Music Review

Interview Feature

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Affecting change in the world to make it a better place can seem like a monumental task without a vision or purpose. What we do today will affect our family, community and the world long after our physical body has returned to the Earth. Our playing small does not serve ourselves nor the world itself, for the depth and breadth of our goals plays a huge part in what we set out to accomplish. One must always remember, however, to never compare our goals to the goals of others, for it will only detract from our own personal journey, and ultimately, deprive ourselves of the joy we could experience along the way since comparisons are what destroy creative energy. To find a purpose, we need only look to the beating hearts in our chest; this is the most definitive sign of a purpose for existing on this Earth. As for a vision, those with big dreams are willing to pay the price it takes to face, endure and overcome rejection in order to conquer the mountain of leaving their mark on the world. In her new single, ‘Run Baby, Run’, Masumi creates a groovy atmosphere with an indie-pop sound that delivers its powerful message that is reminiscent of mainstream pop.

 

Masumi is a Los Angeles-based Japanese singer/songwriter who found her strength and true calling to pursue music after living through the devastating 2011 Tohoku earthquake in her home country of Japan. Through feeling the 9.0 magnitude tremors while trapped in an underground café in Tokyo, she was inspired to follow her true path and passion for music in choosing a path that made her feel alive. She moved to Los Angeles and attended the Los Angeles Music Academy, and since graduating, has worked with some of the industry’s top veterans: Singer and vocal coach Dorian Holley (Michael Jackson, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno), Grammy-Award Winning Producer/Engineer J.J Blair (Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash and The Who.), Warner Brothers songwriter/producer Ichiro Suezawa (Michelle Branch, Bruno Mars, Beyonce), multi-platinum award-winning songwriter/producer Nash Overstreet (Hot Chelle Rae) and Grammy-nominated producer Tristan Boston. Some of her biggest musical influences come from a wide variety, she says, “Growing up, my mother used to play a lot of country/folk, my brother R&B, and I was in love with American Pop music. So I think subconsciously I was being influenced by a wide range of music since it was always playing at the house. When I think about specific artists that I think might have had an influence on my writing, I think of artists like India Arie, KT Tunstall, and Nina Simone. My favorite Japanese songwriter that I love listening to was Utada Hikaru and Shiina Ringo!”

 

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With only one voice and one guitar, Masumi transcends cultural borders, as she creates music with the intention of giving hope to others without shying away from the darkness that makes us all human. Featuring atmospheric synths and finger snaps, subtle bridge piano, driving rhythm beat, and explosive chorus vocals, ‘Run Baby, Run’ has the makings of a modern chart-topper with a beautifully produced indie-pop sound. When asked about the inspiration behind ‘Run Baby, Run’, she explains, “In 2016, I received a life-changing offer to be managed by a prestigious management team in Tokyo, Japan. I decided to walk away from this career-defining moment and chose to remain in the states to explore possibilities that were more aligned with the artist I wanted to grow into. But that brought a long depression and self-doubt. I was confused if I made the right choice. A stranger popped in my life during that time and left me a message to “live with urgency” because “time is running out”.  It was my second awakening since the earthquake. The song aims to awaken the warrior within each of us to overcome the fear and empower our authentic selves.”

 

Directed by film-maker Loic Zimmermann (Ghost in the Shell, Guardians of the Galaxy, Harry Potter, True Grit), the music video itself is a testament to the message and has seamlessly brought the song to life in a powerful way. Masumi elaborates, “‘I had a vivid vision in my head, how I wanted the Astronaut to portray the stranger I met who breathed motivation back into me. ‘Run Baby, Run’ touches on the duality of life, empowering people to use their strength to rise above fear and give hope to those going through dark times.” Noticing a line in the chorus of “Tsumeato Nokoseyo”, I was intrigued about what this phrase meant and if it was Japanese. Masumi replies, “Yes – it is Japanese! ‘Tsumeato’ means, scratch mark left by fingernails. The direct translation of the line is ‘Leave your scratch mark’ and it means to leave your mark in life. ‘Run Baby, Run’ is inspired by an encounter with this stranger who motivated me to get back to pursuing my dream after almost giving up on it. To me, this Japanese line sums up the message I want to deliver to the listeners.”

 

Curious about what other pearls of wisdom Masumi had, I asked if there was a single message that she would want to put out there to make the world the kind of place that she would aspire to live in, what would that message be and why she thought that message was so important, she responds, “Live in a place where we can all be truthful to ourselves and our own happiness. I come from a country where the idea of working relentlessly for others and living selflessly is highly respected. While there’s definitely certain beauty in that, I became so confused and lost with what I wanted in life. It took me a while to realize that me being truthful to my happiness actually inspired others to be happy also. I think ultimately, happiness begins from within. And being honest to what makes us happy, can lead to uplifting others around us and that’s why it’s important to me!”