Home Interview: MIREI Talks Music, Inspirations, Idol Industry and Anime

Interview: MIREI Talks Music, Inspirations, Idol Industry and Anime

At the recent Anime Expo, we got to sit down with the talented singer-songwriter Mirei Touyama, better known as MIREI. Japanese musician from Osaka, Japan, is best known for her hit song “Lonely In Tokyo” from the Take Me Away album. MIREI, who is currently signed with Sony Music label, cites her musical roots as hip-hop and R&B. We got to talk to her about her career, inspirations, and creating music but also about anime.

Q: How did you get you into music?

A: It was because of my parents’ deep love for music, and also I’ve been going to karaoke since I was three years old. As I got older I learned dancing and singing at 2nd grade and so it was so natural for me to have the dream to be a singer at a young age and since then I just follow my dream and so here I am.

Q: Did you have any favorite songs or artists you liked to sing at the karaoke?

A: It’s gotta be Rihanna! I love to sing her song Umbrella at the karaoke and I often binge her music! 

Q: What are some of your musical inspirations that made you who you are?

A: So first I was into Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and all of the divas back then. But the moment I heard Lady Gaga that was life-changing for me! When she released her song “Born This Way” I was so shocked at how she was so confident in talking about such difficult things, and that just seemed so right to me. At that time my dream was to be a singer. But my dream changed into being a singer-songwriter because I wanted to express my feelings like her! 

Q: What’s your creative process when making music?

A: It’s all about lyrics for me! I always like to put my thoughts, experiences, and failures on my notepad on my phone, and when I gather enough of that then I start to make it as a song.

And when I finish that then I go ask my track makers if we could do a session and if they have maybe a nice beat they could use for this kind of song. So that’s how my writing process goes.

Q: Your song “Lonely in Tokyo” is one of your biggest hits. Could you tell us a bit more about it?

A: When I was working on this project I wanted to write and release a song in English about things I couldn’t really talk about in Japan. And so I talked with Zak Leever and DJ Shiftree about the weird customs/standards that the Japanese Entertainment Industry had and they both took it very seriously they also talked about things that happen in the Western Industry as well and we all had a very deep conversation about it. And the reason we decided to release it was because at that time we were discussing the song the media movement in the West was blowing up and I felt that if I released it in English I could change the world! So we said let’s go and let’s be real and share this message with everyone!

MIREI at Anime Expo 2023

Q: You previously said that idols are often “objectified and oversexualized.” Could you tell us a little bit more about that topic?

A: I have many friends in the industry who became idols at the same time I started my career at 15 years old, and as we all grew older most of my friends who were idols became involved in swimsuit modeling, and they also began lip syncing to songs that weren’t even made from themselves. And for me, that was very unnatural. But to my friends who didn’t know any better, it became natural to sing half-naked. So from that, we see that their personal lives were now screwed. Because now their fans will see them more romantically. But for me when I see my fans I want them to support me via the expression of my songs! Of course, I can’t say what they’re doing is wrong because they see it as okay and that’s their belief, but I believe I can change this industry by my singing! 

Q: Are you an anime or a manga fan?

A: Yes! But at first, I was not a big fan of anime. Because I just didn’t have time to watch any! But during the pandemic, I got so much time because like all of my work like my upcoming releases and my Japanese tour was gone. So I got to watch the entirety of Naruto for the first time. It was amazing and it changed my life! After that, I watched Evangelion, Demon Slayer, and Jujutsu Kaisen, and right now I’m into Oshi No Ko!

Q: Would you say that anime has influenced your music?

A: Yes, but not only my music but how I live! In my song “Take Me Away” I talk about how I struggle with my anxiety, depression, and some mental health issues and originally I only had music as a way to cope with it. But then I found anime and I saw how Naruto and Tanjiro were so positive and made others want to be positive and that made me so happy! This really helped me with how I live my life and made me write more music on how to be more confident and how to be more positive! 

Q: Would you ever want to sing an opening, ending, or even an insert song for an anime?

A: I would really love to sing an anime song very much and my being in Sony Music makes me anxious because they make so much anime music but I haven’t gotten to sing any yet… But also if I get a chance to sing for an anime I know I would read up all of it and would make sure to be super into it so I can write the best song I can for it!

Q: Is there an anime you would particularly like to sing for?

A: Because of my song “Lonely in Tokyo” and its message I would love to sing for Oshi No Ko and even though YOASOBI made the song “Idol” that’s like a masterpiece I would love to be able to make something just as powerful to follow its footsteps!

Q: If you were to find out that today was the last day you’d ever be able to make music, what sort of legacy or message would you want to leave behind for your fans/family/the world?

A: I would probably want to write a “YOLO” type song or just like a song about how you should just live your life! And also I’d want my family and those I love to spend their days without regrets! But the message I really would want to leave is that my music will never die.

MIREI – “Lonely in Tokyo”

That was all the time we had with MIREI, but if you would like to learn more about her activities, make sure to follow her on Twitter, YouTube, Instagram (also available in English), both her TikTok (ENG) and TIkTok (JPN), and also both of her official websites – Japanese and English.

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