?

Never give up on your dreams, you can become anything you put your mind to. It only takes dedication and courage. I never thought I would be able to write and produce/arrange my own songs 10 years ago! And never think that you know it all because it is the enemy of growth. I believe our capacity to learn and grow is infinite and being open is key.

If you could date any celebrity, who would it be ? And why ?

I wouldn’t date a celebrity, it’s too much work.. haha

What advice would you give to a young aspiring singer, producer or songwriter moving to NYC ?

It’s is such a tough city to live in and make art! There is so much competition! But the City will make you stronger. And treasure your true friends!

If you could change anything about your career choices so far, what would it be ?

I would have loved to write music at a younger age. I started pretty late, after University. But I believe everything happens for a reason and timing are always perfect. I had to be where I am now to be able to write. My experiences have shaped me and also my voice transformed going through them.

Are you planning on continuing your career in NYC ?

I don’t live in NYC. I live in TOKYO. But I am hoping my music will travel to the US too so i can Tour in the US and come back to NY and LA!

 

Photo 1: Photo by Yulia SHUR/Make up by AmazingJiro

Photo 2: Photo by Misa Kusakabe/Make up by Laurène Baudin

Photo 3 and 4: Photo by Nathan Berry/Make up by Laurène Baudin

 

UKICO'S WEBSITE 

WRITTEN BY CELINE AZMY

INTERVIEWED BY CELINE AZMY

EDITED BY KAREN YABUTA

 

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