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Iruma Rioka Vital Stats
Iruma Rioka Birthday: September 6
Birthplace: Oita, Japan
Blood type: O

3:00 AM song sample

Concert footage montage


IRUMA (2008)
1 Silent Lake
2 Vanilla
3 3:00 AM
4 Ao
5 Fuoco
6 Moonlight Waltz
7 Ashita ame ga yandanara
8 Clover
9 Touch Your Heart

Where to Buy
CD Baby

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Interview Comments

Iruma Rioka Interview

Photo courtesy of Iruma Rioka - click for full size Gifted with both passion and fashion, Iruma Rioka is charting a course in the Japanese music scene with moving songs like 3:00 AM and Vanilla. Her self-titled debut album "Iruma" showcases a blend of pop-rock with a bit of classical infusion. With help from her guitarist NEMU and ever present teddy bear "Honey" her stage show is something that will bring a smile to your face.

So come say hello to the Japanese singer-songwriter with the very apt nickname, Rapunzel, and ponder the immortal words of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale, "Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair, so that I may climb the golden stair."

On January 11, 2009 Iruma Rioka was kind enough to give an interview to Andrew from J-Pop World.

First off let me say we were very impressed with your music. How would you describe your musical style?

Thank you for listening. My music is based on classical music mixed with electronic sound. Those two are elemental for me, and on that base piano and guitar sound come. In many cases, vocal lines are conscious of a melody for violin.

You have a nine-track CD out called Iruma. Are all the songs written by you?

Yes, I wrote all the songs. Arrangement is by me, NEMU and polygon. NEMU did Vanilla and polygo worked on Silent Lake and Touch Your Heart. Please enjoy their characteristics. I arranged other songs by myself.

How did you record them?

I played the piano and NEMU played guitar and bass guitar. Polygo did the final mixing of all the songs. NEMU and I stayed in his house for hours. The recording was very hard but was very rewarding and enjoyable, too.

What inspires you to write music?

Although I usually try to behave cheerful, actually I feel a little bit clumsy at communicating with people. Since I was a child, I could express myself better by making and performing music than by words. When I feel very sad or very happy, when I feel a strong emotion, it becomes music.

Photo courtesy of Iruma Rioka - click for full size Your song 3:00 AM is both poignant and powerful. What's the story behind the song?

This song is about a man. He cannot believe in love. But there is a woman who loves him. He thinks that she is annoying. He cannot understand why she tries to sacrifice herself for him. But still he is a human. He feels sorry to see her hurt in front of him. Neither her feelings nor his feelings last forever, and it makes him suffer. I sang about his feelings.

3:00 AM

I woke up alone in a cold room
Your voice was too sweet
A black shadow opened the window and deprived me of my breath

You asked me what I need
But I could not answer
I would get tired of everything too soon
and it will make you cry
Neither the dream I had a little while ago
Nor your kindness I would remember tomorrow

Wrapped by the light of the chandelier falling from the sky
I shed tears at its beauty but it lasts only for a moment
Tell me if there is anything persistent
Why am I so sad when I think of you?

I strain my ears wishing
I could hear the sound of falling rain
But the sky I look up at is so clear that I would be sucked into it
Or better yet you should disappear!

At my whimsical tenderness you would make your eyes shine
If I bend my head you would try to make me laugh
Please notice, I'm taking advantage of your affection
Why you should get hurt because of me

I thought I have everything I want
But you said you were sorry for me

Wrapped by the light of the chandelier falling from the sky
I shed tears at its beauty but it lasts only for a moment
Tell me if there is anything persistent
Why are you smiling so gently for me?

© Lyrics by Iruma Rioka

Tell us a little about making the video for Silent Lake.

The video of the Silent Lake was taken in a winter park. I remember it was cold with my very light costume. Trees were dense and the air was crisp.

Do you feel at ease in front of a camera?

I felt a lot of pleasure and a little bit of uneasiness.

What role has your sister, AMU, played in your career?

We grew up together. I came to Tokyo alone and then after 1 year she came to Tokyo, concerned about me. Since she was a child she was good at drawing. I asked her to design the CD jacket and it got very favorable responses. Everybody who saw her illustration asks me who drew it. I think she is the only one who can express my music graphically.

What do the other members of your family and friends think of your choosing a musical career?

All my family members support my music career. Because they know that I was always sitting in front of the piano since I was little. And also because they know that I am nothing without music. My friends root for me on the side, too.

With Honey - Photo courtesy of Iruma Rioka - click for full size What's the name of the teddy bear we see in some of your shows?

His name is "Honey." He is abused by me often. But he is always sweet to me. That is why I am always with him.

How would you describe your fashion look?

My style is mainly Gothic-Lolita. It is one of the important things to do before a concert, to decide the costume. I try to choose a costume matching the music. Light long hair is my feature. Sometimes people call me "Rapunzel" from the name of a princess in a Grimm's fairy tale. I usually do not wear rings during my concert as I play the piano.

