RIKIMARU Interview on ‘CLOWN OR CROWN’ Album – Billboard


On Sept. 7, RIKIMARU launched his first full album, CLOWN OR CROWN. After serving as a member of boy band INTO1 by means of the WARPs PROJECT, it’s the primary launch from the solo mission he launched this summer season which additionally shares the identical identify. On this interview, Billboard Japan spoke to RIKIMARU in depth in regards to the artistry his followers can anticipate from his solo mission and album.

You’ve mentioned that your newly launched solo mission could be a “mutual sharing of philosophies between you and listeners in addition to an embodiment of the explanations you create as an artist and a option to pursue your targets.” What led you to try this?

Previously, the photographs related to my music have been “freshness” and “youth.” That was enjoyable, in its personal manner, however myself as an individual, it felt like that picture didn’t really connect with the true me. I felt like a picture of “craziness” could be a better match. That’s why I made a decision to make an album whose picture is extra alongside these traces. By way of my songs, I wished to look at societal points and interpersonal relationships, not romance. I wished to make songs whose themes would resonate with listeners, which is why I launched the mission.

You’ve launched your first full album, CLOWN OR CROWN. Why did you select that identify for the album?

I had this psychological picture of a deaf clown and a blind king. The deaf clown is an emblem of freedom and craziness. He’s completely immersed in his personal world, which is why he can’t hear others. The king lives in a darkish fortress, and he doesn’t know what sorts of lives folks exterior his fortress live. The album’s themes revolves round these two folks, whose outlooks on life and whose views on the world are so completely completely different from one another. Primarily based on that basis, I wrote songs as tales of what I actually have seen and felt, and what I’ve heard from others.

So it’s one thing of a social satire.

Proper. However it’s not only a deep, heavy album — it has so much that can even resonate with listeners. The tales might be interpreted in another way if taken in several methods. CLOWN OR CROWN has this deaf clown and this blind king sharing data and their very own sensibilities, so I need listeners to additionally share their very own concepts and impressions.

I’m getting the sensation that album is encouraging folks to broaden their views.

Proper. For instance, I take into consideration 80% of what I learn on-line is pretend (laughs). The bulk opinion isn’t all the time the reality. Generally the minority view is appropriate. And never the whole lot you see is actual. It’s as much as you to find out what to just accept and what to reject, and in the event you change your perspective, you will get insights into every kind of various worlds. That’s one of many issues I need to convey by means of the album.

I do know precisely what you imply.

And the distinction between “CLOWN” and “CROWN” is simply the distinction between an “L” and an “R.” In China, I’m often called “Liwan,” and in Japanese my identify is “RIKIMARU.” I typically hear that “Whenever you’re simply chatting, you’re ‘Liwan,’ however while you dance you’re “RIKIMARU’.” Wanting on the first letters of the names I’m going by, it’s an “L” and an “R.” I solely observed that afterwards, but it surely’s an fascinating coincidence.

It seems like an album that gives folks with insights into numerous facets of your character. You launched “TALKIN’BOUT,” a single from CLOWN OR CROWN, on July 27, earlier than the album was launched. What’s the which means behind the tune?

Just lately there have been lots of people combating bullying or violence on-line. It’s additionally widespread for the folks making these abusive feedback to be faceless. You typically don’t know who they’re. Even when the folks round you might be saying constructive, uplifting issues, typically it simply doesn’t get by means of. The theme of this tune is that it’s good to flip your consideration to the constructive. If folks need to criticize, allow them to criticize.

That’s an issue that’s turn out to be significantly distinguished as of late. So on the album, you’re specializing in that difficulty.

Among the individuals who criticize others on-line are doing it as a result of they’re pressured. In the event you get of their crosshairs, it’s virtually like an accident. I understand it’s simpler mentioned than carried out, however I feel a very powerful factor is to not let it get to you. In the event you let your self get affected by negativity, you lose sight of your self, proper? That’s what I wished to speak. I need listeners to make their highest precedence being true to themselves.

It looks like it is a theme tune in your complete solo mission.

