After releasing her debut EP, ‘Business Trips’ in June to critical acclaim, Japanese-born, London-based art school graduate Rié - pronounced “ree-ay” - returns with her second release in
6 months, with the ‘Levels’ EP, due out on November 3, 2017. Rié has announced details of the EP with new single and title track ‘Levels’ - listen here. Rié is set to perform
live around the release of the EP with UK dates to come shortly.
The EP-titled track was written following a short trip to London whilst Rié was previously living in Japan. Facilitated by her collaborator, the London-based Ivor Novello award winning songwriter/producer, Cassell The Beatmaker (whose previous collaborations include The Streets, Plan B, Akala), ‘Levels’ lyrically identifies the level of commitment, time and effort, as well as patience, that it takes to pursue a passion in life. This notion is reflected in Rié’s own relocation to the UK, done with the ambition to develop her career in music outside of Japan.
‘Levels’ diversifies from Rié’s debut EP, this time with Rié touching upon UK rap - a spontaneous venture taken up with the talented studio assistant/artist, Deacon during recording sessions. The 'Levels' video finds Rié examining the significance of determination in different contexts – says Rié of the filming: “I worked with an amazing athlete Sarah Piercy, winner of the London Marathon women’s wheelchair competition, who has gone through significant levels of challenges and obstacles but has proven her strength through incredible achievements.”
As with her previous EP, Rié draws from her adopted home of London and her birthplace of Tokyo. The Levels EP looks at a prominent British influence, particularly with ‘Levels’ and the production credits (Cassell produced ‘Levels’ and ‘Secrets’ with Theme Park working on ‘Save You’) but Rié returns to Japanese poetry as a source of her influence. “Japanese poetry and writing are all about saying something through something else, implying obliquely,” she muses. “In a Japanese poem, if something is beautiful, you never use the word ‘beautiful’; you refer to it without spelling it out.”
Whereas ‘Levels’ explores personal nuances, ‘Secrets’ looks at the world around us, an environment that Rié argues is full of deception. Rié explains “that those deceiving tendencies have become more prevalent in recent years through media, politics and so on,” she continues, “the old science fiction/future fantasy films are not far-off from what we see today, and I started getting into classic films like Metropolis, 1984 and Brazil and the connoted imagery. As I dug deeper into the video archives, I found propaganda footage set during World War Two and found it ironic that we are still repeating the same thing, the media itself embodying and functioning as a demagogue.”
Finally, there is ‘Save You’, a song that explores depth in the term ‘soulmate’. Sidestepping clichéd notions, Rié argues that we are not attracted to each other’s strengths but in fact weaknesses, and the reason for two people to be together is to simply save each other. “That’s why the other has everything you don’t have, and you have what the other had been missing.” Rie continues, “when you find a soulmate, you feel rescued and saved. But just because you are saved, it doesn’t mean you are safe. It’s only the beginning of the endeavours to face what the future brings—“holding on to each other, we”ll go through it all together” —hence this song is not a love song, but a fight song.”
The ‘Levels EP’ adds to Rié’s abundant back-catalogue – having studied Fine Art at London’s Central St Martins, she began to immerse herself in music shortly after graduating, which along with painting, became her binding trait. Following a torrent of songwriting, the young lady earned a recording and publishing deal with Sony Japan at the age of 19 using the name Rie Fu, earning herself widespread recognition with the release of her debut album at home. Subsequent albums followed, with Rié also becoming well known for sync placements of her music into Japanese film and TV, as well as her live performances across Asia. Rié relocated to the UK to pursue a new music scene in spring 2016 and, has developed critical support throughout summer 2017
Rié (pronounced ree-ay) Funakoshi - known simply as Rié - is a Japanese London-art school graduate set to make her debut UK release this summer with the four-track EP Business Trips, arriving
[insert label name] June 30. A singer-songwriter of rare melodic grace whose music resonates with the lush splendour of Karen Carpenter and the acoustic intimacy of Suzanne Vega. Following the debut
single ‘St. Martin’ which was released inline with the EPannouncement, Rié is sharing the video for the second single ‘Calling’
The Business Trips EP adds to a rich back-catalogue of music for Rié. Having studied Fine Art at London’s Central St Martins, she began to immerse herself in music shortly after graduating, which along with painting, became her defining characteristic. Following a deluge of songwriting the young woman who sports striking pink-streaked hair earned a deal with Sony Japan at the age of 19 under the recording name Rie Fu, earning herself widespread recognition with the release of her debut album at home. Subsequent albums followed, along with a stint performing on a series of Asian tours before Rié returned to the UK and settled down to record the Business Trips EP. Dedicating half of the EP to Tokyo and half to London, tracks one and three are produced by the London-based electronic three-piece, Theme Park and two and four by the Japanese producer, Hikaru Ishizaki. The songs are at once more daring and lustrously melodic than previous releases, with a move towards a richly detailed electronic sound.
‘Business Trips’, the lead track from the EP is a lavish treat of synths and electronic beats, piano and koto – a Japanese instrument that actually plays across three of the four tracks. Speaking about the track, Rié says: “I saw a gecko when my husband was away on a business trip,” she recalls. “It made me think this creature was looking after me while he was away. I was inspired by how Kate Bush wrote a song about washing machines [Mrs Bartolozzi, from 2005’s Aerial], so mine is about every cubicle in the office, business trips, being just like working in a studio writing music, going on tour. It’s meant to shine a subtle light on unheard voices going through those daily routines.”
Rié possesses the ability to write about anything within her music, speaking about the influence behind this, she says: “There’s nothing I wouldn’t write about,” she says. “I’d welcome the challenge of writing about the most unexpected thing. Kate Bush writes about mundane things but makes them sound like magical fairly tales.”
Then there is ‘St.Martin’ – a track about love/hate relationships, Rié says: “I’d just finished a meeting with a music businessman and this guy was telling me all the reasons it would be difficult to pursue music in London,” she winces at the memory. “Often, my source of creativity when I start writing songs is irritation or frustration - that turns into energy and becomes a song. This one is no exception. In a way, it’s an answer-song to all the people telling me I couldn’t do this. It’s about determination and an introduction to the kind of person I am.”
‘Calling’ was a song written shortly after Rié relocated back to the UK, this time based in a small home counties town. The track documents the bizarreness of being Japanese whilst living in such an isolated place, examining themes of opposites and identity. “Opposites’ was the first key word, I started thinking about accents, customs, cold and heat, the sun and moon, etcetera. It also made me think about crossing the borders between racial, political, and religious conflicts as those issues were becoming more prominent around the world.”
Rié frequently combines her love for both fine art and music and her paintings can be seen in the artwork and visual video concepts with this EP. She frequently turns to Japanese poetry as a source of influence, something she says will often describe the ‘beautiful’ without ever being explicit. “Japanese poetry and writing are all about saying something through something else, implying obliquely,” she muses. “In a Japanese poem, if something is beautiful, you never use the word ‘beautiful’; you refer to it without spelling it out.”
Business Trips EP track-listing:
1. St.Martin (Theme Park mix)
2. Business Trips
4. St.Martin (Hikaru Ishizaki mix)