Where do you get your outfits from?

Usually I do my shopping in Harajuku or in Shinjuku. But some of my costumes are hand made. They are made by a person who offered to make my costumes through the internet. She made them according to my request.

Let's learn a little more about your background. Where were you born and where did you grow up?

I was born and brought up in a southern island of Japan. The place, Oita, was endowed with nature and I was afraid of the clear night sky. I do not have any particularly pleasant memories but recollect constant resentment. At that time I was like a bird in a cage.

What was your neighborhood like?

It was surrounded by mountains and the sea. We had a commonplace rural landscape.

With NEMU - Photo courtesy of Iruma Rioka - click for full size Who were some of your favorite artists growing up?

Valensia, Ringo Shiina, and Bjork--those three are my favorite artists.

When you were in high school did you do a lot of dressing up on the weekends?

It may disappoint readers but I was in my school uniform even on weekends. I was in a school brass band and I went to school on weekends, too. Since then, I liked music more than fashion.

Did you always think you'd become a musician?

I think so. I wanted to be a composer and then after I found it interesting to sing by myself, I believed that I would be a singer-songwriter.

What made you decide to write and perform music?

To become a musician, I thought, it is important to appear in public. It was useless to do a concert in the country and I used to fly to Tokyo every month to do concerts. In Tokyo there are lots of people aiming to be musicians and it was stimulating.

With NEMU - Photo courtesy of Iruma Rioka - click for full size How did you meet NEMU, your guitar player?

I got to know him after I moved to Tokyo. I told him about my music and he got interested in my story very much. Then I believed that we have common tastes in music.

Tell us a little about him.

He is a very cute boy, although he does not like to be mentioned so. Maybe he is a girl... because he is daintier than I. In concerts, he wears a big hat. His performance is very strong and sometimes in a delicate and patient way he meets my demands. It is regrettable that we have only two pieces with his performance in "Iruma." He performs other pieces in my concert and gives them variations. And in a second mini-album released in October this year, he played not only the guitar, but also bass guitar.

He is good at computer and digital equipments and joined my recording and arranging work. Recently, I leave him most of the mixing.

NEMU - Photo courtesy of Iruma Rioka - click for full size What was the first show you did together? Do you remember the songs you played?

We played together for the first time in April last year. I had him play the guitar in the event at the release of "IRUMA". I remember our performance of the piece called "fuoco". In the CD, the song does not have guitar. But his acoustic guitar went together very well with the piece. After April, he has been playing with me in all my concerts. His unique character and high performing technique won the hearts and minds of many people in this short time.

Can you tell us more about polygo?

He likes electric music. You can see his most elaborated arrangement in Silent Lake. Although he is not working with me now, he supervised the making of all the music in my CD album IRUMA. He is a shop clerk of a music store for professional musicians and is in charge of accordions. He is visiting accordion factories in Italy and Germany. I also like accordions and I used accordion sound in my second mini album.

What artists inspire you today?

Bjork, Sarah Brightman and classical music do. Apart from the music, sometimes I get inspiration from pictures.

Can you give us a glimpse into the romantic life of Iruma? What is your idea of a romantic date?

In a warm spring park, we sit in the shade of a tree listening to the birds ----Hello? Is it true? I have never experienced such romantic date!!

What traits do you look for in someone you would date?

Photo courtesy of Iruma Rioka - click for full size I do not care how he looks. It is important how he loves me. If he does whatever I want him to do for me, well, then I will love him, too. But it is not enough. I would get tired of the relationship soon without any additional allure to keep me attracted. If he can entertain me with something artistic, I would stay with him forever.

And most important thing is, he should be a prince with a large castle and a lot of servants (lol).

Any thoughts on marriage and children in the future?

I wish I could get married. I am ready to get married whenever I have my prince. I like to have children, too! I want to teach them the enjoyment of music. I want to live with him (my prince) happily ever after.

Other than music and fashion, what do you do to relax and have fun?

I go to a large park and see natural landscape. It makes me relaxed. In addition, if I have some tea and sweet cakes, it would be terrific!!

With Haruya - Photo courtesy of Iruma Rioka - click for full size Do you have any favorite manga or television shows?

Again it may have the readers disappointed but I don't like watching TV that much. When I have free time, I prefer to relax with a cup of tea, letting my imagination run.

What are your plans for 2009?

We are going on an overseas tour. First we go to Russia in February and we have other plans to have concerts in other countries. New invitations are welcomed. Also I am planning to make a new CD and a video picture.

Do you have a final message to all your fans?

Thank you very much for your attention. Please listen to my music. I am looking forward to seeing you.

For more info checkout Iruma Rioka's official site and MySpace page. Leave your comments about this interview and read what others had to say at the following link: Interview Comments