That’s true. I wished to make it sort of a desk of contents, a declaration that “I’m going to speak about issues which might be occurring at this time.” That’s why I made it the primary tune on the album.

I heard that you just’ve made quite a few revisions to the tune, refining it into its ultimate kind.

Till I began engaged on the album, my voice sounded…infantile, I assume? Missing in artistry. It felt like I used to be simply singing. After I performed it to folks I knew within the music business, they mentioned “Your singing approach has improved, however there’s no emotion in your voice.” I didn’t really feel that my voice was creative, both, so through the recording of the tune, I recorded every line, line by line, again and again. Previously, it took me about three hours to document a whole tune, together with the refrain, however this time it took me 5 hours simply to document the melody line alone.

You have been actually a perfectionist.

We solely had ten days to document the entire album. So there have been occasions once I’d go in to the studio somewhat after lunch, document all night time till 10:00 the subsequent morning, get 4 hours of sleep, after which return into the studio once more. I did the recording within the US, and the producer mentioned “I’ve by no means had a recording session proceed by means of all the night time earlier than” (laughs). However everybody pulled collectively and contributed, making the recording successful.

You’ve additionally uploaded a music video for “TALKIN’BOUT” to YouTube. What are the highlights of the video?

The dancers are blindfolded, which represents the faceless folks I talked about earlier. There are scenes the place the dancers are approaching me from behind, or wherein it seems like they’re me, however they don’t really see me. They’re simply haunting me. It’s fascinating seeing the reactions of people that watch the music video, studying their novel interpretations.

One of many appeals of the tune is how a lot depth there may be to discover its which means. The choreography was carried out by YUMEKI, proper?

YUMEKI’s been doing a number of nice work these days, and his dancing is basically cool, so I requested him to choreograph the tune. I need folks to pay particularly shut consideration to the dancing within the refrain and within the dance break that follows. This was a brand new expertise for me — it was the primary time I had one in all my former college students do my choreography. I assumed it might be good for giving my dancing a distinct really feel and exhibiting a brand new facet of me.

The lead tune is “I’m Riki.”

This tune is in a completely completely different style than my previous songs. Previously, I’d danced straight by means of all my movies, however this music video has zero dancing. As a substitute, it’s like a brief movie of a narrative I created, and I did a number of performing.

What was your story about?

After I get wired, I typically assume “What am I? Who am I?” I don’t really perceive myself. When that occurs, it’s just like the world goes darkish. I get disoriented. “Why am I right here, doing what I’m doing?” My story depicted that feeling.

I’m positive that earlier than writing the story, you’d thought of simply who you have been. What sort of conclusions did you arrive at?

I didn’t arrive at any conclusions (laughs). I by no means arrived at an understanding of who I used to be, or what my very own best self could be like. However I did understand {that a} darker strategy, like CLOWN OR CROWN, was match for me. Additionally, I’m actually fickle. Who is aware of, perhaps once I take heed to the album once more later it’ll really feel like a comedy (laughs). However I need to consider myself as I’m right here and now, and I need to benefit from the second, with out serious about the longer term.

Your entire songs, together with the 2 that we’ve mentioned, have clearly outlined themes. I’m positive there have been a number of issues that you just paid particular consideration to, and also you confronted a number of challenges.

I actually centered on the themes. Even when an album has an general theme, it’s uncommon for every particular person tune to have a way of story and to match the general album theme. I spent about half a yr serious about that.

 So far as challenges go, the English was a problem. With this album, I wished for folks around the globe to find me, so a lot of the lyrics are in English. Whenever you sing, in case your accent’s off, the emotion doesn’t come throughout. The nuance would possibly change, as properly. So I sang with an American, who offered enter like “In the event you sing it this fashion, the singing matches the story” or “The emotion doesn’t actually talk properly in the event you do it that manner.” Making all these changes was troublesome.

You actually put your all into the album. In closing, do you could have any message you’d wish to share along with your album listeners?

This album is sort of a fairytale. Every tune tells a narrative, so I’d like it in the event you listened to it in the identical manner you’d learn a storybook.

This interview by Azusa Takahashi first appeared on Billboard Japan

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