Interview by Jen Wang
November 17th, 2011
(originally published on purpleSKY.com)
Tokyo-born songwriter Mio Soul makes her debut with In My Skin. The EP contains the heavy drum beats and smooth melodies of contemporary R&B with flavors of pop, dance, and jazz. Simple yet candid, the lyrics are in English, except for the rap in “Let’s Party” where Mio effortlessly flows in and out of her native language. “Promise” chronicles Mio’s pursuit of her dreams in New York City and features sensual vocals complemented by airy piano trills. The final track, “Out of My Life”, takes a complete 180 from the sweetness of “I Wish” in the beginning. Mio engages an ex-lover in a showdown with passionate vocals and sexy Spanish guitars. Even though she sings that her “story’s ended” for that person, it has only just begun in the music world.
I had the opportunity to ask my fellow biologist via email about her career change, the “I Wish” PV, and her involvement with music-related charities.
What made you change from being a biologist to a musician?
When it comes to biology, I had a huge influence from my father. My mom, however, is a pianist, so music was always around me as a child. In college I was so curious about the connection of brain function and soul (heart)…I enjoyed all of the field work. I did, however, want to do music more than anything else. I started performing more and attending singer and dancer showcases, and these live performances just really fueled me to continue pursuing music.
Science is a real academic thing. You use instruments and theories to find the truth. When it comes to music, singing or making beats is the art of using your own instrument (your body and soul) to express your truth.
Did you have any formal vocal training?
Yes, I had two amazing vocal coaches since moving to NYC: Stacey Penson and Jamelle Jones. The best vocal training was…wait, should I mention this secret? I can give a hint: it has to do with going to church on Sunday.
How did you overcome the challenges you faced when you moved to New York City?
All my determination has made me stronger and stronger I think. I talk to God often. I still have a lot to learn but I have kept going and now I have got some great people around me. Meeting great people and being around people with good energy is so inspiring.
Why did you decide to rap in Japanese in “Let’s Party”?
I was planning to do something else during the song’s break down, but I started fooling around with actually rapping in Japanese…and it fit perfectly, in my opinion, so I just recorded it!
What did you want to convey through having female vampires in the “I Wish” PV?
I wanted to give people a totally different visual image for how “I Wish” sounds. MeccaGodZilla helped me create the idea and write the script for something that just challenges the mind and what people normally would go with. We were inspired by The Lost Boys, but we made this into a love story.
Do you have any favorite vampire stories or movies?
Oh yes! I’ve watched Bram Stoker’s Dracula recently. I also really like Queen of the Damned since I’m a huge fan of Aaliyah.
Your songs and your blog posts are very honest. Are you ever afraid of revealing too much about yourself?
Thank you for noticing that. I actually don’t mind doing it because it’s me, it’s my life, I don’t really have anything to hide. As the title of my EP expresses, my songs are a part of me. I just want people to have dreams and share good times as much as possible…just like me.
How did you get involved in the Domo Arigato Festival and Music 4 Orphans?
My friends from New York came up with the idea first because they toured Japan together a few months prior. They really appreciate my country so they wanted to do something for Japan in return. I wanted to assist them and be part of the show, and they let me help.
I joined the Music 4 Orphans project shortly after a business contact introduced me to the organizer of the project. Music 4 Orphans helps to give the youth an opportunity to learn music education so I am really excited to assist them.
What’s next for Mio Soul?
This is just, just, just the beginning. I am working on the next videos so those might be coming soon. I will make more music, more videos, and I want to do more live performances…you know, visit way more cities and connect with people. That’s very important to me and my focus at the moment.